Luke 1:26-30 (NIV)
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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 favoured! 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 favour with God.
It amazes me how suspicious and fearful some people get when you talk about: The Church.
What is it about the Gospel, the story of Christmas that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to pay the price for our sins and that calls us to love even our enemies, that people think is so?
- Dangerous – communism certainly thought so.
- Scary – people don’t want it taught in schools.
- Horrible – that it should be kept private and personal at all costs.
Why do we as Christians sometimes get scared and respond with fear when?
- God arrests our attention?
- God calls us to something?
- God challenges us to believe Him for something?
- Why are we afraid to let Him into our lives and surrender to Him?
We are okay to go to the synagogue like Mary every week to meet with God.
We believe in Him like she clearly did, but when there is that personal God wanting our attention, a tap on the shoulder, or the call to another level of trusting God, why is there such a tendency to shy away in fear?
Luke 1:30 (NIV)
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.”
Maybe one reason we have fear is because we don’t have a conviction we have found favour with God and that He is good.
So many people think:
- God is out to beat them up in life for their mistakes.
- God is about making us grovel and ruining our lives.
- God is a big kill joy in the sky who wants to take our fun away.
- God wants to make life hard and difficult.
But the opposite is true!
Yes, Mary would have challenges from here, so would you and I, but the scripture is clear that Jesus came to bring life to people and joy to the world.
John 10:10 (NLT)
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
John 10:10 (NIV) –
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The Angels announced joy to the world when Jesus was born, not woe is the world.
We need to build convictions of the goodness, kindness, mercy and blessing that God has for us! You are favoured of God!
God wants to bless you. You can know that His intention is good.
Luke 1-30-34 (NIV)
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
I wonder if perhaps another reason we respond in fear is because we don’t understand how God’s goodness can apply to us. We don’t think it is for us. We are expecting an email from God for a 1 in a million chance to be chosen.
Can God really:
- Forgive my mess?
- Use me with all my faults?
- Keep His promises or will He let me down like everyone else has?
- Bless me and why would He?
- Provide for me – I just can’t see how?
- Bring healing – it seems too painful?
- Can God really do that?
Mary was looking and thinking this cannot be, I can’t understand it, why me? She was already loved and favoured by God.
Can I encourage you that God can, will and wants to use you! He often does so despite us, not because of us.
We think ‘we don’t deserve this’.
- God knows we don’t. He doesn’t do it because we deserve it, but because He is great enough to do it anyway.
Christmas is the perfect example. He didn’t give His Son Jesus because we deserved it, but because God is:
- Great enough.
- Loving enough.
- Kind enough.
- Powerful enough.
- Merciful enough.
I will say it again, God will do things despite us (our failings, shortcomings, lack of ability, imperfections) not because of us and how good we are!
The reasons we say He can’t, just makes Him all the greater when He does what we and others think impossible or crazy.
I say – Welcome to Christmas! He does miracles all year round!
Luke 1-35-38 (NIV)
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
This excites me so much because the power of the Holy Spirit steps in!
- The impossible becomes possible with the Person of the Holy Spirit!
Why would God pick to have His Son born of a virgin – something that people will say – What! No way! That’s crazy! Why would God do that?
Because He can!
- That’s what God does best!
- Whenever the Holy Spirit is involved miracles, power and the impossible becomes possible.
This Christmas don’t miss the two greatest gifts ever to hit humanity:
- The person of Jesus
- The person of the Holy Spirit
If our Christianity is not exciting and challenging and has us wondering ‘How can God do that?’ perhaps we haven’t had a recent or fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit!
Christianity should be powerful, exciting and impossible.
- Get hungry for the Holy Spirit in your life!
- He ought to be present and powerful in our lives!
Like Mary – we may not feel qualified or we may even feel scared, but allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow us, to move in our lives and to break into the power of God for our lives.
Luke 1:39-45 (NIV)
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”
Who in our lives when we get around them we find there is an excitement about the things of God?
Who sees us walk in the door and say – God has been speaking to me about you!
Who in our world has something in them that leaps for joy and excitement when God births things in us of our calling, our destiny, serving God, the bigger picture, outside the box and eternity?
If we don’t have those friends and chances – we should ask why and do something about it.
Luke 1:46-56 (NIV)
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The first Christmas is filled with praise to God.
- Elizabeth praises God.
- Her unborn child praises God.
- Mary praises God.
- The Angels praise God.
- The Shepherds praise God.
- The Wise men praise God.
Mary started out worried, scared and afraid, but by the end of an encounter with God and an encounter with a wonderful, faith filled friend Elizabeth – she was praising God! You won’t have the song if you don’t have the friend!
The Conundrum of it is that because of God’s plan she is:
- A pregnant unmarried woman in a culture that would condemn that.
- She will face the grief of her son being crucified.
- She will experience life and pain – yet there is praise on her lips!
In the midst of real life, pain and challenges that are likely behind us and yet to come, do we understand the powerful reality of Jesus Christ this Christmas in such a way that we sing a song to God like Mary. We need to understand the truth of Christmas.
Luke 1:6-51 (NIV)
“My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm.
I just so love this, the praise of God that is found in surrender!
This Christmas, let who God really is, the true message of Christmas, begin to form convictions in you and bring understanding that leads to praise!
If we don’t look at the truth of Christmas and it brings praise, somewhere, someone, something has deceived us, tricked us into a misconception of God.
It’s ok to start out a little afraid, a little unsure and a little like this doesn’t make sense, but I pray you don’t stay there! Move to a place where our response is ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’.
Allow who Jesus really is into your life!
- We do this through surrender.
- Mary was a little scared, unsure and couldn’t quite understand, but her response was:
Luke 2:38 (NIV)
I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Suggestions for discussion
- Why do you think that as Christians we sometimes get scared and respond with fear when God calls us to do something?
- So many people have wrong thinking about God. Discuss how we can change this.
- Discuss why people think that God’s goodness doesn’t apply to them.
- Do you have faith-filled friends that you can share with?