Back at it with the presents under the tree today! It’s the week before Christmas, so it’s crazy. I get it, but let’s take a few minutes to gather around the tree and see what gifts of truth God has for us in Luke 1:26-38! Before we start, let’s pull out last week’s “big gifts” and ooh and awe over them one more time:
- God says what He’s going to do and does what He says so we will believe and rejoice in a God who makes all things possible;
- God’s purpose and plan for us precedes our birth – both our physical birth and our spiritual re-birth;
- God’s word is certain and He is able to bring it to pass no matter what insurmountable obstacles appear to make it impossible;
- What God conceives He brings forth – naturally and spiritually.
Our passage this week covers the part of the Christmas story when Gabriel visits Mary to announce the birth of Christ through her. It might be a very familiar story, but when I read it as God prepared my heart to remain set on Him during this Christmas season, He showed me the implications of Mary’s story for us in a fresh and profound way, because while she is the only mother of the Son of God, she was just the first to host the life of Christ inside of her.
Before we get into the details, let’s pull out the “big gifts” that provide the context for our passage:
- God chooses whom He uses and uses whom He chooses; He brings forth the life of Jesus in us;
- WITH GOD, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE;
- Our part is to love God and yield ourselves to Him in trusting obedience.
I wish we could read the passage together out loud, but since we can’t, take a minute and read it in your Bible or online here.
In the same way we did last week, let’s look at specific scriptures, the gift of truth they bring for our lives right now, and questions we can ask ourselves to receive and make these truth gifts our own.
Gift One – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth… (verse 26).
TRUTH: God chooses whom He uses.
God chose Mary! He sent His angel to her. There wasn’t a casting call for who wants to be the mother of God. There weren’t tryouts to find the most holy woman of the time. She didn’t summon Gabriel to her and ask for the role. She was chosen by God to host His Son and bring Him forth into this world, and so are we.
He chooses us and saves us and we become a carrier of the life of Christ! At the moment of our salvation, the Holy Spirit begins the sanctification process by which He transforms us into the image or likeness of Christ. He makes us look and act more like Him. He is bringing forth the life of Christ into this world through us, just like He did Mary. Like Mary, it begins when the Lord sends His Spirit to us to begin to turn our hearts toward Jesus.
QUESTION: Do I understand what it means to be chosen by God?
Gift Two – …to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary (verse 27).
TRUTH: God works in the context of His promises.
It is in the context of a promise that God conceives Jesus in Mary. Mary and Joseph are promised to each other but not yet joined together. In the context of this promise, the Lord brings forth Jesus, the Promised One.
Have you ever been there? Are you there now, waiting for a promise to actualize? Are there promises of God that aren’t yet realized in your life? I think about all the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 who lived by faith in a promise not yet realized, and their faith was credited them as righteousness. Our faith in the Promised One credits us with His righteousness. By faith we are are heirs of Christ by promise! And when the Father births new life in us as He would in Mary, it’s in the context of His promises!
ANSWER: Do I know the promises of God so I can view my circumstances through the context of His promises?
Gift Three – And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (verse 28).
TRUTH: We always have a reason to rejoice!
To be chosen by God is to be highly favored. The very fact that He has made you His child testifies of your favored state! You are highly favored! As His highly favored one, He is with you, and blessed are you among women! Not because of who you are in the natural – your circumstances, choices (good or bad), talents, gifts, resources, etc.! You are blessed among women because of Him and who you are in Christ!
WE ALWAYS HAVE REASON TO REJOICE because we are irrevocably God’s chosen, highly favored women!
In Luke 10, Jesus sends out seventy believers to go before Him into every city and place He is about to go (verse 1). When they return with joy, they exclaim in verse 17: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
They are so excited because of what being a follower of Jesus empowers them to do! They’ve gone forth and had great success in His name and they’re pumped!!!
Listen to what Jesus says to them:
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven (verses 18-20).
No matter what we do or don’t have, what we think we can or can’t do, what the Lord does or doesn’t do for us or give us, the success we do or don’t have in a given area of our lives, the state of our finances or relationships or circumstances or hormones (can I get an amen?), WE ALWAYS HAVE A REASON TO REJOICE. Our names are written in heaven. Nothing can take that from us, and if the Lord never does another thing for us, isn’t that enough reason to always rejoice?
Do we see ourselves as blessed and highly favored? Do we believe this is true even if it’s not how we feel?
QUESTION: Will I make the choice to rejoice?
Gift Four – But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (verses 29-30).
TRUTH: Fear has no place in the face of grace.
She was troubled, and understandably so! Put yourself in Mary’s place. The angel Gabriel stands before her. The angel of God!!! This doesn’t happen every day! Then he tells her she’s highly favored and blessed. Imagine what might be going through her mind:
What does he mean I’m highly favored and blessed?
Why is the angel of God standing before me?
What does He want of me?
What is happening?
Have you ever known in your knower God was before you, preparing you to hear His will and felt troubled? I have! I can tell you three specific times in my life the Lord has given me what I call a shutter glimpse of His call on me to speak. Like a camera whose shutter opens for just a fraction of a moment to capture the details of a moment in time, He’s given me these glimpses of what’s to come. And every single one has been unbelievable and without further revelation of how in the world what I see will ever come to pass. The first one was nearly 20 years ago and it still produces a wide-eyed wonder and anticipation, but also fear.
But hear what the angel says to her as God’s very assurance to us! We have nothing to fear because we have found favor with God. For whatever reason, God selected us to save us. We have found favor with Him, and because we have His favor, we have nothing to fear.
The word for favor in the Greek is probably my most favorite Greek word in the Bible: charis which also translates grace. It means:
that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour; the token or proof of grace, benefit; a gift of grace; benefit, bounty; thanks (for benefits, services, favors), recompense, reward.[i]
But here’s where the Lord blew my mind the first time He led me to this definition of grace and it TRANSFORMED my understanding and relationship with Him. It also refers to:
of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues; what is due to grace; the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace.[ii]
Listen sister! As we consider the angel’s words to Mary, let’s consider them as words to us:
God is with you!
His merciful kindness is exerting His holy influence on your soul – your mind, will, emotions and conscience to turn you to Christ!
His merciful kindness is exerting His holy influence on you to keep, strengthen and increase you in Christian faith, knowledge and affection!
His merciful kindness is exerting His holy influence on you to influence you to exercise Christ-like living!
Your spiritual condition is governed by God’s holy influence on you!!!
Do not fear! This is what the Lord is doing in you to bring about His will through you!
We have God’s grace – His favor – and His favor will bring about His will! His influence upon our hearts will produce the work He desires to do. He will complete the work He starts; He wills and does in us according to His good pleasure!
If my eyes are on God and His greatness, I am much less likely to cower in fear. In fact, my greatest area of unbelief is not in God – I’m fully convinced of who He is and that He’ll do what He says He’ll do. What I DON’T believe is that I’ll always do what He says to do. I don’t trust me! But He’s shown me that even that is unbelief in Him because at the heart of that my unbelief in me is unbelief in His ability to influence me! Ouch!
QUESTION: Do I trust God to influence me?
Gift Five – “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (verses 31-33).
TRUTH: What God conceives in us He will bring forth through us; His plans and purposes don’t miscarry.
Can you imagine? Gabriel tells her she’s going to get pregnant out of wedlock and she’s not even going to have sex. How do you explain that?!?!?! And it’s not even something she’s going to be able to hide. She’s going to grow a baby in her womb and eventually the timing is going to betray her unmarried status. At best, she’ll face rejection by her betrothed, family and community; at worst, she will be stoned to death!
In the same way, when the Lord births something in us, eventually it’s going to show! Eventually He will bring it forth through us, and we may face difficult consequences, like rejection and even death. Certainly we’ll face the death of our old self. The cost to us of God bringing forth the life of Christ in us could be high, but we shall call His name Jesus – and we shall call on the name of Jesus, of which Paul writes:
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
That’s quite a name! Jesus, Immanuel – God with us – in the form of a baby two thousand years ago and now God with us as He dwells inside of each of us as His children.
God has birthed His Son in us and Jesus abides in us, as He abided in Mary’s womb. As the Lord brought forth the fruit of her womb, so will He produce the fruit of the life of Christ in and through us. He will bring it forth in us and our lives!
QUESTION: Do I trust that God’s work in me is bringing forth the life of Christ through me?
I think that’s a good gift to close with today, a truth to hold in our lap and ponder. Let your mind consider today’s presents – really think about what God is showing us about Himself and His faithfulness to us. THIS is Christmas: the gift of Jesus, the Son of God and the very Word of God.
Come back tomorrow, or if you’d like these posts to come directly to your inbox, just enter your email at the top right corner of this page where it says, “Sign Up!” You’ll get a post each day there’s something new, but after Christmas, I only send one email a week, and that’s only if there’s something new. Otherwise, I won’t be cluttering up your inbox (and I’m all about not having a cluttered inbox!) Much love and joy to you this 6th day before Christmas. May the Peace of Christ – the very Peace of God – guard your heart and mind today as you keep your mind stayed on Him!
[i] “G5485 – charis – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 15 Dec, 2016. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5485&t=NKJV>.
[ii] “G5485 – charis – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 15 Dec, 2016. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5485&t=NKJV>.