A sermon idea for Advent based on Luke 1:26-38.
The Big Point: God could certainly choose to overpower the world with his glory, but instead, he chooses to patiently share his love and his message of redemption through redeemed people.
Disclaimer: I know that the word “use” can, for many, carry a connotation of exploitation, but there is nothing in God’s character that suggests a desire to exploit us. In fact, he grants us complete freedom even when he probably shouldn’t. That said…
A prayer I’ve been praying since my late teens when I first felt a calling to ministry has been, “God, please use me for your glory in the world.” I’m still praying that prayer, and one of the examples I look to is Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The problem is that God’s invitation to us to be used as his instruments presents an interruption in our expectations and removes our ability to remain in control. God’s calling requires surrender.
Luke 1:26-38 NRSV
 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to 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 holy; he will be called Son of God.  And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
When it comes to being used by God…
1. God uses people only by His grace.
Numerous times in this passage, the angel says that Mary is the object of God’s “favor.” That word refers to His gracious choosing of an instrument. Mary was a sinner, saved by grace.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NRSV
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
2. God uses people who are available.
Looking at Mary’s example, she was faithful in being ready to take up the assignment. When God spoke, she didn’t say “no” and she didn’t demand more evidence. She was simply ready for the assignment. She asks how it will all happen but she does not interject her own opinion of things. She simply lets God have His way.
3. God uses people in His own power.
Mary asks how the miraculous birth of Jesus is supposed to occur. A natural question considering her virginity. God’s answer is clear:
- The Holy Ghost will accomplish it supernaturally.
- The power of God will overcome the laws of nature.
- All the world will testify of God’s power.
4. God uses people for His own purpose.
God always has His own reasons for using people. He is never obligated to tell us His purposes and His purposes are sometimes past finding out. He just thinks differently.
But we do get an insight into two of God’s greatest purposes as they are revealed to Mary…
God used Mary to birth Jesus to save others. (vs. 31-33)
Why Mary? Who knows but God. What we do know is that God selected her for the purpose of being the incubator for the Messiah so that all the world could trust Him and be saved. God does things in our lives as well so that others might be saved.
God used Mary so He would receive the glory. (vs. 46-56)
Are you ready to be used by God today? You first need an experience of His grace! He invites you into a personal relationship with himself through his grace, in his power, and for his purposes. Are you available?
The cover photo is available to be used freely by Dan Kiefer via Unsplash.