13 Dec 2013
Have you started making plans for how you will celebrate your Saviors birth? This is the time of the year when those of us who have been re-born by the blood remember and commemorate the birth of God’s Greatest Gift to mankind. We are told in the first chapter of Luke how this birth came to be.
Luke 1:26-30 (NASB95)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
Looking into the written record of the birth of John and Jesus there is striking evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit and of angels, heavenly messengers from God. While we celebrate this Holiday every year it seems very easy to become a little fuzzy as it pertains to the plan and work of God that we are to commemorate.
We have the awesome advantage of seeing the events of that first Christmas from a big picture perspective. That is if we care to energetically engage our hearts and minds in this endeavor. Perhaps we are torn between floating downstream with the Christmas culture created in the marketing halls of Fifth Avenue, or refocusing on the real meaning of Christmas, the revealed plan of God, the sending to mankind a Savior.
Think for a moment of the starting point as far back as we can see from revealed scripture. A young priest from the division of Abia is married to a daughter of Aaron, by the name of Elizabeth. As all young brides in those days, Elizabeth longed to have a child. She and her husband Zachariah prayed diligently that the LORD would give them a child. But as the years passed eventually they ceased from this prayer as they had long since passed the age of childbearing. [becoming far advanced in years]
In spite of the apparent “no” answer to their prayers for a child, both Zachariah and Elizabeth continued to serve the Lord in faith and obedience until one day as Zachariah was offering incense on the altar in the Temple, he was met by an angel, a messenger from God. The angel [Gabriel] told him that their long ago prayers had been heard and they were to have a child and his name was to be John. The angel continued to give several specific directions concerning this child but Zachariah did not believe the angel’s message.
It should be pretty clear that when angels speak they always know what they are talking about, that is if they are among those angels loyal to God. Sure enough shortly after the angel’s visit Elizabeth became with child in her old age. Then in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, Gabriel paid a visit to another, a relative of Elizabeth by the name of Mary. Mary is probably in her early teens and is engaged to a righteous man by the name of Joseph.
After greeting Mary with words of grace, Gabriel told Mary that while she was a virgin she would have a child, without knowing a man. Mary asked, “how can this be?” Gabriel answered [ quote from the Amp Bible] 35 “Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God.”
Oh yes, we nearly forgot to mention that Gabriel told Zachariah that the son to be born to Elizabeth would be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. Angels and the Holy Spirit were manifested abundantly in the lives of these two godly women. This must be a kind of revival.
We normally think of revival of faith and obedience at a more sudden thing. Usually however when we look deeper into a powerful work of God; we understand that God has been preparing for the more apparent work in ways that are often less known. For example most authentic revivals seem to have evidence of God preparing the way by setting some hearts to pray. After praying for some time, then God sends the power of His Spirit upon an area or community to bring about His powerful work of conviction, repentance and submission to the gospel truth.
We rarely think of birth of Jesus as the start of a revival. But perhaps we should consider the spiritual work that was set in place by this unique and oft promised birth. If we were go back in time to just prior to Jesus’ birth and do a sidewalk poll on the streets of Jerusalem we would likely get the sense that the Messiah for Whom they were awaiting was the One who would bring to them “revival” in a broader sense of this word.
It seems to be fact that the birth of Jesus set into motion the potential for revival in a more powerful sense that had ever been known to man prior to that time We see after the arrival of Jesus His promise that it was better for His followers that He should go away because if He were to go away the Holy Spirit would come. He also said to His disciples “the Spirit is now with you and He will be in you.”
It seems that on the Day of Pentecost the fact that the Spirit enteredin and operated in them with little or no resistance accounted for the power of the work of the Spirit on that day and months and years that followed. It also seems reasonably likely that the believers upon whom the tongues of fire fell on that day had in general much less resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit than most of us today. If this is true, why is it so? Is the limitation on our side or on God’s? Did God prepare them in ways that are not available to us today?
Since God’s nature is unchangeable, it would appear likely that the limitations to accomplish great works desired by God, as we see in the first century are not on the side of God. But rather some manner or type of deficiency on the part of man is more probable the root cause.
Hebrews 13:8 (NASB95)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
While it is true that God has determined to work through men at different times in different ways, in general it seem that God has elected to move positively with more power and effect when His people are humbly seeking and in faith obeying Him.
This brings us back to the question ….. how are we planning to celebrate Christmas? If we were to authentically ask what would God desire in regard to every aspect of our celebration and intently listen for His answer, in what ways would our celebration change? Perhaps it is not enough just to say Christmas is about Christ? How should our means and methods of celebration firmly reflect this truth?
The Pharisees of Jesus day completely missed the coming of the Messiah. They had their expectations and their plans. Never mind that they were not God’s plan. Is it possible that we too could largely miss Jesus this Christmas as we pursue our plans and preconceived perceptions?
Today would be an excellent time for us to begin to pray concerning our plans for this year’s Christmas celebrations. Perhaps God would send another Christmas revival if many would authentically ask for God’s direction and explicitly obey the directions from our LORD and Savior, by His Holy Spirit.