Summary: Can we praise God as Mary did?
Luke 1:39 - 56 ¡V When do we praise God?
Well here we are ¡V the last day of November. Tomorrow is the first of December and the wild run down to Christmas. Many call it the silly season for good reason I might add. We spend so much time worrying about what has to be done. Report cards at school to finish off for you teachers. For the rest of us, there is the Christmas tree to put up and the decorations to festoon the house with. There are all the presents to buy. The cards to write. The food to prepare. So much to do and so little time to do it in. These are often unnecessary distractions from the real meaning of Christmas ¡V the birth of the Savior of the world. Too often we get so busy with the preparations for the party, we forget to invite the birthday boy to join us ¡V Sad isn¡¦t it.
Tonight I wan to get us to pause and look at how Elizabeth and Mary prepared for that first Christmas. They didn¡¦t forget God or His soon to be born son Jesus. For them, this was the focus and in expectancy of what would happen, they praised God. Imagine that ¡V These two women, looked ahead to what God would bring to pass in their lives and praised him. What faith that must have taken ¡V incredible vision really. They believed what had been promised, they counted it as a fore-gone conclusion and praised God. The question I want to ask here tonight is ¡§When do we praise God?¡¨ A bit of a strange question I know, but the challenge I want us to take away from church this evening is that we need to praise God for things he has planned for the future, not just for the things he has done in the past. That isn¡¦t always easy to do, because we don¡¦t know what they are and we might not even like everything that God has in store for us ¡V but that shouldn¡¦t stop us praising him.
A Fortuneteller, gazing into her crystal ball, once said to her client, a frog: ¡§You are going to meet a beautiful young woman. From the moment she sets eyes on you she will have an insatiable desire to know all about you. She will be compelled to get close to you ¡V you¡¦ll fascinate her.¡¨
Rubbing his little webbed feet together, the frog questioned ¡V ¡§Where am I? At a singles club?¡¨
¡§No,¡¨ replied the fortune teller, ¡§Biology class.¡¨
The future might not be entirely rosy for us. We don¡¦t know what the future holds, but we know the one who holds the future in his hands. Can we trust him enough to praise him for it right now? I hope by this evening, you can say yes.
Let¡¦s pause and pray ¡K Pray
A couple of weeks ago, we continued our study of Luke¡¦s gospel by looking at the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary. We learned that God chose Mary, not because of any qualifications or skills, she had, but it was because of her attitude to him. She was a willing servant who dedicated herself to God¡¦s will. Despite what it would cost her, she was able to say in Luke 1:38 ¡§I am the Lord¡¦s servant, ¡K may it be to me as you have said.¡¨
Background - Mary¡¦s quest for reassurance
Please open up your Bibles to Luke 1:39 as we work through the next 18 verses. In verse 39, we are told that Immediately after the angel left her, Mary packed her bags and headed to the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth. If you¡¦ve been following the story up to now, you¡¦ll remember that Elizabeth, a childless woman past her child bearing years, miraculously became pregnant with a baby who would grow up to be John the Baptist. He would prepare the way for Jesus¡¦ coming.
The angel Gabriel had told Mary about Elizabeth¡¦s miracle to prove that nothing is too hard for God. In God¡¦s eyes, it was easy to implant in a young virgin the seed of the immortal God.
So Mary sets out on a journey that was between 80 and 100km. It would take her about 4 days to walk to Zechariah and Elizabeth¡¦s house. Why did she go? We¡¦re not told, but I¡¦d imagine that Mary was bursting at the seems with questions and complete and utter awe at what the angel had told her. 2B She needed someone who knew what miracles were about. Someone who would not doubt her story, but who could confirm that God was at work here.
It is a shame that when you talk with many Christians, that many do not expect great things from God. They know in their brains that God can do the impossible ¡V that¡¦s what they were taught in Sunday School. But most do not expect to see any miracles.