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Advent 2021: Week 3 Devotional

Passage: Luke 1:46-55

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones land exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Devotion Title: The Christian Response

As the Advent season approaches, I can’t help but to engage in some soul-searching and to reflect on the Christian response. Lately, my heart has been far from God. The murky uncertainties of life have clouded me with fear, void my tongue of praise, and robbed me of my heart of worship towards God. While sojourning on this earth, we often lose our bearings. We get lost in the everyday, forgetting who we were, who we are now, and how we should feel as a result. As I turn my attention to my Creator, I am confronted by His Word regarding my attitude of praise, or lack thereof.

Foraging Scripture for the Christian response (to the Advent), brought me to Luke 1 & 2, where numerous individuals are mentioned. All these individuals responded to the good news of Christ with worship towards God (v. 41, v. 46, v. 67; Luke 2:13, 25, 36). As I reflect on my spiritual poverty, Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:46-55) in particular stood out to me. Earlier in this chapter (v. 35), God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary. She was told that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. When Mary was found to be with a child from the Holy Spirit, her husband Joseph was also visited by an angel (Matthew 1:20-21). Joseph was told that Mary would bear him a Son and that he shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. In response to what she had been told, Mary responded with worship. Through her song, we see what an attitude of praise looks like.

"While sojourning on this earth, we often lose our bearings ... forgetting who we were, who we are now, and how we should feel as a result"

Firstly, Mary’s worship comes from her innermost being (vv. 46 - 47), for her soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in the God of her salvation. There was heart behind Mary’s worship (Isaiah 29:13). Her intense deep gratitude towards her Saviour manifests in joy, and a desire is to continuously magnify (make great/extol) the Lord.

Secondly, Mary has a humble attitude in her worship. She recognises that she is neither deserving nor qualified (v. 48) of God’s choosing. Overwhelmed by God’s grace, she responds to what Elizabeth had said (vv. 42 – 43) in praise towards God.

Lastly, she understands the cause of her worship. In particular what God has done for her (v. 48) and what He has done for His people. Not only was God mindful of her (Psalm 8:4) and chose her to be the mother of the Messiah, but also God saved her from her sins. Even though her social status did not change, her spiritual status did! Mary recognised God’s mercy (v. 50), His strength (v. 51) and His faithfulness (v. 54). God’s word engraved in her heart sprung out and turned into a song as she quotes from Psalm 103:17 and 1 Samuel 2:1–10 contrasting how God scattered the proud, brought down the mighty, sent away the rich; to the exaltation of the humble and the filling-up of those who are hungry. She ends her song of praise recognising that God is merciful not because Israel deserves it. But rather because of who God is. For in His great mercy, He remembers His covenant (vv. 54 – 55) and remains faithful despite Israel’s destitute condition.

"Even though Mary's social status did not change, her spiritual status did"

God is immutable, His promises and His covenant does not change. Why then do we worship Him circumstantially? Through Mary’s song of praise, I am convicted over the state of my heart, in particular my lack of gratitude and praise. For I have forgotten who I was (a child of wrath), who I now am (a child of God) and the appropriate response to God’s grace. Mary’s song has shown me what it means to love your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind (Matthew 22:37). For God does not delight in our mindless rituals (burnt offerings) but rather our steadfast love and our knowledge of Him (Hosea 6:6). What He desires is our heart, for that is the greatest commandment. As we venture towards a new year, let us hold on to an attitude of praise and worship towards God. Remembering what He has done for us His people, trusting in His character and His promises as we await the second coming of Christ.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to You in praise and worship. We thank You for who You are, what You have done for us Your people, in particular the sending of Your Son Jesus to save us from our sins. It is through Your Son Jesus that we have received the Spirit of adoption and are now able to call you Abba Father. Through His blood on the cross, our Good Shepherd laid down His life and paid the penalty for our sins, removed our guilt, and conquered the hold of sin over us. Holding fast to this truth, we are able to live each day with overwhelming joy, gratitude and praise in our hearts. Like sheep, at times we wander and get lost, but we know that He who began a good work in us will carry it to completion until His return. Thus we are able to live each day without fear, for He will find His sheep when they are lost.

Father we thank You for Your grace. We recognise that we are underserving of it. We ask of You to continue to speak to us through Your word. Illuminate our path and show us where to go, day and night. All these things we pray in Your son Jesus’ most precious Name. Amen.

(Ah dearest Jesus – by Martin Luther)

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,

Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled
 Within my heart, that it may be

A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy doth leap,

My lips no more can silence keep;
 I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
 That sweetest ancient cradle song.

Glory to God in highest heaven, 
Who unto man His Son hath given;
 While angels sing with tender mirth,
 A glad new year to all the earth.

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