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Meditation and Praise

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This morning, the message is going to be different from what you’re used to. Even if you’ve gotten used to how I preach - this is going to be different from that too. I love to try and challenge you, to help you grow in your walk with Christ. And that has to be balanced with a constant reminder that even though we constantly fall short of God’s design for our lives, He always reaches us with the forgiveness and mercy of Christ.
Now sometimes the text leans more toward one way or another, so one week you might get more law, more conviction, and more challenges and another week you might get more encouragement and Gospel. I love putting those challenges, those opportunities for growth in front of you. But this week, our text gives us a perfect chance to rest and reflect on God’s grace, forgiveness, and mercy. There aren’t a lot of challenges here, there aren’t a lot of convicting statements, Mary is just praising God.
So here’s where the difference comes in, here’s what we’re going to do in the message this morning - we’re going to practice Christian meditation. This is a practice I learned about in some of my pastoral care classes at the Seminary that slows us down and helps us to focus on God’s Word, and we’re going to walk through it together this morning.

Muscle Relaxation Process

I want you to start by relaxing your posture. Sit back in your chair, set your hands in your lap, close your eyes if you can avoid falling asleep. And as you sit and listen to the text we’re going to meditate on, I want you to start at your feet and totally relax those muscles. Then move up to your calves and continue up your body until all your muscles are relaxed and released.
Luke 1:46–47 (ESV)
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
How do you magnify and praise God?
What has God give you to rejoice over?

Peaceful Imagery and Relaxation of Breathing

Now I want you to fix an image in your mind, a peaceful image. Maybe it’s the beautiful mountain peaks, maybe it’s a fishing boat on a lake, maybe it’s a campsite, maybe it’s a backyard cigar deck, maybe it’s high above an urban jungle. Fix that image in your mind and slow down your breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, breath out for a count of four, hold for a count of four.
Luke 1:48–49 (ESV)
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
How has God blessed you and heard your prayers?
What mighty things has God done for you in the last week, this Advent season, in 2022, in your life?

Focus on Offering Up Our Own Burdens

Now I want you to think about each of the burdens that are on your mind this morning. Arguments you had this week, sins you committed, work you have to do, anxiety and worry about the future, frustration with the world. Recognize each one, and offer it up to Christ. Pray “God, please lift this burden from my heart, give me your peace.”
Luke 1:50 (ESV)
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
Where do you need God’s mercy today?

Focus on Compassion Christ Has For Us

Now, having emptied our minds and our hearts of those burdens that we have from our own sin and living in this broken, rebellious world, we pray that the Holy Spirit would fill us with better things. Reflect on the blessings God has filled your life with, all of the compassion He shows you every day, and remember the love He showed you when He died on the cross and rose again three days later - promising you new life.
Luke 1:51 (ESV)
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
How has God shown His strength in your life?
What reminds you best of God’s mercy for us in Jesus?

Focus on God’s Solid Protection

Now focus on God’s solid protection of you. Those anxieties that you offered to Him earlier cannot come between you and Him. Sins you commit, mistakes you make cannot come between you and Him. He puts Himself between you and your enemies, sin, death, and the devil. He surrounds you with His powerful protection.
Luke 1:52–53 (ESV)
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
How has God lifted you up when you need it?
How does He continue to fill you up with good things?

Intercessory Prayer for Others

Now I want you to pray for others. Pray that God would reconcile conflict in their lives. Pray that God would bring them peace. Pray that God would bring them into faith and trust in His promises for them.
Luke 1:54–55 (ESV)
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
How can God use you to speak to others?
What would you say to others about Him?

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for this time of rest. Thank you for reminding us of your grace and mercy in our lives. Thank you for calling our souls back to rest in you. Help us to take this peace with us into our daily lives, and to remember all of the ways you have blessed us. Amen.
Now may the God of peace keep you close to Him, deeply rooted in the faith until life everlasting. Amen.
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