Tag Archives: Christmas

What Jesus Wants for Christmas

Virgin Mary with Baby JesusChristians believe that Jesus Christ is the “reason” for the season, but what does that mean? Is that just a cool little saying we use each December or does it have a deeper meaning that should impact our lives all year long?

We say we believe the “story” of Christmas, but what does that mean? Do we like the story about the baby Jesus because it’s something that fits in with the annual celebration or does it have a deeper meaning that should impact our lives all year long?

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The Secret of Christmas (Part 1)

It’s almost Christmas. People are running around trying to find just the perfect gift for friends and family. The alcohol flows from one party to another. The stress grows as each person tries vainly to fulfill their desires for the “happiest” time of the year. The goal is ever elusive.

Is this what Christmas is really all about? Why do we do this to ourselves? Is there something more? Something better? Something we’re missing?

The answer is a resounding YES! There is something more; something much better. There’s a secret about the holiday that can make every day the “happiest” time of the year.

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It’s Christmas, 2011

Christmas is this coming Sunday. It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by since the last celebration of our Lord’s Birth. Here is the first chapter in a study we shared last year. Hope you enjoy it! Continue reading

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It’s Christmas!

Welcome to the week before Christmas! What a wonderful time to rejoice in the good things we have in life – and we do have so many good things.

Christmas is one of those times of the year when more people are open to hearing about Jesus Christ. However, what they hear usually doesn’t take them far enough to understand the uniqueness of God’s Gift to the world. Why did God send His Son to earth in the form of a baby? Why did the mother of Jesus have to be a virgin? What is the significance of Christ’s birth to me?

I hope you will enjoy reading a free eBook called It’s Christmas!  It’s part of our GraceLife Bible Study Series and presents the true meaning and purpose of God’s Son coming to earth 2,000 years ago in the form of a little child. If you find it a blessing, please share the book with your family and friends. It’s our gift to you and them.

Blessings!

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

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Why Jesus Was Born Of A Virgin

Merry Christmas! This is the day millions of people around the world remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But why did God’s Son need to be born? His existence is from “everlasting to everlasting.” Christ is Eternal. He is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. Why would He need to lower Himself to become like one of His own creatures?

God’s Son was born of a virgin so He could suffer and  die. It is impossible for the Eternal God to die, but death is exactly what was necessary to redeem the human race from the destructive nature of sin. Life is in the blood (Leviticus 17) and God required the death of a spotless (unblemished) sacrifice for sins. There was no one in the universe qualified to die for the sins of people, except God. So, Jesus was born of a virgin so the tainted blood of Adam would not be part of Christ’s human body. Look at what the Apostle John wrote about the things Jesus accomplished by being born of a virgin:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men … 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.”

John 1:1-4, 14

Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Eternal Word of God, Who was in the beginning with God, became flesh and lived among His creation. John and others who followed Jesus saw His glory, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’  The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

John 6:48-58

Jesus is the Bread of Life and likened Himself to the manna that kept Israel alive in the desert between Egypt and the promised land. The Bread that He gave was His flesh, which He received through the virgin Mary. Jesus told His disciples that His flesh and blood would give them life everlasting.

Jesus made it clear on the night before His death that His Body and Blood were for the remission of the sins of His disciples.

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Matthew 26:26-28

The apostles wrote often about the importance of God’s Son being born of a woman, becoming flesh and sacrificing His body and blood on the Cross. Look at all Christ accomplished by being born of a virgin.

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

Acts 20:28

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Romans 1:1-4

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-26

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Romans 5:8-10

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Romans 8:2-4

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”

1 Corinthians 10:16

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

1 Corinthians 11:26-28

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Ephesians 1:7

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Ephesians 2:11-16

“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”

Ephesians 5:29-30

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins … For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—”

Colossians 1:13-14, 19-22

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.”

1 Timothy 3:16

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: ‘I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.’ And again: ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again: ‘Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.’ Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

Hebrews 2:9-18

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’ Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

Hebrews 9:11-28

“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’ Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Hebrews 10:1-22

“For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach … Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:11-13, 20-21

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied … And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

1 Peter 1:1-2, 17-21

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”

1 Peter 3:18

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

1 Peter 4:1

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

“By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

1 John 4:2-3

“Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood— Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”

1 John 5:5-7

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

2 John 1:7

“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Revelation 1:4-6

“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:8-10

“And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:14

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

Revelation 12:11

“His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”

Revelation 19:12-14

Do you see how important it is to believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin and became flesh? The Apostle Peter makes that clear: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” So does the Apostle John: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

Another important note to make before we leave this study. It goes to the very heart of why God’s Son chose to be born of a virgin: “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.” Wow! “But a body You have prepared for Me.” That’s what God the Father and Holy Spirit did for God the Son; they prepared a body for Him in the womb of the virgin Mary so He could redeem many from the human race who were doomed by Adam’s sin.

The ancient doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ is not open for discussion or question. The Holy Spirit of God closed the door on that subject centuries ago by inspiring the authors of Scripture to make it plain that Jesus did come in the flesh and gave Himself for the sins of the human race.

I pray you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic weekend! My prayers are with you as you celebrate the real meaning of Christmas, the coming of our Lord and Savior in flesh.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries


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The Virgin Mary

Yesterday, we began a study about a Jewish virgin named Mary. She lived in a little town in the northern region of Israel named Nazareth. We don’t know a lot about her personal history as a child, but we do know she found favor with God.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘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 1:26-33

God sent the mighty angel Gabriel to speak to Mary. Gabriel is mentioned by name four times in the Bible: Daniel 8:16 and 9:21, and Luke 1:19 and 26. Gabriel met with the great Hebrew prophet Daniel twice. The first time was when Gabriel interpreted Daniel’s vision about the ram and goat. The second time was when Gabriel explained the meaning of Daniel’s vision about the 70 weeks that included the Messiah being cut off for His people. God sent Gabriel to bring the news about the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias. Gabriel also brought the news about the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.

It’s important to note that every reference of Gabriel in the Bible is connected to the promised Messiah of Israel.

Gabriel gave Daniel, Zacharias and Mary prophetic knowledge about the Messiah. Here’s what Gabriel told Mary:

  1. The Messiah will be great
  2. He will be called the Son of the Highest
  3. He will receive the throne of David
  4. He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever
  5. There will be no end to His kingdom

We know from what Gabriel told Daniel and Zacharias and the other prophecies of the Old Testament that this was exactly what would happen in the future. Mary, who would become the mother of the Messiah, was hearing straight from the angel Gabriel that the Son she would soon birth and raise would be the One Israel had waited for for so long.

We all might wonder what our response would be if an angel of God spoke to us. Each of us would probably respond according to our own personality and circumstances. Notice how Mary responded to this amazing prophecy from Gabriel.

“Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Mary was focused on the one thing that affected her immediately: how could she be pregnant with the Messiah since she had never had sexual relations with a man. I don’t know if Mary was able to immediately comprehend the magnitude of her future Son’s impact on the world, but she certainly understood the impact on her. How could a virgin have a baby?

Gabriel explained how this was going to happen in terms that may have been difficult for Mary to understand at first, but he also gave her a human example she could grasp.

“And the angel answered and said to 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. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Notice how the Triune God is involved in a virgin girl becoming pregnant with the Son of God. “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.”

First, the Holy Spirit would “come upon” the virgin Mary. The Greek word is epeleusetai and it is used only this one time in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit did something for Mary that He would never do again. He came upon her for the express purpose of Mary becoming the virgin mother of the Messiah.

Second, the power of the Highest (God the Father) “will overshadow” you. The Greek word is episkiasei. It means “to throw a shadow upon” and was used here for what God the Father did for Mary, for the bright cloud that covered the disciples at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34), and for Peter’s shadow covering many people as they were healed of their illness (Acts 5:15).

Third, the Son of God became flesh inside the womb of Mary: “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” All members of the Godhead were intimately involved in the pregnancy of the virgin Mary.

The angel Gabriel is ancient in his wisdom and understanding. God created him to be at the top of the angelic host and to play a vital role in the mission of the Messiah to save Israel from their sins. Gabriel knew the heart and mind of human beings well. He had been present when God created Adam and Eve and when they fell into the temptation of Satan. Gabriel knew and understood the human heart. He knew how to help Mary understand the reality of the gift God was giving her even if she couldn’t grasp the depth of all its spiritual and supernatural meaning.

“Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Gabriel gave Mary an example she could understand. Mary knew Elizabeth and how much she and her husband Zacharias wanted a child. Mary would have understood the physical impossibility of a woman Elizabeth’s age becoming pregnant and giving birth. Elizabeth had always been barren, so there was no physical clue that she could become a mother, especially at her advanced age. The fact that Elizabeth was pregnant and in her sixth month would have shown Mary that this was the special work of Almighty God. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Even though Mary may have first thought the angel’s prophecy couldn’t be true, she could see through the example of her relative Elizabeth that nothing was impossible for God. God could give an elderly, barren woman the ability to become pregnant and He could overshadow a virgin so she could give birth to the Son of God.

“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”

Mary received God’s Word into her heart and agreed to become the willing vessel for God’s will!

Tomorrow, what Mary did next and the amazing effect it had on Elizabeth and her unborn child.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministies

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The Virgin Mary

I used to refer to the story about the Virgin Mary to demonstrate my belief that the Bible was an absolute fairy tale. No one could be born of a virgin. How ridiculous (or so I thought). That was almost 40 years ago when I didn’t believe in the existence of God and the supernatural. I know better now. Receiving Christ as Lord and Savior does a lot to change an atheist’s beliefs about God. God did send His One and Only Son to be born of a virgin. Let’s see what we can learn about this amazing event.

It’s important to remember that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ should have been no surprise to the people of Israel. It was the fulfillment of ancient prophecies.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.”

Matthew 1:18-22

The angel of God quoted Isaiah 7:14 to Joseph: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah wrote his prophetic Book more than 700 years before the birth of Christ. Anyone who had access to a copy of the Book of Isaiah would have known that Immanuel (God with us) would be born to a virgin. That would be a sign to Israel that God was bringing about the certain events of prophecy.

The Book of Matthew looks at the paternal and kingly lineage of Christ beginning with Abraham and continuing through the centuries to David and eventually Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. The Book of Luke does not list any human lineage for Christ. It presents our Lord as coming directly from Heaven to the womb of a virgin. There would be nothing natural about this Holy Birth. It is that amazing relationship between God and the human race that we’ll investigate as we quickly approach Christmas 2009.

Even as God sent an angel to speak to Joseph, God sent an angel to speak to his espoused (promised) wife Mary.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’  But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘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.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to 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. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Luke 1:26-38

Wow! This has to be, if not the most amazing, one of the most amazing conversations between a human and an angel in the history of the human race. God sends the mighty angel Gabriel to a little town in the Middle East named Nazareth. Gabriel goes to a little house in the little town and speaks to a young girl named Mary who is a virgin.

Get a picture of this in your mind: a big, powerful angel travels straight from Heaven on a special mission from God to talk with a young virgin girl. What are the first words out of his mouth? “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Gabriel tells Mary to rejoice because she is the “highly favored one.” These three English words are the translation of just one Greek word: kecharitomene. It comes from the root word charitoo and carries the idea of someone being filled with grace on the part of the giver. It is a perfect participle in the passive voice, which means someone else placed Mary in a present state of grace that resulted from a past action. That “someone” was the Lord! God Almighty had chosen Mary at a past time to be filled with His Grace at the present time. She was going to be a human vessel to bring God’s Son into the world in the flesh.

Mary was “troubled” (greatly disturbed, agitated) at what Gabriel told her. Put yourself in Mary’s place. How would feel if an angel appeared to you, called you “highly favored one” and told you that the Lord is with you and you are blessed among women? I think it would be troubling. Mary “considered” (reasoned) what manner of greeting this was. Gabriel knew how his greeting was affecting her, so he was quick to say “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.”

Do you see how personal and loving this is? The Lord God of Heaven selected Mary out from all the women of all the ages of the earth to be blessed with God’s most Precious Gift. Mary was going to become the mother of God’s One and Only Son, Jesus.

We will learn much more about Mary this week, but first we’ll look at one of the most amazing statements in all of the Bible. That’s tomorrow! Be well and enjoy this special day as our celebration of our Savior’s birth draws near.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

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Where’s the Joy?

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is next week! Where has 2009 gone? It’s interesting as I drive around town to see so many people who are unhappy and stressed. Drivers are becoming more aggressive and less patient. Shoppers are moving faster and with less satisfaction. We see lighting displays all around the area that include the word “joy” in the message, but where is the joy? Where’s the peace and joy we believe comes with the Christmas season?

Here’s some insight from the Bible:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It may seem too simple to be true, but I believe it is. Joy comes with being inside God’s will for our lives. One of the most-asked questions I’ve heard from Christians since I was saved is “How can I know God’s will for my life?” God’s answer is simple, direct and powerful!

  1. First, always be joyful. Remember who you are in Christ. Remember your eternal hope in Christ. Christians have THE REASON to be joyful. Enjoy every day God gives you and each new opportunity to enjoy Him. God gives us Joy rather than happiness. Happiness comes and goes with circumstances and moods. Joy lasts forever. Joys outlives circumstances and moods. We have the Joy of the Lord in our hearts because Christ is in us and we are in Christ. No circumstance or mood can change that.
  2. Second, pray continually. That’s possible because Christ is in us and we are in Christ. God is always with us. We don’t have to wait until a certain time of the day to pray. He’s always in us. We don’t have to wait until we’re in a certain place. He’s always in us. We don’t have to wait for others to pray. He’s always in us. Christians can live a life of prayer because we are in Christ and Christ is in us. That’s a permanent prayerful relationship. Always be in an attitude of prayer and dependence on God. Trust Him for everything. He’s your Father. He loves to give good things to His children. And He does!
  3. Third, give thanks in all circumstances. Be glad for what God’s given you. See the good in what God does for you. Know that God cares for you with all His Heart and watches out for you every moment of your life. He gives you so much and wants you to be thankful. Understanding Christ in you and you in Christ is to be thankful forever!

When we live our lives in this way, God can easily and clearly point us to other areas of His will for our lives. The difficult decisions about what to do, where to go, who to marry, etc., will become clear as we understand what it means for Christ to be “in” us and us to be “in” Christ. The Will of God lives in us and guides us. Ours is to listen, obey and enjoy.

What does this have to do with Christmas? Jesus came from Heaven to earth to bring us joy! Remember what the angels sang when they announced the birth of Jesus Christ –

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:8-14

The angels of Heaven brought the people of earth “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Notice the angel used the words “great joy.” Most of us have experienced joy in our lives, but what the Jesus brings us a message of great joy.

Where’s the joy? It’s in Jesus! If Jesus is your Savior and you are in His will for your life, you will experience great joy.

Blessings!

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

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