Friday, December 12, 2014

Making God Look As Great As He Really Is

Is there anything in your life right now making God appear small?  

I had the opportunity this past weekend to look at Mary's song in Luke 1:39 - 55.  The phrase that really jumped out at me from that passage was when Mary said in verse 46 "My soul magnifies the Lord."  A telescope is a tool used for magnification.  It takes something big and begins to make it look as big as it really is.  Think about what Mary has heard and seen in just a short period of time.  She has seen and spoken to an angel.  She has heard that she will give birth to the Messiah.  And, oh by the way, she will do this while being a virgin.  Instead of freaking out and collapsing under the weight of this, she rejoices that God has chosen her and she begins to magnify God in the telescope sense ... taking Someone great and making Him look as great as He really is.

John Piper once said, "The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: Feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as He really is."  The question I asked myself while studying this passage was this:  What keeps me from magnifying God?  If Mary did it right, what do I do wrong?  And, so again, I ask you ... Is there anything in your life right now making God appear small?

I saw 4 different things that often keep me from feeling, thinking, and acting in a way that makes God look as great as He really is.

1. I can't magnify God if I don't believe God.  In Luke 1:45, Elizabeth said that Mary was blessed because she believed.  How would your life be different if you didn't just believe IN God, but you actually BELIEVED God.  The reality is that we do not live out what we know. We live out what we believe.  It's OK to take God up on his Godness.  He's up to the challenge and at the end of the day, He will always be the last one standing.  I magnify Him when I believe Him to be huge in any given situation and that God will either change what's going on or He will change me through what's going on.  

2. I can't magnify God if I'm busy magnifying myself.  In verses 48, 51, and 52, Mary is reminded that God honors humility.  This is a truth that fills the pages of Scripture.  Pride makes life more about me and less about God.  And, I think this is why God tells us in Proverbs 8:13 that He hates pride.  Our pride drags us away from God.  It refuses to admit that we need a Savior.  It refuses to admit that we're small.  It refuses to admit that I have issues.  It refuses to admit that I may actually be the cause of the relational conflict going on in my life.  It refuses to admit I have feelings I don't like and thoughts I don't want and regrets I can't let go of.  Pride keeps me in bondage to the worst this life has to offer and until we are willing to let go of our pride and admit that we are helpless to change on our own, we will always feel a sense of opposition in our life because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6).  Not sure about you, but I need a whole lot more grace in my life than I need opposition.  God opposes us not because He's out to get us but because, as the Creator of our souls, He has a sense of obligation to point us to our need for Him.  "Any preoccupation with myself will always put me at odds with God."  "We either God or we magnify ourselves, but we will never do both."

3. I can't magnify God if I'm not thankful for what He has done for me.  In verse 49 Mary said, "He who is holy has done great things for me."  Even in the midst of what could have been a pretty stressful situation, Mary was able to recognize the blessings of God in her life.  You can never go wrong with thankfulness.  Thankfulness is good for everyone because the alternative is a life of stress, entitlement, and just making life miserable for everyone else around you.  But, for those of us who follow Jesus, we, in particular, should be the most thankful people on the planet!  He who is holy has done great things for us!  The more thankful we are, the more reasons we find to be thankful.  I will always magnify God more with thankfulness than with crankfulness. 

4. I can't magnify God if I minimize His word.  A majority of Mary's song is based off of the Old Testament passage in 1 Samuel 2.  That passage records Hannah's song.  Hannah was longing for a child but was not able to conceive.  When she finally did conceive, words of praise burst from her soul.  It's not identical, but there are amazing similarities between what Hannah said in 1 Samuel 2 and what Mary said in Luke 1.  It shows me that Mary's life was tied to Scripture.  When she was overwhelmed by the goodness of her God, what flowed from her heart were the words of her God.  She was longing for a fulfillment of what God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 22:18 ... "and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."  Through the birth of Jesus, all nations on earth are blessed!  She was holding God to the promises of His word.  When I do the same, God is magnified.

If "the whole duty of the Christian is to feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as He really is" ... is there anything you need to start doing or stop doing in order to do this?  May we believe Him to be as great as He truly is and run from anything that keeps that from happening in our lives.

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