Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Proper Response

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38

The word "bondslave" that Mary uses is translated "one who worships God and submits to Him." Surely this describes Mary. Here she is, a nice young Jewish girl with her whole life ahead of her. A devoted follower of Jehovah, she's kept her sexual and spiritual purity. Like most young ladies, she's probably dreamed of romance, marriage and a family. Now she's betrothed to a good man with a respectable carpentry trade. Suddenly, a startling being appears and turns her world upside down. He announces she's to give birth to the Son of God. A stupendous honor, to be sure -- but one that could cost her dearly. Mary knew the Law. She knew the penalty for adultery was death by stoning. She knew the probability that this would be her fate when the Nazareth community discovered she was pregnant. Pregnant by someone other than Joseph her betrothed. Who could blame Mary if she had said, "no thanks" to Gabriel. Yet, amazingly, she puts all her hope and trust in God and submits her life to Him. A proper response for all believers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nothing is Impossible with God

"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:36-37

Mary doesn't doubt God, but He graciously gives her a sign of His miraculous abilities. Her relatives Elizabeth and Zacharias, two old people beyond child-bearing years, are expecting a son. God has opened Elizabeth's womb, but He will do an even greater miracle in Mary. Gabriel said, "For nothing will be impossible with God." Thirty-three years after Gabriel speaks these words to Mary, the immaculately conceived Savior will say to His disciples, "with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). Hundreds of years earlier, God said to Abraham, "Is anything too difficult for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14). Through the ages God has said He can do the impossible. And He has. If we fail to believe nothing is impossible with God, it is our faith that has failed us. Not God.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mary's Question

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:34-35

When Gabriel told Zacharias that he and Elizabeth would become parents in their old age, Zacharias questioned the angel out of doubt. Mary's question to Gabriel was not prompted by doubt, but rather by her innocence. She was a young girl, a virgin and a devout follower of God. She had saved herself for her future husband. How then could she become pregnant and bear a child? Gabriel explained how she would conceive and why the immaculate conception was critical.The Savior must be born of a woman, so that He would be of the same nature as those whom He came to save. "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5). And the Savior must be holy and without sin. "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15). Both of these requirements were met in Jesus -- fully man and yet fully God. “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” -- C.S. Lewis.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gabriel's Words

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Luke 1:30-33

In these few sentences, the angel Gabriel revealed awesome things to Mary:

She, a virgin, would conceive and give birth to a son (no ultrasounds required for this revelation). A fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 7:14): "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God is with us -- a title).

The boy is to be named Jesus – which means Jehovah-Salvation. Matthew explains why this name is important: “for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

He will be great. A fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6 – "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

He will be called the Son of the Most High - Jesus is God. He is deity. Matthew 3:17 "and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

He will be given the throne of his father David – fulfillment of prophecy 2 Samuel 7:16: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” Jesus' humanity descended from the line of King David.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever – He will redeem all who receive Him as Lord and Savior, and He will keep His covenant with His people Israel. Christ reigns in heaven now, and He will reign in heaven and earth  forever and ever. "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.'” (Revelation 11:15)

Gabriel spoke only a few words, but the truth behind them have had and will have a profound impact on our world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Humbly Perplexed

"And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Luke 1:26-29

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth with an important message for Mary, the young virgin betrothed to Joseph. Gabriel called Mary "favored one." Favored one in the original Greek means to honor with blessings. And Mary was perplexed at hearing that. She didn't see why she should receive God's favor. She didn't see herself as one to be honored by God. She was humble. God honored Mary out of His grace, and He was with her, as He is with all who trust in Him. When God bestows a blessing upon us, the proper response is to be grateful. To realize in humility that His favor is undeserved. And to ponder this amazing grace that He bestows. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Lord our Righteousness

Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, 
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’"-- Jeremiah 23:5-6

God promised He would raise up a "Righteous Branch," and He kept His promise when He sent Jesus. The Father knew our greatest need is a Savior. Without Him we would perish in our sin. We have in ourselves no righteousness. Nothing to recommend us to God and Heaven. It is only through Christ's righteousness that we are saved. "You will not find on this side heaven a holier people than those who receive into their hearts the doctrine of Christ's righteousness. When the believer says, 'I live on Christ alone; I rest on him solely for salvation; and I believe that, however unworthy, I am still saved in Jesus;' then there rises up as a motive of gratitude this thought - 'Shall I not live to Christ? Shall I not love him and serve him, seeing that I am saved by his merits?'" -- Charles Spurgeon. Rejoice in gratitude! The LORD is our righteousness!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The First Promise

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel."
Genesis 3:15

The first promise of the Messiah is found in these words of God to Satan in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had succumbed to the enemy's temptation and sin had entered the world, but a day would come when a descendant of Eve's would defeat the enemy. This descendent is Jesus. "It is a remarkable verse in that it refers to the seed of the woman, not the man. Elsewhere in the Bible descent is determined through the male. But here it is the seed of the woman, not the man, who will bruise Satan’s head. It is a prophecy, veiled at the time, but evident now, of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ." -- Pastor Steven J. Cole

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