Thursday Dec 15, 2022
Thursday Dec 15, 2022
Thursday Dec 15, 2022
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Jan is the author of the new book “A 60-Day Prayer Journal for Parents” & “The Power of God’s Will – 40 Days of God’s Promises Devotional” (available on Amazon). Find Jan on Instagram: @JanLBurt, TikTok @JanLBurt or at her website JanLBurt.com or at her YouTube channel, “God’s Promises for You with Jan L. Burt”.
Take the quiz "Which of God's Promises is for You?" via this LINK.
Well, hey there! Welcome to this episode of The Burt (Not Ernie) Show - the podcast about God’s promises and the impact that believing and praying those promises has on our lives as disciples of Jesus. I’m so glad you’re listening today and my prayer is that this episode will be an encouragement to you, right where you are in your life at this very moment. Because wherever we find ourselves, our God is there, too. And whatever we are facing today, we never face it alone, thanks to the goodness of our God.
I’m trusting God is going to answer that prayer on your behalf as I share from Luke chapter one today. You ready? I’m ready. Let’s go!
You’re listening to The Burt (Not Ernie) Show podcast, part of the Spark Network, now playing in the Edifi app. This is episode number 129.
Luke is a go-to book during the month of December. The first two chapters are just so rich, filled with the hope of Jesus’ advent, the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, the prophecies fulfilled. But sometimes we kind of wander in our thoughts during those Christmas sermons or during worship at church when we’re singing some of the Christmas songs we’ve had as part of our lives this time of year for as long as we can remember. Sort of second-nature and we just don’t focus or pay attention as well as we could, or should, ya know?
It’s good for us to remind ourselves to focus and renew our focus right in the middle of the sermon, shut down the continual to-do list that can start running in the background of our mind (without us even thinking about it - I mean, it just sort of happens!) and decide to listen with some attention, to be an attentive church-goer, take some notes (have a plan for that - use the notes app on your phone, bring a journal and your favorite pen, use the outline that may be right there in the bulletin you were handed). You are going to miss something if you don’t shut down and shut off the wandering thoughts that are all the things you need to get done because it is almost Christmas… spend that time paying attention to a message about the Christ of Christmas. Even if you feel like you’ve heard sermons from this particular text many times before, so? Listen. Take some notes. And expect the Lord to have something to say to you. Your pastor worked to put that message together, and God doesn’t intend for you to leave emptier than when you arrived. But you gotta dial in.
All of that to say, as I begin to read today’s passage, I really want you to listen. With your ears, but with ears to hear and a heart to understand. With a mind that wants to grow in your knowledge of the Word of God, with a desire to know Jesus better than you ever have before by the time this Christmas has come and gone. God loves to bless a heart like that. I mean that seriously, with all the sincerity I can muster. When we want to know Him better and better, well, don’t you think He will honor that?
I’m going to read some words from Luke chapter 1, verses 46 to 55. This passage of Scripture is known as The Magnificat. It is also known as Mary’s song.
This is a young woman, a very young woman, verbally out loud praising the Lord as she meets with her cousin Elisabeth, who was expecting a child in her old age… the one who would grow up to be John the Baptist, forerunner to Jesus the Messiah. Two women, separated by a wide age span, both expecting the unexpected at seasons in their lives that were pretty well figured out. Mary was engaged, soon to be married, ready to begin her new life as a wife and to step fully into womanhood and Elisabeth, an elderly woman, far beyond hope of having her heart’s cry of prayer for a baby to be answered. And here they were, stepping into the most vital, important roles of their lives. As a very young teen and as a very old woman.
The Christmas story reminds us that we are living with wisdom when we live with an expectancy of the unexpected.
As I read, I hope the Lord speaks to you about expecting the unexpected. Our God is still doing His profound and amazing work in this day, and I have a feeling He may just have something unexpected up His sleeve for you, for your life.
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has looked (with loving care) on the humble state of His maidservant; for behold, from now on all generations will count me blessed and happy and favored by God! For He who is mighty has done great things for me; and holy is His name (to be worshiped in His purity, majesty, and glory). And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who (stand in great awe of God and) fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His (powerful) arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thornes, and exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, just as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
I was reading from the Amplified. And isn’t it just beautiful?
How do you, how do I, respond to the unexpected? Mary was going to deal with scorn, ridicule, accusations of infidelity and unrighteousness not just for the short term, but for the long haul. And this was going to be somewhat scary, a somewhat difficult path to walk, this pregnancy. She did not immediately know whether or not Joseph would divorce her or continue with the marriage as planned. She did not know in any way, shape, or form what her future held. Did she give way to fear or anxiety? Did she doubt the goodness of God toward her?
I can’t say she never had any anxiousness - I mean, every mother has some twinges of anxiousness when pondering labor and delivery, so that could for certain have crossed her mind as this pregnancy went on. But overall, I don’t think she had doubts, as in doubting or questioning God. And here in her song we see her talking about all of Israel being blessed, all Abraham’s descendants receiving what was promised. She wasn’t thinking about herself all that much, from what I can tell! She was too busy praising God and rejoicing in His faithfulness to His people, to the entire world, to think on her own self, her own problems. This is truly remarkable, isn’t it?
Here she is stating that God’s mercy is upon generation upon generation.
The times she mentions herself, it is with thankfulness and rejoicing and exalting the Lord.
Do you think our lives would look a bit different if this kind of response, this level of trust in God that rolls right on over into worship and thanksgiving and praise and rejoicing and thinking of the way this will bless others rather than thinking of the ways this will be difficult or trying for us, do you think our lives would look different with this kind of response?
If we thought of ourselves less? And rejoiced in God more?
Even when we don’t understand the unexpected things that come upon us, could we possibly try to stand on what we do understand - which is that we are in the hands of a trustworthy God, every moment of every day, and we really, truly can rejoice in what He is doing? Perhaps, maybe even especially, in the unexpected things He is doing?
And even if, even when, people don’t get it… like, they’re asking out loud or wondering to themselves, why would God lead you in that direction? Why would God do this in your life when it doesn’t seem like the thing that everybody else sees as the best thing for your life? Even when we are misunderstood, even if God is misunderstood (and based on the things we read in the Bible, isn’t God often misunderstood??), can we still rejoice and be grateful and celebrate in advance, celebrate ahead of time, the ways He is working to bless many, many people? Our lives do not operate in vacuums, and God is always wanting to bless people on an ever-widening scale. He has not stopped being in the rescuing, saving, redeeming, healing, restoring, blessing business. Why do we seem surprised when He does what He loves to do?
We ought to expect God to be about His work of redemption and healing and sure, conviction and guidance, because decent fathers discipline and provide guidance and instruction, right? We ought to expect it when He does the unexpected in our lives. We should believe that He is both trustworthy and very, very good, perfect in all of His ways, and thus we should believe Him for the unexpected.
There is hope for us this Christmas.
There is hope for YOU this Christmas.
God is on the move, but it may not be in the way you’ve been expecting.
But He is too good to merely meet our expectations.
He is so incredibly good that He fully intends to exceed our expectations.
May His work in your world, in your life, surprise you and provide you with exceeding joy this Christmas. And may you find joy and peace as you trust in the God who works in unexpected ways.
Merry Christmas to you - and I mean that from the very bottom of my heart. Merry, merry Christmas.
From Luke chapter One:
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has looked [with loving care] on the humble state of His maidservant;
For behold, from now on all generations will count me blessed and happy and favored by God!
“For He who is mighty has done great things for me;
And holy is His name [to be worshiped in His purity, majesty, and glory].
“And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who [stand in great awe of God and] fear Him.
“He has done mighty deeds with His [powerful] arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And exalted those who were humble.
“He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent the rich away empty-handed.
“He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
Just as He promised to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his descendants forever.”