Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 25

Christmas Day- Day 25

The house is quiet but not for long. In a couple of hours or maybe minutes the children will awake and the excitement will begin. It's Christmas morning! They had struggled to go to sleep anticipating the opening of the bright wrapped gifts as soon as they would awake! What was under the covers of the boxes and paper? Would it be the gifts they had dreamed of or could it be greater than they could even imagine?

As we read the story of the birth of Jesus it is important to understand the Matthew and Luke give the reader gifts that are wonderful to behold! Let's examine the some of the gifts that Luke gives to Theophilus who is the one to whom the gospel is written (Luke 1:1-4).

When reading the account of Luke of the birth of the Lord there a number of  gifts or themes that are quickly noticed. One that is prominent is the theme that the individual connected to the story of the birth are those who society of that day looked down upon. Zacharias and Elizabeth were an old couple with no children (Luke 1:7). Everyone understood that children were a blessing of the Lord (Psalms 127:3). Evidently they were not blessed! It was a shame!

 Luke induces us to other who have a particular position in fact they will be the King of Kings Heralds! No, it is not men of riches who are known for their intelligent, the wise men, that Luke will give this important job to, but it will be a handful of shepherds. They are treated as insignificant by the religious and social elite. They were known for being "sinners"! This was a technical term for a class of despised people.[1]

What of the old man and widow women who held the Lord in the temple? Both were at the bottom of the food chain! A widow with no children would face a future that was void of economic support. She would usually live in the house of her son but without that blessing she would have to live on the charity of her community. She had no Social Security, no welfare system in fact there was no relief for any of the poor. She was lonely and her life was empty of excitement of family life!
But one of the messages Luke's is trying to get across to Theophilus is the message that even the rejects of society can be chosen to be part of the Kingdom of God!

A second  gift or theme that is vital to receive is that your reception or rejection of the Word of God that has been spoke to you will affect your life in a positive or negative manner. If you accept the gift of promise given to you through the Word of God then you will be blessed! If you reject the gift of promise of the Word of God then you will face heartache.

This parallel can be seen in two of the main characters of Luke's rendition, Mary, and Zacharias.
Mary's opportunity to be the mother of Jesus was based on her reception of the Word of God spoken to her by the angel. We need to first understand that there were other  virgins in the land of Israel at this time. She was not the only one. To be able to have the angel Gabriel go to her she had fulfilled the second criteria of being "favored by God". The verb "favored"  or in the Greek χαριτόω charitóō declares the virgin Mary to be highly favored, approved of God to conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit.[2] Both of these positions of virgin and favored happened because of choices earlier in her life to obey the Word of God that she had been taught. Obedience led her to the moment of becoming more than she ever dreamed she could be.

The arrival of Gabriel with the wild promise of her becoming the mother of the Messiah was challenging to her logical thinking of how pregnancy happened and the emotional thought that she even qualified (Luke 1:29, 35). Her qualifications were tremendous but the final test would be would she believe the Word of God and acknowledge that belief?

The miracle will happen because the Spirit would "come on" her and "overshadow" her.  Both of these words are verbs spoken in the "future" tense. In other words they have not happened yet! The actions of the Spirit are waiting for her interaction with the Word of God! Will she act upon the promise and agree to the fulfillment of the Word of her life?

The following verse gives us the answer:

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 ESV)

This response is confirmed by Elizabeth when she states the following at the arrival of Mary's visit:

 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45 ESV)

Mary's words expressed her faith yet not only her faith but her trust in allowing the Spirit to be her the leader of her life.

It was different for Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. His doubt in the Word of God spoken by the angel Gabriel, the messenger angel, limited him and relegated him to struggle in life. At the arrival of the angel fear gripped his heart. The fear paralyzed his faith. His logical mind could not grasp the fact that he being and old man and his wife an old women they could have children. They were to advanced in years. Their bodies did not function properly.

Notice his response:

Luke 1:18 (KJV 1900)
18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

There was a difference in his response than Mary's response. Mary's response was to gain knowledge of how it was to happen but his was a request to know for sure that it would happen. Her question was a matter of information while his was a question for assurance that it would happen. His question expressed doubt not faith in the spoken Word.

The results of the two questions were different. Mary becomes pregnant while Zacharias becomes deaf because of his doubt.

Luke 1:19–20 (KJV 1900)

19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

The saddest point is that Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple who should have believed the Word while Mary is a young women who has no place in service to the Lord in the temple yet trust God's Word.

Your Response

Our faith in God's Word will determine our blessings. Take faith in the Word of God! Trust it then speak your faith in it, and take the action needed to obey the Word! When you do this your miracle will be conceived within your life and will come to birth in the near future!

Today is the celebration of the birth of the miracle of faith that happened in Mary! Let your miracle begin today in your life by first reading the Word of God, trusting in it promises, and obey all of it commands. The miracles will come in your life in 2015!

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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