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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent 4: Mary and Salvation by Faith Alone


Blessed like Mary


Text 
‘Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.’

Mary is an amazing young woman.
God’s announcement of a child to be born was met with various responses throughout Scripture: Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed (Genesis 18:9-15). Zechariah doubted (1:18). By contrast, Mary submitted, knowing that she was merely the Lord’s servant.
She believed the angel’s words and agreed to bear the child, even under humanly impossible circumstances, even with difficult social consequences. A young unmarried girl who became pregnant risked disaster. She risked losing Joseph, her family, and her reputation.
And her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit risked her being considered crazy as well.
Still Mary said, despite the risks, “May everything you have said come true.” She took the risk of faith, for she knew that God was asking her to serve Him.

She is an amazing young woman and an example to us of faith in action.
Mary is the type of woman who puts her faith into action. She not only says “Lord, your will be done” (see 1:38), but she also ‘hurries’ to see God at work in the life of her relative Elizabeth. The journey to Judea that Mary undertook was not a simple drive to the next town; it was a difficult journey that would have taken at least three days at that time, abo 70km on foot. Mary did not let that stop her from going to Elizabeth, rejoicing with her, and praising the Lord for fulfilling His promises.

And so she arrives at Elizabeth.
The visit from Mary no doubt came as a surprise ...... no cellphones, sms's ‘guess what happened while I was sleeping’........... but when she arrives the Holy Spirit made Elizabeth suddenly aware of both Mary’s pregnancy and the identity of Mary’s baby. The beautiful interweaving of the lives of Elizabeth and Mary before their children were born is  a touching picture of God’s grace upon His servants. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months (1:56). How they must have talked, wondering at what God was doing in their lives and what He was planning for their very special children.

And Elizabeth says to Mary:
Mary, you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.
And what Elizabeth says here is echoed in  a larger way all through the rest of the New Testament.
Blessed is belief.
If one will only trust, only believe, there are no limits to what God may bring to pass in your life and mine. Just believe.

From beginning to end, the Christian walk is by faith, it is trusting God, it is believing that what God has said, can happen in my life. Just like Mary did.......... she believed and was blessed.
Blessed is belief.
God wants to do some amazing things in your life and mine, but they only come to pass if we believe they can come to pass.
Paul in 2 Cor 5:7 puts it like this; Our life is a matter of faith, not of sight”.

I want to look at this in 3 areas of our lives.

1. Salvation
According to God, ALL of us are bad (all have sinned), but according to the world, some of us are really bad – worse than others. I often hear this: “Cedric, you don’t understand, I’m not like all those other people, I am really bad – I have done ........” Well, if you feel that way, the Good News is that, just like everyone else, you only have to believe, you only have to have faith that Jesus dealt with even your sin, for the doorway to salvation, to freedom, to new birth and new life,.....to open before you.
He came… for you.
He died… for you.
He wants to save...... even you, just as He has saved even a wretch like me.

Mary, you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.

In the area of salvation, you and I are blessed with salvation when we believe that the Lord saves us, when we believe that what He did on the cross, He did for us and our salvation.
Believe that Jesus died and was raised to life so that YOU can be saved and you will be blessed with salvation.
If you do believe this… allelulia!
If you can’t believe this, or don’t believe this, can I ask that you try to… consider believing this.

Mary, you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.

2. Peace
This is called the season of peace..... we celebrate the Prince of Peace,........... and yet so many of us have no peace.
In John 14:27 Jesus says
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you” 
Do you believe that? 
Do you have this peace?

If you are PEACELESS, in the season of peace as we celebrate birth of the Prince of Peace… believe that the Lord will do what He has said He will do, believe that you can have His peace and your belief will open the way for God’s blessing of peace on you. It’s His desire for you to be at and have....His peace.
Just believe.

Mary, you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.

3. Strengh
Phil 4:13 teaches us this truth: 
“I can do all things in Jesus, who strengthens me”.

Are you feeling weak in some area of your life, not sure how are you going to manage or survive something? Christmas can be a tough time. You might be facing Christmas without someone you’ve loved .... they’ve died, or moved away..... and you just can’t believe that you’ll make it, you’re not sure you’ll find the strength for Christmas without them.
You might be facing this Christmas with some dreadful thing hanging over your head – the HIV test has just come back positive,..........or the results of the biopsy are not good,......... perhaps your December pay packet came with a retrenchment letter.
Perhaps you’re an alcoholic and Christmas is a time of such temptation, you’re not sure you’re going to make it through dry.
Perhaps there is some area of temptation that is looming large right now.

Whatever is hanging over you, remember this:  
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”
Do you believe this? Believe this and the door will be opened for God to bless you with the strength you need.

Mary, you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.

The way to blessing is belief – you and I can put our names in this verse:

[Your name], you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.

Mary believed in God and His promises..... I want to invite you to believe in God and His promises given to us through the Christ whom Mary gave birth to.
Believe in Jesus, the Saviour.

Mary had peace in her difficult circumstances because of her belief.
May you have peace in your difficult circumstances because of your belief.

Mary was strengthened by God for the difficult road He called her to walk ..... may you find strength in Him, the God who strengthens you, for the road He calls you to continue walking.

Mary, you are blessed because you have believed that the Lord will do what He said.

Believe that God will do what He has said,...... and be blessed.

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