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Entries in Angels (5)

Tuesday
May242016

He is Risen

Luke 24:1-12.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 22, 2016.

Today we are going to look at the resurrection of Jesus recorded by Luke.  As we do this, we will find that God has provided ample evidence for us to believe.  The real problem behind lack of belief is not lack of evidence.  Rather, it is a lack of desire to be like Jesus.  Let's look at the passage.

Jesus is Resurrected

At first the account is about the discovery that Jesus had been resurrected.  While it was still dark in the early morning hours of Sunday a group of women go to the tomb of Jesus.  The end of the previous chapter tells us that these women are those who had come from Galilee with Jesus.  There are also some other women with them, most likely from the Jerusalem area.  Verse 10 gives us the names of three of them: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James.  Their main purpose is to dignify the death of Jesus by putting spices upon the body.  I won't delve into the first century burial proces more than to say that the body would be allowed to decay and thus to allow people to visit during their grief, spices would be employed.  Jesus had died right before the sabbath and thus they were not able to do this before.  So that tells us why they went to the tomb.

When they arrived they notice that the stone has been rolled away.  Of course Jesus did not need the rock moved.  This is not so much to let him out, so much as to let the disciples discover that he is gone.  The body is not there, not to mention that the guards are no where to be found.  The point of confusion and cluelessness is understandable given the circumstances.  I would say that it is better to be a servant of Jesus who is clueless then to be among those who reject him completely, because God will always bring His servants to better understanding.

In verses 4-8 we have that very thing.  An angel announces what has happened.  Now it is important to note that there is a common occurrence in the Biblical accounts when angels appear.  They at first are generally referred to as men (that is what they look like).  However, by the end of the encounter things happen that make it clear these are not mere mortals, but rather heavenly messengers (angels).  In this case the women are perplexed and unsure what to think and suddenly several men appear.  Their garments are shining, which causes the women to bow in fear before them.  They immediately know that these are not just men, but angels from God.  Note that the angel asks a question before it gives the message.  "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"  They should have known that Jesus would not be there.  He had told them several times what would happen.  Yet, this statement also becomes a question from God to all mankind through the ages.  Why do we seek for life among that which is dead?  Our world is like people looking for life among the tombs.  Yet, the grace of God provides one who is Lord over death.

The angels then give their message.  Jesus is no longer here because He has risen.  The are also told to remember what Jesus had told them back in Galilee.  He would be arrested, crucified, and rise again on the third day.  

This of course amazes the women an dso they go back to tell the disciples what they had observed.  Here we see that the apostles are slow to believe the report of the women.  Somethings are just simply unbelievable.  Even, though Jesus had proven himself to be quite credible, all of them are just like "Doubting Thomas."  They must see for themselves.  Peter goes and sees the empty tomb and the linen cloths lying there, which begs the question, "Who would unwrap a dead body?"  God had done a work that is a marvel to think about, but even more wonderful to experience.  Thus the amazing work of God takes time to be accepted by the minds of men.  Divinity will not be found in the things of this world.  No matter how hard men try to press the sciences into service, they will fall short of finding eternal life among the dead things of this world.  Only Jesus holds life.  We must look at the evidence and put our trust in the risen Jesus just as those first disciples did.  It is Jesus who has conquered death and promises to all who put their trust in Him that they too shall share in His victory over death.

I pray that today, if you find yourself in such an incredulous state, you will stop, take in all the evidence, and receive the word of the Lord that He is risen!  You will not find life in any other than to believe in Jesus with all your heart.

He is Risen Audio

Tuesday
Dec222015

Lessons of Christmas- The Wisdom of It All

1 Corinthians 1:19-31.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on December 20, 2015.

The sending of a baby to a small country under the domination of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago may not seem to be the wisest plan for saving the world.  Well, it didn’t seem any wiser at the time either.  During the Christmas season we are reminded that the wisest and most powerful people of this world cannot save the world and are absent in God’s plan.  Thus God makes salvation available to the lowest among us and to the highest regardless of these things.  In itself, this can be a problem for those who think they deserve it and others don’t.  The wisdom of Christmas is that God makes salvation available to those who will humble themselves, like he did, and trust His Wisdom and His Power.  Let’s look at this passage.

God Rejects The Wisdom of Mankind

This passage is written to the Christians in Corinth, who grew up in the Greek culture and were influenced by pride in its wisdom.  Thus the fact that God would reject man’s wisdom is at the same time obvious and inconceivable.  It is obvious because it is exactly what we would expect from a Being that can create the universe, or multiverse if you prefer.  However, it runs contrary to our experience and our nature.  We are used to opening doors to opportunity by our knowledge and wisdom.  We are not used to putting our wisdom aside and embracing God’s.

Paul points out that the message of the cross was and is foolishness to those of this world who are perishing.  Of course the message of the cross is God’s plan of salvation, which starts with the incarnation, and the baby Jesus.  This message of how God is saving mankind seems foolish to people of this world.  Thus, even if God were inclined to work in a way that fit in with our wisdom, the fact that we reject His wisdom would disincline Him. 

But more important than that in verse 21 we are told that the wisdom of mankind was not able to help it know God.  No matter how great our telescopes, communications, philosophy, and understanding of the universe, it will not help us know God.  In fact, the only way we have ever known anything about God is because He has revealed it to us, whether you look at the Garden of Eden, the prophets through the ages, or Jesus.  That is why in verses 19-20 God makes it abundantly clear that man’s wisdom will not lead to salvation.  Sin is a problem that cannot be solved with technology or philosophy.  No amount of time will enable social engineers to create a utopia that is truly good. 

At Christmas the message of God’s love comes into the world in a way that seems foolish to the world, but it will be effective against this sin problem.  Man’s wisdom continues to cycle through different wise ideas to help mankind.  But none of them will work.  The founding fathers of the United States of America understood this.  Instead of trying to create a perfect government, they created checks and balances to help keep the sin of men in check.  Over the years we have incrementally weakened and even dissolved many of these checks and balances.  Democracy is not the hope of the world.  At best, it can only restrain evil.  So this story will continue even as mankind doubles down and increases the stakes by calling for Global governance.

In verse 22 Paul points out a particular problem.  The Jews represented the religious wisdom of those who knew God and were supposed to be following Him, whereas the Greeks or Gentiles represented those who did not know God and instead were a more secular wisdom (even though they had religious notions).  The Jews believed in God and so looked for powerful signs of what God was doing.  However, the problem with this is that no matter how many powerful signs God did, their hearts did not want to go where He needed to take them.  Thus, the religious wisdom of those who know God can be driven by human wisdom.  “I will only accept what I determine is God.”  In this model God has to become a kind of court Jester who keeps us constantly entertained in something.  Yet, we don’t want what He is offering.  Thus, such religious wisdom must always come to a point of deciding between God’s way or your way.  On the other hand the secular wisdom of the Greeks and nations of the world believed that salvation could be achieved through the refinement of knowledge and philosophy.  They sought out ideas that “worked.”  God is saying that the solution that will work is one that will not appeal to the religious wisdom or the secular wisdom.  No matter who they are, the wise of mankind will not like the solution God gives.  The wise men of this age or any age to come will never save us, period, whether from religious circles or secular.

God Uses His Own Wisdom

Having established that God will not use man’s wisdom to save us, the obvious is then looked at:  God will use His own wisdom.  Paul points out that God’s wisdom is a stumbling block to the religious.  Yes, they may be looking in the right direction, they may be on the right path, they may even know what they are supposed to be looking for.  However, in the end when God acts to save mankind they trip over it because they didn’t recognize it.  Salvation is offered in a way that is not in harmony with their thoughts.  Yet, God will not let them ignore it.  When they trip over it they will either despise it or they will choose to embrace it.

As for the secular wisdom, the salvation of God is foolishness.  Think of it this way, Jesus coming into first century Israel is a template for the message of Christ going into all the other nations.  You won’t be able to ignore it and a choice must be made.  Yet, our wisdom will always lead us to reject it.  Paul says in verses 24-25 that this “foolishness” is the Power and Wisdom of God.  This “foolishness” is wiser than the greatest wisdom of mankind.  No matter how foolish you think this plan is, it is far wiser than you can imagine.  Only arrogance and pride would cause us to persist in clinging to the ship of this world’s wisdom at the expense of God’s.

God Displays His Wisdom Through Us

Here we are 2 millennia later and countless millions have chosen to believe the message of God in Jesus.  Of course, only God knows how many of them have truly believed, instead of just going along with something in order to fit in.  Yet, in those who believe, the wisdom of God is put on display to a world that cannot see it otherwise.  Paul reminds these Corinthian Christians that most of them were foolish and weak by the world’s standards.  There was a time when we as a nation understood this.  Do you remember the words that are at the statue of liberty?  I won’t quote them all, but the critical part is this.  “'Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp,' cries she with silent lips!  'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.'”  Today we are more apt to cream the crop of the nations so that our businesses and nation may be the greatest.  But this is not what God does.  He lets the cream rise to the surface and then takes the bottom layer.  Why?  He does so because you can do nothing with those who are so full of their own wisdom they don’t need God.  Whereas the lowly know full well that their only hope is in God.

Paul states emphatically that God will allow no human to glory in front of Him.  The Creator of all things has chosen to save us in a way that glorifies no one, and this grates on the nerves of the mighty to no end.  God loves to choose the weak and foolish, because it highlights the impotence of the strong and wise of this world and forces them to continually hear the truth, “Your wisdom cannot save you!”

Jesus is God’s gift of Wisdom and Glory to us.  At Christmas God gives us the embodiment of His Wisdom and His Glory.  In Jesus, God asks the world to turn from their wisdom and embrace a better wisdom and glory.  He sent Jesus, not because we deserved it, but because He wants to save us.  Thus the Church of Jesus is a reminder to the world of its need to embrace the wisdom of God. 

However, we are not just a reminder to the world.  In Ephesians 3:8-11, Paul points out that God is also teaching the angelic powers through us lowly humans.  Yes, even angels need to learn the same lessons as mankind does.  Their greatest wisdom will only lead to destruction.  But the wisdom of God will lead to life.  There is much interference in the nations of the world today by humans with political ambitions.  However, there is also interference from spiritual beings with an axe to grind.  Thus we are coming to the apex of history.  In this let me ask, what about you?  What do you say?  In Jesus, God has set the fruit of salvation low so that even you can grasp it if you will.  Put your faith in Him today.

 

Lessons-Wisdom audio

Thursday
Dec262013

Of Angels And Shepherds

Today we look at Luke 2:1-20, which shares the birth of Jesus, our Lord.  It is appropriate to spend this week of Christmas thinking about these events and the meaning they have for our lives today.

It would be easy to discount all that the Bible tells us under the heading of “pure myth.”  However, if you really are a Truth-seeker, you know that it would be an intellectually dishonest thing.  The Bible is not a collection of myths, but a recollection of what God did in the lives of real people.  These things were written down within the life spans of people who could prove or disprove the veracity of the documents.  Also these things were often written down by people who had no gain in writing such things.  In fact, they were often killed for their “views.”  Let’s look at the story.

God’s Unseen Hand

In these first seven verses we see something that is evident throughout all of the Bible and it is this.  God often works in ways that are not obvious to us as humans.  Much like the story of Esther, we can go through life and think that God isn’t involved at all and yet He is.  Part of the problem is that when we imagine what we would do if we were God, we think of all kinds of fantastic things we would do.  Yet, in the Bible we see a God who can do the fantastic thing, but most of what He does is invisible to those who don’t know what to look for.  Just remember this, the unseen hand of God is always at work, whether we recognize it or not.

 These verses give us the timing of the birth of Jesus.  Galatians 4:4 says, “when the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son.”  So from God’s perspective this was the perfect timing.  When it mentions Caesar Augustus it gives us a historical reference point.  It was the right time because Rome is the 4th Beast-Kingdom prophesied by Daniel and it has just entered its imperial stage.  Next to this was the fact that there was a relative, military peace that would open the door for the gospel to be preached and spread throughout the then known world.  It was also a time in which Israel had great need for a deliverer and yet very little hope in those promises that God had given her.

God’s hand is also shown to be at work through the prophecies that are fulfilled here.  It is in Micah 5:2 that we are told the messiah would come out of Bethlehem Ephrathah.  Yet, this happens, seemingly, at the whim of an earthly emperor.  Yes, the home town of Jesus would be Nazareth, but the birth place would be Bethlehem.  These are things Jesus could not have plotted to accomplish.  Also recognize that the name of Bethlehem itself promises to be a place of bread.  So there is a further enrichment of the prophecy in the fact that the Messiah would be the bread from heaven as symbolized by the manna in the desert.  Another interesting fact is that there are two cities of David.  Bethlehem is the City of David because it is where he was born.  But the other City of David is a reference to the initial beginning of Jerusalem.  David took the stronghold of Jebus and it became the City of David.  Thus the place and timing of the birth point to the prophetic significance of his first coming.  He comes to be a sustainer of life and yet he is also destined for conquest.  All of these things are coming to past at a time when it looks like God is doing nothing.

The details that point to the lowly circumstances of the birth of Jesus help us to see why God’s activity often goes unrecognized by most.  God loves to work through the lowly things of this world.  When Paul says, “When I am weak then I am strong,” he does so after pointing out that God’s strength comes into our lives through our weaknesses.  So when he says, “I am strong,” he is literally saying that God is strong through me.  Could it be that the Greatest Being of all the Universe would have a penchant to showing His strength through those who would be weak in the world’s eyes?  This is the contention of the apostles.  The King of Israel and the Lord of all the Earth is born away from his home, in a stable, under the tyranny of an Emporer, and under threat of death from a power-hungry king.  Can you imagine King David seeing such a condition?  He who had conquered all the kingdoms around him and amassed all the wealth needed for his son to build the temple, would have moved heaven and earth to give the ultimate Son of David a better birth.  Yet, David would have understood because he too had learned that God’s strength was perfected in our weaknesses.  Of all people, David would understand that God was at work especially at the times that we think He is not.

God Announces His Activity In Advance

Verses 8-14 move to a scene in the outskirts of Bethlehem.  For over a thousand years God had been pointing to the birth of the Christ and Savior through his prophets and angels.  So it continues as the child is born that prophets and angels are very busy in this account.  Yet, this story is strange in that it is lowly shepherds who receive the revelation of the birth of Messiah.  Why to shepherds?  I am sure that many received their news with wonder in Bethlehem, but what about other places?  This would be the equivalent of a group of loggers from Idaho saying that angels had told them who the next president of the United States should be.  That may be received in the logging towns of Idaho.  But Washington D.C. would be another matter.  Why didn’t the angels tell the great princes of the land or a contingent of priests?  Most likely because both of these groups had proven to be cutthroats to God: Herod, Annas, and Caiaphus.  Now we must recognize that false prophecies and false angel sightings are not new things.  Just because someone says they heard from an angel doesn’t mean you blindly believe everything they say.  However, do you blindly resist everything they say?  The Bible warns us to not let the false prophecies cause us to despise true prophecy.  This is a real tension within man.  We tend to be gullible or cynical because it takes too much work to test everything against Scripture and wait upon the Lord for better understanding.  Truth will always prevail in the end and God did not do these things in secret.  He announced them and did them in the open.

The angels also announced that this was a day of Great Joy!  Not all of God’s messages are about good things.  But it was this day.  “Don’t fear.”  This message to the shepherds is the comfort that they are not there for judgment, but rather, for a message of grace and mercy.  All mankind should be quaking in its boots before a holy, and righteous God.  It is not to our credit that we “ho-hum” when He is mentioned.  Yet, His ultimate desire is not for a relationship of fear, but one of joy and love. 

A savior has been born today in the city of David!  This word savior sounds like a Christian term.  But it actually ties back to the Judges of old.  Before Israel had kings God would raise up deliverers who would save Israel from tyranny.  The term translated as deliverer is literally “savior Lord” or “saving Lord.”  Thus at a time when Israel, once again, was without a Jewish King and were under the tyranny of foreign lords, God raised up from among Israel a “saving Lord,” a deliverer.  The terms used of him are more not just titles, but also descriptive of what He was and would do.  He is Messiah the one anointed by God to deliver Israel.  He would have God’s Spirit and blessing.  He is Lord, the king and sovereign of Israel and, in fact, all creation.

God often gives signs to confirm that the prophecy was really from Him.  Now the angels would be a pretty strong sign already.  But we are warned against deceiving angels in Scripture.  So a sign is given to the shepherds that they would find a baby laying in an animal’s feed trough.  A baby in Bethlehem would be no great wonder.  But one being in a manger on that very same night would be one chance in a million.

Now consider this sign because the Scripture also warns against false signs and wonders in the last days.  The angel’s message that day of peace and great joy is a message that false prophets love to preach.  They did so in Jeremiah’s day and they will do so in the end of times.  But the sign is one that is done in God’s signature style, humility.  Now I know that even humility can be faked.  But in the end Satan is not humble.  God chooses to work through the lowly.  Satan only works through the lowly when he is forced to do so.  Thus be careful that you are not wowed by great promises and amazing, powerful signs.  God is often working in the hidden, humble, unseen ways to the power hungry hearts of mankind.

Come And See!

In verses 15-20 the shepherds are invited to be a part of the Messiah’s welcoming committee.  How fitting for one who is the Son of David to be welcomed by shepherds.  The shepherds become the ones who verify the details of what God was doing.  They witness these things with their eyes and then they tell others.

Yet, they are also encouraging Mary and Joseph who were also witnesses to what God had said and done.  That night must have been a unique moment as Joseph and Mary share stories with the shepherds in wonder.  Their faith must have been enormously strengthened at that time.  Now, no matter how much we want to be the one who hears, sees, and verifies, the truth is that no one gets everything.  We all have to take some things on faith.  And, to all who had ears to hear that day, it was quite believable that the Messiah had come in the person of this little baby.

Let me close by reminding us that this call to come and see is still happening today.  This is a hallmark of God that He loves to show us.  He rewards faith with the joy of discovery.  Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”  Today we do not see these angels or shepherds because God is not doing that right now.  But He is working all over this world and it can be seen for those with eyes to see.  Today He is calling you to come to His Word (the Bible) and hear the Truth that has been hidden from you.  “Come and see My Wisdom,” He says.  Today He is calling for us to come to His Son by faith and find release from the guilt of our sins.  “Come and see My salvation.”  Today He calls us to come to His people and create an environment of loving help within His Church.  “Come and see (be) My people.”  Yes, you may want God to do something more spectacular, but that is only because you define spectacular by the world’s standards.  I challenge you to read this Gospel and let God change your standards of what is spectacular.

Of Angels and Shepherds mp3

Tuesday
Dec032013

The Messages of the Angel Gabriel

People have always been fascinated with the biblical characters called angels and our modern era is no exception.  Angels were the original men from “Out There” (although they were not “little green men”).  If we separate the popular fiction about angels that has built up over the millennia and look to the Bible, we find the truth about angels.

Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are spirits that are tasked with helping those who are inheriting salvation.  Thus it would stand to reason that fallen angels have rejected this task and seek to keep men from inheriting salvation.  Although these spirits have the ability to take on flesh, they are clearly not limited to flesh like humans.  It is also good to note that when angels interact with mankind they look like men.  In Hebrews 13:2 believers are reminded to be hospitable to strangers.  Why?  Many reasons could have been stated.  But the writer reminds them of the many stories in the Old Testament where people found out later that the person or people they entertained were actually angels (e.g. Abraham and Lot).

There are only two angels that are named in the Scriptures.  The first is the archangel (chief angel) Michael.  Scripture tells us that he specifically watches over the people of Israel.  The second angel is Gabriel.  It does not say that Gabriel is an archangel.  The description that is used of him is: “the one who stands in the presence of God.”  He is revealed 3 times in Scripture.  He gives messages from God to Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary.  We will look at the last 2 today.  Join me in Luke 1:5-38.

To Zechariah The Priest

In this passage we find a priest who is from the house of Aaron.  The Levites who were of the house of Aaron were a special class of priests who were able to minister in the temple.  During the reign of King David Aaron’s clan had been divided into 24 family divisions.  Each division was responsible to provide priests for a period of daily service in the Temple.  This was a rotation that was continued after Israel came back from exile.  Part of the temple service was removing the ashes from the Altar of Incense and the burning of fresh incense.  While this was happening the priest would intercede for the people of Israel.  Thus Zechariah is a priest who was chosen by lot to burn incense in the temple as a part of the morning and evening sacrifices.

It is important to note that Zechariah and his wife were considered by God as blameless.  This should not be interpreted to mean they were sinless.  Only Jesus is declared sinless in the Bible.  A fact that many miss is that there had to be grace during the period of the Law.  If no one could be saved by the Law, there had to be a way for Moses, David, etc… to be saved.  Thus those who did their best to follow God’s Law were considered blameless by God if they did so trusting Him.  God would not blame them even though Satan clearly would.  We see this in the Book of Zechariah, where Satan makes accusations against the High Priest Joshua, but the Lord will not listen to him.  In verse 10 we see that the people were gathered at the hour of incense.  They would pray in the temple courtyard, while the priest was offering the incense and interceding for the nation.  It is in this setting that an angel appears to Zechariah.  Of course he doesn’t know it is an angel at first.  He suddenly sees a strange man at the right side of the incense altar and is startled.  No one was authorized to be in there even if they were a priest.  This was under penalty of death.  Zechariah is very startled. 

Let’s get to the message of Gabriel.  After calming the fears of Zechariah the angel tells Zechariah that his wife will become pregnant and have a child.  We are also told that his wife, Elizabeth, is both elderly and barren.  Thus this represents a miraculous thing.  It isn’t on the same level as the virgin birth, but it is amazing nonetheless.  This is somewhat of a signature move of God.  He did this with Abraham and Sarah, who had a baby when she was 90.  He also did this with Isaac and Rebekah, Samuel’s parents, and Samson’s parents.  At critical times in the plan of God, a child is born to a couple who are barren and too old to have kids.  The “miracle child” goes on to accomplish something great in the plan of God.  Thus we are told that the child “John” would be great.  Jesus himself later said that none of the Old Testament saints and prophets were greater than John the Baptist.  He was to be a Nazarite.  Normally a person would volunteer to be a Nazarite for a temporary amount of time.  During that time they would not cut their hair, not drink any fruit of the vine, and devote themselves to worship and prayer of God.  At the end of their vow they would be released.  But there had been special cases where a child was called to be a Nazarite by God and they were to stay such their whole life.  This was the case with Samson and Samuel.  They did not choose it, nor could they un-volunteer.  As the leper was a living picture of sin, so the Nazarite was a living picture of holiness: a life separated from the common for service to the Lord.  John’s remarkable life would be marked by a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, even while he is in the womb.  This is remarkable because even in the present time of the outpouring of God’s Spirit such a thing is not heard of. 

John’s task would be to prepare people for the coming messiah.  He would “turn many to God.  It is not our job to “save” people.  But, we can turn people back to God.  People were not living their lives towards God and in the light of His direction.  Rather, they were going towards their own desires and way.  Thus John would point them back to Messiah and back to the Way of the Lord.  He did this by warning them that those who were not prepared for Messiah’s coming would come under judgment.  Though they were a part of Israel they would perish like the generation did that traveled with Moses out of Egypt.  They perished in the desert because of unbelief.

The last part of the message is both a rebuke and a sign.  Zechariah was slow to believe what the angel said and thus he loses his ability to speak.  The angel tells him that he will be unable to speak until the child is born (over 9 months away).  This discipline in Zechariah’s life would teach him to trust the Lord, but it would also enable him to focus on what God was doing and be a spectacular sign that something special was happening with this child.  Of course Zechariah comes out of the temple and cannot speak.  Everyone knows something happened.  However, he goes home.  Elizabeth becomes pregnant, which she hides from public knowledge.

To Mary The Virgin

Six months later the angel Gabriel pays a visit to Mary a relative of Elizabeth’s.  Elizabeth was near Jerusalem, but Mary is in the Northern area of the Galilee, in the town of Nazareth.  The message is similar but has some very important differences.  Here we see that Mary is just as startled as Zechariah and yet is comforted by the angel.  He tells Mary that she had God’s favor.  The word would be better translated as “Grace” and is reminiscent of the phrase, “And Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord.”  God needed someone to bear the Messiah into the world.  This is not a statement of Mary’s superiority, but that she pleased God.  Only one could bear the Messiah.  They needed to be a virgin, of the line of David, and a godly woman.  Thus, Mary was chosen by God.   God is not doing this to reward Mary.  Rather, when he wanted to bring forth the Messiah, He looked for someone who fit His qualifications.  We might ask ourselves two things.  First, what does God want to do?  Second, am I qualified?  God sometimes is looking to do something spectacular.  But most of the time He is just looking for someone who will trust Him with all their heart and pass that faith down to the next generation.  This is no small thing and becomes the foundation for those times when He does something great in our eyes.  Mary is ready because faith had been passed down from one generation to the next until it reached her.  Are you being faithful to the faith that has been passed down to you?  Satan does not want strong believers because he knows that this is his only way to thwart the plan of God.  We can have the favor of God whether or not He does something as great as part the Red sea, or miraculously conceive a child within us.

The angel tells Mary that she will become pregnant and the child will actually be the Son of God.  Furthermore, this child will be given the throne of David and rule upon it forever.  This is heady stuff.  The Son of God is a clear reference to divinity.  Also, at this period in time “David’s throne” had been usurped by non-Jews.  Rome had given the throne to Herod even though he was not of the line of David.  We might ask what this means in light of the fact that Jesus was killed.  Even though he was resurrected, he then ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God.  At the cross, Jesus demonstrated his right to have the throne of David.  But, He will not take up the throne until He comes back.  When He does come back He will establish a kingdom that will last forever and will be upon the earthly throne of David.  Thus God will have fulfilled His promise to David.  However, He will not just rule over Israel, but over all nations.

The message involves Mary being pregnant.  Mary is not sure what to think since she is a virgin and asks how this could be.  Now let me make a plug for control in the area of sexuality.  Part of God’s favor had to do with the fact that Mary had trusted God enough to wait until marriage to become sexually active.  So her question is a tribute to her fidelity to God.  How will this happen?  The angel’s answer is that the baby will be miraculously conceived in her by the Holy Spirit.  Though this seems to be a fairy tale to some, take time to think about it.  Mary would have eggs within her.  The same God who took dirt, shaped it and breathed life into it, could surely cause an unfertile egg to “come to life.”  In fact, an egg is literally turned on by the information of a sperm.  Who made the DNA molecule in the first place?  Who encoded it with the information to make a human?  These things are miraculous, but they are not impossible with God.   In fact, humans are learning to do these kind of things in a lab.  Could not the Creator of the universe do so inside Mary’s womb?  We often have more faith in man and his technology than in God who created the physics that allow technology to exist. 

The angel ends with information that Mary didn’t know.  Her relative Elizabeth who had been barren all her life, had been pregnant for the last 6 months.  Now this is important because it serves as a sign to Mary that God would keep His word to her.  But it would also give her a close confidant who was also a seasoned believer.  This young teenager would have a strong woman of God to counsel her and prepare her for the tough days ahead.

Let me close with this.  Recognize in this story of miraculous things that the key is God’s heart.  He wants us to turn our hearts back to Him so that we can be blessed by what He is planning to do.  How often we turn from God to ourselves or to other men.  We trust more in our own ability to accomplish things than God.  God forgive us and help us to see that with Him, Nothing is Impossible.  In the days ahead, may we hold fast the faith that has once and for all been delivered to the saints until that day He comes back to reign forever.

Message Angel Gab Audio