Text: Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Father God, Help us to believe that nothing is impossible with You. All of us are facing impossible situations at our workplaces, in our families, both parents and children, many impossible cases. But we bring each of them to You today. Help us to believe that nothing is impossible with You.
Help us to believe in Jesus, for He will do impossible things in our lives. We just have to believe and trust. Teach us through the Christmas account how you are God who does impossible things. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.
It’s Christmas time. And I don’t know what kind of images come to mind around this time of year for you. For some it’s vacation time. For others, it is a break from school and work. I think in churches, we have a certain picture also of what Christmas is. The nativity scene, the little baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph.
And just reading it this this time around, it’s like, I wondered, is this the first time I actually read it in all my years? Because it says in John 1 that the true light came into the world and the world does not know Him. And that’s expected for the world who does not believe in Jesus. It’s just vacation. It’s just another tradition, another holiday. Nothing significant. They don’t know Jesus.
But continuing on in John 1, the sad part is that even God’s own people, it says Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive Him, did not believe in Him. So I’m not talking about the world. I want to talk specifically to the Church, all of us who claim to believe in Jesus.
Nothing is impossible with God. Is this what you walk away with as the conclusion after reading the Christmas story? I am concerned that in churches we’ve domesticated this Christmas story. We’ve made it very safe, very peaceful. Very palatable, very comfortable. It’s like we’ve taken the power of the Niagara Falls and we’ve squeezed it into a bottle. So it’s palatable. It’s like we’ve taken this roaring lion and we’ve turned them into Georgie, our nieces’ dog, this cute, cuddly animal, when in fact, He is the roaring Lion of Judah.
And I just want to introduce the characters if I may. Matthew 1.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Imagine if you’re Joseph. And Mary is your fiance and she says, you know, I’ve been visiting by an angel. And he told me that through the Holy Spirit, God would plant His seed in me and out of my womb would come the Son of the Most High. Would you believe that story?
If you’re Joseph, would you would you trust your fiance that you barely have gotten to know? No, no way. And so naturally he decides, I’ve got to break this engagement off. And he is a just man. He’s a righteous man. Like most men would just just storm out in anger, or in these times, he could easily decide to publicly humiliate this woman, just ruin her because that’s how angry you would be.
But he’s a righteous man. And so he decides, I’m going to do it quietly. I want to protect her. Then, an angel comes and just based on that one thing, Joseph says, I’m going to marry this woman. This is not normal. I mean, imagine having to explain this to your parents. Imagine Mary going to her parents. Imagine going to your in-laws. Telling everyone, we’ve been visited by an angel. And this baby has been supernaturally conceived.
What parent would would believe this? What in-law would tolerate this? This is crazy talk. And if they ask, what basis do you have for this? And your answer is, I had a visitation by an angel. I had a dream. Wouldn’t everyone, your friends and family, dismiss it?
It must be something you ate last night. You must have had a nightmare. I mean, that’s not from the Lord. God doesn’t speak that way. God speaks in the synagogue. You just go listen to some good preaching. He doesn’t come to you this way.
What about the wise men? These are from the East. They’re Magi, they’re astrologers. Why are they there? They are studying the movement of the stars. That’s their vocation. And they notice – this one star is moving in a special way. From the east, they followed this star all the way to Herod in Jerusalem.
Now we just got to pause and say, this is the Christmas story. You mean to tell me, God can control the movement of a star? That’s not possible according to the laws of the universe. This must be symbolic. This can’t happen in our universe. But that’s what it says – the reason why these men came from the east is because they were following a star.
And they go to Herod and Herod gathers all the religious men. What is this about a star? And they tell Herod about the prophecy in Micah 5. That this ruler will come from Bethlehem. So Herod instructs the wise men to to go look for this baby in Bethlehem, which is about six miles south of where they are in Jerusalem.
And this star that they’ve been following for I don’t know how many miles rests upon a certain location that is discernible. I mean, when you look at a star, can you tell that this star is anywhere over your head? Somehow it is visible to them that this star that they’ve been tracking for miles is now resting over a particular spot in Bethlehem where the baby Jesus has been born..
Then, Joseph, after receiving the wise men, later we read about the shepherds who also come to visit. I mean, it’s all facets of life. It’s all socio-economic backgrounds. You have the wise men from the east – you could say they are the top of the social ladder. And then local shepherds, uneducated. All are coming to this baby’s birth in Bethlehem.
Herod finds out that these wise men did not tell him the location of this baby. And so he tells all of the soldiers to kill all babies 2 years and younger. Joseph is warned again through a dream – you need to flee to Egypt.
Now this is the second dream that Joseph has received. You see, he’s being led supernaturally. Then, after a few months, at most two years that they’ve been hiding in Egypt, an angel comes to Joseph a third time.
You must go back to Israel. But Israel is a large location. So he doesn’t know where he needs to go. He’s afraid to go back to Judea. And so another warning comes to him through a dream – you must not go that path. And so he returns back to to his hometown in Nazareth.
So there are multiple appearances of angels through dreams. There’s a star that’s moving for miles and miles and then rests upon a particular place. And what are we supposed to walk away by reading these details of the Christmas story? We are supposed to conclude – nothing is impossible with God.
God speaks through dreams. God sends angels. God can control the motion of a particular star and it will hover over a particular spot in Bethlehem. And then in Luke chapter 1, an angel visits Mary’s relatives, Zechariah and Elizabeth and Zechariah is a priest and both are in their old age. They’ve been serving faithfully for decades. Zechariah has been going to the temple and it says, he was chosen by lot. Appears like a random choice, but we know this is not random. God has hand-picked Zechariah to be the father of John the Baptist.
And again, it’s an angelic visitation. This one actually is not a dream. It’s a vision – an angel appears to to Zechariah. And Zechariah does not believe. And to me, this is the sad part about the Christmas story. What’s sad is that people who grow up in church, we don’t actually believe. We don’t believe the way we should, that nothing is impossible with God.
Somehow we’ve domesticated Christmas. We’ve removed all the supernatural elements from this story. We’ve made it palatable so that we can sing it in a Christmas carol. But from beginning to end, this Christmas story is about God coming to His people in impossible ways.
Zechariah does not believe and he is representative of somebody who is saved out of the religious system. He started out with belief. But by the end of his life, he does not believe that God does impossible things.
And then the biggest miracle, of course, happens to Mary. Because Zechariah and Elizabeth coming together as a married couple in their old age and then a son being born to them as an elderly couple, that’s miraculous but we’ve seen that before. We’ve seen Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament, well advanced in years also conceiving supernaturally. Isaac is given to them. This one with Mary, it’s never been seen – an immaculate, virgin birth.
An angel comes to Mary and in verse 34, Mary responds, how will this be since I am a virgin? And the angel says, the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the conclusion statement from this angel, and I want us all to just think it through, the angel says, for nothing is impossible with God.
Who is this God? He speaks through dreams. Through angelic visitations. Through His word. Through people through whom God confirms His word. He who moves the stars. Who is this God? This whole thing is impossible.
Imagine living out your faith this way. Imagine if you actually believe, God speaks to me. God directed my path to do such and such. You know, if you talk like that to Christians, saying things like I had a dream and based on that dream, I did such and such. I had a prayer time and based on what God spoke to me, I’m radically changing the direction of my life. If you talk that way to people even in the Church, people may think you’re crazy. Because they don’t believe.
Many think, God is trapped in this book. And this is all we have. All we have is this book and then you just go to church and you hear a sermon and you have principles unpacked for you on a Sunday and then you just live out your life as best you can, applying those principles.
And it’s like we’ve taken Niagara Falls and we’ve put it into a bottle. I can just take a little sip of it. I can just do my life.
Imagine if we actually believed that nothing is impossible with God and this God I believe that He is the same yesterday, today, forever. And He speaks to me the same way that He spoke to the wise men, to the Shepherds, to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Nothing has changed. The only thing has changed is us – we don’t believe.
I talked to someone the other day and he asked me about what my future plans are because in his mind, if you do church in your home, it’s like, that’s that’s not a plan. I mean, most people in my shoes would be thinking about or planning the next step. And so it’s natural question. People just ask out of the goodness of their heart. They’re concerned. What is your plan? Where do you see yourself next year or five years from now? And I tell him, I don’t have a plan. I’m here because the Lord told me to come to home. And until He speaks again, I will keep worshiping here.
You know a few years ago, I hit a wall in my faith. I was like Zechariah. Zechariah – that’s my story. I was always faithful. I went to church. I served. I did missions. I did everything that you would expect, but I hit a wall.
Because if your only experience with God is reading words on a paper and somehow you have to muster faith to believe in this written word, if that’s all you got, you’re in trouble. It’s my testimony that deep down, my belief in the Lord was eroding away.
Of course, I believed but after a while, it just becomes a pastor gig. Just a job. I’m just writing manuscripts to preach every Sunday. 20 Pages. It’s like a research paper every Sunday. Then, it’s trying to lead small group, trying to do church. Things become very human. Just trying my best. And I began to wonder, is this all there is?
And it’s my testimony that if you live that way, eventually, everybody will hit a wall. If you’re just being faithful like Zechariah, and you’re just doing your thing. Eventually, you’re going to hit a wall. Eventually, you’re going to get tired. In your 20s, you have a lot of energy. Of course, you can do all these crazy things for the Lord, but in your 40s, it’s hard getting out of bed sometimes. We don’t have the vitality of our youth. And the things that came naturally, now it’s a little bit more forced. You’ve hit a wall.
And I had a choice. I could just put my head down and just keep going. But the Lord in His mercy met me in miraculous ways. Through meeting pastors, through healings, through witnessing a deliverance, through visions. Things I never witnessed before. It just started happening after I confess to the Lord Lord. Is this it?
It’s like I pray and I’m trying to hear the Lord and I don’t hear Him and then I just got to make a decision. And it just dawned on me after a while. Before praying, I already know which way I wanted to go. I’m actually praying, God, can you just give me any kind of sign so that I can do what I want to do?
A pastor who is restless because the church is not growing and he wants to move, and so he starts praying along those lines, of course, he will find some kind of confirmation. It’s time to move.
It is such a different way of doing the Christian life where you say, I cannot move until God speaks. Believing God has done impossible things, He has gotten me this far and I’m waiting for Him, for the next assignment. Sadly, the Church doesn’t believe that God does impossible things today. We have whole doctrine and theology which says, the way God did impossible things in the Bible, this was a special time in history. These are special people – apostles. God doesn’t speak to you like He did with them.
The other thing that my friend asked as we were just discussing my future. Who do you think you are? You think God speaks to you? You think you’re Moses? I said, No, I’m not saying I’m Moses. I’m just saying God speaks.
You know, it was prophetic that Jesus grew up in Nazareth. Because in John 1, Jesus meets Philip and tells him to “Follow Him,” Philip goes to his friend, Nathanael, about Jesus. You know what Nathaniel’s response was to Philip? He said, can anything good come out of Nazareth? And so the fact that Jesus was born in Nazareth means He is utterly despised. He is rejected. Isaiah 53. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
And I want I will tell you, if you actually live this way and say things like I’m waiting for God to speak through a dream or a vision. Or, I’m waiting for an angelic visitation and I will not make decisions until that happens. If you live that way, you know what kind of reaction you’re going to get from many in the Church? Rejection.
The Church doesn’t understand how Mary and Joseph did life. They don’t understand that Joseph and Mary are moving their family in these early years based on impossible things. Clearly, their primary ministry is to protect and raise up this baby. And they’re going from city to city and they’re fleeing and they’re moving long distances based on dreams and visions and supernatural visitations.
This is like a hundred mile journey from Bethlehem to Nazareth. This is not a small decision to move a mom and an infant a hundred miles. And Joseph is making these decisions based on dreams and visitations. It is important that we believe that nothing is impossible with God.
And I want to say, if you do not experience God in this way, over time, your faith in the Lord will disappear. I’ve seen it too many times. Maybe in their youth, they experienced something tremendous, but over time, it’s like putting Niagra Falls in a bottle. It’s just very ordinary.
It’s like I grew up in church, but how did I make decisions about where to go to college? My parents just gave me a list. I just obeyed what my parents said. And where did my parents get the list of where I should apply? From the the U.S. News and World Report rankings. My heart was I just wanted to get as far away from home as possible. Go to the other side of the world, from a little town in Philadelphia to Berkeley.
But even Christian kids, how do they come up with their list? Did they pray over that list? When they get accepted, how did they know which school to go to? Do they pray over that decision? See, even in churches, we don’t believe that God wants to shepherd you. And guide you.
What is notable about all these people, maybe with the exception of Zechariah who doubted initially, all these people, when the angel came, or the dream came, the vision came, they obeyed immediately. And perhaps, one reason why God is not coming to you in impossible ways is because He already knows in advance, if He told you to do something, He knows you won’t do it.
I remember when I was reading Jonah few months or a year ago, God spoke to me through Jonah. Jonah hated the Ninevites.
And when God told him to go to Nineveh, he went the opposite direction. And as I was meditating on that, God gave such a strong impression that I’m just like Jonah. Because I knew if God told me to do certain things, I wouldn’t do it. I knew there were certain things I would not do even if the Lord tells me to do it. That was my heart.
But He is remolding my understanding of faith. That God does impossible things and I actually believe He does impossible things. I’ve seen impossible things. And therefore, believe in Jesus who will do impossible things for you. And pray that when that time comes when He reveals His plan, you will have an obedient heart.
Okay, let’s pray.
Ask the Lord. What is that impossible situation in your life? Do you believe that Jesus can overcome that impossibility, that all things are possible with God. Nothing is impossible. I want you to pray specifically about the situation today.
And ask for belief, that God can help you overcome that impossibility. Maybe it’s an important decision. Maybe it’s the state of a loved one, the salvation for a family member that you’ve been waiting for decades. Nothing has changed.
God wants to encourage you that nothing is impossible with God. Remember the details of this Christmas story. Every detail is impossible and yet the people like Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the Magi, the Shepherds – they were obedient and they experienced a miracle.
And the end goal is not the sign or the wonder, the end goal is our faith growing. He wants you to trust Him, that once you overcome this impossibility, the next one is double in size and you don’t waver because you’ve already seen Him do impossible things.
Father, we bring all of our impossibilities before You. We bring every situation that in our natural mind, we think this cannot change. Nothing will change. This situation, I’ve tried everything and nothing works. It’s an impossibility.
If we learn anything from the Christian story, it is that You do impossible things. It is so easy for You. You’re waiting for our belief to grow. We want to believe. We want to trust. Christian life is such an adventure if we actually believe that you speak and you interact with us personally.
We wait upon you, Lord, to speak. We wait upon you, however long. Even if people ridicule us and say, you’re a loser, you’re following that nobody from Nazareth. You’re such a loser. We expect to be utterly rejected by this world. And actually even the church wIll utterly reject a Christian who lives this way.
Oh Lord, this is the only way. You’ve never changed. You speak personally to Your people. May we quiet ourselves in this moment, that we may hear something from You. Speak, Lord.
In Jesus name, Amen