...whether we already know Christ or not, we all have the opportunity to have new and abundant life.
You may have fears in your life, but you really don’t need to worry about them. This doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to you, but if you have faith in Jesus Christ, then you already know the outcome of the story – He wins! He defeats death and gifts to us everlasting life. This is the true meaning of Christmas: that Jesus is our hope, not just in our present day crises, but eternally.
Today’s Christmas story is about a woman (Mary) who is pregnant with salvation. She is about to bring forth a new life who brings salvation and restoration to the world. We too have an opportunity to be “salvation pregnant,” which simply means that whether we already know Christ or not, we all have the opportunity to have new and abundant life.
1. Salvation hope sometimes comes in less than ideal circumstances. Matthew 1:18-19
Think about Mary’s circumstances. She is young, unmarried, and now placed in a position to convince others that she pregnant by God. Would you believe a teenager who made this claim? God intervenes to convince her fiancé Joseph, but imagine the drama that she faces in a community that doesn’t have the benefit of God’s divine message. Why would God do it that way? Why does it have to be so difficult?
You may find yourself asking these same questions about circumstances in your own life, and the answer is simple: it is not for us to judge the why’s and how’s of God’s plans, but to trust Him to work it out. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He can and will use circumstances in our lives that we don’t like.
One reason he allows those things to happen is because it often helps us to turn to Him and be more aware of His presence and power in our lives. God mercifully leads us to a place where we will accept Him. He wants us to experience Him at another level.
2. Salvation hope should not be feared. Matthew 1:20
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. Matthew 1:20
God will call you to do things for Him that may seem scary, especially if you are someone who likes to control your life. He may call you to surrender things you cherish, give up your time and resources, or let go of your idols, but as you trust in His plans for you, you please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God wants you to walk with Him by faith and trust in His leading without fear.
3. Salvation hope is provided by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18, 21
The Holy Spirit is responsible for impregnating Mary with salvation. For us, He not only offers the gift of new life, but He moves in our hearts to accept it.
The Holy Spirit is a distinct person of the Trinity and has specific roles. He moves like the wind; we don’t know where He comes from or where He’s going. The Spirit of God cleanses our sin, renews our minds, convicts us, gives us passion to obey God, reminds us of Jesus’ words, gives us power and gifts, prays on our behalf, speaks in small still voice, and most of all, wants to be completely involved in our lives. He wants to use the new life opportunity to heal our broken relationships, guide and direct us, and pour out God’s love in our hearts (Romans 5:5).
4. Salvation hope is received only if you obey by faith. Matthew 1:24-25
Joseph shows us an example of trust and obedience. His role in this plan of salvation is simply to believe in the plans revealed to him in a dream and to obey them.
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him... Matthew 1:24
The same applies to you. God has plans and new life for you, and your role is to listen, trust, and obey. You may have all sorts of religious habits or rituals in your life, but they don’t mean a thing if you’re not obeying God on a daily basis. He wants you to receive the new life He births in you and to walk with Him. But He only comes into your life by invitation!
Pastor Miles likened our “salvation pregnancy” to the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Through the course of the story, Dorothy faces many difficult obstacles in her quest to return home. But as revealed in the end, she has had the power to return home all along—just by using the magical slippers she wears.
Similarly, all of us have the opportunity right now to receive new life in Christ. We don’t have to spend money, accomplish good deeds, or complete a quest (in fact, Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we can’t buy it or earn it). We simply need to accept the gift the God offers and begin our journey with Him.