Another Word…by Gus Keiser

December 25, 2017

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

First of all, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas from the entire Keiser family.

The story of today begins in an unlikely town…Nazareth. Nathanael spoke for a generation of Jewish people when he asked Philip, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”  God wasn’t deterred by the reputation of the town of Nazareth or the region of Galilee.  He was willing to go to an improbable place to find a young girl who had faith.  He searched the world for the right young woman to carry his Son.

And Mary was most certainly the right choice! The miracle of her choice seems almost impossible, were it not for the historical precedence of it.  Here was a young girl who believed for a miracle that had never been experienced before and hasn’t been experienced since.  She would become pregnant without the involvement of a man.  A virgin would give birth to the Son of God.

Without question, the social implications of her response were staggering. She was engaged to Joseph, but they had not begun to live together.  The betrothal was a full year and then the marriage would have taken place.  However, unfaithfulness during a betrothal period was as serious as adultery after marriage.  She and Joseph, and ultimately Jesus, would live under a cloud of suspicion for the rest of their lives.

Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement was predictable. She was “troubled.”  She was confused and perplexed.  And why shouldn’t she be?  This had never happened before in all of human history.

At the time, Mary only posed one question that made sense: “How will this be since I am a virgin?”

 The angel’s response would show that this would have to be the result of the Holy Spirit’s activity. The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

 As we hopefully realize, miracles just don’t happen without the activity of the Holy Spirit. It was true for this amazing event just as it remains true today.  So here’s a lesson for all of us from this Christmas story, and it applies to us not just at Christmas, but every other day of our lives.  We can’t live the life God wants for us, and achieve the dreams he has for us, without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit was God’s side of the miracle, but what about Mary’s responsibility? Tucked away in the original language of her conversation with the angel was a word that isn’t noticed from a quick reading of the exchange with Gabriel.  The angel says to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God,” to which Mary responds, “May it be to me as you have said.”

 Literally, the angel said to Mary, “No rhema of God is powerless.” A rhema is a Greek expression for a “word”.  When God speaks, what he says is never powerless but is able to bring a miracle to pass.  Mary got the message, so she responded literally, “Let it be to me according to your rhema.” What Mary was saying here was, “If the rhema of God is powerful and does not fail, then let that word work for me.”  God wants that to be our response as well.  “Lord, since your word isn’t powerless, let it be according to your word.”

The lesson we learn here through Mary’s response is that should never give up on the rhema of God. There are going to be times when there may seem to be all sorts of obstacles in the path of God’s promises, but those obstacles will not be able to stop us if we hold fast to what God has said to us.  His word remains powerful.  Together, the power of God’s Word coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit will always be available.  On this Christmas Day, I would urge you to take just a moment away from your busy activities to observe what God can do.  It worked for Mary and it can work for us.

Have a blessed Christmas Day!

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