Luke 1:26-37 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.
No doubt this week there are children all over the world praying for a miracle. That designer piece of clothing, that new electronic, that special trip or experience that they know is usually out of reach for their parents or grandparents has a chance of becoming reality often at Christmastime. The Christmas season is a season that is often ripe for miracles to happen.
Max and Morgan Williams welcomed their new baby this week, Isabella Grace. A baby is such a miracle as we see all of the makings of big person, a person of destiny, influence and impact, wrapped in tiny flesh. Someone who can’t express a thought, analyze a situation, or ask for what they need will grow into a daughter, a friend, and so much more. That is a miracle! For Max and Morgan the miracle and wonder of the birth of their daughter is just the beginning of a multitude of miracles as they watch her grow.
The Christmas story is flooded with miracles! How about this one?
The Virgin Birth-Mary experienced a miracle when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and she conceived a baby through the power of the Holy Spirit. That hasn’t happened to anyone since. It was a miracle tailor-made for Mary. Her miracle was one of many Christmas miracles that remind each of us that “nothing is impossible with God!”
This virgin birth is a very important miracle for us as Christians. When it comes to Christianity and different denominations there are differences of opinions about a lot of things like whether when Christ comes back again He will establish an earthly kingdom or the judgment will take place and time begins in eternity for everyone on the face of the earth. There are probably as many different opinions on the end of times as there are people in this room. For us, as the Church of God, that issue is what is considered a non-essential one. In other words, we don’t all need to agree on that in order to walk with one another in Christian fellowship.
There are, however, some non-negotiables for us as Christian believers in the Church of God, and one of those is belief in the virgin birth. Jesus was born of a virgin. It is absolutely essential that we embrace that miracle as so much of the rest of our understanding of Jesus, who He was, what He came to do, why He was qualified to do it, rests on accepting Him as conceived of the Holy Spirit. There is no perfect Jesus without a Holy Spirit conception. If He came into the world the same way you and I did, then He was born with original sin like you and I are. If He was born with original sin as we are, then He was not qualified to be the sinless sacrifice for the sins of the world. The miracle of the virgin birth absolutely has made our salvation possible!
Prophesied hundreds of years before Mary became pregnant by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14, the virgin birth did occur as it had been foretold. Not only was it foretold which is great proof it happened, but the very fact that Joseph willingly took a submissive and supporting role in this whole deal at a time when men never took orders from a woman or submitted to a woman or supported a woman but were the rulers, overseers and shot callers of the day, that tells me absolutely 100% Joseph knew it was an immaculate conception. According to Jewish law he could have had her stoned. He certainly could have said her pregnancy was a deal-breaker for him and that the marriage was off. He didn’t choose either of those options because he was convinced that what Mary and an angel told him were true. The Holy Spirit had implanted baby Jesus inside Mary’s womb. What a Christmas miracle!
The Christmas Star Matthew 2:1-2 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
So, led by an unusual star, the Wisemen or Magi as they are called in this passage, found the Christ-child. There are many theories about this star and how it could have appeared to be so incredibly bright. A supernova is an exploding star which lasts for several months. It is quite bright and distinct from all of the other lights in the sky. If it had been a supernova, though, everyone would have noticed it. Herod didn’t seem to have seen it himself as he asked the Magi in Matthew 2:7 when the star had appeared in the sky. The star wasn’t a comet because comets don’t stand still, and Matthew 2:9 tells us the star was stationary over the house where Jesus could be found. Scholars believe the star was probably a “conjunction” which is when planets come together to create an amazing light in the sky.
However, even the notion of a conjunction doesn’t really explain how the star seemed to go ahead of the Wisemen, leading them from Persia to Jerusalem where Herod was, and why to Herod first? If the star was leading them to Bethlehem, why did it lead them to Jerusalem where Herod was first? A careful reading of the text suggests that when they got to Jerusalem, about six miles from Bethlehem, the star went away and they had to ask Herod for directions. God was intentionally bringing Herod into the Christmas story. God wanted Herod to know a new King had been born. It was only after Herod asked the Magi to find the Christ-child and report back to him (so he could attempt to kill the baby as he was a threat to Herod’s reign) . . . it was only after receiving those instructions that the text reveals the Wisemen were able to see the star again.
Verse nine of Matthew 2 says the star then went ahead of them and suddenly stopped over the place where Jesus was. I happen to think by that time it wasn’t high up in the sky, but was hovering lower to the earth’s surface to distinctly mark Christ’s whereabouts. It must have presented itself somewhat differently or vividly or suddenly because verse 10 tells us they were incredibly happy to see the star again.
Why did they even set out to follow the star? This is just speculation, but these men were from Persia where Daniel had been held in captivity. Remember, Daniel lived a God-fearing life even while in exile in Babylon. Perhaps because of Daniel’s influence, the Wisemen in that empire had read the Scriptures. Numbers 24:17 described a star which would announce a King! Why else would they have acted as if they knew the star meant a special kind of King had been born, the kind they would want to not only find, but to worship like they did when they found Him.
Psalm 19:1 tells us “The heavens declare the glory of God!” Super fitting that God would use the miracle of the star to lead the Wisemen to Jesus. What a Christmas miracle!
The Appearance of Angels-Scripture absolutely validates the presence of angels in our lives. References to angels occur at least 116 times in the OT and 175 in the NT. When it comes to the biblical account, the most talked about characters of the Christmas story were the angels. An angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him his wife Elizabeth was going to have John the Baptist, the one who would prepare the way for Jesus, even though she was barren and up in years. An angel visited Mary to tell her about her role in birthing the Messiah. An angel visited Joseph to tell him he could trust that Mary hadn’t been unfaithful and that he would be the earthly father to the Messiah. Angels visited the shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth. An angel appeared to Joseph sometime after Jesus was born to warn him that Herod was trying to kill the baby. In all four of the last mentioned accounts, the angels gave direction and comfort so that those who were hearing what they needed to do would not be afraid.
Psalm 91 tells us angels are also dispatched by God to guard and protect us. Dr. Kenneth Gangel gives the following account about a missionary’s encounter with angels:
There was a woman missionary alone on a compound in northern Africa during a riot by one of the local tribes. She hid in a closet and prayed as warriors advanced along the dusty road toward the houses where the “white intruders” lived. Amazingly, she never heard them. No one ever entered her building, and there was no evidence of any turmoil. She later learned that the warriors, who intended to kill everyone at the missionary compound and burn it to the ground, instead retreated when they found the compound guarded by tall warriors dressed in white and carrying large swords. Angels?
Another and similar account was also reported by a medical missionary at his home church in Michigan. He said:
While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, I traveled every two weeks by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This required camping overnight half way. On one of these trips, I saw two men fighting in the city. One was seriously injured, so I treated him and witnessed to him of the Lord Jesus Christ. I then returned home without incident.
Upon arriving in the city several weeks later, I was approached by the man I had treated earlier. He told me he had known that I carried money and medicine. He said, “Some friends and I followed you into the jungle knowing you would camp overnight. We waited for you to go to sleep and planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. Just as we were about to move into your campsite, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.”
I laughed at this and said I was certainly all alone out in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, “No, sir, I was not the only one to see the guards. My friends also saw them and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.”
At this point in the church presentation in Michigan, one of the men in the church jumped up and interrupted the missionary, and asked, “Can you tell me the exact date when this happened?” The missionary thought for a while and recalled the date.
The man in the congregation told this side of the story: “On that night in Africa it was morning here. I was preparing to play golf. As I put my bag in the car, I felt the Lord leading me to pray for you. In fact, the urging was so strong that I called the men of this church together to pray for you. Will all of those men who met with me that day please stand? The men who had met that day to pray together stood—there were 26 of them!
If you have an angel story, email it to me! I’d love to hear it! I believe my sister was given directions by an angel one time when she was lost in Dallas, TX. Literally when she turned around, the person who had given her directions was gone . . . vanished!
An angel was on the Christmas scene to protect Jesus when he warned Joseph that Herod was out to kill Jesus and told Joseph to flee to Egypt to keep his family safe. True Christmas miracles!
While I could detail many more miracles surrounding the Christmas story, suffice it to say the Virgin Birth, the Star which led the Wisemen and the multiple manifestations of angels make Christmas nothing short of miraculous.
Let me point your mind back to Luke 1:37 where we read, “For nothing is impossible with God.”
I say with confidence this morning that any miracle you need, God can supply. Elizabeth was barren. Something she had hoped for and prayed for, for years was miraculously delivered to her in her old age. You know what that story tells me? It is never too late for a miracle. What was biologically impossible for Elizabeth was possible for God. What was too late for Elizabeth to see happen wasn’t too late for God to accomplish. God wants to speak right to someone’s heart today. Don’t give up on what you are praying and hoping for. God has a miracle in due season for people who will trust Him and His plan and His timing. Some of you need a miracle in the middle of your barrenness! Perhaps this is God’s perfect timing to deliver it to you.
Mary and Joseph needed reassurance. God sent angels to tell them not to be afraid. Perhaps reassurance that everything will work out according to God’s plan is what you need this Christmas. Are you afraid of what the future holds? God can give you the miracle of a secure future! He can reassure you of His working in your life.
Mary and Joseph also needed protection and escape. When it was known that Herod was after Jesus to try to kill Him, God sent an angel to tell Joseph to flee to Egypt. When they did, they not only escaped Herod’s assassination attempts, but they also escaped the drama in their hometown that had to be swirling about Mary having been pregnant before she and Joseph were married.
I read enough on FB to know that lots of people live drama-filled lives. People are talking and stress is mounting and you can’t please everyone and people are driving you nuts and the noise and chaos that surrounds your life is just too much. Maybe the Christmas miracle you need is for God to lift you out of that office where people have gotten caddy or out of that classroom where you are sitting next to someone who is bullying you. God has protection and escape in His miracle wheelhouse. ( I have always wanted to use “wheelhouse” in a sentence, and I believe that is a first! 🙂
The shepherds needed some Good News. They needed to hear that change was possible, that life consisted of more than punching a time clock and just getting by. Surely someone here is in need of some good news! Someone needs to know that change is coming! God’s miracle for you might just be Good News that is on the horizon.
I have become reacquainted with a childhood friend of mine via Facebook. She has had a really rough life. Her parents are both deceased, and she herself is disabled due to severe diabetes. Neuropathy plagues her, and she lives with her feet in constant pain. She shares openly on FB that she is in therapy for major depression and that she isn’t a Christian though she believes in a higher power. Last Sunday she posted that she had been planning to commit suicide in January, after the holidays so her friends didn’t have her death as a holiday memory. She spoke about a recent “aha” in therapy that had caused her to reconsider her plans. Many were commenting on her post.
I knew God wanted me to get involved, but I didn’t know what to say and didn’t feel led to comment publicly. I sent her a private message to ask if I could talk to her by phone on Monday morning. She said I could as long as I promised not to try to talk her into going to church. I agreed. On Monday morning we talked. I told her how sorry I was that her life was so difficult and painful, and I told her I had seen times when she posted that she welcomed “thoughts and prayers.” I asked if I could pray for her. This wasn’t a time to pray that she would be saved, but that God would bring help to her, that He would open doors, that He would provide for her, and that she would be able to carry on. When I finished praying she said to me, “The only thing I need from my friends is hope.” I thought, “Awesome! I can do hope! I know the God of hope!”
Well, would you believe later that day she posted that she received her Medicaid, something she had been pursing for a long time. It would enable her to get her prescriptions and seek the treatment of a specialist for the pain of her neuropathy. I smiled from ear to ear and posted, “I call that hope!” I believe God performed a miracle for her. She doesn’t even claim to know Him, and I believe He reached out to her.
Some of you need the miracle of hope in your life! You need some GOOD NEWS! You need to know change is coming and that God has something for you that you have yet to experience which will transform your life for the better!
The Wisemen needed direction in order to know which way to go. God led them with the appearance of a supernatural star. God is still willing to lead those who want to go in His direction. Is that the miracle you need this Christmas? Do you need to know which way to go in order to find Christ and honor Him with your life?
This has been an historic year for the Teays Valley Church of God. We began a three-year capital campaign and have our eyes set on raising money and selling this building in order to build a 4.3 million dollar community center which will also house our church. As I look at it now, it appears to be an impossible task, but I know God is bringing people and resources to us and will continue to in order to enable us to see this impossible become possible. That’s why I named our three-year campaign, “Mission Possible.” I completely believe “With God all things are possible!” I am still believing God for a million dollar donation. If all things are possible with God, then my vision is not impossible!
What miracle do you need? “Nothing is impossible with God!” Jesus reiterated this whole idea Himself in Luke 18:27 when He said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” This verse was set inside a conversation Jesus was having with the Rich Young Ruler and His disciples about salvation. Jesus was making it clear that no man or woman can save themselves. Salvation is a gift from God, not something we earn, manipulate, bargain for or arrange on our own. It is impossible for humans to save themselves. If it had been possible Jesus would never have been born as a baby here on earth.
The heartbeat of the Christmas story is simply this: What was impossible for you and me to accomplish on our own, the salvation of our souls, God has made possible through the miracle of Jesus’ birth, life, death, burial and resurrection. Jesus paid the price for our sins. We were stuck in sin which made us enemies with God and we had no way out, but Jesus solved our problem on the cross. In addition to that, because Jesus overcame death, He has made a way for us to not die, but merely to leave this life, escape these bodies and all of the decay and chaos they represent and live eternally in heaven with Him forever when He calls us home! Impossible feats made possible through Jesus, our Messiah, Redeemer and Rescuer!
The Gospel for this Christmas week is that God is still performing miracles. He is still invading our spaces. He is still giving people courage. He is still providing for people’s needs and making a way for their hopes and dreams to become reality. He is still delivering people from drama, addiction, and grief. He is still liberating the oppressed, bullied, and marginalized. He is still illuminating people’s paths in order to eventually occupy their hearts. He is still making children of God out of sinners like you and me. It’s Christmas, a time for miracles. Why not ask for yours today?