MAGNIFY

Lk.1:46 – And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord”.

Mary was filled with the Spirit, two things make that very obvious to me. First, she began to prophesy. Prophetic utterance is a sure indication of the work of the Spirit. The second indication is even more convincing, Mary began to magnify the Lord. Once you come into contact with the Holy Spirit magnifying the Lord is somewhat inevitable. The Holy Spirit gives us a clear impression and perception of the greatness and goodness of the Lord. When you see His greatness and His goodness it will take your breath away. Your only recourse is to follow in the steps of Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Here is how Martin Luther describes this verse.

“For God is not magnified by us so far as His nature is concerned — He is unchangeable — but He is magnified in our knowledge and experience, when we greatly esteem Him and highly regard Him, especially as to his grace and goodness. Therefore Mary does not say, “My voice or my mouth, my hand or my thoughts, my reason or my will, doth magnify the Lord.” For there be many who praise God with a loud voice, preach about Him with high sounding words, speak much of Him, dispute and write about Him and paint His image; whose thoughts dwell often upon Him, and who reach out after Him and speculate about Him with their reason; there are also many who exalt Him with false devotion and a false will. But Mary says, “My soul doth magnify Him” — that is, my whole life and being, mind and strength, esteem Him highly. She is caught up, as it were, unto Him, and feels herself lifted up into His good and gracious will….All words and thoughts fail us, and our whole life and soul must needs be set in motion, as though all that lived within us would fain break forth into praise and singing.”

This scene really is a forerunner of what would happen thirty three years later in the upper room in Jerusalem. The followers of Jesus, including His mother Mary had joined together in prayer after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. As they prayed they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and began to magnify the Lord. This blessing was no longer just for Mary or even the disciples gathered in the upper room that day; this blessing was for all people for all time. Come on and magnify the Lord with me.

UNUSUAL AND UNPRECEDENTED

Lk.1:35 – Gabriel answered, “The Spirit of Holiness will fall upon you and almighty God will spread his shadow of power over you in a cloud of glory! This is why the child born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

For years I passed over the importance of this passage. Mary is seen being anointed by the Holy Spirit and shortly after she begins to prophesy. Why does this stand out in a unique ways from other prophecies? No one had prophesied in four hundred years. There had been no prophets for the first time in Israel’s history. You could say they had passed through their own dark ages without a prophetic voice. The really strange thing about this prophet is that she is a woman. Not only a woman but a pregnant, unmarried teenaged woman. This is scandalous! But there it is right in front of us. Mary, the mother of Jesus prophesied in Luke 1:46-55. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther on this great event.

“In order properly to understand this sacred hymn of praise, we need to bear in mind that the most blessed Virgin Mary is speaking out of her own experience, in which she was enlightened and instructed by the Holy Spirit. For no one can rightly understand God or His Word who has not received such understanding directly from the Holy Spirit. But no one can receive it from the Holy Spirit without experiencing, proving and feeling it. In such experience the Holy Spirit instructs us as in His own school, outside of which naught is learned save empty words and idle fables. When the Holy Virgin, then, experienced what great things God wrought in her, notwithstanding she was so poor, meek, despised, and of low degree, the Holy Spirit taught her this precious knowledge and wisdom, that God is a Lord whose work consists but in this — to exalt them of low degree, to put down the mighty from their seats, in short, to break whatever is whole and make whole whatever is broken.”

The Lord delights in doing the unusual and unprecedented. Think about those who were about to change the world; a pregnant teenager, the “more than strange prophet” John the Baptist, a fisherman from Galilee, a cursing Pharisee who hated Christians, and the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. God’s ways are not our ways; is it possible that unusual and unprecedented is about to fall on us again?

HOLY SILENCE

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who has visited and redeemed his people by raising up a horn of salvation for us . . . that we, being delivered from our enemies, might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.” Luke 1:68

If God never had shut Zechariah down and made him seek his silence for nine months I doubt he would have felt the magnificent significance of God’s work in history. He had his moment with the angel and missed the visitation and spent the next nine months being schooled in the Spirit. When one has to be still and made deaf (Lk1:62) and dumb (ineffective) we tap into our other senses! Next time Zechariah spoke he came out swinging and was “filled with the Holy Ghost”! I love the part of scripture when Zachariah finally finds his voice and writes-“HIS NAME IS JOHN!” And he begin to prophecy all about the coming Christ!

Zechariah first words were “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.” Zechariah speaks in the past tense because he became impregnated with faith. Faith always sees as if it has already happened. What are you seeing in these days? God comes to us today to redeem us for he is always redeeming us in every way!

Zechariah also envisioned an ox horn saving them. Psalm 92 gives us a picture of what the horn stood for: “For lo, thy enemies, O Lord, for lo, thy enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. But thou hast exalted my horn like that of the wild ox.” Psalm 18:1 “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” Psalm 132:17 “There I will make a horn to sprout for David. I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame.” When a horn sprouts on an ox’s head and becomes like iron, then he must be feared by all his enemies. Our God becomes a mighty defense and Christ becomes a horn of salvation because he uses his power to secure and protect his people as a spiritual conqueror. HIS NAME IS JOHN! Let the ox horn sprout his glorious presence and power over you! What will be your faith filled empowerment words once you are let out of the shutdown? I pray you will come out swinging full of the Holy Ghost!

THE GREATNESS OF MARY’S SON

Lk.1:31,32 – And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,

This young teenager had to be totally overwhelmed by the events that day. First, angelic visitation? How could she deal with that? Then she hears that she would have a baby as a virgin! Unthinkable! Next, she would become pregnant before her marriage? Scandalous! To top things off, the most amazing news of all. This child would be great, the very Son of God. Hear is how Adam Clarke explains the greatness of Mary’s Son.

“He shall be great. Behold the greatness of the man Christ Jesus: 1st. Because that human nature that should be born of the virgin was to be united with the Divine nature. 2dly. In consequence of this, that human nature should be called in a peculiar sense the SON of the most high God; because God would produce it in her womb without the intervention of man. 3. He shall be the everlasting Head and Sovereign of his Church. 4thly. His government and kingdom shall be eternal. Revolutions may destroy the kingdoms of the earth, but the powers and gates of hell and death shall never be able to destroy or injure the kingdom of Christ. His is the only dominion that shall never have an end.The kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory form the endless government of Christ.”

Clarke shares four reasons for the greatness of Mary’s Son. First, He would be fully man and fully God at the same time. This has offended everyone from the Pharisees to the modern day Muslims. This is truly the mystery of God; God Himself clothed as a human. Secondly, the most unimaginable concept, He would be born of a virgin. This is impossible without the direct intervention of God Himself. That is exactly what happened, Mary conceived in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. Next, He would be the head of His church. Today, He is known as our chief Shepherd, He leads His church in all nations. Finally, His kingdom will last forever; it is not like any other kingdom. His kingdom is not something that can be seen with human eyes. It does not consist of buildings or organizations. His kingdom is the secret, unseen kingdom characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

MARY’S SONG

Lk.1:46,47 – And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”.

Mary is describing supernatural utterance as she begins this prophetic song. She says ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’. This is exactly how Luke describes the supernatural utterance in tongues when describing what happened to the gentiles in Cornelius’s house. He said that the Jewish believers were shocked when they heard the gentiles speak in tongues and magnify God. This is how Luke described it, Acts 10:46,47 – “And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God”. The prayer language is a vocal, supernatural language declaring the magnificence of the Lord. Mary was so full of God that she too broke out in a prophetic song magnifying the Lord. This is how Adam Clarke describes Mary’s song.

“This is the only way in which God can be magnified, or made great; for, strictly speaking, nothing can be added to God, for he is infinite and eternal; therefore the way to magnify him is to show forth and celebrate those acts in which he has manifested his greatness.”

Mary’s prophetic song is an example of how people respond when they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The prayer language and the gift of prophesy is how we pour out this blessing. Mary was a picture of the church about to be birthed through the ministry of her Son. Her angelic visitation and the overshadowing with the Holy Spirit marked her for the rest of her life. She was totally consumed, inside and outside, with the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit. Here is Clarke speaking about Mary being filled with God.

“My spirit hath rejoiced. Exulted. These words are uncommonly emphatical, they show that Mary’s whole soul was filled with the Divine influence, and wrapped up in God.”

This would not be the last encounter Mary would have with the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, Luke lists Mary as being in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon everyone in the room. He said that everyone there spoke in other tongues. Here again we see Mary magnifying the Lord with her Spirit songs. The good news for us, we can all be overshadowed with the Holy Spirit and pour out our hearts in prophetic songs.

MARY, MARY

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.”Luke 1:46–48

Mary is an unusual character in the gospel story. Of all human beings she had the most unusual relationship with our Lord. Think about it! Mary carried Him in her womb for nine months, probably nursed Him at her breast for three years, and raised Him as her son. She taught Him the basic essentials of being a human, she had access to our Lord no one else ever enjoyed. It is even said by some from earliest accounts that He was a dead ringer for His mom, His face was her face. At the same time Mary walked in incredible humility. She disappeared in the background as her son became a man and began His ministry. She recognized at the end of the day that she was like all the rest of us, sinners in need of a Savior. Here are some powerful thoughts from Luther on Mary.
“Mary had total confidence that God was her Savior, even though she couldn’t tell that this was true by seeing or feeling it. Mary was able to fully trust God because the Lord had placed this faith inside of her. Mary put things in the right order in this verse (today’s scripture verse). First, she called God her Lord. Next, she called him her Savior. Then she proclaimed what God had done. By doing this, she teaches us to love and praise God for who he is. She shows us the right place to start. We shouldn’t begin our prayers by selfishly asking what God can do for us. Mary’s example teaches us to love and praise God for no other reason than his goodness. We should find joy and pleasure in who he is. This is an exalted, pure, and tender way of loving and praising God. It shows us Mary’s extraordinary and tender spirit.”
Mary is a picture of any of us who are ever privileged to be used by God. He chooses us, equips us, anoints us, and opens the opportunities for us to be used by God. Yet at the end of the day we have to quietly slip into the shadows like Mary. It wasn’t about her and it is certainly not about us, it is always about Jesus. Mary, Mary did you really know who He was and the great plan He had for you?

READING FROM THE STARS OF PROMISE

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea,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.” Luke 1:5

The Old Testament in the book of Malachi ends with an historic prophecy about the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. It is hard to believe 400 years pass between the Old Testament and the New. A lot can happen in 400 years! But time is so amazing that when it does happen, when God steps into our world, it always seem as if it always was. I pray if your world has grown silent, a “fullness of time” would come to you. When you start to read the gospel of Luke you can tell the great clock of heaven had begun to move again. “The fullness of time was not yet come. The time was maturing, but was not yet ripe. Heaven was long ago prepared for an Incarnation. There must be a leading up to God’s gift, or HIs blessings cease to be blessings. The world must be prepared for the Christ, or virtually He is no Christ, no Savior to them. The Christ must come into the world’s mind as a familiar thought. He must come into the world’s heart as a deep-felt need, before He can come as the Word Incarnate.”
Luke, right off in Chapter One begins to tell of that prophetic hour, “In the days of Herod, King of Judea”. Such is the phrase that now strikes the Divine hour, and leads in the dawn of a new era, the time when the Dayspring on High will arise with healing in His wings. My, how a moment can change a world! All I know is that God, the angel Gabriel, Son of God and or the Holy Spirit show up everyday in our lives with hope healing and new beginnings. Everyone in this Luke story was taken by surprise. The unexpected came. We can let 400 years pass us by or we can be like Simeon who “read from the stars of promise” and “filled his heart with music of fond hope” he kept awake till the dawn of morn. (Quotes from Expositor)
Do you know that you always live in the divine hour? The fullness of time has come for you! Put yourself in the place of expectancy and cast your vision! He is always moving in the ordinary!

MAGNIFY

Luke 1:46 ¶ And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

I love what happens to people when they have an encounter with God. It has happened to radically different kinds of people from various cultures and even different centuries. The beauty to me is this, there is a very familiar sense that we get when we hear of someone else’s testimony of what the Lord has done in their life. That is what this famous song of Mary is all about, she is breaking out into a spontaneous prophetic song of joy as she reflects on what had recently happened to her with the angelic encounter. Like the angel had said, the Spirit of the Lord had come upon Mary and overshadowed her. She had conceived in her womb God’s only begotten Son. There had obviously been a fresh anointing placed upon her life, thus the prophetic song of joy.  Martin Luther spoke often about this beautiful song, here are some of his thoughts.

‘We come to the “magnifies,” which means to make great, to exalt, to esteem one highly, as having the power, the knowledge, and the desire to preform many great and good things, such as those that follow in this canticle. Just as a book title indicates what is the contents of the book, so this word “magnifies” is used by Mary to indicate what her hymn of praise is to be about, namely, the great works and deeds of God, for the strengthening of our faith, for the comforting of all those of low degree, and for the terrifying of all the mighty ones of earth. We are to let the hymn serve this threefold purpose; for she sang it not for herself alone but for us all, to sing it after her.’

That brings us to you. How is it with your soul as we approach this Christmas of 2014? Over two thousand Christmas times have come and gone since Mary first sang her song. Today, I believe Mary is still singing, gathered with the very angels that had announced the birth of her Son around God’s throne. The best news is this, that same anointing that came upon Mary can come upon us today. It doesn’t take much. If you just think about Him and His works and talk about Him, you too will be caught up in the rhythm  of Mary’s song. You too will magnify the Lord and sing of His great works.

MY SPIRIT REJOICES

Luke 1:46, 47 ¶ And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

As Mary begins to sing her famous song, ‘The Magnificat’, if you listen carefully you can feel the joy pouring out of her. It’s as if every bone in her body is rejoicing; rather than trying to pent it up, she breaks out into this powerful prophetic song. Mary has just a glimpse of what actually is happening in her body and the greatness of her Son, but her spirit knows that something greater than she can fathom has just begun. How can you shut down such a surge of God’s joy and revelation? Why should you? Mary was a picture of the coming New Testament church. The joy she tasted as she carried Christ in her womb shadows the joy we have today as we carry Christ in our heart. Why should we quench that flow of joy? Here are some comments from Martin Luther on this great song.

“These words express the strong ardor and exuberant joy with which all her mind and life are inwardly exalted in the Spirit. Therefore she does not say, “I exalt the Lord”, but, “My soul doth exalt Him.” It is as if she said: “My life and all my senses float in the love and praise of God and in lofty pleasures, so that I am no longer mistress of myself; I am exalted, more than I exalt myself, to Praise the Lord.” This is the experience of those who are saturated with the divine sweetness and Spirit; They cannot find words to utter what they feel. For to praise the Lord is not a work of man; it is rather a joyful suffering and the work of God alone. It cannot be taught in words but must be learned in one’s own experience. Even as David says in Psalm 34:8: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is sweet; blessed is the man that trusts in Him.” He puts tasting before seeing, because this sweetness cannot be known unless own has experienced and felt it for himself; and no one can attain to such experience unless he trusts in God with his whole heart when he is in the depths and in sore straits.”
As Luther said, ‘ this is the experience of those who are saturated with the divine sweetness and Spirit’. Just as Mary anticipated the birth of her Son with joy, we anticipate the coming joys of His Christmas visitations and His soon return for His church.

LIGHT TO THEM THAT SIT IN DARKNESS

MERRY MONDAY – BY PARRIS BAILEY
“To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79

It’s hard for an unbeliever to admit he is sitting in darkness. Jesus even said ” because you say you can see, you are blind”. Elliot said “it’s like the sunrise lighting up the path of those who had sat all night long in the dark ravine, and whose feet were now guided into “the way of peace”. I love the word being a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It keeps me from falling into the ditch. He gives us the ability to discern the darkness from the light.
Spurgeon describes our frame of mind without Christ. “The gloom is thick and dense; not sun, nor moon, nor star appeareth, and there can be no light to illumine the understanding, the affections, the conscience. Man has no power to get light. He may strike the damp match of reason, but it will not yield him a clear flame. The candle of superstition, with its tiny glare, will but expose the darkness in which he is wrapped. Rise, morning star! Come, Jesus, come! Thou art the sun of righteousness, and healing is beneath thy wings. Without Christ there is no light of true spiritual knowledge, no light of true spiritual enjoyment, no light in which the brightness of truth can be seen, or the warmth of fellowship proved. The soul, like the men of Napthali, sits in darkness, and seeth no light.”
Psalm 119 is filled with delighting with Gods word. When we are hit with darkness, doubt and destruction, Christ can bring illumination. I pray you can find a quiet place to brood over his word. The more you read the more he will pierce asunder your soul and spirit and discern your thoughts and intent. He will expose the darkness by his powerful light!
Spurgeon again speaks to the faint at heart . “Are any of you at this time bowing down under the shadow of death? Has hell gaped wide, and opened her jaws for you? Have you in your despair made a league with death, and a covenant with hell? Thus saith the Lord, “Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand;” for the Lord has come forth, and visited you in the person of his dear Son to deliver the captive.”
Open his word this morning and ask him to shine his grace upon you. He will guide your feet unto the way of peace. He has taken away your judgements and has come to shed his love upon you. The gospel is always good news!