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Nothing Trivial - December 18 Memories

My Spirit Rejoices

The Serious Business of Heaven

“… my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” – Luke 1:47

This morning’s message is more celebration than it is instruction.

It is a celebration of joy and a call to rejoicing.

The call to action is to rejoice always.

Rejoice always in the character of God, the call of God, and the confidence we have in God’s salvation.

Mary rejoiced and echoed Isaiah 61:1-4a, 8-11 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition):

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and release to the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
    to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.
 

For I, the Lord, love justice,
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my whole being shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

We see Mary rejoicing as she prepares for the birth of this son who will bring the day of God’s glory and redemption.

She is prophetic in her utterance and passionate in her joy.

Her spirit rejoices because she has been chosen to be an instrument of God’s peace. She rejoiced because she will join those who are called “oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.” – Isaiah 61:3b

To be an instrument of God, like Mary, is to be among those who ...

shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” – Isaiah 61:4

Today, we walk among the ruins. We weep over the broken cities. We cry on behalf of the devastation in our world.

But, if we will embrace the joy of purpose, the power of Advent, and the message of God’s intervention we can be among those who rebuild, restore, and repair.

Mary rejoiced and all of those who embrace the wonder of being chosen by God have reason to rejoice in their spirits.

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced." – Psalm 126:3

"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
– Luke 1:46b-49

"Rejoice always." – I Thessalonians 5:16

Paul describes a life of rejoicing in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

  • Rejoice always, 
  • pray without ceasing, 
  • give thanks in all circumstances,
  • for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
  • Do not quench the Spirit. 
  • Do not despise prophecies, 
  • but test everything;
  • hold fast to what is good; 
  • abstain from every form of evil.

 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

It is instructional and it speaks to the everyday business of living prophetically with the Spirit of the Lord upon us.

As we are sanctified, joy flows more freely. We are in a constant conversation with God. We are perpetually thankful. We stop resisting the Spirit. We embrace words from God, but we are wise and discerning. We cling to the good and push away the evil.

We abide under God’s benediction.

Let us return to Mary’s song of praise at the beginning of her mission, reflecting that of Isaiah and later, of her son, Jesus.

Luke 1:46-55 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant.
    Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name;
indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his child Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

These verse ooze joy.

They caress the bliss of being filled with the presence of God and commissioned for a purpose greater than ourselves.

They announce the goodness of God who can topple the powerful and lift the lowly, who fills the hungry and sends the rich away empty, a God who turns the tables, rights wrongs, loves the humble, restores the broken, forgives the sinner, has merc y on the fallen, and keeps every promise.

This is our God. Mary carries his Son in her womb. Isaiah carried his word in his mouth. Jesus embodied all the fullness of the Godhead in himself according to Paul in Colossians.

Let us commit to do the deeds that cause God’s heart to rejoice that we might rejoice with God.

Isaiah tells us of God’s joy in verses 8-11.

God loves the people that he blesses with a covenant relationship. Since we are under the new covenant, that means all people are intended to be included.

God loves justice.

For I, the Lord, love justice,
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
 

God delights in seeing people treated fairly, with equity, compassion, dignity, and respect.

We share in God’s joy when we love God completely and our neighbors as ourselves.

God loves the people that he blesses with a covenant relationship. Since we are under the new covenant, that means all people are intended to be included.

I will faithfully give them their recompense,
    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

 So, God rejoices in the special relationship that he has with all who come to him by faith, respond to the divine call, and enter the fold.

Then, God rejoicing in bestowing salvation to people who learn to rejoice for that reason.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my whole being shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

 These are clothed in garments of salvation.

These are made righteous and appear in robes of righteousness before God’s throne

These are adorned with garlands and jewels,

We come before God dressed up for a festive occasion. We are prepared by grace for a grand celebration.

Finally, God rejoices when this message of joy, reconciliation, redemption, righteousness, justice, mercy, and peace is proclaimed. As it is proclaimed, it bears fruit.

As it bears fruit, righteousness and praise spring up before all the nations.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

The call to action is to rejoice always.

Let us take the benediction of Paul to the Thessalonians and make it ours today.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Amen.

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