Robert Morris - Highly Favored
I want to bring my Christmas message that I bring the first week of December nearly every year. I didn't look at any of the book or any of the content I did for that message, but I'm going to talk about Mary. And the title of the message is Highly Favored. And it's what Gabriel said to Mary when he told her she was going to have Jesus. Luke 1:26 it says, "Now in the sixth month", now let me explain that just for a moment. We're coming right out of Zacharias and Elizabeth being told they're going to have John the Baptist. So when it says now in the sixth month, it means in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy. And so we're just kind of jumping in so I just want to explain why it says that, all right?
"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed, or engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David. the virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women'"! Rejoice highly favored one. So I've got three questions for you we're going to talk about in this message. Here's number one. Does God have favorites? I mean, when you read this, this angel is talking to the mother of Jesus. So obviously she's a favorite. Rejoice highly favored one. So does God have favorites?
Now, you might be thinking well, Pastor Robert, I'm not the mother of Jesus. I'm the mother of Jethro Bodine, and I drive carpool, plus I work outside the home as well. And you know, so I know I'm favored but I'm probably not highly favored in the same way that Mary was. So that's what I want to talk to us about, is does God have favorites? So let me just show you a few people in the Bible and then we'll bring it back home to us. But in Genesis, Abraham is talking to the Angel of the Lord, which we know is Jesus, and the Angel of the Lord shows up, that's Jesus, the Angel of the Lord, not an angel of the Lord, the Angel of the Lord, and is telling him he and Sarah are going to have a child. And Abraham says to him, Genesis 18:3, "I have now found favor in Your sight", and we know Abraham did. Then later in Genesis, Jacob is wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, which again is Jesus.
And in Genesis 33:10 Jacob said, "No, please", in other words, don't leave me, "if I have now found favor in your sight". Daniel 1:9, "God had brought Daniel into the favor", of the people around him. The Bible also says that Ruth had favor. The Bible says Esther had favor. The Bible says Hannah, the mother of Samuel, found favor with God. Again, though, you might be thinking, but Pastor Robert I just need to remind you, I'm not Abraham. I'm not Jacob. I'm not Daniel. I'm not Ruth. I'm not Esther. I'm not Hannah. And I'm certainly not Mary. So, does God have favorites? Well, what do all of these people have in common though? Abraham, Esther, Ruth. What do they all have in common? One thing. They were children of God. They were sons and daughters of God. And so what about you? So are you one of God's favorites?
So here's the question. Does God have favorites? Here's the answer. Yes. All of his children are his favorites. All of them are his favorites. When I think of the word all of them, I'm reminded of a thing that happened with my son, James. James has this brilliant mathematical mind for some things. He sees math differently. He sees things differently. You might have a child that sees things differently. We actually had him tested to find out how he saw things. And in some areas he's actually a genius. He was in the top 1% of the top 1% in advanced college algebra, but struggled with basic college math. So he sees things differently.
So when he was about four years old, I'm teaching him counting and things, and I held up this picture with some boats on it and I said, "How many boats do you see"? And he said, "All of them". No, son, how many boats are on this page? He said, "All of them". How many boats are in the picture? "All of them, dad". But that's the answer when we say, does God have favorites? Yes. Who are His favorites? All of them. All of God's children are his favorites. You need to know what the word favorite means. Favorite means one upon whom favor rests. A noun, someone or something, or a place it could be, upon whom favor rests. If your favor rests on it, then that's your favorite. So God's favor rests on you.
Now, we're going to go into this deeper. But here's some myth we've got to blow away. You can have more than one favorite. See, when I was learning this from the Lord I was saying, "Lord, I understand Abraham was one of your favorites. I understand Daniel and Mary and Hannah. And I know you've been good to me, and I know I'm included in the world, God so loved the world he sent his Son. But am I one of your favorites"? And here's what the Lord said to me, "Robert, you've got three kids, right"? Yeah. He said, "Which one is your favorite"? What's the answer? All of them. Now sometimes... Okay, let's not talk about that. All of them, right? My favor rests on all of them. So you can have more than one favorite. God has many favorites.
If God's favor rests on you, and if you've believed in Jesus, then you've received his favor, then you're one of God's favorites. I'll never forget this. One time Debbie and I were playing the Newlywed Game, and it got down to just where we were tied with one other couple to win. And the other couple went first, it was the last question, and they missed it. And so when it got to Debbie, all we had to do is get the question right and we were going to win, you know. And she said, "We've got this". I mean, we've got this. I know. The question was, what is your husband's favorite food? And she said, "I've got this".
Now I've got the card where I've written my answer, you know, and she said, "We got this. We won. We got this. I can guarantee it. We've won". She said, It's Mexican food. The only problem is that that day I'd been thinking about Italian food all day. So for some stupid reason I wrote it Italian food on the card, and she's like, "What"? She said, "How many times do we eat Mexican food a week"? So probably three or four, maybe five. How many times did we eat Italian food a month? Maybe once a month, but I was thinking about it. Then she said, "Where do we go the first place we go every time we get back from an overseas trip, where's the first place we go on the way home from the airport"? A Mexican restaurant.
And then one of the guys there said, "Robert, I would have thought that barbecue, because I've heard you talk about ribs. I would have thought barbecue is your favorite". And I said, "No, that's my favorite barbecue". What I realized is they're all my favorites. That's why I don't have a six-pack anymore. So does God have favorites? Yes. All of them. So, here's question number two. What is favor? If God's favor rests on you, wouldn't you like to know what it is. What is favor? The angel Gabriel goes on to say to Mary, Luke 1:30, "Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.'" You have found, found, we're going to talk about that, favor with God.
Now, first of all you need to know what this Greek word for favor is. It's a word that all of you know, it's just very seldom translated favor. It's the Greek word, I'm going to pronounce it in Greek first and then I'll tell you our English pronunciation, but it's the Greek word charis, which we pronounce it charis, C-H-A-R-I-S, charis. The charismaton are the gifts of grace. Charis means grace. Grace. This word's in the New Testament over a hundred and fifty times, nearly every time, it's translated grace. For by grace you have been saved. Grace, it's the grace of God that works in us. It's nearly always translated grace. Here it's translated favor. You have found favor with God. But what's the word? It's grace. You found grace. When I realized that that was the word, I was reminded of another verse of another guy in the Bible that found grace.
Genesis 6:8, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord". Same thing. Noah found grace. Now, I do want to just talk just a moment for the word found. Mary, you have found favor. You've found grace. I'm going to talk about how you find it, by the way, in just a moment. But you found it. But think about this. It's not like his grace was all of a sudden there. It's just she found it. It's not like God's grace all of the sudden showed up for Noah. He found it. It's the same way you got saved. See, God's grace doesn't go up or down. It's always there and it's always in abundant supply. It's just you find it when you get saved, and then when you go through a difficult time, you find some more grace. But his grace is there. He doesn't increase his grace. He doesn't give you more grace. He's already given you grace upon grace, is what John 1 says.
So his grace is already there. We just find it. And how did you find it the first time you found it? Another way to say that would be, how did you receive it the first time you received it? Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith..". So here's how you find grace or find favor with God. You believe. You have faith. You know the reason Mary found grace is 'cause an angel showed up and said even though you're a virgin, you're going to have a kid, and she believed it. That's how she found grace. You know how Noah found grace? Because God showed up and said it's going to rain, and it had never rained before. And he believed it, so he found grace. So that's for salvation, but what about for something else in life?
Something happens, and you go through a difficult time, and you choose to believe even during COVID that God's going to work everything for your good. So you find grace because you chose to believe. So when we believe we get saved, but we've got to continue to believe, not to be saved, by the way. Not to be saved. I'll show you in just a moment what this is. One of my favorite verses in the Bible because it shows salvation and sanctification; it shows eternal and abundant life. 1 John 5:13, "These things I've written to you who believe", who have faith, "in the name of the Son of God, that you may know", not that you may hope, but you may know, "that you have eternal life", watch this, "and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God".
You receive grace for eternal life when you believe. You receive grace for abundant life when you continue to believe. When you believe, you get saved. Eternal life is a gift from God. It is not a goal to achieve. It's a gift to receive. So when you receive God's grace, you receive the gift of eternal life. When you believe, you receive eternal life. When you continue to believe, you receive abundant life. Another way to say it is that when you believe, you receive the gift of salvation. When you continue to believe, you receive the gift of sanctification. You continue to be made more like Jesus Christ. So it's a process. So Mary had to continue to believe. She had to walk in that faith, in that grace.
Now, please hear me. Don't ever turn positional grace into performance grace. We've talked a little bit about this in the last series, that it's not about performance. It's not about perfectionism. That it's, the only way we're made perfect is by believing in the one who is perfect, and then we're perfected by grace. The reason I say this is because we get to that place where we begin to turn positional grace to performance grace, and that we have favor when we do what's right, and if we make a mistake, all of the sudden were out of favor with God. Listen, if you were out of favor, if you were out of grace, you wouldn't be breathing right now. God's grace saves us and sustains us. So you just can't think that way.
You can never think the way that, God is getting me back for something. He's never going to get you back because he's forgiven you. He already got his Son back for everything you've ever done. And we think that way. It's crazy. But we think that way. We have a flat on the way to work, and we think to ourselves, Yeah, I figured something like this would happen because I slept later, and I didn't have my quiet time today, and so God you're getting me back. You're teaching me a lesson. Sometimes we don't put it as that he's getting us back, but he's teaching us something. You're teaching me that even if I stay up late, I shouldn't sleep late because I should have a quiet time every day, and I didn't have a quite time and so now I've got a flat, and oh, oh, it's starting to rain. It's a good, good. Way to go God. That's a good one. This will really teach me now.
I'm going to have to change the flat in the rain. Okay, let me give you the theological reason why you got a flat on the way to work. There was a nail in the road. That's the theological reason. And the theological reason why it was raining when you had a flat is because water evaporates, and then the droplets condensed. That's where we get the word condensation. When they get too heavy they fall. God's not getting you back because you didn't have your quiet time. You understand? You know why? Because his favor rests on you. Let me say it another way, because you're one of his favorites. You're highly favored of the Lord. So does God have favorites? Yes. So what is favor? Well, it's his grace. So how do you receive it? Faith.
So here's point number three. Well what's faith? If that's how I receive favor and continue... I need to continue to receive his favor through faith... what's faith? Believing. Luke 1:38, "Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord!'" This is how she responds, "'Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her". Let it be to me according to your word. In other words, I believe, even though I've never known a man intimately. As a virgin, I believe I'm going to conceive and bear a child. It's pretty amazing to believe it. I believe. Let it be to me according to your word. She believed so she received faith and God's favor. She was divinely favored because she just believed. She just believed.
In 1859, Charles Blondin from France came to America, stretched a tightrope across Niagara Falls, with no net, and walked across that tightrope. He did it many times. One time he carried a chair, and he sat down in the middle, on the chair. One time he did it blindfolded. One time he put like a burlap sack over himself. One time he sat down in the middle and fried an egg and ate it. This is the time I want to tell you about. By the way, a hundred thousand people, that's estimated, because they couldn't count them, but they estimated a hundred thousand people watched him go across the tightrope.
So a hundred thousand people are there. He walks across the tightrope, And they're all, yay! And then he says this to the crowd, "How many of you believe that I can carry a man on my back across that rope"? And they all went, "We believe". And he said, "Who wants to be that man"? And one man stepped forward. This is a picture. Remember it's from 1859. But there he is carrying a man on his back across Niagara Falls. Now, here's my point. They all believed, but one man believed. Because you need to know when we're talking about the favor, or the grace of God, it's not believing in your head. It's believing in your heart.
Let me tell you another word for belief that's very similar in the Greek, and it's the word for trust. In other words, if you really believe then you put your trust in the Lord. Now, here's the reason I'm saying that. I always am battling from the pulpit, I'm always battling works. I'm always battling legalism, because that will kill you quicker than anything. Legalism will kill you quicker than sin, because it's not trust in God. So you can't put your trust in what you do. You have to put your trust in what Jesus did. And it's the best way to live, because then you can relax and live for Jesus. Now, I thought about this though, in between these verses I've shown you about highly favored and you found favor and where she says let it be to me according to word, she asked a question. And I want you understand that faith doesn't mean you can't ask God a question.
Luke 1:34, "Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I do not know a man?'" And this word know means intimately. How can this be since I don't know a man? It's very similar to the Hebrew word that's translated in Genesis where it says Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore a child. So it's an intimate knowing. It's a joining, actually. So, she said, how can this be? Okay, when I thought about that, I remembered, Just a few verses before that, Zacharias responded in almost the same way, and he was mute until John the Baptist was born, and he gave the name for him. Do you remember that? So I'm thinking, what's the difference? This is just a few verses before, Luke 1:18, "And Zacharias said to the angel 'How shall I know this?'"
Now again, this word know is intimate. He's basically saying, how can I believe this, what you're telling me? Matter of fact, let me read it to you in The Message version. "Zachariah said to the angel, 'Do you expect me to believe this?'" So here's the difference in what they did. Mary asked in faith, how can this be? But she in faith because her response is, Let it be according to your word. Zacharias asked in doubt, How could I believe this? And he actually gave reasons why it wouldn't happen. He argued with Gabriel. Make a note, never argue with Gabriel. He doesn't like it. He argues with him. See, I didn't read you the whole verse a while ago. Let me read you the whole verse, "And Zacharias said to the angel, 'How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years?'"
Okay, now here's the real reason I think he got stricken mute, because he dissed his wife to God. Just make a note men. Don't ever tell God, "Let me tell you about my wife". God likes women. If you haven't noticed, he likes them. So he disses his wife. The point is, they asked... it's okay to ask a question. Faith doesn't mean you don't ask God questions. I don't understand. That's what Mary said. I don't understand, but I still trust you. Zacharias said, I don't believe you. He said, Well it's still going to happen because God has a plan, but you're going to suffer some consequences because you didn't believe. So, faith is believing in God. So it doesn't mean though that you can't ask questions. But let me tell you one other thing it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean you're going to have a perfect life if you believe God, and if you're highly favored.
So we know Mary is highly favored. That's what the Bible says. You're highly favored. So you'd think that would mean that everything is going to go great from then on. Well it didn't go great. She became a social outcast. She got pregnant while she was engaged, but not by the man she was engaged to. Matter of fact, no one believed her. Would you have believed her? Uh, Mary you're pregnant. The Holy Spirit came on me. Yeah. Joseph didn't even believe her until an angel came and talked to him and said, it's true. But she's an outcast. Then she has to travel 80 miles on a donkey in her ninth month of pregnancy.
Now right today, it's 92 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But the roadway is different from where it would have been with Mary on the donkey. So it was about 80 miles then. You could go about 20 miles a day on a donkey. So it was at least four days journey, but with a pregnant woman having to stop and go to the bathroom more. You might not be able to make 20 miles a day. Then she has to give birth in a barn. Now, remember it's not a manger she gave birth in. The manger is what they laid him in. That's a feeding trough. She gives birth in a barn. Think about this. I'm sure she probably even might have even said to the Lord, Lord, really, between two cows? And one of them is pooping. You know God, this is the Son of God. And then her husband dies, probably when Jesus was in his 20s, but some say when he was a teenager, Joseph dies.
By the way, she was probably 14, and he was probably in his 30s or 40s, and it was probably an arranged marriage, and she might have never even met him before. So she's, most theologians believe she was 14 years old. She's 14 or 15 when she becomes pregnant. And he's older and he dies. Jesus takes over the family business, but when he's 30, he leaves the family business and becomes a pentecostal preacher. We know he's pentecostal, because he healed people and cast demons out of people. That's Pentecostalism. Says he laid his hands on everyone that came to him. He had a healing line. And he cast demons out of people, and they got so concerned about him casting demons out of people, this is one of the best scriptures... It says his mother and his brothers came to get him and take him home. I'm sure on their way they're saying, you know, he was a good carpenter. I mean, he was a great carpenter.
Remember the deck that he built for Uncle Bob? I mean, that thing was perfectly level. Matter of fact, everything he built was perfect. And they go to try to take him home, and they said to Jesus, "Hey, your family's outside. They want to take you home". This is what Jesus said. He said, "They're not my family. Y'all are my family". That's what He said. He said, they're not my mother and brothers and sisters. Y'all. Whoever does the will of my Father, that's my mother and brothers... And they have to go home without him. And then he preaches so much and so radically, that they crucify him. And Mary is standing at the cross.
If you don't get this, that she's highly favored of God, but not everything goes right, or the way she would like it to go in her life. So don't argue with me that, Pastor Robert, she might have been highly favored, but you don't know what's happened to me. I know what happened to her. Matter of fact, when Jesus was eight days old they take him to the temple to dedicate him. Simeon is prophesying, you're destined for the rise, this child is destined for the rise and fall of many, and he turns to Mary and says, "And a sword is going to pierce your soul". A sword is going to pierce your soul. You're going to watch your son die at 33. I'm sure that's what she's thinking. Her husband dies. And then her child who's the Savior of the world dies.
I don't think everything went perfect with her. But she was highly favored of God. And so are you. You are highly favored of God. You want to know why? Because God's grace is on your life. His grace is on your life. You have found his grace. You found grace. Let me tell you how this message came about. I pulled out of my driveway a few weeks ago, and I just started thinking about what the Word says about me. And I just started saying it out loud. I don't know if you've ever done that. This isn't positive confession. It's not positive thinking. It's just simply saying what the Bible says about you. It's not bad to do.
Just remind yourself. So I was just saying, I'm blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. I'm more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me and gave himself for me. I'm just saying, greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. And then I just said, I'm highly favored of God. And when I said that, this is just two weeks ago, I thought to myself, Well, I know I'm favored. I know God's grace is on me, but I don't know if I'm highly favored like Mary was. And I felt like the Holy Spirit just whispered to me and said, "Son when I favor people, they're highly favored". I don't know any other way to favor people. If it's from me, you're highly favored. Now, I just want you to know. I want you to go into this Christmas season after 2020, what a year we've had. And no, everything won't go perfectly in our lives, but we are highly favored by God. We are highly favored by God.
I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes, and I want you just... We always ask the Lord, what are you saying to me through this message? And you can do that. You can do that. But I want you to just let this truth sink in. I am highly favored by God. What that means is God gave his grace through his Son and you found grace in the eyes of the Lord. So God's grace is on your life. You're favored. You're one of God's favorites. His favor is on you. Does it mean everything's going to go perfectly in your life? No. It didn't go perfectly in Mary's life. She was highly favored. But we have grace from God for eternal life and for abundant life even though we live in a fallen world. So, what I'd like for our response to be this weekend is Mary's response. "Let it be to me according to your word".
Lord, I am believing and I'm receiving your grace on my life so that your plan can be worked out in my life. Lord, I want to tell you thank you that because of your grace, we are your favorites. We are people on whom the favor of God rests. Your grace has been extended to us not just for saving grace, but sustaining grace. You saved us and you keep us. You began a good work, and you're going to finish a good work. And God we want to tell you thank you. And I pray during this Christmas season we will receive your grace, and we will walk in your favor. In Jesus' name, amen.