Today, I want to talk about the Christmas Story and take a quick break from our regular series on Interpreting the Bible Literally. We’ll get back to that next time.
John 8:41 tells us of another run-in Jesus had with the Pharisees. After saying that they were essentially children of the devil, they respond with these words: “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
The Pharisees accused Jesus of being the result of fornication. That is, they essentially charged that His mother became pregnant before she and Joseph were married, so even though Jesus was born after they married, He was allegedly conceived out of wedlock, creating a situation in which Joseph and Mary had to marry.
The charge of course, is not true, and the gospels make this clear how Mary was told that she would conceive and give birth in spite of the fact that she had been with no man. When Mary became pregnant, the Christmas story actually began then.
Christmas is a story built on the reality and fulfillment of prophecy. Yet the Pharisees attempted to turn it into something sinful.
This is often the way it is when unbelievers think of or discuss the God of the Bible. To these people, faith is nothing more than believing in fairy tales; antiquated religious stories that have no basis in truth. To the Christian, faith believes in what is often not seen. This makes it no less real or viable.
Obviously, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had been the brunt of jokes and discussion among people, including the religious leaders. They had judged Jesus and His earthly parents. Yet what God had accomplished with the virgin birth of Jesus was not only NOT sinful, but was every bit a miracle!
Mary and Joseph were called out of obscurity to a life of faith. They may have felt as though they did not have it in them, though the Scriptures never indicate that they doubted God’s Word.
Joseph and Mary were called and they followed God’s call. Often we find that God’s calling interrupts our plans. We go through life with ideas of what we want to do, what we want to see, who we want to marry, what we want to be, and more, but at least in some cases, God interrupts those plans to redirect us. What should we do with that when it happens? Follow Him.
When God calls us, that very calling often challenges our faith. We are asked to believe things that to us may seem improbable, or even impossible, but if God has said it, we can be assured that He will bring it about. What should we do when our faith is challenged? Follow Him.
When God calls us from our comfort zone, we often need to rely on faith and when we do so, our faith grows. In essence then, responding to God’s call requires faith. Even a little bit of faith will help us grab and hold onto His promises and His Word. As we continue to stay with God, our faith in Him and His ability will grow.
This past April, 2011, my wife and I were out of town on business. We had a few hours to ourselves so we decided to go on a hike. As we hiked, the thought came to me and I voiced it. I said to my wife, “Hon, I think God is going to move us out of California this year.” It was a weird feeling because we had no idea at that time where God would move us or how He would do it. Suffice it to say that one thing after another fell into place and five months later we found ourselves driving across country to Georgia! I can say without equivocation that my faith was stretched, but it is stronger today because of it. What should we do when God requires faith from us? Follow Him.
One of the most important things God’s call on our life does is bring Him glory. This is our job and hopefully, this is what we endeavor to do on a daily basis. We should want to bring Him glory in all we do, think, and say, and acting on His call when He begins to move us out by responding favorably to Him is what brings Him glory.
God is pleased with us when we do not doubt, when we do not crumble into a heap of frustration and self-deprecation. Even if we know our faith is not huge, but we are willing to use the faith we have to believe that God is calling us to something and we will wait for Him to direct our steps, God is pleased.
Note that in order for God to direct us, we must actually be moving. When my wife and I realized that God was going to move us out of California, it wasn’t a waiting game. We began to do the research, still unsure of where we were going. Through one set of circumstances after another, His plan was revealed to us and today, we have absolutely no doubt of that at all. Like an automobile, as we moved out, He was able to steer us in the direction He wanted us to go in.
What should we do when we are concerned whether or not our actions will bring Him glory? Follow Him.
The other interesting point about God’s calling on our lives is that it will touch people’s lives for eternity. God so wants to work in and through us to bring the lost to Him. He wants us to touch lives for Him.
What should we do when God calls us? Follow Him.
We see the multitude of records in Scripture about one person after another coming to Joseph, Mary, and eventually Jesus to give glory to God because of what they saw God doing. We see how the shepherds saw the star that eventually brought them to Jesus. Because they followed the star, they were able to give glory to God as we are told in Luke 2:8-10, which tells us, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
Here an angel spreads the good news; the gospel which would become embodied in our Lord, our God, and our Savior, Jesus. The shepherds also went and shared the news.
Simeon and Anna beheld the Lord in His infancy and rejoiced in God’s salvation.
The wise men came to Jesus and worshiped Him.
We should also worship God, thanking Him for all things because these things are the very things that God has allowed or brought into our lives, in order to glorify Himself in and through us.
We should worship Him:
God is always calling us. He first calls us to follow Him to gain salvation. He then continues to call us throughout the remainder of our lives, calling us to do things that will: