MARY, GOD'S CHOSEN SERVANT - WHO DOES GOD USE? -
INTRO: What does it mean to be chosen? Some time parents have the opportunity of choosing their children. In the process of adoption parents are saying to the child that is to be theirs, "we have chosen you because we want you to be our child."
As children grow up most of them go through a traumatic lesson concerning the word "chosen." Surely each of us remembers the agony of waiting to be chosen special activity. There is that long painful minutes when you think that you will not be chosen and finally the relief that you have been chosen. Or perhaps the anguish of knowing that you were not chosen at all.
As the years pass there are other moments when we are chosen. We are chosen by our peers for a special project or chosen by another that wants us to be their spouse and spend our life with them.
When I was in the 3rd grade I had such an incident. I still, after all these many years, remember it. The music teacher was choosing a choir to sing in a Christmas program. She had us all sing together and she went through our group listening to each one. She chose several and told them they were "eliminated" and to take their seats. She moved towards me and I became really anxious. Honestly, I did not know what "eliminated" meant, but I knew is was not good. As she pasted by me she said I too was eliminated and to take a seat. What ever eliminated meant....I knew I was not chosen to be in the choir.
Are you chosen? The Bible tells us that each of us is chosen to receive salvation. The Bible says that we have been "foreordained" (I Peter 1:20) --chosen by the foreknowledge of God before the beginning of the world to be saved. Those who are chosen to salvation are those who believe the Gospel and put their faith in Jesus Christ. The question then is not who has been chosen for salvation, but who has responded to God's call to salvation.
There is another aspect of chosen-ness. Sometimes God chooses people for a special task. Some are chosen as ministers, evangelists, or missionaries. God always chooses those who are faithfully serving Him and living a godly life. He does not choose the unfaithful, the apathetic, or lazy.
But God's special choosing does not end there. God also guides and directs and chooses each person to follow a plan for their lives that is special for them.
This morning I want us to consider the idea of being chosen and realize that each of us has been chosen. The message will focus on Mary the mother of Jesus. As we look at the life of Mary we will see why she was chosen and used by the Lord. We can examine on our own lives and see how we too can be chosen or rejected for service to the Lord.
I. CHOSEN FOR SALVATION AND SERVICE
A. She was not chosen because she was sinless. There is a doctrine taught by some religious groups that says that Mary was free from sin. That belief is contrary to the Scripture.
1. Romans 3:10 says, "There is none righteous, no, not one."
2. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
B. Mary was very special. She lived her life in faith trusting in the Lord and that made her the ideal choice to be the mother of the Messiah.
But we must be careful that we don't elevate her to the role of deity. God chose her to be the mother of Jesus human body. She is not the mother of God, but of the man Christ Jesus. When we exalt her beyond her being a faithful child of God, we dishonor God because we depreciate the miracle that God chose an ordinary young woman to bear His only Son.
C. Characteristics that made her the ideal choice. What do we know about Mary? She was special, but she was also ordinary in many ways. This is not to take away from her tremendous honor of being chosen as the mother of Jesus. But it is to emphasizes the fact that God uses the ordinary and does the extraordinary with them. She was a Jewish girl that had an ordinary childhood. What marked her special was her belief, her faith and faithfulness to God.
1. She was deeply devoted to God. She studied God's word as a child and memorized Scripture. The New Testament records she used scriptural references frequently and accuracy.
2. She was spiritually sensitive. When the angel appeared to her and gave her some unbelievable news she accepted it. She was to have a child. She questioned how it was possible that she was expecting but she never questioned the appearance of the angel or whether he came with a message from God. She was spiritually sensitive. She was aware of the consequences of what she was being chosen for but she did not shun away for the task.
3. She had high moral standards. The Bible says she was a morally pure. That is no small thing. Her belief in God effected the way she thought. She knew what was right and she was committed to doing right. In practical terms it I think it meant what Paul expressed in Philippines 4:4-6:
"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
I believe she was at peace with those around her mainly because she was a peace with the Lord.
4. She was humble. In Chapter 1 of Luke, Mary was visited by Gabriel. She told she was to have a child.
a. She did not know how that could be possible and the angel explained that it would be a child sent from God.
b. He made it clear that the child she would bear was the long awaited Messiah. How wonderful! She was chosen above all other Jewish women for the honor of being the mother of the Savior.
c. How did Mary respond? Luke 1:38, "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." There was no pride in her statement just a willingness to be used. You do not hear her bragging, or seeking to be recognized for the task she was called to do. She quietly went about her life raising the child God gave her. She did not resent being asked, not her situation.
Beyond her first question she did not question what God through the angel was telling her. That proves her faith was real.
She was a young woman looking forward to marriage. But her personal desires had to be placed on hold. Although Joseph married her, she and her husband did not experience a normal marriage until after Jesus was born.
Just as God chose Mary for her special mission He still chooses people today. Some He chooses for special service.
He chooses all for salvation and all to serve Him in some capacity . Each calling is a part of God plan and important to the work He wants to do. No one can do your task .
Some have supposed that she was never anxious or troubled. But we find that she had her share of anxiety. Consider the ways that Mary was:
II. CHALLENGED BY SITUATIONS.
A. Challenged by public opinion. The long-tongued gossips carried their tales then just as they do now. They would secretly whisper about "Mary's little problem." The small town atmosphere of Nazareth must have kept the rumors flying.
B. She was also challenged by what the Lord was asking her to do. It was not an easy task. Are you being challenged by a situation today? There are many difficulties in life
ILLUS: Do you ever wish for the "good ol' days" when things were not nearly so demanding? In a recent Dennis the Menace comic strip, Dennis was standing on a stool, showing his friend the kitchen calendar. He said, "See? Yesterday and tomorrow are just a couple of todays."
C. Mary was challenged when Jesus stayed behind at the Passover. When Jesus was twelve, He traveled with His family and others to Jerusalem for the observance of the Passover. There was a law that every adult male Jew who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem must go there for the Passover. Twelve was the age when Jewish boys became men. This was Jesus' first Passover.
1. People traveled in large loose knit groups. On the return trip from the city Mary realized that her Son was missing. They returned to Jerusalem. After three days she found Him in the Temple eagerly asking and answering questions from the teachers. Mary said, "Your father and I have been worried about you." And He said, "Didn't you know that I must be about my father's business?" Jesus knew from a child who He was and His mission.
2. What must it have been like for Mary to one moment be searching for her lost Son only to find that He was not lost but was finding His Father's will for His life? But in the greatest challenges of her life she found that she was not alone. Mary found out then what we find out now, that she was:
III. CHERISHED BY THE SAVIOR.
A. The most difficult time of her life was not the years surrounding the birth or childhood of Jesus but the three years of Jesus' public ministry. Those years were marked by the growing realization that the special man who had been her miracle baby would one day die a cruel and premature death.
1. But even during the difficulty there must have been a special sense that God was in control. Can you envision how happy she was when Jesus came to her aid at the wedding feast in Cana?
2. Evidently Mary was in charge of the wedding celebration. She faced a crisis. They were out of wine. She turned to the one that she knew could help. After describing the situation to Jesus we read these words that tell of her great faith. John 2:5, "His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." She knew if anyone could help, it was Jesus. Sure enough--Jesus cared for her. He cherished her.
3. But we also see her concern as she watched Jesus' ministry progress. Jesus was going about Capernaum performing miracles and teaching the people. He was having ever increasing problems with the religious establishment.
4. The Pharisees had already made plans to kill Him (Mat. 12:14). As He taught a crowd of people, Mary and her other sons went to see Jesus. People were saying that He was crazy. She wanted to warn Him. She would instinctively protect her Son.
5. Matthew 12:48-50. When word reached Jesus that His mother and brothers wanted to see Him, He looked at the throng of people around Him and asked, "Who is my mother and my brothers?" Pointing to the disciples He said, "You and my mother and my brothers." "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:50)
6. But the greatest crisis of her life came when she followed her Son to the crucifixion site. As He hung on the cross, with life ebbing from His body He looked at His mother. (Read John 19:26-27)
B. We too face difficulties. Today you may be facing the greatest crisis of your life. As the rest of the world is preparing for Christmas, you have a special burden that threatens your happiness, your family, your job, or perhaps the life or health of someone you love. Christmas cheer and the festive feelings you usually have are gone from you this year. You wonder how you will endure the crisis. The answer is found in the one whose birthday we celebrate.
Just as Mary was cared for by the Savior, we know that He will care for us. The Bible says, (I Peter 5:7) "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
III. Those God chooses. What does He require?
A. Why does God choose the people He does to do His work? He doesn't require perfection.
1. Willingness to follow Him. His chosen servants are those who will follow Him and continue to exercise their faith in His leading. He is not looking for a self-sufficient person. He is not looking for the person who is dependant on human intellect or ability. But He is searching for the person who will totally give themselves in submission to His will and who will have the faith to follow wherever He leads.
2. Desire to live above sin. The ones He chooses must have a desire to live a life that is free from sin. There are those that say that He requires sinlessness in those He chooses. It is true that His standard is perfection.
3. I Thessalonians 4:7 says, "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." But He has never demanded perfection from His servants. That is not to say that He takes sin lightly or that He turns His head and excuses our transgression. But He used the sinful like David, the doubting like Thomas and the hot-headed like Simon Peter. He used them because in spite of their sin they had a heart for the Lord and sincere desire to live for Him. We remember David's words in Psalms 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
CONCLUSION: Does it seem unlikely that God would be leading you to do something extraordinary for Him? Perhaps He is leading you into some kind of full-time Christian service.
Or perhaps you feel He is leading you to perform some special task for which you do not believe you are qualified.
It is the end of the year and we will be electing church members for places of service. Helping or teaching a Sunday School class. There are many jobs that are important to the operation of our church. Or maybe you have been asked to give leadership in some other area and you do not feel that you have the background, training or perhaps the education that you need for that task. Have you thought that it may be you can learn to do new things and to prepare.
God has placed you where you are and has given you responsibilities that may include raising a family or giving support within a family environment. Regardless of the difficulties in that situation you can know that God will give you the strength you need to endure that situation and to live in a way that brings honor to Him.
But remember the words of the angel to Mary when she questioned how it was possible for her to give birth to the Christ Child. He said (Luke 1:37), "For with God nothing shall be impossible."
Like Mary you and I are chosen. All of us are chosen to be the heirs of salvation. Will you respond to God's claim to your life? And like Mary each of us are challenged by situations that allow us to show forth the mighty strength of the Lord in our lives or show the weakness of our faith. And, like Mary each of us who places our faith in Jesus will be cared for and cherished by the Savior.
This invitation is for you. Will you respond to the Lord's leading in your life? Will you make the decision for Him He is leading you to make?
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