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The 'Fear Nots' Of The First Nativity - Part 2

"Fear Not, Mary"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2004 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'If you were with us last week, we began a Christmas series, a three-part series entitled "The 'Fear Nots' of the First Nativity". Last week we were in Matthew's Gospel, his nativity scene, and we were looking at chapter 1 - and that particular title last week was 'Fear Not, Joseph', how the angel told Joseph not to fear to take Mary unto him as his wife, because the child in her womb was of the Holy Ghost. She had not been unfaithful to him, but this was in the plan of God. We saw how God's word was speaking to us: there are certain providential problems that come into all of our lives, but God still says by His Spirit in the word to 'Fear Not', because these things have not come by chance. We do not believe in fatalism though, but yet we do believe in a providential hand of a guiding, loving God.

Mary was frightened with the same fear that Joseph was frightened with. But this is what I want you to note: Zacharias' fear led him to unbelief, yet Mary's fear led her to further belief...

Now this week we're looking at 'Fear Not, Mary', and we'll read all of chapter 1 down to verse 38, because I will be referring to Zacharias and Elizabeth, and the birth of John the Baptist as well. So, Luke's gospel chapter 1: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand", Luke says, "to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused", or betrothed, "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 favoured, 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 favour 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. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her", and we end our reading at verse 38.

Our faith is not something that is beyond human life, but our faith is rooted and grounded in something that took place on this earth, that men testified of, that men saw and heard and touched...

This morning we're looking at the subject that I have taken: 'Fear not, Mary' - and God willing, the week after next, when I return with you just before Christmas we'll look at 'The Fear Not to the Shepherds' that we also find in Luke's gospel and chapter 2.

Now most of you will know that Luke has been designated by the apostle Paul to be the 'beloved physician', but what many people do not see is the fact that in the New Testament specifically Luke is also the beloved historian. He's not called such, but that is the nature of the two books which Dr Luke wrote. Of course, they are Luke's gospel, the third gospel, and the only real historical book in the purest sense in the New Testament, the book of the Acts of the Apostles - also authored by Luke. So, if you like, Luke's gospel and the Acts of the Apostles are a two-volume book concerning the historical facts relating to the early Christian church. In fact, if you look at the introduction of the book of the Acts - we don't have time to do it this morning - but if you look also at the introduction, the first four verses, of Luke's gospel chapter 1, you will see that it is addressed to a gentleman called Theophilus. Now Theophilus' name literally means 'dear to God', or 'friend of God', and some feel that this might be a generic term to express all the believers who would read the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. I personally think it's an individual who had come to know the Saviour, or maybe even someone, quite a noble man, because he is designated as such, someone who had heard about the goings-on regarding the early Christian church, and wanted to know a little bit more about this Jesus whose message was turning the world upside down.

He was probably a person of high rank, perhaps in the household of Caesar, we don't really know - but one thing we're probably sure of is that after Theophilus read this history in Luke's gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, it more than likely was circulated around other believers in that particular day. A history of the early church, of the workings and words of the Lord Jesus, and of the workings and works of the apostles.

Now, for you kids here, you will probably agree with me - as I found, going through both primary school and secondary school - that history is one of the most boring subjects that you could ever do. I'm sad to say that, because I think that history is extremely relevant, but probably the reason why it has been so boring for us sitting in the classroom is that the relevance is not often taught to us. We learn dates, we learn about kings, we learn about classical times and more modern times; but the actual lessons that we can learn from history are not applied to us in our present modern day. Now, if you're a history teacher and you do that, I apologise profusely - but generally speaking, I think that's the case.

You've often heard that history is important - why? Because in history and the study thereof, we learn from our mistakes. But if we learn a load of facts and figures, and don't then apply that to our modern day situation, the likelihood is that we don't learn from our mistakes, and we often repeat the mistakes of history - and we see that all around us, probably, I would say, because our history has not been applied contemporarily in our modern day age. But you know, history is more than simply learning from our mistakes, but in history we find out where ideas came from, where movements began in embryo, and where individual personalities came from. Now what we have in Luke's gospel is: he tells us of the beginnings of Christianity, and as such he is the historian of the early Christian church. In other words, he is showing us where our faith came from. Now this is important, because if Luke is an historian - and we believe he is - that means that our faith is rooted and grounded on undeniable historical fact. Did you get that? If Luke is an historian, and I believe it can be proved that he is, and one of the best, our faith is rooted and grounded on undeniable historical facts. In other words, our faith does not depend on some subjectively based experiential mysticism. Now what I mean by that is this: some prophet, an individual, of himself, like Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young, or another founder of these cults and false religions like the Buddha that we were thinking about last Monday night, our faith does not rest on some individual personal revelation that that man was given, and no one else was given but he, and he founds a religion and he tells us 'This is the new way to God'. Our faith is rooted on historical fact, on a man who came into this world - and it is documented that He came - and upon the message that He preached that is recorded for us in scripture, and all of these facts that are evidenced for us in the annals of the tested history of time.

Liberal theologians today doubt the historical accuracy of not just many portions of the Scriptures, but specifically Luke's gospel...

Now that should encourage us today - I don't think I've ever got as excited about history as I have been about this message: that our faith is not something that is beyond human life, but our faith is rooted and grounded in something that took place on this earth, that men testified of, that men saw and heard and touched. Let me show you this from another of the apostles, if you turn to 2 Peter, the second epistle of Peter, do turn with me to it - 2 Peter and chapter 1, Peter on a similar vein says this in verse 16: 'We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty' - we saw Him! Now what he is speaking of specifically here is the Mount of Transfiguration, where Peter, James and John were taken up and saw Christ transfigured, and saw Elijah and Moses on either side. Verse 17 tells us that: 'For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard'. So he says 'we saw and we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount' - we saw, we heard, we were with Him. Verse 19: 'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation'.

Now it's not my intention to expound that verse, it's a difficult one to do in the time that we have, but it simply means this - it doesn't mean that you can't read the Bible on your own and understand it, but it means this: the truth of God has not been given to one specific individual in an exclusive, unique revelation that only he has had; but the truth of God is found in the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Person who was seen by the apostles, and who passed down that teaching in the apostle's doctrine that we have in the New Testament Scriptures. It is based on historical fact.

Now I hope that you're understanding what I'm saying today, and I hope that you'll understand what I'm just about to say, which you'll feel might be irrelevant - but, believe you me, it is not. It is the fact that liberal theologians today doubt the historical accuracy of not just many portions of the Scriptures, but specifically Luke's gospel - Luke being the historian, so-called. But this is what liberal theologians are saying today: 'Well, it doesn't really matter if Luke is not particularly historically accurate. It doesn't matter if Luke isn't an historian, as long as you believe the truths about Christ that you believe about Him, that's all that matters - it doesn't really matter that you can prove it historically through the word of God'. Now listen to me: if you doubt the historicity, then the facts are in doubt. If you doubt that Luke's gospel and the Acts of the Apostles are history, as good - even better - than history than you'll get today in any of the libraries or universities of our world - if you doubt that, the facts of our faith are in doubt, and that means you have doubtful faith.

Can I remind you of what the apostle said in 1 Corinthians 15, you can turn to this if you wish? First Corinthians 15, this time specifically in relation to the resurrection, verse 17: 'if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins'. These Greeks were saying: 'Well, it doesn't matter if Christ was literally raised bodily from the grave, as long as He was spiritually raised in the message that is being taught today'. This is what theologians are saying: 'It doesn't matter that it happened or it didn't happen, it doesn't affect your faith' - it does affect your faith! Because our faith is not in cunningly devised fables, our faith is in the facts of what took place historically on this earth when Jesus walked among men. Liberals are saying that Matthew and Luke's account of the Nativity are their own accounts. Matthew and Luke are theologians, they're not expressing history, they're expressing their theological viewpoints - and they call this the 'incarnation myth', the idea that there's something special about Jesus. But they're saying that you don't have to believe in a virgin birth to believe there's something special about Jesus, Jesus wasn't really born of a virgin, but the theologian Luke wanted to express how special Christ was, so he invented this 'incarnation myth'. Now you would be very surprised where you can read about this in some of our so-called evangelical literature. What they're saying is that the gospel writers are not recording facts, but they're expressing theological truths about Jesus - it's not history, it's religious myth.

The real reason for rejecting the incarnation as history is the belief that divine intervention is impossible...

So what they're doing is: they are denying the historical fact of the incarnation of Jesus. They say: 'You can still believe the truth expressed, but it didn't really happen, we have no proof of it'. They explain this as the 'incarnation myth'. Now here's my question to them: what truth can a myth express? This is a symptom of the post-modern world in which we live: what truth can a myth express? The very definition of 'a myth' is 'untruth'! The real reason for rejecting the incarnation as history is the belief that divine intervention is impossible. Did you get that? The reason why liberal theologians and Bible teachers do not believe in a virgin birth is that they are anti-supernatural, they do not believe it is possible for God to intervene in our natural world in our time, in our age, and do something supernatural, beyond our understanding! Do you know the only thing that is impossible? It is the 'incarnation myth' - that's impossible! For Luke is history - I could show you, this morning, why it is history, but let me show you simply: if Joseph was the father of our Lord Jesus Christ in an earthly sense, or someone else was the father, that means that Joseph was a liar. Because Joseph, you remember from last week, wondered how Mary was with child - now if he was the father, he would know! We consider the fact that if Joseph is a liar, wondering why Mary was pregnant, and if he knew that she was pregnant from him then the gospel writers are liars, because they have put their own conjecture on the situation. Even though Joseph knew who the father was, and Mary knew who the father was, they are concocting this myth in order to found a religion - and they are liars! It makes Mary a liar too, because she claimed - in the passage that we read this morning - 'How can this be, seeing I know not a man?'.

Now what this does is, like all liberalism and biblical criticism in our modern age, it casts aspersions not only on the character of our Lord Jesus; but what it does is it robs Joseph, Mary, Luke and Matthew of their integrity. Either Joseph lied, Mary lied, Matthew lied, or Luke lied - or it's truth! You cannot have both joined together. Now here's a lesson for us all - and this is, by the way, relevant to the 'Fear not'. You might wonder how, but I'll show you in a minute. Here's a lesson before we go on any further: the Scriptures should not be critiqued according to our limited understanding. We should not come to God's word and say: 'I don't understand that, therefore I can't accept it' - but vice versa, our understanding should be subject to, and broadened, heightened by the revelation of God's truth. I wonder which prevails today?

Well, the Nativity scene is either completely true, or it's not true at all. Because Christianity rests on the historicity of the facts of our faith, we're in trouble if it's not true. I believe Luke is a historian, you can see it from the introduction, verses 1-4; you can see it in how he organises the events of this Nativity scene in a chronological order regarding the timing of the events. He talks about 'times' in verse 24, verse 26, verse 36, verse 56. He makes reference to the contemporary secular history in chapter 2, there was a census, and he names Caesar Augustus and so on - this is history! The reason why Luke gives us a history, is to state beyond the shadow of a doubt the historical facts concerning the origins of the truth of Christianity, that Christ was virgin born, the Son of God - the historicity of the virgin birth. Dr Luke, and I think it's significant that he was a medical doctor, shows us that the supernatural, at times, does providentially intervene and invade the historical; for God has come among men!

Now here's the message: because this has happened, and we have tested proof in historical documents that it has happened in the past, we can believe that God intervenes in our lives today! Now the reason why I began with that little resume of what's going on in liberal theological circles today is because doubt, today, regarding the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, is reminiscent of the doubt that there was then. Isn't that astounding? The same problems people have today with the virgin birth, are the problems that they had in Mary and Joseph's day. Here's the astounding thing: it was the religious people that had the problem with accepting the concept that the natural world could be interrupted by the supernatural.

Here's the astounding thing: it was the religious people that had the problem with accepting the concept that the natural world could be interrupted by the supernatural...

Now Zacharias is a case in point - he is a priest, he is in the temple, and when he is told that his wife, who is now barren, is going to conceive and have a son, John the Baptist, he does not believe! He is confronted with a divine visitation, he is party to a great miraculous work of God, and his immediate reaction - even though he is saturated in the Old Testament law and rites and rituals - he doesn't believe!

I think Luke takes special note of the fear of Zacharias and the fear of Mary, and indeed if you go through Luke's gospel you will note that he often reports fear in the presence of God and in the presence of God's works. Chapter 8 is an example of that, you don't need to turn to, but let me remind you: He stilled the storm and the disciples were filled with fear, and said 'What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'. He cast the demons out of the Gadarene, and what did the farmers of the pigs into whom the spirits went do, when the pigs went over the precipice into the deep? What did they say? 'Depart from us', they were filled with fear, they couldn't handle the supernatural interrupting their natural way of life. We have the same account as we go into Jairus' daughter, where we find that Jairus was told: 'Fear not, believe only and she shall be made whole'. There is this linkage within the Scriptures of fear and belief or, if you like, unbelief.

Now Mary feared and Zacharias feared, and both of their fears were similar because I believe they feared because they were in the presence of something supernatural, something that they could not understand. Do you understand that? None of us can understand the supernatural. If an angel appeared to me, I would be as afraid just now as if an angel appeared to you - because I'm not used, no matter what other people say, I'm not used to seeing angels - and that's no comment on my wife or child, or anything like that! But the fact of the matter is: this is unusual, and Mary was frightened with the same fear that Joseph was frightened with. But this is what I want you to note: Zacharias' fear led him to unbelief, yet Mary's fear led her to further belief.

Can I ask you, if you're in the congregation today - you could be saved or not saved - but you may continually, or maybe even at this present time, be battling in your mind with the supernatural. You're trying to understand it, and it's a stumbling block to you coming to faith, or it's a stumbling block to you really going all out and out for God. Maybe you've been party to some of this teaching of liberal theologians and religious sceptics - listen: the supernatural is not to be battled with in the mind to be understood, the supernatural is to be bowed to, and Christ is to be worshipped - not understood! Christ is God!

Now you can see this in the questions that both Zacharias and Mary ask. There is a difference between them. In verse 18, Zacharias asks the question: 'How can this be whenever my wife is barren? She is beyond the age of conception'; and Mary's question in verse 34 looks, to the naked eye, similar: 'How can this be, seeing I know not a man?'. But the fact of the matter is, we know from the context that Zacharias' question lacked faith, and Mary's question had faith. Zacharias was asking the question from the vantage point of unbelief and doubt, yet Mary is asking it from the point of faith - 'Lord, how are You going to do it?'. Not 'Are You really able to do it?', but 'How are You going to do it?'. You can see that from the reply that they get. Zacharias is chastened and made dumb, and we see later from Luke's gospel that he was probably made deaf - but Mary was confirmed in her belief, an angel told her that this child would be of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and she would be with child of the Spirit.

Here's the amazing thing to me here today, and I don't want to encourage you in unbelief, but isn't it wonderful to know that when we are faithless, He remains faithful?

Now please note this: each of them was faced with a difficulty. One was a difficulty of nature, verse 18, Elizabeth was beyond the age of childbearing and she was barren - a difficulty of nature. The other was a difficulty of circumstance, verse 34, Mary was only betrothed, she didn't know Joseph in that sexual sense yet in marriage. Yet into this situation, where there was a natural problem and a circumstantial problem, God's word was fulfilled! Here's the amazing thing to me here today, and I don't want to encourage you in unbelief, but isn't it wonderful to know that when we are faithless, He remains faithful? Even though He rebuked Zacharias, He stilled fulfilled His word, and Elizabeth came to be with child!

We read of what happened - for nine months Zacharias was both dumb and deaf. Mary didn't ask for evidence, like he did, she asked for an explanation and she got it. We must move on, but I want to just say that in verses 21 and 22 we see the people's surprise. They were surprised that he was deaf and dumb as he came out of the temple, but here's a lesson for us all here: unbelief prevented him from sharing the wonderful news of what was going to happen. Do you know that happens to us all when we do not believe? We are robbed of a certain consideration in our witnessing, but look at what happened to Mary after she believed! We read in verse 46 that she rejoiced: 'My soul doth magnify the Lord', and when you believe in the Lord, and take Him by faith and everything that He said, there is a special power that is given to you in expression of worship and joy.

Can I ask you a question? Does it please you when people fail to put confidence in you? What I mean is: if someone that is near to you feels they can't trust you, how do you feel? Well, it is such with God. Zacharias said: 'How will this be?', and the angel said: 'I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God - do you know who I am? Do you know who's bringing you this message?'. He failed to believe in God, yet the astounding thing is that he was the priest in the temple, yet simple little Mary was able to embrace all of God's promises for her. Isn't that lovely? J.G.Billet puts it like this: 'How often we see a poor unlettered soul that knows more of the simplicity of the truth of God than many who can talk much of the Bible'. She just believed God!

This is what I want you to see today, verse 30: 'The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God'. First John 4 verse 18 says this: 'Fear has torment'. Joseph feared, Zacharias feared, Mary feared - and if they were to live on in their fear of the supernatural, or of what was going to transpire regarding the news that had been imparted to them of these births, they would have lived in continual torment. I imagine that Mary's thought was, as soon as she saw this angel: 'What is this manifestation about? Is it a thing for good, or is it a thing for evil? Is God going to bless me, or is He going to judge me? What is happening in my world just now?'. If she had been told the implications of what the angel was about to announce to her, she would have been very afraid when she considered the ramifications of being a single mother in this Palestinian world. What did the angel say? 'Mary, do not fear, because you are highly favoured, and the Lord is with you'.

God's grace and favour is always shown toward the undeserving. You're here this morning, and maybe you're filled with fear for one reason or another, but what I want you to focus on just now is not your fear, but on the favour that God has bestowed upon you if you're a child of God. That verse in 1 John 4:18: 'Fear hath torment', also says this 'perfect love casteth out all fear'. Now what is perfect love? It is unconditional love. What is unconditional love? It is gracious love, unmerited favour, something that you don't deserve but you get because someone loves you enough to give it to you, even though you don't deserve it.

He failed to believe in God, yet the astounding thing is that he was the priest in the temple, yet simple little Mary was able to embrace all of God's promises for her. Isn't that lovely?

Mary was a sinner, and we know that categorically from the Scriptures - for she rejoiced in God her Saviour. The fact that she is highly favoured literally means that she was filled with grace, but that grace was not in her to dispense to others, that grace was in her because she was a sinner that was saved by God's marvellous grace, because God loved her. Isaiah 43:4 says: 'Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life'. God said to His Old Testament people, and He says to us today: 'I love you'. That's what He was saying to Mary: 'Mary, fear not, I love you, you've found favour'. Now the word 'found favour', the verb 'found' is 'heures' (sp?), which is the word we get 'eureka' from in the English language, which means 'I've discovered something'. What God was saying to her through Gabriel was this: 'You have been a discoverer of God's grace, and this is an expression of God grace in blessing upon you'.

Do you know where that expression 'eureka' found its fame from? Some of you mathematicians may know, it is attributed to Archimedes, that Greek mathematician, who reputedly jumped out of his bath after discovering the principle of the up-thrust on a floating body - the Archimedes principle, which simply explains why things float and why things don't float. When he found it out - with the duck in the bath maybe - he jumped out: 'Eureka! I have discovered it!'. Now friends, what this truth is is simply that the discovery of the principle of grace in Mary's life caused her not to fear. It didn't matter that the whole world would be against her, God had highly favoured her, and God was with her.

You see, that's all that matters - and that love, that perfect love, that grace casts out all fear. This 'full of grace', this 'highly favoured' is a term that's used in Ephesians 1 verse 6 of believers, every believer, not just the virgin Mary - every believer is described as 'accepted in the beloved'. Can I ask you: did you get there of your own volition, your own steam, your own power? It was all of grace, wasn't it? What God is saying to us today is: we don't need to be afraid. There are those in our world who would persecute us, they believe they are more favoured than us in intelligence, in affluence, and technological ability - but what God's word is saying to all of us today is: that does not matter! God is for us! God is with us! God is for us and with us to save us! He shall be called 'Jesus', for He shall save His people from their sins!

Can I ask you today: have you begun to enter into the discovery of all that God's grace has to offer you? I fear that most Christians are impoverished in this regard. But maybe you're here today, and you're filled with fear, for one reason or another fear has gripped your breast - well, God's word to you today is: one whom God favours ought not to fear anything! If the whole world is against you there need be no disquieting fears or anxious feelings, because the God of heaven is for you. Though this was a mere virgin, a young girl, she was going to be given, through grace, the privilege of being a mother - not through her own efforts, but by a gift of God. Though she was a pauper, she was going to be the mother of Messiah, the King who would sit on the throne of David. She had this grace lavished upon her - now, what was her reaction? Did she say: 'I don't know, I can't believe', or 'I can't believe that the supernatural can invade my natural world to such an extent'? Do you know what she did? She gave the proper answer to grace - do you know what the proper answer to grace is, the proper reaction? Faith! Verse 38: 'Mary said 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word'. And the angel departed from her'.

What do you normally do when a person shows you kindness? You accept it, that is if you're not too proud, you accept it. What is the result when you accept it? You open the gift, and your heart is filled with joy. Mary had this grace poured into her lap, and what did she do? Did she doubt it? She believed it, she embraced it, and then she says: 'I rejoice in God my Saviour'. She said: 'I am at your disposal totally to do with me as you will; and I'm not going to object to you, God, that this is going to spoil my marriage, or wreck my reputation, or blemish my moral standing and ethical regard in the community and the synagogue. Lord, and going to believe You, and leave the issues of my life entirely in Your hands. I submit to Your will, not reluctantly but willingly'. 'Fear not, thou art highly favoured'.

Now, I'm finished, but what I want us to do is open up our lives to allow God to pour in all the grace He can. If you're in an impossible situation today, believe that God is able to fulfil His word, regardless of the obstacles. May God bless His word to all our hearts.

Our Father, we do give thanks for the incarnation of Thy Son, our Saviour, and for the comfort that it gives to us this day in our world. Bless us on our homeward way, we pray, for Christ's sake, Amen.

Don't miss part 3 of "The 'Fear Nots' of the First Nativity": 'Fear Not, Shepherds'Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins,
Preach The Word.
December 2004
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the second tape in his "The 'Fear Nots' of the First Nativity" study series, titled "Fear Not, Mary" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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