Points Covered: A Christmas sermon on worship. The attitude of worship, the object of worship, and the cause of worship based on Mary’ song, Luke 1:46-55
Introduction: The world over the years has derived various ways to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and most of the celebrations we see around Christmas is external. What is your response to the birth of the Jesus? How do you celebrate Christ born into this world?
Last week we saw the response of some people around the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. We finally narrowed in on the person most close to Jesus, His mother, Mary. The moment Mary came to know about the immaculate conception of the Lord Jesus Christ, she burst forth into worship. That is evident in the song of Mary: Mary gives the most magnificent psalm of worship when she conceived Jesus. Luke 1:46-55 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Last week we started on the attitude of worship and we looked at:
I. The attitude of worship.
1. Worship is internal.
External shallow worship is distasteful to God. True worship comes from deep down inside and it therefore goes on all the time.
2. Worship is intense.
Luke 1:47 My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
Luke 1:47 ESV My soul magnifies the Lord.
My spirit magnifies the Lord. In Greek the word is something is bigger than normal. What she is doing here is not just exalting, but mega exaltation. It is about worship starting and becoming larger and larger. It is the culmination of the spirit, soul, and the body of a person coming together and praising God.
Worship comes up from inside. It bubbles up and bubbles up. It is not coming to church. It is not singing a hymn alone. It is not the Bible, hearing a sermon, or giving to God. Those are of course, effects of a worshiping heart, but they can’t stand alone as true worship.
So you have two components of true worship. It is internal. It rises from what the heart and mind comprehends. Then worship is intense. Mary’s mind transferred it to her emotions. It is when the soul and the spirit are overwhelmed and expressed through the body.
If you look at the history of Israel, you will find how God despised superficial worship.
God used prophet Amos to both expose and denounce the apostasy (abandonment of religious belief) and the hypocrisy of Israel. Amos 5:21-24 21“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! The very feast which God himself had given him explicit directions to observe, became through their hypocrisy and double dealing a stench to his nostrils.
Isaiah 1:11-15 11“The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!
You have to worship God from the heart and Mary did that. That’s the worship that honors God. It is internal and it is intense.
3. Worship is habitual.
Worship must become a constant habit. Luke 1:46-47 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. It is a present continuous tense. Worship is not related to an event or a moment. It goes on and on and on. It’s not that you just rejoiced when you were saved. It is that you started rejoicing then and it never will stop.
Fluctuating circumstances do not impact true worship. Circumstances don’t have anything to do with it. It flows on uninterrupted. They will say with Paul, “In everything give thanks and worship God.” Worship never stops no matter what happens because it’s fixed on God who never changes. Christ never changes. His promises never changes. So why should worship rise and fall?
If worship happens only on a Sunday morning when it sort of gets pumped up or only happens around the Christmas season it is not true worship. True worship is not when things are going well in your life. Worship is unaffected by fluctuating circumstances.
4. Worship is humble.
True worship only comes from a humble heart. What is a humble heart? A humble heart is a heart that has no thought for itself, a heart that serves.
Pride is the worship of self. God hates pride and God hates the proud. James 4:6 God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Anyone who comes to worship must come in humility.
We see this in Mary. Luke 1:48 …for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. Look at her humility when she got the news of Jesus being conceived in her. Spontaneously, she bursts forth into worship. She doesn’t have a thought like, “Well, I think he made a pretty good choice.” Or, “I am better than other women.”
Even our smallest successes we turn into tall tales. And if we have achieved some great thing or met some great person, we tend to speak of our success and our initial response might be, “My soul magnifies myself.” Well, Mary didn’t have such a thought.
Mary didn’t even say thanks to Elizabeth for Elizabeth made a gracious talk about her. Luke 1:42-43 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Her focus was not on Elizabeth. Her focus was not on her. If she does glance at herself for only the brief moment it is only to wonder how she could have ever been noticed by God?
Mary said, “God regarded her low, humble estate.” That means that she was in a low state. She was nobody socially and culturally. She was simple virgin engaged to a village carpenter. If Mary was exalted above all women, it must have been because she was the lowest.
So what is the evidence of humility? Sometimes we make judgments about people from their external appearances, dress, and temperament – and we can be very wrong.
Humility – is evidenced by service – serving others.
Philippians 2:3-5 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Philippians 2:7 …rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Mary – a prime example of a humble person: Helps Elizabeth. At Cana in Galilee – serves the need – deflecting attention away from herself to Jesus.
Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and exalted One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, (Anybody else up there with God? Yes) but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 66:2b These are the ones I look on with favour; those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.
What is the attitude then of worship? Worship is an attitude that comes from within, form the inside and it intensifies to the outside, not based on your circumstances or times but and deep sense of gratitude and joy because Christ, the eternal God is your God. That’s worship and that’s the spirit of Christmas. This season no matter what we do let us not forget the call of Christmas – Worship God.
II. The object of Worship.
See what Mary Said: Luke 1:46-47 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. The object of worship is God. All the glory and honor goes to him. All the worship goes to him. Worship is only one-dimensional. We worship God.
Jesus said in Luke 4:8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
Worship is only limited to God: 1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. The object of worship is the God who saves.
III. The cause of worship.
What makes worship happen? What motivates worship?
1. My salvation.
Luke 1:48 From now on all generations will call me blessed.
Why, Mary? Luke 1:49 For the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.
From this time on, all generations are going to call me blessed because of what God has done for a sinner. That’s where worship starts. Mary knew she was a sinner, she knew she needed a savior and she was worshiping because the savior had come. She offered soul felt praise because the redeemer was coming who would bear her sin. Salvation is what motivates me to worship.
Remember, even though she was the mother of God, Jesus didn’t change her social status. In her whole life she never became some earthly queen. She had the same friends. She even had to be given over to John the apostle to be cared for because she needed someone to take care of her after Jesus left. Her social status never changed.
Her spiritual status changed just like all who ever believed before and after Christ. Her praise comes out of pure gratitude for salvation.
2. Salvation of others.
Luke 1:50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
She is quoting Psalm 103:17. She knows that this saviour is born for everyone. She realizes that the Lord is going to do the same for others and that brings joy to her heart. She was absolutely overwhelmed with what the Lord was doing for her and what the Lord would do for generation after generation. She is praising God for her own salvation and the salvation of others.
3. I worship God for what he does for me.
Luke 1:51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; (He has shown them strength and power.) he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
God doesn’t do good things for those who reject him. Luke 1:52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has taken his own who were humble and lifted them up. He has taken his own who were weak and given them power. But those who are not of him, he has brought down.
Luke 1:53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has taken his own who were hungry and filled them with good things, and on the other hand, sent the rich empty handed.
Luke 1:54-55 54He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
He has kept his covenant to Abraham and Israel and he will keep his covenant with me. That is why I worship.
What is the call of Christmas? Praise & worship. That is the reason there are Christmas carols. That is the reason we have celebrations but my appeal to you is that the worship and celebrations should not be just for this season but every day of our life.