Christmas time is finally upon us. It is definitely my favorite time of the year, and I am sure many of us feel the same way. As a believer, I especially love the story of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
As time goes on, I think that I appreciate the back stories about this event which is the central theme of our lives and even of time itself. The unfolding of the events from the very beginning reveal a special gift that is available to all of us as a hidden Christmas gift if we will simply receive it. That is the gift of faith.
When the young virgin Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, she was troubled by this miraculous experience, mostly because of Gabriel’s salutation. “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28. He continued, “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33.
Mary was engaged to be wed to Joseph. In the Jewish custom, this was the same as being married, but they had not yet consummated the marriage by joining together physically; that would happen only after the official wedding feast. Mary told this to the angel and he answered her;” The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:35-37.
“Then Mary said, Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38. This faith answer that Mary gave to the angel Gabriel is fascinating. She was telling him that she was willing for everything that he had spoken to come to pass in her life. But what caused her to have such faith in the angel’s words?
The answer is in his statement, “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” As a minister and as a student of the God’s word, I have learned to use a few Greek word study tools. As a graduate of Rhema Bible Training College, I was quite familiar with the word rhema, which means, “spoken word”, with the idea of it being a word spoken to you personally. One day I was looking through my word study concordance and observing the various ways that the KJV translators had translated this word. I looked down the list of scriptures in order and noticed that most of the time they chose the word, ”word”, and many times the word, “saying” was chosen. But all of a sudden I noticed it was translated as “nothing”. It was from this passage in Luke’s gospel, 1:37. Which means literally, “No word of God will be impossible”. The word rhema had the Greek prefix which negated the word, now rendering it as “no word”, but translated by the translators as “nothing”.
You see the gift to all of us here is just like the faith promise offered to Mary. If God says or promises something to us in His word, the Bible, that word that He has spoken is possible to be received in your life. Most Christians will agree that this is true of the promise from Romans 10:13. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
What if we believed His word penned by the Apostle Paul from I Corinthians 9:8? “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Or I Corinthians 8:9, which says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Jesus was certainly rich in Heaven before He chose to take on human flesh to become our Savior. But even while on Earth, He led a traveling mega-ministry around, providing for all of His disciples; 70 of them, not just the 12, and obviously their families that they left in order to follow Jesus. There was so much provision in the money pouch that Judas was constantly stealing from it and no one noticed it but Jesus.
Jesus became poor while hanging on the cross for me and for you. That was the place that he bore our sins, our poverty and our sickness. The Apostle Peter penned God’s word’s to us when he was referencing Isiah 53:5, saying, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed.”
This is the gift that God wants us to receive this Christmas. His Word is His bond. Take Him at His Word. Jesus taught His disciples a faith lesson after Peter noticed that a fig tree that Jesus had cursed withered from the roots. Jesus immediately said in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” When we look at the literal translation its says, “Have God’s faith.” You see, we don’t have faith of our own until we believe God’s Word, and then His faith comes into our heart. What Jesus was telling His disciples was that were being offered the gift of God’s faint to use as their own. He is saying the same thing to us today.
I had the opportunity to travel to Nazareth in Israel back in 1977. My friends and I were shopping through the markets that lined the streets when I got separated from them and was lost for about an hour. I saw a large church and walked into it to see if I could get some help. I noticed a Franciscan priest that seemed to be there to answer people’s questions. I told him that I was lost, and asked him what church this was. He answered, this is the Church of the Annunciation.
Suddenly it hit me, of course, Nazareth. My mind immediately ran to this Christmas story and Gabriel coming to speak to Mary. I asked, is this where Mary lived? He said, the grotto below is believed to be Mary’s home. So I then said to the priest, if this is where Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to become the mother of the Son of God, then this must be the same place that the Holy Spirit came upon her and she conceive the Lord Jesus. I said, this must be the place that God touched the earth to bring salvation to all the people of the world. Immediately the priest began to weep. Then I began to weep, and we just both stood there weeping and worshiping God for His goodness, His grace and His mercy, and blessing us to allow us to be standing in such a holy place.
Eventually my friends showed up at the Church of the Annunciation, and I was able to come back home to the USA; but it would have been OK if I had to stay there till Jesus came back for me.
Receive the gift of God’s faith this Christmas. Believe that all of His promises, His Words, are for you and your loved ones, so that you might receive the abundant life that Jesus died to give you.
President and Founder of Life Christian University
When December rolls around each year, the most wonderful time of the year is especially exciting for us Christians. We know that this is a short but blessed time when everyone has to notice the celebration of the Christ child coming to the earth as a baby, Jesus of Nazareth.
Each year, Christians pray that the Lord of the harvest would be able to enlighten many peoples’ understanding during this season, and help them decide to receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord. At the same time, we are painfully aware that most will blare through the holiday, oblivious to the great salvation that is available to each person through one simple prayer.
Each year I return to the book of Luke that has such an amazing description of the birth of our Savior, and I read it again to see what subtle nuance of the Christmas story I may gain. Of course, we remember the primary story of the Angel Gabriel first coming to Zacharias, the future father of John the Baptist, and then to Mary, the future mother of Jesus.
In the encounter with Zacharias, it is interesting to note that Zacharias doubted the words of Gabriel that God had answered his prayer and that he and his wife Elizabeth were going to have a son. Also that their son would be a great prophet who would prepare the way of the Lord. Gabriel told Zacharias that he would be mute and unable to speak until the child was born because he doubted his word. A person of faith would understand that this was a faith proposition from God, and no words of doubt and unbelief would be allowed to mess things up.
Then when Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus, she simply asked how it would be done, since she had not yet consummated her marriage to Joseph. According to the customs that would not be done until after their wedding feast. No one had ever heard of someone having a child without an earthly father before. Zacharias and Elizabeth were going to conceive in the normal way after the Lord healed Elizabeth. It is understandable that Mary was simply was curious as to how this would happen, but she was not doubting that the word of the angel was indeed the Word of God.
Gabriel’s answer in Luke 1:35 is the absolute core of the whole Gospel. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Here Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit would come on her, and that the power of the Highest, God the Father, would overshadow her, manifesting human flesh created by God. This is exactly the same way that He created the first man, Adam. Now this incorruptible seed in Mary would mature and be born, and become known as the Son of God.
Up until this time, the triune God—one God manifest as three persons—was know as the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. From this point on, God would be known as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Gabriel finished his words to Mary by saying, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” The word nothing in this passage is a variation of the root word “rhema” which is the Greek word for “Spoken word”, but here it is in the negative meaning “No Word.” Gabriel was saying, ”No Word that God speaks will be impossible.” Mary’s response was, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” Hearing Mary’s answer of faith, Gabriel departed, knowing that the message had been delivered and received by faith.
We can only assume that right then and there, that which the Angel Gabriel described and what Mary agreed to in faith, took place. The Holy Spirit came upon her, the power of the Father overshadowed her, and Jesus the Son of the Living God was conceived in her womb.
As the marvelous Christmas story progresses, we find a wonderful thing happened after John the Baptist is born. Zacharias was healed of his inability to speak in order to name his son. Then suddenly he began to prophecy to the new born infant about his role in preparing the way of the Lord. In Luke 1:76 he said, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways.” Then in verse 78 and 79 he describes this Holy One, the Lord as, “This Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
This part of the story was that nuance that I was looking for. Notice that the Lord Jesus would not guide our feet to the way of peace, but “guide our feet unto the way of peace.” You see, peace is not a destination that we are striving to reach at some illusive time in the future. Peace is the way wherein we walk all the days of our lives as the children of God.
We did not just gain peace with God when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. God was never at war with us, we simply thought before we knew Him that He was angry with us. We assumed and feared that judgment was certainly headed out way. No, God loved us even when we made ourselves His enemy. The peace that we gained was not peace with God, it literally was the peace of God. God downloaded into us His peace, His love, His acceptance, His absolute delight with us as His children when we were born again.
This is the way of peace that Jesus came to deliver to us. He had to destroy the works of the devil that kept us blinded from the love that God the Father had for us. That is what the Apostle John told us in I John 3:8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
I like asking Christians if they believe that Jesus was successful in accomplishing His purposes in coming to earth. Did He really destroy the works of the devil? Remember that John also described Him in John 1:14 saying, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Yes, Jesus fully destroyed the works of the devil for everyone who will believe. But His great victory is of no effect though, for those who refuse to believe. Faith in Jesus is a choice.
If you have never prayed the “Believer’s Prayer” before, I invite you do so today, and gain this peace that passes all understanding that is available with the new birth in Christ. Simply say this to our Father in Heaven; “Heavenly Father, I believe in my heart that you raised Jesus Christ from the dead after He purchased the redemption of every human soul through His sacrifice; it was that miraculous exchange of His righteousness for our unrighteousness; and I now confess Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Jesus, come into my heart and be my Redeemer and my Master, so that I can live for you all of my earthly life, and with you all of my eternal life in Heaven. Amen.”
Welcome to the family of God.
Life Christian University provides Spirit-filled and faith-filled ministry education and equipping for passionate believers at local campuses world-wide as well as online.
With the joy of the Christmas season just behind us, we are now faced with a new year and a new question:
Will we face it with dread and gloom or with faith and expectation?
So often when entering a new year, I hear comments along the lines of, "I sure hope this year will be better than last year." Each year brings new challenges to our faith. If we feel circumstances where we were believing for divine intervention have not yet been resolved, the tendency of our human reasoning is to look forward with dread rather than faith. However, as born-again, Spirit-filled, Word-of-Faith Christians, we simply cannot give in to typical human reasoning!
While praying in the Spirit recently, the Lord showed me one of the key issues bothering many of those knowing the whole counsel of God's Word is a perceived total apathy towards the Truth by so many Christians around us. We know the solutions to mankind's problems can always — and only — be found in God's Word. We sometimes begin to feel we are the only ones who are interested in really knowing the Lord and understanding His Word. Then the Lord showed me there are countless numbers of people who are hungry for more and yet don't know where to go to find it.
Those of us in the ministry often feel frustrated that we cannot connect with those who are hungry for God. As a ministry university, we have spent much time praying for the wisdom of God in promoting the education we offer. Pastors of churches pray for the wisdom to promote the ministry the church has to offer to those who they know are hurting and in need. We need a better way to reach these hungry souls, and the better way is always God's way.
This is how the Lord showed me we should pray going into the New Year. Remember, we are the answer to the prayer Jesus told His disciples to pray concerning sending forth laborers into His harvest. God called us with a personal intervention into our lives. He can do the same for every hungry person around us. We simply need Him to connect us supernaturally with the hungry souls. We are the deep calling unto the deep. The hungry heart wants to go deeper in the Word and deeper in the presence of God. That is what we have experienced and we know how to lead them into this deeper place in God.
The psalmist who penned Psalm 42 was in a crisis of life and needed to experience the deep, abiding presence of God. He starts with:
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
The psalmist begins to remember where his help comes from in the next few verses. I believe every truly born-again believer has a knowing in their spirit that this help from the Lord is available. Verses 6-8 say:
O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, and from the Hill of Mizar. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me — A prayer to the God of my life.
I believe it is time for us to pray in a new Word-of-Faith revival. There are still many hungry hearts who need to be supernaturally directed to find the answers about how good a God our God is. Many who are not yet in the Kingdom, God is calling by His Spirit to come in and know Him. Many who are wallowing in despair in dead churches, God is calling to connect where the answers are being poured out freely by our loving God.
It is time for our LCU sphere of association to rise up like never before and call in the supernatural connection to hungry hearts. Deep calling unto deep. 2019 can be the greatest year of impact we have ever seen. We entered into this calling to do the greatest work we ever could and to have the greatest impact we can possibly have. So join us at Main Campus as we declare 2019 as "The Year of Deep Calling unto Deep."
Dr. Doug Wingate
President and Founder of LCU