Before I get into my teaching today, I want to thank you for signing up to receive your first teaching letter from me. Welcome! I’m so glad you decided to join our family of deeper readers. I spend hours writing these letters each month, sharing my heart and the insights gleaned from my studies in God’s Word. I pray that this letter, and every letter I write in the future, truly ministers to your heart and strengthens your walk with God.
I am so excited about what I am going to share with you this month about the miraculous birth of Jesus! The Christmas season is such a marvelous time of the year for so many because it’s a miraculous time of the year when we especially celebrate Christ coming to the earth and God’s magnificent plan of redemption. His plan was to manifest “peace on earth, good will toward men” through the promise of His Son (see Luke 2:14). And every person on the planet can be a recipient of God’s favor by embracing Jesus as Savior and Lord. Friend, that is Good News!
But before I get into the teaching, I want to thankfully acknowledge that with all the challenges we have all faced in various parts of our lives this year, Jesus has proven again that He is Lord and is victorious over everything! Praise God that He leads us to victory!
This year, you have been so amazing in your support of our ministry, and we are so thankful for your role in what God has called us to do. It’s not just Denise and me, our family, and our team — you are a major part of this Gospel team that God is using to impact the world. We are so thankful for you!
Often at the end of a calendar year, people wish to give a special gift to organizations they really believe in. This has been an amazing year for RENNER Ministries, as we’ve taken the Gospel further than we ever have before. If you would pray about giving a special gift to our ministry before the year is over, it would help us gain even greater territory for the Kingdom of God. Eternity is before us, and what each of us does makes a difference for the souls we are reaching. I promise you that we will carefully use what you give to maximize its ability to reach people. What a joy that we can do this together!
But right now, I want to talk to you about the miraculous birth of Jesus!
Did you know that the bulk of what we know about Jesus’ birth comes directly from Jesus’ mother? Before Luke wrote about the birth of Jesus, he interviewed Mary, and it was Mary who vividly told Luke about all the miraculous events that he then wrote about in the gospel of Luke. Mary’s memory of these amazing events is referred to in Luke 2:19 where the Bible says, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
The word “kept” in the original Greek means to keep within oneself in order to closely guard or accurately and carefully preserve, and the word “ponder” means to lay in order, like a person who carefully and meticulously chronicles a story. Mary was so impacted by this amazing sequence of events in her life and in the life of Jesus that she chronicled all of it in her heart and carefully preserved her memories of it all.
It is amazing to me that if Mary had not kept a record of all these events in her heart and mind, we would not know about them today. But because she so valued what she had seen God do in her life and in the life of Jesus, she was able to tell the gospel writers the entire account in vivid detail. As I think about this, it makes me want to ask — have you preserved your memories of what God has done in your life so vividly that you could share them with someone else? Have you been careful to remember the works of the Lord in your life? Or have you forgotten what God has done, or let those things slip because so much time has passed? If you’ve let those workings of God slip in your life, it’s not too late to pause and take stock of those things again, pondering them deeply and preserving them in your memory like Mary did.
Mary’s remembrance of the miraculous events in her life was so clear that she vividly related all the following occurrences to Luke in perfect order:
- The miraculous happenings that occurred with Zacharias and Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist (see Luke 1:5-25).
- She was a virgin who had never sexually known a man (see Luke 1:27).
- The angel Gabriel appeared to her to make the annunciation (see Luke 1:26-38).
- She was supernaturally impregnated by the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:34,35).
- Elizabeth’s baby (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (see Luke 1:41).
- Elizabeth prophetically confirmed what the angel Gabriel had privately told Mary and then prophesied to Mary about Christ in her womb (see Luke 1:42-45).
- Mary supernaturally sang a prophetic song of praise (see Luke 1:46-55).
- When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah’s tongue was supernaturally loosed and he prophesied that John the Baptist would prepare the way of the Lord (see Luke 1:57-79).
- An unexpected worldwide census took place that required Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem so Christ would be born there “on time” as prophesied (see Luke 2:1-6).
- When Jesus was miraculously born, Mary wrapped him in “swaddling clothes” and “laid him in a manger” (see Luke 2:7).
- Shepherds came to see the Baby because a heavenly host of angels announced to them that Jesus had been born (see Luke 2:8-18).
- Simeon and Anna prophetically spoke over Jesus at His dedication in the Temple (see Luke 2:25-38).
- They returned to Nazareth as a family of three: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus (see Luke 2:39).
When we come to Matthew’s earlier account of these miraculous events, we find that he included additional information that Luke did not write about in his gospel. Just as Mary shared details of her life with Luke, she told Matthew about many events that she preserved in her heart and mind so vividly — adding significant events that occurred after the holy family returned to Nazareth.
For example, Matthew learned from Mary that:
- Mary was found with child during her espousal period with Joseph (see Matthew 1:18).
- The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to tell him to take Mary to be his wife even though she was pregnant (see Matthew 1:19,20).
- The angel of the Lord gave Joseph the name “Jesus” for the child (see Matthew 1:21).
- The angel confirmed to Joseph that Mary was indeed a virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 1:22,23).
- The Magi came to Jerusalem to search for Christ (see Matthew 2:1).
- The Magi announced a star in the East had supernaturally declared the birth of Christ (see Matthew 2:2).
- The city of Jerusalem was very upset about the arrival of the Magi (see Matthew 2:3).
- Herod had interrogated the Scribes in Jerusalem and demanded they identify the exact location where the Messiah would be born (see Matthew 2:4-6).
- Herod had diabolical plans to murder the Christ-Child (see Matthew 2:7,8).
- The Magi were supernaturally redirected by the Star to Nazareth (see Matthew 1:9,10).
- The Magi entered the house where the holy family lived and fell on their knees and faces to worship Jesus (see Matthew 2:11).
- The Magi gave a grand presentation of treasures and gifts that they had brought to Jesus (see Matthew 2:11).
- The Magi were supernaturally warned by God in a dream to return home a different way (see Matthew 2:12).
- The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to immediately flee with Mary and Jesus into Egypt (see Matthew 2:13).
- Herod slaughtered babies in Bethlehem (see Matthew 2:16-18).
- Herod died a tragic death (see Matthew 2:19).
- After Herod’s death, God instructed Joseph in a dream to take Mary and Jesus and return from Egypt to Galilee (see Matthew 2:19,20).
- The holy family returned and lived in Nazareth (see Matthew 2:22,23).
If such a long list of miraculous events happened to you or your family, don’t you think that you would never forget them? Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”As we have already seen, the original words in Luke 2:19 mean that Mary intentionally kept a precise and correct record of it all in her heart. And because she did, she was able to communicate every piece of the story with Matthew and Luke so they could write it all down and eventually recount it to others — including you and me! What if Mary had let it all slip over time and forgot about it? We know all the details of this miraculous story because Mary never forgot.
Likewise, you should never forget all the marvelous things you have witnessed God do in your own life. Do you keep a clear memory of all the miraculous things God has done for you so you can share them with your family and friends? Why not take some time to carefully recall those blessings so you can hold them in your memory and communicate them to others who really need to hear them.As we are coming to the close of 2022, it would be good for you to reflect on all God has done in your life over the past 12 months. Then, as Mary did, you need to share with others the wonderful things He has done. Let’s all follow the tradition of Mary and share with those around us what Jesus has done for us this year!I’ve written about all this and so much more in my new book Christmas — The Rest of the Story. Please pray with me that this book will take readers on a vivid journey through the many facets of the miraculous events surrounding Christ’s birth. I want readers to say “WOW!” as they read this new, fully illustrated book! By the way, if you haven’t ordered your copy yet, you can order it by calling our office or by going online to renner.org.
As I close my letter today, I want to wish you a wonderful Christmas season and encourage you to take time to reach out to someone who is in need or who is feeling lonely. There is always someone who needs the love of God — and you could be that someone to reach out to that person during this season! And never forget that we are here for you, and you can reach out to us any time you need prayer. Praying for you is a top priority in our ministry. If you’ll simply call us or send us an email or letter, the moment you let us know how we can pray for you, we’ll begin to pray in Jesus’ name!
Denise and I and our team wish you a Merry Christmas and a very blessed new year!
And please…pray for us as we press forward to do what God has called our ministry to do.
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
Along with Paul, Philip, and Joel Renner and our ministry team