Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Christmas is a season for expressing our joy to God. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think far too many of us as Christians are content to live this dull, bored-acting life. I get around some people and maybe they seem a little extreme or odd to others, but they're full of joy and full of expressions of what God has done. I think that's the way, at times, for all of usit should be.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, December 18, 2014.

I think most people find it natural to sing during the Christmas season. We want to express the wonder of Jesus' birth. As we began to see yesterday, things were no different on the very first Christmas. Here's Nancy to tell us more.

Nancy: We're looking at two of the songs of the first Christmas. They're the first New Testament hymns recorded for us. They're found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1. So if you have your Bible, let me encourage you to turn to Luke 1. We're going to be looking at Elizabeth's song and then later in this series at Mary's song.

Now the Scripture doesn't actually tell us . . . If you're following along in your Bible, you'll see that it doesn't say that these were "sung" or that these women "sang" these words. But theologians and historians have considered these the poetry, the songs, the hymns of Christmas.

Elizabeth's song has been called, in the Latin version of it, the Beatitude. That word means "supreme blessedness or happiness." It's a happy song. It's a song of a blessed woman.

Remember that Elizabeth had been for many, many years barren. Now she was an elderly woman and past the child-bearing age. But God had granted her heart's desire, answered her prayer in His time, and had blessed her with a child. She is now six months along in that pregnancy.

Her cousin Mary, who is a much younger woman, has been told by the angel that she too is going to have a child, and that child would be the Messiah.

Mary comes to visit Elizabeth, and we pick up with the scene in verse 41 of Luke 1.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb [that's in Elizabeth's womb]. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

"And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (vv. 41–45). 

That's what we call Elizabeth's song.

So the Scripture tells us, verse 41, "And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." Matthew Henry says about this passage that we should note that "those whom Christ graciously visits may know it by their being filled with the Holy Spirit." That's an evidence that Christ has come to visit our lives—we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

And the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is seen in the conversation that took place between these women.

It makes me think of the passage in Ephesians 5 that tells us an evidence and expression of being filled with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:18,

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 18–20).

So as Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, the evidence came out in praise, singing, speaking words of praise in gratitude and encouragement to other believers. As she was filled with the Holy Spirit, she was given discernment.

The Holy Spirit gave her the revelation that Mary, who had come to visit her, was to be the mother of the Messiah. The only way Elizabeth could have known that was God telling her that was true.

As she was filled with the Holy Spirit, she was given words to know how to respond to this incredible thing that was taking place. Then verse 42 tells us that "Elizabeth being filled with the Holy Spirit exclaimed with a loud cry."

There was this moment of this ecstatic excitement. I think far too many of us as Christians are content to live this dull, bored-acting life.

I get around some people and maybe they seem a little extreme or odd to others, but they're full of joy and full of expressions of what God has done. I think that's the way, at times, for all of us, it should be. She cried out with a loud voice. She was not self-conscious. This was just a spontaneous expression of delight and wonder and joy.

And what did she say when she cried out? She said to Mary, the younger mother of the two, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (Luke 1:42).

Now that word blessed or bless-ed is the word from which we get our English word, eulogy. It's a word that means, "to speak well of, to express good wishes."

She said to Mary and to the child that Mary was carrying, "I bless you. I speak well of you. I give you good wishes." She greeted Mary with a blessing. First she speaks blessing to Mary; then she speaks blessing to the child that Mary is carrying.

Now we're going to see that this song and Mary's song that follows are both supremely focused on Jesus and on God, His character. Mary and Elizabeth are not the center of this story. Christ is the center of this story. As you have relationships with other godly women, we're not the center of each others' stories. Life doesn't revolve around us. Our lives, worship, and conversation need to revolve around Christ, even as we'll see in these women.

As Elizabeth blesses Mary, we see that there's no jealousy on Elizabeth's part toward the younger woman who had received this incredible honor to be the mother of the Messiah. There's no comparison between these two women. And you know that where two women are, it's very easy to have sinful comparison, isn't it?

How come I can't speak like her? How come I can't sing like her? How come I didn’t get this opportunity? God blessed her with all these children, but God hasn't given me any. God blessed her with a husband, but God hasn't given me one. I wish God had blessed me with a husband more like her husband. Of course, you don’t have to live with her husband.

But as she speaks these words of blessing, there's no comparison between the two women. There's no sense of insecurity. There's just praise and encouragement. Elizabeth rejoices in God's blessing in Mary's life. “I'm thrilled for you,” is what we might say in our vernacular. I see in Elizabeth that she has a vision for motherhood and how it fits into God's redemptive plan.

"Blessed are you, Mary, among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" She didn't say to Mary, "How could you do this?"

Now, under the circumstance, she could have thought that. There's a teenage girl, pregnant, not married. But she quickly understood that God was doing something here that was different. So there's no criticism. There's no judgment. There's no disapproval.

Without stretching this text by way of application, could I just encourage you that when you see expectant mothers, bless them, instead of saying, "How could you?"

It's sad to say today—and I've had numbers of mothers tell me that when they are expecting another child, especially if it's more than number two or three, (that's the politically correct number) that some of the hardest times they get are from other believers, people in the church who are discouraging them, who are not happy for them because they're having another child.

The Scripture says that children are a blessing from the Lord; they're a gift. I see here in Elizabeth a woman who says, "It's a great thing that you're having a child now, especially that it's this particular child, the Christ, the Messiah!"

I love when I see expectant mothers. I love to pat their tummy and to say, "Bless you! Blessings on this child.” I love to pray a blessing for that child. I love to pray a blessing for newborns, to put my hands on the children or child in the womb and say, “Bless you.”

I love to say to those mothers when they are feeling very unattractive, very fat, very pregnant, “Bless you! Thank you for being willing to give of yourself to give life to others."

And I hope that's the attitude you have toward motherhood. If we could only see (now it's very obvious in this situation that these two mothers were giving birth to young sons who were going to be key players in God's redemptive plan, that's obvious but), God intends that your children should be instruments in His redemptive plan.

If we could only see children that way, see babies that way, see motherhood that way. It's a way of continuing a legacy of godliness, holiness, and taking Christ to the next generation. We need to see in our generation that children in the womb are a gift from God, that He has a plan for their lives, and we need to celebrate that!

Now I realize that's not a real politically correct thing I just said, but I believe it's biblical that childbirth, pregnancy, expectant mothers, that's an occasion for joy and celebration.

And then as Elizabeth blessed Mary, she recognized that Mary was the temple of God, the temple of His Son, and so are we if Christ lives in us. So should we not, when we see other believers, bless them, honor them? Bless each other—I think not just as it relates to expectant mothers, but just when we see another believer, we should bless them. We should speak well of them. We should express good wishes to them. Express humility. “I'm glad to see you.” Greet each other warmly and enthusiastically and graciously.

Even if that person is of a little different personality than ours, or not someone that we really like apart from Christ, the fact is if that person is a child of God, that person has God living in them. They are a temple of the Holy Spirit. So we bless the Christ who indwells that other person. Christ is in them!

That's why Paul said, "Greet each other with a holy kiss" (Rom. 16:16). You're greeting each other as representatives and containers of Christ. If Christ is in you, you are blessed. You're blessed to be chosen by Him to be His dwelling place.

If Christ is in that other person that you go to church with, or work with, or live nearby, then you need to bless that person. You need to bless the Christ within them. Greet each other; express good wishes, blessings to each other.

Now in verse 43 Elizabeth goes on to say to Mary, "And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"

Elizabeth is the older woman, the woman who was the wife of a priest, Zechariah. They had walked faithfully and blamelessly before God for many years the Scripture tells us earlier in this passage.

So here's a woman who could have considered herself the "older woman," the more experienced saint. She could have talked more about herself and her own pilgrimage, but she turns her attention to what God is doing in the life of this younger woman.

Elizabeth recognized and honored the work of God's grace in the life of her younger cousin. "Why is this granted to me," she said, "that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" She saw that God was doing something special in and through Mary's life and that's what her focus of conversation was about.

Now you imagine that Elizabeth—however old she was, she was past childbearing age. She's now six months pregnant. You can imagine she had a lot, she could have talked about her own pregnancy and all that goes with that, and the shock and the wonder and having her husband, who still was at the point where he couldn't talk because he had been struck dumb because he had not believed this.

So now she had been for six months with a husband who couldn't talk. Some of you are saying, "My husband hasn't talked in six months." But there are lots of things Elizabeth could have chosen to talk about, could have focused on. But instead, she focuses on the other person.

This reminds me, by the way, my dad used to tell us that when you are with people, you need to ask them questions. You need to focus on them. Other people don’t want to hear you talk about yourself; they want to talk about themselves. So ask some questions. Focus on others. It's really just a characteristic of love. Love is concerned about the other person. Love focuses on the other person.

So here's an older woman who is recognizing the work that God is doing by His grace in the life of the younger woman, and that's where her focus is.

Now she calls Mary, "The mother of my Lord." This baby who was born in Bethlehem, He is the Lord. He is God. He is not just the founder of another religion. He is not just another baby. He was not just born to be a "good" man, maybe a better man than anyone else who had ever lived. He was, and is, Christ the Lord.

Not only is He the Lord, but Elizabeth said, "The mother of my Lord." Already, Elizabeth, when this baby was still just in Mary's womb, recognized and worshiped, "He is my Lord."

There's a world of difference between recognizing that baby born in Bethlehem's manger is the Lord and recognizing that He is your Lord.

When He is your Lord, that calls for surrender; that calls for worship. There are a lot of people in our churches who say, "He's the Lord! Yes, He's the Lord!" But He's not their Lord. They've never personalized it. They've never personally put their faith, their trust and repented of their sins and trusted in Christ to be their savior, their Lord.

They're religious. They're church members. But they're not Christians. Until He is your Lord, you cannot claim to have God as your Father. You cannot claim to be a child of God. You cannot claim to be a Christian.

Now Matthew Henry in His commentary on this passage said that, "Those who are filled with the Holy Ghost have low thoughts of their own merits and high thoughts of God's favors."

"Low thoughts of their own merits and high thoughts of God's favors." And we see in Elizabeth a sense of wonder and awe that God would come to her house! "Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43).

This is humility. There's no sense of entitlement. "He owed it to me. He should have come. My husband and I have been good religious leaders, good church leaders; he's been a good priest." There's no sense of being owed this special visitation. “God owes me this,” or “God owes me that blessing.”

They're religious. They're church members. But they're not Christians. Until He is your Lord, you cannot claim to have God as your Father. You cannot claim to be a child of God. You cannot claim to be a Christian.

As I was meditating on this passage, I thought of a couple other examples in the Scripture where people demonstrated this attitude of humilitythat God would show favor upon them.

In Ruth 2 when Boaz had favor upon Ruth, he showed grace to her. Ruth 2:10 says,

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"

Now we know that in that story, Boaz is a picture, a type of Christ. And isn't that the attitude we should have, that Christ would have favor upon us? Have you lost a sense of the wonder that He would have chosen you?

I mean, I was saved at the age of four. I've never known anything other than God's favor in my life. As far as I can remember, that's all I can remember. And that's why it's easy for me to begin to think, God should have just saved me!

Now, I don't really consciously think that, but I easily lose the sense of wonder. "Lord! Why would You have had mercy on me, a stranger, a foreigner, someone who was your enemy? I didn't deserve to have You show mercy on me."

In Matthew 3, John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, was baptizing people who had repented of their sins. John said,

I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry" (Matt. 3:11).

And then verse 13 of Matthew 3,

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" (vv. 13–14).

You hear that sense of humility, that sense of wonder, that sense of awe?

In Luke 1:44 Elizabeth goes on to say, "For behold, [Mary], when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."

When I read that verse, I thought of another passage in the Old Testament. And, by the way, as you read the Scripture, it's great to cross reference as you read a passage that makes you think of another one. That's what a lot of the little notations are in my Bible as I'm seeing a passage that reminds me of another.

It's amazing how the Scripture is so integrated, it's such a whole. Psalm 98:8–9,

Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity.

Back in the Old Testament the psalmist was seeing with eyes of faith the coming of the Lord to visit His people. And he said, "This is so great that the rivers should clap their hands, the hills should sing for joy, the whole earth should rejoice."

I think of that great Christmas carol, "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!"

Then Elizabeth goes on to say to Mary in Luke 1:45, "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

Now the "blessed" or "bless-ed" in this verse is different than the one used just a few verses earlier where Elizabeth greets Mary and says, "Blessed are you and blessed is the Son, the fruit of your womb" (Luke 1:42, paraphrase).

In that case it was the word from which we get our word eulogy, "to speak well of, to express good wishes."

Now in verse 45 when she says, "Blessed is she who has believed," it's a different word. It's the word makarios. It means "one whom God makes fully satisfied," not because of favorable circumstances, but because He indwells the believer through Christ.

Let me read that again. To be makarios, to be blessed in this way is to be made fully satisfied by God. Not because your circumstances are all going well, but because God lives in you through Christ. It's the state of the believer in Christblessed, fully satisfied, content. You have all that you need. You have more than enough. You have more than all that you need.

That's the state you're in, the condition you're in when God lives in you through His Son, Jesus Christ. Blessed is she who has believed. Joy and blessing are the byproduct of believing what God has said.

That's how you come to faith in Christ. That's how you come to salvation, through believing that what God has said is true. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted" or credited "to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). When you believe that what God has said is true about yourself, about your sin, about Christ, about His salvation, when you believe with your heart and confess with your mouth, you are saved.

And that's how we continue to have joy and blessing in our lives. It is by continuing to believe every promise of God. "Blessed is she who has believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45).

Let me suggest to you that you will never be happy if you are not believing the promises of God. You need to know the promises of God. You need to get them into your head, into your heart, and you need to believe them.

That's the pathway to blessing, satisfaction, and fullness. That's why we need to be challenging each other as 21st century women, to know and to believe the promises of God.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been pointing you to the goodness and faithfulness of God. That message is part of a series is called "Songs of the First Christmas." 

Today’s program is an example of what so many women have come to appreciate about Nancy’s teaching on Revive Our Hearts. It’s rooted in God’s Word and practical for women today.

One listener named Debra appreciates this focus on God’s Word. After coming to know Christ, Debra starting going to church with her family.

Debra: It wasn't a really healthy church. It was the gospel, but it was pretty soft and topical preaching. It was a church with several doctrinal issues going on. I could have been led astray—being deceived. I thank God for my brother who had been a believer for years and had been walking faithfully with the Lord.

Leslie: Debra's brother said, "You need to hear solid Bible teaching. He told her about Revive Our Hearts.

Debra: I didn't realize how much I desired that kind of truth until I started hearing it. Had I not found that ministry, I wonder if I would be able to sit here and know the difference between truth and error.

Leslie: Nancy's teaching made a difference in Debra's life, so did Nancy's example.

Debra: I was a single women; she is a single woman. I saw her living that out. I was able to see that you can be a fruitful woman, you can spend it all in the ministry. I've been listening to her ever since, almost every day. She's like a spiritual mom to so many of us. She's consistently teaching, consistently being biblical, never wavering. That's hard to find. So when I heard it and I invested in that, it's been life-changing.

Leslie: Now Revive Our Hearts is helping Debra thrive in Christ.

Debra: It helps me to stay grounded in the Word. That's the main thing. When she has interviews with women who have gone through other struggles, it's overall encouraging. It's been life-changing.

Leslie: Nancy, I’m so thankful the Lord is helping Debra thrive in Christ through teaching of His Word.

Nancy: Me, too, Leslie. The Word of God is so powerful. It's such a joy to see it transforming lives day after day after day.

I'm so thankful for listeners who partner with Revive Our Hearts to make this ministry possible. With your prayers and your financial support, you are helping women like Debra thrive in Christ.

As we've been sharing with you recently, as a ministry, we're facing a significant need. We really need strong support from our listeners during the month of December so we don't have to scale back on our ministry outreaches during the coming months.

Donations have been lower than we needed during the summer and the fall, so we've been asking the Lord to make up this difference before we launch into a new year. So if God has used Revive Our Hearts to help you thrive, to help you grow this year, would you help us continue bringing you this program each weekday. We really need to hear from you at this critical time.

Here's some good news. Some friends of the ministry who are aware of these needs have offered to match each gift given to Revive Our Hearts during the month of December, up to $650,000. So your gift at this time will be doubled as part of this challenge.

Would you pray with us that the Lord would help us to meet, and to exceed, the entire matching challenge? As you're praying, would you ask Him if He would have you to be a part in giving to help meet that need? Ask Him what He would have to you to give, how much, what would honor Him? Your gift will be multiplied not only through the matching challenge, but your gift will be multiplied in the lives that are transformed as a result of the truth going out day after day into women's lives.

To make a donation at this time, you can just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you go there, you can also see an update on exactly where we are with the matching challenge. Thank you so much for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support at this important time.

Leslie:  Thanks Nancy.

Well, if you study the words of Mary, mother of Jesus, you'll realize that Christmas and worship go together. Find out more tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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