Christmas: It’s “Supernatural!”

There’s no way I can think of Christmas and not also think of the term “supernatural.”  Its definition certainly lends weight to this conclusion. “Relating to or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws,” (The Encarta Dictionary).

So what events in the original Christmas story were supernatural by nature?  First, there was the supernatural appearance of the angel to Joseph, as is recorded in Matthew chapter two.  The angel communicated to Joseph some troubling news concerning Mary.  He most certainly would have found out she was pregnant with the passing of time.

The question that begs an answer is: would he have carried through with staying with Mary without this supernatural experience?  Probably not!  If he would have broken their relationship, then they would not have made the journey to Bethlehem and Christ would not have been born in that town according to Micah 5:2.  Thus, the necessity of supernatural intervention!

A second example would be the supernatural appearance of the angel to Mary in Luke 1, announcing to her how she would supernaturally conceive a child.  This, of course, was unbelievable to her ears.  How could such a thing be?

However, without this supernatural intervention and Jesus’ virgin birth, He would have been just any other ordinary man and therefore, could not have died on Calvary as the sinless God-man for our sins.  A supernatural angelic visit proclaiming a supernatural miracle!  Both inherent realities within the Christmas story!

Next, we turn our attention to the supernatural appearance of the angelic host to the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth.  They announced a Saviour was born in the city of David.  However, take note!  What they proclaimed would never have occurred except for supernatural intervention.  Think of it!  There were so many things that could have easily gone wrong.

Mary could have had a miscarriage but she did not.  Mary survived the long, arduous journey to Bethlehem at the height of pregnancy.  Mary could have given birth to a still-born child but she did not.

The fact that the Christ-child was born of a virgin, born alive, born healthy, and born in Bethlehem itself were all amazing realities that were worthy of a supernatural proclamation.   This is why the angel said to the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10)

Yes, the answer to humanity’s greatest need was born!  This little baby would be the one Who would ultimately open heaven’s gates to repentant sinners.

What is the application to you and me?  We need to experience the supernatural in our lives.  How, you may ask?  We must be born again.  Each of us must become spiritually alive and that can only occur as God Himself enters into our lives.  John 3:16 tells us how.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

We must believe Christ went to the cross and He died for our sins.  We must repent of our sinfulness and commit ourselves to living entirely for Him.  We must believe that He rose again from the grave and is a living Saviour.

Have you experienced the supernatural saving power of God in your life?  It’s what Christmas time is all about.

Devotional shared by Pastor Kelvin Kennedy at Meadowvale Bible Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario

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Mary & me

Who are the top-5 most popular teenagers in the world? According Google search engine the top-5 are: Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Emma Watson. Are you a Bieliber? Biebergasted? Have the Bieber fever? Or OJBD? [Obsessive Justin Bieber Disorder] Are you a cult follower of Bieberism? [i.e. screaming crowd of 10-year olds]

Fame and fortune are fleeting. We have seen how the fame and fortune have gone to the heads of many teens, such as Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears, and countless others. Next year there will be a new set of teens that will top the billboard charts and gets their moment to shine in the spotlight.

Who are some teenagers God highlights for their relentless passion for Him?

  • Joshua was a young servant of Moses who became a godly leader that took the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land [Numbers 11:28].
  • God called Samuel at a young age and he obeyed the voice of God [1 Samuel 3:1-21].
  • David loved to sing to God on the sheep farm, but as a young man he also stood up for his God before the giant Goliath with a few stones and a sling [1 Samuel 16-17].
  • Daniel as a young man is faithful to his God and is willing to stand up and be thrown into the fiery furnace than bow down to any other God than his own.
  • Josiah ruled the kingdom of Judah at the age of 8-years. At the age of 16, he sought God and began to reform the nation back to Him [2 Chronicles 34:3-7].
  • God called Jeremiah a prophet at a very young age. God also encouraged Jeremiah not to be afraid, because He was with him [Jeremiah 1:4-8].
  • Timothy was a timid young man, but Paul, his father in the faith, encouraged him say, saying, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” [1 Timothy 4:12]
  • And Jesus who was still living with his parents was in the temple rubbing shoulders with the rabbis from an early age [Luke 2:41-52].

God uses teenagers throughout the Bible and history. God loves young hearts that and not polluted by the world and are willing to relentlessly and tenaciously give themselves to God. Are you willing to be used by God? Are you available to obey Him no matter the task or cost?

God is using young people to be characters in His story [Luke 1:26-34]

You know Mary. She is the one you see knelt next to the dirty manger with the Son of God swaddled inside with animals huddled together for warmth. A star is shining brightly above.  It is a beautiful scene in Bethlehem. But let’s go back 9-months before the baby is born. Let’s look at Mary. Why did God choose Mary? What’s so special about her that God gives her the task of bearing in her womb the second person of the Trinity? You might be in for a surprise.

On an unordinary day, an angel appears to Mary with a message from God Himself. Days like this did not happen everyday with people in Bible times. She is somewhat scared yet curious about what she’s seeing and hearing She probably heard stories from her Sunday School teacher about how God came to people through messengers in the past. Little did she realize she’d become one of the characters you and I would read about centuries later.

Why does God choose to work through people, including you? It is not because you are worthy, popular, rich, good looking, smart, or have some special skills that make you are more favorable than another. It is just the opposite. God is worthy, good, rich in mercy, generous, and wise. He enjoys using ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary redemptive plan.

God has shown favor to Mary by His grace. Mary is young. She is only a teenager. She was probably no more than 13-15 years old. She is pregnant and not married. This would have been socially scandalous. She could have been label loose or a whore. Imagine the conversations among the girls in the hallway at Mary’s school. “Did you hear? Mary’s pregnant! I didn’t think she was that kind of girl. Who’s the baby’s daddy? Could it be her boyfriend Joseph?”

Mary is the student at your school who isn’t well known. She isn’t great athlete, not a scholar, not the coolest kid on the block, she isn’t drop-dead gorgeous, she isn’t a gossip girl; she isn’t obsessed with fashion or boys. She’s a simple girl. She’s from a rural hick town. She’s from an average family that’s has an average salary. She’s got a modest amount of Facebook friends. She’s the kind of girl you probably would not notice walking through the hall. But God noticed her. He has a plan to use her. Overnight Mary becomes a key character in His story.

God is seeking young people who respond with humility and availability [Luke 1:35-56]

If you were Mary what would you be thinking if God asked you to do something really important? “This is crazy! This cannot be happening to me! What about Jennifer or Kevin, they much better looking and smarter than me? God, you want me to have a baby?” It might be hard to believe—if not miraculous—that a virgin can conceive a baby. That is exactly what God’s going to do. He gives Mary a sign by raising to life the dead womb of Elizabeth, her elder cousin.

Wow, what an incredibly wonderful day this is for these two ordinary women. Mary cannot contain herself any more. She bursts out in a song of praise [Luke 1:46-56; cf.1 Samuel 2, Hannah]. Look at how she worships. She lets begins by listing over 17 attributes about God. She is humble and available to trust God [1:48]. She is both innocent and obedient. She believes “what is impossible with man is possible with God.” [1:37; cf.18:27]. She has all she needs to know it is God who was at work in her. She does not care what others thought about her situation. She doesn’t fear man. She fears God. She desires to bring Him—and Him alone—joy. And this is what you were made to do—worship God, which brings Him joy.

It is clear from Mary’s words (and from the whole Bible) that God is not biased to the rich, the powerful, or the proud. How could God be partial to the things, which in our world are—more often than not—substitutes for God rather than pointers to God? Vast numbers of people have perished because they were enamored by pride, power, and wealth.

Today’s Teen Magazines and websites are filled with messages about finding favor with others:  “Get a smaller waist in 2-weeks,” “Hot summer looks,” “5 ways to get her to notice you,” ”Pick up lines she likes to hear.” What are people trying to figure out when you read this? Do any of them deliver the promises you were seeking? Sure. Why do we want others to notice or be impressed with us? It makes me feel important and secure. If the Bible were a magazine article or web advertisement what would it say? Find out how Jesus can satisfy your needs forever.

Notice how others around the incarnation of Christ responded to His coming: Elizabeth gives glory to God [Luke 1:39-56], prophets eagerly anticipate the Messiah [1:67ff], shepherds lift up praises [2:8-21], angels worship [2:14-15], even magi’s seek Him [Matthew 2:1-12]. How would you respond? How do you respond to God’s presence in your life? How have you been blessed by Jesus? How have you been overwhelmed to praise by the presence of Jesus?

God sent His Son into the world. God took on skin and a human body. He humbled Himself by become a human for humans. This little baby boy born in a barn and feed trough would grow into the most important man in human history. As Gabriel said, “He will be great…He will reign…He will be called holy—the Son of God.” [1:32-33, 35] The next 33 years would forever change the course of history. This child’s purpose was to live to die, to die for the sins of humanity, to take upon Himself the wrath of God in place of sinful man, to become the perfect sacrifice for your sin. The feeble infant would conquer sin, death, and Satan.

Mary had within her womb the Messiah, and if you know Christ, you too, have the Holy Spirit within you—Immanuel—“God with us,” is also with you. Wherever you go He is with you. Mary carried inside her the Savior of the world. You also carry the message of the Savior. A message that will resurrect dead souls to new life.

God used young Mary to accomplish His redemptive plan. And He still uses young and old who are humble and available to be characters in His great redemptive story.

Let me tell you about a teen named, Hannah. You probably don’t know her. She’s not on any teen top-5 lists. Hannah goes to church, she’s from an average family, loves soccer and Spanish. As a teen, she signed up for a few short-term mission trips with our church to Spanish speaking countries like Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Costa Rica. She was able to share the love of Christ with people in a language she learned at school. Now Hannah desires to translate the Scripture in unique languages so more people can hear about her Savior. Whether God uses her that way or not in the future is up to Him. But Hannah is humble and available and God loves using characters like that in His story.

Questions to consider whether you are young and old from the life of Mary and the birth of Christ

Are you available to do whatever God wants you to do? How do you know if it is from God? It won’t contradict the Bible or what God has done historically. Do you fear God more than man?

Are you humble enough to be a character in God’s story rather than having Him be a character in your story?

Will you write a poem or song that expresses your heart toward Jesus?

too busy

“We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results.” -R.A. Torrey, How to Obtain Fullness of Power  
 
Busyness or fruitfulness-that is the question… Is your life full of meaningful activities or just busy activities? 
 
It’s easy to be involved in many different efforts and good causes, but the truth is, busyness does not guarantee fruitfulness. It also does not authenticate the fact that I am in God’s will. It is the quality of what our lives produce that determines whether or not we are truly fruitful. 
 
One good way to help determine if you are being fruitful or just busy is by asking yourself some questions like: 
 
Am I spending my time doing what helps fulfill God’s purposes for life?
Am I doing what I really desire to do?
Am I using my God-given gifts and talents?
Am I being controlled and pressured by circumstances and expectations of others?
Do I see concrete results-good fruit-from my busyness? 
 
Being fruitful begins with putting God first. John 15:5 says, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much fruit. However, apart from Me you can do nothing. 
 
In Luke 10:38-42, we read the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was very busy serving, even serving Jesus. She got angry because her sister sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him talk instead of being busy helping her serve. Jesus’ response to Martha was that Mary had chosen the best thing to do at that time-sit and listen to Him.  
 
I can be a lot like Martha. I have to constantly be busy doing something, even busy serving God. It does take long to figure out that this busyness can have bad effect on your relationship with God and others. While being busy I didn’t want to sit and listen to God, and it made me very angry when others did. Why? They aren’t busy accomplishing “things” like you.  
 
You can never do everything you want. And certainly you cannot do anything on your own strength very long before needing to rely upon the everlasting reserves of Jesus Christ. 
 
Busyness often has its roots in pride. It says, “Look at me, look at all that I can do, and see how busy I am.” If you pride yourself on your busy schedule or ability to juggle a packed day timer, you have a problem with busyness. Make time for God. Be still and wait upon Him. This may be the hardest thing for you to do, but in the midst of busyness it is the most fruitful thing.