WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE?

Do you believe? What do you believe in? We can believe in many different things. Belief is a popular theme of the season of Christmas. But are we talking about belief in Santa or belief in the Christ child? If we believe we are accepting something as true.

As believers of God, we accept the miracles of creation and the virgin birth. If we don’t are we really believers? We can’t put God in a box and tell him what miracles he is or is not allowed to perform. We must accept all of him as he commands.

Can a person be a believer and not walk with Christ?

Let’s get back to that later…

Have you ever tried to imagine what was going through the mind of Mary when she received the visit from the angel Gabriel? I can’t even grasp what kind of emotion that would evoke in an adult, let alone a young girl around the age of 13-15.

26 In the sixth month (the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist), God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1:26-28

Highly favored? Why would Mary think that she was highly favored? She was just a young girl. We don’t really know much about her background, but there doesn’t seem to be anything special about her. The man she is betrothed to is from the lineage of King David, but there is no such designation for Mary.

And then, the angel tells her that the Lord is with her! Well, that would either make her feel special or terrify her! But, there’s more…

30 But the angel said to here, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Song of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be, “ Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:30-34

Now that is a great question! And it’s a question that is a stumbling block for many people in accepting the gospel. They get tripped up at virgin birth, not that God created the universe and everything in it!

What was so significant about Mary that God chose her for this blessing? It seems to me the thing that set her apart from so many others was her faith in God, that she truly found favor with him.

How do you feel about your life? Are you too insignificant for Him to find favor with you?

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. …37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

Luke 1:35, 37

So this vision of being overshadowed by the Most High to cause Mary to conceive made me wonder just what this “overshadowing” meant. Obviously, it means to cast a shadow over something. But it can also refer to the presence or power of God as in the story of creation or the cloud that followed the Israelites wondering in the desert. That’s some serious power!

What was Mary’s response? She didn’t seem to hesitate…

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.”May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

In our logical minds, we consider things of the world to conform to the rules of science. We know how someone becomes pregnant in our realm of experience and what we learned in health class. But that’s not how God works. The reason it makes it difficult for us to believe the promises of God.

Do you have the same submissive commitment to God that Mary had? What can we learn from Mary?

Mary shows us what belief really looks like. She has no idea how he’s going to do it, but she believes and trusts in what he says he’ll do.

Which is harder to believe: that a virgin can conceive through the Holy Spirit or that you are in God’s favor?

It doesn’t matter about Mary’s past, just like it doesn’t matter about our past. Why? Because God loves you.

Mary shows an outrageous act of faith, trusting she’d found favor with God. We need to have this same faith that we have favor with God and there’s absolutely nothing we can do to earn it. He freely gives it.

I’ve never had an angel appear before me, but I’ve felt a nudge to do something in the past. I shook the feeling off, but it would pop up again. I’ve come to the place where I’ve started to notice those feelings, but I don’t believe them blindly. Does it line up with God’s character? He wouldn’t urge me to do something that goes against his character.

Does your trust lead to belief? God favors. You are who God says you are.

If you really believed, how would your life be? I think that belief is in the heart. It’s not whether we go to church or not. It’s not if we consider ourselves to be religious. No, there are plenty of examples in the Bible of the religious zealots who were “holier than thou” but didn’t know the heart of God. They were more worried about the rules and what “looked good” than they were about knowing God.

We are all at a different place in our journey and I believe that God knows that. I don’t say that so you’ll feel like you’ve got plenty of time “to get there some day”, but so you know he still loves you and wants you to know you are favored. There is still hope…

Here is a link to the sermon.

May you find peace in this holiday season and know that the child came so that you might be saved…

In Faith,

Pam

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