Devotions

Author Archives: Donna Fox

The Favored One

Mary • Devotion #2: The Favored One
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’” (Luke 1:30)

“I have found favor with you.”   Would we not all love to hear those words from our God?  What an honor, to have God find favor with you!  It ranks right up there with “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Such was the case with Mary.  She was maybe 14 years old.  In that culture, girls were betrothed (engaged) at a young age.  Mary was betrothed to Joseph but was not yet married.  An angel appeared to Mary and told her she had found favor with God and would have a baby.   Imagine what she must have been thinking when she heard those words.  “Get outta here” or “You are joking,” is what we might say today.

  

How does one “find favor with God?”  Is this something we can earn by good works, or buy?  Is it something we can steal away from another?  No.  It is a result of our faith.  We are all unclean, sinners, fallen from grace (Isaiah 64:6).  But Mary was pleasing, approved, liked by God, and chosen to carry our Lord and Savior in her womb.  She was a virgin, so what would Joseph say?  What would others think?   They surely would not hear the news and say “Congratulations, Mary, you are carrying God’s Son and it is a miracle.”  No, they would likely say, “You liar, you whore.”  They would see her as a very immoral person.

The angel told Mary the child would be named Jesus.  “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus”  (Luke 1:31).  Mary was the first person ever to hear the name of Jesus.  What an honor!  Do you think she comprehended what this all meant?  I doubt it.  She knew she was specially chosen, for sure.  She believed in God and trusted His plan for her life.  But still, it could not have been easy.  No one would believe her.  She had to remain strong in her faith and trust that God would work out the details, which He did!

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, had a similar experience.  Her husband, Zacharias, and she were not able to have children.  They were aged when Zacharias was visited by an angel, similar to Mary, to announce that Elizabeth would bear a son and his name would be John (Luke 1:13).  Fast forward six months later to Mary.  We do not know if Mary knew about Elizabeth at the time, but she inevitably found out shortly when she visited Elizabeth and the unborn baby, John, leaped in his mother’s womb!  How exciting to have a family member to share her joy with, because undoubtedly everyone else was looking down on Mary.

Another person in the Bible who found favor in God’s sight was Noah. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He was used in a mighty way to save his family and the animals during the great flood.  God chose Noah for a particular purpose because of his faith.

God chose Mary, Elizabeth, Noah, and others because of their great faith.  We need to strive to have this great faith so that God will use each of us for His will and in His timing.

It Is Time

Miraculous conception and birth #1  November 6 It Is Time

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.”  Luke 1:5-7 

The time had come.  Time for things to be put into place for Jesus to come to Earth.  God had a plan, a perfect plan (Are not ALL of God’s plans perfect?!).  Sin was rampant.  The one to pay for all mankind’s sin was about to come.

The one to announce this miracle would be John the Baptist.  The story of John’s conception and birth is fascinating.  His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were “advanced in years.”   They had no children and had resigned to the fact they would not have any children.

  

Have we not all been there?  You want something so bad.  Time passes, and you do not get it.  You are frustrated, feel defeated and hopeless.  But these two remained faithful.  It is through their faithfulness that God would use them to bear a son, John.  John would be the one to announce Jesus’ coming and purpose.  What an incredible story of how remaining faithful to God will reward you in the end!

They were “righteous,” “blameless.”  They both came from priestly descent.  Both were righteous inside and out.  Not like some of the other leaders and priests who were hypocrites, putting on an outward appearance that did not match their hearts.  These parents-to-be were righteous in God’s eyes, not just because of their outward appearance.

The Bible does not tell us much about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  But we do know that they were chosen to bear John the Baptist because of their faithfulness, and their age.  Friends and family would know that this had to be of God and that this child was special.

Having been barren was a disgrace at this time.  It might even appear as a punishment by God, possibly because of sin, or not having God’s blessing.   But they remained faithful and did not turn away from God.  By waiting until they were older, God would show that He is a God of miracles and a God who answers the prayers of the faithful.

God chose this time to fulfill His promise of a redeemer, to use Zechariah and Elizabeth in the plan, to bless them with the child of their dreams, who would go on to baptize Jesus.  Their patience was rewarded!

We can be reminded by their story to be faithful because God will remember!

Donna Fox

Assistant to the Growth Pastor

Fallen – His Mission #1

Devils and Demons | FIGHT
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

Have you ever had an important task assigned to you, or self-imposed?  This is called a “mission.”  For instance: “It is my mission to help my children do well in school” or “It is my mission to find a solution to this problem.” 

God’s fallen angel, Satan, or the devil, had a mission.  His goal was to steer Christ off course during his time on Earth, to prevent Him from His end goal.  Thankfully Jesus fulfilled His mission in spite of Satan! (John 19:30).  Jesus overcame the devil several times, including His birth (Herod was going to kill all baby boys), at His temptation in the wilderness (Satan said “worship me”), and by ultimately going to the cross on our behalf.

When Satan did not succeed with Christ, he came after Christ’s followers or would-be-followers.  He causes a man not to believe, and therefore not to be saved (Luke 8:12).  He destroys our faith in God.  He camouflages the truth and poses as a true believer and teacher of the truth (1 Timothy 4:1-2) that leads us astray.  His ultimate goal is to destroy the church.

But the good news is that in these 2000 plus years, Satan has not succeeded in destroying the church!  We need to be vigilant in our study of God’s Word, to align it with what we hear and do.  We need to pray (Matthew 16:22 says, “Get behind me, Satan.”).  We need to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

We need to constantly be aware of him and his demons’ presence all around us.  Resist him.  Fight against him.  Pray for protection from him.  If we crack the door open, he will swing it open wide and get ahold of us.

When I was in the choir, myself and another choir member would struggle with a sore throat, or waking up not feeling well.  We kept telling each other to “not let the devil win.”  We would persevere and attend practice or attend church and sing to the best of our ability.  Over and over we would say to each other how blessed WE were by resisting the temptation to stay home, and instead, coming to sing.  We did not let the devil win!

Do you recognize his devious schemes?  Are you praying “get behind me Satan?”  Are you resisting his falsehoods and moving forward with God’s truths firmly in the forefront of your mind?  If not, make a decision today to FIGHT!  You (and God) will prevail!

Eternal Investment #1 – Grand Scheme

Eternal Investment #1 – Grand Scheme
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

What are you investing in?  A 401K plan?  Stocks?  Real Estate?  While it is true we are charged to be good stewards with our money and be prepared for the future, these are only worldly investments.  They mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.   1 Timothy 6:8 says “…we cannot take anything out of the world.” When we die, all the money in the world means nothing.  When you come before the judgment seat of God, he is not going to ask how much money you had in the bank, or how many possessions you had.  They are worthless.

When I was saved, one of the first things I learned was Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” I was so happy I shared the Good News with everyone I knew!  This is what our real purpose on earth is.  First to come to know Jesus as our Savior, and Lord of our life.  Then to share the Good News, the Gospel.  By investing in the unsaved in this way, we are making an eternal investment.  THIS is the type of investment that is worth more than gold and silver.

Use your money to further the Kingdom – go on a mission’s trip, support missionaries, support your church, help the poor, tell someone about Jesus.  Investing in a boat or stocks will not do anything to further the Gospel, but supporting a missionary who is in a third world country telling people of Jesus for the very first time, that furthers the Gospel.  We are to “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20, Luke 12:21).

Matthew 6:19 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”  Thieves can steal your possessions. The stock market can steal your nest egg.  However, no one can steal your heavenly investment.  Keep your eyes open today for an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone at work, at the grocery store, at school, anywhere you come in contact with others.  Pray for the opportunity, pray for God to give you the courage and the words to say.  Pray for the other person’s heart to be softened to hear your words.

J. H. Jowett once said, “The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all our money.”  When you come face to face with God, how much will your wealth measure?  Will it be the wealth from worldly investments, or will it be the wealth from heavenly investments?  Luke 12:15 says, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Think about what you are investing in today.

The Worthy King

King #7 – The Worthy King
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

There are many kings in the world today.  Some of the countries with kings are Jordan, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.  How did they become king?  They inherited it by being born into a royal family.  They did not do anything to earn that title.  It was simply handed to them, deserving or not.  They have power and wealth because of the title.

Jesus is our “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). Was He born into a royal family?  No.  Was His family powerful and wealthy?  No.  Joseph was a carpenter.  Mary was a lowly servant (Luke 1:48).  By the world’s standard, looking from the world’s view, this was an ordinary baby born in a manger.

How was it then that He was given the title “King” if He was not born into a royal family?  His Father gave him the title. God exalted Jesus to His rightful place as King in Psalms 29:10, “The Lord sits enthroned as King forever.”

All four of the Gospel accounts refer to Zechariah 9:9, “Behold your king is coming to you.”  Coming as a king was a fulfillment of prophecy.  Jesus was even charged with being a king in Matthew 27:11.   This was cause for His crucifixion.

How do I know that Jesus is my King?  He died for me and then rose again on the third day.  He bore my sins on that cross.  However, do I live as if He is my King?  Do I honor Him with my words and actions?  Daily, I need to remind myself to pick up my cross, carry it, and follow my King.

By the world’s standards, was He born into a royal family?  No.  Would they say He is deserving of the title “King?”  No.  Would they realize He is powerful?  No.

However, by God’s Word, we know that Jesus is a King who will welcome believers into His Kingdom!  2 Timothy 4:18 says, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.  To him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.”



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