Staci’s unexpected change of heart – a couple of years ago, had to buy Christmas lights that were white and color as a compromise. This year – You can do tacky – Staci even shopped for tacky after Christmas last year – star gazer – a flashing Christmas tree. She’s embraced the dark side!
The Christmas story is the story of the unexpected. The eternal Son of God steps into history, as a baby boy, to an unsuspecting family in an unexpected place at an unexpected time to save the world in an unexpected way. The Christmas story is a reminder that God works in unexpected ways.
This morning, we’re going to look at Mary’s story and the unexpected calling God had on her life. While you have not been given the assignment that Mary was given – you can relate to Mary because many of you in this room have had an unexpected calling. You were living your way, and God interrupted your life and showed you your sin and your need for a Savior. What happens when you experience God’s call? Mary’s story = three results of God’s unexpected calling on your life.
1. God’s calling creates humility.
· A young girl (probably between 13-15) living in the town of Nazareth (John 1:46 - can anything good come out of Nazareth?)
· Nazareth – small village never mentioned in the OT not mentioned much outside of the Bible in ancient times because it was so insignificant. (Pop of about 1800)
· Mary awaiting the dream all working-class girls would h ave – marriage, a family, someone to grow old with – her days filled with chores and preparation for a marriage celebration.
· Perhaps a fairly religious Jew – went to synagogue on Saturdays and heard the Word of God. Probably familiar with the prophecies of the coming Messiah – but a coming Messiah wasn’t in her thoughts daily. Like everyone else – a coming Messiah seemed like such a distant hope – waited so long for a Promised deliverer – many undoubtedly gave up on the idea that God would rescue them from their enemies.
· And then it happened unexpectedly – Gabriel appears to Mary (one of 2 angels in the Bible whose name is revealed to us – Michael)
· Angel – a supernatural messenger and minister of God – no details as to how it went down, (I hope there’s DVR in heaven. I’m playing this back.) Imagine Mary going through her daily routine, and suddenly a stranger appears – “Greetings, O favored one – the Lord is with you!” Mary = greatly troubled. Fearful of this messenger, but more fearful of his message. What does he mean?
· O favored one = grace in the Greek language. Mary didn’t earn favor, she received favor. She wasn’t a saint, she was a sinner. God showed her grace not because of who she was but because of who He is. Through Mary, God was going to show off His glory by bringing His Son into her family to show the world that He would save the world by having His Son born of a teenage working-class girl who lived on the wrong side of the tracks.
· God called Mary for His glory and His purpose – to accomplish His mission.
· God’s calling creates humility – you didn’t earn God’s grace either. God came to you and opened your eyes to your need for a Savior not because of who you are but because of who He is. Because of God’s calling:
o You can’t boast. (Ephesians 2:8) – We want to boast -
o You can rest – An invitation not to earn God’s favor but to enjoy God’s favor and the journey He has for you. The journey of trust and obedience.
· You need a good dose of humility – most of us struggle with pride – thinking we’ve got our act together. (Humbled by my piano teacher after writing a winning composition. I’m not as good as I think I am. The Gospel reminds us that we are not as good as we think we are.)
2. God’s calling creates possibility.
· Notice how Mary responds to God’s calling:
o Fear. Have you ever noticed that this is the immediate response of people in the Bible who encounter the presence of God? Fear causes questions: How could He show me grace? How can I live for Him? Who am I to serve Him? Who am I that He would come to me? The presence of God causes fear because we see ourselves for who we are. But, God takes away our fear and calls us into His mission.
o Amazement. But that fear gives way to amazement. Gabriel explains the plan of God to Mary. She would conceive and bear a son – the Son of God – Jesus – the King who will reign and rule forever. The immediate question, “How can it be?” There should be amazement in your life when you consider the work of God in your life. If no amazement, you have to wonder if you’ve experienced grace. You should consider your salvation and say, “How can this be? That the God of all creation would love me enough to send His Son to die for me? How can this be that God would desire to use a sinner like me for His Kingdom work.” Let the Christmas story amaze you this morning – Be amazed at what God has done in your life.
o Baffled submission – Gabriel reveals God’s way – virgin birth – conceived by the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t make sense, but Mary trusts by faith. She’s confused, but submits. She doesn’t refuse – she embraces God’s plan even though it doesn’t make sense. God’s plan for your life doesn’t always make sense… (Give 10%? Go to Russia? Lost right here… Etc.) (Wrapping our own books… Baffled Submission)
o Total comprehension. In the moment it didn’t make sense, but someday it would. Thirty-three years later, when Mary stood at the empty tomb – she would understand the plan of God.
· With God all things are possible. (vs. 37) God’s calling creates possibility. As Mary carried this baby boy in her womb – Now, the entire world had a possibility of hope, of peace, of love, of reconciliation with the Father.
· What could God do through our obedience? (Hudson doesn’t understand possibility of Christmas. Do you understand the possibility that exists in your walk with the Lord?) What kind of possibilities are there for you as a child of God if you would trust God even when you don’t understand, if you would stand amazed at the calling He has on your life?
When you first came to Christ – you were probably filled with excitement of possibility – but that sense of possibility has waned. We’re so focused on the day to day details of our lives that we forget we are part of a bigger plan – a bigger purpose – a purpose with endless possibilities for Kingdom use. We’ve forgotten to long for a God-sized work. We’ve forgotten to be amazed at the possibility of reaching people with the Gospel and seeing the Kingdom of God expand through our faithful obedience. We’ve forgotten the joy of walking in the center of God’s will. Look at the possibilities that await you when you live by faith! Look at the possibilities in your daily routine – people you encounter, children to nurture in the faith, etc. “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” DL Moody
3. God’s calling creates obedience.
· Focus in on Mary’s statement: “Let it be to me according to your word.” An incredible statement of obedience. Do you know what Mary is saying? “I don’t understand your plan, but since you are God, it must be best for me, so change everything about me in order to bring your plan to fruition in my life.” It’s a statement of full surrender.
· Did Mary know the cost of making this statement? What would she lose? Joseph? Her reputation? Her family? Her security? Her life? Doesn’t matter – How can you say “no” to the God of all creation who has created you for His purpose?
· Gabriel made 2 statements that I’m sure :
o Do not be afraid.
o I will be with you – How could Mary fear – she had the assurance that the God of all creation was going to be with her as she fulfilled the calling He had on her life.
o Same promises to you – Emmanuel – “God with us.”
o Jesus is Emmanuel – the proof that the God of all creation desires to be with us – God gave His only Son so that we would no longer be separated from God by our sin. Through His death and resurrection – We are given the opportunity to forever live in the presence of God.
o Don’t leave Jesus in the manger this Christmas – See Him as your conquering, glorified Messiah – who brings you into a relationship with the God you have rebelled against.
· When you know that God is with you – you don’t have to be afraid. You can live in obedience. You can say, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
· You can live an open-handed life rather than a close-handed life. “Lord, take from me whatever you want to take, and give me whatever you want to give.” Close-handed – “Take nothing, and receive nothing.”
· Unbeliever: Today, maybe you are experiencing an unexpected calling – a calling to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. Turn to Him in faith and repentance.
· Believer: You know God’s calling on your life – embrace obedience. Take a step of faith – share the Gospel, give generously, etc.