Today, we begin a new message series called “Christmas Stories.” In this series, we’re going to be looking at four of the most well-known Christmas stories in the Bible. But we want to look at them with fresh eyes. Even though many of us could tell these stories by heart, I believe God wants to teach us some important lessons through them. It’s one thing to know a story, but it’s another to allow God to change your life through it.
1 Corinthians 10:11 (ESV) Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
This verse was written about Old Testament stories, but it also applies to New Testament stories. The stories in the Bible are not written only to teach us what happened in the past. They are written to give us examples, both of godly behavior and ungodly behavior. These examples can instruct us how we should live our lives today. We are living in the time which the Bible refers to as the end of the ages or the last days. The last days began when Jesus rose from the dead and continues until He comes again.
Sometimes the people in Bible stories seem larger than life, they have been called saints by some. Yet, the Bible teaches us that all believers are saints. The people in the Bible stories were not perfect, they were people just like you and I. So, we can learn from their lives and how God dealt with them.
Today’s message is entitled “Trust God for the Impossible.” What do we mean when we call something impossible? Impossible means that something is not possible by natural or normal means. Something is unable to happen. If you believe in something that appears impossible or you try to do something that others say is impossible, people will think you’re crazy. However, our title has a word in it that changes everything and that word is God.
We want to learn how to trust God for the impossible. God is not limited by natural or normal means. God is supernatural.
Matthew 19:26 (ESV) But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
There are many things in the world that are impossible for man and natural means. But that is not the end of the story. With God all things are possible because God’s power is unlimited.
Mark 9:23 (ESV) And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
In this verse, Jesus spoke to a man who was having difficulty in trusting God for an impossible healing. Jesus told him that if he would believe in God, then nothing is impossible, all things are possible.
Today, we’re going to look at the story of an angelic appearance to Mary to learn about trusting God for the impossible. I believe that God has put an impossible thing in each of our lives. Something that you know God desires but it seems impossible to you. Keep that in your mind as we go through the message this morning. Let God’s Word build your faith, because all things are possible for one who believes.
In our story today, we’re going to look at how God speaks to Mary through an angel and how Mary then responds to the angel’s message. As we do, I believe that God will be speaking His Word to us and we need to respond by following Mary’s example. First …
Luke 1:26-28 (ESV) In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
Our story begins with God sending an angel to visit Mary. Mary was a virgin who was betrothed to Joseph. Betrothal was similar to our engagement, but more binding. Angels are sent by God to deliver messages to people in the Bible. Angels have not disappeared and still appear to people today. In this case, the angel Gabriel announced that Mary was favored by God. As our story continues today, we’ll see how she was favored by God. Then the angel told Mary that the Lord was with her.
Now, Mary was a God-fearing Jewish girl, but she had never seen an angel before. Nor had she ever considered that she was special or that the Lord was with her in a unique way. This was all a complete surprise for her.
As we go through the message today, I believe that the Lord wants us to identify with and learn from Mary’s example. Of course, God’s plan for our lives is quite different than the plan He had for hers. As we look at stories in the Bible, it is important to distinguish between principles that apply to us today and specifics of the story or character that do not apply to us. Yet, we can learn a great deal about how God reveals His plans through this story.
The Lord, through the angel, encourages Mary by announcing that the Lord was with her. We’ll see the importance of that opening confirmation as we continue. Jesus said in
Matthew 28:20b (ESV) And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is Jesus’ promise to every believer. That He would always be with them and would never leave or forsake them.
So, this morning, no matter what you’re going through in life, whether good or bad, if you’re a believer God is with you. If you’re not a believer, God is seeking to be with you, but you need to respond to Him and invite Him into your life. We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes.
Luke 1:29-30 (ESV) But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
It appears that Mary was troubled by what the angel said to her, rather than the angel’s appearance. As a young peasant girl, she had probably never thought of herself as unique or specially favored. Now she was troubled and afraid on account of the angel’s words. Perhaps she understood that when an angel appeared with a message, the message would require something from her and would radically change her life. Gabriel seeks to ease her fears by reminding her that God has favored her and that is a good thing. So Mary’s first response to the angel’s message was one of fear and confusion.
When someone becomes a believer today, they often simply understand that God loves them and offers to forgive their sins. While that is true, what is often not understood or explained to new believers is that God has a specific plan for their lives. Life as they lived as an unbeliever is over. God has new plans for your life, plans you probably have never dreamed about.
God’s plans for your life can be confusing and scary at first, as they were for Mary. Yet God tells each one of us to not be afraid, to not worry, for if you’re a believer, you also have found favor with God. Oftentimes, we don’t even know how to respond to God or to pray to Him.
Romans 8:26 (ESV) Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
When we don’t know what to say to God about a particular situation, God promises to help us in our weakness. The Holy Spirit who lives inside of every believer will help us in our prayers to connect with God. Even though Mary was troubled and confused, God did not give up on her.
Luke 1:31-33 (ESV) 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Now the angel gets to the heart of his message to Mary. Even though she is a virgin and not yet married to Joseph, she will bear a son and name Him Jesus. Her child, Jesus, will not be an ordinary baby. He will be great and be called the son of God. He will be a King and will reign forever and His kingdom will be eternal. That was quite a message to receive as a young betrothed girl. Not only was she going to have a baby, the baby would be much more than human. They baby would be both divine and human and would live forever.
That was God’s plan for Mary’s life. A plan she never would have dreamed possible. A plan that gave her a unique privilege that would be shared with no one else. God had a plan to bless Mary in a wonderful way. That was the angel’s message.
Although angels still do appear to people today and give them messages, it doesn’t happen very frequently. I have never been visited by an angel to my knowledge. But God still communicates His plans to us if we have ears to listen.
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Just as God’s plans for Mary were good, so God’s plans for you are good as well. God’s plans for your life are the best possible plans there could be. God’s plans for your life are perfectly suited for who God has made you to be and where and when he has created you to live.
How does God communicate His plans to us today, if He doesn’t send an angel? God communicates with us in four ways: through His Word, through His Spirit, through godly counsel of others and through circumstances. God wants you to know His plan for your life. If you desire to follow His plan and seek to know it, He will show you. Even though God’s plans for our lives are a blessing, everything will not always be a walk in the park. Oftentimes, God’s plans for our lives may seem impossible and so it was with Mary.
Luke 1:34 (ESV) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Mary didn’t seem so concerned that her son would be God and live forever. She couldn’t figure out how she could become pregnant since she was a virgin and not married. In other words, the angel’s words and plan for her life seemed impossible. In the Bible, we see this reaction over and over again when God gives someone His plan for their lives.
Moses did not want to speak to Pharaoh about letting the Israelites go. Abraham and Sarah did not want to wait for God to give Sarah a son but tried their own way. And so on.
To give Mary credit, she did not say that the God’s plan was impossible, she asked a question as to how it could possibly work.
And we are often the same today. When God calls us to do something, we often simply respond that we can’t do it or it won’t work. Translated that often means, we don’t want to do what God calls us to do. Sometimes we may think it’s impossible for us, other times, we simply don’t want to make the effort.
Yet, what is the truth about God’s plans for our lives? God’s plans for your life are always impossible in your own strength. God’s plans for your life almost always involve you doing something you’ve never done before. God wants to teach you to do new things. God’s plan for your life involves big plans like your career and marriage, but it also involves smaller plans like being involved in ministry, witnessing, giving and discipling others. We must remember that everything that God calls us to do are possible with Him. Not only are they possible, they are the very best way we can live our lives for Him.
If we think something is impossible, we need to ask, like Mary, How will this work? So, the angel answers Mary’s question.
Luke 1:35-37 (ESV) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
What seems impossible by natural means, that a virgin would give birth to a son, is possible by supernatural means. In this case and in every case, the answer to things that seem impossible is the power of the Holy Spirit. In Mary’s case, the child, Jesus, would be conceived through Mary and the Spirit. So, He would be fully human and fully divine, the very Son of God. The angel concludes to Mary that nothing will be impossible with God.
In fact, God had enabled her relative Elizabeth to conceive John the Baptist with her husband Zechariah, even though she was old and barren. The Spirit enables all the plans of God in our lives.
2 Peter 1:3 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
In this verse, circle the phrase “all things.” The power of God has given us everything we need to pertain to God’s plans for our lives. This includes things that relate to our spiritual lives and things that relate to the necessities of life. As we put the spiritual things of life first, seeking God’s kingdom first, God promises to meet our needs. How? Through the power of the Spirit.
So, what impossible things are there in your life today? Might be a lost relative who seems far from God. Might be a financial or job issue that seem impossible to resolve. Might be a health or relationship issue. Might be a ministry issue and the list could go on and on. Whatever it is, remember, nothing is impossible with God. The power of the Spirit is available to bring about God’s plan for your life. What should our response be to God’s plan?
Luke 1:38 (ESV) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary made it clear that she was submitting to the Lord as His servant. Lord means Master and Mary was committed to serving Him. Her next words, “let it be to me according to your word” revealed her faith. Mary choose to believe that God’s Word, spoken to her by the angel, was going to happen, no matter how impossible it seemed to her. In faith, Mary surrendered to God’s plan and put her faith in God to accomplish it.
Sometimes, we are tempted to fight God’s plans for our lives, rather than surrender to them. We may argue with God or seek to ignore what He is saying to us. Or we may simply not seek to know what His plans are for us.
If we don’t follow God’s plans for our lives, which is God’s will, what is the alternative? In this message, I almost wrote here that the alternative to God’s plans is our plans. That’s what we may think, but that’s really not true. The alternative to God’s plans for our lives is Satan’s plan. Our choice is simply whether to follow God’s plans or the enemy’s plans. God’s plans will lead to blessings and Satan’s plans will lead to curses. There really is no neutral ground. We must surrender to God’s plan.
As Mary surrendered to God’s plan, she was privileged to bring into the world, the very Son of God. And she saw Him minister, die on the cross, be raised from the dead and ascend back into heaven. At the beginning, when the angel announced the plan to her, she had no idea how it was all going to take place. But God was with her each step of the way. And one day, we’ll see Mary in heaven, I have no doubt.
In closing, let’s watch a video of the song “Mary Did You Know.” Mary didn’t know what was going to happen as she surrendered to God’s plan, but it was wonderful. God likewise, doesn’t show us every aspect of His plan for us, but He shows us enough to take the next step. We can be confident that as we surrender to and follow God’s plan, we will find blessing.