The Message of the Manger

Luke 2:1-7

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all the people were on their way to register for the census, each to his own city. Now Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Sometimes it is difficult to see, but God can draw value from even the most disastrous of circumstances.

Before the rise of Rome, the predominant world power was Greece, led by Alexander the Great. As he conquered lands, he forced subjugated men to serve in his military and made them learn common Greek. On discharge, these men took the new language home, creating a shared tongue between many people groups. This would become the perfect way to spread the revolutionary message of Jesus a few centuries later.

Then, as the Romans conquered territories, they paved roads and guarded both land routes and seacoasts from encroaching enemies. Doing this enabled early Christian missionaries to carry the gospel to different places. Perhaps Joseph and Mary traveled one of those roads on their trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But in any event, God again turned hardship—a forced census—into blessing: Jesus the Messiah was born at precisely the time and place prophesied.

From the moment in Eden when Satan’s defeat was promised until the instant Christ fulfilled that prophecy on the cross, the Father continually brought good from bad situations. In this way, He advanced His plan to save the world. The Romans made the roads, but God paved the way for a Savior.

Let All Our Songs Employ

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:13-14
Have you heard of lip sync? It stands for lip synchronization, referring to people who pretend to be singing but are actually only moving their lips. Performers do this during dance numbers because of the lung exertion needed for physical activity. Vocalists use this method to preserve their voices. But many fans don’t want to pay money to see their favorite stars pretending to sing.
It’s easy for us to engage in a form of lip syncing. We can “mouth” the words of carols without really thinking of the words or absorbing the meaning. How many of us have stood in church and sung while our mind was wandering far away? Or we moved our mouth without truly singing?

Not this Christmas! The wonder of Christmas—the birth of Christ and the hope of salvation—leads us to express our joy through song, just as it was that first Christmas.

Express your joy through music today and sync your heart to heaven’s choirs.

What joy the glorious music of Christmas brings to our celebration of Christ’s birth! No other season offers such an abundance of spiritual enrichment through song.
Kenneth W. Osbeck

  • D Jeremiah

The Power of Love

God is faithful to His people, even during their times of failure.
The Bible is filled with love. It begins with God’s mighty acts of creation—separating light from darkness, filling the firmament, and creating every living thing, including us (Gen. 1:1-31; Gen. 2:1-25). Even after Adam and Eve sinned, divine love never faltered. Instead of eternally condemning His children, God promised salvation (And I will make enemies Of you and the woman, And of your offspring and her Descendant; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel.”Gen. 3:15; The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Rom. 16:20).

As the story continues, we see love at work as God dwelt with His people in the wilderness, the Promised Land, and in exile. Even when Israel doubted, even when they disobeyed, God remained faithful. And in His love, He led them back and carried them through all manner of suffering.

But He didn’t stop there. Scripture tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s love transformed the world. It also transformed us so that we might love more abundantly and fulfill the calling from our beautiful Lord and Savior (Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was revealed in us, that God has sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12).

Think about it

• As Christmas draws near, set aside time to pray, thanking God for His great love. Ask Him to help you receive that love more fully and to present many opportunities for sharing it.

Best News Ever

Now when [the shepherds] had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
Luke 2:17
Human beings are very good at sharing new discoveries or experiences with others. We go to a new doctor or dentist, have a great experience, and tell others about it. We discover a new product that meets a specific need, and we post that product on social media so others can use it. If a group of researchers makes a new medical discovery, they publish their results for the wider medical community to assess.
Ironically, the best news in the world—news which would benefit everyone—is news that we are most hesitant to share with others: the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. One group that was eager to share this Good News was the group of shepherds who were the first to visit Jesus at His birth. “They made widely known” what had happened to them—seeing the angels and then seeing Jesus. They followed their natural human instinct to share good news with others.

Be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit today. He may present an opportunity to tell someone the best news of a lifetime.

Every believer is a witness whether he wants to be or not. 
Donald Barnhouse

  • D Jeremiah

An Introduction to Christ

We will one day see Jesus in all His glory and discover even more wondrous things about Him.

Revelation 1:4-8

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He made us into a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

 

In the last verse of his Gospel, John says much more could have been written about the things Jesus did—but the world wouldn’t be able to contain that many books (But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25). In today’s passage, the same writer gives a compact summation, highlighting the Lord’s identity and work. He tells us that Jesus Christ is …

The faithful witness. Jesus came to earth as God’s witness. The words He spoke and the works He accomplished were only what His Father commanded (49 For I did not speak on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”John 12:49-50; I glorified You on the earth by accomplishing the work which You have given Me to do. John 17:4).

The firstborn from the dead. His was the first resurrection, and it is the guarantee that we will be resurrected in the same way (For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, Rom. 6:5).

The ruler of the kings of the earth. He establishes kingdoms and tears them down, and the book of Revelation describes how He will one day take dominion of the entire world.

The one who loves us and has released us from our sins. All our wrongdoing is forgiven.

This is our amazing Savior, and we can look forward to a future with Him that is secure and glorious. Read Revelation 1 with the awareness that you will one day see the Lord in all His glory. (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, everything that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He made us into a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

I, John, your brother and fellow participant in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11 saying, “Write on a scroll what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And after turning I saw seven golden lampstands; 13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and wrapped around the chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze when it has been heated to a glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. 19 Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.)

A Virgin Shall Conceive

A Broadcast with R.C. Sproul

Was Jesus really born miraculously to a virgin? Today, R.C. Sproul explains that the virgin birth of Christ is far from a matter of debate or personal interpretation—it’s an essential truth of Scripture and the Christian faith.

An Empathetic High Priest

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15
Sympathy and empathy are two words often confused—but there are important differences between them. We express sympathy when we have feelings of pity or sorrow for someone’s misfortune or situation. Sympathy is knowledge-based. Empathy is when we understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is experience-based. Sympathy says, “I feel for you,” while empathy says, “I feel how you feel.”
 

 

Hebrews 4:15 uses the English word “sympathize” to describe Jesus’ perspective on our trials. But then it says He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Therefore, Jesus can empathize with us when we are tempted because He was tempted the same way we are. Jesus understands our situation because He experienced the same thing. He has walked in our shoes when it comes to resisting temptation and human weakness. His compassion is not just knowledge-based; it is experience-based as well.

When you experience a moment of temptation or weakness, approach God, through Christ, with confidence to find mercy and grace in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus will intercede for you because He has felt how you feel.

Empathy is your pain in my heart. 

Halford E. Luccock
– D Jeremiah

Do I Have To?

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38
Parents long for the time when their children transition from asking, “Do I have to?” to completing a task before even being asked. It’s the difference between obligation and willingness. It’s one thing to do something because we are obligated to do it. It’s another thing to do it willingly without thought of reward or remuneration.
Imagine if when the angel Gabriel approached the young Mary with the message of the conception of Jesus, she had said to Gabriel, “Do I have to?” Mary had already passed from obligation to willingness when it came to serving God. That’s why she described herself as the “maidservant of the Lord.” “Maidservant” is the Greek translation of doule or bondservant—a servant who had willingly placed himself or herself into submission to a master. The roots of this notion come from Deuteronomy 15:12-18—when a freed slave chose out of love to remain a servant in the master’s household. Mary was ready and willing to serve God.

Let Mary be an example for you this Christmas season, an example of willing service to God and others.

The highest honor in the church is not government but service. 

John Calvin
– David Jeremiah

8 Reasons Jesus Died: Reflections on Isaiah 53

The cross of Christ is a critical distinguishing factor of Christianity. If you deny the reality of the event or the historical existence of the person, and you end up something very anti-Christian. In the most beautiful demonstration of love the world has ever seen, God became man to suffer in place of His people. I have heard it said that justice and love kissed on the cross. Justice demands punishment for sin and love offers a perfect substitute.

Using Isaiah 53, which was written hundreds of years before Christ walked the earth, let’s examine 8 reasons Christ died on the cross. I encourage you to read the chapter below slowly, as if reading for the first time.

Read the rest of this good article at:

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/chorusinthechaos/8-reasons-isaiah-53/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Best+of+Patheos&utm_content=57&lctg=279498&rsid=Legacy&recipId=279498&siteId=7DF2956C-D2F1-40D4-A777-98E450E58360

3 Times Jesus Told Us He Was God Without Saying It

Rebecca McLaughlin

Jesus is the Son of God made flesh: the true Creator of the universe in human form. At times the Gospels make the claim explicitly. But often when someone demands that Jesus tell them who he is, he answers enigmatically: “I am telling you.”

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