|Father God, we rejoice in You tonight as we
gather to open your Word. Help us recapture the excitement that Mary felt as she
worshipped and praised you in her song. Help us also appreciate your faithfulness to your
promises, even if it takes centuries, you will do what you say. Open our hearts and minds
Father to receive what you have for us tonight. And help us put it into practice after
class in our daily lives.satan we come against your schemes to disrupt the study in Jesus Name.
We bind you and rebuke you and cast you out in Jesus Name. We declare you a loser, a liar
and a fraud, and expose your unfruitful works in Jesus Name.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to be our teacher. Give us understanding and knowledge and the wisdom to know how to use it. Praise God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, creator of all things, our God in three persons. The true God, the real God, the only God. Thank You Father for loving us. In Jesus name. AMEN
Last week we discussed Mary's faith, which came straight from the heart. We discussed the fact that "nothing is impossible with God" and that no matter what circumstances you face, God is able to help you through them.
After Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear the Savior, Mary went to see her relative Elizabeth. When Mary greeted her, Elizabeth's baby, who would come to be known as John the Baptist, was filled with the Holy Spirit and leapt in Elizabeth's womb. Then Elizabeth said: Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
Then Mary began to rejoice. A lot of times we kind of skip over these verses to get to the "good part" - the birth of Jesus. But let's just quiet our spirits tonight and concentrate on what the Word has to say. God wouldn't have had these verse preserved for us if they weren't important.
Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, "
In the KJV it states "My soul doth magnify the Lord". The Latin Vulgate version starts "Magnificat" - which is what this song is called. "Magnify the Lord" - Mary was concentrating on God and who He is and what He has done for her. Not on the potential problems of an unwed mother who claimed that God was the child's father. Could you imagine what the Jews would have done to her if they had found out? And she was not stressing out about being the mother of the Messiah, and all the responsibility that would entail. But no, she was magnifying the Lord, concentrating on Him blessing Him!
How about us? Do we magnify - make large, glorify, exalt, extol, give highest place to God, OR do we concentrate on our problems and MAGNIFY them all out of proportion to the God who can deliver us out of them? Concentrating on problems seems to be a common human condition!
We need to thank Him for the SOLUTIONS to our problems and concerns - for the wisdom to know how to handle them, for the growth that comes through them, and the grace to undergo various trials and temptations.
We need to let God be BIG in our vision, and our problems be small, although at the time the problems may seem overwhelming, is anything too hard for God? Remember what the angel Gabriel told Mary "For NOTHING is impossible with God"
Maybe we should make a list of our problems, concerns and worries and over each one in RED marker, write, "For NOTHING is impossible with God!" And under each problem, find a scripture promise that relates to it too, write it in red, signifying the blood of our Lord, who is the stamp of approval on all of God's promises - in Him, they are YES and AMEN (so be it, it is done)!
Or do we concentrate on our wants, our needs, our goals, and magnify them as more important than God's will in our life? We tend to do this too, don't we? We forget sometimes about "What does GOD want me to do?" when we are faced with "What I want, what I need..."
One thing we can learn from Mary is her spirit of rejoicing in submitting to God's will for her life. I don't even want to think about what may have happened if she'd refused God's request of her!
Jesus said if you had a little seed of faith, it would move mountains. Take the little seed you feel like you have, water it with God's Word, sit in the sunshine of His love, nourish it with the fellowship of other believers, and it WILL grow!
God does not cause you problems...your old sin nature, satan, other spirits, the world does...but God does help you with your problems or He will give you the strength to take care of them yourself And let me encourage you! You are here because God has something special for you tonight. Not that I am anything, but He is everything! Placing your problems in God's hands, then watching as he repairs those problems is a good way to get a strong faith.
I've had many struggles - and it has taken me a while to get where I am. But God is faithful, even when we aren't, or when we're confused, or hurting, or alone. He is the one who has brought me this far, and He'll do the same for you!
So don't be discouraged, and don't think that I am trying to condemn you or put you down. Just the opposite! We all have periods when it seems like our faith is weak, but you know what, then is when we lean on Jesus harder, because His faith is perfect and He will carry us when we are too weak to carry ourselves!
Jesus said, "Be of GOOD cheer, I have OVERCOME the world!" Fix your eyes back on Jesus, little lambs. He is your good shepherd, remember?
Somehow in our lives God's will has become a chore, something we'd rather not do, something to put off until we're old and moldy. But Mary was joyful and eager to do God's will and the thought of it caused her to burst into song and praises to Him.
I can remember hearing sermons about "God's will" when I was young, and it always seemed to be something hard, something boring, I don't know, but now I realize that God's will for you brings joy unspeakable and full of glory. And the sooner and the better we line up our lives with God's will, the happier we will be. And this was why Mary was rejoicing - because she was following the will of God.
How can you discover what God's will and plan is for you? First of all, God is not willing that any should perish but all come to eternal life. God's will is for you to confess your sins, accept Jesus in your heart, and live with Him forever.
After you become a Christian, then God has something for you to do. The first step is to read His Word, pray and fellowship with other believers so you can learn how to live the Christian life. God has called us all to be His witnesses - nothing fancy - just sharing what God has done in your life - your testimony to His goodness and faithfulness.
And I believe that God has called us all into a special ministry - I don't mean that we all are preachers or teachers, but there is a special place in the family of God that only YOU can fill. It COULD be preaching or teaching or being a missionary, but it could also be a ministry of helping, of hospitality, of leadership, of being cheerful.
But whatever your calling is, it fits the talents (you have at least ONE according to God's word) and abilities and will give you the greatest joy! Finding out what that ministry is may take some time, but God will lead you if you ask Him. Mary was called to be the mother of our Lord. Our society doesn't think much of mothers today, it's better to have a career and be somebody according to the world.
But thank God for mothers who are willing to sacrifice for their children. Bringing up the next generation is an awesome responsibility, privilege and ministry. Now don't get me wrong, I did NOT say that women couldn't have careers, just that the world needs mothers. And I don't want to put a guilt trip on any mother who has to work either. But God's highest will was for Mary to be a good mother. That's all, a good mother.
Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
Notice that Mary looks to God as her SAVIOR. Some teach that Mary was sinless. Her own song testifies that this was not so and that she needed salvation as much as the rest of us. Mary continues to glorify, give praise and thanks to God:
Luke 1:48-49 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.
Mary did not see herself as worthy of this task - she saw herself as a humble servant. But she was also aware that she would be a source of blessing for "all generations". She didn't understand at this time all of the implications of what Jesus coming meant, but she did realize that it was something that would have lasting effect on mankind, and she would be part of it!
And we are part of this blessing too, when we are In JESUS and are sharing His love with those around us! Mary goes on to say:
Luke 1:50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
Amplified: And His mercy - His compassion and kindness toward the miserable and afflicted - is on those who fear Him with godly reverence, from generation to generation and age to age.
Are you miserable and afflicted tonight? Do you feel alone and afraid? God's mercy is extended to you - He is not mad at you, he is not trying to squash you like a bug, He is filled with compassion and kindness towards you!
Who does God receive? Those who fear Him with godly reverence. No, not a fear or terror of wrath or punishment, but a respect, awe and reverence for Who He is and a thankfulness for His gifts of grace - unmerited, unearned favor - to men. And God's mercy, compassion and kindness never runs out, it flows from generation to generation and from age to age. It is as real today as the day Mary sang her song of praise.
Mary's song, the "Magnificat", continues:
Luke 1:51-52 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
Amplified: He has shown strength and made might with His arm; He has scattered the proud and haughty in and by the imaginations and purpose and designs of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree.
How can a person praise God if they're afraid of Him, and how do we get rid of that fear?
There are two types of fear: fear of wrath and punishment, and the fear or reverent awe of God. We need to keep the reverence, but get rid of the other fear. Jesus took the punishment of ALL of our sins, therefore IN CHRIST, there is no condemnation, no death sentence, no prison term, no beatings - IN HIM and ONLY in Him - we have peace with God and are accepted in the Beloved.
Sometimes we are taught a false humility - that is "I'm just a lowly worm, a sinner saved by grace, nothing special" - that is actually a confession of doubt and unbelief.
I say what the Bible says about me. It doesn't say I'm a worm, but a child of God and a joint heir with Christ. It tells me I have salvation, redemption, holiness, and purity. The Bible says I'm a SAINT!
So make your confession of who you are line up with WHOSE you are. Start saying what the Bible says about you. Say "I am redeemed" because the Bible says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"
Kinzie is right, we walk by faith not by sight - or feelings - certainly not by fear! To increase your faith, listen to the Word, because the Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing the Word of God". Notice I said, hear the WORD, not what you think it says, not what somebody else thinks it says, Hear THE WORD. A lot of people are constantly putting themselves down because they are not reading, hearing, and confessing what GOD says about them!
Well, as I've said, there are several voices that whisper in your ear, only one is Jesus. You need to tell the world, the flesh and the devil to SHUT UP! Now if you go around saying SHUT UP out loud all the time, people will think you're crazy, but it works. LOL!
Vicky, this is where we get kind of lazy sometimes - it takes study, patience and memorization - how I hated to memorize in school! But David said, Your Word have I hid in my heart (memorized) that I might not sin against you.
When I first graduated from college with a degree in Religion, I had a lot of knowledge, but little wisdom - knowing how to put it into practice. I could talk the talk, but didn't always walk the walk. Wisdom comes many times from falling flat on your face. Then you look up and say, duh, wrong turn.
Gannah, yes, dear, but it grows more beautiful with each passing day, more precious, and more meaningful, more important that your heart beats or breath. Back to Mary's Song:
Luke 1:51-52 Amplified: He has shown strength and made might with His arm; He has scattered the proud and haughty in and by the imaginations and purpose and designs of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree.
Israel felt so weak at this time in history under the hand of the cruel Romans. Mary prophetically saw that the coming of the Messiah would scatter those and others who would oppress God's people, those that were proud and haughty and whose very thoughts were cruel.
If you are weak, God is your strength. If you are humble, He will give you grace. But if you are proud in your very imaginations, if you rule harshly those under you, watch out. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Luke 1:53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Amplified: He has filled and satisfied the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty-handed - without a gift.
It was customary in those days to curry favor with the rich and powerful by giving gifts - "bribes" really. The poor and the hungry couldn't fill their own stomachs, much less buy gifts to gather any influence with the rich. Here Mary is also prophetically speaking about the Kingdom, where bribes and wealth have no place. The hungry are satisfied, and the rich and self-sufficient are turned away. Is it a sin to be rich?
What if Jesus told you to, "Go, sell all you have, and give to the poor"?
Is it a sin to WANT to be rich? After all, that's one of the greatest and most admired goals of our culture - to want to get rich. If it weren't why would people play the lottery?
I Timothy 6:9-11 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Paul advised Timothy to flee from the desire to be wealthy, and to pursue righteousness, etc...
Something to think about - another example of how our culture can lead us away from God. Think about this - while you are eager for riches, and pursing wealth, how can God speak to you and how can you do His will? And if we do achieve wealth, it tends to make us think we are self-sufficient and don't need God (although there are exceptions as Kinzie pointed out)
If you are busy trying to become a millionaire, and all of your time and energy is spent achieving that goal, then there probably won't be any time for God. Just a thought...
Pursuit of wealth isn't the only distraction, just happens to be the one Mary mentions here.
Are you hungry tonight? Are you dissatisfied with life - feel empty inside, hollow, unnourished? That's because worldly things don't satisfy your spiritual hunger. Only God can fill you with "good things" - gifts that will nourish your spirit and not destroy it.
Luke 1:54-55 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
Amplified: He has laid hold on His servant Israel (to help him, to espouse his cause) in remembrance of his mercy, Even as He promised to our forefathers, to Abraham, and to his descendants forever.
God is our helper and a Keeper of Promises. Now this promise He made to Abraham was over 2000 years old when Mary sang that song - but God remembered it and was getting ready to act upon it.
God promised blessings to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 17:7:
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
Again in Genesis 18:18: Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.
How could all the nations be blessed through Abraham? Because his descendant was our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ!
Genesis 22:17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
So when Mary sang her song she was looking back over 2000 years to the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, much as we are looking back almost 2000 years to the coming of Christ and are awaiting the promise of His second coming. Even so come, Lord Jesus! AMEN
We'll stop here for tonight. Read Mary's Song again, and think about some of the things we've discussed tonight. How God is faithful and compassionate, how He honors the humble and lowly in heart, how He feeds the hungry with good things. How that God's will is pleasant to us if we will only yield to it. And if we will yield to it as Mary did, we will be filled to overflowing with JOY!
Lord, fill our hearts with your faith, love, joy and peace as we honor and worship you. Let us confess what your Word says about us, and do what it says. AMEN
Grace and peace to all from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit!
Father, thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Thank You for blessing us throughout the week. Thank You for the ministry provided by James so that we can have this Bible study. Thank You Father, for the Holy Word that we are so freely able to study in the open, without the fear. In Jesus name AMEN
Remember, whenever God
gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate
on what you've learned!
|*Picture Source: Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger's Bible Handbook. Revised by Gary N Larson. Moody Press, Chicago, 1966: 1984.|
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