Advent Reminds us of the Opportunities Brought by Faith

Luke 1:26-38 records the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary, their conversation and Mary’s response to the news. Like Zachariah, Mary’s first reaction was fear and confusion at seeing a heavenly being and his message. However, her questions were more about how could this could happen not disbelief that it was possible. The words seem similar but the angel knew the intent of her heart and saw a question of doubt not a question of faith.

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

I love this passage and see new things each time I study it. God knew Mary by name. Isn’t that amazing? The God of the universe knew this young, unmarried woman and had a special place and purpose for her and her alone. The same could be said for you and me. I am assured here that God knows my name and has a plan and purpose for my life too. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” is a promise I claim in my life.

Gabriel, the angel, said Mary had found favor with God, and that God was with her. Mary did nothing to earn this favor. Mary believed in God and was the right woman at the right time, like Queen Esther, for the tasks to be accomplished. Esther 4:14 “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Mary believed in God, had grown up hearing the stories of the Israelites, Moses and their escape from Egypt. Of the years in exile in Babylon and people like Daniel, his rescue by God from the Lion’s Den, the rebuilding of the walls and temple in Jerusalem by Nehemiah, of Jonah and his being swallowed by a big fish then going to Nineveh to preach as God asked. She knew God was capable of great things and did not question His power and might, only her circumstances of being an unmarried pure virgin. Remember faith pleases God and she had it! Even though she had questions she clung to her faith and listened with an open heart and mind. She knew in her heart that all things are possible with God. Like Mary all we have is faith in Jesus as we can count on no works to save us. Ephesian 2:8 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Receiving His gift of salvation is a matter of heart, just as it was for Mary.

Let the wonder of this encounter motivate you to walk by faith not sight today and look for new opportunities to serve Him.

Linda

How Big is your God? He is ABLE!

Ephesians Chapter 3 ends with a powerful benediction to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers.  He eloquently tells them and us about God, who He is,  and His power as seen in Christ and the church. God’s is: glorious,  omnipotent in power, provides us with His indwelling Holy Spirit,  has power that endures for  eternity and has a plan that lives from generation to generation.

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

What comfort do you receive from reading these words?   I am encouraged even in these difficult times that our God is bigger than any virus, is Sovereign over heaven and earth now and in the future. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and Ephesians 3-20 He Is Abletoday and forever.”  God is able to do even greater things than which we could even think to ask Him to do in our lives for Him.  2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. “  God does not give us His Holy Spirit to indwell us without reason and purpose. John 3:16 shows us God’s purpose  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”    Romans 5:3-5 shows the Holy Spirit at work in our lives for a purpose.   “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”   God loves us and desires that our character be refined and matured.

Use Paul’s words today as you pray.  Stand on the hope you have in Jesus, the power of His Spirit to lead and guide you, and God’s unfailing love for you.  God has a purpose for you, for your life and He desires that you know Him and live and grow in His love.  His love is transforming for now and into the future.  Because Christ died on the cross and Ephesians-3-21rose from the dead, we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good.

Reach out to others today, however you can, and let God’s transforming love flow through you to them in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Linda

 

 

The Cross = a privilege to show others our Savior

Today’s passage in Ephesians 3:7-11 gives us a glimpse into the true heart of Paul and his motivating character.  Let these words soften your heart towards the hard working saint as you picture his struggle for Christ.

“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.   Paul realizes that God chose him specifically on the Road to Damascus (see Acts 9).  Through His might and power,  he was transformed into one who professed and proclaimed the name and fame of Jesus instead of persecuting Him.

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone  this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.  Paul humbly professes that he feels unworthy of God’s grace and mercy and relishes the privilege of revealing God’s plan of redemption through Christ for all mankind. 

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.   Paul sees that God intends that all believers are shown God’s wisdom and eternal plan through the knowledge and work of Christ.  Then all believers, the church, will share that wisdom and knowledge with others.

ephesians 3 7Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the deadwe are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Just like Paul, we will be humbled by the magnitude of this privilege when we realize we are God’s chosen messengers to the world.  It is an amazing responsibility.  Paul counted himself favored to be chosen by God to tell others.

What about you?  Do you consider it a privilege to tell others about Jesus?   Are you humbled by the fact that God chose you?  Take a moment today and thank God for choosing you and empowering you with His Holy Spirit so you are able to do all He calls you to do.

Linda