WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 26, 2020
TOPIC: FAITH LESSONS FROM THE CHRISTMAS STORY
BY T. O. BANSO
“All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel — ‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14 New Living Translation).
How many times has God asked you to say something but you failed to say it because it didn’t make sense to you? But when it happened later, you regretted you didn’t say it. Walking with God is a walk of faith – not a walk of your senses. The apostle Paul said, “That is why we live by believing and not by seeing” (2 Corinthians 5:7 New Living Translation).
Faith means believing that what God says He will do, that He will do. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” But faith says, “Believing is seeing.” “Jesus said to her [Martha], ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40 New King James Version). This is faith. Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (New Living Translation).
If you have an ego problem, you won’t say something, God tells you, that doesn’t make sense to you, because of the fear that it may not happen. You must get rid of this attitude if God must use you the way He wants, and if you’ll experience the fulfillment of His promises.
The prophet Isaiah said, “All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel — ‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14 New Living Translation). This didn’t make sense but he prophesied as the spirit of God led him. He, probably, was viciously criticized and mocked. At the time his prophecy was fulfilled, he was no longer alive! All his critics, too, would, probably, have died.
Mary, a virgin, was the chosen vessel for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. God didn’t allow the conception to be a product of the sexual union of a man and a woman so that the One to save the world from their sin would be uncorrupted, pure without sin. By using Mary’s womb to carry the pregnancy unto delivery, God also demonstrated His power, which the child would also make evident to the world.
Mary was shocked by angel Gabriel’s announcement that she, a virgin, would be pregnant. It had never happened in history. So, her question to the angel was justified. “Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin’” (Luke 1:34 New Living Translation). The angel explained to Mary the process of this miracle. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God…. For nothing is impossible with God” (verses 35-37 New Living Translation).
Mary was a woman of faith; she didn’t question the angel further after he had explained the process of the conception to her, even when the process had no precedent. Hear what she said: “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true” (verse 38 New Living Translation). After that, the angel left her.
If you were Mary, would you have believed what the angel said? Wouldn’t you have asked more questions? Would you have believed him? Mary was a woman of faith. As we celebrate Christmas, we need to consider the faith of this lady who believed what the angel of the LORD said to her.
She must have heard about married women in the Bible such as Sarah and Hannah who were barren but God visited them after a long time of waiting. But she never heard of a virgin becoming pregnant. Yet, this young lady simply said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 New King James Version).
You may not have seen an angel speaking to you, but let me ask you: What is your attitude to the Word of God in the Bible? What is your attitude to the Word of God you hear preached in the church? What is your attitude to what the Holy Spirit ministers to you from time to time? The Word of God in the Bible is superior to the word of an angel; in fact, it is the benchmark for any word that any angel or prophet speaks.
The word any angel speaks to you must agree with the written Word of God before it can stand. If it doesn’t, it’s not from the LORD. Reject it. This is the condition that will guarantee you safety because “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14 New King James Version). Do you have faith in what you read in the Bible?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 King James Version). If you don’t have faith in the Word of God, you won’t believe anything any angel comes to tell you even when it is consistent with what the Bible says.
Mary’s fiancé, Joseph, also teaches us faith this season. Joseph couldn’t believe that a woman engaged to be married to him was pregnant. That was a scandal at that time, unlike today when such is condoned by many. If it were today, when many people engage in pre-marital sex as if it’s right and not a sin, such a lady would have seduced her fiancé or readily give herself to him so that she could transfer the pregnancy to him! But the truth is God would never have chosen for this holy assignment a lady capable of doing that. She would never have been chosen.
Mary said the pregnancy was of the Holy Ghost. That might not have made sense to Joseph – there was nothing to prove what Mary said. Even if Joseph had wanted to believe Mary, family and peer pressures would have prevented him. Joseph, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. That was the greatest favour he could do his fiancée.
But God came to the rescue of Mary. An angel encountered Joseph in his sleep to corroborate Mary’s story. And what did Joseph do after? “And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24-25 American Standard Version).
Joseph was a man of faith. He believed what the angel said and went to take Mary to himself despite the stigma. Would you have done that if you’re in Joseph’s shoes? Beloved, I commend Mary and Joseph to you. Space will not permit me to talk about the faith of the shepherds that the angels told about the birth of Jesus and the wise men who saw the star in the east and came to worship him.
This Christmas, have faith in God. God will do whatever He has said even if it doesn’t make sense to you. He commanded the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones in two stages and he prophesied as he was commanded. The bones came together, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over. After prophesying again, breath came into them and they stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army (Ezekiel 37:1-10).
Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Hold on to His promises. “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”(Numbers 23:19 New Living Translation). The Master said, “Until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved” (Matthew 5:18 New Living Translation). It may take some time for God’s Word to come to pass but keep believing Him.
Habakkuk 2:3 says, “But these things I plan to do won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (The Living Bible).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: O LORD, help my faith. Help me to live by faith and not by sight. Father, I believe Your Word; let it be to me according to Your Word.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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