I want to share something with you that I never caught before when studying the Christmas story. Luke 1:38 (ESV) 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. More on this in a few sentences.
Back in November, the Lord put on my heart to encourage you to go into 2018 with a word from the Lord. By this, I literally mean a Scripture from God that you can ‘hang your hat on’ in a sense as we enter this new year. A Scripture for this specific season of your life.
So Mr. Pastor guy, how do I get one of those? Great question!
1) Get your word from the Bible! Let’s embrace the Bible like it was meant to be embraced – God’s direct word to us.
2) Let the Holy Spirit place a Scripture on your heart. Maybe it will be a verse that I share a message on, or from a discussion in your Life Group. Maybe it will be from a Christian book you might be reading. Let me state the obvious here – the more of the Word you know, read, and hear, the more He’ll be able to speak a word to you! There is no greater time than today to start some sort of regular Bible reading. Why not start in Luke, one chapter a day? Shoot me your questions as you read and I’ll try to answer them as we walk through this tremendous Gospel!
3) Choose a Scripture until God leads you on. Ok Scott, I’ve tried and tried to get a ‘word’ from God, but I’ve got nothing!!! Relax. Find a Scripture (reminder – all of it is for you) and simply start praying it…thinking (meditating) on it…talking about it. Stick with that verse until God connects another verse or passage to your heart later on!
Listen, Mary didn’t 100% understand everything that was getting ready to happen, but she purposed in her heart to “let it be to me according to your word.” She decided she didn’t have to have all the answers, she would just rest in these words from God given via the angel. Let’s commit to do the same!
Take a minute and think about your daily routine – things you do pretty much the same, day in and day out. Isn’t it a challenge at times to see these regular ‘duties’ of life as exciting? For instance, every morning I let Daisy the dog out and then give her food and water. EVERY morning…that is the routine. She hears me get up and then she dashes for the back door gleefully anticipating the opportunity to relieve herself (and roll around in the freshly dewed grass…giving her that wonderfully pungent wet dog aroma). It’s not very exciting…it’s not very rewarding…but it is VERY important for the Miller family that this event happens regularly!
All of us have a routine we pretty much stick to from day to day, right? Here comes the challenge – I must refuse to curse the seemingly mundaneness of my routine. I heard it put this way – MASTER THE MUNDANE (idea taken from a talk by Pastor Jeff Manion, Ada Bible Church). Embrace the ordinary. Embrace the routine. There is nothing wrong with shaking up the routine from time to time, but don’t discredit what God will do in you and through you as you keep the routine going…day in and day out. I know your dream is bigger than your daily routine, but don’t curse what God is doing in you and through you as you stay faithful in the seemingly small things. God is using your routine.
And remember this, you are in good company. Samuel did the same thing, year after year:
1 Samuel 7:15-17 15 Samuel continued as Israel’s judge for the rest of his life. 16 Each year he traveled around, setting up his court first at Bethel, then at Gilgal, and then at Mizpah. He judged the people of Israel at each of these places. 17 Then he would return to his home at Ramah, and he would hear cases there, too. And Samuel built an altar to the Lord at Ramah.
Worship. Specifically the time of worship singing on any given Sunday. In the past 30 years churches have split over how this portion of the service was handled. Contemporary, traditional, liturgical, etc, most everyone has a thought or preference on how this portion of the service should go!
One thing I appreciate about you church is your willingness to just worship. Sure our style at Pathway leans more toward what most would call ‘contemporary,’ but even when we bring in something more traditional, you still worship. Why? B/c it’s not about your favorite style or my favorite style, it’s about a God who is worthy of worship and praise. It’s about a God who sent His only son to come to earth to die for my sins…and if He never did another thing for us…He is already worthy of praise!
Think about this – in the month of April, our time of worship singing was led:
- by a middle aged balding lead pastor guy who has been leading worship at Pathway off and on since it’s inception as a church.
- by a fiery soul filled skinny jeans wearing millennial guest worship leader who seamlessly led along with our team (Stephen Witt).
- by a senior in High school who led us in a round of jumping higher, clapping louder, shouting louder, etc. than we had before, celebrating our freedom in Jesus.
- by about 300 voices singing in the dark with no amplification at all b/c we had no power!
Worship isn’t and can’t be about a style. Worship has to be about exalting our God, who is alive, and deserving of all our praise!
Wearing the breastplate of righteousness involves walking securely in your imputed positional righteousness by virtue of the cross. You didn’t earn this. You didn’t do anything to deserve this. But God in His love placed your sin on Jesus as he died for us on the cross! We then take on HIS righteousness as we repent of our sin and put our faith in Him for our salvation. Meditate for a few moments on this verse of Scripture – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Wearing the breastplate of righteousness also means coming clean with God in your practice of practical righteousness by feeding your spirit with the Word of God and committing to obey it. Let’s be very careful that as a church, in our desire to get away from the legalism of the past, we don’t abandoned holiness! We are grace people, absolutely. But that doesn’t negate the call for everyday decisions that bring us into holiness. This is what we call practical righteousness. It’s what Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:24 (NIV) 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Take a minute to meditate on this verse.
Something I never mentioned in this past week’s message but meant to was the role of obedience in the spiritual battle. The word obedience is a word that most of us relegate to dog training, but it is absolutely essential to every person who is serious about fighting the spiritual battle. Understand something obvious here – in order to experience the promises from God, obedience to his plan is essential!
There ARE conditions to God moving on our behalf. Because we are grace people we don’t like to think of it that way, but it’s true. If we go on living lives that are flirting with sin and selfishness and immorality, yet b/c we raised a hand or prayed a prayer we think God is going to come through, we are missing it!
It’s the whole idea of John 15:5-7 (NIV):
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
I can’t blame the Devil for battles that I walked into due to my unwillingness to submit to the clear teaching of Scripture! I can win the battle as long as I stay and remain in Him! Think on that…
So put yourself in the shoes of Mary the mother of Jesus when one day an angel appears and declares you to be “highly favored!” Fast forward 9 months later and you find yourself much with child, traveling for many miles on the back of a donkey in the Palestinian heat. Arriving at your destination, you realize every place to stay is booked up and end up giving birth to the Holy Child in a dirty stable? How do you go from an angelic visitation to riding on a donkey? Aren’t things supposed to go a little smoother for someone who is walking in the will of God?
Every follower of Christ will at some point hit the wall in their faith and begin to wonder things like this. You’ll find yourself asking honest questions like – If God wants me to live holy, why is it so hard? If God wants my marriage to be blessed, and my kids to follow Him, why does it seem so difficult sometimes?
Scripture gives us answers to this why, and we talked about it this past Sunday.