“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14 NIV
Two thousand years ago, God came down to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He wrapped Himself in the form of flesh and blood and was born as a baby in a lowly manger in a stable.
Jesus was the favor of God personified. Instead of bringing condemnation, He brought forgiveness and salvation, doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.
We were lost in sin, separated from God. The wages of our sin was death, but God had another plan. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to live a sinless life. Jesus took our sins upon His body on the cross, and with His shed blood, He paid the penalty for our sins and restored us to a right relationship with the Father.
Barbara and I have a son and four grandsons, and in my wildest imagination, I could never conceive of asking one of them to give his life for someone else. Could you do that?
Yet God loved us so much He was willing to send His only Son to die for us, so that whoever would believe in Him would have eternal life (John 3:16). That kind of love is beyond our comprehension.
However, there was no other way for God to break the power of sin and offer His favor to all who would turn to Him.
If you think your life will always be easy when you live in God’s favor, you need to take a closer look at Mary’s story.
The Angelic Message
Prior to Jesus’ birth, His mother and some shepherds watching their flocks were given stunning angelic declarations of God’s favor. Mary must have been incredibly frightened when the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared to her. Yet he assured her he wasn’t bringing an announcement of divine displeasure, but rather the highest demonstration of God’s love and favor: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:26-28 NIV).
However, if you think your life will always be easy when you live in God’s favor, you need to take a closer look at Mary’s story. Her life got a lot harder—certainly not easier—after Gabriel’s visit. Before her encounter with this mighty angel, Mary had a pretty ordinary, conventional life for a young Jewish girl. She was engaged to be married to a man of integrity who had his own carpenter shop. Life was good, and she had wonderful prospects for a happy future.
Yet everything was about to change. Not only was she going to give birth to a son without having sexual relations, but her baby would be called “the Son of the Most High” (v. 32).
So, if you face some complicated issues today, don’t despair. So did Mary, and she was “highly favored.”
Instead of immediately recognizing the angel’s visit as a sign of God’s favor and blessings, “Mary was greatly troubled” (v. 29). Gabriel sensed her apprehension and again told her his mission was one of favor and blessing: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God” (v. 30).
Friend, isn’t it interesting that God sometimes has to go to great lengths to assure us of His love and favor? The Lord was in the process of doing something fantastic, but Mary and the shepherds had to be told multiple times not to be afraid.
Baffled by the Good News
The angelic message was good news—great news, in fact. However, Mary must have been baffled as the message continued to unfold. A baby without even having sexual relations? A son who would be called “the Son of the Most High”? A child who would one day reign over Israel with a never-ending kingdom? Mary asked a very logical question in reply: “How will this be?” (v. 34).
Perhaps God has made promises to you that seem incredible too. You look at your circumstances and wonder how things will ever change. If so, remember Mary. Trust God, and let Him take care of the “HOW” questions. As Gabriel assured Mary, “No word from God will ever fail” (v. 37).
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Although Mary initially questioned how the angel’s message could possibly occur, she ultimately chose to believe and obey: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled” (v. 38).
Are you struggling to believe some promise the Lord has given you? Then remember Mary’s example. Humble yourself to become the Lord’s servant, then trust Him to fulfill His promises—no matter how amazing they may seem: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (v. 45).
A New Song
When you receive God’s favor and believe His promises, He will put a new song in your mouth, just as He did for Mary as she saw God’s goodness in her life:
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name (vs. 46-49).
Take a few minutes to meditate on this beautiful testimony of God’s favor. You may want to even write your own song of praise. Magnify the Lord, focusing on Him instead of on your problems. Rejoice in His goodness, and humble yourself in His presence. Thank Him that you are BLESSED because of the great things He has done for you.
As you give or receive gifts this Christmas season, take time to be thankful for the greatest gift of all…the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And make sure to Sow generous Seeds into His Kingdom so that lost people around the world can hear the Good News of His love and favor.
God bless you!
David Cerullo is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Inspiration Ministries, located in Indian Land, South Carolina — a ministry dedicated to impacting people for Christ worldwide through media since 1990. David took a less traditional approach to ministry, graduating from Oral Roberts University with a degree in business administration and management. He has authored more than 15 different books and has been honored with an honorary Doctor of Ministry degree. He has been married to his wife Barbara for more than 40 years, and together they have two adult children and five grandchildren.