“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
What an amazing account! God Almighty was born of a virgin and placed in a feeding trough in a stable. Who would ever expect the Creator of the universe to make His entrance into the world in such a humble fashion?
Men always seek to proclaim their glory as far and wide as possible. Yet here is the only one who really has any glory to proclaim, and He comes humbly. It wasn’t because He didn’t have the power to do things otherwise.
He could have chosen to be born in a fashion that would have brought all creation to their knees in worship. He could have announced His birth to the most powerful and famous men of the day instead of lowly shepherds. He could have had the most luxurious accommodations instead of a stable. But that is not the way of our God. It would not have taken any faith on the part of men if Jesus came in such a manner that His deity was obvious.
Likewise with us, the Lord could manifest Himself to us in such a way that we couldn’t miss Him, but that wouldn’t please Him. God desires faith and, “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Today, let’s please our Heavenly Father and acknowledge His presence in faith just because of His promise (Mt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5).
Topic:JOSEPH WAS A MAN OF FAITH
“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.”
Much attention is given to Mary and her piety, but Joseph was quite a man of faith, too.
Verse 18 says that Mary was “found” with child, implying that the pregnancy was observed by Joseph, not explained to him by Mary. And this was after Mary had been away visiting Elisabeth for three months! (Lk. 1:56) Certainly Joseph was tempted with the same thoughts that you or I would have been. How could she expect him to believe that this was a virgin birth?
As special as Mary was, she had an equally special young man for a fiance.
How many men would have believed such an incredible story even if an angel had told them in a dream? It took more faith on Joseph’s part than it did on Mary’s.
This is the way it always is. Those who hear of the vision or call of God second hand have to exhibit an even greater faith than the person who received the word from the Lord directly.
The scriptures don’t mention whether or not Mary ever attempted to convince Joseph of the truth. What would have been the use? Only God could make someone believe a story like this. It is to Mary’s credit that she trusted God and to Joseph’s credit that he believed God. Today, do as the Lord bids you and trust God to take care of the rest.
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”
John the Baptist had the most important job assignment ever given to any mortal in the history of the world. He was to prepare the way for the coming of the long awaited Messiah (v. 76).
How did the Lord prepare John for such an important task? What university could teach him all he needed to know? Who offered a course in becoming the greatest prophet who ever lived? (Mt. 11:11) Of course, no one could prepare John for such an important position, so the Lord taught him personally. John was in the deserts until he was thirty years old. He was tutored directly by the Lord through the Holy Spirit.
The personal touch of the Lord became very obvious. Six months after John began his ministry, the whole nation of Israel was experiencing revival and anticipating the coming of the Christ. When Jesus came, the Jews wondered how he could know things he was never taught (Jn. 7:15).
This special knowledge which comes directly from the Lord through the Holy Spirit is now available to every believer.
It’s a part of the new covenant (Heb. 8:11). The Holy Spirit has been sent to be our teacher, but we have to show up at class and expect to receive (Jn. 14:26). He’ll even show us things to come (Jn. 16:13).
“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
Here, Mary makes a very clear distinction between her soul magnifying the Lord and her spirit rejoicing.
Our soul is the part of us that is considered to be our personality. It is our intellect, emotions and will. Our spirit is the part that gets changed at salvation and it is always operating in “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:22-23). That’s true whether our souls (feelings and emotions) “feel” it or not.
Many believers wait until their emotions feel like praising the Lord before they enter in to worship. They think it’s hypocritical to act like they are rejoicing in the Lord if they don’t “feel” it. But our spirits are always rejoicing in the Lord. It’s actually hypocritical to go by our feelings and not magnify the Lord with our souls when our born again spirits are already rejoicing.
Our born again spirits are always in tune with the Lord and walking in the joy of the Lord. Our flesh is often dominated by what it sees and feels.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like praising the Lord, but the choice rests with our souls. If we choose to praise the Lord, our emotions will follow.
The decision is yours (Dt. 30:19).
Today, choose to walk in the joy of the Lord.
“And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
There are many reasons why God’s blessings don’t always come to pass in a person’s life, but the most frequent cause is simply unbelief on our part. There are no limitations on God’s part. He is willing and able to do anything He has promised. The problem is with our believing.
The Lord has given every believer faith (Rom. 12:3). It was given to us at salvation through hearing the Word of God (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 10:17). It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). However, we must choose to exercise it.
Our faith is linked to our knowledge (2 Pet. 1:1-4). What we think on is how we will be (Pro. 23:7). The problem is not that we don’t have faith. The problem occurs when we don’t allow our faith to work because we don’t keep our minds stayed on God’s Word. Then our faith is choked out by the cares of this life (Mk. 4:19).
Keeping our minds stayed on God’s Word will release our faith and thereby release the power of God in our lives. Certainly Mary must have been a person who put God’s Word first in her life.
Mary saw a performance of what she believed. We receive what we believe, not what we desire or even need. Today believe the word that the Lord has spoken about you.
“And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.”
Upon hearing the greeting of Mary, John the Baptist leaped for joy inside his mother’s womb (v. 44). A six month old fetus experienced unbridled emotion, voluntarily leaped for joy and was actually filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is no coincidence that the man Jesus called the greatest of all Old Testament prophets, was the only man in the Bible to be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Lk. 7:28).
The anointing of God that breaks every yoke is simply the manifest presence and working of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 10:27). The Holy Spirit is the part of the Godhead that empowers us for service.
God is not asking us to live for Him. He is asking us to let Him live through us (Gal. 2:20). The Christian life is not a changed life but an exchanged life. This can only be accomplished when the Holy Spirit is leading and empowering us.
Even Jesus didn’t begin His ministry until he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and He was the sinless Son of God. How much more do we need to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Today, be conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit in you and expect Him to supernaturally guide and empower you.
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
What a statement! If we just believed this, how different our lives would be!
From birth we are trained to know our limitations. You can’t have this. Don’t touch that. Don’t put things in your mouth. You can’t touch the fire. On and on the list goes.
As we grow up, it’s actually a sign of maturity to recognize our limitations and learn to live within them. There are limits to everything. It’s a fact of life.
But God has no limits. When we enter into the realm of the supernatural, we have to take off all the limits. We have to renew our minds with the truth that God is not like us. He can do anything.
We have an awesome God whose power is so great that we can’t even comprehend it. He created the universe and it didn’t even tax His ability. Yet many times we find ourselves wondering if our situation is too hard for the Lord. We can’t see how even God can pull us through.
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27) The answer is a resounding NO! The only thing that limits God is our unbelief (Dt. 7:17). Today, let’s honor God by believing that nothing is too difficult for Him.
Topic:KNOWING GOD’S WILL IS NOT ENOUGH
“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
Contrast Mary’s question and Gabriel’s response with the question that Zacharias asked Gabriel and the response that he received (Luke 1:18-20). You will find the questions are similar but the responses are totally different.
Both Mary and Zacharias asked how these miracles would occur but it is evident that Mary was asking “how” in faith while Zacharias was asking “how” in unbelief. It is a clear Bible teaching that unbelief doesn’t please God (Heb. 11:6), but the Lord doesn’t mind us questioning Him for the purpose of instruction so we can cooperate with His will in our lives.
Abram knew that it was God’s will for him to have a son but Abram and Sarai came up with their own plan which caused them and the world much grief (Gen. 16:1-6). Abram would have avoided many problems if he had asked the Lord how He was going to accomplish this miraculous event.
If Mary had not questioned this angel, she might have reasoned that Jesus would be born through the natural union of her and Joseph. This would have been a grave mistake. It would have disqualified her from being used.
It’s not enough just to know God’s will. We need to continue to seek the Lord until we know God’s plan for accomplishing that will.
Topic:LET GOD’S PEACE LEAD YOU
“And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”
Just as every sport has disputes that must be settled by the officials, the peace of God is the umpire that settles all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives. We must learn to listen to and heed the peace of God in our hearts.
God’s peace is something that every born-again believer has. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. That peace is always umpiring; we just don’t always pay attention. How many times have you acted contrary to the peace in your heart and afterwards, you experience disaster? You say, “I never did feel good about that.” That was the peace of God umpiring, but we chose to play by our own rules.
There are some things we can do to facilitate the peace of God umpiring in our hearts. First, consider ALL the options. Many wrong decisions have been made because not all the options were considered. Don’t let fear rule out God’s possibilities. Next, use your imagination to explore what will happen with each choice. You should be able to discern a greater peace as you consider the option the Lord would have you take. That is not to say that there will be total peace with any of the choices. In your spirit there will be total peace over the right choice, but we aren’t always totally in the Spirit and it is not unusual for some turmoil to exist. Just as an umpire has to make a call, be bold enough to follow the direction that gives you the most peace.
The rudder on a ship can’t go any direction until the ship is moving. The ship doesn’t have to be going full steam ahead for the rudder to work, but it does have to be moving. Likewise, we have to act before the peace of God will give us perfect direction. Even if you make a mistake, you will have made it in faith, trying to follow the peace of God in your heart. The Lord can bless a wrong decision made in faith from a pure heart, more than He can bless indecision (Rom. 14:23).
Topic:PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION
“Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.”
In the Jews’ efforts to prevent anything from happening that would cause people to believe that Jesus was resurrected, they gave one of the most sure proofs of His resurrection. They sealed the tomb so it would be obvious if it had been opened and they obtained a guard of soldiers to protect it.
This removes all doubt that the followers of Jesus could have stolen His body. Therefore, the enemies of Jesus became a historical witness that Jesus literally rose from the dead.
The guards told the chief priests everything that happened at the tomb. This means that they had a complete account of the earthquake, the angels rolling away the stone, and the angels giving the message to the women that Jesus was alive from the dead. They may have even seen Jesus walk out of the tomb.
The very ones that the Jews had secured to guarantee there would be no rumors of Jesus being raised from the dead, became the first witnesses and heralds of the resurrection. Yet, with the testimony of impartial, non-religious eyewitnesses, they chose not to believe (Lk. 16:31).