Mary - The Ultimate "Favored" Mom

Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived a favored life. Luke's gospel is clear that she was plucked out of obscurity, spoken to by an angel, and told that she had found favor with God (Luke 1:28 & 30). Mary's life proves a point that Isaiah 66:1-2 spikes home...God is searching for people to place his favor. Some facts about favor from Mary's life and other biblical heroes 

God’s favor is…

  • Attainable – Within the reach of anyone
  • Brutal – Plenty of trials and challenges
  • Epic – Front row seat to see God’s power

How Did Mary Find Favor With God? We have the answer in her response to the angel Gabriel. "Behold , I am a servant of the Lord; let it be according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

Mary was from Nazareth…
but she lived in Surrender!

Why risk living surrendered?

  • When you own your weakness you discover true power.
  • The impact of your surrender will be felt for many years.
  • God sees everything and he’ll see a surrendered you.

Surrendered people are favored people…will you surrender your life to God?

Never

Some days you just need to say "never"! 

Never surrender a dream...God wasn't messing with your mind. Never let trials discourage you...God builds strength over time. 

Never flirt with idols...God knows they can only stunt your growth. Never let lies stop you...God's voice is saying 'let's go'. 

Never believe false labels...God has naming rights on your life. Never let satan defeat you...God loves you and gave you a knife. 

Never let compromise engulf you...Never.

Some days you just need to say "never"! 

Keep Letting Go

Hanging on for dear life can leave us just short of real life. Dying is Jesus' invitation to move from emotional/spiritual isolation to sweet friendship with God. Just as death opens a grain of wheat to a whole new life, so our dying, although still breathing, opens us up to a bright, new, eye popping, soul soaring new life. 

But here's the challenge, we don't die well. We hang on for dear life to a life that isn't delivering and can never deliver. Spiritual death is embracing the pain of failure, sober acknowledgement of spirit emptiness and "turn out the lights the party's over" surrender to the God of true life and celebration. Hanging on will only hold us back.

We must die to be "born again" and we must keep "putting to death" the idols that creep back into our lives. One thought: DNR - Do Not Resuscitate! It's common to see this in critical care units for people who are ready to move on. How about us? Right now we can dangle a spiritual DNR sign around empty lives and impotent gods! The only life to hang on to is the life found in Jesus. But here's the payoff, loosen your grip and enjoy life because you are held firm by God.

John 12:24-26, Col. 3, John 10:28

When God Stretches Us

If we let God stretch us we'll be shocked where God takes us! Watching God do things that can't be attributed to natural causes is the very way God wants us to live. This happens with vision that looks beyond things that are seen, "to the things that are unseen". Maybe you need to pause right now and ask God to let "the eyes of your heart" see the eye popping "hope to which he has called you". When God said we've been transferred power that is likened to "the raising of Christ from the dead", He wasn't trying to make us feel good about ourselves, God was calling us out to walk in the supernatural. But we have to be honest enough with ourselves to admit it's possible to "live in the Spirit" and not "keep in step with the Spirit", or we wouldn't have been warned about this real danger. So the call of God requires our stepping out into the promises of God. One of the greatest ways to see God at work in us, is to allow God to stretch us.

Stretch goals exercise the muscle of faith. They challenge us to trust God more and rely on ourselves less. Stretch goals are not about us, they're about benefiting others and soaking up the joy of watching God work through a "jar of clay". Stretch goals build a legacy. Stretch goals love neighbors well and they make the world a little better. Being stretched by God is a paradox of pain and pleasure. It has to hurt, before it can help. But this is for real: The further we lean into the stretch goals God has for us, the more we'll discover the joy of God!

You can begin to reach beyond yourself today no matter your history or how much failure and shame you've endured. Stretch goals are beyond human attainment and that's the point. So stand squarely before God and ask Him to do something outlandishly not of you, that would surprise even you. Tell him you don't need acclaim, you just want to partake of the power he has made available and soak in the presence and joy of God. Laying down your life "as a living sacrifice" is the very next move that takes you - beyond you. But lay down face up. You'll have a front row seat to watch what too few have witnessed, the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power". Don't measure your stretch by anyone else. God knows what you can take, but even better, God knows where He wants to take you!

II Cor. 4:18, Eph. 1:18, Gal. 5, II Cor. 4:7, I Cor. 9:23, Rom. 12, I Cor. 2:4

Addiction...Go straight at it!

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The best way to tackle addiction is to run straight at it. Circling around addiction and attempting to sneak up on it, is fruitless and futile. Trying to learn a new angle or trick to deal with those things that enslave, has a big let-down in store. But the "straight at it" approach is spiritual gold. Addiction is like a bad friend, we get some shallow benefit but we know that they hate us, and we can't muster the courage to cut em' off. Well, it's a new day. It's time to sever yourself from addiction. Let's go straight at it.

The letter of Romans is dealing with the reality of the new birth miracle. Paul lays out stark contrast between slavery (addiction) to sin and freedom in Christ. The following verse put feet to the new birth miracle of salvation. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." This is Paul's straight at it approach for dealing with addictions that have become like an evil spirit-leach - sucking the life from our soul.

First and forever we must get in with Jesus. "Put on Christ" is inspired, purposeful, and practical. It's an act of the heart and will. Putting on Christ is a symbol of standing cloaked in Christ's mercy, grace, and power. God always calls us to trust him before we wade into a war with our addiction. Too many times we have tried to tackle addiction in our own strength and we find ourselves more discouraged than ever before. This bold approach requires a level of surrender that is unusual. But when the pain of addiction is met with equal surrender to Jesus, freedom is in the works.

Second, cut off ALL the supply lines to your addiction. Starve it, dehydrate it, asphyxiate it, or drown it, but do whatever it takes to kill it. "Make no provision" means give it nothing to live. Nothing! This requires some strategy and honesty. With have to be true to the addiction. Answer the question, "what keeps this alive"? Be honest and exhaustive. Then go about cutting that addiction off until it dies.

You can do this. Do a "180 Now". Face your addiction head on and go straight at it. "Put on Jesus" and "make no provision". Soon you'll be looking back and seeing your own personal miracle from God.

Romans 13:14