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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Title:Mary Sings of God's Good Providence
Text:Luke 1:46-56 (also with Lord's Da (View)
Occasion:Christmas Day
Topic:God's Providence
 
Preached:2021-11-28
Added:2021-12-07
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Welcome and Silent Prayer
* Call to Worship
* Declaration of our Dependence upon God
* God’s Greeting

Service of Praise & Profession

* Song of Praise: “This Is My Father’s World” # 252
* Profession of Faith - Apostles’ Creed - p. 851 TPH
* Gloria Patri: “Holy, Holy, Holy!” # 230: 4
Congregational Prayer
* Song of Preparation: “Song of Mary” # 301

Service of God’s Holy Word

Scripture Reading: Luke 1: 46-56
Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 10
Sermon: “Mary Rejoices in God’s Good Providence”
Prayer of Application
* Song of Response: “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” # 256
Offering: Tuition Help Fund
* Benediction
* Doxology: “Angels, from the Realms of Glory” # 313: 5
“All creation, join in praising God the Father, Spirit, Son; evermore your voices
raising to the eternal Three in One: Come and worship, come and worship, worship
Christ, the new-born King.
* Reverent Reflection
* Postlude

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Mary Sings of God’s Good Providence

Luke 1:46-56

Lord’s Day 10

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, of all the things we associate with Christmas – the festive lights, the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, the family parties, the gifts and all the delicious goodies – one of the most important and timeless aspect of Christmas is the music – from the Christmas carols we hear on the radio, to the Christmas anthems we sing at church.

 

Music is of utmost importance to Christmas and to Christians, not only because our songs tell the story of Christmas, but also because our songs and music are our response to Christmas. From the angels who sang Glory to God in the highest, to the shepherds who returned to their fields, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen – music is what happens when the creatures of creation encounter the grace and glory and the Gospel of God!

 

It was certainly true for Mary as she sings one of the very first songs of Christmas. Tonight, we are going to consider Mary’s Song from Luke 1 in connection with what we confess in Lord’s Day 10: What do you understand by the providence of God?  

 

We’re going to discover that Mary had a very clear and profound and Biblical understanding of the providence of God – not only in her own life, but in the life of God’s people as a whole.

She understood and confessed from the very beginning, that the Mighty One was at work in all that was happening in her life, and God meant it for her good.

 

Our theme tonight is Mary Magnifies the God of Her Salvation

  1. God Lifts Up the Lowly
  2. God Humbles the Proud

 

1)  God Lifts Up the Lowly

The song of Mary is more commonly known by its Latin title, the Magnificat which is based on the very first word of this song. As it sounds, that Latin words means to magnify, to glorify, to exalt, to praise. The purpose of Mary’s song is to magnify the Lord, to lift up and exalt the God of her salvation.     

 

Mary breaks forth in praise to God, because God has broken forth (in His Mighty Power) into her life – and into history itself.   God was showing His salvation to her and to her people! 

 

This passage is called a song because it’s poetry. In many respects, Mary’s poem, her song can be called a New Testament Psalm. She sings: my soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

 

Mary is worshipping God in much the same way as the Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 103: Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!! We see that Mary magnifies the Lord because God lifts up the humble (vs. 48). The Lord has been mindful of the humble (lowly) state of his servant (handmaiden).

 

Almighty God had mercy upon her; Almighty God looked upon her with kindness. Boys and girls, I want us to take a moment to consider who Mary was. Think of how the world saw Mary. She was a young peasant girl. She was not a princess or the daughter of a rich man of high religious ranking. Mary, in so many ways, was really a nobody. She was very much like you and me. No one special. No one famous.

 

So, Mary was no one special. And just as significantly, Mary was a sinner, and she knew it. She praised and magnified God for her savior! She felt the need for salvation deep down within her soul; and now she rejoiced that God had chosen her to bear the very Savior who would redeem her and all of God’s people from their sins -- Verse 48b: From now on all generations will call me blessed!

 

And this is not a boastful or prideful spirit. Rather she is worshipping God in true humility – amazed, perplexed and overwhelmed at the amazing mercy of God – for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His Name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.

 

These words of Mary are a living testimony to the Church of Jesus Christ – and they are meant to be an inspiration and encouragement to us all. God’s mercy extends to all who fear him, which means all those who love God, who reverence Him and stand in awe at His great power and awesome deeds. We fear God with a holy fear reverence – with a childlike faith and trust in God.

 

And we should be comforted to know that this is who our God is; and this is how He works – He exalts the humble and brings down the proud. He does this in every generation. God did this in the past – as he helped his people, Israel.

 

Time and time again God showed mercy and lifted up Abraham and his descendants. How would you describe the history of God’s dealings with His covenant people other than it being a history of God intervening on their behalf to save them, to lift them up, to come to their aid – sinful and underserving as they were.

 

Israel was not a people that deserved God’s grace and mercy and kindness. No. Just think back to what Deuteronomy 7: 6-8 says: The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery

 

In many respects, God’s choice of Mary to bear the Christ-child was identical to God’s choice of Israel to be his people. It was all of his grace, mercy and love – not one of worth and merit! And this is precisely what makes God mercy so wonderful, and His grace so amazing.

 

God exalts the humble, he lifts up the lowly, he rewards the undeserving, he remembers those society forgets, he comforts those who are hurting, and he finds those who are lost. Perhaps you think of yourself as a no one. As a failure even. As someone who has not accomplished much. Perhaps you wish you could be more, do more, be recognized and exalted in the eyes of man.

But this passage teaches us that heaven’s glory awaits those who are humble and lowly in heart; who do not crave for the attention of man or strive after the fame and recognition.

 

And perhaps you are someone (or know someone) who has been afflicted with sickness or illness – or maybe even a disability that all your life has weakened you and limited you and held you back from doing things you would have like to do – or that others can do.

 

And perhaps, at times, you are extremely sad, and you wonder what your life would have been like if you were “normal” like other people? You may even have moments when you feel angry, upset, cheated. You may think: “I deserve better” “Why would God do this to me?

 

Yet, here in this passage, and here in Lord’s Day 10, God’s Word teaches us to remain humble, to rejoice in our lowly state; to not complain against the wisdom of God and the good providence of God. God does nothing by accident or by chance. Even when sending us weakness, disease, disabilities, infirmities, we believe that God has a perfect purpose. God seeks to magnify and glorify His name and His power and His strength through our weaknesses and afflictions.  

 

Unlike the spirit of discontentment in the world around us, our heart’s desire must not be for something more, for something greater or for something better -- instead we must see what Mary saw with eyes of faith. Despie who we are right now -- God has already exalted us. God has been mindful of our low estate – for He has saved us by His grace, through His Son Jesus Christ!

 

And of all things in this life that are of value and worth – there is nothing so valuable and precious and worthy as eternal life with God in glory! And of all the people in this world that are great and famous and have it good and are ‘living large’ as we say, there is no one in this world that is greater, that is richer, that is more blessed than the lowliest, poorest, child of God.  

 

So we should entrust our lives to God – as Mary did – and sing My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

 

 

2) God Humbles the Proud

The same God who lifts up and exalts the Humble also Humbles the proud. That is what Mary sings about next. In verses 51-55 and following she speaks of what the Mighty Hand of God has done against those who are proud and lifted up (Read those verses).

 

It is right to ask: what exactly is Mary talking about here? In His dealings with her, God did not topple any king from their throne or defeat any armies. Yes, that’s certainly true. But what Mary is doing here is she’s expanding her view, her perspective from the personal to the national.

 

She makes the transition from singing about what God has done for her on a personal level and now she is projecting that on a national and international scale. She is looking backward in time but also projecting forward in history. Look at what God has does. Look at what God will do!

 

And Mary knows her church history well. It was the history of her own people. She was well aware of how God brought Israel out of Egypt. The Lord showed His amazing might over the entire nation – by systematically embarrassing and shaming the so called gods of Egypt; by laying waste to the land by the 10 plagues; and by plundering and pillaging Egypt without raising a finger, as God caused the Egyptians to be so favorably disposed to the people of Israel, that they Egyptians have them their gold and silver as they left the city. Finally, God showed his might by humbling Pharoah and his entire army – he drowned them all in the Red Sea,     

 

God did the same thing when he humbled the proud and mighty Goliath – He did so when a simple, unassuming shepherd boy named David stepped forward to fight. The mighty Goliath mocked David and scoffed at him – yet David brought down Goliath with a sling and a stone.

 

And the same story would be told over and over again – even the kings of Israel were no exception. All those who were proud, God brought them low. And as I mentioned, Mary also sings this song with the eyes of faith, looking forward.

 

For this is what God would do through His Son Jesus Christ! That would certainly apply to the kings and rulers of nations in Jesus’s own day and beyond. Proud Emperors like Caesar Augustus in Rome, and Tetrarchs like Herod in Judea, they sit on their throne, and they think that they rule. They think they are high and lifted up and worthy of honor; that they are sovereign.

 

But God frustrates their plans. He brings their plans to nothing. And as we see so clearly in the Christmas story -- the Lord uses their own decrees, their own plans to bring about the fulfillment of Scripture; to bring to fruition God’s eternal plan of salvation.

 

We see it at the crucifixion: as God used the Roman law and the Roman cross to accomplish his perfect purposes. As the plot to kill Jesus, which Herod played a part in, as well as Pilate, and which the Chief Priests and elders and Sanhedrin and the devil himself were all a part of – it all went according to God’s set foreknowledge – so that Jesus Christ would be crucified, dead and buried – but then on the third day rise a victor from the grave! 

 

Jesus was not a victim of a government conspiracy; His was not a sad story of a great man who met a tragic end. No. Jesus was the victor. God was in control every moment, at every turn, and God used the sinfulness and foolishness of man’s pride and deceit to accomplish His perfect purposes in securing the salvation of His people!

 

It brings to mind the powerful passage of 1 Corinthians 1: 20-24

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

 

This is what God does. This is what Christ does. He turns the things upside down. He challenges the modern conventions. He upsets the status quo. He shames the proud. He knocks powerful kings off their thrones. He destroys empires that once were thought to be indestructible.

 

He uses the unattractive and unappealing message of a lowly, crucified, cursed Savior to save a people for Himself! And then listen to what Paul writes after that: Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.       

 

God wants us to boast in Him and in Him alone. Again, that’s what Mary is doing here! My soul magnifies and glorifies the LORD!! Look Who my God is! Look at what He has done! God wants you and me to sing this song in our lives every day.

 

For these words strengthen our faith and trust in God. These words comfort our hearts and souls – they put our minds at ease – knowing that no matter what we may be going through at the moment, and no matter what the future might hold for us, the Mighty One has done great things for me! God is working for you and for me every day.

 

That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 as well:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. And that’s also one of the key verses that serve as the bed-rock foundation for our confession about God’s providence!

 

Q. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

A. We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature will separate us from his love. For all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.

 

Beloved, this is our confession!! Let us magnify the Lord together! Amen. 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Pastor Keith Davis

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