Summary: If we will learn to focus on the Lord instead of our circumstances, we will find many reasons to rejoice! Mary recognized the character and faithfulness of God which prompted her praise.

Reasons to Rejoice!

[Background to Mary’s Praise] Luke 1:26-45 26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

Luke 1:46-56 46 And Mary said: "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, even as he said to our fathers." 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Intro: Christmas is a favorite time of year for many people around the world. Some people look forward to the lights and the parties and the presents. Many others celebrate it for what it really represents- the birth of the Savior of the world. However, there are many people who, although they know and love Jesus, they do not especially enjoy Christmas time.

* Many of you are living with major disappointment

* Some of you are in the middle of relationship problems

* Some are processing devastating health news

* My guess is that some of you have no idea how you’re going to afford Christmas

* Many of you wonder if your prodigal child will ever return

* A handful of you can’t stand your job but feel trapped

* Some of you just feel really sad * A few of you can’t sleep at night

* Others are overwhelmed by life * Perhaps someone close to you has died

* For some of you, your anger is eating you up

* Maybe you feel like you’ll never be loved

-For many, Christmas is not a time they feel like celebrating.

-Perhaps Mary had some struggles over her situation. What did Mary, who was or soon would be pregnant out of wedlock, have to praise the Lord for or to rejoice over? How would she get past the knowing looks and local gossips she would face once people knew she was pregnant? What would Joseph think about her becoming pregnant without ever being with a man? I believe Mary was an honest person who only spoke what was in her heart. She had reason to rejoice because she knew how awesome and loving God was and is and that He had directed His favor to her!

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