Magnifies the Lord"
It has been said that the word "hallelujah" is
the one word that means the same thing in every language. "Hallelujah"
simply means "Praise God." There have probably been numerous times in our
lives when we just want to stop and shout the one word "Hallelujah". At
other times we have probably wanted to stop and reiterate with many words
what God has done for us.
Samuel Morse invented the first telegraph. When
the first transmission was made more than a century ago, the message Morse
declared was "What hath God wrought". Someone has suggested if the event
were to occur in our times the message would most likely say, "What man
can do!" There has been a tremendous change in the attitude of the average
individual on the street. We are a generation that's turned from praising
God to praising ourselves. Generally speaking, there was a time when the
Lord was given due recognition. His power was respected and mankind's attainments
were credited to the abilities he received from his Creator.
A well known author was speaking at a Christian
writer's seminar. He has written over seventy books. He made a statement
that his ability was a gift from God. He indicated that it had taken him
a long time to say his abilities as a writer was a gift of God. He understood
that many say it is a gift from God when actually it isn't. It's just human
effort and human desires. It took him a long time to admit his abilities
was a gift from God. Out of respect for God, he refused to say what he
was doing as a writer was a special gift from God. He indicated that even
a gift of God takes a lot of toil and sweat to develop.
The trouble with most of us is, when we put forth
the toil and sweat we begin to focus on what we have done rather than the
ability God has given us. As we begin to take pride in the work of
our own hands we lose sight of God. In many ways we are too reluctant to
admit the abilities God has given us. We had rather attribute it to our
ingenuity. When Morse said, "What hath God wrought," he was giving credit
to God. He was giving the glory to God. This seems to be better than saying,
"Look at what I have done." After all God has given us dominion over the
earth, we shouldn't be surprised at what he has enabled us to accomplish.
This attitude infects the church's worship. People
come to worship to be recognized and made to feel good rather than recognize
God as creator, sustainer and giver of all blessings. If we don't receive
the praise and recognition we are looking for, we become bored. R.
C. Sproul said, "If people find worship boring and irrelevant, it can only
mean they have no sense of the presence of God in it. It is impossible
to be bored in the presence of God if you know that He is there." True
biblical worship so satisfies our total personality that we don't have
to shop around for man-made substitutes.
After attending church one Sunday morning, a little
boy knelt at his bedside that night and prayed, "Dear God, we had a good
time at church today--but I wish you had been there!"
To worship and praise God is to recognize his
worth or worthiness; to look God-ward, and to acknowledge in all appropriate
ways the value of what we see. The Bible calls this activity "glorifying
God" or "giving glory to God," and views it as the ultimate end, and from
one point of view, the whole duty of man.
Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due
his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. (NIV)
Splendor and majesty are before
him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or
whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)
My soul magnifies God when I begin to focus on what
the Lord has done and is doing for me. Praise must begin with what God
has made possible for each of us. This may sound sort of self-centered,
but keep in mind that we are focused on what God has done or is doing.
The focus is on what God is doing. Until we see what the Lord has done
for us, there is no cause to burst out in praise.
"The Mighty One has done great things for me
. . . "
When Mary conceived the Christ child she visited
the mother of John the Baptist, who was now six months into her pregnancy.
Elizabeth helped her see what God was doing and how blessed she was above
all women. In a loud voice Elizabeth proclaimed:
"Blessed are you among women, and
blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother
of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached
my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed
that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (NIV)
When Mary begins to realize the impact of it all
she burst out in praise.
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies
the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been
mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations
will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for
me-- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought
down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled
the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped
his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants
forever, even as he said to our fathers." (NIV)
Mary's praise proclaims, "The Mighty One has
done great things for me . . . " It is a personal focus, but Mary does
not lose sight of God. To rediscover the worship of praise we must rediscover
the mighty things God has done for us personally. We find Mary rejoicing
because the Lord has been mindful of her. Here we find Mary the mother
of Jesus bursting out in a "Hallelujah" chorus in praise of what God is
doing in her life.
"Hallelujahs" occur when we stand in awe of what
God is doing for us personally. Mary stood and sung, "My soul magnifies
the Lord . . . " There can never really be true worship of God until we
understand what God has done for us personally. It is one thing to
come to the Lord's table and see what God has done for the salvation of
the world, it is quite another to see what God is doing for me personally.
It is one thing to stand with the saints and shout songs of praise to God,
but to sing praise for what God is doing in my life, well that is real
Whether times are good or bad this is where praise
begins. In the book 450 Stories for Life, Gust Anderson tells about visiting
a church in a farming community of eastern Alberta, Canada, where there
had been 8 years of drought. The farmers were deep in debt, and their economic
situation looked hopeless. In spite of their poverty, however, many of
them continued to meet together to worship and praise God. Anderson was
especially impressed by the testimony of one of these farmers. Dressed
in overalls and an old coat--the best clothes he had- -the man stood up
and quoted Habakkuk 3:17-18. With deep meaning he said, "Although the fig
tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor
of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock
shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls;
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
Anderson thought, that dear saint has found the secret of joyful praise!
Mary exclaimed " . . . the Mighty One has done
great things for me . . . "
"He has regarded my lowly state . . . "
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies
the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call
me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his
Hannah praised God when she conceived a son she prayed
1 Samuel 2:8
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has
them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the
LORD's; upon them he has set the world. (NIV)
God gave Nathan the prophet a message for
David. It was actually a reminder of what God had done for David and a
revelation of what he was going to do for him. "Now then, tell my servant
David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture
and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have
been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies
from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the
greatest men of the earth . . . " (2 Samuel 7:8-9 NIV)
Notice the response of David after God has given
him so much.
2 Sam 7:18-19
Then King David went in and sat
before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is
my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough
in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future
of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man,
O Sovereign LORD? (NIV)
As we read these verses, we may continue to
believe that these promises are to virgins and men after God's own heart.
Yet, these promises are to every person. In Mary's song of praise, she
says, " . . . His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation
to generation . . . " God leaves no one out. That was the point of him
coming to the humble and lowly. He specifically says so in the following
As Jesus was saying these things,
a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth
and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the
word of God and obey it." (NIV)
He raiseth up the poor out of the
dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with
princes, even with the princes of his people. He maketh the barren woman
to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.
We all know what dung is; it doesn't take
a lot of imagination to figure out what a dunghill is. You have heard someone
say about a person: "He or she could fall into a sewer and come out smelling
like a rose." This usually referred to a person's luck. It meant that the
person was so lucky that nothing ever went wrong. But the Psalmist says
God lifts the needy out of the dunghill and actually gives them the Rose
of Sharon. It has nothing to do with luck, but rather what the Mighty One
has done for us.
"He has scattered those who are proud .
. . "
As Mary focuses on what God is doing for her
personally, she begins to see the bigger picture. She begins to comprehend
what God is doing in the world to exalt her life. Mary says, "He has
performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud
in their inmost thoughts." (Luke 1:51) He scatters the proud. It is impossible
to fathom the depth of the destructive forces of pride. We know what it
is to deal with proud people. A proud person lifts self above others to
get a nasal view of the world. They imagine themselves to be above the
fray of life. A proud person believes that rules are for everyone but self.
We know the trouble they cause. As Mary walked among a proud troubled world,
she sees God exalting her as he scatters the proud. It is amazing, how
God hurls the insults of the proud upon their own heads.
As men were building the tower of Babel, they
were trying to make a name for themselves. God made each of them speak
in a different language and scattered them over the face of the earth.
Mary envisions God scattering the proud to make a straight path for her
Though the LORD is on high, he
looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in
the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against
the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. (NIV)
For all those things hath mine
hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this
man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and
trembleth at my word. (KJV)
1 Peter 5:5-7
Young men, in the same way be submissive
to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward
one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift
you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn't know what
to do. Napoleon's massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been
spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the
Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether
they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender.
It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local
church. The preacher rose and said, "Friends, we have been counting on
our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of
our Lord's resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services
as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness,
and not the power of God to defend us." The council accepted his plan and
the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that
the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before
the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.
"He has brought down rulers . . . "
Mary's song of praise says, "He has brought down
rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble." (Luke 2:52)
He bestows rain on the earth; he
sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those
who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so
that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in
the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from
the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. "Blessed is the man
whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. (NIV)
The Pharisee stood up and prayed
about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers,
evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a
week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a
distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and
said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather
than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts
himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (NIV)
"He has filled the hungry with good
things . . . "
Mary's praise continues. "He has filled the hungry
with good things but has sent the rich away empty." (Luke 2:53)
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not
God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith
and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have
insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they
not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who
are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? (NIV)
1 Samuel 2:1-8
Then Hannah prayed and said:
"My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My
mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.
"There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there
is no Rock like our God. "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth
speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds
are weighed. "The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who
stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves
out for food, but those who were hungry hunger no more. She who was barren
has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. "The
LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises
up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For
the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world.
1 Corinthians 4:8
Already you have all you want!
Already you have become rich! You have become kings-- and that without
us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings
with you! (NIV)
You can't really know how rich you are until
you realize how poor you were to begin with. Notice in the following verses
how poor the Corinthians were.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the wicked
will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually
immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual
offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But
you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of
the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV)
How were they made rich? It was the same way
Mary was made rich. Through the blessed birth of Christ.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,
so that you through his poverty might become rich. (NIV)
A widely respected man known as "Uncle Johnson"
died in Michigan at the incredible age of 120. Perhaps his advanced years
could be credited in part to the cheerful outlook that characterized his
life. One day while at work in his garden, he was singing songs of praise
to God. His minister, who was passing by, looked over the fence and called,
"Uncle Johnson, you seem very happy today." "Yes, I was just thinking,"
said the old man. "Thinking about what?" questioned his preacher. "Oh,
I was just thinking that if the crumbs of joy that fall from the Master's
table in this world are so good, what will the great loaf in glory be like!
I tell you, sir, there will be enough for everyone and some to spare up
"He has helped his servant Israel . . .
As Mary focuses on what God has done for her,
she is forced to back up and refocus her life on the sovereignty of God.
Mary says, "He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he has said to our fathers."
(Luke 254-55) What God was doing for Abraham, he was in essence doing for
all of Abraham's descendants. In fact, the fulfillment of the covenant
to Abraham was what the birth of Christ was all about.
The Psalmist looked back and reiterated what God
had done for Abraham's descendants.
Let them exalt him in the assembly
of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. He turned rivers
into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into
a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there. He turned
the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs;
to here he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they
could settle. They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful
harvest; he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did
not let their herds diminish. Then their numbers decreased, and they were
humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste. But he lifted the needy out of their
affliction and increased their families like flocks. The upright see and
rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths. Whoever is wise, let him
heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD. (NIV)
Someone said that a eulogy is "Praise that is
Contrary to popular opinion, God is not dead,
but his praise is long overdue.
The Gospel of Luke