This is the season and time of the year to focus on the Lord and rejoice in His goodness to us! I love the Christmas season. I love being with family and friends celebrating the birth of our Lord. I love being with my children and grandchildren and seeing Christmas through their eyes. I also love the power of forgiveness that I see during this season as we rejoice over our Lord’s birth. This is the season of the year when we can pause and ponder His holy presence in our lives.
God sent the angel, Gabriel, to Mary, with a message of hope. Gabriel said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:26-35 NKJV). In verse 30, Gabriel said, “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.”
What a shocking message to a young virgin. Mary said to Gabriel, “How can this be?” In answer to her question, he responded, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you…” (vs. 35). The word “upon” (in the Greek “eppapito”), means “to embrace, to cover”.
The Holy Spirit hovered over Mary, covered her, embraced her, and that was how the miracle would come. When the Holy Spirit covers, hovers over, or embraces something, miracles happen. When the Spirit is involved, there is life and power. Do you need a miracle this Christmas? Do you need the Holy Spirit to come to your life once again? Do you need to feel the embrace of the Holy Spirit?
Another powerful word in this passage is found in verse 35, the word “overshadowed”.
In this case, it means to “envelop with brilliancy”. That’s what the Holy Spirit wants to bring to each of us. Light — cleansing, life-giving, freeing, soul-satisfying light. Christ wants to bring freedom, new birth, and restoration.
That’s what the Holy Spirit wants to do for us; a miracle that others can see in us. We all need His favor, we all need Him to overshadow us, embrace us, and we all need our miracle.
Gabriel’s words satisfied Mary. Her response is worth noting in verse 38: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” She responded wonderfully to the Spirit of God’s purpose for her life. It was overwhelming! It was going to be miraculous! It was bigger than Mary could imagine on her own, and she responded favorably to the Holy Spirit.
Mary volunteered to participate in what God was doing through her. God’s favor was upon her. She was willing to risk the consequences of doing His will. She followed the Lord wholeheartedly. She faithfully carried out His will. Joseph also had to believe and follow faithfully to see this miracle. He, too, had the Holy Spirit visit him in a dream.
The very thought of the Holy Spirit coming upon us, embracing us, or us finding favor with God is powerful. The idea of God the Holy Spirit enveloping us with brilliancy! WOW! What a thought. His love for us is brilliant! His light in our life is brilliant! When we are in His presence and sense the brilliance of His person with us, in us, over us — this is an amazing moment.
I pray for God’s favor. I pray for favor with God and man. I welcome the Holy Spirit to come and embrace me.
I pray that God the Holy Spirit will come upon you right now, and that you would feel his embrace. Mary was overwhelmed with surprise at the words of Gabriel but obedient to the purpose of God.
I pray that you will be refreshed as the Holy Spirit comes on you and you allow His embrace to bring a sense of assurance that everything is going to be okay. As you labor under the load of this work, and if you are weary in well-doing, I pray God will allow you to take a few days to rest, reflect, and allow His Spirit to come upon you.
Whether or not your nation celebrates the birth of Christ, I pray you will allow His Spirit to give you a spirit of rejoicing.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Global Teen Challenge!
Jerry Nance PhD
Global Teen Challenge