Happy Christmas everyone! This week we are taking a break from our Kingdom Life series and will enjoy a short Christmas message from Pastor Richard. In our home churches around the world, we are having our Christmas Celebrations. We have produced a special 40-minute carol service video which we will release to YouTube next week for everyone to enjoy. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be sure to catch it: https://www.youtube.com/c/UpstreamMinistries
We start in Luke 1:26-38. It's important that you go read it before reading this blog. Then come back and read on!
God’s interaction with Mary in this story is remarkable. She’s living a pretty average life when suddenly an angel appears to her and her life is upended by a revelation of the calling of God.
Can you imagine Mary’s shock? The thoughts that must’ve been racing through her mind. Yet she says, Be it unto me according to thy word. Mary was part of God’s plan. As are you! You see, God has a plan. It’s a huge plan! It’s a vision for all creation and you and I are not here by accident. We are here as part of that plan. Jesus is the redeemer and saviour of the world. He will rule heaven and earth for all time.
Colossians 1:15-19 and Ephesians 1:4-6 show us clearly that God had a plan from he beginning and has a vision for eternity. A vision that all mankind would be redeemed to Him and that we would worship Him forever and ever. But here’s the thing, inside of God’s mighty plan, there is an individual plan for each one of us. We each have a special role to play in fulfilling that plan. This is how it was for Mary.
Isaiah 7:14 predicted that this would happen to a young woman. She was 100% free to accept it or reject, but it was part of the plan. God has a plan for you that is part of His big plan to bring the world to Himself. And it was set in motion before the world was even created!
You see, God planned you in advance. The church is now carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ. His vision is being fulfilled through us! We are co-labourers.
There are 4 parallels in Mary’s story that we want to look at today that apply to our lives.
1 - The Word is a Seed
John 1:1-2 The word became flesh. Jesus is the Word. v14 tells us He became flesh. God’s Word (Jesus) was a seed. We’ve been studying this at length lately in Home Church. Jesus is not only the Word, He is the Seed of God. Look at these two passages:
Gal. 4:4 - But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Gen. 3:15 - And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
'Made of a woman' and 'her seed' tell us here that Mary had a big part to play. Jesus is the seed of God which was united with the womb of Mary and the vision for her life and Jesus' life was manifested. Not just for Mary herself, but for all of mankind! In the same way that the seed of God’s Word was received into Mary’s physical womb by faith and it formed Jesus, when God's Word is deposited into our hearts and received with faith, Christ is formed in us. Wow!
When the seed of God’s Word falls into the good soil of our hearts and germinates, Christ is formed in us. We are called to trust in God for the vision He has for our lives, just like Mary was called to believe and receive.
2 - It’s beyond you.
God’s vision for your life may seem impossible. But, if it’s too big for you, that’s how you know it’s God! Because you shouldn’t be able to do it in your own strength. But God wouldn’t call you to do something if He was going to provide you with all you need to fulfil it. Just like Mary. She couldn’t do it on her own that’s for sure! She needed God.
To this day, even now, the Jewish culture teaches that Mary was impregnated by a Roman Soldier. Can you imagine the shame Mary must’ve been through as a pregnant girl before marriage? Her reputation was gone, friendships lost, even her own family must’ve struggled greatly with this.
Other people may ridicule you, gossip behind your back, think you’re crazy to follow God’s vision for your life, but if you have that vision burning inside of you, it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does. This life is but a blink of the eye compared with eternity. Never forget that!
3 - Something has to die.
Another thing that Mary had to endure was loss. Loss in order for the vision to be fulfilled. Luke 2:35. Simeon says a sword will pierce Mary's soul. He was an old man who had been told he would see the Christ. But what he said to Mary must’ve been unbelievably hard. There is nothing more painful and difficult than losing a child. I wonder if she fully understood what was happening and why Jesus had to die in that way.
The vision of God for your life will always require some kind of sacrifice. Pursuing God’s vision in your life means you have to let go of competing worldly ideas and desires. What do you have to let go of? No matter what that thing is and how valuable it may look in the world’s eyes, it is nothing compared to what God has for you. And that brings us to point 4...
4 - It’s worth it.
The eternal value of God’s vision that He put in your heart, no matter what it is, has eternal significance. It's value is way more than anything your own plans and dreams could’ve come up with. Nothing is more valuable and precious than building the Kingdom of God.
Gabriel told Mary she was 'highly favoured'. In the Greek it's charitoō and it means ‘made charming, agreeable, lovely’. The Catholics teach that Mary was extraordinary. But here’s the thing, you, as a child of God, are just as favoured as Mary was.
Ephesians 1:6 - To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. The word used here for 'accepted', is the same word in the Greek as the angel used for Mary, charitoō. When you receive that promise and vision by faith into the womb of your heart, Christ is formed in you and you manifest Jesus to the world, just like Mary did that Christmas 2000 years ago.
Be like Mary. Say yes to the vision God has given you and the world will be blessed because of it.
Merry Christmas everyone! We hope you have a wonderful week leading up to this beautiful celebration.