Thursday, May 31, 2018

Living in God's Favor

I'm starting a new Bible study and will share this morning's insight while it's fresh on my mind. The assignment was to compare Luke 1 with John 1:1-4, followed by a series of thought-provoking questions.

As I read about Zacharias, Elizabeth, and Mary outside of the Christmas season, their stories were less predictable and more fresh. I wasn't anticipating "baby Jesus." I just saw their lives--and how God upset their plans. None of them knew what lay ahead, that they would sacrifice each and every day from that moment forward. None of them anticipated how God would use them personally, but He did. How did they respond to God's intrusion into their lives?

Elizabeth said, "This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me..." (Luke 1:25). Mary said, "May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).
Zacharias said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us...." (Luke 1:68-69).
From this point forward their lives would be radically changed. Each of their homes would be indwelt with the Spirit of God (through John, filled with the Spirit before birth, and Jesus, God Himself). This was new--convicting, challenging, different, sometimes unwanted! Others would see them as strange, both because of their earthly circumstances  and the tenor of their lives and homes (no wine or liquor, etc.). They would be ridiculed for their testimony ("Tell me about the angel again, Zacharias/Mary!") and choices. Their future would be one of pain, suffering, and loss (your sons will be beheaded and crucified--that's how God treats His chosen ones?).

And yet. Yet. Their belief in God and their view of His redemption stood firm: God chose me! God has shown me His favor! God is moving, working, redeeming, and He is using me. He is the Mighty One, my Savior, He has done great things for me, He is holy, merciful, He fills the hungry with good things, He exalts the humble, He scatters the proud, He has sent help for Israel, He keeps His promises (Luke 1:46-55).  He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, He is our salvation, He will rescue and deliver us, keep His covenant, bring forgiveness and tender mercy, He will light our way and guide us into the way of peace (Luke 1:68-79).

Yes, life would be hard, different, and painful--but God was at work. What is greater than being part of His plan and purpose? Change didn't happen in a day, a week, or a year. It took decades--and most never saw or realized the scope of God's plan. We still wait for the revelation of God's full redemption, believing that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do (Hebrews 11:6). Life is hard; but God is good. Serving God is a privilege and honor, not because the way is easy, but because God is worthy--and He makes it all possible.

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

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