A Call To Respond
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Luke 1:35-38; Matthew 1:22-25;
Luke 2:16-20; Matthew 2:1-
When we think of Christmas or Christmas Day there is a call to give a response to that which this day brings to us. One of the beautiful truths of Christianity is regardless of where you are in life, there is continually a call to respond.
When you read God’s Word you are challenged to respond to it. We cannot read it without having a response. It is not a book that is apathetically read. It calls for engagement and reaction.
The Holy Spirit of God comes to convict humanity of sin, righteousness, and judgement. The Holy Spirit calls for a response in our lives. When He points to something in our lives that needs to change we are to respond with a “Yes, Lord, I hear and obey!”
Christmas is a special time of the year where the whole world stops long enough to think of Christ. They may be busy, and they may not understand the depth of Christ like we do, but there is a call for a response during the Christmas season. The challenge of Christmas today is for us to respond to the message.
We see four responses in the Christmas Story.
a. Acceptance: Mary responded by saying “May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:35-38). 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Mary accepted what God had said about her. She accepted the message with humility and grace.
Mary heard the message the angel brought to her. She humbly accepted the message and submitted to the authority and purpose of God for her life.
It is hard for us to imagine the position Mary was in. Mark Lowry was talking about her at the Gaither concert Thursday evening. He said she was thirteen years old. God, through His angel Gabriel, tells her He has a plan for her life. Things would never be the same for this young woman after this.
At this point, she did not know how Joseph would respond. She probably had a pretty good idea how the community would respond. What do you suppose her mother said when Mary told her about the angel’s message?
We are told she immediately went to see her cousin Elizabeth who, according to the angel was expecting a child long after anyone would think it possible. I suspect Mary and Elizabeth had a lot to talk about. I suspect they were a great comfort to one another. Mary would need the support of an older woman. “May it be to me as you have said.” An unwed mother in her day was not accepted. She could have been stoned for getting pregnant.
I cannot imagine how someone could so calmly accept what Mary accepted. And yet, this is the attitude that God expects of us. We are to accept His will without question. We are to humbly submit to whatever He allows to happen in our life. We are to go when He says go. We are to speak when He says to speak.
Acceptance is to be our first response to the message God gives us.
When He says to put our faith, our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must accept it and begin living as if we do believe this is God’s will for us.
Have you accepted the truth about Jesus Christ? Have you accepted that He came to make it possible for you to be restored to a relationship with God? Have you accepted Him as Lord and Savior? Have you decided to trust Him and follow wherever He leads you? This is what it means to become a Christian. Accepting the truth that He is our Lord and deserves to be obeyed is the first step in your relationship with Him. Accepting that He offers to accept you and forgive you for refusing to follow Him.
b. Obedience: Joseph did as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:22-25). 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" —which means, "God with us."
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Do you know what the name Jesus means? It means Jehovah saves! Our salvation is a free gift. God freely forgives us the debt we owe. He forgives us. If He did not forgive us we could never have a relationship with Him. If Jesus did not come and die, we would be eternally cut off from a relationship with God. We would all be doomed to spend eternity in hell.
But, Jehovah saves! Jesus came. He came to pay our debt to God so that God could forgive us and restore us to a relationship with Him.
He came to die for me, for you, for Mary and for Joseph. When we accept the truth about Jesus, we are to begin walking in a relationship with Him. We are to live each day trusting Him as Savior, trusting Him to forgive us each time we fall short of loving Him. We are to live each day living with Him as Lord of our lives, walking in obedience to His Word and His Spirit. Joseph ignored what his friends and neighbors would say and obeyed what God had told him to do through the angel.
He Accepted the truth, and then he obeyed the truth.
Have you accepted the truth of the Gospel message? Are you walking in obedience to the truth you have accepted? Are you working at living in a personal relationship with your Creator and Lord? The only correct response to God is to accept Him and obey Him.
c. Praise to God: The shepherds excitedly shared the news of the Savior and gave praise to God (Luke 2:16-20). 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
When we have accepted the truth about God and our relationship with Him, the natural response is to praise Him. If you have accepted the good news about what God has done for us you will just naturally praise God! Thanksgiving will flow from you. Praise for this God who loves you so much He freely gives you this gift you have been given will just naturally flow from you. Everyday, as you remember what God saved you from you will rejoice.
Others will see you glorifying and praising God and will be amazed at what you have told them. If we understand how much God loves us and what He has done to restore us to a relationship with Him, we will not be able to keep quiet about it. We will share the good news as the shepherds did.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below! Praise Him above ye heavenly host! Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Praise and glorifying God will overflow from us as we consider this great thing that God has done on our behalf. This will be our response for His loving gift of salvation!
d. Commitment: The wise men followed the star and sought the newborn king.
Matthew 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2)
As you accept the truth, walk in obedience to Him, praise and glorify Him, you will develop a commitment to go wherever He leads you.
He takes us on a journey. Sometimes this journey will take you away from home, away from family and friends. Sometimes you may stay at home, but you will go places you did not expect, because you are following the Lord. He will call you to commit to Him and to do things you never thought you could do and He will expect you to be committed to Him and do what He calls you to do.
The wise men took a long journey, following the star. What a commitment they must have had to finding the king this star was leading them to.
When you accept the gift of salvation, you are accepting the truth about yourself, and about God. You accept that He is worthy to be loved, to be obeyed, to have all your praise. You accept that He is calling you to follow Him wherever He leads.
If you believe in God, you are called to respond to Him. You are called to love Him and to love other people. You are called to do what He says to do. You are called to give Him praise, to glorify Him with your words and with your obedience.
When you fail to respond as He calls you to respond, there is always forgiveness available. Just turn to Him and trust Him to forgive you and to help you as you re-commit yourself to follow wherever He leads you, to do whatever He wants you to do.
Too many of us have failed to respond to Him each day with faith in His love and His Lordship. Christmas is a call to respond to the God who made us.
Accept the truth. Obey Him. Praise and proclaim Him. Commit your life to going wherever He leads you.
How will you respond to Jesus today?