Dec 29, 2016 | Blog
The Baby is Born! – A Love Letter from God
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, (Matthew 1:18-24 NRSV)
Jesus’ birth was a love letter from God to each and every one of us. The songwriter penned, (1) “Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, Love divine; love was born at Christmas, star and angels gave a sign. (2) Love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine, Love to God and all men, love for plea and gift and sign.”
I know everything about you…Psalm 139:1
I Knew you even before you were conceived…Jeremiah 1:4-5
I knit you together in your mother’s womb…Psalm 139:13
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book…Psalm 139:15-16
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love…1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you…1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your father…Matthew 7:11
Every good gift you receive comes from my hand…James 1:17
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope…Jeremiah 29:11
For you are my treasured possession…Exodus 19:5
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you…Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart…Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes…Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth…Revelation 21:3-4
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled…2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you…1 John 4:10
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again…Romans 8:31-32
I have always been Father, and will always be Father…Ephesians 3:14-15
Come home and I’ll through the biggest party heaven has ever seen…. Luke 15:7
Your Abba, Almighty God
Thank God for Jesus!
Dec 20, 2016 | Blog
Advent: The Fulfillment
The Birth of Jesus
“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7 NRSV)
Our text, Luke 2, verses 1-20 has three divisions. Verses 1-7 explain the occasion for Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, and especially for the circumstances accompanying his birth, namely his being wrapped in strips of cloth and being placed in a cattle feeding trough. Verses 8-14 describe the angelic visitation to the shepherds as the occasion for the visit of the shepherds to the birth site. Verses 15-20 report the shepherd’s visitation and their testimony after having seen the Savior.
The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (2:1-7)
Luke takes up the account of the birth of Jesus with a report of the conditions into which God’s Messiah was born, and the human reasons for them. In these first 7 verses, we read that the Son of God is covered with rags and placed in some cattle feeding trough! How inappropriate, we might protest. How tragic! This might be so, apart from the “other side of the news,” which is found in verses 8-20. The very circumstances which seem to be pathetic, so sad, are those which prove to be most significant. Jesus would be born to save humanity no matter the circumstances or conditions!.
In verses 1-3 Caesar had proclaimed a decree, which required a census, undoubtedly in preparation for a later taxation. Registering for this census must have been a very painful act, not only because doing so was inconvenient, but because it was a reminder that while God’s people, Israel, were in the land of promise, they were not free; they were under the rule of a pagan power. A Roman law, made by a pagan leader, compelled the Israelites to comply.
Luke’s purpose, however, is not to emphasize the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, as Matthew would do, for his gospel is written to Gentiles, who are probably not familiar with the prophecies of the Old Testament. Luke’s purpose is to show the humble circumstances of the Messiah’s birth. Thus, Luke informs us that Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem, which would have been at least a three-day journey of more than 60 miles. The journey was not an easy one, especially for a pregnant woman,
But baby Jesus would be born in Bethlehem and not Nazareth, because it was “The Fulfillment” of the prophecy found in Micah 5:2. And thus it was so!
Dec 12, 2016 | Blog
Mary Visits Elizabeth
“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’” (Luke 1:39-45 NRSV)
Anticipation is said to be excitement—waiting eagerly for something you know is going to happen. Anticipation is also a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen in the near future.
Advent is a time for Preparation and Anticipation! But what are we preparing and anticipating for?
Preparation: Things we usually prepare for during the Advent season:
1) We prepare lists of things to do. 2) We prepare lists of things to buy. 3) We prepare lists of names for sending greeting cards. 4) We prepare to decorate our homes, trim a tree, plan a Christmas dinner. 5) We spend hours of time in preparation.
Anticipation: Things we usually anticipate during the Advent season
1) We anticipate having a great holiday celebration. 2) We anticipate reunions with family and friends. 3) We anticipate the excitement in giving and receiving gifts. 4)We anticipate the shopping, the cooking and the holiday activities.
But within the preparation and the anticipation of the season, do we make the time to hear God speak to us again about the First Coming of the Messiah? Do we take time to reflect on the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ—Savior of the all of humanity? Do we feel the need to?
The children of Israel had waited for generations for the coming of the promised Messiah. One could summarize that during those 400 years of waiting, they would have prepared and anticipated the coming of the Promised Messiah, over and over again! When was it going to happen? Was it ever going to happen? Their anticipation must have run the gambit of highs and lows every time there was news about someone being the promised Messiah.
And then it happened! We read in Gospel of Luke 1:35-37, “The angel said to 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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’”
Now the real anticipation had begun -Luke 1:41-42!
And then Mary sang – Luke 146-47! The waiting was over! Hallelujah!
Dec 6, 2016 | Blog
Advent: “The Waiting Room”
God’s People Are Comforted
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 NRSV)
A waiting room is a building, or more commonly a part of a building or a room, where people sit or stand until the event or appointment which they are waiting for begins.
Two types of waiting room are: a) Waiting rooms where one is asked to wait—private waiting rooms—these are personal and individualized. b) Waiting rooms one can enter at will— public waiting rooms. As we think of this in the spiritual realm, a church can be a public waiting room where groups of people come together to pray and wait on God. In both waiting rooms we are waiting on God to answer our prayers—to change our circumstances.
The 40th chapter of Isaiah begins a section of the book that deals primarily with preparing the people of Judah for their captivity in Babylon. In chapter 39:6 of Isaiah, the prophet said to King Hezekiah: “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord.”
In these verses – Isaiah. 40:28-31 – Isaiah teaches some of the great truths about God; truths that would bring healing to the wounded souls of those who would endure the distress and sorrow of captivity. I believe this passage is full of practical truths that the faithful people of God can depend upon, under any circumstance of suffering, loss and grief.
The text gives us three fundamental things about God:
1) GOD IS AWARE! Those of us who are tempted to be impatient, forgetful and of little faith Isaiah said: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” That means that since God is the Creator, then God is aware of everything—especially of what is going on in our lives–God’s beloved children.
2) GOD IS ABLE. “…He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted. We are reminded that God does not lack strength, instead God supplies it when we call on God. No one is exempt from being overwhelmed and weary—not even the young. But God is able to sustain us when we call on God. “God neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalms 121:4)
3) GOD IS AVAILABLE. God is available, to renew the strength of “those who wait” on God.
To wait on God means sincere and steady dependence on God, with an obedient trust – and no misgivings about God’s faithfulness, in doing what God says, nor about our need to obey God. 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Now, what do we do if we are trying to trust God in a very uncertain, difficult situation, constantly praying for an answer, but no answer comes?
Then we must enter God’s Waiting Room: When we are stuck in a difficult situation, constantly praying, only to be met with silence, we must enter. It can be a frustrating and even a frightening place to be! But the reality is that we sometimes change and grow the most during times of waiting.
Other Scripture Reference: Waiting for the Coming of the Messiah – Luke 2:25-35 ( Simeon); Luke 2:36-38 (Anna)