Words of Faith 2-21-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me--
holy is his name.
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Mary and Elizabeth were ready for worship. There wasn't a big crowd. There wasn't a pipe organ or a praise band. There weren't any greeters in the parking lot. No coffee or donuts, but the worship leader was the best around, the Holy Spirit. They were ready for worship!
The truth is that there are few things these days that are quite as confusing as worship. If you think about it, the whole thing must appear very strange to anyone who comes in from the world. We walk into a room and people are talking to someone that they cannot see and singing to someone who appears to have failed to show up. It is all very puzzling to a complete newcomer.
Many churches try to get around this discomfort in some way. Some offer a lecture format addressing current events. Many use some form of entertainment, either music or a humorous speaker, to make people more comfortable. Various arts are great but we sometimes forget that the point of worship is not really for people to be comfortable. And in the end, the only way to make a worldly person comfortable with Christian worship is to become more like the world. It is a slippery slope when we compete with the world.
But Mary had hit upon the most basic element of worship: "My soul magnifies the Lord" (NKJV). .. Maximize God on the screen of your life. Minimize everything else. She knew that worship is not a place for multi-tasking. It is not a place where we can think about the many distractions in our lives and make God a small window among many. Worship is where we need to focus on the one person who can give us Life.
Much of what we see these days in consumer-oriented churches tends to minimize God and maximize the self. When we identify the primary goal in worship as being comfortable, that maximizes ME and MINIMIZES God. Not Mary. No way.
Mary had it down. "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant." In worship we become aware of how LARGE God is and small we are. Mary saw she was a humble peasant girl, but she was clearly grasping the wonder of God that He would choose her to be part of His grand plan of salvation.
"From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name." Mary really understood her role in all this. She correctly grasped the historical significance. The point was not that "all generations will call me Holy" or that "all generations will call me great", but that "all generations will call me BLESSED". We often lose that perspective. If anything great happens to us or through us, it is not so that generations will say what great people we are but simply that we were BLESSED.
Mary understood that worship is always about God. The word comes from the old English meaning to declare His WORTH-SHIP as God. Mary did that in several ways.
She declared God's MERCY - "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
She declared His MIGHT - "He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts."
She declared His JUSTICE - "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble."
She declared His READINESS TO MEET NEEDS - "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty."
She declared His Faithfulness - "He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
Mary realized that she would never fulfill the call that was upon her life unless God was BIG in her life, capturing her full attention. Mary realized that she would never make it through the insults and rejections that were ahead if God was just a background window. Mary could have come to Elizabeth whining and crying that she was pregnant and didn't know what was going on, or how she would explain, or what would become of her life. But instead, she came to Elizabeth and worshiped; she MAXIMIZED GOD and declared His worth-ship. That is what worship is about.
And, by the way, Mary did not snap her Bible shut and rush out of worship at 12 noon. "Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home." That was a long worship service!
O God, teach me the discipline of maximizing You on a daily basis in all my thoughts. I declare Your worth-ship in every avenue of life. I declare Your mercy, might, justice, readiness and faithfulness. In Jesus' name.