Dec 5 – Mary’s Song

Dec 5 – Mary’s Song

Songs have power to move us. They strike something within us. The most powerful songs we experience are often written from the most vulnerable circumstances others experienced.  We relate to what someone else wrote. 

Surrounding the birth of Christ, the Bible records five separate songs. They are in the first two chapters of Luke and the authors are Elizabeth, Mary, Zacharias, Simeon and a heavenly host (a choir of angels). 

All the songs were responses to the announcement of the birth of Christ and then the actual coming of Christ.  

Mary
-A teenager engaged to be married (to Joseph) and ready to begin her next chapter in life.
-Receives shocking news she never expected. She was going to be the mother of Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35)
-Her plans for her life had changed.  
-Mary had a plan but God had other plans. 

What do you do when you have a plan but God has other plans? 

 

Mary’s Song – The Magnificat – Luke 1:46-55
-After finding out her plans have changed Mary visits her relative Elizabeth who is also pregnant with a son (John the Baptist).  Upon entering her house Elizabeth declares Mary’s baby is blessed and He is the Lord.
-This song was Mary’s response to Elizabeth.
-The Magnificat is Latin which means to magnify or to glorify the Lord.
-Mary gives us a model of how to respond when we have a plan, but God has other plans: 

1. She magnified the Lord (vs.46-48)
-Mary differentiates between her soul and her spirit. 
-The soul is the root and seat of our emotions; it’s our inner self; our emotional center. The spirit is the side of us that relates to God. It’s the part of us that knows who God is and what He is like and what He wants from us.
-Her spirit “rejoices in God”. Amidst all her conflicting emotions Mary’s spirit knows what is true about God.
-Her spirit understands the facts about God therefore her soul can glorify God.
-Both her mind and feelings come together.  
-She magnifies God. What she is not doing is magnifying her situation or problem. She is making great of who God is and not of what her problem is.
-When we magnify God, we make much of God and not our situation. 

 

2. She recognized God’s place and she recognized her place. (vs.48-50)
-Mary understands her “humble” state. She recognized both her littleness in the world’s eyes and in God’s eyes.  
-She knew her own sinful condition and was grateful that despite this, God chose her.
-Mary was not chosen because of her qualifications but because of her qualities. 
-We don’t have to idolize her to call her blessed. Jesus underscored this. (Luke 11:27-28) -Mary called God her Savior. Only sinners need a savior. She knew, like the rest of us she needed rescue and mercy.
-Mary calls God mighty, holy, and merciful.
-She saw God for who He was. This helped form and keep perspective in her situation that she never planned. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

 

 3. She quoted scripture (vs.46-55)
-Throughout her entire song she references several Old Testament scriptures. Fifteen in total. Scriptures from many of the Psalms, from 1 and 2 Samuel, from Job, Genesis and from the book of Micah.
-She echoes a prayer Hannah said after receiving a child from the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
-Mary knew her scriptures. She knew God’s word. 
-There are only two other incidents in the bible that record the words of Mary. (John 2:3; Luke 2:48).
-Words give insight into someone’s character and godliness.
-When pressed with a situation that was less than ideal, what came out of Mary was the word of God. (Psalm 119:11)
-Even though she was young, Mary knew the word of God exhaustively. Her natural default was the words of scripture. Her bias was speaking God’s words over her situation. 
-What is your default response when your plans are different than God’s plans for your life?
-Too often we can resort to anger, complaining, swearing or yelling. When we are facing things we never planned we need to speak God’s words over it.  Here are a few passages that you can use: 

-Philippians 4:13
-1 Peter 5:7
-Philippians 4:19
-Psalm 27:1
-Matthew 19:26
-Isaiah 41:10
-Romans 8:31
-Luke 1:37
-Ephesians 6:10
-Proverbs 3:6
-Psalm 121:1-5
-Psalm 28:7 

We can’t speak God’s word over our circumstances if it isn’t in us. –It can’t come out of us in times of trial if we haven’t taken the time to put it into us when we’re not in the trial. 


4. She remembered the promises of God (vs.51-54)
-Mary recited specific things the Lord had done. She remembered occasions where God showed up. She remembered all that she knew and heard to be true about God.
-She fell back on the promises of God.
-When your plan is different than God’s plan you need something to hang onto. You hang on to the promises of God.
-God’s promises never fail. He if faithful and what He said He will do….He will do.

 

Mary’s song is both a tribute to the past and a prophetic voice for the future because of what Jesus will do. She is singing about the promises from the past but also about the promises to come in the child she is carrying. Jesus will do what God has done and has been doing. Jesus is the fulfillment in all that God wants to do and will continue to do. It’s not just about the past – it’s about today and tomorrow as well. 

What do you do when you have plans but God has other plans?  You do what Mary did. 

 

 

Nov 7 – It’s About the Heavy Lifting

Nov 7 – It’s About the Heavy Lifting

True North – It’s About the Heavy Lifting 

This series is about taking the things Jesus said and positioning them as our compass.  It’s taking all who Jesus was, is, and represented and making that the True North of our lives.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

There was no fine print. No tricks, no unreadable agreements, no grey zone. Often, Jesus was so straightforward, it would even scatter crowds who started to follow.

The Cost to Follow – Luke 9:23

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (23 NIV).”

  • On the surface, these look like three, harsh demands
  • But under the surface, I believe this is an invitation to a better way; an incredible life.

Deny Yourself

  • “let him deny himself,” means to adopt an attitude in life that is not self-centred – it’s a call to live a life that is centred on Jesus and his mission; not ours.
  • Following Jesus isn’t always a sacrifice but where His mission conflicts with ours, we’re called to deny ourselves that control.
  • If you want to live a life on mission with Jesus, at some point, our goals, ambitions, comforts and even preferences will come into conflict. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves. Why? Because a life with Jesus is the better way!

 

Pick Up Your Cross

  • Death wasn’t the primary purpose in this command – of picking up the cross; it was just a potential outcome of a life that picks it up in the first place.
  • Whereas the cross was imposed upon the criminal, Jesus commands that we impose the cross on ourselves, daily. He’s not calling us to a death, per se, but to a daily decision to carry the burden of living a Jesus-centred, Gospel-speaking life in a culture that is bent on doing the exact opposite.
    • Despite shame
    • Despite misunderstanding
    • Despite persecution
    • Despite scorn
  • To pick up our cross, daily, is to live a Jesus-centred, gospel-speaking life whatever the cost; even if it costs us our life. The cross is about new life; carrying it is about bringing people into new life at the expense of our own.

 

And Follow Me

  • Take a moment and think about what following Jesus means; what is that implying?
  • You never just observe someone’s life you follow; you get to take part in it. And when you take part in it, you’re shaped by it.
  • Jesus’s command to follow him, the final piece to this invitation, is an opportunity to take part in his life – all of it.
  • Paul, the author of the NT book, Galatians, says that life lived following Jesus will look like one of: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:22-24 NIV).”
  • It’s asking ourselves when our preferences, comfort, or self-conflict with the mission of Christ: which way will win out? In my work, marriage, family, friendships. Will it be my preference, my comfort, my reputation, my life? Or will I take a faith step in the way of the one who wondrously created the cosmos and follow Him?
  • His promise to us, if we choose to do so, is that we’re not only welcome, He will actually empower us to follow Him: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).”

 

How Do I Start?

  • “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Phil 2:12-13 NIV).”
  • To deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow Him is to wrestle with what that means for you everyday – to work out, with fear and trembling (respect and humility) – what it can look like. For each one of us, denying ourselves and the cross we bear could mean something different.
  • To deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Him calls me to humility
    • It’s a posture of knowing we need to be empowered by the Spirit to do that. Where can you start?
    • Listening prayer, Scripture and Christian community are gifts given to us to know, experience, have relationship with Jesus, and that empower us for Jesus-centred, gospel-speaking life. They are enduring as practices for relationship with Jesus.
  • To deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Him calls me to discipleship
    • “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30 CSB).”
    • That is the foundation of growing as a daily follower of Jesus; discipleship. Living a Jesus-centred, gospel-speaking life is a life long, daily practice of allowing Jesus to increase in every sphere of our lives.
  • To deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Him calls me to service.
    • Who can I serve today out of an overflow of what God has done in me?
    • You’re choosing to actively pursue a situation where you will have to put aside yourself for the benefit of someone else’s spiritual and personal well-being.
      • To the unsaved in your life
      • To the community of the saved in your life
      • Family, co-workers, and friends.

“deny yourself; take up your cross daily; follow Him.”

I hope and pray you see Jesus’ invitation to a better way in that.

 

Nov 7 – It’s About the Heavy Lifting

Oct 3 – DIY Drywall and Slow Jogs

Series Intro
True north is a geographical term calculated by using an imaginary line through the earth rather than a compass. Picture the equator and then an imaginary line running at a 90-degree angle. That imaginary line is ‘true north.’

There is another concept that is often confused for true north, called magnetic north. They are, of course, both North locations, but they are 500 kilometres removed from one another. So they are not the same thing.

The earth is one giant magnet, and if you were to pull out a compass, the compass’s needle would align itself with the earth’s magnetic field. This means it would point you north, but not true north. There’s this problem with compasses called magnetic inclination, which means the needle of your compass would deviate slightly depending on where you are in the world at any given time. So as helpful as a compass is, it won’t get you to true north, just magnetic north.

We’re going to take this concept of True North and use it as a picture for our lives.

Why ‘True North’?
Life is confusing. How do we find our way? How do you think about complicated issues? How do we process the problems of our world and our lives? Where do we go for answers to life’s deepest questions? How do we know what is true?

We all use a sort of compass to help us navigate our lives (that could be a religion, world view, political framework…etc.). And those compasses lead us to different places.

The pre-dominant Canadian inclusivist mindset says ‘all compasses point to true north’ or to break metaphor, ‘all roads lead to heaven.’

But, that cannot be true. It’s polite and creates no enemies. But it’s not true. Particular world views, religions, or lenses in which we see the world are so fundamentally opposed to one another that they all can’t be right. This is called the law of non-contradiction. Something cannot be true, and its opposite be true at the same time. A self-evident example would be: God cannot both exist and not exist at the same time.

Every religion and worldview makes exclusive claims, including Christianity (and Atheism, for that matter!). So how do we know which compass to follow?

Jesus is our True North.

  • Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
  • Jesus isn’t a way – but the way. He doesn’t just say true things but is truth itself. In Jesus, we don’t just find a good life but eternal life.

John 8:31-32- “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

  • Everyone wants to know the truth. And everyone wants to be free. What did Jesus mean exactly?
  • In John 8:12-32, Jesus continually delineates this idea of ‘us’ below and ‘Jesus’ above. The truth that sets you free is not getting the answers to the everyday problems that we face, but the truth about God!
  • The truth that God loves you. The truth that you’re not smart mud or a monkey wearing pants or some meaningless fluke. But God formed and created you, and because of that, He loves you. And because He loves you, He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to know Him as He knows you.
  • To have a relationship with the God of the universe who made you and loves you is the most freeing thing in the world – all made possible through Jesus.

Freedom?

  • When we think about freedom, we think of a lot of things, especially now. We think of our civil liberties, vaccination passports, freedom of speech, freedom in our health choices – and all these are important things – and they are dominating much of our attention and conversations right now.
  • Jesus is talking about something way bigger than that. When Jesus says the truth will set you free, Jesus is talking about freedom that can’t be voted in or out – freedom that can’t be government-mandated or resisted.
  • It’s spiritual freedom. It’s freedom from sin. The things in our lives, in our heads, and hearts set themselves up against God. The things that bring death to our relationships, death to hope, death to freedom. It’s pride, gossip, division, envy, anger, fear, greed, lust that we feel entrapped and enslaved to.
  • Our sin nature enslaves us with wrongly ordered thoughts and desires that claim our attention and govern our decisions—our sin nature takes us captive.
  • Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

As we start this series, looking at Jesus’ words that’ll help us live in the direction of true north – this is our starting point – to know the truth about God. That God loves you. Through Jesus, we can be free from the enslavement of sin, and have a relationship with God as his son or daughter. There is no freedom like knowing you have a permanent place in the family of God.