BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Christmas is widely celebrated all over the world. It centers on an event that happened well over 2000 years ago with the angel of the Lord visiting a virgin preparing to move into her husband’s house. He announced that she would be pregnant with a baby who shall be called Jesus and shall save his people from their sins. The significant thing about the pregnancy was that it would be of the Holy Ghost and not the meeting of Mary and Joseph in a normal sexual relationship.
Mary found this puzzling but chose to believe the angel after he had answered her question, “How shall this be?” Before Joseph knew it, Mary was carrying an ‘embarrassing’ pregnancy he was not responsible for. He decided to divorce her secretly but an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and explained to him what had happened to Mary and he took to himself Mary as wife.
The story of Christmas has been severally told for centuries including details such as the shepherds who announced his birth, the three wise men who came from the east with gold, frankincense and myrrh (the Bible did not say they were three, that’s tradition), the killing of children by King Herod etc. Like other preachers, I have been privileged to preach on different acts and scenes of this Christmas story in the past.
But this is not a conventional Christmas message. It is a prophetic word for some people who God is about to change their story as we prepare to enter the New Year. God wants you to experience your own ‘Christmas’, not in terms of the ephemeral things associated with Christmas like buying and wearing new clothes, dinning and wining, traveling and visiting, sending and receiving seasonal cards, etc. But in the unexpected divine visitation that produced the Christmas story.
Christ is not the surname of Jesus. Christ is from the Greek word Christos which means the anointed one. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of the anointed one.
Mary gave birth to the anointed. You also can give birth to the anointed! You can also have the birth of the anointed in your life which you will celebrate for a long time to come. By this, I am not talking of the conception and birth of another Jesus Christ without the meeting of a man and a woman. We certainly cannot have another Messiah. It will be heretical and blasphemous to say so. By anointed, I am not talking with respect to Christ, the anointed one.
Reading through Luke 1, one can see what can be considered as the key factors to the miracle that Mary experienced namely:
1. Divine choice. Why was it Mary that the angel visited for this assignment? Most probably there were other virgins in her family. Why not another virgin? That shows us the power of divine choice. When God chooses a man or woman for visitation, to change the story of his or her life, nobody can stop Him. People may think he or she is not qualified but God does not wait for people’s opinion before He chooses to bless or promote a person.
May I announce to you that God has already chosen for an assignment? There is a destiny that only you have been chosen and designed to fulfill. People may be aware of your shortcomings and weaknesses and may feel you are not the right candidate for such an assignment. What a pity! It is not only too late; it is useless for anybody to complain about your choice by God. God does not need anybody’s intelligence report! He didn’t make a mistake choosing you. He knows you are not perfect. All you need to do is cooperate with His shaping hands; submit yourself to God’s process so that you can become His product.
2. Divine favour. The angel told Mary, “Thou that art highly favoured” (Luke 1:28, KJV). And again in verse 30, the angel said, “Thou has found favour with God” (KJV). The favour of God upon someone cannot be divorced from God’s choice of that person. When God favours someone, no one can disfavour that person. Favour is crucial to success in life. When you are favoured, your life is flavoured. And when favour comes on top of your labour, you are unstoppable in life. No one can make it in life with disfavour.
Throughout the Bible, we read about those who found favour with God and also with human beings. People like Joseph, Samuel, Jesus, etc. Jesus had favour with God and with men (Luke 2:52). The Bible talks of Naphtali satisfied with favour and full of the blessing of the Lord (Deut. 33:23). That will be your own experience henceforth in Jesus’ name. You will enjoy divine favour as from today. You will experience uncommon favour. God and men will be favourably disposed towards you. Every aura of disfavor around you, I pray that the blood of Jesus will remove. Your life shall be perfumed with favour in Jesus’ name.
And because the blessing of the Lord is mentioned in that scripture I referred to last, Deut. 33:23, I want to quickly mention that as the next key.
3. Divine blessing. The favour of the Lord brings along the blessing of the Lord and the blessings of the Lord. If God favours you, you cannot lack His blessing and His blessings. No wonder Naphtali, because he was favoured, was full of the Lord’s blessings. The angel told Mary, “Blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28, KJV). Her sister, Elizabeth, also reiterated the angel’s words though she was not there when they were uttered. She said, “Blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:42, KJV). Mary confessed it when she said in verse 48, “For behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed” (KJV).
To be blessed means to be happy, to be envied and to be spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation regardless of outward conditions.
Mary was blessed and many other Bible characters and the evidence of the blessing was manifest in their lives beyond any dispute or controversy. Get ready for this too this season. I pray for divine blessing to come upon you right now in Jesus’ name.
4. Divine presence. Still on Luke 1:28. The angel told Mary, “The Lord is with you” (NKJV).The presence of the Lord in a man’s life will make all the difference. David said, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me” (Psalm 16:8, NLT). In Psalm 59:10, which David wrote about the time Saul sent soldiers to watch his house in order to kill him, he said, “In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies” (NLT). The presence of God, especially in difficult times, is invaluable.
If God is with you or for you, it does not make any difference who is not with you or who is not for you now. When you are succeeding without them, they will come back to your side. God was with Mary and He was enough for her. Joseph was already thinking of how to divorce her secretly when he realized that God was on Mary’s side. “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?…” (Romans 8:31, The Message). You can never lose with God on your side.
All over the pages of the Bible, you can read about different people who enjoyed the presence of the Lord even in the most hostile environment. You can talk of Joseph for example. God was with him in Potiphar’s house and even right in the prison. The impact of the presence of the Lord with him made his life enviable.
Mary enjoyed the presence of the Lord by divine choice and divine favour. You can enjoy divine presence too just as God promised Moses. “The Lord replied, ‘I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you’” (Exodus 33:14, NLT). God will personally go with you and it shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.
5. Faith. The angel told Mary in verse 30, “Fear not.” Fear is one of the greatest enemies of man. It has hindered and aborted many pregnancies both physical and spiritual. Before the pregnancy would come, Mary who obviously was scared by the presence of the angel and the words she was hearing was warned not to be afraid. “Fear not” is one recurring phrase in the Bible.
“Fear not” obviously suggests that there is something that will cause fear but you must not surrender to fear. The antidote to fear is faith which is choosing to believe that God will do what He says He will do rather than what the devil says he will do. Fear is negative faith! Fear has been rightly defined as False Evidence Appearing Real (F-E-A-R). 2 Timothy: 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV).
From the reaction of Mary after the angel had spoken to her and thereafter, you would notice she heeded the words of the angel not to fear. She said to the angel in verse 38, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word” (KJV).
This must be your confession to this message that is coming to you this Christmas season – be it unto me according to your word. Deal with fear in your life whether fear of failure, fear of the unknown or fear of any kind. Don’t let the giant called fear immobilize you and hinder you from entering your Promised Land. “Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 14:9, NLT).
And all these five keys are just a prelude to this final point I want to discuss.
6. The ministry of the Holy Spirit. Verse 35 says, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (KJV). What will be the outcome of such experience? The verse continues, “Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (KJV).
This is the most important aspect of this message. The power of the invasion of the Holy Ghost into the life of a person and the life changing results the Holy Ghost produces. The story of Christmas is a demonstration of the pregnancy that can come out of the incursion of the Holy Spirit into the life of a person interrupting his planned schedule and causing to happen for him something mind boggling, something beyond human intelligence, comprehension and involvement. This was what happened to Mary and the holy thing which was born of her is called the Son of God.
I pray in the name of Jesus that this Christmas season, the Holy Ghost shall come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, you will be impregnated with something anointed and you will give birth to it. Like I said earlier, I am not talking about the birth of Jesus. The Spirit of the Lord is talking about something from the womb of the Spirit, something you are not expecting, something you did not plan for, something not in your budget, something beyond your income, something bigger than you, something beyond your ability, something positively embarrassing, something unbelievable, something phenomenal, something intriguing, something fundamentally different, something that if you are told will make you ask, “How shall this be?” I am talking of something that no man can do for you, something that you think will take you five or ten years to achieve, something that no one thinks you can do and something only God can do.
You have been chosen by God, you enjoy His favour. His presence is with you. He has blessed you and you don’t have to fear. I pray that the Holy Ghost will invade your life; the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Nothing is higher than the Highest. Get ready for it. Prepare your heart for this invasion.
How shall this be? The answer is the Holy Ghost. The pregnancy of Mary was ‘embarrassing’. Your ‘pregnancy’ – what God is cooking in your heart to do, what God is working out in your life may be such an embarrassing thing to you and others close to you; it may be repulsive. It may be strange. It may appear un-usual. But it is not sinful. People may even reject you but when God is through with you, all who have abandoned you, will come back to you. Those who have despised you will respect you. Those who have ridiculed you shall no more ridicule you. Your shame will turn to fame. Your star will shine and wise men shall come to you from far and near and bring their strength to your area of weakness. All you need to say is, “Be it unto me according to your word.”
Something born by the power of God shall be born in your life at this season and it shall be visible unto all. All people shall call you blessed. It may be an anointed ministry, an anointed church, an anointed business, an anointed invention, an anointed discovery, etc. that shall be born in your life but certainly it shall be something new, which has its root, source and inspiration in the Holy Spirit.
There shall be a mention and a remembrance of you in the high places. Your Herod may be unhappy but he would not secure the cooperation of the wise men to deal treacherously against you! He may pursue you but his plot will fail.
God will begin to do something new in your life. Forget the old things, it is nothing to be compared to what God is about to do – a brand new thing – He has already begun it. Begin to see it. Isaiah 42:9 says, “Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens” (NLT). Isaiah 43:18-19 also says, “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (NLT).
God will cause the birth of a new thing in your life. The Lord will put a new song in your mouth as you step into the New Year. You will sing unto Him a new song. (Psalm 40:3) And you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name. “The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth” (Isaiah 62:2, NLT). Merry Christmas!
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t 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 to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 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 and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught 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’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523