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Posts tagged ‘Christmas 2019’

Christmas 2019 15. People – Mary

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Christmas 2019 15. People – Mary

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

In the run up to Christmas it is inevitable that we begin to think about the characters involved in the original events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Where better to start than with Mary, to whom was given the great privilege and awesome responsibility of carrying and giving birth to God’s Son, the Messiah.

Mary was probably a teenager when she received the visit from the angel Gabriel to tell her that the Lord had chosen her for this very special purpose. Hearing his greeting she was greatly troubled. Meeting an angel isn’t exactly an everyday experience. But there was something deeper disturbing her peace of mind – the content of his greeting. ‘You who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ That set her on her guard. Whatever was coming next?

Gabriel sensed her fear and told her she need not be afraid. He was bringing good news not bad. The time had come for God to send his Son into the world; to be born as every human being has to be born so that, in due course, he would become the Saviour that the world needed. Hence the name Jesus, which means ‘God saves’. Just imagine the mounting excitement in Mary as he proceeded with his message. That was every godly Jewish woman’s dream; to be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.

It all sounds very cut-and-dried, ‘You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus.’ Despite the way it sounds, God wasn’t forcing Mary into this role, but he knew her heart well enough to make this approach at this time. We get an insight into how she thought and felt about God in the song recorded by Luke in verses 46-55. She knew the Old Testament Scriptures well and used them as a basis for her outpouring of praise and thanksgiving. Mary was a spiritual woman; however young she might have been.
She loved God and wanted the best for his people, not a bad description of spirituality.

But – and life is full of buts – there was just one little practical problem. She was a virgin and, as Matthew’s account tells us, she was betrothed to be married to Joseph. Virginity up until the time of marriage was essential for a legitimate marriage in that society. That could be a huge problem for Mary; how could it be overcome? Conception would occur through the power of the Holy Spirit, said the angel, then, ‘Look what’s happened to your cousin Elizabeth; that’s a miracle for sure!’ Now for the punch line, ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ Which takes us right back to the start, ‘The Lord is with you.’ That’s the key; God will take care of every detail, so don’t be afraid, however big the ask might be.

I can imagine Mary sinking to her knees or even prostrating herself on the floor in an act of worship, as she responded with the simple but whole-hearted words, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’

Mary was unique, but the message for us is the same, ‘Nothing is impossible with God’. The Christmas story has been wrapped up in romance and fantasy in our commercial world, but we mustn’t let that blind us to the truth inside, that God is looking to us for a response of love and submission to his will, so that He can do great things in and through us. That’s not a cheap advertising slogan like so much that’s about at the moment. No, it’s more like a serious challenge to a costly commitment but, ‘He’s worth it!’

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 14. Sermon of Martin Luther

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14. A Sermon of Martin Luther

 
10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’
Luke 2:10-14 New International Version (NIV)

Today we have a sermon pertaining to this Bible passage, of Martin Luther, which was preached on 25 December 1530…

“You have heard today the story from the Gospel of St. Luke of how it came to pass that our Lord Christ was born and then also the message of the angel, who announced who the boy was who was born. Now we shall go on and take up the message of the angel. So for today you have heard only that the child was born and that he is the Lord and Saviour. Thus we spoke of the story, how it unfolded, and who the persons in it were.
This article is so high that even today it is believed by only a few. Nevertheless, God has preserved it even through those who have not believed it. For at all times in the monasteries and universities there have been disputations and lectures which dealt with the fact that Christ the Lord, born of Mary, is true man and God.”
 
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Christmas 2019 13. The Three Kings

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13. The Three Kings

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Three Kings came riding from far away, Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar; Three Wise Men out of the East were they, And they travelled by night and they slept by day, For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.
The star was so beautiful, large and clear, That all the other stars of the sky Became a white mist in the atmosphere, And by this they knew that the coming was near of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows, Three caskets of gold with golden keys; Their robes were of crimson silk with rows of bells and pomegranates and furbelows, Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.
And so the Three Kings rode into the West, Through the dusk of the night, over hill and dell, And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast, And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest, With the people they met at some wayside well.

“Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar, “Good people, I pray you, tell us the news; For we in the East have seen his star, And have ridden fast, and have ridden far, To find and worship the King of the Jews.”
And the people answered, “You ask in vain; We know of no King but Herod the Great!” They thought the Wise Men were men insane, As they spurred their horses across the plain, Like riders in haste, who cannot wait.
And when they came to Jerusalem, Herod the Great, who had heard this thing, Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them; And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem, And bring me tidings of this new king.”

So they rode away; and the star stood still, The only one in the grey of morn; Yes, it stopped –it stood still of its own free will, Right over Bethlehem on the hill, The city of David, where Christ was born.
And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard, Through the silent street, till their horses turned And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard; But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred, And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay, In the air made sweet by the breath of kine, The little child in the manger lay, The child, that would be king one day Of a kingdom not human, but divine.
His mother Mary of Nazareth Sat watching beside his place of rest, Watching the even flow of his breath, For the joy of life and the terror of death Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet: The gold was their tribute to a King, The frankincense, with its odor sweet, Was for the Priest, the Paraclete, The myrrh for the body’s burying.
And the mother wondered and bowed her head, And sat as still as a statue of stone; Her heart was troubled yet comforted, Remembering what the Angel had said Of an endless reign and of David’s throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate, With a clatter of hoofs in proud array; But they went not back to Herod the Great, For they knew his malice and feared his hate, And returned to their homes by another way.

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 11. Prophecies Fulfilled 4

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11. Prophecies/ Fulfilled (Part 4)

We are continuing to look at some of the words given as prophecy in the Old Testament and how they were fulfilled in the New Testament, particularly concerning the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. We see together the fulfilment of words and promises spoken about down through the ages, as people looked to God to rescue them.

Prophecy about the Messiah’s death


a. Predicted: Messiah would be given vinegar to drink.
Prediction: Psalm 69:21
Fulfilled: Matthew 27:34; John 19:28-30

b. Predicted: Messiah would be crucified with criminals.
Prediction: Isaiah 53:12
Fulfilled: Mark 15:27-28

c. Predicted: Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed.
Prediction: Psalm 22:7-8
Fulfilled: Luke 23:35

d. Predicted: Messiah’s garments would be gambled for.
Prediction: Psalm 22:18
Matthew 27:35-36

e. Predicted: Messiah would pray for his enemies.
Prediction: Psalm 109:4
Fulfilled: Luke 23:34

f. Predicted: Messiah would be forsaken by God.
Prediction: Psalm 22:1
Fulfilled: Matthew 27:46

g. Predicted: Messiah’s bones would not be broken.
Prediction: Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20
Fulfilled: John 19:31-33

h. Predicted: Messiah’s side would be pierced.
Prediction: Zechariah 12:10
Fulfilled: John 19:34-37

i. Predicted: Messiah would die and be buried with the rich.
Prediction: Isaiah 53:9
Fulfilled: Matthew 27:57-60

j. Predicted: Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin.
Prediction: Isaiah 53:5-12
Fulfilled: Romans 5:6-8

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more words of prophecy fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ.

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Christmas 2019 10. Prophecies Fulfilled 3

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10. Prophecies/ Fulfilled (Part 3)

We are continuing to look at some of the words given as prophecy in the Old Testament and how they were fulfilled in the New Testament, particularly concerning the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. We see together the fulfilment of words and promises spoken about down through the ages, as people looked to God to rescue them.

How other people would treat the Messiah


a. Predicted: Messiah would be a King.
Prediction: Psalm 2:6; Zechariah 9:9
Fulfilled: Matthew 27:37; Mark 11:7-11

b. Predicted: Messiah would be praised by little children.
Prediction: Psalm 8:2
Fulfilled: Matthew 21:14-16

c. Predicted: Messiah would be betrayed by a close friend.
Prediction: Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12
Fulfilled: Luke 22:47-48; Matthew 26:14-16

d. Predicted: Messiah’s betrayal money would be used to buy a potter’s field.
Prediction: Zechariah 11:13
Fulfilled: Matthew 27:9-10

Predictions of how this Messiah would be treated in the leadup to His death…

a. Predicted: Messiah would be falsely accused.
Prediction: Psalm 35:11
Fulfilled: Mark 14:57-58

b. Predicted: Messiah would be silent before his accusers.
Prediction: Isaiah 53:7
Fulfilled: Mark 15:1-5

c. Predicted: Messiah would be spat upon and struck.
Prediction: Isaiah 50:6
Fulfilled: Matthew 26:65-68

d. Predicted: Messiah would be hated without cause.
Prediction: Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:4
Fulfilled: John 15:23-25

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more words fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ.

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