Summary: The marks of greatness in God’s sight are the same marks of greatness that Jesus showed us-humility, self-sacrifice, total dependence on God and total obedience even unto death. The only place of honour in God’s kingdom is the place of service.
Do you believe in miracles? Well, I certainly do, because earlier this year I saw God work a miracle in the life of my mother. One night she had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance because of breathing problems. I followed the ambulance in my own car. After several tests and x-rays, the doctor on call diagnosed the problem as a heart attack. After Mom was admitted to the hospital, I went home. I got ready for bed, and before I went to sleep I prayed to God and asked him to heal her if it was his will. I also asked him not to let her suffer needlessly if it was his will that she not survive. I also prayed for strength for myself and the rest of her family, and I also prayed for the medical staff.
Well, the next day God started to answer my prayer by beginning the healing process. Additional tests revealed that instead of a heart attack, the problem was blood clots in both lungs. She was successfully treated and was released from the hospital after a week.
The passage from Luke 1:26-38 is the story of the greatest miracle of all. It is a hint of the awesome power of God and how he can use it in our lives if we let him. The virgin birth is a picture of how close Christ will come within us. Mary wondered how she could bear God’s son when she was a virgin, but the angel Gabriel reminded her that it would be possible because of the Holy Spirit.
Was Mary frightened by this change in the plans she had for her life? The Bible doesn’t say, but it is possible that she was frightened. After all, in the Jewish culture of that time, women were seen as being no better than property. To make matters worse, unmarried women who became pregnant were dealt with severely by the religious authorities. Mary is a good example of the kind of response to God’s surprises that we should have in our own lives. Even though God completely turned Mary’s life around, and even though He called her to something that was both wonderful and scary, and even though Mary knew that her life would not be what she expected it to be, she still offered herself to God in faithful, free submission.
The favour of God is worth any discomfort it might involve. God chose Mary to give birth to his son, but she also had to bear the public shame of people not understanding what He was doing through her. We can trust God even in the most difficult of circumstances, because no problem is too tough for Him to handle and no challenge is beyond his power to overcome. He has the ability to do what he says he will do.
We have ordinary moments in our lives that do not seem significant by themselves but when weaved together by a heart of obedience they become something wonderful. One day God will ask us to trust Him for something extraordinary. Where will our heart be? Will we be ready to say “yes” to God, even when what He is asking seems impossible? If God can do such a miraculous thing in the life of Mary, just think of the miraculous things he can do in our own lives! All we have to do is take God at his word, and expect the miraculous. God speaks within our hearts, and his word is backed up with his power. If we hear something that we think may be coming from God, there are three ways we can find out if it really is God speaking to us:
1. His Word
2. The responsibilities he gives us to care for the less fortunate in society.
3. Any burden or pain his request causes us.
When we place our faith in Jesus and let him come and live within us-just like Mary let the Holy Spirit work within her-the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and the life of Jesus is born within us. (Pause)
Like Mary, we may be going through the most difficult time in our lives and still be in the centre of God’s plan. It is possible to live a godly life in an ungodly world. Nazareth was an obscure, wicked city that was known for its sin, and the same can be said of our world today. We, like Mary, are part of God’s plan to carry His light and love to a needy world. Each of us has been given different roles in His plan, but none are unimportant. It might be difficult to see ourselves as being active players in what God is doing in the world. It’s not always easy to say yes to God. Saying yes can mean facing difficulties and persecution, but God always provides the means of sustaining us when we choose obedience to His desires for our lives.