The Call: Woman of Obedience, 23 November 2014

Big Idea: Mary is not just for Catholics, but an obedient girl who responded to the call of God.

The story of the birth of Jesus begins not on Christmas Day, but nine months or so prior. An angel calls Mary and announces her assignment (she really has no say in the matter!). She understandably asks the obvious question (v. 34) but does not object (as we will see next week). Has God called you to do something? It may not be as significant as giving birth to the Messiah, but are you being obedient to the smaller assignments He has given to you? Why did God choose Mary? It was likely because she was a woman (girl?) of obedience prior to the assignment.

keywords: calling, mission, obedience

Key Scripture: Luke 1:26-37

Introduction: Call

When someone calls you, what do you do?

That’s a vague question, right? It depends upon who calls and how. Two hundred years ago if you wanted to call a person you could use your voice or possibly a letter, one a bit more instantaneous than the other!

Then the telephone. We still have a land line. We almost never answer it, especially before political elections! If you ever call my house and we hang up on you, don’t take it personally! I’ve always tried to be respectful to people when they call. Half the time it’s not even a human on the other end. I sometimes pick up and just listen, waiting for a voice, then hanging up if there’s much more than a moment of silence on the other end. You might say I’m not very responsive if you call me on my home phone.

The same is sometimes true for the office phone. Caller ID is a blessing! Perhaps a third of the calls to the church office are telemarketers, another third are people in distress asking for money, and the final third are people calling for other purposes.

My cell phone is different. When it rings, I almost always respond. I don’t get too many telemarketers (knock on wood!). If my wife or one of my kids is on the caller ID, I almost always respond.

Have you ever noticed sometimes the phone is more important than the person in front of you? It’s amazing how tempting it is to let a phone call with a human take precedence over the human with whom we are interacting. I try to never interrupt a live conversation for a phone call unless it is my immediate family. That’s why they created voice mail!

Have you ever heard your name called in a public place? Your name may be the most important word in the world. It grabs your attention immediately. Perhaps you’ve heard your name over the PA system in a store or someone yelled your name across a parking lot. It’s unexpected, surprising, and sometimes rather fun. My father-in-law is the king of this! He retired to Florida and it seems every we talk with him he has another story of some old military buddy or high school colleague he encountered near his home.

Imagine a stranger called your name. They came to you and said, “Greetings!”

I’d probably run or tell them I’m out of cash if they wanted my money!

Imagine being a teenage girl and suddenly you’re confronted by…an angel!

Angels are real. The Bible is full of them. One third left to follow satan when he was kicked out of heaven for his pride, a failed coup attempt against God.

Have you ever met an angel?

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel
to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)

This is great new! First, the angel is very friendly. “Greetings.” Then Mary is told she is highly favored. Who wouldn’t want an angel to announce that to them? Then Mary is told the Lord is the her.

Imagine you go for a walk in the park and a friendly angel announces God is with you and you’re highly favored. What could be better?

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. (Luke 1:29)

Greatly troubled at his words? It doesn’t say she was troubled by the appearance of a ghost. She was troubled at the angel’s words.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Mary was afraid. Perhaps angels can be scary! He repeats Mary’s favor with God. David is mentioned again…and Jacob, too. Gentiles tend to skip over these details, seeing them as unimportant facts, but as a Jew, they were significant. Prophecy clearly stated the Messiah would be a descendant of David. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the beginning of the people of Israel.

Matthew states it this way:

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose
mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16)

Last week we talked about women and how they have not always been given the freedom, recognition, responsibility, and opportunities afforded to men. Here is the family tree of Jesus. It’s not too exciting at first, but notice the women included—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba…and Mary.

Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes or alleged. Ruth was a foreigner. Bathsheba committed adultery—or was a rape victim. It’s startling that these women would be specifically mentioned (since each man listed had a mom!).

The repeated phrase “The father of” shifts with Jesus since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, but He was born of Mary.

For about 400 years God had been silent, the inter-testamental period between the old and new. Then the aged Elizabeth gets pregnant and now the virgin Mary is with child.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

Very good question!

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:35-37)


With few exceptions, “Mariam” has been tossed aside by Protestants except for the month of December when we let her sit in the nativity scene beside the baby Jesus. Not wanting to “worship” her as Roman Catholics are often accused of doing, we ignore her faith, obedience, and important role throughout the life and death of Jesus. This series will strive to uncover the character and narrative of one of the Bible’s most underrated figures and one we are to call “blessed” (Luke 1:48b).

Why do we virtually ignore Mary? For some it is a reaction to Catholics. Contrary to some rumors, Mary was not a Roman Catholic!!! If Mary is overrated by Catholics, she is underrated by Protestants. Aside from being the mother of Jesus, she found favor with God and was carefully chosen to bring the Messiah into our world. As my professor Scot McKnight says, “We are Protestants; we believe in the Bible; Mary is in the Bible; we need to believe what the Bible says about Mary.”

Mary was obedient, not only in giving birth to Jesus (did she have a choice?!) but she clearly lived a life that honored God. She was undoubtedly faithful in the small things that allowed her to be chosen for a most monumental task.

So What?

What about you? Are you highly favored by God? I can promise you God is with you. That was His promise. Matthew’s final recorded words of Jesus—known as the Great Commission—say this:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice two things:

  1. Jesus wants His followers to obey…and teach others to obey. Obedience is God’s love language.
  2. He promises to be with us. Always. Psalm 139 is one of many explicit passages about God’s omnipresence—His ability to be with us always and everywhere. We are never alone. Never.

What is God saying to you today? What are you going to do about it?

Those two questions will determine not only your present but your future. God is not mad at you. He’s not trying to harm you or make your life miserable. He’s a great, loving Dad who can be trusted—even when He’s not understood.

One of the great things about Thanksgiving is the way it reminds us how we are truly blessed. Every good and perfect gift is from the LORD.

My prayer for you and me is that we would trust and obey. He’s calling you to obey. He’s calling me to obey. Have you heard His voice? If not, perhaps it’s time to spend more time with Him—in prayer and study of His Word.

For Further Study

The Real Mary by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Listen to God, b.l.e.s.s., 13 January 2013

Bless Everyone
Series: b.l.e.s.s.

Big Idea:
Listen to God.


Last week we began our new year with our new series and annual theme, b.l.e.s.s. We said that we have been blessed to be a blessing. This is a theme throughout history, most prominently in God’s covenant with Abram.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

We have defined success for Scio Community Church:

We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 

- serving our communities

- sharing our story
- sending disciples to bless the nations

so that God is glorified.

Last week’s challenge was...bless one person. Who and how did you bless last week? Don’t stop! It is my hope and prayer that Scio is known as a community of people that bless others. Today I’m going to introduce a second thing that I hope we are known for, but first let’s pray.


We just prayed. What is prayer? I used to think it was talking to God, but it is talking with God.

Do you like to talk? It has been said that we were given one mouth and two ears, suggesting that we ought to spend more time...listening.


Today’s word is “listen.”

Have you noticed how hard it is to get someone to listen...really listen? You can’t even call customer service and get someone to have to wait for twelve pre-recorded prompts before you can even talk to a human being!

I find it challenging to be a good listener. Do you?

It has been said that the opposite of listening is not speaking, but rather waiting to speak. It’s easy to think about what you want to say rather than truly hearing the other person.

Don’t believe me? Check out these gems from

“I don’t like to think before I speak. I like to be just as surprised as everyone else by what comes out of my mouth.”

“I wasn’t ignoring you, I just simply forgot to listen.”

“If I’m not trying to interrupt you, I’m probably not listening.”

“Thanks for listening to my problems and somehow making it all about you.”

“Sure, I’m a good listener. As long as we are talking about how great I am.”

Being fully present in the moment and truly listening to another is rare. Listening may be as powerful as anything you ever say.

How many of you have heard God speak in an audible voice?

If we’re honest, we might not want God to speak to us. We might be afraid that He’ll send us to Africa or take away all of our fun. The truth is, our Father loves us and wants the best for us...always. Always. It’s a matter of trust. If prayer is more than talking to God, it obviously involves listening to God.

How Do I Listen?

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Being still and listening to God can feel very awkward.

There are actually many ways in which we can hear from God. The first one—seen in the video clip—is the Bible. This is why it’s essential for us to be in God’s Word every day—not simply to tell everyone at the end of the year that we’ve finished reading the New Testament, but to listen to God.

He also speaks through circumstances, people, and often a still, small voice in our hearts, a voice that is not audible, but often just as real.

What has God been saying to you lately?

God’s Timing

As much as I love to think about prayer as a conversation with God and not merely talking to God, I must admit that many of the most significant things that God has spoken to me were not instantaneous responses to my prayers/questions. In fact, when I have set aside a minute or an hour or a day...or even a few days at the annual Pastors Prayer Summit, He rarely speaks on demand. I always leave those listening times at peace, though, knowing that I quieted my heart in order to hear God if He did have something to say to me at that moment.

I found this brief interview with Mother Teresa. I can’t very its authenticity, but it seems legitimate.

Interviewer: So you talk to God?
Mother Teresa: Yes.
Interviewer: What do you say?
Mother Teresa: Nothing.
Interviewer: Does he talk back?
Mother Teresa: Yes.
Interviewer: What does he say?
Mother Teresa: Nothing.

Actions speak louder than words. Sometimes words get in the way. Presence is all you need.

God wants to speak to us. He wants nothing more than a relationship with us. Some Christians talk about a relationship, but what they mean is Jesus died, they prayed a prayer, and now they’re going to heaven and can live life like everyone else.

Friends, God

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. (Habakkuk 2:1-2)

Often, when I least expect it, God speaks to me...surprise! I don’t know if He would speak as clearly, though, if I had consistently ignored Him. Spend time with God and you will hear His voice...eventually.


The challenge this week is simple:
spend one hour listening to God. You have 168. Can you spare one?

“What do I do for an hour?” you may ask.

Be still. Be quiet. Some of you are ready right now and others are freaking out!

In case you are envisioning sitting in your room, silent, for an hour, staring at the wall, let me suggest some tools to assist you.

1. Prepare. This might include fasting or even asking others to pray for your time. It involves setting aside time. Don’t rush. You cannot expect to share a great dinner with a friend in 60 seconds, nor can you expect a great conversation with God on the fly. Also, find a good—usually quiet—place.

2. Ask Questions. One of the best ways to listen to God is to simply ask Him a question. Following last week’s message and our annual theme bless, ask God, “Who and how can I bless today?”

3. Listen

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,... (James 1:19)

4. Take notes. Write down whatever thoughts/impressions you might have.

I often do what I call red-letter journaling. I will type out my prayers on my laptop and then change the text color to red, ask God to speak, and I type everything that comes to mind.


A man once asked God, “Why don’t you feed the starving people around the world?” to which God replied, “Why don’t you feed the starving people around the world?”

Note: God may speak through others. Keep your ears open!

How Do You Know It Is God?

Many cults have been formed after a person thought they heard God...and didn’t. How do we know it is God? First, it takes time. Imagine that I called you on the phone for the first time...a phone without Caller ID! You’d probably be pleasant for a while and eventually ask, “Who is this?”

Disclaimer: for those under 25, a phone call is what we used to do with phones before texting!

If I called you a few more times, eventually you’d recognize my voice and say, “Hi Kirk!” You know my voice.

There are few ways you can test whether the message you
think is from God is not bad lunch...or wishful thinking...or the enemy.

Jesus said, “
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

1. First and foremost, what does the Bible say? God will not contradict Himself. Period. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

  1. 2. Seek wise counsel. Godly men and women can often discern the source of messages. (Proverbs 11:14)

  1. 3. Pray for confirmation. If the message is persistent, it may be valid. (Matthew 18:16)

4. Is it possible? If it is, it might not be from God. He loves to work through our weakness. If it seems crazy, it
might be from God! (2 Corinthians 12:10)

  1. 5. Do you have peace about it? (Colossians 3:15)

  1. 6. Obey God. This goes back to the first test. You have to know the Truth...Jesus and His Word. Don’t expect it to be politically correct, either!

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Jesus Listened

Have you ever noticed how many times Jesus got away to pray? I used to think He did all of the talking, but He listened to the Father. He spent forty days fasting and praying before selecting the twelve disciples. He asked if there was a Plan B in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested and crucified. He made time for the Father. See Luke 22:39-44 as an example.

I doubt Jesus spent time asking the Father for more safety, comfort, or pleasure. He was seeking the will of the Father, and we can seek it, too...but be prepared to act.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

Acts 12:25 – 13:3
When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

How did the early church listen to God?
They heard from God as they worshipped and fasted…as they were laying down their own agendas for God’s. As the early church leaders were worshipping and fasting, they heard from God. God inspired them to send out Barnabas and Saul for the sake of blessing other people.

My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers

They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ `—Exodus 20:19

We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (
John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

“You speak with us, . . . but let not God speak with us . . . .” We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, “Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?” This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.

For Further Study

Credits: some materials borrowed from Charles Kiser (

You can listen to the podcast here.