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Experience the Nativity Story: The Faith of Mary

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Experience the Nativity Story

The Faith of Mary

Luke 1:26-38

 

Steps for the Journey of Faith…

 

1. Be sensitive to God’s surprises

 

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?"

Luke 1:26-34 NIV

 

 

2. Submit to God’s plan for your life

 

 

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.

Luke 1:35-38 NIV

  

3. Sing a God song

 

46 Mary responded, "Oh, how I praise the Lord. 47 How I rejoice in God my Savior!

 

Luke 1:46-47 NLT

 

 


Intro:

· Jessica
· Kelly
· Beyonce

If you recognize those names it is likely that you have a preteen or a teen in your home.

These are the celebrities who fit into the category of “I wanna be her!”

They are pretty. They are successful. They are famous.

Most preteen girls want to be like them!

But watch that list and you will find that it changes overnight.

Names come and go so quickly it can make your head spin.

While a few stars have staying power, a girl who is cool and popular today may be forgotten tomorrow.

List of the girls when I was growing up:

·    Farrah

·    Bo

·    Marsha


I want to tell you about a teenage girl who will never be forgotten.

She has been popular with every generation and every culture.

Her name is Mary, and she tends to get a lot of media exposure every year around Christmas time.

In most ways, Mary did not fit the normal criteria we use in ascribing celebrity status to someone.

We know that she was not wealthy.

We don’t know how attractive Mary was.

And she was unknown outside of her home town.

But there was something about Mary… that captures our attention and affection….Her Faith.

Of course I’m talking about Mary the mother of Jesus!!

Ordinary young girl with extraordinary faith…

When it comes to Mary, people tend to go to one of two extremes.

They either magnify her so much that Jesus takes second place (Luke 1:32), or they ignore her and fail to give her the esteem she deserves (Luke 1:48).

Recently CT asked the question: What is your main image of Mary?

My main image of Mary is as:

-A humble servant of God: 69%

-A peaceful mother: 5%

-A Catholic icon: 5%

-A tenacious believer: 4%

-None of the above: 4%

-Jesus' first apostle: 3%

-An unwed, pregnant teenager: 3%

-An anxious mother: 2%

-Faithful disciple at the cross: 2%

-Witness of Jesus' death and resurrection: 2%

-A seeker of justice: 1%

-CT Poll

What is your main image of Mary?

Don’t’ worship her…Don’t ignore her…learn from her…

What can we learn from Mary?

Observing her journey of faith…reveals some…

Steps for our Journey of Faith…
Steps for the Journey of Faith…

 

1. Be sensitive to God’s surprises

Imagine Mary’s surprise when the angel gave her the assignment as Jesus’ earthly mother.

Lk 1:26-29 says…

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.

Lk 1:26-29 NIV

When you consider Gabriel’s greeting, you can well understand why Mary was perplexed and afraid: "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Why would an angel come to greet her?

In what way was she “highly favored” (“greatly graced”) by God? How was God with her?

Mary’s response reveals her humility and honesty before God.

She certainly never expected to see an angel and receive special favors from heaven.

There was nothing unique about her that such things should happen.

If she had been different from other Jewish girls, as some theologians claim she was, then she might have said, “Well, it’s about time! I’ve been expecting you!” No, all of this was a surprise to her.

Gabriel then gave her the good news: she would become the mother of the promised Messiah whom she would name Jesus (“Jehovah is salvation”; see Matt. 1:21).

The surprise wasn’t that the Messiah would come…all Jews believed in the coming of the Messiah…

They know about the prophecies; no doubt she hard heard the words of Isaiah 7:14 many times:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isa 7:14 NIV

And the words of Isa 9:6:

6 For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isa 9:6 NIV

And the words of Micah 5:2

2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me

one who will be ruler over Israel,

whose origins are from of old,

from ancient times."

Mic 5:2 NIV

The surprise wasn’t that the Messiah would come…the surprise for Mary was that she would be the one to give birth to the Messiah.

God is a God of surprises.

He loves to take ordinary people and ordinary things and make them extraordinary.

Mary was young, poor, female—all characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her seem unusable by God for any major task.

But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience he has ever demanded of anyone.

You may feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service.

Don’t limit God!!

He can use you if you trust him.

Be sensitive to God’s surprises.

God loves to act in fresh new ways in the lives of his children.

He who designs every snowflake differently, who makes every fingerprint unique, is full of surprises.

We should keep our eyes for a fresh new surprise from our Awesome God.

When He leads you to the unlikely and you find yourself in the unexpected, look up.

Something big may just be around the corner.

I can remember being surprised by God when I was about 28 years old.

Here I am young man with a wife and children with a fulltime job as Sears Distribution on the West Side of Columbus….

I had been a Christian for a few years…

And out of the blue I begin to sense God calling me to…be a pastor!?

Like Mary…I was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Are you talking to me Lord?

For awhile I responded like Moses who when called by the Lord to go to Pharoah and deliver the Israelites form Egypt…

You gotta be kidding?

I could resonate with Moses’ words in EX 4:10:

10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

Ex 4:10 NIV

And while I resisted…God persisted!

Surprise Surprise, Surprise!

·    Have you ever been surprised?

·    The life of faith is full of surprises

You may feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service…you are actually a graet candidate.

God isn’t looking for ability…he is looking availability.

Which brings us to the second thing we learn from Mary’s journey of faith…

 

 

The Journey of Faith…

 

1. Be sensitive to God’s surprises

 

2. Submit to God’s plan for you life

 

Mary would submit herself to the Lord even though she didn’t understand it all.

Notice Lk 1:34

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

Luke 1:34 NIV


All of this was astonishing news.

Mary was told that she would fall pregnant and give birth to a son who would have deity in his bloodline and who would one day be king of Israel.

Mary asked the angel how this could possibly take place, since she was a virgin.

Literally, what she said was “since a man I know not,” or “since I have no sexual relationship with a man?”

Mary’s question was not one of unbelief!

She believed what she was told.

She didn’t even ask for some kind of confirmation, as Zechariah had.

She simply didn’t understand how she could possibly become pregnant.

She did not laugh, as Sarah had laughed when she was told she was going to bear a son.

She did not dismiss the angel’s words.

She simply asked for clarification about something she believed was going to happen.

Lk 1:35-37…
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.”

With quiet faith Mary accepted the angel’s explanation and submitted herself to the Lord.

Lk 1:38…

38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38 NIV

 

Knowing the enormous price she was about to pay, Mary surrendered herself first to the Lord and then to His plan.

Notice that although we have made much of the cost to Mary, she says not a word of it!

She said, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

There’s a wonderfully childlike aspect to her faith.

Reminds me of the little four year old boy was at the doctor for a check up.

As the doctor looked down his ears with an otoscope, he asked, "Do you think I will find Big Bird in here?"

The boy was silent.

Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down his throat.

He asked, "Do you think I will find the Cookie Monster down there?"

Again, the boy said nothing. Then, the doctor placed a stethoscope to his chest and said, "Do you think I will hear Barney in your heart?"

The boy looked up and said, "Oh, No. Jesus is in my heart. Barney is on my pajamas.".

The Lord had place in the little boy’s heart!!

The same was true of Mary.

With absolute trust Mary bows herself to the will of God and declares herself to be His servant.

Her words must have brought great joy to the heart of God.

He has always longed for His people to give themselves so unreservedly to Him.

Mary also surrendered herself to the Lord’s plan for her life, as costly as it was going to be: “May it be to me as you have said.”

Regardless of the consequences…“May it be to me as you have said.”

The following scene from the movie “The Nativity Story” dramatizes how difficult it would have been for Mary to tell her parents and future husband that she was pregnant.

·    Video clip: I have broken no vow / Honor

You see, Mary understood the issue of faith…conviction to stand up for Christ

Do you?  What is faith????

 

·    Faith is not: A blind leap

We respond to a faithful God…a firm foundation

·    Faith is not: A blank check

It is not about telling God what to do…He is not a cosmic genie waiting to grant our 3 wishes

 

·    Faith is not: A bad choice

We respond to a loving God

 

·    Faith is: a bold conviction

Faith is the deep settled assurance the God will do what he promises to do!

When we have that bold conviction…we will submit our lives to God’s plan for our lives.

What is God’s plan for our lives?

Just like Mary…God’s plan for our lives centers on the person of Jesus Christ

·    To be saved…accept Him as our Savior

·    To serve Him..

·    To share Him with others…

Have you submitted to God’s plan for your life?

If not, why not?


The Journey of Faith…

 

1. Be sensitive to God’s surprises

 

2. Submit to God’s plan for you life

 

3. Sing a God song

 

When we are walking with God…there will be a song in our heart…and joy in the journey.

We find this to be true in Mary’s life.

Mary’s song is found in Lk 1:46-55…

As we read these words of Mary’s we wonder how an ordinary individual could spontaneously produce such poetry.

But here’s a secret: Mary was quoting beloved psalms that we can find in the OT.

She obviously held them close to her heart.

She was full of God’s Spirit and God’s Word.

The background for this passage is Elizabeth and Mary exchanging good news with each other.

Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist…and Mary had just found out that she was pregnant with Jesus.

In Luke 1:46 Mary’s song begins in this way:

46 And Mary said:

"My soul glorifies the Lord

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

Luke 1:46-47

Mary’s song is often called the “Magnificat,” because of first word in the Latin translation of this passage—magnify or glorify.

 Mary’s song has often been used as the basis for choral music and hymns.

More importantly it can used to teach us how to sing to the Lord.

Notice how the New Century Version of the Bible translates vv. 46-47:

46 Then Mary said, “My soul praises the Lord;

47 my heart rejoices in God my Savior,

Luke 1:46-47 NCV

Whatever is in your heart will come out of your mouth.

Mary’s heart was full of joy…so her song was full of joy…she teaches us how to sing with joy.

From Mary’s journey of faith you can learn to:

·    Rejoice in what God has done for you

In vv. 46- 49 she says:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49 (NIV)

To begin with God had saved her…she says, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

Mary was a sinner like all of us and needed to trust the Lord for her eternal salvation.

Not only had He saved her, but He had also chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah.

You might think…I have nothing to be joyful about.

Has God saved you?

If he hasn’t He wants to...ask Him save you.

In the second part of Mary’s song you can learn to:

·    Rejoice in what God will do through you

 

Mary was full of joy because she knew that God was going to use her to raise His Son…who would impact generation after generation.

In v. 50 she say,

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”

Luke 1:50 (NIV)

Through the Child that she was to bear, God was being merciful to Abraham and his descendants.

 

In vv. 54-55 she sings,

“He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."

Luke 1:54-55 (NIV)

Mary was aware that the birth of her Child was a fulfillment of the God’s promises to Abraham and his people to send a Savior.

Like Mary, you can rejoice in what God wants to do though your life!

He wants to be your Savior…He wants to do incredible things through you!

You can rejoice…because no matter who we are, no matter how insignificant we think we are, no matter how unimportant we may feel, Mary’s song reminds us of God’s great love for each of us.


Mary’s journey of faith reminds us to:

1. Be sensitive to God’s surprises

 

2. Submit to God’s plan for you life

 

3. Sing a God song

 

One constant theme in her journey: an unwavering trust in God.

Dr. James Dobson tells the story of another young person’s journey of faith: a  5 year old boy.

A nurse with whom Dr. Dobson worked took care of this child during the latter days of his life.

He was dying of cancer, which is a terrifying disease in its final stages…for the victim can hardly breathe.

This little boy had a Christian mother who loved him and stayed by his side through the long ordeal.

She cradled him on her lap and talked softly about the Lord.

Instinctively, the mother was preparing her son for the final hours to come.

Dr. Dobson’s nurse said that she entered the little boy’s room one day as death approached and she heard this child talking about hearing bells.

“The bells are ringing, Mommy,” he said, “I can hear them.”

The nurse thought he was hallucinating because he was already slipping away.

She left and returned a few minutes later and again heard him talking about hearing bells ringing.

The nurse said to his mother, “I’m sure you know your baby is hearing things that aren’t there—he is hallucinating because of the sickness.”

The mother pulled her son closer to her chest, smiled and said,

“No maam, he is not hallucinating—I told him when he was frightened, when he couldn’t breathe, if he would listen carefully, he could hear the bells of heaven ringing for him—that is what he’s been talking about all day.”

 

That precious child died on his mother’s lap that evening and he was still talking about the bells of heaven, right before he went to be with the Lord.

May we learn what he learned in his short journey of faith: to Focus on Jesus!

 

 

Where are you in the journey of faith today?

Which step do you need to take today?


 


That should make us sing for joy.

But have you noticed not everybody sings for joy at Christmas.

Sometimes Christmas celebrations can be anything but joyous…several incidents from Christmas 2003 remind us of this.

In San Rafael, California, two men exchanged gifts and were offended by what the other gave.

In the resulting fight, each man hit the other over the head with a flowerpot. Both were hospitalized.

Twenty-year-old Brandi Nicole Nason was also less than pleased with the gift she received.

When her former mother-in-law's house burned, Nason was accused of throwing the Molotov cocktail that started the $200,000 blaze.

Although most people don't know what to do with their tree once the celebration is over, a woman in Victoria, British Columbia, had an idea.

She was arrested for beating a man with her Christmas tree.

The incident was sparked when the man grumbled that the load of gifts in his arms was heavier than the tree she was carrying.


When her Jensen Beach, Florida, apartment complex held a Christmas-lights competition, Donna Simmons-Groover was a winner … briefly.

One of her neighbors, incensed at losing the contest, ripped down part of Donna's winning display.

Something was missing in all of those incidents…the joy of Jesus.

Jesus is the one who enables us to sing with Joy.

No Jesus…No Joy.

Know Jesus…Know Joy

Is He missing from your life?

 

Christmas is a time to be glad

not sad or mad.

Someone asked Joseph Hayden, the famous composer, why his music was so bright and cheerful.

He replied, “I cannot make it otherwise. When I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap from my pen.”

 

We ought to be full of Joy when we think about Jesus…and have a song in our hearts…a song of joy.

 

Joy in the journey!!!!

 

 

God wants you to sing a song of joy this Christmas

 

 

 

Surprised by what people will fall for…Enquirer magazines…my Mom would read them every week

 

Give Example of headlines (p12b -16 Mary Christmas)

Too many armchair Christians

(see pp 14 ff Mary/Joseph sermon)

Just like Mary…God’s plan for our lives centers on the person of Jesus Christ

Long before Tom Cruise…TV show…Mission Impossible….

Hum tune…Your mission should you choose to accept it…

(Mary/hope serm pp 13-15)

Have you submitted to God’s plan for your life?

Faith: Symbols and Salvation
In my closet is a varsity football jacket. I earned it by playing two years of high-school football. It is a symbol. It’s symbolic of sweat and work and long hours on the practice field. The jacket and a [bum] knee are reminders of something I could do twenty years ago. Do you think if I put the jacket on now I’d instantly be twenty pounds and a whole lot faster? Do you think if I wore that jacket into the office of a coach he’d extend his hand and say, “We’ve been waiting for a player like you. Go out there and suit up?”
    No. the jacket is merely a memoir of something I once did. It says nothing about what I could do today. It alone doesn’t transform me, empower me, or enable me.
    Neither does your heritage, even if you’re a descendant of John Wesley.
    Neither does [going to communion], even if you double up on the wafers.
    Neither does your baptism, even if you go dunked in the Jordan River.
    Do we honestly think God would save his children based upon a symbol?
    What kind of God would look at a religious hypocrite and say, “You’ve never loved me, sought me or obeyed me, but because your name was on the roll of a church in the right denomination I will save you”?
    Our God is abundant in love and steadfast in mercy. He saves us, not because we trust in a symbol, but because we trust in a Savior.
—Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace

·    25 questions for Mary/lucado p.43 God Came Near


 

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