- God’s Plans for Us are Greater than our own.
28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! ”29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he called her a favored woman. Catholic translators, from the Latin Vulgate translate this, as “Hail Mary, full of Grace.” No problems in this translation unless you begin to say that she has so much grace that she gives it to you when you pray to her. Mary is blessed, she has God’s favor but she is not our mediator; nor is she co-redemptory with her divine Son. Paul tells Timothy, “There is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus” (2:5) Therefore, we don’t pray to Mary.
If you were sick, who would you call—the doctor, or the doctor’s mother? Mary is not the “Queen of Heaven”, but she is worthy of honor, and we should not take her willingness to serve God lightly.
Now think about this, wouldn’t it be great to have an angel bearing a message from God come and visit you and give a message similar to v.28? Here you are confirmation, that there is a God, all questions about God answered, as you have the attention of an angel. After all, you have just being notified that you are specially chosen by God, and not just favored but “highly favored” isn’t that awesome?
- This word “favored” or “grace” is used only twice in the New Testament, here and in Ephesians 1:6. “We praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.
- The same favor or grace that God showed Mary is the same favor or grace He has freely given us.
- In order to face life’s unexpected turns, we must know we have God’s favor
Perhaps this Christmas, like Mary, you too find it surprising to believe you are favored of God. Perhaps you have endured some tremendous losses, this year, you had a rough year, and you say how can God understand my world. Perhaps you feel misled, misguided by God, let down in a big way, betrayed, how can I be favored by God, loved by Him with so much that’s wrong with my life, there isn’t much hope on the horizon?
God’s favor does not automatically bring instant success or fame. His blessing on Mary, the honor of being the mother of the Messiah, would lead to much pain: her peers would ridicule her; her fiancé would consider leaving her; her son would be rejected and murdered. But through her son would come the world’s only hope, and this is why Mary has been praised by countless generations as the young girl who “found favor with God.” Mary’s submission was part of God’s plan to bring about salvation. If sorrow weighs you down and dims your hope, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out his plan.
The central figure in our story is not Mary and not even the angel Gabriel. The central figure in our story is the gracious and loving God who gave us his Son, Jesus, whose birth is the promise of God’s redeeming love – Emmanuel – “God With Us.” And Mary was favored, chosen by God, to play a role in this redemption process.
So are we! God favors us, to tell the impossible story that God loves the world that He gave His Son to be born of a woman. Remember this as we live in this difficult world.
- God’s Plans seem Impossible but are not.
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 35 The angel replied…. 37 “For nothing is impossible with God. ”
Mary was young, poor, female—all characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her seem unusable by God for any major task. But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience he has ever demanded of anyone. You may feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service. Don’t limit God’s choices. He can use you if you trust him. Take him at his word.
- God has great things to do in us and for us. The question is never, “Can He do it?” but “Will we believe and cooperate with Him?”
3. God’s Plan calls for a Response.
A young unmarried girl who became pregnant risked disaster. Unless the father of the child agreed to marry her, she would probably remain unmarried for life. If her own father rejected her, she could be forced into begging or prostitution in order to earn her living. She risked losing Joseph, her family, and her reputation. And her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit risked her being considered crazy as well. When Mary said, “Ok, God, I’m going to cooperate with your plan. Use me.” Do you think that was easy?” No. It wasn’t easy for Mary to say, “Ok, I will be an unwed mother.” Can you imagine the gossip that went on in those days? And whose going to believe her story? “It’s God!” Would you believe that? Try having this one put on your shoulders. Try it as an uneducated 14 year old girl betrothed to another man, Knowing full well that the consequences of agreeing to this is Almost certain death. Now there is a dose of reality. There is no Santa Clause here. No reindeer or eggnog at this Christmas. This is life and death stuff. This is anything but a happy holiday for Mary. Still Mary said, despite the risks, ”Let it be with me according to your word.” When Mary said that, she didn’t know about the tremendous opportunity she would have. She took the risk of faith; she didn’t consult with anyone else; she didn’t take time to weigh the pros and cons. She only knew that God was asking her to serve him, and she willingly obeyed. Believers need Mary’s kind of trust and responsiveness. Too many wait to see the bottom line before offering themselves to God. God wants willing servants.
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
- Human nature is to take the easy way, to slide through life, to take the course of least resistance. Mary’s life reminds us that choosing to serve God is not the easiest way. Serving God is difficult. I may have to wait for the rewards.
In the last post I asked you to imagine yourself at fourteen. Who were you? What were you doing? What did your life look like? Now imagine this angel standing before you asking you to bring the Hope of the entire earth into the world. You know that the consequences will certainly mean being ostracized from your family, perhaps even bring about your death… How would you answer?
Would you find yourself questioning if this was possible? Would you find yourself asking why God would choose you to be the instrument of salvation for the world?
If God were to tell you that the eternity of others hung in the balance of your willingness to carry Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and share him with others, how would you answer?
This is exactly the question that God is asking us today.
It was just asked of a fourteen year old Hebrew girl first, and her task was much more difficult than any of us are likely to experience. But the question he asks remains the same. God has been asking people to share his Son for 2000 years now. It started with Mary. But the question is still the same… Are you willing to share Jesus with the world?
That hope rests today on us – will we be like her? Will we give birth to Christ in our actions and thoughts, and deeds? Will we obey the Lord, and walk in his ways? Will we care enough about our neighbors to pray for them?
Will we share Christ with the world? A survey was taken that asked the question,
“What is your greatest hindrance to sharing your faith?” The largest groups were the 51 percent whose biggest problem was the fear of how others would react.
Why? Because no one likes to be rejected, ridiculed, or regarded as an oddball. Sure there is some risk… But, the stakes we gamble in sharing our faith, our hope, our salvation is nothing compared to what God asked of Mary.
In bringing Christ to the world, Mary risked being shunned, an object of scorn even a public stoning. In sharing Christ, we risk upsetting someone or being embarrassed. They may take the invite card in your bulletin and throw it away, think you are a religious fanatic. So what?
I thank God that there was someone willing to take this risk for my sake. Thank God for my parents who set and example for me… the church I went to, taking time to teach and model for me. Thank God there were people who thought it was worth the risk of being rejected for the sake of my salvation. I could be dead or in jail by now on the course I was on.
I was no altar boy, but somebody cared enough to share the Gospel with me anyway.
And, it changed my life. How about you? Who was willing to take that risk for you?
For the last 2000 years, that is how the Gospel has been shared. One person, to another, starting with a fourteen-year-old girl on the other side of the world who spoke the words…I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” People of God, God is relying on you to continue the invitation to his table. It is up to us now to share with others the Good News.
You know, there are a 1001 reasons each and every one of us can come up with on how someone else is better qualified, and maybe that is “reasonable,” but look who God chose to be the example, an uneducated, 14 year old, terrified little girl 2000 years ago. Those are some pretty slim qualifications if you ask me. But look what God accomplished through her just because she was willing.
Our call to share Christ is the same. Do you care enough about the people around you to respond?
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