In the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada they experimented with a competition for blind skiers. How did they ski being blind? They were paired with sighted skiers who would simply yell, "LEFT" or "RIGHT" when the time came to turn, and the blind skiers obeyed without question! Their obedience brought reward. When we cannot see what God is doing, we can still listen to His Word. Moreover, what it says we must obey if we want the journey to end correctly. The only safe way down the mountain when you are blind is to obey without question!
We look back on the events of Christmas and forget that those involved in the unfolding drama were flying blind – just on pure obedience. When you think about it there was a tremendous amount of obedience required by a number of people in order for Jesus to be born.
There was Zachariah, Joseph, Elizabeth, the shepherds, and, of course, Mary. This morning I want to focus on the obedience of Mary.
Mary’s obedience sent her and all of her descendents in a new direction. You and I have benefited from her obedience as much as she has!
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:26-35
Do you get a sense here that God is about to do something new and amazing in our world? Can’t you see that He is about to move in a mighty way upon His people?
God wanted to bring revival to a world weary of religion. God wanted to move from edges of our lives to the center.
Disobedience had changed things, it would take obedience to change them back.
That is the “O” in Christmas! Mary’s obedience was what allowed God to move upon His people and bring a great revival.
I hear a whole lot of talk about revival. I hear people saying how badly our nation needs revival or our church needs revival or our people need revival or our preachers need revival and they are right! We certainly could benefit from all of the above. But please define revival! I am not sure I am clear on what they are wanting. Perhaps they are not either. My guess is they are thinking of a scheduled series of meetings with a firey evangelist preaching and some inspiring musicians who will come and whip them up into a spiritual and emotional frenzy.
Here is what two of the greatest evangelists and revivalists of the last century and a half had to save about revival:
Charles Finney, perhaps the most anointed evangelist since John the Baptsist, noted this about the role obedience and sacrifice play in revival:
“Revival is nothing more or less than a new obedience to God!”
A. W. Tozer, one of the spiritual giants of the 20th century added this thought, "Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late - and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience."
Revival is a direct result of obedience. Obedience moves God from the edges of our live to the center. Obedience allows God to cleanse us from the dead works of religion and sweep in with the refreshing, life-giving wind of relationship!
Well, Brad, if obedience is that important. If it is the key to revival, why don’t we see more of it?
Mary provides us some great insights into obedience:
Obedience defined – “doing God’s will in God’s way according to His time”
Obedience demonstrated – “May it be to you as you have said.”
WHY OBEDIENCE IS HELPFUL
Obedience Connected Her With God’s Presence, V. 27
For many of us Christmas is about PRESENTS but for God Christmas was all about PRESENCE!
God has ALWAYS desired to be with us. He created us in the beginning and placed Adam in a paradise called Eden. Immediately after Adam sinned, God announced to the serpent that He would be redeeming man. And He did! His plan was about to be fulfilled in the birth of His Son, Jesus, coming to bear the sins of the world so man that a holy God could be reconciled to a sinful man.
After Jesus came and died and rose again, He went to create a place for us in Heaven so that we can be will Him forever! We will enjoy His presence and we will enjoy His - together! Forever!
Obedience Connected Her With God’s Power, V. 35
You can’t have God’s power with out God’s presence. When you are obedient you can get both!
God’s power comes with His presence to empower us to serve Him…..
Obedience Completed God’s Plan For Her
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Ro. 12:1-2
Obedience allows you to enjoy God’s presence and experience His power and execute His place for your life. Obedience moves God from the edges of your life to the very center of your life! That is the stuff revival is made of!
So, if obedience brings those great things that Mary received, why wouldn’t everyone want to obey?
WHY ODEDIENCE IS HARD
Obedience Confronted Her Fears, V. 30-33
Fear of frailty – We don’t like our weaknesses exposed
Fear of failure – We don’t like to fail – or even think about failing….
Fear of future – We have need done this before or been this before
Obedience Cost Her Something, V. 34
We are programmed to think in terms of, “What’s in it for me?”
The flip side of that is, “What’s it gonna cost me?”
You say, “That’s not right!” – Oh, yeah? Jesus told us to count the cost before we decide to follow Him!
You can’t make a serious commitment without a serious counting of the cost!
ULTIMATELY, it costs us moving God from the edges to the center of life!
Obedience Complicated Her Life
Her Relationship - What would Joseph thing when he heard the news?
Her Reputation - What would others think of her? What would they think of Joseph? Would she be toned as an adultress?
Her Relaxation - There would be no time to relax and prepare for her dream wedding. There would be a dream wedding. There would be an excruciating journey over rough terrain on the back of a donkey. There would be no comfy room in an inn but the would be lodging in a cold, damp stable.
Committing to obey God would certainly cost Mary something! BUT sin would complicate it a lot more!
THE BIG “O” IN CHRISTMAS IS OBEDIENCE! While it brings great blessings it also is very hard!
It had been a good day in Mosul, Iraq. Five So. Baptist workers were making progress toward a water purification project. They had met with officials and laughed with new Iraqi friends. They were headed home for a night’s rest before starting again the next morning. But they never made it home. Karen Watson, 38, along with Larry and Jean Elliot died that evening as Iraqi Muslin extremists sprayed bullets in to their passing truck. Later, among her things, a letter was found written by Karen to be opened after her death. In it she said, among other things, “To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, .... His glory is my reward.” “To obey was my objective.” And that kind of radical obedience should be the objective of every Christian.
Yes, obedience will cost you something – But disobedience costs you more!
Have you moved God to the edges of your life by your disobedience?
Will you allow God to move to the center of your life?
Your most important obedience is your next obedience! Does that need to happen today?
Mary was just “one obedience” away from a great move of God in her life!
God wanted to move to the center of her life and revive her.
What about your obedience?
Are you connected with God?
When was the last time you saw a move of God in your life?
Last week we defined discipleship as “a long obedience in the same direction”. Obedience brought a revival to the world. Obedience can bring a revival to your soul. The next great move of God in your life could be just one obedience away!