In Luke chapter 1 we find an intensive conversation between Mary and the messenger angel Gabriel.
Luke 1:26-30 ESV In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, (27) to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. (28) And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" (29) But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. (30) And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Have you ever wondered what type of life Mary lived that would cause the angel to say "you have found favor with God?" I firmly believe that it was not what she did or what she didn't do that determined favor. I believe that we can determine from the Word that it was it heart of faith that pleased the Father.
When we speak about Mary's faith we have to discuss her question in Luke 1:34. Mary's question in Luke 1:34 has nothing to do with her judging whether or not she will do it.
Luke 1:31-34 ESV 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, (33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (34) And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"
Think about the questions she could have asked. She doesn’t look at the possible consequences of such an event as pregnancy outside of marriage and ask the question, for example, “What about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, won’t they stone me?”
Mary and Joseph loved one another so a question that would be normal to ask would have been “What do I tell my soon to be husband Joseph?” Family life was very important therefore, Mary could have asked “What do I tell my family?”
These questions never entered into the equation because of her heart of faith to do whatever God said. She has a single question and that is, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" This is another way of saying “How is God going to do it?” Wow! We for sure need to be the type of believers who would have a heart to respond to God this way. The angel was directed by the Holy Spirit to say, “Favored one,” to Mary. Her response, when she was told how God was going to do this miracle, “Do whatever the Lord wants.”
Luke 1:35 ESV And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
Luke 1:38 ESV And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
A simple explanation as “The Holy Spirit is going to come upon you and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you” was sufficient for Mary. All Mary needed to know was that it was going to be a supernatural work of God.
What if we come to a place to say to the Father I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.
1. Don't be faithless.
The enemy does not care if you pray, read your Bible or attend church as long as you do so without a heart of faith. We know that a heart of faith is the only way to please the Father, so the enemy wants us to be religious without faith, which is trusting totally in God and His Word.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Matthew 17:17 ESV And Jesus answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me."
Romans 1:31 ESV foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
2. Don't place your faith in faith.
I don't know why we have the tendency to trust in ourselves and lean on our own faith, which is knowledge by experience. I sit in a chair because of my past experience that it will hold me up, therefore I have personal faith that the chair will support me. But this is not Biblical faith. Biblical faith is trusting in God and His Word no matter how the circumstances look and how much it goes against my 5 senses and common knowledge. True Biblical faith comes not from our knowledge or experiences or lack of experiences, but comes from hearing the Word of God.
2 Timothy 2:13 ESV if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
Romans 10:17 ESV So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
3. Have faith in God!
Mark 11:22 ESV And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God.
Colossians 2:12 ESV having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Psalms 119:130 ESV The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
The Person of the Holy Spirit speaks the mind of God into our spirit man. We have this outer man, the body, which tries to dictate to us to walk in our flesh and be sense-ruled.
The inward man or the soul needs to be re-educated with the Word of God so that we think, feel, and choose according to the will of God for our lives.
The inner-most man is our spirit-man where the Holy Spirit resides. It is here in the spirit-man that the Word screams within us that we don’t need to be sick or broke or defeated. When walking in the PRAYER OF FAITH we are not to seek out personal opinion about our health, our spiritual walk, or our life of faith.
The prayer of faith is not just speaking a lot of words hoping that God hears and moves on our behalf. The prayer of faith is a "homo-logo" (same word) or praying what the Father is saying. The prayer of faith doesn't start with us. The prayer of faith is echoing what we hear from the Father.
Romans 8:11-13 ESV If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (12) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
THE ENEMIES OF OUR FAITH:
We all have faced faith issues at times in our lives. Think about some of the times when you prayed for someone to be healed and the battle that emerged in your thinking. The main fight that the believer is called upon to fight is the “good fight of faith.” And if I have to fight the fight of faith, then there stands to reason that there are enemies or hindrances to my faith. If there were no enemies to faith, then there would be no fight to it.
It is hard to acknowledge that the fight for our faith is within us. It is easy to say, "if only I had different parents, or married to a more Godly person, or was in a better church." This is our attempt of trying to keep the faith issue outside our skin. We should not spend time seeking someone or something outside of our skin to blame for our lack of faith. We can walk in as much faith as we want. The Father is not holding faith back from us. The battle for our faith is within us.
Here are some of the enemies of our faith.
Enemy of Faith No.1: Failure to understand what it means to be a new creature in Christ.
Enemy of Faith No.2: Failure to understand our place/position in Christ.
Enemy of Faith No.3: Failure to understand the righteousness of Christ that robes us.
Enemy of Faith No.4: Failure to understand our right to use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Enemy of Faith No.5: Failure to act upon the Word of God.
Enemy of Faith No.6: Failure to hold fast to our confession of faith.
When we “fight the good fight of faith,” as the Apostle Paul admonishes us, we can step out of the narrow place of failure and weakness in which we live, into the boundless power of God.
1 Timothy 6:12 ESV Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Mark 11:22-24 ESV And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. (23) Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. (24) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
What do we smell like to the saved?
What do we smell like to the lost?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ESV For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, (16) to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
What do you smell like?
We who are saved and walking with the Father are a sweet smelling fragrance or aroma to God. We have fulfilled His will in faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, and fighting against sin both inside us and outside of us.
The knowledge of God through our Lord Jesus Christ is made manifest by the ministers of the Gospel, because we are a sweet aroma. It's not that we have the sweeet fragrance in ourselves, for we have the same corrupt hearts and natures, and outside of Crist we are nothing. We who are saved are all 5 minutes away from the eating out of the garbage can when we walk away from the Father's sweet grace.
As we receive and walk in God's gifts and graces we manifest His fragrant and sweet smelling aroma.
Song of Solomon 1:2-3 ESV She Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; (3) your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.
The example or type here is Aaron and the priests under the law, who were anointed with the anointing oil, which was poured upon their heads, ran down upon their beards, and descended to the skirts of their garments, so that they were all over a perfume, a sweet smell, fragrance and aroma before God and man.
Psalms 133:1-2 ESV A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (2) It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
The importance of the picture of the oil in Ps.133:1-2 was the aroma, the smell, and the fragrance. This is what happens when brothers walk together in God's unity.
Those separated in 2 Cor.2:16 by the fragrance, the smell, the aroma was separated by faith. To them that go on the right hand and embrace faith and God's ways, "the aroma is life." But to them that go on the left hand and reject faith and God's ways, "the aroma is death".
And on a side note: Are we commercializing or peddling God's Word?
2 Cor 2:17 ESV For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
ANOTHER "MUCH MORE" SCRIPTURE: Seeking the Kingdom of God first because our God is a "much more" God. (Pt 15)
We can seek the rule and reign of God in our hearts first, because God is a MUCH MORE God:
Getting our priorities right seem to be an ongoing battle. During our day there are so many things that pull for our attention and time. What are we to do?
The Scriptures tell us not to worry. Our Lord Jesus Christ told us not to be anxious about where we would live, what we would wear or what we would eat. How could He be so calm about making statements like this when there were so many poor surrounding Him in His day and the world is filled with the homeless and hungry today? Easy, He knew how to make and keep the main thing the man thing.
He commanded us to seek after God and His kingdom first and then don't worry about the rest, such as food, clothing, and shelter. How could He make such a claim? Because He knew that our God is a MUCH MORE God.
Matthew 6:30-34 KJV Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not MUCH MORE clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Let me set the stage. God told Abraham that he would have a son, and that son would be a "promised son" from his own bowels. Abraham was 75 years old when he received this promise. Remember that Abraham was called a "man of faith." The first promise of a great nation coming out of him was what we call the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen.12:1-3. In Gen. 14 any thought Abraham had of Lot being the heir vanished when Lot departed. God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham after Lot left.
Genesis 13:14-17 ESV The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, (15) for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. (16) I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. (17) Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
In Gen.15:1-5 Abraham tried to help God with His promise of an heir and asked God to let it be Eliezer. God said NO, for his heir must come from his own bowels.
In Gen.16:1-6 we see that Sarah was doubting any word about a heir coming from her so she tried to help God with the promise and gave Hagar to Abraham. Abraham is now 86 years old and has been waiting for the promised seed for 11 years.
At age 99 God re-establishes the covenant promise with Abraham. Now Abraham has been waiting for 24 years for the Word of God to come forth. His son from Hagar, Ishmael is now 13 years old.
Genesis 17:1-7 ESV When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, (2) that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (3) Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, (4) “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. (5) No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
Abraham has a "crisis of faith" moment. This is his third attempt to assist God. He first assumed Lot would be his heir, then when that didn't happen he presented his servant Eliezer to God as his heir and God shut that down. Now he presents his son Ishmael to God as the heir of promise.
Genesis 17:17-18 ESV Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (18) And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”
God answered with a resounding NO! The heir of the promise would come from Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 90, both well past child-bearing age. Abraham who had been waiting for 24 years for the fulfillment of God's covenant promise could not see how it was to happen.
I love Gen.17:22. It is such a matter of fact verse.
Genesis 17:22 ESV When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
God finished, ceased, with His conversation with Abraham and left. What can we learn from this?
First, no matter how long we have to wait for God's promise to be fulfilled, His word is always Yes and Amen. He will not accept a "plan B" from us to help Him fulfill His promises. God does not need our help.
Second, somewhere along the line we got the idea that as long as we are talking God is under obligation to hang around to listen. The Father speaks and that is it. There is a lot to be said about the theology of "It Is Finished."
Hebrews 11:17-19 ESV By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, (18) of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” (19) He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
As we have seen in earlier studies, true worship requires...
(1) Walking hand-in-hand daily with God,
(2) Dealing correctly with sin,
(3) Bringing an acceptable sacrifice before the Lord and,
(4) Walking in total obedience.
Of course we cannot separate true worship from faith. It takes faith in a Holy God to walk out all four of these requirements for true worship. Even though Abraham was to sacrifice his only son, he stood on faith that God would raise him from the dead to fulfill His covenant promises.
This is the type of worship many believers are totally unfamiliar with. Abraham told his servants that he and Isaac were going up to worship and that they would both return. Remember, this is the first time the word "worship" is used in the Bible.
It is worth mentioning that although animal sacrifice was the means of a blood covering for the sins of the people, it is totally out of God’s character to demand a human sacrifice, unless He were teaching us something. Isaac was a “type,” or a “shadow” of the New Testament substance, of Christ and the cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ was the only HUMAN sacrifice that the Father approved of.
What He asked of Abraham was a test of Abraham’s “fear” or “Awe” of God. It was the most costly sacrifice asked for by God as a means to worship in the Old Testament. It was a perfect picture of the Father giving up His only Son that we may walk daily with Him.
Obedience is a measuring tool of our “fear,” or reverence for God.
Genesis 22:12 ESV He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
We find David here on this same mount many years later when he purchases the threshing floor. Hear David’s words as he refused to offer a sacrifice that cost him nothing…
1 Chronicles 21:24 ESV But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
ANOTHER "MUCH MORE" SCRIPTURE: Will Israel come to the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and be saved? (Pt 9)
Will Israel be Saved?
Another "MUCH MORE" Scripture:
We are told in Scriptures from Romans chapter 11 that there are two trees, the olive branch and the wild olive branch. Israel was on the olive branch, but was cut off because of unbelief. The Gentiles were on the wild olive branch, and many were grafted into the olive branch because of belief, (faith in our Lord). The olive branch, which is the natural branch/tree will have Israel grafted back in because of belief (faith in our Lord Jesus Christ).
Romans 11:24-26 KJV For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how MUCH MORE shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
THE ABUNDANT LIFE IS A LIFE YIELDED TO CHRIST:
Romans 6:10-13 ESV For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. (11) So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (13) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
How to live the abundant life is no secret; it is revealed in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Rom. 6:10-13. The same faith that "saves" us also identifies us with Christ in His death. This is eternal life. The faith that "yields" to death to self also identifies us with Christ in His resurrection. This is abundant life.
Colossians 3:1-4 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
***It is one thing to have eternal life by faith. It is quite another to have abundant life by faith.
***It is one thing for us to be “made the righteousness of God in Him. It is another thing for us to realize His righteous life is in us.
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
***It is one thing for us to live in Christ. It is another thing for Christ to live His life in and through us.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
We, as believers have a choice. We can yield unto God by faith and enjoy abundant life, or we can yield unto sin and endure a defeated life. God would have us to “know and experience the power of a yielded life.” By the way, I have met many "committed" Christians. However, they were committed to church, to a building, to a denomination, or to a certain doctrinal creed.
Not only must we not yield to sin, but we must not yield to the traditions and religions of man if we really want to walk in the abundant life of Christ. The power of a yielded life will lift us above circumstances that tries to cut off abundant living. The abundant life begins when we yield to Him as Master, allowing Him to live His life through us by faith.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.