– THE MIRACLE BIRTH –
Christians just celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World. Every year my wife and I re-watch the DVD of The Nativity on the night before Christmas. There lies in a manger, a crib between Mary and Joseph as they lay the baby Jesus gently down in a bed of hay.
One night a wife found her husband standing over their infant’s crib. As she watched him looking down at their very first baby, she saw a face with mixed emotions…disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism. Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, she slipped her loving arm around her husband. “A penny for your thoughts,” she said. My wife occasionally asks me the same question, “A penny for your thoughts,” even after 50 years of marriage while I stare into an empty space of a room.
Her husbands response? “It’s amazing” he replied. “I just can’t see a crib like that for only $46.50.”
Now in the original Christmas Story, I’m positive that Joseph and Mary’s dialogue never considered the costs involved of a borrowed crib in the manger. They were thankful that they had a place at all!
Here, in both stories, lay one of the greatest MIRACLES in God’s creation. In the first story I shared, all the father saw was a CRIB. As baby JESUS lay in His crib…Joseph and Mary saw what lay within. Not the uncleanliness of barn animals, the town’s people reactions, the cold of the night. They were focused on the Miracle!
Many times people FOCUS upon God’s handiwork and only see the outside manifestation…never the MIRACLE of the birth of a new baby… or, the MIRACLE BIRTH OF A NEW CHRISTIAN!
SOMETHING EXCEPTIONAL HAPPENS DURING THE SPIRITUAL REBIRTH.
Something very exceptional dies within each Christian when we obey Jesus; by repenting of our sins and being buried in Christian Baptism and a new life is born.
We receive a promise…
“Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 AMP).
There are those who believe that the Holy Spirit is some kind of inanimate object – like the crib that held that baby – AND they see only the crib, NOT the miracle within.
What the Bible Tells Us that the Spirit of God Does Within Us–
~ helps us in our prayers
~ guides us
~ teaches us
~ AND empowers us
BUT perhaps the most captivating thing that the Holy Spirit was sent to do was implied in Acts 1:8:
But YOU shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and YOU shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.
Notice the Bible verse says first, they had to receive Holy Spirit – and then they would be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit came first – then the witnesses.
Now that might sound rather peculiar at first reading. These people gathered here had been with JESUS from the beginning of His ministry. They had been schooled, taught by JESUS and sat at His feet.
BUT Acts 1:8 implies they should become witnesses AFTER receiving the Holy Spirit. Why should they have to wait? Why not just start witnessing right then and there?
WELL, they could have…but they would have been lacking the “DUNAMIS” — the POWER to effectively witness.
We get the English word “dynamite” from the Greek word “dunamis”.
In other words, they could have begun witnessing in the surrounding communities without the Holy Spirit but it wouldn’t have the same exploding power.
My wife gave me a wonderful surprise Christmas gift this year–an Electric Hedge Trimmer! I’ve been trimming the hedges along side of our home for years with only hand shears. Now the shears got the job done alright, but with the POWER TRIMMER…the task becomes less difficult.
FRUSTRATION Can Come With WITNESSING:
Have you ever felt frustrated in witnessing…inviting someone to church…talking to them about JESUS? Trust me, it can come with FRUSTRATION and INTIMIDATION.
Understanding Prevents Frustration–
It’s my belief that part of our frustration in our sharing JESUS (“witnessing”) can come from NOT UNDERSTANDING the pivotal role that Holy Spirit can play in helping us share our faith with others.
JESUS said: “However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you, And when He comes, He will CONVICT and CONVINCE the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness and about judgement” (John 16:7, 8 AMP).
It is NOT our job to CONVICT and CONVINCE the World…
One of the primary jobs for God’s Spirit in this world of ours is convicting people of their sin; their need for righteousness and the impending judgement.
You and I don’t have to convict people (change their hearts) regarding SALVATION. That’s the Spirit’s job. According to Scripture in Acts 1:8, we are to be WITNESSES.
Let me give you an Illustration: In a courtroom, there is a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney,a defendant, AND witness.
Who gives TESTIMONY in the courtroom? The witnesses do.
Do the witnesses prosecute the defendant? Do the witnesses convict the defendant? NO! WITNESSES…witness…and they do their best to give honest and true testimony because they realize that the verdict may hinge on how well they give an account. BUT their only job is TESTIFYING.
CONVICTING OF PEOPLE of their Sins & of the Need of Righteousness & the Closeness of Judgement…is the Spirit’s job–NOT OURS!
OUR TESTIMONY IS IMPORTANT:
In Romans 10:13-15, the apostle Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be SAVED.” How then, can they “call” on the one they have not believed in? How can they believe in the one of who they haven’t heard? And how can they he”ar without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
God’s Mandate 2000 Years Ago Is Still In Effect…”Be witnesses”
GOD has given every one of us (NOT just pastors), a MANDATE. What’s a “mandate”? According to the On-line Dictionary: The noun is…”an official order or commission to do something”; the Verb is “to give (someone) authority to act in a certain way.”
So when Jesus says “you shall be My witnesses”, He is given us the AUTHORITY and the COMMISSION to be His witnesses here on earth after receiving the given POWER to do so.
Now I found it interesting in Acts 1:10, 11 after JESUS was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight, what the disciples were found doing:
“And while they were gazing intently into heaven as He [Jesus] went, behold, two men [dressed] in white robes suddenly stood beside them” (verse 10).
The messengers (angels) question becomes one to be asked to all of us: “…why do you stand gazing into heaven?”
JESUS had already said, “you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The angels were encouraging the disciples (and us too!), “Don’t just stand there and think about what’s in the ‘right now’, GO!” Their words sunk into their hearts and in verse 12, “Then [the disciples] went…”
Who Are the Preachers Today?
UNLESS someone preaches (witnesses), people cannot hear the Gospel Message…the Good News.
AND, if they don’t hear, they can’t believe…
AND, if they don’t believe, they don’t call…
AND, if they don’t call out, they won’t be SAVED!
This Is Our Service to God–
The SALVATION of the people we care about around us hinges on our FAITHFULNESS in our witnessing. This is such a valuable SERVICE to God, that He regards even our feet (those who give testimony), of how they came to Jesus… as beautiful!
HOLY SPIRIT OPPORTUNITIES:
I believe that God’s Spirit gives each Christian believer opportunities to talk to others, IF…and that’s a big IF, if we just ask. I’ve been reading of late in the Gospel of John, when I came upon 3-verses about “asking”.
“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, IF anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.
“And I will do [I will grant] whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.
“[Yes] I will grant [I myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My name [as presenting all that I AM].”
Now most of the things we seem to ASK FOR, are things that will benefit us: food, clothing, roofs over our heads, a good job… But how about asking for OPPORTUNITIES…opportunities to talk to other about Christ Jesus this coming new year.
SO, WHAT’S NEXT AFTER CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR?
We need to:
PRAY, ASK for God’s Spirit to prepare the hearts of people we want to talk to. We don’t go out “witnessing”, we “witness” as we go after praying earnestly first.
TRUST the Holy Spirit to do His part as we go.
LISTEN for God as He guides you to people to speak with.
AND SPEAK about what God has done specifically for you and what He means personally to you.
We are truly living in the LAST DAYS. The BAD NEWS is always hitting you in the face. The GOOD NEWS should be always in our hearts, minds, and souls as we go.
JERUSALEM FIRST…our neighborhoods, our workplace, our communities.
JUDEA…the towns, cities, counties all around us.
SAMARIA…the bordering States, Provinces, Countries…
TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH!
What’s next? The Time Is Now!
But you shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be MY WITNESSES in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.
Where is your JERUSALEM?