Week of December 19


“God’s Got a New Plan”

Read the Bible Through: John 5-6
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant’”
Luke 1:46–48, ESV


“If you want peace, work for justice.”[1] The pope stated that a peace that is not the result of true respect for others is not true “Peace.” He equated this sincere feeling for humankind to justice. Luke, in his celebratory Gospel letter, records the words of Mary who praised God for His sincere action in behalf of humankind that would bring the Prince of Peace into the world.

Today marks the final Sunday of Advent. The “Angels Candle” will be lit in homes and churches. The theme for this Lord’s Day is “Peace” and “Love.” Indeed, the heavenly host proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). Let’s consider the implications of God’s peace for our lives.
The God Who is our Peace
Peace? Yes, indeed, even though the land of Palestine during Mary’s day was a hotbed of political and social turmoil. There was a form of peace, but it was a Pax Romana, a peace guarded by legions of Roman soldiers that were tasked with squelching any sign of rebellion. Life was anything but peaceful! The world of our day typically thinks of peace that is maintained by military might, but Advent invites us to worship God for offering us a different kind of peace that lasts. How should we worship such a God?
Praise for God our Savior
Mary’s extraordinary song in Luke 1:46-55 is known as the “Magnificat,” which takes its name from the opening verb of the Latin Vulgate’s translation of Mary’s hymn (see 1:46, “magnifies”). Mary praised the Lord for what He was about to do, and for the role that she was to fulfill in that plan. She pours out praise to God, the “Savior” (1:47). This word is used 35 times with respect to God in the Old Testament. The psalmist, for example, wrote that we would receive blessing and righteousness from the God of our salvation, and Mary pours out her joy to the God who saves (24:5; 25:5; 95:1; cf. also Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 3:18)!
Praise God because He knows and values His children
Why would she (or we!) offer such lavish praise? She stated that God had been mindful of her humble state (1:48). She grounds her praise at first upon the knowledge that God’s coming Son would bring salvation to the poor and downtrodden. Luke will refer to this humble state again in 1:52. He need not be referring to her childlessness (cf. Hannah in 1 Samuel) because she is a young maiden at this time. It refers to her “low state” in worldly terms (cf. Acts 8:33; Philippians 3:21; James 1:10; NAC). Her child would demonstrate this same status, being born in a manger to poor, insignificant parents.

The Lord had in mind as well the geo-political insignificance of Israel (1:50-55). The angel would announce, “peace on earth” to the Bethlehem shepherds following the birth of its Prince, the Lord Jesus (Luke 2:14). He would demonstrate the goodness of God by bringing hope to the poor and downtrodden among His people; genuine justice. The result of God’s justice is revealed in the phrase, “from now on” (1:48; NAC). Luke will use this phrase several times in his gospel to refer to important events in salvation history (see 12:52; 22:18; Acts 18:6). So, this birth held implications for the future—indeed, all of eternity! It continues to hold lasting significance for all humanity.

“God’s Got a New Plan”

A massive tornado ripped through the town of Mayfield, Kentucky one week ago, leaving a pathway of destruction. The tornado was determined to be a “long-trek” twister, which refers to the fact that it remained on the ground for an incredible length of time. (One report estimated that it was on the ground for one-hundred-twenty-eight miles.) The winds were estimated to exceeded 200 miles per hour and pushed debris 30,000 feet into the air. It slammed into Mayfield and destroyed First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church, and First Christian Church, while badly damaging First Baptist Church. Most of the town of Mayfield was also destroyed. Seventy-four lives, as of this writing, were killed in Kentucky alone. A member of another church in the town said, “God’s got a new plan for our church and hopefully even Mayfield.” How may God bring peace into such destruction?

Thomas Watson states, “If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.” There is deep significance to the fact that God bends himself to establish a relationship with the voiceless and faceless and that Mary’s moment in human history impacts every generation of humankind. Her peace in the middle of God’s will may be ours in this season of our lives. God indeed has a new plan that brought lasting peace through His justice and, praise Him, we are beneficiaries of it. Praise God this day for His Peace!

Let’s Reflect and Discuss

1. Many of us have been broken and downtrodden by the circumstances of life. The pure joy of an insignificant maiden can be ours today when we consider that God had us in heart when He sent His Son into the world. Write down words of praise to God.

2. Much of our world exists each day under oppressive, tyrannical regimes. God’s gift of a Savior offers hope and justice to suffering humanity. Pray that God’s peace on earth through His Son would bring eternal hope to the hopeless.

3. For Families: Sometimes our children, no matter how young or old, love to be lulled to sleep with a lullaby. A parent’s voice singing softly is the sweetest sound a child can hear as they are drifting off to sleep. One of the loveliest Christmas tunes that remind us of God’s peace, is the assurance that “All is Well.” This song, by Michael W. Smith, and sung with Carrie Underwood, is a perfect song to sing to, or with, your children this season to remind their hearts that God has come to bring peace to us all. (Click here)
All is well, all is well, Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell into the dawn of love's light
Sing Ale, Sing Alleluia.

All is well, all is well, Let there be peace on earth
Christ is come, go and tell that He is in the manger
Sing Ale, Sing Alleluia.

All is well, all is well, Lift up your voices and sing
Born is now Emmanuel, Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia, Sing Alleluia.

All is well, Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia, Sing Alleluia, All is well.
May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock

[1] From Pope Paul VI’s January 1, 1972, celebratory letter.