The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 50

Messages of Hope

God Sends A Message Of Hope

We receive lots of messages every day – through our SMSes, emails, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and even written notes on our fridges or desks. Sometimes these messages are important, but many may not be worth looking at. For some messages, we often simply delete all those which we don’t even want to look at. For other messages, we may give a quick glance, send a short response, or simply do not respond at all.

What if God sends you a message today? How would you respond?

Many years ago, God sent a message to His people through the prophet Isaiah, saying: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14), and “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6).

God send messages to ordinary people

Years after that, God sent messages again to two persons. An angel of the Lord appeared unto Zacharias, and said to him, “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.” (Lk 1:13-14)

Zacharias’ response to God’s message

What was Zacharias’ response, or rather, his reaction? Lk 1:18 tells us that Zacharias said to the angel Gabriel, “Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” Zacharias must have been in deep shock, and he doubted God’s message. Because he did not believe the “glad tidings” which the angel brought to him and his wife, the angel told him, “behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season” (vs 20). But as soon as the baby boy, John, was born, Zacharias wrote down the name “John”. He finally believed the message which the angel Gabriel conveyed to him. And immediately, he could talk again; and he praised God, and then talked about God’s blessings to His people through his son.

Mary’s response to God’s message

Three months before John was born, the same angel who had appeared to Zacharias also appeared to a young Jewish lady named Mary. She and Elizabeth were cousins, and she was engaged to Joseph. Joseph came from the family line of King David, but he was not from the royal family. He was a simple carpenter.

Imagine an angel appearing before a young girl, probably aged about 14 or 15 years old. The angel said unto her, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” (Lk 1:30-32). How was this possible? Mary was just an ordinary girl. She was not from the royal family either. Yet, it pleased God to send a special message to her through the angel Gabriel. Though Mary did ask how an unmarried girl could give birth to a baby, by faith, she believed and accepted the message which God sent to her. The babe that she was to bear, whose name is JESUS, is the name by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

God sent a message of hope for Israel’s salvation to Mary, and she responded to this message of hope by faith. She did not think of the consequences of giving birth to a baby even though she was not married. She was not afraid of wagging tongues and judging eyes. She trusted God to accomplish what He intends to do for the salvation of the world through the child that she was to conceive through the Holy Spirit.

After she received the good news from angel Gabriel, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. And when both of them met, the two women, who conceived miraculously, understood each other completely. Both were in very difficult circumstances: Elizabeth, conceiving a child in old age; and Mary, conceiving when she was not married yet. As they saw each other, the baby inside Elizabeth “leaped in her womb” (Lk 2:41). She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and exclaimed with a loud voice, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” (vs 42). Mary responded with a beautiful song known as The Magnificat – Mary’s hymn of praise to God (vs 46-56).

As Zacharias watched the two ladies praise God for the miracles that God wrought in their lives, he must have been shameful about his own lack of faith. The two women believed in God and encouraged each other as they became involved in God’s wondrous plan for the salvation of the world.

What if God sends you an important message today, and requires you to trust Him completely to accomplish all that He wants to do in your life? Would you also trust Him like Mary did, or would you react with unbelief like Zacharias did?

Help each other to receive and believe God’s messages

Beloved, God could be sending you a message this Christmas season. How are you responding to His message – with faith or unbelief? As we consider the birth of Christ this month, let us consider what message God is sending to us. Let us learn to take Him at His Word and allow Him to work out His plans for our lives. When in doubt, let us confide in one another, and encourage each other when God’s messages seem difficult to accept. If any among us have difficulty believing in God’s Word, let us pray for (Jam 5-16), comfort and edify each other (1 Thess 5:11) in the Lord.

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing 16 Dec 2012)

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