When God Speaks - the Christmas Love Story
(Luke 1:26-38) Warren Payne
Have a gift and tell folks how special this gift is. Ask how many believe I am telling them the truth and would like to receive this gift. Explain there will be three conditions if they receive the gift.
- At all times you must keep in close contact with the giver.
- You must always do what the giver instructs at all times.
- Although the gift is the most precious thing you will ever receive you must eventually give this gift to others.
Bible reading in Chinese and Japanese
Christmas is a wonderful time of gift giving. A time when we all enjoy giving and receiving gifts. Let me ask you, which of the following you like the best? To know what gift you are going to get before you receive it? Or for the gift to be a complete surprise?
Some gifts are given because the recipient is a family member, and others are given to friends. Some may be given to the poor or needy through a social agency or by you personally. Gifts are given to most people at Christmas. In Japan many husbands bring home a Christmas cake for the family.
WHY do we give gifts at Christmas? Who gave the FIRST Christmas gift?
Gift giving is a way that we show our love for another person. Family member or friend. And God in His love gave us the most precious gift of all. His only son, Jesus.
We give gifts at Christmas because, God in His love, gave us the first gift.
For Mary, the gift of a baby boy was a total surprise. She was a young lady just going about her normal daily tasks, when suddenly an angel spoke to her and announced she was to be the mother of God's son, Jesus.
Jesus coming to earth through Mary was a combination of a surprise, an unexpected gift and a gift that was carefully explained before it was given. The surprise was that Mary would be given this gift. The explanation of who the gift was, and many other details were told to her before she was willing to receive the gift. Mary had to not only receive the gift, but open it through her act of the will by saying YES to the angel.
There are many reasons why God choose Mary to bear the Son of God and one of these reasons is given to us in Luke 1:38 where Mary says “ I am the Lord's servant”. The Bible is very clear that God blesses the humble. He blesses those who love him, trust him and are willing to obey, not matter how unknown the future is. The word used in the Bible for this type of action is the word “faith”.
In general our willingness to say “yes” to God is based on our loving, trust relationship with God.
When a person already has knowledge of, and previous experience of a love that can be trusted, it makes it easier to be willing to trust and obey. I am sure Mary loved God and trusted His word as taught to her through the OT. From a child Mary would have known the teaching given in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 5.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
Just as a child obeys their parents, because of the relationship they have, so I believe Mary was able to come to the place of being able to say; OK God, I love you and I believe you so let it happen.
Was this easy for Mary? No I don’t think so,
From the story we know Mary went through a process of questioning, listening, uncertainty and finally trust before the gift was actually given by the Holy Spirit.
This Christmas we too need this kind of faith, as we live in a world that is focused on pleasure and what we can get out of life. Our world is certainly not listening to God and even less willing to obey him. Most people just want the holiday, the parties, the Christmas trees and presents but not Jesus the Saviour.
How do we avoid a ‘Christ less’ Christmas? I believe we follow the same process that Mary went through on that first Christmas.
Let's look at the steps that lead to Mary receiving the greatest gift of all. The Son Of God – Jesus Christ. I believe these steps also apply to you and I as we come to celebrate Christmas again this year.
1.V.26 – 27 The JOY of Knowing God enters MY world
The world we live in today and the world Mary lived in are completely different. 2000 years have passed by, and yet the Bible is clear that God is the same now, as he was in Mary's time. Our God is a sending God who knows how to speak to us personally. God sent an Angel to a very small town called Nazareth in a region called Galilee. The angel was sent to a young girl, engaged to be married to a carpenter named Joseph who was a descendant of the famous Jewish King David. The Angel came to a virgin in fulfilment of the prophecy given in the book of Isaiah 700 years before. (Isaiah 7:14)
You and I may feel small and insignificant. We do not have an eternal prophecy written about us or an Angel speaking to us, but yet we are also chosen by God for His purposes. God loves us all and has wonderful plan for our lives.
In John 15:16a Jesus put it this way “You didn't choose me I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.........” You are not here today by chance. God desires to break into your life and He has spoken to you through His word the Bible.
Mary only had a short conversation but we have massive amount of words through the Bible. The key is not the method of communication God uses to speak to us in our personal world. God speaks to us in many ways. The important thing is, are we listening and willing to obey?
2.V.28 The JOY of Knowing God is with ME
One of the greatest joys in life is to know you are not alone. God had been silent for many years and for Mary hearing God's voice was a real surprise.
However, what she heard from the angel was amazing “The Lord is with you”
This is often all we hear from God. I am with you, and that is all you need to know for now. Know this first and then all else will fall into place.
There are many lonely people at Christmas, yet we have the greatest message they could hear. God is with them. He has come to all peoples as Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world.
You too, can experience the joy of knowing God is with you. You too, can love others so they know God is with them. This Christmas let us ask God, who is lonely and bless them by going to them with the love of Jesus and maybe some practical gift.
(# Story of a father who each Christmas was told by his children they were too busy to visit. Each Christmas he was alone and very sad. Then one Christmas the family were contacted by a lawyer to say their father had died. They all rushed to the family home to prepare for the funeral at this very busy time of the year only to find a beautiful meal all prepared and a their father alive, and well waiting for them all!)
3.V.29 – 30 The JOY of Knowing I am Special
From the Bible it is easy to see how special Mary was.
V.30 “You have found favour with God” Mary you are special.
When Mary heard this news she was confused and disturbed.
The Bible tells us she was not only confused but disturbed and afraid. I think I would be too!
Here is God speaking to me through an angel and telling me I am special. Special for what reason? Mary may have thought - Why tell me now when I am very happy and engaged to a great man named Joseph?
God always has a reason to tell us we are special to him.
Firstly, God speaks to us to encourage us, and secondly to move us on to greater blessing.
The healing we receive when we realise how special we are to God, is always a building block for greater joy and progress in our lives. This Christmas may you know how special you are to God. God loves you.
4.V.31 – 33 The JOY of Future Potential
'It's a boy! Call him Jesus. He will be great, the Son of the most High (God), in the line of King David and this is an eternal kingdom!'
Mothers how would you have felt if you knew all that about your child’s future before they were born?
In all our lives there is wonderful potential to do great things for God. The potential for good is in all our lives. God knows the plans he has for us. God knows when and where he wants to lead us into greater blessing than we have ever experienced.
Our lives are like a seed that needs to be planted in the soil of God's love and plan for us. A seed planted in blessing and suffering that will grow and blossom into a life that we cannot imagine. When we trust God, what we are now, is not what we will be. Let's allow God to do his wonderful work in all our life. ‘Let's blossom where we are planted’.
5.V.34 The JOY of being able to ask Questions
Just like we do, Mary saw the reality of what this would mean. She wondered how it was possible for God to use her.
For you and I the question is more likely to be: Lord, I am not perfect how can you use me? I am weak and need help too often. God surely you can't use me!
This Christmas bring God your unanswered questions, struggles and doubts. Ask friends and family to help, but above all ask God in prayer.
Prayer is how we ask God. Tell God what you honestly think and He will answer you. Be happy and this Christmas let’s give all our questions to God.
When I was a young person I had many questions and not many answers, but in trusting God He lead me into a life journey that was so exciting and joyful, even when things seemed to go wrong. Today I can testify that God's ways are always best because the Holy Spirit is our help.
God is not looking for your ability, but your availability as a child of God who is willing to obey and follow the knowledge you have now. If we had all the answers we would not be able to have the faith that pleases God and the faith he loves to reward. Mary had to have true faith as described to us in Hebrews 11:6 (Read)
6.V.35 The JOY of the Holy Spirit
The reason Jesus is called the Son of God is because that is who He is. Jesus is GOD.
The Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived Jesus.
The joy of the Holy Spirit today is just the same. You and I become children of God through the same Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus said in John 3:3 “You must be born again”. The joy of being a Christian is to know that the Holy Spirit is in our hearts, and has given us the gift of eternal life.
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is ‘Joy’. If you do not know that Joy today maybe you need to receive the gift that God freely offers. God is speaking to you today. He wants you to know his presence and love.
You are special to God, and He can give you victory over whatever impossible circumstance you may have in your life.
Like Mary you too may say – ‘but God that is impossible’. To that question God says just look to me and be surprised.
7.V.36 The JOY of God's Blessing in Others
When Mary looked – there was an example of God's miracle blessing in her auntie’s life. Elizabeth was a lady too old to normally have a baby but she was pregnant. When you see what God can do in others’ lives, then there is no reason to doubt He won't do the same in your life.
If you have questions please ask someone how God changed their life.
Ask your Christian friends what it is like to know God, and have His Holy Spirit in their heart.
Ask your Christian friend what it is like to live life confident that God has everything under control.
Jesus said “My purpose is to give a rich and satisfying life” John 10:10
8.V.37 The JOY of Trusting God's Promises
Mary heard a promise from God that would result in her being able to obey God's request. “Nothing is impossible with God”
You and I have the same promise and many, many more in the Bible. God always keeps His promises so what a joy to follow Him with that sure knowledge.
Mary was able to trust the promise of God because she had faith.
Faith, that said ‘yes to God’ and allowed God to do His special work in her life.
It is not your strength of faith that is most important, but God's faithfulness that makes all His promises come true. When life depends only on ‘my’ faith then it becomes centred on me and that is a burden we don’t need to carry.
But when our faith is firmly trusting that God will do what he says, then God is central our life and we experience the joy of being free from the burden and limitations of our own strength.
Like Mary, this Christmas let's reconfirm our belief that we trust the promises of God. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
9.V.38 The JOY of Saying YES
Lastly, when we say ‘YES’ to God the future opens up like you wouldn't believe.
For Mary, life would become more complicated and full of more unanswerable questions. However, she knew who her son was, and in the end saw him killed by the cruellest of methods by being nailed to a cross.
But, then out of the pain and suffering came the Joy of the resurrection of Jesus and His promise of the Holy Spirit for all people.
Mary could only see a short distance ahead when she said ‘yes’.
Mary trusted God for the Joy that was to come. So she was able to say “May everything you say about me come true”
God led Mary through the same process he leads us today.
God placed a surprise gift before Mary. A gift that needed to be opened, treasured and then given away to you and I.
Mary said, ‘YES’.
- God speaks to us personally
- God is with us always
- God tells us we are special, born for God's purposes
- God tells us how we can have a relationship with Him
- God fills us with the Holy Spirit and we are born again
- God shows us many examples of others who are Christians
- God can do what we think impossible
- God gives us His promises to trust and obey
- God waits for us to say -'Yes'
The joy of receiving the greatest Christmas gift, Jesus Christ the Son of God, is all ours when we trust and in faith accept the Saviour’s will for our lives.