The Center of God's Will

Bible Book: Luke  1 : 26-55
Subject: Christmas; Mary; Will of God

How many of you are still busy buying Christmas presents for family and friends? If you are not quite sure what to buy, according to one website, the top Christmas gifts of 2007 include items such as: Digital cameras, Cell phones, MP3 players, Apple iPods, DVDs, Jewelry (Men, have you been to Zales, lately?), Pets (Amy and I are in trouble here, Jon David's been asking for a puppy for Christmas!), Chocolates and wine, Holiday packages & Robots. Maybe some of those ideas will help make your shopping a little easier!

No doubt about it, we live in a material world where people are full of wants. The Christmas Season is especially a time when you hear people say, "I Want." How many conversations have you been a part of or have you overheard recently when people mentioned, "I want such and such for Christmas?"

Of all the "wants" we could ever have, the greatest want of our lives as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to be to want to be in the center of God's will. I hope that is your desire this morning!

Mary, the mother of our Lord, is certainly a great model for any person who desires to be in the center of God's will. Notice from the Word of God some outstanding characteristics about Mary's life that ought to be a part of every child of God seeking to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

I. Mary Was Surprised At God's Favor

What was the greatest surprise of your life? Wedding Day? Graduation Day? The Day you reached that goal you thought was nearly impossible?

The greatest surprise in my life came in December of 2003. It was late in the evening at our home in Grayson, GA, and I was busy studying for my finals at NOBTS. Amy came in the room where I was studying with a very happy look on her face. She was holding a little white plastic item with two pink dots near the end and she could barely talk. I asked her what was going on? She said, "WE'RE PREGNANT." I continued to study. There was no way what she said was true.

Amy just continued saying, "It's true...It's true...I'm pregnant!" Finally, after I about fainted, I got caught up in the excitement and we danced and cried and laughed! We certainly wanted a child, but had no idea our baby would come this soon! I've had some great surprises in my life, but none greater than Amy's announcement of our first child together! What a miracle of God!

Maybe that night in December 2003, Amy and I felt a little of what Mary felt when God sent the angel Gabriel declaring great news of incredible joy!

Luke 1:26-33, "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceived in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will the called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

Are you open to God's surprises? Everything about the Christmas story is a surprise!

* That the Savior of the World would be born to Virgin Mary by the power of God's Spirit

* That this young virgin (probably in her teens) would be from the town of Nazareth (Small town, 1500 people, bad reputation...John 1:46, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?")

* That God's angels would appear to Shepherds...not to Kings

* That Jesus Christ would be born in a manger...not a place of royalty

* That God took on human flesh in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life, was crucified, yet rose again the third day to reign as King forever!

God is not nearly as boring as we sometimes make Him out to be! Be open to His daily surprises this Season!

Sometimes you hear people say, "Why did God choose Mary? Was it her beauty? Was it her education? Was it because of her family? What was it that was so special about Mary that made God chose her ?" I think Mary would have asked the same question!

In fact the key is found in verse 30 where Gabriel says, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."

"Favor" is God's unmerited, undeserved blessing on our lives. Every good and perfect gift God has given us has come into your life, not because you earned it, but because of His favor!

God's favor on Mary's life was the reason she was chosen to bring forth the Son of God miraculously and God's favor was also needed in her life to bring peace to her troubled soul! Be open to the God of all Surprises today!

II. Mary Accepted God's Will For Her Life

In a Peanut's cartoon, Linus and Charlie Brown were talking about their problems. Linus said, "I don't like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. In fact, it is a distinct philosophy of mine. No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from!"

Mary could have given Angel Gabriel all kinds of reasons why she was not able to accept God's will for her life, yet she did not run away!

She could have said, "But I am unworthy of such an honor as this."

"I don't have enough training for this task."

"I am not smart enough to hold this position."

"I don't feel like I am qualified to handle this awesome responsibility."

"I am too young."

"This is going to inconvenience my life too much, could you come back in a few more years?"

Thankfully, Mary choose to respond with faith in the promises of God. She choose to be a woman of courage to trust in the faithfulness of God.

It was impossible for her to understand everything that was being revealed to her in this holy moment, yet her response is one of awe and wonder, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" "And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will called the Son of God."

Just as Mary needed to rely on the power of God to do what she could not do for herself, so you and I need to rely on the power of God. True Christianity is not trying to be good, kind, nice, defeating sin in our own strength, then giving up when we find out we are miserable failures at trying to live the Christian life! The Christian life is not so much you living for Jesus, but Jesus living His life through you! Colossians 1:27 says our hope is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Do you know what is sad to me as Pastor? It is that God has so much of His presence and power waiting to fill His servants, but we fail to seek Him. It is that God has such an awesome plan for every single one of His people, but they too often run away from His will, rather than to accept His will.

God has the very best plan and it is only when you and I are in the center of that plan that we find true contentment and true meaning in life! Yet, because God's plan does not always make sense, or because it involves inconvenience, or stepping out of our comfort zone, or going in a new direction, God's people say, "That must not be the will of God for me."

Do you know what is exciting to me as Pastor? It is knowing the same God who helped Mary is available to help you! It's knowing the same God who helped Mary through her extremely difficult trials is available to help you in your trials!

When you have a hard time accepting God's plan, do what Mary did! Look back at what God has already done in your life and believe in the promises of God! Mary was bolstered in her faith by two facts given by Gabriel. Fact Number 1: "Your Aunt Elizabeth, who is old in age, who was barren, has also conceived a son." Fact Number 2: "For with God nothing will be impossible."

When you are faced with a situation that seems impossible, don't try to figure everything out on your own, but believe in the God who says, "Nothing is impossible with ME!"

III. Mary Displayed a Heart of Humility

Several years ago, I was privileged to meet Bill Klassen, the man whom God used to help equip John Maxwell in the ministry of prayer. He told me something I don't think I'll ever forget. He said his "secret" to having deep intimacy with God, personal holiness, revival in the church would always begin by praying Isaiah 57:15, "For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

Revival for Bill, always began by praying for God to break His own heart, to make him humble before the Lord, sensitive to his own sin, open to the fresh Presence of God once more. He is a man who truly has a humble heart before the Lord.

Colossians 3:12 speaks about "putting on" or "clothing" yourself in humility. Tim Tebow, the Sophomore QB from the University of Florida won the 2007 Heisman Trophy Award last night for being college football's top player. What a breath of fresh air it was to watch his reception of the Award. The first thing he said was, "I want to thank, first of all, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!" When they asked Tim about his priorities in life he said, " #1 Faith, #2 Family, # 3Academics, and # 4 Football."

Tim went on to say that God was the one who gave him the ability and could take it away at any moment. The ESPN reporters said because of Tim's character and athletic ability, he may have been the finest player ever to receive the award.

Mary choose to have that humble spirit before the Lord. A heart that is not proud before the Lord. A heart that is unashamed to bow and give glory to God Almighty! She said, "Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."

Because Mary and Joseph were humble and obedient to God, they could also teach their Son to be humble and obedient before God His Father. Mary could honestly look her Son in the face and say, "I was willing to be rejected, misunderstood, betrayed, and yes, even killed if necessary for my faith in the promise of God."

Parents/Grandparents, use this Christmas season to teach your children/grandchildren in the ways of the Lord. For so many kids, the Christmas season is nothing more than receiving gifts and toys. Would you be willing to go through your home and search for toys less fortunate kids would love to have? You could teach your children about Missions through helping them understand the Lottie Moon Christmas.

Instead of having dinner just for yourselves, you could take an evening and volunteer at a local soup kitchen together. How about ministering to some of our Shut-Ins or those in Nursing Homes? Volunteering at the Applewood Service? Helping Betty and Roddy Owens as they teach God's word to Nursing Home patients every Sunday Morning.

Humility, thinking of others before yourself, reaching out to help meet a need, is not something that comes naturally for most of us, it's a Christ-like attitude that must be developed. Because Jesus Christ humbled Himself on the Cross to rescue our sinful hearts, we honor Him when we, too walk in humility toward one another


The real meaning of this season is, love, compassion, service, humility. Greatness according to Jesus Christ comes not to those who are served, but to those who serve. Our real riches come not from what we get but from what we give!

What could God do in a church where people walked in humility before Him and one another? What would happen in our families if we simply practiced putting others before ourselves in small ways - daily? In churches, families, friendships where humility is practiced, that is a place where the breath of Heaven is experienced!

IV. Mary Magnified the Lord Jesus Christ Alone

It is easier to complain, than to praise. At a Baptist church not far from here a pastor mentioned that one of his church members complained about the ice cream being too cold during their ice cream fellowship!

If Mary were here this morning, she wouldn't be complaining, she would be praising! Listen to her testimony after visiting her Aunt Elizabeth.

Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever." Luke 1:46-55

I count 19 times in 10 verses where Mary mentions, "Lord, God, Savior, He, His." Instead of focusing on her difficult circumstances, Mary was praising God! Mary's joy was not in her circumstances, but in her Lord! Focusing on His greatness! On His might! On His mercy! On His strength! On His great acts!

Too often, our circumstances determine our praise to God, but it should be the opposite! Who God is! What God has done! What God has promised to those who love Him and trust in His Son should determine the level of our worship!

Do you desire to be in the center of God's will today? Take a good look at the life of Mary, offer yourself afresh to God and let her words become your testimony, "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word!"