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Emmanuel ”The Announcement”

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
December 11, 2022 12:14 am

Emmanuel ”The Announcement”

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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December 11, 2022 12:14 am

This week, in Sgt. Jennifer Deulley’s message, we really try to put ourselves in Mary’s shoes. From hearing of the news of this miraculous pregnancy to her obedience that followed.

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Hi, this is Bernie Dake. You're listening to The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome back to Words of Life and Merry Christmas. I'm Cheryl Gillum and I'm here with...

I'm Bernie Dake. Well, if you've missed last week's episode, we just launched our new five-week Christmas series, Emmanuel. This series is a bit different, as in each message has been written by a different Salvation Army officer. And this week in Sergeant Jennifer Dooley's message, we really try to put ourselves in Mary's shoes, from hearing of the news of this miraculous pregnancy to her obedience that followed. And let me just say to the listeners, I actually go to church with Jennifer Dooley. I cannot wait to hear what she has to say. And through the gift of our technology, Bethany, our friend from the music department, will be reading these scripts. And that'll be a neat way to deliver someone else's words, I'm sure.

But back to the story at hand. Emmanuel, God with us. We celebrate the birth of Christ every year. This is the one time when I think you could arguably say the entire world is at least aware that the Christian community are celebrating something that's different.

This is our chance, everybody. This is where we get to show the joy of the Lord and let God in us be seen through us. Amen?

Amen. And it's easy to focus on those big announcement type things, like we're Emmanuel when he comes. But there's so many little details that got Mary up to where she was in her life. It didn't go from just the angel to all of a sudden she is the mother of Jesus. There's a lot of different steps that it took to get her there, just in our lives.

I can't imagine from point A to B, there are so many things in life that it takes to get us where we're going. And I think that's so true with Mary. And I think that Jennifer hones in on that, to realize that things don't happen just by happenstance. God orders our steps. And so every place that Mary finds herself is preparation for that announcement of Emmanuel, God with us. Now, being a man, of course, I always kind of approach the Christmas story from a Joseph perspective, which is this story begins somewhat scandalously.

Because there's the insecurity of my fiance being pregnant, but yet we haven't been together. And I'll be interested to see how she uses this from Mary's perspective. I think that helps us to inform our own lives when it comes to like, even when certain things don't seem to be working out the way that we think they should, quote unquote, you know, the perfect way that God's still involved.

We can take it and He uses it for His glory. Advent is a time of preparation and seeking as we look toward the blessing of Christ's birth and the announcement of His coming. I want us to focus on the word blessing.

What comes to your mind when you hear this word? For some of us, it causes us to remember something extraordinary that God has done in our lives. Or it may bring thoughts of a need that we're waiting on God to fulfill.

It may be a reminder of something a friend or stranger did that brought joy or relief. When we look at this passage today, we see God blessing Mary in an extraordinary way. But He's not only blessing her, He's also blessing us. Mary the mother of Jesus received an incredible gift. Her blessing was in her being chosen to become the mother of the Messiah.

Sometimes the blessings and favor of God come with great sacrifice, determined obedience, and deep faith. See, Mary was a young woman about to marry Joseph. When the angel visited Mary, she would have been around the age of 15. The Bible doesn't tell us exactly how old she was, but 15 is pretty accurate when we understand that in this time period, a young Jewish woman would be betrothed to be married by about 15. But the angel Gabriel visited her and greeted her by name.

It was clear that his message was for her and her alone. Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Gabriel is telling Mary that God will bless her and use her for a very specific purpose, the birth of the Messiah, the fulfillment of God's promise. But what does this really mean for Mary?

The angel said, do not be afraid, but wouldn't most people agree that there was due cause to be afraid? Mary was betrothed and will now become pregnant. What would her world look like once this pregnancy is established? She could be shunned or worse, even killed.

Her betrothed could divorce her, and she would be left to survive alone with nothing unless her family helped. There's a great cost to her, not only now at the beginning of all this, but as the mother of this child throughout the rest of her life. And while she could never have imagined what she would have to endure, on this side of history, we know the pain she suffered in watching her son, the Messiah, die on the cross.

But there was still reason to doubt, reason to fear. And Mary, God's favored one, with great submission says in verse 38, I am the Lord's servant. For Mary, the words of the angel Gabriel rang true throughout her life. The Lord is with you, and there is nothing that is impossible with God. When we live as the Lord's servant, faithful and obedient, we will see the blessing and favor of God. Blessing and favor are words often used in Christian circles.

It's easy to take these words and formulate our own meanings, so today I want us to see these words as they're meant in the context of the scripture. While the words favor and blessing are synonymous with each other, they each have different meanings in different contexts. There's a difference in the definition of blessing between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word barak, which means to kneel, presumably because someone receiving a blessing would typically kneel before the one offering the blessing. It was more ceremonial and was used to proclaim an act of God for the righteous or those living in his promise, or in reference to the covenantal promise. In the New Testament, the Greek word eulogéo is used, this word broken down to its root eu, which means to prosper, fare well, or act well.

And the second part of this word is lagos, which means a spoken word. So our Greek biblical definition of blessing is a spoken word that brings prosperity or well-being. Finding favor means gaining approval, acceptance, special benefits, or blessings of the merciful kindness of God. This is where God exerts his holy influence upon souls by turning them to Christ while strengthening and increasing their Christian faith, knowledge, and affection. It's meant to encourage the exercise of Christian virtues in their daily lives. And there's also a close association between favor, grace, and mercy.

God's favor comes in answer to prayer as people cry out for mercy. Both the Greek and Hebrew words and their definitions of blessing and favor are important to this message. Mary was receiving the blessing or eulogéos of becoming the mother of Christ. She was highly favored by God, but she was also living within the blessing Barak of the Old Testament. She was part of the covenantal promise.

It's interesting to place her at this point in history when that same promise is being fulfilled. She is a huge part of the blessing since she and Joseph were in the lineage of King David. God is showing his favor for her, a favor that comes because of her righteousness before God. God's favor is not bestowed because we are perfect and deserving. It's bestowed on us out of his great love and mercy. This was the plan from the beginning as seen in Genesis.

This moment in time was planned and ordained. In our passage today from Luke 1, the word favor is seen in verses 28 and 30 as the angel of the Lord, Gabriel, speaks with Mary. He says in verse 28, Greetings, you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you. And in verse 30, he says, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. Then again, we see this word in verse 43 when Mary greets Elizabeth. Elizabeth says, But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord would come to me? There's an association between grace and favor. They're virtually the same, and we don't deserve either one.

Listen to this. Isaiah 66 verse 2 says, These are the ones I look on with favor, those who are humble and contrite in spirit and who trembles at my word. As a result of receiving God's blessings in Christ, believers are called to be a source of blessing to the world, especially in response to those who persecute them. When God bestows his favor on us, it's not so we can boast of ourselves. Pride is in direct conflict with the purpose of God's favor. God shows his favor so that we will understand his presence in our lives and give him glory.

God's favor is meant to give us a deeper understanding of our faith and a genuine humility in the presence of God. An important part of this message in Luke is the blessing of the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel. Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 7 through 9, but even before the prophecies of Isaiah, God laid the foundations of the promise of the Messiah in his covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17. Specifically, God promises Abraham this, I will make nations of you and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. God is establishing the covenant relationship with Abraham that would bring about the coming Messiah. Not only this, but when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were exiled from the garden, God's plan for the redemption of the world began then. God loves his people. He desires to bless us and show us his favor. But just as the Abrahamic covenant was conditioned on obedience, so is the blessing and favor of God.

One example of this is King Saul. He was blessed by God until he disobeyed, and God removed his presence from him. The Bible is full of these examples where God promises his presence and blessing, but the people, instead of living in humility and obedience, become greedy or prideful and God removes his favor and the blessing of his presence. So let's learn from their mistakes and live in obedience to God. Mary submitted to the plan that God had for her. God does not promise that when he bestows his blessing and favor, we'll live a life without difficulty.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Often we see where the blessing and favor of God leads us to a place that will sharpen and deepen our faith. This is often a place of spiritual conflict. The hope is in the promise, and what he does promise is that his presence will be with us. This Advent season, we're directing our hearts towards Christ as our Savior and living in the realization that God is with us and that there's nothing that's impossible with God. So today, we worship God, our Emmanuel. We desire to live overcome by the blessing of his presence. In Mary's song, we see words of praise that come from the overflow of her heart and speak to the goodness and faithfulness of God. My prayer for us today is that we'll remember all that God has done for us and take those memories and turn them into praise.

May we see with fresh eyes today the blessing and favor of God in our lives as we continue to live and walk in his holy presence. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support, and we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or visit salvationarmyradio.org to connect.

Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or your testimony. With your permission, we would love to use your story on the show. You can also subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store or visit salvationarmyradio.org to learn about more programs produced by the Salvation Army. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. Join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-11 09:16:06 / 2022-12-11 09:21:28 / 5

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