This sermon from Pastor Kevin was delivered the Sunday before Christmas 2021. Before he started the sermon, Pastor Kevin had us pause for a time of stillness to focus our hearts and quiet our minds. There is a lot of activity during this season that can be overwhelming. Before you begin “digging deeper” with these questions, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and be still with the Lord in prayer. If being still is hard for you, maybe pray a name of God from Scripture and let it sit in your mind for a few minutes.
- Leading us to 2 Corinthians 3:12, Pastor Kevin noted that our past mistakes, skeletons, and blunders can keep us from being bold or thinking we can do bold things for the Kingdom. How might past mistakes, skeletons, and blunders keep someone from being a bold ambassador for Christ? If they feel unable, what should someone who struggles with their past do in order to claim hope and move from timidity to boldness?
Four factors we can consider when we, like Mary, feel unable or inadequate:
Favor (Luke 1:26-30)
- The word “favor” is often improperly defined in the church. What does it NOT mean to receive God’s favor? What DOES it mean to receive God’s favor?
- How has God shown you His favor?
- In light of Luke 2:14 (NIV) and Luke 4:18-19 (ESV), what does it mean that Jesus is the fullness of the favor of God?
- Mary’s plans for her life were interrupted. Your plans for your life may have been interrupted. Pastor Kevin observed that God’s greatest invitations often come through God’s greatest interruptions. What plans of yours has God interrupted? Has He used that interruption to invite you into something that He is doing in or through you?
- It’s hard to perceive how God might be at work or how He might use you in the future for His Kingdom. How might God’s past faithfulness and His promises help you proclaim something that you cannot yet perceive?
- What consuming insecurity or inadequacy follows you around and keeps you from walking in the favor of God? Why does this particular insecurity or inadequacy cause you such grief? What can you do to move on from this and walk in God’s favor?
Facts (Luke 1:31-33)
- Mary was given a series of facts by the angel Gabriel about the baby she would bear. How might knowing these facts have made the difficult path on which Mary would travel easier to bear? If you were in Mary’s shoes, which of these facts about Jesus would you find most meaningful?
- Sometimes we can allow the whispers of Satan and the consuming insecurities we carry around to get in the way of facts. What lies of the enemy do you believe about yourself? If you are a believer, a child of God, what does the Bible say is true about you, and what does it say is true about the person and work of Jesus on your behalf? Tell the lies the truth!
- The bad things we’ve walked through and the mistakes we’ve made are not our identity. Jesus Christ is our identity. Why is it so important to find our identity in Christ?
Fear (Luke 1:34)
- Mary’s fear and worry was expressed in the phrase, “How will this be…”. What ‘how’ is consuming and controlling your thoughts lately? Acknowledge it and lay it at the feet of Jesus.
- In Colossians 3:1, Jesus is described as “seated at the right hand of God”. Why is Jesus seated? Why is God not stressed by the things that stress you?
Fulfillment (Luke 1:35-38)
- What promises of God stated in Scripture have already been fulfilled? How do these fulfilled promises give you hope for the ones yet to be fulfilled?
- Pastor Kevin noted that the answer to Mary’s ‘how’ question was a ‘who’ (God) and that the who is greater than the how (who > how). How can your faith in the ‘who’ help you overcome your fear of the ‘how’ you identified in question 11?
- Some of us feel inadequate to be used by God because our abilities seem insignificant or not up to the task of what we feel called to do. When has God been able to use your availability to accomplish Kingdom work despite your feelings of inability?