And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David
A Lot of a Little Girl
Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel was overwhelming to a young girl. She had found favor with God, which means that she lived in a way that honored Him. It doesn’t mean that she lived a perfect life. God chose her to give birth to His Son. He was going to be the salvation of her people. (Jesus means Jehovah is salvation) At that moment, Mary was the one who would give birth to the chosen one, the Messiah. We don’t know if that she realized it at that moment, but He would be given the throne of His father, David.
Mary, did you know?
There is no need to fear what God is calling you to do? Mary responded to the angel by saying in Luke 1:38, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She had the right perspective (I am a servant of the Lord) and the right heart (let it be according to your word.) We can learn a lot from her. If God is calling us, then He will lead and provide everything necessary. All we need to have is the faith to follow.
You are not going to be asked to raise the Messiah, but you may be asked to lead a Sunday School class or small group at your church. It may seem overwhelming at first, but as you step out in faith, you will see God move in a powerful way. Prepare your heart for what God is going to ask you. When that moment comes step out in faith.
You can tell a tree is living by the number of new branches that are shooting out in the spring. They show that life is coursing through the stump of the tree, and the root system is excellent. Sometimes those branches shoot out in wrong places and need to be pruned off. Good branches produce growth and fruit. Jesus was likened to a righteous branch from the lineage of David.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
From the Line of David
In Isaiah’s third prophecy about the coming Messiah, he likens the coming of Jesus Christ to shoot from the stump of Jesse and a fruitful branch. This is to tell Israel that the Messiah will come from the line of David like God has said it would. Jesse is the father of David, and they are from the tribe of Judah. It also shows that life would be coming out of a spiritually dormant nation.
The rest of what Isaiah has to say about Jesus is pretty special. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, and He will operate in a spirit of counsel, might, and knowledge. This is similar to what He said in chapter 9. What an encouragement to those who follow Jesus. We know that He is in us, and with that comes everything we need. He provides the counsel through the Word and the Holy Spirit, strength and protection through His might, and knowledge.
A Righteous Branch
The best part of this is that Christ’s delight will be in the fear of the Lord. That would seem like a contradiction, but it’s not. He had great love and reverence for His Father. He told us that His food is to do the will of His Father. His whole purpose and mission on earth was to glorify God. It gave Jesus great joy to do that, even if it meant laying down His life. He was a righteous branch.
Baby names are a big thing. Every year the news reports the top names for tots. This year Sophia is the top name for a girl, and Liam is the top name for boys. If you ever had to pick a name for a child, it can be stressful. With one child, we decided as we drove to the hospital. When God told Israel what the Messiah would be called, He described His character. His name shall be called.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
A Child is Born
A chosen child was coming, and it would be a son. He would be the heir to the throne and would reign over the whole earth. This had to excite Israel because they wanted a king that hearkened back to David. God went even further and told them that this king would be powerful, bring peace, and reign forever. He would be the complete package.
Let’s look at the characteristics of this coming king. First, He would be a Wonderful Counselor. Scripture tells us that when Jesus assumes the throne in Jerusalem during the millennial reign that rulers and nations will ascend the mountains of Zion to seek his counsel. They will sit at His feet and listen to HIs wisdom. They will do this because He is a Mighty God. Jesus is all-powerful and will rule with an iron scepter. He will subdue His enemies and bring peace over all the world.
His Name Shall Be Called
His name shall be called Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Not only will He reign for 1,000 years on earth, but He will reign forever in eternity. He is the Everlasting Father. Revelation tells us that there will be no sun in heaven because He will be the light as He sits on the throne. The result of all of this is that peace will rest upon every person. There will be no more sorrow or pain, but it will be replaced rejoicing. This is my Jesus.
I spent the better part of a weekend installing Christmas lights on our house. Up and down the ladder hundreds of times to get things to look just right. I love this time of year, but it would be easy to rush through the season and miss what is important. Jesus came so that God could be with us again. Don’t miss the signs.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel
Foretold Long Ago
There are hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. This one in Isaiah is unique because it foretells His birth and how it will come about. Jesus was born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18). This miraculous birth was a sign to the House of David (Israel) that the Messiah has come. It was also a sign to us.
Immanuel means “God with us,” and Jesus was that. He vacated his place in heaven and came down to earth in the form of an infant and lived amongst us. He was both fully human and fully God. Everything that we deal with Jesus did as well. Our benefit is that God entered our realm to rescue us from sin and death by laying His life down on the cross. That act made it possible for God to be with us in our hearts.
Don’t Miss the Signs
God wants to be with you. He has done everything possible to make that happen. Most religions talk about the journey to discover the supreme being, but with Christianity, the Supreme Being is the one who searches you out. The question you need to ask is if you want to be with Him? God will not force His way into your life. He stands at the door and knocks, and if you open, He will come in. Don’t miss the signs.
Did you know that many of the successful people you look up to struggle with success? It’s true. Whether it be an athlete, actor, business owner, or politician, they have a hard time handling it. One of the reasons is that they get to the pinnacle, and it isn’t everything they hoped it would be. Another reason is that others define them only by their success and forget they are real people. As Christians, we are more than your struggles or challenges. We are more than conquerors through Jesus who loves us.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Christianity is more than overcoming sin our challenges in our lives. God has so much more for us than bailing us out of difficult situations. We are more than conquerors, God loves us, and nothing can separate us from that. No tribulation, disease, famine, or danger can take God’s love for us away. There is so much more to our faith than overcoming. God wants us to live in the fullness of His Spirit and to walk in His love.
What are you focused on today? Are you concentrating on your problems or challenges or the fact that God loves you? It is easy to fall into the thought process “If God loves me so much, then why do I have so many problems.” There are a lot of reasons to explain this, but let me boil it down to a couple. First, God doesn’t always remove the consequences of our decisions. We may be dealing with the fallout of our choices. Second, followers of Jesus will be attacked for their faith. If that is what you are going through, welcome to the club.
More Than Conquerors
Walk in the love of Jesus today. Be assured that His feelings for you don’t change. He loves you more than anyone else in your life. You are so much more to Him than a reclamation project. He cares for you and is working on your life to make you more like Him. Rejoice in the fact. You are His child and heir to His kingdom.
Do you ever sit and ponder what your purpose on earth is? Ever ask yourself, “What are you living for?” Many people live their whole lives, never answering these questions. Henry David Thoreau famously said, “People live lives of quiet desperation.” What if you could live for something greater than yourself? The Apostle Paul shows us that path today.
“For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.”
Giving in to temptation
Most people are frustrated in their lives because they exist to please themselves all the time. Paul calls this “living according to the flesh.” All they think about is the next adventure, the next purchase, or the next fix that will make them happy. They spend all of their time and resources pursuing things that bring temporary pleasure at best. The flesh promises instant satisfaction, but like sugar, leaves you lower than you were before you had it.
There is a battle that rages in every believer every day between the flesh and the Spirit. We are exposed and tempted all day long to products and experiences that promise to change our lives but never do. How do we win the battle over those urges? Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. We don’t fight spiritual battles with physical weapons. We go to the heavenliness and seek the divine power of Jesus over the struggles that we are fighting.
What Are You Living For?
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you exist for Him, and that happens by walking in the Spirit. When we abide in the Spirit, we resist the flesh and desire to be used by God. For that to happen, we have to set our minds on the things of the Spirit. Fill your heart with God’s word. Sing songs that worship Him. Focus your eyes on the right things. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we focus our mind on the things of the Spirit, we will see that transformation happens over time.