Saturday, December 11, 2021

How Shall This Be?

Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As a reading for today, during the Christmas Season, Jeremiah 29:11 might seem odd to many. We most often lean on this verse when we are going through personal difficulties. We find strength and purpose in the passage based solely on God’s promises to us. He provides us with faith through His words that encourage us and remind us that our “expected end” is nothing less than His perfect will for us!

But let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the virgin, Mary. Betrothed to a humble carpenter from Nazareth; Nazareth being a town of simple means. “Greatness” did not seem like a word to describe her life. And an angel has come to her announcing events that don’t seem real to her. She even questions the angel, and he does nothing but calm her, and answer all her questions with promises from God. From such humble beginnings, a man of greatness was to be born? So many questions arise, but this angel answers them all. Gabriel is that angel that appeared to Zacharias in the last chapter. And to Zacharias, he said, ‘I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show you these glad tidings.” (Lk. 1:19).

Our God is a God of glad tidings and miracles. For Zacharias and Elizabeth, they prayed for a child even as they were “well stricken in years,” most likely beyond the natural child-bearing years for women. And for Elisabeth’s cousin, Mary, Gabriel was sent to her in her youthful years to announce a most special birth. An impossibility for the older couple turns into another promise fulfilled in Mary’s young life.

As I think of this, it makes me wonder of God’s choreography in the lives of families and individuals. Clearly, God kept track of His most favored blood-line and waited until all things were just right in the timing of Messiah’s coming.

As Believers, there are many glad tidings and promises of God that He has planned for us to see, to witness, and to live through. Let today’s study be a faith builder for you. Have you been praying about something for a long time? He has heard your prayer, and is working all things to your good. His perfect timing will reveal that He is the God who makes all things possible.
“And I will be found of you...” Jeremiah 29:14 (a)

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 1:25-45 - "How Shall This Be?"


The number one most important thing in life is to discover God’s plan and purpose for each of us.  Our lives are but a vapor in time when compared to eternity. Yet even in our limited time in this world, God has a plan and a purpose for our very lives. As we continue on in this Christmas Series, today we will see how this plays out in the life of a young girl, a virgin named Mary.

What do we know about Mary? There is much about her early history that we cannot know for certain. We do know, however, that she lived in the little village of Nazareth—not far from the Sea of Galilee. And we also know that she was engaged to be married to the village carpenter—a good and God-fearing man named Joseph. And we can speculate that she was probably a very young woman at the time of her engagement to Joseph—perhaps still only in her teenage years.

There are a couple of other important things that the Bible very clearly tells us about her. For example, it tells us that she was of royal lineage. According to Luke’s Gospel, she was a descendant of King David—having her royal bloodline through King David’s son Nathan. She shared this pedigree in common with her betrothed husband Joseph—who, according to Matthew’s Gospel, was also of the royal lineage of David through David’s son Solomon. So even though both she and Joseph appear to have been of poor circumstances, our Lord’s mother Mary and His adopted father Joseph were Jewish people of royal blood.

Why is this important? 
Jesus' genealogy is a fulfillment of many Old Testament promises. The promised Messiah would be the descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-14) and would one day rule on David’s throne (Isaiah 9:6-7).  The fulfillment of God's Word is a testament to the truth of His Word. Every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God is true. The fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus leave no room for doubt and every reason to trust Him. Every single detail of God’s Word is perfect and perfectly fulfilled. 

Mary is a woman of great faith in God, and we will see this in the way that she responded to the announcement made to her by God’s messenger.

Once again Gabriel enters the story. He is God’s angel messenger, the deliverer of God’s important news. He is sent from God to the city of Galilee, in Nazareth. He is sent to a virgin who is espoused to a man whose name was Joseph. They are of the house of David (royal lineage). The virgin’s name is Mary, and Mary is espoused to Joseph. They are planning their upcoming wedding, and the angel Gabriel shows up, and delivers this important message to her. He tells her that she is highly favoured, that the Lord is with her, "blessed art thou among women." He tells her not to fear. He tells her that she would conceive a son, the promised Messiah, and He shall be called Jesus (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Jesus’ Name means God is salvation, and it is here that we begin to see what God’s plan is for mankind.

Since sin entered the world through the sin of Adam (Romans 5:12-20), the Bible declares that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God being holy and just, cannot allow sin to go unpunished, and the wages of sin is death. But...God had a plan for the salvation of mankind.

In God’s plan of salvation, God Himself is the only one who can provide for our salvation. We are utterly unable to save ourselves because of our sin and its consequences. God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1; 14). Jesus lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5) and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf (1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10). Since Jesus is God, His death was of infinite and eternal value. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross fully paid for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). His resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His sacrifice was indeed sufficient and that salvation is now available to all who will believe.

One might wonder why God would choose Mary out of all the women on earth. We cannot answer that with any degree of finality, but we can safely infer that God knew her heart, that she was a young woman of faith, who would agree with God against all odds. She would believe the unreasonable and receive the impossible. She asked, “How shall these things be, seeing that I know not a man?” She was not doubting the word of God, she simply asked how it was going to happen. Gabriel told her and she spoke words of faith, as she said, “Let it be unto me according to your word.”

I would submit that to agree with God against all odds, believing the unreasonable in order to receive the impossible, is exactly where God is leading each one of us. That is the faith life that is pleasing to God, and that results in great reward for those lean not to their understanding, but in all their ways acknowledge Him.

Mary and Joseph had plans, but God disrupted those plans. He had the ultimate plan and purpose for their lives, and as a result changed the course for all of humanity (John 3:16).

Christ the Savior is come! He seeks to save the lost.   He came to save us from our sin by paying the full wage of that sin.  He did not just save us from something, but He saved us for something.  He saved us that we might be reconciled to God so that we can enter into a relationship with Him.  His death and resurrection make this possible. 
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." - 2 Corinthians 5:21

Our morning reading came from Jeremiah 29:11 this morning.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

God has a plan, trust Him, and like Mary, may our words always be, "be it unto me according to thy word."

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