Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Sunday 2006



I’m sure you’ve noticed that each year almost all the major news magazines put out an issue with special pictorial sections recalling people & events that made news during the previous year.

Many of the magazines also include articles by “experts” predicting what they expect to see happening in the years ahead.

Some even go so far as to make predictions covering 10, 20, or more years in the future.

You always see the ones in the grocery isle with Jesus, Mary or Nostradamus on the cover standing on a cloud, glazing into a globe or appearing on a piece of toast.

In the past, a few of these predictions have proven accurate, but others couldn’t have been more wrong.

Even the roll of the dice will eventually come up 7 or 11.

ILL. For example, back in 1967, experts predicted that by the turn of the century technology would have taken over so much of the work we do that the average American work week would be only 22 hours long, & that we would work only 27 weeks a year. As a result, one of our biggest problems would be in deciding what to do with all our leisure time.

Well, I don’t know about you, but that prediction certainly missed the mark as far as I’m concerned!

In fact, most of us seem to be very busy people.

We’re always in a hurry. We walk fast, & talk fast, & eat fast.

So here we are, at the last Sunday of 2006.

I wonder how we’ll do in 2007.

Will we be as busy? Will we make any better use of our time? In 365 days, when the year is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread?

There is a passage of Scripture that I believe can be of help to us as we look forward to the rest of 2007 - if we’ll listen to it. The passage is our Scripture reading for today.


Ephesians 5:15-17

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.”


I think that in this passage the Apostle Paul presents some important lessons that we need to consider.


A. First of all, we must be very careful how we live because our time on this earth is limited.

The Psalmist wrote,

"Show me, O Lord, my life’s end & the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" [Psalm 39:4].

And then again,

"The length of our days is 70 years - or 80, if we have the strength...they quickly pass, & we fly away" [Psalm 90:10].

Now, I realize that for some, to live 70 or 80 years if we have the strength sounds like a long, long time.

In fact, I can remember when I thought anyone over 40 was ancient, but I no longer feel that way now that I am nearly there.

For teenagers in love talking together in the car, an hour or two seems like a blink of an eye. But for mom & dad worrying about what’s going on out in that car, an hour or two can seem like an eternity.

B. The Psalmist also tells us to number our days so that we will develop a heart of wisdom.

A few years ago People Magazine published an article entitled "Dead Ahead" telling about a new clock that keeps track of how much time you have left to live. It calculates an average life span of 75 years for men & 80 years for women. So you program your sex & age into the clock, & from then on it will tell you how much time you have left.

They have these online versions as well on the internet.

I didn’t buy one. But it is an intriguing idea.

In fact, that’s what the Psalmist told us to do - to number our days.

Remember a few weeks ago I read the scripture which says that before we were born, God ordained our days.

He set aside a number of days for us.

And to my knowledge, God has only granted more days once in the scriptures.

Isaiah 38:1-6

“1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."

2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.”

So if I live to be 75 years old, I have about 456 months left to live.

That’s all, just 456 months left to live.

But, I don’t have a guarantee of even one more day to live.

In fact the Bible tells us not to count on tomorrow because tomorrow may not come for you or for me.

All we have is right now. So our time on this earth is valuable because it is very limited.


Secondly, Paul tells us that we must make "the most of every opportunity." and he gives a reason, "because the days are evil."

A. Jesus said that Satan is a robber & a thief & a murderer, & one of the things he tries to rob from us is our time because time is a very precious possession.

Just think of the time wasted in sinning.

Think of the time wasted in bars or in shallow affairs.

Think of the time wasted in gossiping or spreading rumors.

Or think about all the time wasted worrying about the consequences of the sins we have committed. Satan is a thief & a robber!

B. But it is not just sin that makes demands on our time. Sometimes even good things can make demands.

One of my favorite stories from the scriptures,

Jesus went to the home of Mary & Martha & Lazarus. He sat down to teach, & Mary was sitting at His feet just soaking in every word. Meanwhile, Martha was out in the kitchen preparing dinner.
Now, you know the story. Martha gets upset because Mary is not in the kitchen, too.

So she complains to Jesus, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" [Luke 10:40]

"Martha, Martha," Jesus answered, "You are worried & upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, & it will not be taken away from her" [Luke 10:41-42].

Now was Martha committing a sin by fixing a meal in the kitchen?

No, of course not! But here’s the problem.

She was so preoccupied with what she was doing that she didn’t realize that God was in her living room!

That’s the same mistake that you & I make every day. We get so caught up in the here & now that we fail to deal with the eternal, the things that will last forever & ever.

ILL. Richard Swenson, a medical doctor, wrote a book in which he discusses one of the major maladies of our time - anxiety & stress. He calls it "overload," & says that people are just plain overloaded.

1. We’re overloaded with commitments. We’ve committed ourselves to go here & there, to take part in this activity & that social function. As a result we soon begin meeting ourselves coming & going because we have overloaded ourselves in the area of commitments.

2. We’re also overloaded with possessions, he says. Our closets are full, & our garages are overflowing. We’ve gone into debt to pay for all of these things that we "simply must have." And now we’re so afraid that someone will steal them. We are overloaded in the area of possessions.
3. Thirdly, we have an overload in the area of work. We get up early, fight traffic, & experience intolerable working conditions because we have to if we’re going to pay for all those possessions that we’ve accumulated.

4. There is also an information overload. He said that as a doctor he has to read 220 articles a month just to keep up with all the changes in his profession. And now with the internet there’s an information superhighway. But the problem is that we can’t possibly absorb it all. So we feel an overload in this area, too.

Well, I could go on & on, but you get the picture. There are so many demands on our time, so many good things that need to be done.

We do want to make the most of every opportunity, so what are we to do?


Well, to answer that, Paul tells us, " not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is."

Now what do you think God’s will is for you in this New Year?

Do you think He wants your mind so saturated with worries & anxieties that you can’t think spiritual thoughts? Do you think He wants your calendar so crowded that you don’t have time for the important things?

What do you think God’s will is for you this year?

A. Let me make a couple of suggestions for you to consider. First of all, establish your priorities.

1. I’m assuming that since you’re in church this morning that you believe God should be a part of your life. But when you begin to establish priorities, you have to decide just where He stands in your life. So ask yourself, "Who or what is most important in my life?"

And I’m hoping that your answer will be, "My relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is most important to me." If so, then put that at the top of your list of priorities, & say, "This will affect my decisions, my scheduling, my relationship with others, & my whole outlook on life."

"Therefore, when Sunday rolls around neither rain nor shine nor football kickoffs will interfere with my being in church, because He comes first in my life. I’ll worship the Lord & nothing will interfere with that."

2. You also need to schedule some definite time each day to pray & to read His Word. Pray for yourself & for your family & for people around you. Pray for the church, & for the missionaries. Sometimes they feel so alone & so far away. You’ll never know how much your prayers will mean to them. But you’ll be blessed as you grow in your faith & trust in the Lord!

3. You must also spend time with your family. Every husband here ought to have a date night with his wife, a time when just the two of you get away & don’t have anything else to interfere. No cell phones, no telephones, no interruptions, & you can just talk, maybe at a nice restaurant or maybe at home. Wherever it is, spend some time together.

Spend time with your children, too. They’re growing up so fast.

Make sure that you spend quality time with your children. Make sure that your family is very high on the list.

4. Now most of us have to work. And I think Christians ought to be good workers. When someone hires a Christian they ought to know they’re getting someone who will give them an honest day’s work, & not cheat them. Because we’re Christians we have a responsibility to the Lord to honor Him even in the marketplace.

So, establish your priorities.

B. And then, learn how to live today. The two greatest enemies of time are regrets for things we did in the past, & anxiety about what will happen to us in the future.

Many of us are living either in the past or in the future.

There’s a story about a girl who went to college & she just hated it. But she told herself, "If I can ever get out of college & get married & have children, I know I’ll finally be able to enjoy life."

So she stuck with it. She went to classes every day & finally graduated from college. Then she got married & had children, & discovered that children are a lot of work. So she told herself, "If I can just get these kids raised, then I’ll be able to relax & really enjoy life."

But about the time the kids were entering high school her husband said, "Guess what? We don’t have enough money to send our kids to college. I guess you’ll have to get a job."

Well, she didn’t want to, but she knew he was right & they needed the money, so she went to work. And she hated it. But she told herself, "If I can just get these kids out of college, & get all of the bills paid, then I can quit work & really enjoy life."

Finally, the last child graduated from college, & all the bills were paid.

So she walked into her employer’s office & said, "I quit." He said, "Oh, you don’t want to quit now. If you stay with us just another 8 years you’ll have a pension for the rest of your life."

She thought, "Well, I don’t want to work another 8 years, but there’s all that money there, & I really can’t turn down the opportunity." So she worked for another 8 years. Finally, she & her husband retired at the same time. They sold their home & bought a little retirement cottage.

Then they sat down on the swing on their front porch & looked at the family picture album & dreamed about the good old days.

Someone said once, "Life is what happens to you while you’re making plans to do something else."

How true!

Another year has come & gone. A new year stretches before us. Help us Lord, to redeem the time. So have a happy new year!

And during this New Year may you have;

enough happiness to keep you sweet –

enough trials to keep you strong –

enough sorrow to keep you human –

enough hope to keep you happy –

enough failure to keep you humble –

enough success to keep you eager –

enough friends to give you comfort –

enough wealth to meet your needs –

enough enthusiasm to make you look forward to tomorrow - & enough determination to make each day better than the day before.

Ask the Lord, to please help us to use the hours of this year the wisest way we can for you, & for your glory.
Romans 13:11-12 "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness & put on the armor of light."


James Chapter 5 tells us that if anyone among you needs prayer or is sick, to go to the Elders and they will lay hands on you and pray for you and you will become well.

Come forward if;

You have a prayer request,

If you are need of healing,

If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need to do that now, for the hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, The night is nearly over and the day almost here.

Do not let yourself get caught by surprise when the Lord comes, because if you wait, it will be too late for you.

There is no second chance on the day of judgment, there is no reprise from the sentence that will be handed out on that day.

Don’t wait, listen to the Lord speak to your heart, and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Service 2006


Welcome members & visitors.

Explain chair situation

Thank all who gave & give to make this possible


25th not Christ’s actual birthday, but it is the day we choose to celebrate His coming into our world, and dying so that we may have life.

Tonight is for reflection, praise and worship of our King, not as baby Jesus, but as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, for by no other name are you saved.

1 John 4:9-10

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Galatians 4:4-5

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.


Tonight we have come together to lift our voices and our praise to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Tonight we gather to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Immanuel.


The Lighting of the First Candle - Hope

1 Peter 1:3-4

Tonight, we light the first candle in remembrance of the hope Christ gives to us. (Light the shortest purple candle)

Matthew 1:18-25


The Lighting of the Second Candle - Peace

Luke 1:26-38

Tonight, we light the second candle in remembrance of the peace that Christ has brought into the world. (Light the second purple candle)

Luke 2:1-7


The Lighting of the Third Candle - Joy

Luke 2:8-12

Tonight we light the third candle rejoicing because of the overwhelming joy that Jesus has given to us. (Light the pink candle)


The Lighting of the Fourth Candle - Love

John 3:16

Tonight we light the fourth candle to remember the love that Jesus revealed in His coming and His dying for each of us. (Light the final purple candle)


Luke 2:13-15


Luke 2:16-20

The Lighting of the Christ Candle

Isaiah 9:6-7

John 1:14 & 17



The Passing of the Light of Christ


Part 4 - Advent - LOVE


We welcome you to the House of Faith Ministries, if you are visiting.

This is our first ever service in our new Church building.

Praise God for His faithfulness and the Love He has shown to us in our endeavors.

And praise God for this church building.

I say Church building because as we have discussed over the years, the CHURCH is the Body of Christ, and the church building is where we, the body of Christ meet.

Too often people confuse the building with the Church.

And that can lead to our focus being on the physical, rather than the spiritual as it should.

I’ve spoke over the past few weeks on Hope, Courage, and Faith, and today I would like to talk about Love.

Normally, the last Sunday of Advent, you speak on God’s never ending, unexplainable and endlessly abundant love for us.

How He gave His only begotten Son, to die a horrific death so that we could be forgiven and exist with God for eternity.

That is God’s love.

Jesus says that there is no greater love than a man laying down his own life for his friends.

But as I prepared for the sermon today, I thought of something we often forget.

It was not Christ’s birth that showed God’s love, but His death.

And as I thought about this, no where does Jesus ever say “celebrate my birth”, rather, He says the opposite.

At the last supper, He gives the disciples instruction on communion, communion which celebrates Christ’s death.

“Do this, in remembrance of me…”

His body which was broke, and His blood that was shed.

Not a celebration of birth, but of death, because His death “made things new”.

We can praise God for the day He sent Jesus, and there is nothing wrong with choosing a day once a year to dedicate to that celebration.

But we must never lose sight of the greater celebration, and what we were instructed to do in remembrance of Him, proclaiming His kingdom until He returns.

So I thought about the last Sunday in Advent, and about God’s love.

And I thought, God doesn’t love us, just to love us.

He doesn’t just love us because He has nothing better to do.

He loves us for one reason and one reason only.

God loves us, because He wants a relationship with each one of us.

He loves us, expecting and desiring a response from us.

He loves us, and that will never change and will never be in question.

But the question does arise, at least it did for me on this the last Sunday of Advent, the Sunday we discuss love, do I love God?

Am I giving God a response to His love?

Or am I ignoring Him?

Whether you respond to God’s love or not, God still loves you…

This is what our ‘free will’ boils down to in life.

Are we going to respond to God’s love, or ignore Him?

So today we will look at Love, not God’s love for us, but our love for Him.


In the book of Amos, the people of Israel were busy sacrificing to God but God did not accept their sacrifices.

They were busy singing their songs, but God did not accept their songs.

They used the best musical instruments of David, but God did not accept their music.

They observed all the appointed feasts but God did not accept their feasts.

In fact, these were the very things that God despised.

We can learn the following from their experiences.



Amos 5:23, 24

Take away from me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

You can use the most anointed songs but this does not guarantee that the worship will be acceptable to God.

God despised their songs because there was no justice and righteousness in their lives.

God values our love for righteousness and justice more than our songs.

God values our lifestyles more than the words we offer to Him.

Actions speak louder than words!



Amos 6:5, 7

Who chant to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David….But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph

Israel played with the best musical instruments of David but God rejected their music because they did not care about their brother’s suffering.

We cannot worship God on one hand and neglect the practical needs of our brothers who are suffering.

Loving God, means keeping His commandments.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command”.

Interestingly, the Bible does not ask us to tell God we love Him in our songs although this is not necessarily wrong.

The Bible does require us to display our love for God by keeping His commandments.

True religion involves meeting the practical needs of the poor.

We need to balance between skill and character.

We cannot use a skillful musician who does not love righteousness and justice. Skill must be complemented with character.

Otherwise, we could get Michael Jackson to lead worship every Sunday.

Our worship services will be full every week.



Amos 5:21

I despised your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies.

Sometimes, we get out of a worship service and say “That was really a good service”. What we really meant was that the program was good.

Every thing went on smoothly. The songs were good. The flow of the service was good. The church ambience was good. The message was short, sweet and encouraging. We all left the service “happy”.

But was God “happy” with our service?

Israel was busy observing her feast days and sacred assemblies not knowing that God actually despised them.

Many celebration services today are planned to make the congregation happy rather than to please God. At the end of the service, we all say “That was a good service”. But was it really good in God’s eyes?



Amos 5:22

Though you offer me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them. Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.

Israel presented to God the following offerings.

1) Burnt Offerings

2) Grain Offerings

3) Peace Offerings

God rejected all their offerings.

1 Samuel 15:22

"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

As a result of Saul’s disobedience to God’s commands, he lost the Kingdom of Israel. God wanted his obedience more than his sacrifice.


Israel continued to worship idols while they were sacrificing to God. If you continue to have idols in your life, don’t expect God to accept your worship.

Amos 5:26

“You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god
which you made for yourselves.”


The Christian music industry in the United States is now a 3 billion dollar industry. Worship albums are now the best sellers in Christian music.



In the later part of the book of Amos, God judged the worship in Israel and rejected all of it. God rejected all their songs and sacrifices. The temple was eventually destroyed.

Amos 8:2, 3

“The end has come upon my people Israel. I will not pass by them anymore. And the songs of the temple shall be wailing in that day”, says the Lord

Amos 8:10

“I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation. I will bring sackcloth on every waist, and baldness on every head. I will make it like mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day.”

The positive part in Amos was that God promised He will rebuild true worship in the last days.

Amos 9:11

“On that day, I will raise up the tabernacle of David which has fallen down, and repair its damages. I will raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old.”
I believe we are living in the era where God is restoring true worship in His church.

This true worship is not just about songs and music. It is about people who will live their lives according to the commandments of God and whose lifestyles are right before God.

It is about people whose character is consistent with the songs.

So I ask, as we think about Love this last Sunday of Advent, lets not just think of God’s amazing, endless and indescribable love for us, but lets think about how we respond to that love.

Are we loving God?

Are we giving Him the worship He requires of His people, who give Him all with a right heart?


This Christmas represents a new beginning because of the sacrifice of Christ, and our move to this church, and with the new year just around the corner, if you feel you need to do something new, now is the time.

If you feel you have never really responded to God’s love, or maybe you have lost your way or focus in life, now is the time to do something about that.

Right now, respond to God’s love.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

3rd Sunday - Advent - FAITH


We welcome you to the House of Faith Ministries, if you are visiting.

We are temporarily stopping our current sermon series entitled, “Our Constitution & Bylaws”, so that we may have an Advent Sermon Series for the month of December in preparation for our Christmas Eve.

The first Sunday in Advent focused on HOPE, and we spoke on the Hope of the Wise men.

Last Sunday was PEACE / COURAGE and we spoke on the Courage of Joseph.

Today we are going to look at the FAITH of Mary.


Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month, 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." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "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 Son 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?"

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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.”

The Main Idea

The Faith of Mary is revealed in the Christmas story.

· Mary Was A Teen Believer
· Mary Was an Honored Believer
· Mary Was A Courageous Believer

Mary teaches us that we too can be used by God to change the world.

We learn from her that . . .

· Faith is not age-dependent. (You’re never too old or too young!)
· Faith positions us to be part of the greatest event in all human history.
· Faith means do what God says regardless of the cost.


· Jessica Simpson
· Kelly Clarkston
· Hillary Duff

If you recognize those names it is likely that you have a teen in your home.

These are the celebrities who fit into the category of “I wanna be her!”

They are pretty. They are successful. They are famous. We all agree, most girls would like to be like them?

But watch that list and you will find that it changes overnight.

Names come and go so quickly it can make your head spin. While a few stars have staying power, a girl who is cool and popular today may be forgotten tomorrow.

Today we are going to talk about a teenage girl who will never be forgotten.

She has been popular with every generation and every culture where people have gotten to know her. Her name is Mary, and she tends to get a lot of media exposure every year around Christmas time.

In most ways, Mary did not fit the normal criteria we use in ascribing celebrity status to someone.

We know that she was not wealthy.

We don’t know how attractive Mary was.

And she was unknown outside of her home town.

But there was something about Mary that captures our attention and affection. She had an inner beauty that impressed even God!

Her inner beauty was so powerful that she was chosen to become the mother of the greatest celebrity of all times: Jesus, the King of kings.

One way to describe Mary’s inner beauty is to talk about her faith, for it was her faith that made Mary stand out from all the other contenders in the pageant to select the mother of the King. As we read just the first part of her story we discover that

· Mary Was a Teen Believer
· Mary Was an Honored Believer
· Mary Was a Courageous Believer

Mary teaches us that we too can be used by God to change the world. We learn from her that . . .

· Faith is not age-dependent.
· Faith positions us to be part of the greatest event in all human history.
· Faith means do what God says regardless of the cost.

(Faith is not age-dependent)

Luke 1:26 In the sixth month, 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.

Mary Had Mature Faith Even As A Teenager!

As we read this story, we are impressed at how mature Mary’s faith was at such an early age. Mary was a teenager when the angel appeared to her, most Biblical scholars agree, between thirteen and fifteen years of age, which was the typical age for engagement, or betrothal.

The message he brought would change her life in a radical way but she responded with such strong faith that we have to conclude she had been cultivating it for quite some time.

Many of the heroes of the faith in the Bible had a strong faith in God at an early age. Think of . . .

· Samuel. God called him when he was but a young boy and he responded with childlike faith

· David. As a teenager he attributed his success over a lion and a bear to the Lord. He defeated Goliath because rather than fixing his eyes on the giant he saw the greater reality of the presence of the Lord of the Armies of heaven and Israel.

· Daniel was perhaps only 16 when he and his companions were taken into captivity. Yet, despite their youth, they had such a deep faith in the Lord they were willing to face death rather than worship false gods.

Faith is not age-dependent!

You don’t have to wait until you are old to become a hero of the faith.

In fact, age will not guarantee anything at all.

Many young people are more mature spiritually than people decades older than them.

The book of Ecclesiastes urges us to start following God when we are young (12:1)!

Mary Believed In The Personal God of Israel!

The key sentence I want to emphasize here is: The Lord is with you.

Mary’s faith was not in a creed or a religion or a denomination.

She believed in the Lord God of Israel.

Sadly, the same could not be said of most of the religious leaders of Israel at that time. They had a relationship with their religion rather than a relationship with the Lord

A personal relationship with the Lord God is what sets Biblical faith apart from the religions of the world.

The writer to the Hebrews, in describing faith said:

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

God is a person, not a power or force without consciousness (He can be pleased) and faith begins when we believe that He exists and that His basic orientation toward us is to reward us, not punish us.

Hear that again: reward us, not punish us.

God is love, and the central command of the Bible is that we should love Him in return.

Why do we feel sometimes that God is punishing?

Because life in general can attack us, come against us. Bad things happen to good people.

But the reality is this; Jesus said “I came into the world, not to condemn, but to save.”

If we do not turn to Christ, we live in condemnation, because the world in Jesus’ words has already been judged and condemned, and those who are without Christ will perish with the World.

What we sometimes think is God’s punishment in our lives, is more likely the results of the fall, and condemnation which incurred from it as opposed to God’s punishing.

Jesus came to save, not condemn.

It is clear that Mary responded to God’s love and believed in God.

Today, we do the same thing when we believe in Jesus Christ. As this passage will teach us Jesus is God who became a man.

The Bible explains that He did so in order to take the punishment of our sins and to offer us eternal life.

Jesus Himself said:

John 3:16 – 18

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

As an ambassador for Jesus, I urge you to believe in Him now!

You do not have to change your life first.

You don’t have to wait until you’re older.

In fact, follow Mary’s example – she had mature faith even as a young teenage girl.

Now, in order to appreciate the strength of her faith we must observe that Mary was a virgin when the angel visited her.

Mary Was A Virgin!

The young woman to whom the angel was sent was a virgin – a young woman who had not yet had sexual relations.

The Greek word (parthenos) may be translated “girl” or “virgin” but, in this context virgin is the correct translation because in verse 34 that fact that Mary had no sexual intercourse is stressed.

The angel’s message was that Mary was about to become pregnant by supernatural, not natural, means.

The virgin birth is not an incidental fact about Jesus – it is central to the fact that He was at once both God and man!

Only as God could Jesus reveal God to us (Hebrews 1)

Only as God could He take upon himself the sin of the world

Only as man could he identify with our humanity, weakness and temptation (Hebrews 2:18)

Only as God and man can He stand as our advocate before the throne of God (Hebrews 4:14-5:3)

Mary Was Engaged to Be Married.

Mary was pledged to be married to a man named Joseph.

Since betrothal often took place soon after puberty, Mary may have just entered her teens.

This must have been a wonderful time in life for Mary as was making preparations for her wedding day. But the angel’s announcement was going to throw her wedding plans into chaos.

According to Jewish law, betrothal established a legal relationship between a man and a woman, binding upon both parties (Deuteronomy 20:7; 22:23-27).

It took place after the conclusion of the marriage-contract between the parents, and was performed by the exchange of something of a certain value between the parties.

The interval between betrothal and marriage was usually one year, during which time the woman and her property judicially already belonged to her future husband, and unfaithfulness on her part was considered adultery.

According to Old Testament Law the penalty for adultery was death by stoning!

However, because Israel was at this time under Roman domination, the Jews did not have the authority to carry out capital punishment.

So Mary did not face death but she faced divorce, for that is what it took to terminate an engagement to be married.

She also faced the social shame of becoming pregnant out of wedlock.

Joseph was a descendant of David.

To the Jewish ear, this was a significant fact, for God had promised that His promised King would be born of the lineage of David (2 Samuel 7:11-16).

Although Joseph was not Jesus’ physical father, Jesus would have a legal claim to the throne of David through the right of adoption.


Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

The angel declared that Mary was highly favored, a declaration that is repeated in verse 30 “you have found favor with God.”

The word favor comes from the root word for grace. Mary was not being rewarded for something she had done but was being selected by God for a special purpose and blessing.

The angel would explain that her supernatural pregnancy was the grace gift God was about to give her.

While Mary did not earn the right to be selected for this honor, there can be no doubt that God selected Mary because of character qualities He saw in her and because of her faith in Him.

The Angel Declared That God Was With Mary

This was to reassure her that she would not be alone as she undertook the task ahead.

The angel of the Lord told Gideon that the Lord would be with him when he was sent out to save Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:12).

The same thing had been said about David when God the Spirit fell upon him and empowered him to lead Israel.

As an unwed mother, Mary faced the possibility of rejection by Joseph, her own family and the community.

But she would never be alone, for the Lord would be with her.

In a similar way, those who follow Jesus are never alone.

God will never send you to do something in service of Him without providing the resources and support you need. When He commissioned us to make disciples of the nations, Jesus reassured us that He would be with us to the very end of the age (Mathew 28:16-20).

Paul writes that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:31-39).

Only one person was chosen to bear the child who would become King.

But everyone who believes in Jesus becomes part of God’s most amazing work in all human history – that of bearing the news of Jesus to all the people of the world.


Luke 1:29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “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 Son 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?”

The third aspect of Mary’s faith was how courageous she was in obeying God.

Try to imagine what the experience was like for Mary. Her world was about to be shattered.

· She would have to face her fiancĂ©, her family and her neighbors with the news that she was pregnant – news which meant she could be stoned for adultery.

· But when she tried to explain to them that God was the Father of the child, she could be stoned for blasphemy!

How difficult it would have been for Mary to tell her parents and future husband that she was pregnant.

Mary Was Understandably Startled

Mary was greatly troubled, bewildered by the angel’s words and was understandably afraid.

We’re not told what form the angel took when he appeared to Mary but when Zechariah, the husband of Mary’s cousin, was visited by an angel he was “startled and gripped with fear” (Matthew 1:12).

The angel told Mary to not be afraid and reassured her that she had found favor with God. Then he made his amazing prediction.

The Angel Delivered God’s Word To Mary

Try to hear his words as Mary first heard them:

You will be with child and give birth to a son.

For most of us, it is a joyful moment when we hear that we are pregnant. And today, we can find out fairly early in the process whether the baby is going to be a boy or a girl.

But Mary found out she was to have a boy even before she got pregnant!

You are to give him the name Jesus. Mary was to give her baby a name that was very common among the Jews.

In Hebrew, it was a form of Jeshua, Joshua or Jehoshua.

The name is a contraction of two words “Yahweh” and “shua” and means “Yahweh saves,” or “Yahweh is savior.”

Joseph would be told in a dream that the child was to be names Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The angel now declares that this child would be quite literally divine!

He will be called great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

The “Most High” is God, as verse 35 makes clear when the angel says He will be called the Son of God!

Being the “son of” someone meant that you shared that person’s bloodline, or as we now know, their DNA. While God, of course, has no bloodline, the statement meant that Jesus shared the same spiritual essence as God. He has Deity!

And He would fulfill God’s promise to send Israel a Messiah, the One who would forever occupy the office of King of Israel.

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.”

Every Jewish man and woman would have recognized these words as referring to the promised Messiah (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 2).

Mary could not have fully understood what she was told. Her human son would be divine and would serve as King over a never-ending kingdom.

Luke tells us that when Mary learned something new about Jesus she treasured what she had heard and pondered it in her heart (Luke 2:19).

But first, she wanted to understand how she could possibly get pregnant!

Mary Asked For An Explanation Of How She Would Fall Pregnant

Luke 1:34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary’s question was not one of unbelief! She believed what she was told. She didn’t even ask for some kind of confirmation, as Zechariah had. She simply didn’t understand how she could possibly become pregnant.

She did not laugh, as Sarah had laughed when she was told she was going to bear a son. She did not dismiss the angel’s words. She simply asked for clarification about something she believed was going to happen.

The question arises, why did Mary anticipate having a baby before she had sexual relations?

When told she was going to have a son, why did she not simply assume that the angel meant she would have a baby after she and Joseph were married?

It is doubtful she had Isaiah 7:14 in mind, in which God said a virgin would give birth to a son and call him Immanuel.

But something in the tone of the angel’s message led her to understand that she would immediately fall pregnant, before she was married.

The angel answered Mary’s question by explaining that . . .
Mary Would Become Pregnant Through The Miracle-Working Power of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit would come upon Mary and create the child within her womb. That is why the child will be the holy one who is called the Son of God.

The image of the Most High overshadowing Mary reminds us of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters of the deep at creation (Genesis 1:2). We also recall the cloud of the glory of the lord that descended upon the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34, 35).

Although Mary had not asked for a sign, the angel offered proof to Mary of God’s power by pointing out that . . .

Elizabeth’s Pregnancy Was Proof Of God’s Power

With quiet faith Mary accepted the angel’s explanation and submitted herself to the Lord.

Mary Obeyed The Lord

Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Knowing the enormous price she was about to pay, Mary surrendered herself first to the Lord and then to His plan. Notice that although we have made much of the cost to Mary, she says not a word of it!

She said, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

There’s a wonderfully childlike aspect to her faith.

With absolute trust Mary bows herself to the will of God and declares herself to be His servant. Her words must have brought great joy to the heart of God. He has always longed for His people to give themselves so unreservedly to Him.

Mary also surrendered herself to the Lord’s plan for her life, as costly as it was going to be: “May it be to me as you have said.”

Paul praised the Macedonian churches for following the same sequence when they gave sacrificially to help other Christians in need:

2 Corinthians 8:5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.

They gave themselves first to the Lord, then they gave their money.

God wants us to first give Him ourselves and then give Him our obedience.

In all of history there is only one man who bears the honor of being the first man to walk on the moon. In fact, he is the only man ever to walk on any other heavenly body than earth. No-one else can lay claim to that fame, and no-one else will ever be able to. This unique place in all of human history belongs solely to Neil Armstrong.

In all of history there was only one woman chosen for the honor of giving birth to the King of kings. While generations of women may have desired the honor, it was reserved for just one woman. That unique place in all of human history belongs solely to Mary. But we can participate in the ongoing miracle of bearing Jesus to all the world.

The Word of God was designed to lead us into an ever deepening relationship with God.

So, let’s follow in Mary’s footsteps of faith.

Have You Begun To Believe In God?

The question is: what will you decide concerning Jesus? I urge you to believe in Jesus and begin your eternal life now!

Is Your Faith Based Upon The Word Of God?

In this story we see the principle that faith is always based upon the Word of God. Biblical faith always has an object, it is not some kind of free-floating phenomenon. Faith is a response to a declaration by God or about God.

For the Christian, faith is never a blind leap! It is always an informed step of trust. Faith always has an objective basis – it is always based upon the Word of God! Read carefully the description of faith given in Hebrews 11:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

The source of what we hope for and what we do not see is the same source that tells us that the universe was formed at God’s command: the Word of God!

Faith is a choice we make to believe and obey something God has said.

If God has said it – you can believe it!

But do you know what God has said?

Go to the source to find out for yourself by reading the Bible daily.

Are You Bowed To the Will Of God?

If God has told you to do something – you can do it!

Jesus told us that without Him we can do nothing but that if we connect ourselves to Him the way a branch connects to a vine, then with Him nothing is impossible.

If God has told you to do something – do it now!

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