You Are Blessed Because You Believed

2825321771_4eaa499177_o
Photo by Michelle Pearson

You Are Blessed Because You Believed

Luke 1:26-45

 

For many, the Christmas season is a truly blessed time, it’s my favorite time of the year. We get to be with family, see our children or grandchildren and watch them open their presents. But sadly, the Christmas season is not a blessed time for everyone. This time of year has the highest incidence of suicide. I believe that everyone, in their core, want’s to be blessed. We all know people, and maybe we are that person, who will say to someone as they are leaving, “have a blessed day.” The Bible tells us that Mary was blessed, but why was she blessed.

In the first couple of chapters of Luke we read the story of the birth of Jesus. This time of year, we often focus on chapter 2, but for this let’s look at chapter 1 for a minute. The first 4 verses are Luke introducing himself and telling why and how he wrote this book, then he gets right into the story. But he doesn’t start with Mary, instead he starts with Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin.

Now, Zachariah and Elizabeth were quite old. They had been praying for a son for years, but Liz was said to be barren. Zach was a priest of the order of Abijah and we read in verse 6 that they were both righteous in God’s eyes. Zach was chosen by casting lots to burn incense in the sanctuary. You see, there is no coincidence with God, He even controls where the dice will fall. While in the sanctuary, an angel appears to Zach. The angel tells him that God has heard his prayers and that his wife was pregnant. The angel even tells him that it is a boy, they didn’t even have an ultrasound first, and that he was to name the boy John. Now, look at what the angel tells Zach about his son in verses 14-17, 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

So, this angel tells him that his wife is pregnant in her old age, that it will be a boy and then all these other details about his life, and what is Zach’s response? “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Luke 1:18. So, what does the angel say next? “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Luke 1:19.

Let’s take a look at what just happened. The angel Gabriel came to Zach and let him know that he was about to receive what he had been praying about for years, and Zach didn’t believe him. So, this means that, although Zach had been praying for a son for years, he didn’t really believed that God would do it. Don’t we all do that sometimes? We ask God to provide something, all the while in the back of our minds, not believing He will do it.

We’ve all probably heard this story many times. Gabe made Zach a mute until John was born because of his disbelief.  So, now let’s look at how Mary handled the same event in her own life.

Six months later that same angel, Gabriel, appears to Mary and says, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Luke 1:27. This confused and disturbed Mary, but Gabe said to her the same thing he said to Zach, “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” and once he calms her down a little bit he says, “for you have found favor with God!31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:30-33.

Notice what happens next. Mary questions this but doesn’t doubt its possibilities. So, Zach doesn’t believe that his wife can get pregnant when she is old, even though he would have undoubtedly known the story of Abraham and Sarah, While Mary believes that she can conceive, even though she is a virgin. She says, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” So, because she asks an intelligent question, without doubting, he answers her by saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.” Luke 1:35-37. And, this is how Mary responds, “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38.

Next, Mary immediately goes to visit Liz. It says that she went to Judea a few days later and this is where we see the unborn John the Baptizer leaping in his mother’s womb when they come together. Think about this, Mary had just conceived Jesus a few days earlier and John recognizes Him.

But I love what Liz says in verses 44-45, 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” She said that Mary was blessed because she believed the Lord would do what He said he would do. Here’s the thing, God wants to bless us, but He won’t do it if we don’t have faith. He wants to see that we believe first, then He will bless us to overflowing. Have a blessed week.

Do You Want Every Spiritual Blessing?

 

40421558832_d4681ddb36_o
Photo by Michelle Pearson

 

Do You Want Every Spiritual Blessing?

After Paul finished his greeting, he began his letter to the church at Ephesus by saying, in Ephesians 1:3, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”

He begins his letter by praising God. I think this is something that we, as believers, miss far too often. We need to praise God more…much more! Not just on Sunday morning when we’re singing the worship songs in church or on the freeway when we missed a near accident, but all the time. We need to praise God in our homes, we need to praise God at work, we even need to praise God when we are stuck in traffic. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I love how Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it when he said, “We are not sitting here, and groaning, and crying, and fretting, and worrying, and questioning our own salvation. He has blessed us, and therefore we will bless him. If you think little of what God has done for you, you will do very little for him; but if you have a great notion of his great mercy to you, you will be greatly grateful to your gracious God.”

Paul goes on to say that God has blessed us. Christians today, especially those of us in the West, often see blessings as monetary. In fact, you can turn on the television any day and hear a pastor preaching this very message. But, what does Paul say here? He praises God for “every spiritual blessing”. Notice he doesn’t say anything about physical or monetary blessings, he thanks God for every spiritual blessing. Spurgeon also said, “Our thanks are due to God for all temporal blessings; they are more than we deserve. But our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings. A new heart is better than a new coat. To feed on Christ is better than to have the best earthly food. To be an heir of God is better than being the heir of the greatest nobleman. To have God for our portion is blessed, infinitely more blessed than to own broad acres of land. God hath blessed us with spiritual blessings. These are the rarest, the richest, the most enduring of all blessings; they are priceless in value.” Don’t you love that? Our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings! When was the last time you thanked God for spiritual blessings? For that matter, when was the last time you asked God for spiritual blessings? I noticed this passage years ago, and yet for me, it’s still not often enough. We are so focused on the physical that we often forget the spiritual. Oh, we might remember it in church, or when we read a blog about it, but we need to ask God to remind us of it daily. We need to ask God to open the eyes of our hearts to those spiritual blessings, He would be happy to, I’m sure.

David Guzik said, “If we have no appreciation for spiritual blessing, then we live at the level of animals. Animals live only to eat, sleep, entertain themselves, and to reproduce. We are the only creatures on this earth who are made in the image of God and He has something much higher for us, yet many choose to live at the level of animals. God wants us to know every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united in Christ.” The world keeps trying to tell us that we are just animals, but we know that we are much more than that. We are the only creatures who are made in the image of God. We are the only creatures with a soul, I’m sorry to break this to you, but all dogs don’t go to heaven, they don’t have a soul. We have a purpose, whether you have found your specific purpose or not, we are all here to glorify God!

The verse doesn’t end here though. It goes on to say that we have those spiritual blessings “because we are united with Christ.” I know that I often sound like a broken record, but this subject is just too important not to talk about. This is one of the key themes of the New Testament. Over and over again, the Bible tells us how important it is that we are united, and yet we keep dividing ourselves. In John 17:22-24, when Jesus was praying to the Father just before His crucifixion, He said, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!” Did you catch what He said there in verse 23? He said, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” Christ prayed for our perfect unity so that the world could know that He was sent by the Father and that we are loved. Why doesn’t the world believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Because we have lost His perfect unity!

I’ve said it many times before, but if we don’t set aside our petty differences and unite as the body of Christ, we will never be effective in this world. Again, the only doctrine that matters is that of salvation by God’s grace, through our life-changing faith in Christ, that’s it. God wants us to be united in Christ alone. It’s time we stop following men and start following God!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑