Highly-Favored

Guest Post by Mrs. Samantha Graber

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

In this translation of Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel announces some very exciting news to a young, poor girl from Nazareth.  Mary not only hears that God favors her, but will also hear that she is chosen to carry the long-awaited Messiah.  God had been silent for over 400 years, and now she is the first recipient of the news that she is to be mother of the God Most High. 

Can. You. Imagine?

I love everything about the Christmas story. I love to study it, to teach it, and to ponder on it. There is so much to unpack in this story of Jesus’ humble entrance into our dark world.   No matterhow many times I’ve read it, reviewed it, or studied it, God always allows me to walk away with another “ah-ha” moment.  I’m so thankful he loves me enough to speak to my heart in ways I can understand!  

The Bible clearly tells us that Mary was highly favored.  However, it doesn’t tell us exactly why. Yes, Mary was hand-chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but Mary was also just a normal, everyday, common girl. She was human and sinful, even at her early age. Therefore, Mary couldn’t have done anything to deserve God’s favor.  He favored Mary, because HE CHOSE TO…not because she deserved it.  It had nothing to do with Mary, but EVERYTHING to do with HIM. She was highly favored and received this unmerited favor as a Grace-gift. 

A Grace-gift. 

Ponder on that for a moment.

A Grace-gift: He wasn’t just blessing Mary with a child, but wasdelivering her through her son.

A Grace-gift: God wasn’t only thinking of Mary, but was thinking of each of us.

We, too, are the recipients of that Grace-gift. A gift of unmerited favor, given by God, through a precious little baby. A baby that was born in a dirty manger, wrapped in dirty clothes, having his first visitors being dirty shepherds. A Grace-gift that would grow and become our sin payment…payment in full for our eternal salvation. 

What a gift! Please unwrap your gift this Christmas. Yes, Mary was highly favored, AND so are you!

Pivot & Pause

Guest Post by Crystal Breaux

Pivot, change, pause, cancel! The different words we have had to say this year, for obvious reasons. No matter your age or profession, I am positive you have had to re-adjust and learn to do things in a new way in some area of your life.   With Christmas as our final event of 2020, we are still faced with having to pivot and perhaps change things.   This season, I am challenging myself and asking God to show me how to see Him and His birth in a new way. 

First, no matter our circumstances, the coming of our king promised hope because we have a God who is sovereign, powerful and has authority over everything, as prophesized long before His birth.   

Daniel 7:13-14

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Second, as some of us have experienced loss, disappointment and fear this year, there is one truth that I have been reminded often from words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:8.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

I cannot think of anything more valuable than the peace of knowing I have Jesus Christ as my Savior and that no matter what, I have eternal salvation through Him.  That is what it is all about it.

Without question, we have been forced to slow down, change perspective, and do things differently in 2020. What could happen if we threw out our thought patterns, traditions and mindset around Christmas with a daily reminder? The birth of Jesus brought us peace, grace and the offer of eternal salvation which is the most valuable gift we will ever receive. And that is what it is all about.