Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Of all the holidays, none are quite like this one. However, in spite of all the things that are associated with this magnificent day, there are still people who struggle with the real meaning of Christmas.
How can we relate to something that happened so many years ago? What does Santa Claus, toys, Christmas ham and mistletoe have to do with Jesus coming as a baby born of a virgin?
I’m not sure it has anything to do with it and maybe that is part of the problem. We’ve become so commercially minded that the story of a baby being born so long ago doesn’t have very much significance. How can that compete with all the lights, tinsel, sidewalk sales, and Christmas trees that we are used to? It’s almost as if the real meaning of Christmas has been pushed back into a corner somewhere to make room for Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
The story I want bring to you is about the events preceding the birth of Jesus. The principle character is a young girl by the name of Mary. We don’t know a lot about her background and apparently it wasn’t that important. We do know she was a descendent of David the king. Being of Jewish descent and especially being in the lineage of David, she was brought up knowing the commandments of God. What she heard, she must have treasured, especially the word concerning the birth of the Messiah.
So the Lord himself will give you this sign: A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel [God Is With Us]. Isaiah 7:14 GWT
I can imagine that almost every little girl in Israel, at one time or another, thought about being the mother of this promised child. It was the greatest honor that could possibly be bestowed upon a woman. I’m sure they all dreamed about it being them, at least, I’m sure that Mary did.
If we are not careful, TIME HAS A WAY OF DESTROYING OUR DREAMS. When we are young we think of doing lofty things and how we are going to do this and accomplish that; but time, our ever-present adversary who is relentless in its pursuit, keeps pressing on and somehow causes those dreams to fade into nothing but a dim memory.
That is what happened to Mary. She had entered into a contract to be married. Under Hebrew law and custom SHE HAD A HUSBAND. If she really thought she was going to be “THE VIRGIN” that would conceive, she would have never allowed herself to become espoused to Joseph and then; there was her reaction to the angel.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Luke 1:28-29 NIV
Notice that Mary was greatly troubled by this. But her initial reaction to God’s word was not a lot different than ours today. The scriptures tell us so many wonderful things about our relationship with God.
Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. Ephesians 1:6 TLB
Just as Mary, we have the favor of the Lord. We are loved and accepted by Him just as Mary was. You have God’s favor!
What is your reaction to that? Are you troubled? Are you saying, “How can I be favored, how can I be blessed? What have I done to deserve this wonderful gift?”
The same thing that Mary did, absolutely nothing! She was not expecting to become the mother of the Messiah. I’m not saying that she didn’t love God and was not seeking him. But the point I want to make is that, MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN TO ORDINARY PEOPLE. Yes it took great faith to believe the angel but her faith came after she heard the word not before. That’s the same way it works with us.
All through the Bible it is clear that God has chosen to use people who came from humble beginnings. They were simple ordinary people just like you and me. He is not nearly as interested in our talents or abilities as he is in our availability.
Now I want to take this story and apply it to our lives.
- Don’t give up on your dreams; they can still come to pass with God’s miracle working power. There is nothing worse than the frustration that comes with missed opportunities or over dreams that never come to pass. But God’s grace and mercy can work for us despite our mistakes, blunders, and lack of faith.
- God can take care of the misguided thoughts of others. Mary was going to be the mother of the Messiah! But, suddenly those feelings of gladness turned to panic. What about Joseph? She never even thought about him. How was she going to explain what happened? “You are pregnant!” Joseph shouted. “How? Who? An angel?”
Have you ever been there? Something great is about to happen, something that you have only dreamed of, but then reality sets in. What will people think? They will never believe it was God who told me this. They will think I am just making it up. But God has a way of dealing with misguided thoughts and people.
Is God causing something to come to pass in your life and you have wondered how people will react? Don’t worry. He has a way of taking care of them all.
- Ordinary people can have great faith. After the angel spoke to Mary she said, let it happen according to your word. What great faith! Remember, Mary was an ordinary girl who came from an ordinary family. She encountered all the same problems and temptations that we face, but she became one of the greatest people of faith in the Bible.
There is no way for us to imagine all the hurt and rumors that arose about Mary. What would it have been like for her parents? Though she was the flower of her mother and the joy of her father, the shock of a pregnancy before the wedding must have dashed all their hopes against the rocks. They probably thought she was crazy.
“Mary, this wild story cannot possibly be true. This is impossible; there will be a huge scandal. We’ll be the laughing stock of Nazareth. You’ll be stoned. Mary please say it isn’t true?”
But Mary of all people couldn’t deny it. She and she alone knew what had happened and what was taking place within her body.
The weeks and months passed and it was obvious. She was with child but she stuck with her story. She refused to give into the pleadings and say it was anything less than a miracle.
During this time, Joseph too received a visit from an angel who said, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. What is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”.
You know the story. A decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the entire world should be taxed. Every man had to go to the town of his birth. That meant that Joseph would have to go to Bethlehem. Mary was ready to deliver this baby. Only someone foolish would make such a trip. But something compelled her to go with Joseph.
It was a long, hard journey and they had to stop many times along the way. But something kept urging them onward. Some force that gently said, everything is going to be okay but you must go to Bethlehem.
Finally they arrived and the pains of birth had already started. They had to find shelter but everything was filled. Joseph was frantic.
“What will I do?” Joseph asked. “You must help me, my wife is having a baby.”
Finally they were given permission to go into a little cave that was used as a stable for animals. A stable; what a place for the birth of a king. But it was in that stable, that dirty stinking stable that Mary fulfilled the task that was given to her by the most high. She brought forth the Son of God.
Is there a dream in your life that is fading? Is there something you have prayed for that has not come to pass? Have you given up or are you just about ready to give up? Don’t quit. Don’t let go of your prayers. Miracles Can Happen To Ordinary People. They Can Happen To You!