Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Peace is frsrt and foremost a spiritual issue.

“Guidelines for Christmas: Fill It Up”

Isaiah 9:1-7; Luke 1:26-38

In a radio broadcast on September 2, the day after he accepted the Japanese surrender, General Douglas MacArthur said, “Today the guns are silent. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death; the seas bear only commerce; people everywhere walk upright in sunlight. We have had our last chance (for survival). If we do not now devise some great and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advance in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” Peace is first and foremost a spiritual issue; it is an issue of the heart – of my heart and your heart. It is rooted in our relationship to the Prince of Peace.

We see this exemplified in Mary’s response to her visit from the angel. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Lk. 1:38) Mary’s heart was filled with peace. But how, in the midst of such overwhelming, unbelievable, miraculous, confusing news could Mary be at peace?

Like Mary, our hearts will be filled with peace through ACCEPTANCE OF GOD’S WAYS. “I am the Lord’s servant…” Mary accepted her divine assignment in life. The angel revealed God’s purpose for Mary, and she accepted it. She accepted it because she trusted her faithful God. Mary knew of the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7. David had been successful as a leader and had led the Israelites to new heights. There was a time of peace and David felt the urge to build a temple for God, yet God ultimately said “No.”. But along with the denial came this promise from God (2 Sam. 7:11-13), “‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” David accepted his assignment; he did not argue or complain. Rather he made all the preparations for the temple to be built. With that promise written indelibly in her mind, Mary heard the words of the angel Gabriel (30-33): “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Knowing the promise of God to David, Mary trusted also that God was at work – as unbelievable and impossible as it sounded. Mary was surprised, not so much by the announcement that a king was coming as by how he was coming. She asked Gabriel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” In response, Gabriel gave Mary – and us – a reason to trust. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing is impossible with God.” Since JESUS IS ON THE THRONE, AND HE HAS ALL POWER AND AUTHORITY, THEN HE IS IN CONTROL. He determines history, not humans or governments. Nothing is impossible with God. What a statement! Nothing is impossible with God.

Mary could accept it because she KNEW WHO GOD WAS AND SHE KNEW WHO SHE WAS; He was Almighty and she was His servant. “I am the Lord’s servant…” So whatever He assigned she could accept. What God assigns and allows, so be it!

Remember Joseph – not Mary’s future husband but the Old Testament Joseph? Betrayed by his brothers, separated cruelly from them and his father, twice placed unjustly in prison – yet he rose to be the second most powerful person in the kingdom. When he finally met up again with his brothers, Joseph did not seek revenge, because he was at peace. He accepted what God had assigned (Gen. 45:5-8 GNT): “Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people's lives… 7 God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure that you and your descendants survive. 8 So it was not really you who sent me here, but God.” (50:20) “You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened.” …“I am the Lord’s servant…”

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