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November 14, 2019
For nothing will be impossible with God – Luke 1:37
At this time last year I was undergoing chemotherapy. Because I was confined for days to my bed or a chair due to severe side-effects, I found myself watching television Christmas movies. So many of them referenced either what they called the “magic of Christmas”, or the “Christmas miracle”. But none of them accurately explained the real miracle of Christmas, which is so much more than even reconciliation in a family, or falling in love, or finding your heart’s desire under the Christmas tree.
The real Christmas miracle is this: Anyone and everyone can come into a right relationship with God. Anyone and everyone can be restored to fellowship with God. Anyone and everyone can be born again. We can start over. And best of all, anyone and everyone can enjoy the presence of Jesus living within. Even you. Even me.
This astounding, supernatural miracle is illustrated by the experience of the Virgin Mary. She was a young girl, living in the small mountain village of Nazareth. We assume she was like any other girl in her town—poor, somewhat uneducated, yet with the small hopes and dreams of all teenage girls in her village to one day be a wife with a home and children of her own. But she also must have been unlike others in her innocence, purity, godliness, and desire for the things of God. She may even have clung to a deep desire for the Messiah to come in her lifetime. While she knew from the familiar prophecy of Micah 5:2 He would not come from Nazareth and therefore she would have had no expectation of her own involvement with Him, she could dream.[i]
When she reached the marriageable age of approximately thirteen or fourteen, she was betrothed to an upright man named Joseph. Once she entered into the betrothal, she was considered married to Joseph in every way except sexual intimacy. The betrothal would last for approximately one year, during which time they lived separately. Joseph would then use this time to prepare a home that they would share after the formal wedding ceremony. For years, for centuries, according to Jewish tradition, this had been the way of her people. Everything about Mary’s betrothal was normal…traditional…customary…until the angel came.
What was Mary doing on that history-splitting, life-altering day? Was she winnowing wheat? Harvesting grapes? Milking a cow? Making cheese? Baking bread? Drawing water? Was she just going about her everyday responsibilities when God invaded her life? I suspect Mary had never seen an angel before, yet it wasn’t his appearance that troubled and frightened her. It was how he greeted her. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”[ii] Seeing her expression, the angel immediately sought to put her at ease by telling her not to be afraid. But what he then revealed must have thrust her into the stratosphere of bewildered amazement: “Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”[iii]
It is forever to Mary’s credit that she didn’t drop down in a dead faint nor run away in panic nor laugh hysterically at something so absurd. Instead, with great poise and sincerity, she inquired, “How will this be…since I am a virgin?”[iv]
Consider carefully the angel’s response, because his explanation to Mary of what would happen to her physically parallels what happens to you and me spiritually when we receive Jesus Christ by faith. The angel answered her question in this way: “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.… For nothing is impossible with God.”[v]
In spite of the stunning news…
…in spite of the fact this would immediately turn her life upside down and inside out
…in spite of the fact she knew she would face public humiliation
…in spite of the probability of Joseph’s rejection
…in spite of the immediate destruction of all her own hopes, plans, and dreams
…in spite of everything this would cost her
Mary immediately submitted to what she recognized as God’s will for her when she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.… May it be to me as you have said.”[vi]
At that moment, Mary fully embraced what God had for her, which was radically different from anything she had ever thought of for herself. Her faith in God’s word as it was told to her by the angel, and her submission to God’s will as she let go of her life to embrace His, resulted in the miraculous conception of the physical life of Jesus within her.
And this is the similarity between Mary’s experience and ours:
…that we are all sinners
…that physical, spiritual, and eternal death are the wages of sin
…that God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that whoever places faith in Him would not perish but have everlasting life
…that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to atone for any sin and all sin
…that if we confess our sin, God will be faithful to cleanse us and forgive us
…that He will give us eternal life, which is not only Heaven when we die but also a personal, right relationship with God now
…that we will have the right to become God’s child, born supernaturally into His family, if we believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him into our hearts
…that if we hear the word of truth, which is the gospel as I have just related, and believe it as it applies to us
…that if we claim Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, grasping the Lamb of God with our own hands of faith, confessing our sin and guilt, believing that they are now transferred to Him and that we are cleansed with His blood.
At that very moment, we conceive the life of Jesus within us spiritually in the person of the Holy Spirit. And that’s a miracle!**[vii]
This Christmas, experience the miracle for yourself. If you already have, then please! Tell others they can experience it, too!
[i] John 1:46.
[ii] Luke 1:28–29.
[iii] Luke 1:30–33.
[iv] Luke 1:34.
[v] Luke 1:35, 37.
[vi] Luke 1:38.
[vii] Romans 3:23; 6:23; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9; John 17:1–3; 1:12; Ephesians 1:13–14; John 3:3–6.
**Post adapted from Anne’s new book, Jesus in Me. Released October 2019.
September 17, 2019
To them God has chosen to make known . . . the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
Over the past two years loneliness has knocked on my door. After forty-nine years of marriage, I had just begun adjusting to the new normal of widowhood when my beloved father moved to Heaven. Six months after his funeral, I was diagnosed with breast cancer that involved surgery, chemotherapy and radiation that meant months at home, sidelined from ministry. Yet only a sovereign God could have arranged my life’s events so that they coincided with the writing of my new book on the Holy Spirit, Jesus In Me. I have truly experienced in a very fresh, personal way His constant companionship.
August 12, 2019
Watch Anne Live (and on demand) directly from the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Each session will be broadcast live from Asheville, NC.
June 14, 2019
…Do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11
Have you ever had the opportunity to share the Gospel or tell someone about Jesus, but you didn’t take it because you felt you weren’t prepared? One of my reoccurring nightmares is to find myself on a stage with people looking at me, yet I have no prepared message to give.
February 23, 2019
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone… 1 Timothy 2:1
Yesterday my brother, Franklin, invited me to participate in a telephone prayer call for Venezuela. He described his increasing burden for the people there that stretches back over the last several years as 3.4 million people have walked out of the country. The socialist regime has reduced Venezuela, once the wealthiest country in Latin America, to less than third world status.