Christmas Is For Magnifying God (Luke 1:46-55)

AUDIO: (forthcoming)

MOTIVATE

–        What is your favorite Christmas carol?

o   Carols with bad theology or unrelatable, or hard to sing

  • Away In A Manger – “The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay” “The cattle are lowing and baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes” Yea right!
  • A lot of cheesy one’s that I’d just rather not mention 😊.

 

o   My preference is carols with rich gospel theology, real life, and singability:

  • Go Tell It On The Mountain, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Angels From Realms of Glory, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Angels We Have Heard On High, O Come All Ye Faithful, First Noel, We Three Kings… a handful of others… and Silent Night
  • My top 3: Joy To The World, O Holy Night (gives me chills), O Come O Come Emmanuel

 

–        Luke 1:46-55 is the first Christmas carol… written by the mother of Jesus.

o   This one isn’t sentimental but shocking for God’s plan to change and save the world.

o   Today’s message: Christmas Is For – Magnifying God (Luke 1:46-55)

Christmas Messages 2017 - 1

EXAMINE

–        Luke’s Gospel tells the Christmas story from the perspective of Mary’s side; whereas Matthew’s Gospel narrates from the perspective of Joseph.
–        From an earthly perspective, Mary’s blessing would give us worry. Evaluating all of Mary’s circumstances doesn’t seem like blessing but a burden. As a pregnant teenager, Mary had a lot to worry over:

o   Will the groom show up to my wedding?

o   Why are my friends and family shunning me?

o   Will my church accept me in worship services?

o   What’s happening to my body being newly pregnant… as a virgin, and how will this come about? Is this normal?

o   How will we afford this baby? Where will we live?

o   How are we supposed to travel to Bethlehem during my pregnancy [and my husband hasn’t even made nice hotel reservations]!?!

o   Will this miracle baby survive Herod’s threats of murdering infants?

o   How am I supposed to mother-parent this Child? (How do you parent God? He’s always right!)

 

–        But from an eternal perspective, Mary’s blessing should lead us to worship. An angel appears to Mary with the greeting “favored one” άρις]. This description appears twice for emphasis: 1:28, 30. Other places this word is translated as “grace”. In other words, God has given Mary grace and blessing by allowing her to birth the Messiah.

 

–        Mary chose to magnify [μεγαλύνω – Present Active; shows continuous action] God not her problems (1:45). This passage is known as a song of praise – or a first Christmas carol – “The Magnificat”.

 

–        Mary blesses and worships God for at least 11 different attributes:

  1. God is Lord – He is in charge of my crazy circumstances (1:46 “My soul magnifies the Lord”)

o   Mary isn’t choosing to worry but worship. What do you magnify?

o   à God’s Lordship frees us from thinking we must have life all together without a level of anxiety. Instead, we can find calm & contentment in the sovereign truth that God is in control & Jesus is Lord.

o   à Circumstances are overwhelming and unmanageable in some area of your life where you are trying to fill the gap instead of having faith in God. God is calling you to lean into His Lordship, relying on His wisdom and not your own way.

o   à When we are tempted to worry, that is God’s alarm meant to awaken us to pray & praise Him.

o   à In your Christmas chaos you need to prioritize and rest in this truth among all other tensions.

  • Create margin and whitespace among all the shopping, attending parties, etc.
  • Parents, your children – even college/adult – follow your example of stress or rest in Lordship.

 

  1. God is Savior – He is my deliverer and rescue (1:47 “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”).

o   Mary never claimed sinlessness. She understands her worth is only in God’s mercy not her merit.

Mary-Eve-Sr-Grace-Remingtono   à We think our life and circumstances are not THAT bad and we don’t really need a Savior; maybe a little support, but not a Savior. However, like Mary, we need saving and rescued by the mercy and grace of God.

o   à Sometimes because Jesus was a baby, we don’t think of Him as able to save us. Yet, the Christmas events lead us to understand God’s purposes to enter our world to be like us in every way and more able to save us than we can imagine. God with human skin gives us salvation and strength in our humanity.

o   à Until we see how desperate we are as sinners and dead we are in sin, we will never savor how good God is.

o   à God calls you to stop acting like you have life all together and turn over your insufficiency, insecurity, uncertainty, and unworthiness to God’s saving gospel.

 

  1. God is omniscient – God knows my humble estate (1:48 “for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant”)

o   Mary is a young woman, likely from poverty, but with promise for her future marriage and family. She knows her greatest hope is in God. She isn’t rebelling against God’s wisdom or running from God’s ways. She’s not trying to control her circumstances but simply living a surrendered and obedient life for the cause of Christ. Mary trusts God, even when external realities may cause her to question.

o   à In uncertain or unwanted circumstances, we are to trust God’s wisdom and goodness. The idea is if we knew what He knows for the future, then we have nothing to fear.

o   — — — > God’s omniscience reminds us that when we sow wind, we will reap a hurricane (cf. Hos 8:7; Gal 6:7-8). Private sin is always public before God (Num 32:23). Every unkind word or unholy thought, every selfish attitude or sinful action, and every grabbing theft of glory from God will be revealed before an omniscient and holy God.

  1. God is personally gracious – God blessed Mary with great things for generations (1:48-49 “from now on all generations will call me blessed… he has done great things for me”).

o   Mary recognized that the announcement of her mothering the Messiah would be monumental for all human history. Her election wasn’t her because of her own endowment but God’s extravagant grace.

o   à In Christ, God has chosen you. The incarnation is God’s personal invitation to you, and the cross is His embrace open to you with your only needed response is “holy is His name” (1:49).

o   à In Christ, God’s omniscience of our sin results in overflowing grace, so that justice is satisfied by Jesus publicly bearing my shame and punishment. Just as our sin finds us, so does God’s salvation through the personal faith in the grace of Christ.[1]

  1. God is omnipotent – He is mighty, all powerful and will bring about His sovereign plan (1:49 “for he who is mighty has done great things”).

o   Mary praises God for His power and poise in the midst of her perplexity.

o   à What in your life looks unbearable and impossible? God is calling you to bring it to Him in extraordinary prayer as a first response and not a last resort.

  • For the next 3 weeks until Dec 25, lift this issue up 3x daily in prayer to God. In praying, seek God’s will not selfish ways. Ask Him to give you clarity for His part in the miracle and your part making of these desired circumstances.

o   “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

o   Ask. Seek. Knock. Matthew 7:7-11

  1. God is holy – His name is holy; perfect, right and good (1:49 “holy is his name”).

o   Mary’s recognition of God’s holiness is, again, proper perspective of God’s position.

o   à When our lives get out of sync it is because we have lost perspective on God’s standing: He is holy.

o   Psalm 93 “The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed[2]; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD is high and mighty. Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.”

  1. God is merciful – He cares for those who fear him (1:50 “his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation”).

o   Mary is testifying that God wants to bless generations.

o   à O, that our prayer and participation in faith and fellowship as a church would be to impart God’s mercy from one generation to the next.

  • Think of Joseph & Mary’s role as mother to Jesus… their investment mattered, and so does yours & ours together.
  1. God is just – He judges the prideful (1:52 “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate”).

o   Mary is expressing the shocking purposes of God to save the world not through its own boastings but in humble means of a God born in a corn-feed crib and dying on a cross.

o   à God’s justice doesn’t work by good works but grace.

 

  1. God is generous – He feeds hungry, helps people (1:53 “he has filled the hungry with good things”).

o   Mary notes God’s compassion for the insolvent people of the world.

o   à And Christians today should follow God’s pattern (cf. Luke 14:12-14).

  1. God is faithful – He remembers His promise to His people (1:54-55 “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring”)

o   Mary recalls a past that was considered either forgotten or far off from happening, but God’s faithfulness shining through the clouds. God had not forgotten His promises to Israel.

o   à Regardless the clouds of uncertainty you need to know God is present. He’s there. He’s with you – Immanuel. And God will never leave you, but see you through whatever because He is faithful.

  1. God is eternal – He shows His character as eternal faithfulness (1:55 “[God is] forever”).

o   Another subtle reminder that nothing can deter God.
APPLY/THINK

In light of these 11 truths about God, we have the choice to see God more clearly and run to Him or we choose to remind in the shadows and spectatorship of rote religion and never be moved by the Christmas message.

Unfortunately, many people see the Christmas story and Christ message as a trip to the hospital. If offered, we would say, “no thanks” because hospitals are no fun: uncomfortable beds, loud noises, bothering people, lousy food…etc. BUT if you knew you had a deadly disease you would be appreciative of the offer and run to enter. You see, we do not appreciate gifts that we do not see our need or use of them. The Christmas story and Christ message is a trip to the hospital, understanding that you have a terminal disease. You cannot get rid of your sin and it is killing you. And as a doctor, Luke is showing us in his Gospel God’s plan and cure for our sin: JESUS BIRTHED INSIDE OUR LIFE. 

 

CHRISTMAS IS FOR MAGNIFYING GOD

–        We can magnify God by responding in faith.

–        We can magnify God by remembering what He’s done for us through the communion elements.

o   Usually, we have congregation stay seated and pass out elements. Today, we are asking Christians to step forward in response to the message of Christ. We are reminding ourselves that Christmas is not passive, and like Mary, we act in magnifying God.

  • Deacons will dismiss by rows.
  • Enter center aisle for taking of bread.
  • Proceed to side aisle for taking of cup and re-entering seating.
  • Serve those who need to be seated and unable to stand/walk forward.

Scripture

  • Psalm 34:2-3 “My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.”
  • Psalm 69:30 “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
  • Psalm 136
  • Psalm 138
  • Psalm 145

 

 

 

[1] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/jared-c-wilson/your-sin-will-find-you-out-but-so-will-his-righteousness/

[2] The verbs are in the Perfect tense, expressing not just a fact, but an act. Through the incarnation, God has visibly acted to robe Himself in glory and humanity as the rightful king.

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