Topics: God, God's plan
I. Surprised by God's plan
* Mary found favor with God and had special access to Jesus!
- And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:28-33).
- The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior" (Judges 6:12).
II. Submissive to God's plan
* Mary believed God's message and humbly yielded to His plan!
- "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.? And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:37, 38).
- "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14a).
- "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).
- "Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You" (Jeremiah 32:17).
- And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
III. Suffering in God's plan
*Mary realized that finding favor with God doesn't remove suffering!
- And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed - and a sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:33-35).
- For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29).
Sermon by Pastor Rod Akins, December 18th, 2022
Life group flow and discussion questions
Finding favor with God
An important Guideline of Life Groups: Discuss in your Life Group what is required to "find favor with God". This is an important truth to understand.
- What do you think it means that Mary is blessed among women (Luke 1:42, 48)? How should we respond to the non-biblical teaching of the "Immaculate Conception"? Why does Mary describe Jesus as "God my Savior" (Luke 1:47)?
- How can follow Mary's example as she experienced the Grace of God, believed the Word of God, was used by the Spirit of God to accomplish the Will of God?
- Have you ever been surprised by God's clear calling on your life? Have you ever been afraid of His plan (Luke 1:30)?
- Why do you think that God chooses to work out His eternal plan and purposes through human vessels?
- Do you believe that you, like Mary, have found favor with God = special access to Jesus (Ephesians 3:11, 12)?
- Why do you think that God chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus's earthly parents?
- When Mary described herself as "the bondslave of the Lord," what Scriptural tradition did she probably have in mind (Exodus 21:5, 6; Deuteronomy 15:16, 17)?
- How does the truth that "nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37) impact the way you live your life? How did it impact others (Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26)?
- Is Mary's obedience to God's plan an inspiration to your own life? Did she continue to have an obedient attitude with Jesus (John 2:5)?
- What is your biblical understanding of suffering? How does suffering also attain God's favor (1 Peter 2:19-21)?
Now What? Application:
- What aspect of your life do you need to be more faithful in obedience? How will you make it different this week?
- Will you do a Bible study of suffering as a Christian in order to find favor with God?