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  • Cherith Shiflett

Grow with God

By Cherith Shiflett



Luke 1:28-30, “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”

Have you ever heard a message and you just knew the words would ring in your head for years to come? I heard a message preached in July, and it was definitely one of those messages! It just happened to be about Mary and her highly favored life. When I was asked to write, I second-guessed myself a few times because it wouldn’t be 100% original, and it seemed cliché to the series (just like the stupid devil to get in your head, huh?). But the more I prayed and studied, the more I was convinced this was it!

I think it’s safe to say that Mary was growing with God - quite literally!

Let’s look at some things in Mary’s life that will help us grow with God.

1. Her Persuasion

In the Bible days, names meant something. They were given with the future in mind or according to what was happening at that time. For example, Moses' name meant “to pull out/draw out of water.” So, what does Mary mean? Surely it means “sweet, pure, and humble,” right? Her name actually comes from the Hebrew word that means “rebellious or bitter.” That doesn’t sound like the Mary we know. I think we can agree somewhere along the line, that there had to be a decision on Mary’s part.  


Mary was a girl born into a sinful generation, just like me and you, but there was a persuasion that took place in her life. She went from being this bitter, rebellious young person to being the one that God would use to bring His Son into the world! At some point in your life, there needs to be a record of a change. We are born into sin. We are born into rebellion, but at some point, you will have to choose to accept Christ and that evokes a change. When God changes you, you’re no longer identified by your past. All He sees is a vessel for His use.

2. Her Purity

There is no debate according to the scriptures that Mary was a virgin (vs. 27). If you’re going to grow with God, there will have to be a time in your life when your purity becomes a priority. This will have to be a decision you are dedicated to — something you factor into your life. Purity requires a conscious decision. Mary was growing with God, and she was focused on her purity. It’s not popular, and it’s not easy. But it is right! Make purity a priority in every aspect of your life. 


Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If you have any desire to grow with God, you must make purity a priority. Live clean. Live right according to God’s standards. 

3. Her Process

This is probably my favorite part. Verse 28 says “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.“ The words highly favoured mean “to grace, to endue with special honor, to make accepted or highly favored.” The angel is telling Mary, “Mary you are highly favored. God has chosen you.God has his eyes on you. God has picked you out, Mary.”


Out of all the people in your youth group, out of all the people in the church, God has picked you out. You are highly favored! I think the devil has tried to convince us that if we decide to grow with God, if we commit to purity, then we are taking a step down. He tries to convince us of all the things we are going to miss out on. But if you go with God, if you stick to the commitments you’ve made, if you decide to grow with God, you are highly favored. The fact is that the God of heaven wants to talk to you. He wants to be your all in all. He stirs your heart. He speaks to you, convicts you, guides you, blesses you, loves you (and the list could go on and on). All these are signs we are highly favored.


We’re not missing out; we’re not taking a step back. God has His eye on you and He’s selected you for service- not the young person who has all the adults fooled or the woman who never takes the things of God seriously- but you, with something in your heart that desires to grow in God. You, who says, “I think God wants to do something in my life, but I can’t imagine Him using little ole’ me.” You, refusing to give up your beliefs, even surrounded by people who doubt God.

Just like Mary, you are highly favored.

I think we can learn so much about growing with God through the life of Mary. She was unknown and insignificant, she was doubted and criticized by others, but Mary was highly favored by God and blessed among women. It all started with her being willing to grow with God. May we follow Mary’s example in growing with God and living that highly favored life.

 

 


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