Luke 1:26-35, 37-38
December 6, 2015
Last week, through the prophet Isaiah, God told us FEAR NOT! We’re going to continue with that theme and for the next 3 weeks we’re looking at stories where 3 different times angels told people in the Christmas story . . . FEAR NOT!
Today we’re going to look at the first Fear Not story. It’s when an Arch-angel named Gabriel appeared to a teenage girl named Mary.
Before we get into the story, has there ever been a time when you’ve been afraid of what God has asked you to do? Have you ever been there? I believe there are a lot of people who sometimes treat God like they treat the annoying person that always wants something from them. I think we all know someone like this. There are some people, whenever they call you, you know they want something, and you give thanks for caller ID, so you don’t answer.
Or maybe you see them in public, and you’re like, Oh, there’s so-and-so — and you pretend you don’t see them. You know what I’m talking about!
Sometimes, without realizing it, many of us treat God that way. We want to be close enough to God to get the good stuff! We want the promise of heaven and we want His blessings, BUT we don’t want to surrender to God so He has total access to every area of our lives! If we did that, He might make us give up something we enjoy, or He might make us do something we don’t want to do.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that. Because sometimes there’s this fear — What if I give it all to God, and then life doesn’t go the way I thought it would go? And fear overwhelms us. And we freak out and we freeze.
We spend a lot of life thinking about the WHAT IF’S. We end up placing our faith more in the what if’s than in God. What if the economy falls apart? What if I lose my job? What if someone I love gets really sick? We can what if ourselves to a life of misery. So, we end up placing our faith in the worst case scenario.
Why is it we’re often afraid of God’s plans? There are a lot of answers to that one, and today, we’re going to look at 2 answers based on this story.
The first answer is — God’s interruptions are usually inconvenient.
You’re going to see this in Mary’s story. So, let’s look at Luke 1, starting with verses 26 through 29, and then we’ll move on from there ~
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
Now, let’s get into the backstory, and start thinking about what’s going on in her life. We don’t know for sure how old she is. In her culture, girls were married or bethrothed when they were around 14, 15, or 16 years old.
She’s probably nervous and all excited about her marraige. If it’s modern day, she’s searching on Pinterest, trying to find all the creative ideas to make her wedding day – unforgettable. She’s practicing signing her name with her husband’s last name. Or she’s naming her future children. And suddenly, this angel interrupts all of her plans, and it’s incredibly inconvenient to the way she had her future mapped out.
What can we learn from this? This is what I’m thinking . . . God sends us invitations . . . but because we fear . . . we call them interruptions.
So often when we feel like God is interrupting us, He’s actually inviting us to something bigger and better.
Think about it – What did God do with Moses? He interrupted a regular day with a burning bush, and invited Moses to become the deliverer of God’s people. God interrupted the prophets calling them to proclaim His word.
God interrupted a boy who was a shepherd, named David, to become a king!
God interrupted Joseph and he was displaced to Egypt and put in prison, so he could help God’s people.
When Paul was killing Christians, God interrupted him with a light from heaven, and invited him to be a leader in the early church.
God interrupted Peter and James and John from a life of fishing to become fishers of people. God interrupted plans with an invitation to something better.
I believe there are many of us who often shake off God’s invitations, calling them “interruptions,” when God really wants to do something new and different in our lives. And I don’t know how this will play out for you, but if you’ll be sensitive enough to see what we call “interruptions” as a possible invitation, God might take you somewhere new, or somewhere different, to do something special that you couldn’t have predicted on your own.
It could play out in any number of ways, and there are those of you, you’ve got your own interruption/invitation stories. Some of you weren’t church people; you weren’t religious. And someone interrupted your plans and invited you to church, and kept pestering you to come. You weren’t interested, and finally you surrendered.
And you came to church, and you thought, I’ll just endure it, get in and get out, and then something happened. You were touched by a song, or someone said something, or in the message, it was like God was speaking to you. And your heart changed, and suddenly you found yourself being drawn to God, and one day you asked for forgiveness.
And you experienced the supernatural presence of God, and something in you was dramatically changed — and you were different — you were a new creation. And what you thought was an interruption was an invitation to something way better.
And now, it continues to happen. Your friend is in the hospital, and you feel an urge to go see your friend — but you’re thinking I don’t have time for this. Yet, the urge won’t go away.
And so you take the interruption and you go, and you didn’t realize it was an invitation for God to use you to minister to someone. And you say something without knowing it to your friend that they needed. And they are so thankful . . . And you’re thinking – How did I know that? And you’re ministering to others and you walk out, like, Whoa! I can’t believe God just used me in this way!
Or you come to church and you hear there’s a need — and you think I could do that, but I don’t have time for that! And before you even realize it – you’re signing up for it, and you think – Why am I doing this? I don’t have time for this!
And the next thing you know, you’re serving in the pre-school room, and you don’t even like 3-4 year olds. And two months later, you’re thinking — The greatest hour of my week is when I get to hang out with 3-4 year-olds!
What happened? You accepted God’s invitation. God’s interruption moved you to something better. And you can get those divine invitations IF you won’t shake them off as interruptions.
An angel of the Lord appeared to this girl, who has her life planned out, and says, “I’ve got something different for you.” What does the angel say, in verse 30? In the King James Version, the angel said . . . “Fear not.” The ESV says — The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if God’s got some favor to give out, I want a little bit of that action. I want some favor. We’re going to find, though, the favor isn’t exactly what she thought it was going to be. If I’m Mary, God give me favor? I just landed a spot on a wedding reality show, and my wedding and honeymoon are paid for. What she doesn’t realize is that the angel, has something very different for her.
Why are we often afraid of God’s plans? Number one, because His interruptions are often inconvenient, and, number two, God’s plans and purpose are often different than your plans. His purpose for us is often so different than what we had planned out for ourselves.
And we see this in verses 31 through 33. The angel reveals God’s plans saying ~
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
The angel is telling Mary ~ ~ “You’re going to give birth to the Son of God and He will be a Savior of the world.” And you can only imagine this teenage girl, as her emotions swing back and forth, as God interrupts her with an invitation that totally messes with her plan, and reveals God’s greater plan.
Think about it. There must have been a moment where she’s blown away — Oh, my gosh! I’ve been chosen for this, the mother of the Son of God.
And then – boom! – her emotions swing to fear. Oh, my gosh! What are people going to say about me? Then to honor — Oh, my gosh – this is amazing! I’ve been chosen. Then back to fear – Oh, my gosh, what do I tell Joseph.
God’s plans are way different than her plans. God told Isaiah ~
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9
And I don’t know how this will play out in your life, but when God interrupts you with an invitation to something else, you’re going to discover His purposes are way different than yours. And I don’t know how it will happen, but you’ll see it again and again and again.
Maybe you dreamt of the perfect, healthy family, and then you find out your child will be born with special needs – – – and it rocks your world: Why us? What did we do? And you have no clue! And you have no idea the blessing this child is going to be. And it’s going to bring you closer to God, and you’ll have more love in your heart than you ever even dreamed, because His plan is different than your plan.
You may lose a job and think, This is the worst thing ever. God, You can’t be in on this. Where are You? How am I going to pay the bills? And then you end up starting the business you’ve always had in the back of your mind! Or you change careers . . . And years later, you look back and say, “Wow! What I thought was a curse was actually a blessing! God’s purpose was so much different than my plans.”
God has plans to bless you, and prosper you, not to harm you, but to give you hope, and a future, BUT – every so often God’s going to move in, in what you might call an “interruption.” But from His perspective, it’s an invitation to something that’s bigger and better, because His plans are always different than your plans.
Now, listen to Mary’s response in verse 34 ~ 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
In other words, it’s totally impossible. It’s beyond impossible. It’s absurd! Lord don’t you get it, this is physically impossible.
It would be like me sitting at the piano and telling Mike or Beth, let me teach you a thing or two about the piano . . . and I would show them how bad a person can make the piano sound. It would be absurd.
Or for me to go on the basketball court and tell Andrew Luck I can throw the ball better than he can. It’s not going to happen!
And that’s what Mary’s saying. “I am a virgin, and virgins don’t give birth to babies. It’s totally and completely impossible.”
And there very may well be a time when God is going to interrupt you with an invitation to something different. And His plan is going to be different than your plan, and He’s going to ask you to have faith and believe Him.
But you’re going to look at Him and say, “that’s not possible. God, you can’t ask me to forgive someone, not after what they’ve done to me. It’s impossible.”
“God, I don’t know how You’re asking me to trust You, and be generous, when I don’t have very much right now, and to trust You’re going to give me more. That’s not possible.”
“God, I don’t believe You could heal my marriage. Not after what happened, there’s no way . . . it’s not possible.”
“God, how in the world could You ever reconcile this relationship with my child, not after what they said, and after what I did? It’s broken and gone forever.”
“God, there is no way You could heal this person I love. The doctors said, ‘there’s no hope . . . go home and prepare for the end.’ It’s totally, completely impossible.”
And that’s what we see with Mary, she said, “It’s impossible. There’s no way.”
35 And the angel answered Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God.
37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Wait! What did the angel say? What is verse 37? Say it with me . . . “Nothing will be impossible with God.” WOW!! Isn’t that cool! Isn’t that great!!
I don’t know who came here this morning for just this very moment. But I have a sense there are some of you who are facing something in life you don’t think is possible to conquer.
And today . . . you need to know NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD
What you think may be impossible, what is impossible with man is absolutely and completely possible with God! We serve a God who is all-knowing, ever-present, and all-powerful. One word is all it takes! God can intervene in any situation. Our God is that good, and all things are possible with God.
Mary said NO WAY! God said WAY!
And so, I want to ask you very simply, what is God asking you to do or believe? I believe God wants to direct you, shape you, lead you, guide you, empower you. What is He asking you to do?
Some of you already know the answer. You’ve been resisting God, yet, you know what God is calling you to do.
Some of you need to seek God in prayer to figure this out. You need to ask God, “God, what’s the plan for me?”
It may be to start a ministry or get involved in a ministry, to volunteer more in the church or community
For some it will be more giving.
For some it will be restoring a broken relationship.
It may be going back to college, it may be a career change.
It may be leading a friend of family member to a relationship with Christ!
What is God asking you to do or believe?
As we come to an end, I want you to remember this – – –
It is your job to obey God, it is God’s job to work the outcome.
Obedience is yours . . . the outcome is God’s.
We’re called to take a step of faith and obey.
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.
Mary said, “OK, God, nothing is impossible with you, I will trust you.
You’ve interrupted my life and you’ve definitely shown your plan is different than mine. So, I’m going to obey, and I’m going to trust that if you call me, I will follow you, because . . . if you call me . . . you will lead me . . . because I believe . . .
Nothing is impossible with God, so I will fear not!