Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Today is the twenty-fourth day of Advent. It is Christmas Day.  Our special word for today is "together." 

You will not see that particular word stand out in the Christmas story, yet it is in the background of the story and makes up the very foundation of what Christmas is all about.  Luke gives us what has become the most familiar part of the story.  The other part is found in Matthew, which tells us about the coming of the Magi and of Herod and his jealousy.  Read the following Scripture slowly and let it's message sink in.  Think about every detail of this special historic event.

Luke 2 At that time, Augustus Caesar sent an order that all people in the countries under Roman rule must list their names in a register. 2 This was the first registration; it was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to their own towns to be registered.

4 So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. 5 Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant. 6 While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, 7 and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough.
8 That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and they became very frightened. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. 11 Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. 12 This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.”

13 Then a very large group of angels from heaven joined the first angel, praising God and saying:

14 “Give glory to God in heaven,
and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.”

15 When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So the shepherds went quickly and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in a feeding trough. 17 When they had seen him, they told what the angels had said about this child. 18 Everyone was amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured these things and continued to think about them. 20 Then the shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything they had seen and heard. It had been just as the angel had told them.(NCV)

By the word "together" we are talking about "unity."  There was the unity of the God-head.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were unified as one in the bringing of the Christmas event to pass.  God, of course is one.  Mary and Joseph were together as they obeyed the instructions of the Lord as detailed by the angels.  The shepherd's were together as they heard the message from the angels and as they traveled to Bethlehem to see first hand this special happening.  The angels were together as they announced the birth of Christ and as they praised the God of heaven.  The Wise men were together as they traveled hundreds of miles following a special star to the place were Jesus lay.  The priest Simeon and the prophetess Anna were together in their recognition of the special nature and mission of the Christ child. 

The purpose of God coming into the world was to bring mankind, one at a time, to God through His Son Jesus the Christ.  The Christmas event calls out for togetherness between family members, between relatives and friends.  It cries out for a unity within the family of God, the church.  Christmas speaks of unity between races, and nations.

A story is told about a particular battle being fought during the American Civil War.  It was Christmas day.  During a brief lull in the fighting a soldier from one of the apposing camps walked a few yards out into the open territory between the two armies and began to sing the Christmas carol, "Silent Night."  For the rest of the day the instruments of war were laid down and the soldiers celebrated Christmas.  That kind of experience should be the rule rather than the exception.  But unity cannot be truly experienced until we know the unifier in a personal way.  No, it will not happen in a world-wide way this side of the second coming of Christ.  But one day Jesus will come again, not as a baby, but as a conquering king.  It is then that mankind will beat his instruments of war and death into instruments of peace and unity.

My challenge is that today as families and friends gather, let us strive to be "together," to be in unity with Christ and with one another.  May the following prayer of Jesus soon be fulfilled.  It is part of the "High Priestly Prayer of Jesus."

John 17:20 “I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching. 21 Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. 22 I have given these people the glory that you gave me so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. 23 I will be in them and you will be in me so that they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as much as you loved me.(NCV)


Monday, December 24, 2012


Today is Monday, the twenty-third day of Advent ... Christmas Eve.  Our word for today is "Humility."

One of the most familiar poems about Christmas is entitled, "The Night Before Christmas."  But have you ever wondered what it must have been like in heaven the night before Christmas?

Philippians 2:5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death
even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.(NIV)
Many Bible scholars believe that the forgoing Scripture was part of an ancient hymn of the early church; and that Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to put it into his letter to the Philippians.  It is without dispute the most concise and clearest statement that we have concerning the Incarnation of Christ.  The term incarnation refers to the act of God becoming a man; Deity clothing himself with humanity.  Notice this ancient hymn refers to Christ as being in very nature God, yet becoming in very nature a man.  This is the greatest example of humility of all time and eternity.
On Christmas Eve, today, many of us will be gathering as families to fellowship, exchange gifts, perhaps read the Christmas story from the Bible, and eat our Christmas goodies.  But few of us ever ponder what was going on in heaven on Christmas Eve 2000 years ago.  God was doing something that had never been done before. 
We are not told in Scripture, but the angels were probably created before the universe was formed by our creator God.  If so, they witnessed God's power to create matter by His very Word.  They witnessed a great battle in heaven when Lucifer tried to lift himself up to the level of God.  And then they saw the power of God in casting out Lucifer and a third of the angels.  They witnessed the fall of man and the first promise of a redeemer. 
Genesis 3:15 I will make you and the woman
enemies to each other.
Your descendants and her descendants
will be enemies.
One of her descendants will crush your head,
and you will bite his heel.”(NCV)
God spoke to the serpent (Satan) in the Garden of Eden. He said to him that one of Eve's descendants (Christ) will bruise your head (a death blow).  He also said you (Satan) will bite the heel of of Christ (a reference to the cross ... a wound, but not a final death blow.)
Though the angels could not understand or appreciate the concept of Redemption, they were witnessing the beginning of the final act of this great cosmic drama.  Like one casting aside a robe, God the Son cast aside some of the prerogatives of Deity, and put on another robe.  This robe was humanity, and it was in the form of a unborn baby inside of a very special Jewish girl named Mary.  And then on Christmas Eve in heaven the angels must have been leaning over the ramparts glory as they saw Philippians 4:6ff begin to be played out.  They stood breathless, and all heaven must have fallen silent as they saw this young family, Mary and Joseph, bed down in a stable in the small Jewish town of Bethlehem.  Then all heaven must have erupted into applause when early the next morning Mary gave birth to the Son of God, who in earthly time, only nine months before, had clothed himself with human flesh.
Orders came down from God the Father for a large group of angels to descend to earth and appear before some shepherds to make the first earthly announcement of the birth of this special baby.  It was now Christmas in heaven and they continued to celebrate.  The angels were not sure of all that would happen in the last act of this cosmic drama.  After all, angels are not all-knowing like God.  But they knew that God had a plan and that He never fails to see His plan through to the finish.
Thirty-three years later, this Christ, born in a stable was hanging from a cruel Roman cross, and the angels as well as those who stood by heard these words from the lips of the Messiah:  "It Is Finished!" Today we read those same words in our Scripture.  Jesus was not saying, "I am finished."  He was saying "God's plan of redemption for lost humanity was finished."
There is no doubt about it.  There was a shadow that fell across the baby in the manger that first Christmas day.  And though the angels could not understand it, it was the shadow of the cross.  That Jesus, laid in a manger on the first Christmas, was the same Jesus that walked out of that tomb on the first Easter.  He died nailed to a cross, but He arose wearing a crown as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  On this Christmas Eve, is the drama of redemption something you are experiencing and rejoicing in?  If not, I encourage you to join in the celebration.
          He had ten tiny fingers
          and such cute little toes;
          pink, rosy cheeks,
          and a sweet little nose.

          An innocent babe,
          such a delight to behold,
          yet the coming of this child
          had long been foretold.

          For He was the Messiah,
          the Redeemer of man,
          conceived through the Spirit;
          part of God's plan.

          Years passed and He grew,
          then in love He reached out.
          The miracles He worked
          should have left little doubt

          That this was God's Son,
          no ordinary man He,
          sent forth to deliver,
          to pardon, set free.

          He spoke of new life;
          and showed others the way
          to be granted forgiveness;
          receive salvation that day.

          But many were deaf
          to the truth of God's Word.
          They had ears to listen
          yet their hearts never heard.

          His ministry on earth
          brought Him not man's esteem,
          for many would reject
          that their souls He'd redeem.

          Still He gave up His life;
          bore man's guilt; suffered shame.
          Obeying His Father,
          The Sacrificial Lamb He became.

          His life's blood poured out
          for the remission of sin;
          yet He conquered even death
          when He arose once again.

          Now salvation is promised
          to all who'll believe;
          eternal life offered
          if the Son they'll receive.

          The gift of God's Son
          sent from Heaven above;
          from the cradle to the cross:
          the story of God's love.
Sherry Brady - December 2005


Sunday, December 23, 2012


Today is the twenty-second day of of Advent.  Our word for today is "Shepherd."

Ezekiel 34:22 So I will save my flock; they will not be hurt anymore. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 Then I will put over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and tend them and be their shepherd. 24 Then I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a ruler among them. I, the Lord, have spoken.(NCV)

The preceding verse is a prophecy of that day when God establishes His Shepherd over His people.  And that Shepherd will be a descendant of David.

Matthew 2:6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”(NIV)

After King Herod heard that certain wise men from the east had come to worship a baby who was said to be King of the Jews, he was very interested.  He called some of the chief priests and teachers of the Law and ask them about the prophecy of this king.  The forgoing Scripture was their reply.  Notice that they indicated He would be a shepherd. They were actually quoting the prophet Micah.

Micah 5:4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.(NIV)

The word translated shepherd in the Matthew passage is the same Greek word translated as pastor when referring to that particular church office. The pastor of a church is a shepherd.  He is an under-shepherd, Christ is the great shepherd.  When we trust Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, Christ becomes our great shepherd.

One of the most familiar Psalms is Psalm 23.  "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ..."

As our shepherd He does three things for us, his sheep.

1)  He Gathers us.  We must remember that Christ is not a hireling, not a paid shepherd.  He actually owns the sheep.  He owns us because He bought us with His own blood.  We have been redeemed. 
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:(KJV)

In his benediction, the writter of Hebrews refers to Christ the Redeemer as a shepherd.

Hebrew 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.(KJV)

He gathers us together as His church, those truly redeemed from the bondage of sin, and puts us into his fold.  Are you part of His redeemed flock?

2)  He Guides us. 

Psalms 23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
2 He lets me rest in green pastures.
He leads me to calm water.
3 He gives me new strength.
He leads me on paths that are right
for the good of his name.(NCV)

Without His leadership we would be stumbling in the dark.  We would not find the calm waters, or stay on the paths that are right.  We know that where ever He takes us, He has been that way before.  He knows where He is going.  We can trust Him completely.  Are you trusting Him today?

3)  He Guards us.  Jesus Himself becomes the door to the sheep fold.  In ancient times sheep folds were made by putting the sheep in a circle of rocks with one opening.  The shepherd would take his watch in that opening.  Any one or any thing that would harm the sheep had to go over or through the shepherd.  Jesus as our shepherd stops all that would do us harm.  Note the following Scripture.

Psalm 23:4 Even if I walk through a very dark valley,
I will not be afraid,
because you are with me.
Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.

5 You prepare a meal for me
in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head;[a]
you fill my cup to overflowing.
6 Surely your goodness and love will be with me
all my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.(NCV)
Are you resting in His protection?

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Today is the twenty-first day of Advent.  Our word for today is "Sign."

Luke 2:33 Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon had said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “God has chosen this child to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God that many people will not accept 35 so that the thoughts of many will be made known. And the things that will happen will make your heart sad, too.”(NCV)

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple forty days after His birth, we have recorded some special words from the priest Simeon. He said that Jesus will be a "sign" ... a sign that many people will not accept... 

A sign is something that brings verification and points to someone or some thing.  When I sign my name to an official document it is verification that I really have entered into the contract.  Often to make my signature more convincing it requires another party called a Notary who witnesses the signing and then attaches their stamp and signature.  This will hold up in a court of law.

When traveling we depend on signs to get us where we are going.  It is important to know where we are going before we leave on a trip.  I once picked up a hitchhiker, and after he got into my car, I ask him where he was heading.  He very calmly ask me, "where are you headed?"  I told him and he quickly replied, "well that's where I'm heading."  If you do not know where you are going, you do not need a sign(any place will do,) but if you do know where you are going signs become very important. 

The Gospel of John records seven special miracles performed by Jesus Christ.  John specifically refers to these as "signs."  For instance, in John chapter 11 Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead.  This sign can be interpreted this way:  Only God could raise a person from the dead; Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead; therefore Jesus must be God.  This sign, as spectacular as it was, still did not convince the religious leaders that Jesus was the true Messiah.

The Christ child in that manger 2000 years ago was a sign from God the Father.  It  was verification that God loved the world so much that He was willing to send His only son as heaven's missionary to bring us the good news of salvation.  It was a sign that Christ was God in the flesh.  It  was a sign that God would do what was necessary to make redemption available to lost humanity. 

John 3:16 “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. 18 People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son. 19 They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. 20 All who do evil hate the light and will not come to the light, because it will show all the evil things they do. 21 But those who follow the true way come to the light, and it shows that the things they do were done through God.”(NCV)

Jesus continued to be a sign from God.  He pointed THE WAY to God:

John 14:5 Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”  6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.(NCV)

Simeon's prophecy came true time and again.  Jesus is only a sign to those who are willing to truly believe:
Matthew 12:38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law answered Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want to see you work a miracle as a sign.”  39 Jesus answered, “Evil and sinful people are the ones who want to see a miracle for a sign. But no sign will be given to them, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 Jonah was in the stomach of the big fish for three days and three nights. In the same way, the Son of Man will be in the grave three days and three nights.  The resurrection was the final and greatest sign of all.


Friday, December 21, 2012


Today is the twenteth day of Advent.  Our word for today is "Ruler."

Matthew 2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, as were all the people in Jerusalem. 4 Herod called a meeting of all the leading priests and teachers of the law and asked them where the Christ would be born. 5 They answered, “In the town of Bethlehem in Judea. The prophet wrote about this in the Scriptures:

6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are not just an insignificant village in Judah.
A ruler will come from you
who will be like a shepherd for my people Israel.’” (NCV)
 Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are too small to be among the army groups from Judah,
from you will come one who will rule Israel for me.
He comes from very old times,
from days long ago.”(NCV)
In the Matthew passage, the King James Verson of Scripture translates the word "ruler" as "Governor."  It could also be translated "King."  Jesus came to be the "Ruler" of a special kingdom.  During His ministry He was known far and wide as "King of the Jews."  Even at His death on a Roman cross, the words "King of the Jews." was placed over His head.  The truth is, He was not just King of the Jews, He was King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
 Revelation 19:16 On his robe and on his upper leg was written this name: king of kings and lord of lords.(NCV)
Now if He is a ruler, a king, where is His kingdom?  There is a two-fold answer.
First of all His Kingdom is present and spiritual.
Luke 17:20 Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”
Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. 21 People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.”(NCV)

When Jesus was ask by the Pharisees (the most conservative sect of the Jews) about the kingdom of God, He told them that God's kingdom was within them.  He was speaking about the rule of God in the hearts of individuals and over nations.  His kingdom was not limited to a geographic location.  It was not limited by boundries or boarders.

Today the kingdom is not the church, which is a group of baptized, born-again believers in Christ that congregate and minister in a certain place.  The kingdom on the other hand is God's rule and God's influence.  America at one time was considered a Christian nation.  It was designated so, not because every person had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but because the principles from the Bible, and the ethics of Jesus held power over us as a people.  In other words, the kingdom of God was at work within the kingdom we call the United States of America.  Though the infulence of that kingdom has been diminished, the kingdom of God is still present. We pray that it's influence may increase through God's people.

Jesus was never political.  He transended the politics of His day.  He knew that the Jewish people and His true followers were under the government of Rome.  He did not come to overthrow Rome and set up a free Israel.  He came to establish a kingdom within a kingdom.  He desired that spiritual kingdom to act as salt to preserve, and yeast to lets influence spread throughout the Roman Empire, and eventully throughout the whole world. 

I have noted that there are many who have read my blog from various nations of the world.  Many of those governments prohibit personal freedom, and some even persecute those that openly declare their Christian faith.  I want you to know that if you are a true believer in Jesus the Christ, you are part of a kingdom, within your earthly kingdom.  No earthly or demonic power can change that.  And you have personal access to your surpreme ruler.  Let His hope sustain you, His power enliven you, and His presence comfort you.

Second of all the Kingdom of God is future and physical

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”(NKJV)

Yes there is a future kingdom, when all the kingdoms of this world will be ruled over by the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the same one as that one born in a stable.  As believers we have this future kingdom to look forward to.  It is a wonderful and exciting prospect.  But we must never become so preoccupied with the future and physical kingdom that we neglect to be a vital part of this present and spiritual kingdom.

Let the following words of Jesus challange us: 

Acts 1:6 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”

7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”(MESSAGE) 

The forgoing reference is taken from the paraphrase "The Message."  Jesus never denied a future and physical kingdom.  What He did do was give the order become witnesses to every kingdom of this world.  The same orders are given to us.  We must march forward in the power of the Holy Spirit and take the kingdom of God to every corner of our world.  Many of you may never be able to travel to another part of our world, nor should you, but you can be the salt, light, and yeast where you are.  Will you take that challenge and make a difference today?


Thursday, December 20, 2012


Today is the Nineteenth day day of Advent.  Our word for today is "Egypt."

Matthew 2:13 After they left, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, because Herod is starting to look for the child so he can kill him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you to return.”

14 So Joseph got up and left for Egypt during the night with the child and his mother. 15 And Joseph stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: “I called my son out of "Egypt.”

Hosea 1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
2 But when I called the people of Israel,
they went away from me...

5 “The Israelites will become captives again, as they were in Egypt,
and Assyria will become their king,
because they refuse to turn back to God.
I find it interesting that there is a recurring theme in Scripture having to do with Israel and Egypt.  In our Scripture for today Matthew is quoting Hosea when he explains why Mary, Joseph, and the child Jesus had to go to Egypt, and then be brought back out of Egypt.
Egypt was a symbol for bondage, but also a symbol for God's preparation to bring redemption and deliverance.  In the book of Genesis we have Abraham traveling into Egypt to find food and water for his family.  Abraham was the Father of the Hebrew people, the Jewish nation.  They became captives for a time.  But God brought Judgment on Egypt and brought Abraham and his family out and back to the Land of Promise. 
Also in the book of Genesis we have the story of Joseph being sold by his brothers into Egypt.  But through God's providence Jacob and his family move to Egypt and became a nation.  In time they were put under bondage.  In Exodus we see God bringing all of Israel out of Egypt and again return to the Land of Promise. 
The prophecy of Hosea tells speaks of the time when in 722 BC Assyria captures the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  They are not taken to literal Egypt but the prophet compares this destruction of Israel by Assyria with being captives in Egypt.  Actually this was the beginning of the diaspora, or the scattering of the Jewish people throughout the world.  In 1948 God brought them out of "Egypt," and back to the Promised Land, and the Nation of Israel was born anew after more than 2700 years later. 
According to our text, the Advent of Christ was one more opportunity to repeat this theme.  Remember that Egypt for the Savior was a type of preparation for redemption.  He came out of Egypt to live in Nazareth.  God the Father prepared His Son, the Christ of Heaven, by protecting Him and having Him grow up in Nazareth, and at the right time sending Him out on His teaching, preaching, and healing ministry.  Finally under the Father's will Christ submitted Himself to the cross and there died for our sins.  He arose on the third day as the Victor, and today sets at the right hand of God the Father as our intercessor. 
He takes us out of our Egypt (bondage of sin) each time a person is  saved by grace.  He is waiting until the Father gives the word and He will return to take all His children out of "Egypt" (this earthly existence) back to the "Promised Land," heaven itself.  Have you been delivered from your Spiritual Egypt?  That is, are you a born again Child of God?  If so, are you making the most of your time in this earthly Egypt; by seeking to see that many of your loved ones and family go with you one day to your heavenly Promised Land?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Today is Wednesday the Eighteenth day of Advent.  Our word for today is "Holy Spirit."

Luke 1:26 During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”

29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.

30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name 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 King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. 37 God can do anything!”

38 Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.(NCV)

Notice that in the preceding Scripture passage the three persons of what we believers refer to as the Trinity are mentioned.  Referenced are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Most often during the Christmas season we refer to God the Father and God the Son, but God the Holy Spirit is often left out.

God the Father was the central figure in the Old Testament as He gives word through His prophets that a Savior-King would be born.  In the Gospels Jesus the Christ, the promised one, was the central figure.  Certainly during the time of this first Christmas Christ the Son is the central figure. 

But I want you to note verses 35 and 36 in the forgoing passage.  Mary ask the angel how it was possible for her to have a child since she was a virgin.  The angel told her it would be made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.  There is one God but He is manifest in three persons.  I cannot really understand that, but since the Scripture teaches it I believe it.  So the entire Trinity was involved this first Christmas.

If the Old Testament seemed to high light the work of God the Father, and the Gospels seem to emphasis the work of God the Son, so in the Book of Acts and the spread of the church, it is the work of the Holy Spirit that is emphasised.

In our lives today we have many times we could call, our "How can this be?" moment.  And the answer is, "The power of the Holy Spirit."  It was the work of the Holy Spirit that brought about the birth of Jesus the Christ.  Today it is the work of the Holy Spirit that convinces us of our need for forgiveness and salvation through Christ. (see John 16).  It is the Holy Spirit that brings about our redemption and new birth.  It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the power to live the Christian life.

You may be asking, Lord, how can I deal with this tragedy, this financial reversal, this family problem, this important decision etc.  The answer is, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to point us to Christ, to make the promises of Christ become real in our lives.

Would you take time today to praise the work of the Holy Spirit in your life?  If you do not know Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, allow the Holy Spirit to bring you to Him.  You cannot really celebrate Christmas without the power of the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Today is Tuesday and the seventeenth day of Advent.  Our word for today is "Messiah."

John 1:40 One of the two men who followed Jesus after they heard John speak about him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah.” (“Messiah” means “Christ.”) (NCV)

In the King James version of the New Testament the word "Messiah" does not appear.  Instead the word "Christ" is used.  "Christ" is the New Testament word for Messiah.  The Jewish people were very familiar with the word.  In the above reference Andrew told his brother Simon Peter that they had found the Messiah.  Messiah or Christ literally means "the anointed one."  It refers to the prophecy of the coming of a king who would bring salvation.  And that is why there was so much excitement surrounding the birth of Jesus the Christ.

 Luke 2:11 Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. (NCV)

The angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior was born (to save was His mission.)  They continued to say He was Christ (Messiah)  the Lord.

For the first fifteen hundred years of Christian history the most emphasised Christian celebration was the Resurrection, and rightly so.  But in the last few centuries we have come to celebrate the coming of Christ.  If he had not come there would have been no sacrifice or Resurrection.  If Christ was to be the savior his coming had to be miraculous.  And it was!  He was born of a virgin, and immediately worshiped by shepherds, kings, and prophets.

Last night my wife and I attended a presentation of Handel's Messiah.  It was a moving performance.  Handel was an eighteenth century musical genius, but he was also a great Christian.  He wrote the entire score and words (260 pages) in twenty four days.  When he finished writing what would become known as the Hallelujah Chorus, the concluding chorus, he said, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself." 

Until his death, Handel conducted 30 performances of Messiah (none at Christmastime, for Handel saw it as a piece for Lent), only one of which was in a church, Bristol Cathedral. In that audience sat John Wesley. "I doubt if that congregation was ever so serious at a sermon as they were during this performance," he remarked.

One wonderful thing about this special oratorio, is that it does not leave Christ in the manger.  It tells the complete story.  It goes from the message in the Old Testament to the manger, then from the manger to the cross, and then from the cross to His Resurrection and reigning on high.  The most recognized part of the whole oratorio is the last chorus, "The Hallelujah Chorus."  Handel draws from Revelation 19:6,11,15,15:

Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.  The kindom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.  King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  Hallelujah!

This Christmas season observe Jesus the Messiah in the manger, but do not leave Him there.  He is alive and He is reigning over a spiritual kingdom, and one day He will come to reign over all earthly kingdoms.  He will come back one day as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Is He your king and is He Lord of your life?  If  not, accept Him today.