Topic:GOD LOOKS FOR AVAILABILITY
“And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
The Old Testament passage being quoted is from Lev. 12:6-8. There the Lord commanded a lamb and a young pigeon or a turtledove as the prescribed sacrifice. If the woman was unable to offer a lamb, then two young pigeons or two turtledoves were acceptable. Mary would not have offered the lesser offering if it had been in her power to provide the lamb.
This reveals that Joseph and Mary were not well off financially, yet the Lord chose them to be the earthly parents of His only begotten Son.
The Lord doesn’t choose the way man chooses. Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
Mary and Joseph were chosen when they were without: without fame, without position, without money. God entrusted the most precious gift He had to a couple who would surely have been overlooked if men had been conducting the search.
God isn’t looking for ability, but rather availability. D. L. Moody once heard a preacher say, “The world has never seen what God can do with one man who is totally yielded to Him.” In response, D. L. said, “By the grace of God, I’ll be that man.” This uneducated man went on to shake three continents for God.
God will choose you too, if you’ll make yourself available to Him (1 Cor. 1:26-28).
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
In another instance, Jesus said He did not come to send peace on the earth, but a sword. Then He prophesied that those who received Him would experience persecution, even from their own family (Mt. 10:34-36). How do these verses fit together?
The peace the angels were singing about was not a peace between men; they were rejoicing that there would be peace between God and man. When Jesus prophesied division and war in Matthew 10, he was speaking of relationships between men.
Through the Old Testament law, God began to release His wrath on man’s sin (Rom. 4:15). It wasn’t the wrath of Satan that Jesus suffered on the cross.
He suffered the wrath of His Father (Isa. 53:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:21). The Father placed His punishment for our sins on Jesus. This ended the war between God and man. This is the peace that the angels were proclaiming.
As a result of men receiving this peace from God there have also been many cases of reconciliation between men, but that is an effect; not the actual peace that was spoken of. These effects are secondary.
Today, through Jesus, we now have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). God is not mad at us. He isn’t even upset. We have been accepted through Jesus (Eph. 1:6).
Believe the good news that through Jesus, the war between God and us is over.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Jesus did not grow into being Lord and Saviour. He was born that way. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). What a great mystery!
How could Almighty God limit Himself to the form of a man? And even if He did that, how could he possibly start as a baby? These questions defy human ability to fully understand.
At the dedication of the first temple, Solomon said, “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!”
(2 Chr. 6:18) How much less the body of a little child!
Part of the answer lies in the fact that God is a spirit (Jn. 4:24). Spirits are not limited by time and space. In Jesus’ spirit, He was the eternal God who created the universe. The physical body of Jesus was just His “earth suit” that He used to manifest Himself to mankind. All of Jesus’ deity could fit inside that body.
Even though this is still hard to grasp, it helps us understand how Christ Himself can live in us as believers (Col. 1:27). If all the glory of God could fit inside the physical body of Jesus, then all the fullness of God can dwell in us too (Jn. 1:16). Believe that Christ is in you today.
“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.
“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: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).
Topic:VALUE CHRIST HIGHER THAN SELF
“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”
Self-denial is embraced by much of Christianity today. Historically, self-denial has always been a big part of false religion. Most religions of the world teach an abasement of self, but they do it as penitence in order to obtain salvation. This is not the denying of self that the Bible advocates.
True self-denial as the scriptures promote is not self hatred or masochism, but rather an enthroning of Christ above self. We have a new identity in Christ that replaces the old self. We don’t deny self in order to obtain salvation, but it is a love response to what Christ has already done for us. He gave His all for us and we willingly give our all back to Him.
Denying self in an attempt to earn salvation is most always motivated by guilt and characterized by rigid rules. True Christianity, on the other hand, is not the observance of rituals, but a relationship that produces holiness as a fruit and not the root of salvation.
Holiness doesn’t come from the outside and work its way inside. When we are born again we become righteous, and we work that holiness out into our physical lives.
Trying to destroy the power of self through harsh laws actually arouses and strengthens sin. Christians must not let life become a set of rules, but rather a response to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.