Good morning Odessa First! Merry Christmas! We are so blessed with all the Christmas decorations – it just looks beautiful around here. I guess you could say, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”
First Time Guests – Introduction
Christmas is my favorite holiday. Not just because we are celebrating the incarnation of Christ but for a whole host of reasons.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the carols we sing. Last Sunday we sang my favorite Christmas carol – “Silent Night.” I asked many of you what your favorite carols were and I got a lot of responses. One of those responses was “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
(TRANSITION) Let’s sing that song together this morning.
Last week we looked at Zechariah’s Song found in the gospel of Luke. Zechariah, a Jewish priest, sang a beautiful song of praise for the birth of his son John. This is the same John who would become known as “John the Baptist” or “John the Baptizer.” John was, as Zechariah sang, becomes the one who show others who Jesus is and points them toward salvation.
Today we are going to look at another song of praise found in Luke’s gospel called Mary’s Song. But before we do let’s get a sense of the story we are about to be a part of…
In this story there are 3 main characters: Mary, Gabriel (an angel of God) and Elizabeth. There is also 1 other character of whom this story revolves around: Jesus.
TELL THE STORY OF LUKE 1:26-38
Most of us, even if you are not a Christian, have some familiarity with this story. What we are not necessarily familiar with is what Mary does after she is visited by Gabriel.
TELL THE STORY OF LUKE 1:39-45
(The main speaker is Elizabeth who feels blessed that God would choose her to know this wonderful thing about to happen).
Overwhelmed by the moment and the miracle of being chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb, Mary breaks forth in song.
“My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
A. Mary’s Song Came From A Troubled Heart (Luke 1:28-35)
I know this may sound strange given the beauty of the song and how much it glorifies God. But stop for a moment and consider the circumstances Mary has found herself in.
Sure, she is highly favored of the Lord but being a pregnant teenage girl in the Middle-Eastern culture of her day did not bring any favor from her neighbors.
It is quite possible that Mary could have been accused of adultery. She was engaged or pledged to Joseph.
A Jewish marriage of that day involved 3 steps.
• First, the two families had to agree to the union of the man and woman
• Second, once they were in agreement a public announcement would be made and the couple was considered “pledged.”
o This is similar to what we call “engagement” today. However, unlike today, the engagement could only be broken if one person died or asked for a divorce (even though sexual relationships during the pledge time were not permitted).
• Third, the couple would get married and begin living together.
Because of this tradition (which I pray will live on in our lives as well) the fact that Mary was pregnant could be construed as her being unfaithful to Joseph. This would allow Joseph to ask for a divorce. It also meant, according to Jewish civil law, Mary could be stoned to death.
Yet in the midst of all of this confusion and in the likely hood of being misunderstood Mary sings with confidence in her God.
• Hardship, trial, temptation, struggle, illness and more try to rob us of our song.
• But like Mary we have to place our faith in our God who will walk with us through every one of life’s ups and downs.
• Like the song writer says,
He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb.
He never offered a victory without fighting.
He said help would always come in time.
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
and the adversary says give in, Just hold on.
Our Lord will show up
and He will take you through the fire again
B. Mary Focused On God’s Greatness Not Her Circumstance (Luke 1:46-55)
Many scholars believe Mary had a good grasp on the Old Testament scriptures. Her song is very similar to the Song of Hannah found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
Mary did not sing her song based on a casual knowledge of God or the Scriptures. It appears that Mary worshipped God from a deep understanding of His character and action. To Mary He is the God who…
• Extends mercy
• Lifts the humble
• Fills the hungry
• And remembers His promises to His people
But what I find very interesting about Mary’s Song is the beginning line, “My soul glorifies the Lord…”
• Greek megalynō used for “glorifies” (NIV) also “magnifies” (KJV).
• It basically means, “to make bigger.”
In the midst of all the potential problems, ridicule and divorce, Mary chose to make God bigger and trust Him in her circumstance. After all, she has nothing to be ashamed of or to be afraid of. She is with child by the will of God and through the Holy Spirit.
I once heard someone say, “Stop telling God how big your problems are and begin telling your problems how big your God is.”
I think this is so true! It seems our natural tendency is to automatically think about how big – massive – insurmountable – our problems are and forget that Jesus tells us,
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20).
Look your problem in the eye today and sing your song of praise to God. You will discover as you make God bigger – your problems will begin to be seen in their real size. You will also begin to hear the Lord telling you how to conquer or overcome that problem. He will give you creativity and guidance to be obedient to His will.
What will you do with Mary’s Song? In her song we see her faith in God clearly. Mary’s God would be with her in the midst of trying and difficult times. Mary’s God was bigger than the culture and customs and traditions of the day.
Her obedience to His will would not make her life a bed of roses but she would walk in peace. She knew God was with her and she was highly favored of the Lord.
What about your God? When difficult, stressful and tumultuous times arise in your life what god do you run to for comfort and help?
• Our own initiative and ability
Or, do you run to Jesus?
You see, those other things I mentioned do not allow you to make God bigger so you can see your problems correctly. No.
• You will, at some time or another, have a problem to complex or hard for your own initiative and ability to manage
• You will face problems that cannot be solved by money – even lots of money.
• Your addictions only serve to escape the problem. When you come back to reality the problem has usually gotten worse.
• Your family, though helpful and sometimes a source of encouragement, will eventually fail to offer the stability you need to get through the situation.
But faith in Jesus Christ will give you the ability to see that God the Father is bigger and more capable than any of these other things. He will empower you with His Holy Spirit and divinely enable you to see answers you did not see before.
What would happen if we made up our minds to begin to see God as bigger than our problems? How differently would our day-to-day faith be if we would make this our goal.
• When money is tight – we pray
• When children are sick – we pray
• When the job is shaky – we pray
• When the diagnosis is not good – we pray
How do we do this? Well, as I have repeated over and over – we pray. But another element is to PRAISE.
When we PRAISE we make God bigger. And when God become bigger our problems return to their normal size.
What would happen if we determined to “give thanks in all things?”
ILLUSTRATION: Now, I am not talking about some false repetition of supposedly faith filled words (you know like those stupid meme’s you get on facebook – say this prayer three times then share it and you will receive a financial blessing – if not it’s off to Hell for you – those things drive me nuts).
Just like Mary our praise comes out of a deep place where we, by faith, know that God is in control. That He HAS AND WILL take care of His own. That HE HAS AND WILL keep His promises.
What would happen if we began to sing praises to God for His goodness instead of songs to the enemy of defeat and loss?
It’s your choice. It’s your song. My prayer is that you would choose to “magnify the Lord” in the midst of the circumstances you are in at this very moment.
I want us to pray and praise this morning. I want us to take the situation we are facing or the struggle we are having and put it at God’s feet and begin to praise Him for the powerful God He is and always will be.