THE WONDERS OF HIS LOVE
- This is the time of the year when we remember and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
- It is truly the most wonderful time of the year.
- For a brief moment, we can put the year behind us and look forward to the hope we have in the Lord.
- When He came, as a child to Bethlehem, He came so that you and I could experience the wonders of God's love towards humanity and towards you as an individual.
- The Christmas story is a story of salvation, and how God's love came to rescue, save, and deliver all of mankind.
- One of the very first aspects of the Christmas story was when the angel came to Mary and told her about what was about to happen.
- If we look at the life of Mary we can see how she moved from a place of doubt, to a place of complete confidence in God.
- It is a picture of salvation for each one of us.
- May the wonders of His love, move you from a place of doubt and fear, to a place where you can believe in God and His great mercy towards you.
1. DOUBT - THE ULTIMATE HINDERANCE!
- In the book of Acts chapter 1, we see the story of how the angel came and visited Mary and told her about the great things that were about to happen.
- Luke 1:28-33 The angel went to her and said, ''Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.'' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ''Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.''
- Just having an angelic being visit must have been an awesome experience, but then to be told that you were chosen and that these great things would happen through you, a young girl, must have been daunting.
- Mary's initial reaction was so typical of all of humanity.
- Firstly, she was troubled, confused, disturbed and fearful.
- In the same breath, when we hear about the wonders of His love for us, as individuals, and His gift of salvation and eternal life, we too can have questions, concerns, hesitations and even fears.
- Then Mary appears to move into the arena of doubt.
- Luke 1:34 Mary asked the angel, ''But how can this happen? I am a virgin.''
- She begins to realise that this cannot happen, and she questions the angel and gives him reason for her position.
- The angel graciously confirmed how things would happen and addressed Mary's doubts.
- Doubt has the potential of undermining our faith and robbing us of the potential blessing that God has prepared for us.
- Doubt is the start of a downward spiral.
- Doubt causes us to shift our focus from what is promised and it is the first step towards fear.
- Fear has a way of paralysing us and it stops us from experiencing all that God has prepared for us.
- We can doubt, but only for a moment and then we must move in the direction of believing.
- We should doubt out doubts and believe.
2. FROM DOUBT TO ACCEPTANCE
- The next thing we see is how Mary moves past her doubts, misgivings, and fears, and accepts what God is telling her through the angel.
- Luke 1:38 ''I am the Lord's servant,'' Mary answered. ''May your word to me be fulfilled.'' Then the angel left her.
- Mary moved from doubt to acceptance.
- The result was that the angel, who was constantly trying to reassure her, had completed his task, and he left her.
- Her answer reveals to us the shift that was taking place in this young girl's heart.
- Perhaps, she was not persuaded yet, but she knew enough about God to give Him the benefit of the doubt.
- She did not fully understand, she was not fully convinced, but she chose to make a declaration of intent.
- In the process she aligned her heart with what she hoped could be a reality.
- In our own walk of faith, we have to also get to this point, where we move past doubt and then align our hearts with the promises of God, and His love and plans for our lives.
- It was, in fact, an act of surrender to the will of God, despite the lack of persuasion in her own heart.
- Perhaps you have lived your life in the 'doorway of doub'?
- It is now time to move past this point to the point where you place your confidence in God, regardless of how you feel or perceive things to be!
- It is a vital step in the process of moving from doubt to believing.
3. FROM ACCEPTANCE TO CONVICTION
- Luke 1:39-43 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ''Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?''
- Now Mary meets up with her cousin, Elizabeth and it would be a significant meeting, where something supernatural would take place.
- Elizabeth reacts in a very strange way, as her unborn child jumps in her womb and she is filled with the Holy Spirit.
- In one moment, this unlikely person, Elizabeth, a relative, sees in Mary what she cannot as yet see in herself.
- Elizabeth and her unborn child are physically affected by Mary's presence.
- This strange experience flicked the switch in Mary's heart, and she moved from acceptance to conviction.
- It was as if Elizabeth's reaction was the confirmation and validation that her faith needed to be able to fully embrace God's wonderful plan for her.
- Sometimes other people can see more clearly what is taking place in our lives than what we can see for ourselves.
- God can use anything and anyone to come and reaffirm things in our hearts, so that we can move from acceptance to conviction.
- When we are convicted about something, we have a strong persuasion, and we are convinced that something is true.
- The Lord wants the 'wonders of His love' towards you to become something that you are persuaded about, something you are convinced is true.
- Maybe today, as you read these notes, the penny can drop, and you can realise fully and believe that God loves you and has a plan for you and wants you to receive His gift of salvation and eternal life?
- My prayer is that you will know 'the wonders of His love' for you, as a settled matter, that your season of doubt or tacit acceptance will end and you will move into the reality of His love for you.
- May you be convinced and convicted of the wonders of His love for you.
4. FROM CONVICTION TO BELIEVING
- Mary has now made a complete turnaround.
- She has moved from doubt and fear to acceptance, from acceptance she has move to a place of conviction and now she moves to a place of believing.
- It is almost as if it comes as a relief and a release, as she steps over into another realm, the realm of believing.
- Elizabeth says these words to Mary: ''Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil His promises to her!''
- Perhaps Elizabeth could see the shift taking place in her cousin, Mary?
- Perhaps the revelation and the reality had suddenly dawned on Mary and it showed?
- Once she got to this place of believing, everything changed.
- Her demeanor changed, her attitude changed, and I believe even her countenance changed and she starts worshipping God.
- Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said (responded), 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.'
- In some translations it says that Mary began to sing, and this song is called the Magnificat.
- Magnificat is a Latin word which means: 'An utterance of praise!' or 'to magnify!'
- So, Mary suddenly sees things as they really are. She has moved from the: 'How will this happen?' to bursting into song because she believes and realises just how great God is.
- Luke 1:46-47 And Mary sang this song: ''My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God!'' (TPT)
- In that very moment, her soul and her spirit recognised her Lord and her God.
- This believing came from deep within her soul and her spirit and it was not simply a mental decision. It was far more than that, it was believing, in the fullest sense of the word.
- When we receive what God has done for us, and the wonders of His love in sending Jesus to be our Saviour, and when we believe it for ourselves, we will jump for joy and sing with hearts that are filled with hope.
- This Christmas, may you go from doubt to believing and may your faith in God, lift you up and flood your heart and soul with LIGHT!
By Pastor Andrew Roebert
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