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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

As we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the coming of Jesus. But Jesus, the child born in the manger, the man nailed to a cross and risen from the dead, already came. So whose coming are we anticipating?

What do the following scriptures tell us about the story of Jesus yet to come?
Colossians 3:4

2 Timothy 4:1

Revelation 5:5

Revelation 21:3-7

Revelation 22:12

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It was love, mere love; it was free love that brought the Lord Jesus Christ into our world. What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus? Shall we yearly celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of Kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had chiefly in remembrance, be quite forgotten? God forbid!

No, my dear brethren, let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church with joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this Savior’s love never be forgotten! But may we sing forth all his love and glory as long as life shall last here, and through an endless eternity in the world above! May we chant forth the wonders of redeeming love and the riches of free grace, amidst angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, without intermission, forever and ever!

And as, my brethren, the time for keeping this festival is approaching, let us consider our duty in the true observation thereof, of the right way for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls, to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; an event which ought to be had in eternal remembrance.

George Whitefield, Selected Sermons of George Whitefield

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Who is He? The world has struggled with this issue since Jesus came on the scene more than 2000 years ago. Was Jesus simply a man? Was he a great prophet or teacher? Or was He the Christ–the Messiah–the Promised One, fulfilling hundreds of prophecies of the Old Testament prophets?

1. What does Isaiah 7:14 foretell about Jesus (the Messiah-the Promised One)?

2. What does Isaiah 9:6-7 tell us about the Messiah?

3. What additional information is given regarding the Messiah in Isaiah 11:1?

4. What do you learn from Isaiah 53:1-3

5. When did Isaiah live and give his prophecies?

6. What does the prophet Micah tell us about the birth place of Messiah in Micah 5:2?

7. When did the prophet Micah live and give his prophecies?

8. What does the prophet Zechariah tell us about the Promised One in Zechariah 9:9?

9. When did the prophet Zechariah live and give his prophecies?

10. When read these prophecies, given hundreds of years before the person they describe was born, by three different men, and you learn that they came true in the person of Jesus, what does that make you think about the Bible? God?

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We catch sight of a new key principle–the power of the Higher, just in so far as it is truly Higher, to come down, the power of the greater to include the less . . . Everywhere the great enters the little–its power to do so is almost the test of its greatness. In the Christian story God . . . comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; . . . down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But he goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him . . . [O]ne may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to color and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover.”

C.S. Lewis, Miracles

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Baby Jesus, small and soft
born that star-filled night
for ages prophets had foretold
Light to pierce the night

Your heavenly home You left behind
put eternal things aside
to enter human time and space
and temporarily abide.

why would You,
Almighty King
Lord of all the Lords
come down to earth to be with us
so far below Your throne

the cross it is the centerpiece
instrument of pain
see where blood was flowing down
the lamb on it was slain

the living, it was needful
without blemish You were found
yet dying was the pinnacle
my sins they stained the ground

in dying You gave your life for me
propitiatory substitute
in rising You opened eternity
rendered the accuser mute

a baby born to humble means
lain in a manger bare
is only part the story told
look further if you dare

the only true and living God
the one they call “I AM”
He kept His promise in the child
He sent His Son, the Lamb

Copyright M.E. Mullin Bush

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Who is He?
The world has struggled with this issue since Jesus came on the scene more than 2000 years ago. Was Jesus simply a man? Was he a great prophet or teacher? Or was He the Christ–the Messiah–the Promised One, fulfilling hundreds of prophecies of the Old Testament prophets?

1. What does Isaiah 7:14 foretell about Jesus (the Messiah-the Promised One)?

2. What does Isaiah 9:6-7 tell us about the Messiah?

3. What additional information is given regarding the Messiah in Isaiah 11:1?

4. What do you learn from Isaiah 53:1-3

5. When did Isaiah live and give his prophecies?

6. What does the prophet Micah tell us about the birth place of Messiah in Micah 5:2?

7. When did the prophet Micah live and give his prophecies?

8. What does the prophet Zechariah tell us about the Promised One in Zechariah 9:9?

9. When did the prophet Zechariah live and give his prophecies?

10. When read these prophecies, given hundreds of years before the person they describe was born, by three different men, and you learn that they came true in the person of Jesus, what does that make you think about the Bible? God?

Closer to the birth of Jesus, months before, we are given additional information about Jesus.
Read Luke 1
11. What has Mary been chosen to do? Why?

12. What prophetic information is given about the child in this chapter? Provide a verse reference.

13. What happens when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth? What prophetic information does Elizabeth speak about the child Mary is carrying?

After Jesus was born, people were still speaking about His future and who He was.
Read Luke 2:8-15
14. What was spoken about the Messiah to the shepherds? Who delivered the message?

Read John 1
15. What do you learn about Jesus from this chapter? On what did John base his knowledge about Jesus?

16. What does Peter say about Jesus in Matthew 16:13-17? Who does Jesus say gave him that information?

17. What does Jesus say about who He is in the following verses?
▸ Matthew 9:6

▸ Matthew 26:63-64

▸ Mark 8:31

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Going to be counted
1. Why did Mary and Joseph have to go to Bethlehem?

2. Where was Jesus born? Why?

3. What did Mary do with Jesus after He was born?

4. What happened out on the plains outside of Bethlehem that night?

5. To whom was the first recorded announcement of the birth of the Christ Child made according to Luke 2:8-14?

6. What does Luke 2:15-16 tell us was the shepherd’s response?

7. What was the response of the shepherds to seeing Jesus in the manager? (Hint: Luke 2:17-20)

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The Announcement

1. According to Luke 1:26, who came as a messenger from God to Mary?

2. Where was Mary living at the time?

3. To whom was Mary betrothed? Of what lineage was Joseph?

4. How does Gabriel greet Mary in verse 28?

5. What is her reaction in verse 29?

6. What does Gabriel say to comfort her?

7. For what job has Mary been chosen according to verse 31?

8. How does Gabriel describe Jesus in verse 32?

9. What does Gabriel say that Jesus will do in verse 33?

10. What is Mary’s very practical question in verse 34?

11. What is Gabriel’s response in verse 35?

12. What does Isaiah 7:14 foretell about the Messiah (promised one)?

13. What is Mary’s response to the message from God through Gabriel in verse 38?

14. Who does Mary go to visit during her pregnancy according to Luke 1:36-41. Why?

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ANGELS & THE CHRIST CHILD

As I was reading the Christmas story in Luke this year, I was struck by something that I had never considered before. It was the angels. It is not that I never noticed them in the story before, but rather, I have never seriously considered what their conduct was really saying about what they were thinking and feeling. I believe that their actions confirm that they were filled with excitement and anticipation. They were like the person who buys the perfect gift for their child or friend and can’t wait for them to open it, the person who is counting down the days until Christmas morning because they can’t wait to see the expression on the recipient’s face when they open the wonderful gift. I think the angels were filled with that type of anticipation of the joy of others at the gift (Jesus) that was coming.

Can you imagine the excitement in heaven when the angels learned that Jesus, God incarnate, was going to be born a man and live among men? What anticipation they must have felt for what the Son of God could do for man. The light that surrounded Him in heaven would follow Him to earth. Oh what a great day when the darkness that hovered over man would be dispelled, banished from His presence! What great excitement the angels must have had for man.

The angels, while created being like man, share the creator’s hand. However, they are “higher” beings than man according to Psalm 8:51. Man, however, has the distinction of being created in the image of God2, a description never used of the angels. This trait we share with Jesus who is described as “the image of the invisible God.”3 The angels are with God in heaven.4 In their positions in heaven, in the presence of God, the angels have seen a lot. They would have witnessed the creation of man, the flood, the ark, the tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the turning of Lot’s wife to salt, the exchange between God and Satan regarding Job, the battles between the angels of God and the angels of darkness, and all the other goings on in the throne room of the Most High God. I don’t think they would be easily impressed.

The Bible teaches that part of the job of the angels is to serve or minister to men. Paul says of them in Hebrews, “are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”5 The Psalmist tells us “[t]he angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him.”6 In Psalm 91, we are told, God “shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all

your ways.”7 They have a very close relationship with God and witness His glory and power without end. They are in sync with the will of God. Angels do what God likes.8 Of course, angels are not omniscient (all-knowing), so they have to wait to find out what God has planned, but in contrast to us, they are a lot closer to the action.

When angels appear on the scene in the Bible, people are always moved. Manoah was so upset when he saw an angel that he told his wife he was going to die.9 When an angel came to Daniel, he trembled on his knees and palms.10 When Zachariah was visited by an angel in the temple, “he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.”11 He left the encounter unable to speak for at least nine months. When Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, she was troubled.12 When Peter was in prison and the angel came and “stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.”13 Now that is the stuff of action movies.

So what does the conduct of the angels in Luke 2 tell us about the events that were unfolding at that time in Bethlehem and what the angels thought about those events, given who they were, what they did, and what they knew? The story is told as follows in Luke 2:8-18:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 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!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

This scene occurs right after Mary has brought forth the Christ child and wrapped him in Swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger.14  These shepherds were no different from others who had seen angels in that they were “greatly afraid.”  The angels are communicating with the shepherds, giving them information about the great event and where they could go to be firsthand witnesses of these amazing things (even the angels didn’t know exactly where God was going with this plan).15 What is really amazing is that out of nowhere, because their excitement was just too much to contain, the heavenly host of angels just breaks through from beyond our space and time and begins praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” They make it clear that God’s purposes toward man are all good. Their message was clear, “this is a GOOD thing that is happening!”

The events that unfold next confirm that the shepherds received the message from the angels because they decided to go to where the baby was. We also know that they must have been moved greatly by what they saw because they told lots of folks. It should be pointed out here that part of the skill set for shepherding is not necessarily addressing crowds regarding miracles, but we see that “all those who heard . . . marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds,” so the shepherds were not staying silent or isolated with the good news.

All that to say, I was struck by how excited the angels were. They know God, and they observe man. They knew that God coming to earth as a man (Jesus), was a good thing for man. They were so excited that they wanted to tell man (shepherds), so they wouldn’t miss it. Angels, who dwell in heaven, with God, where all the really cool stuff happens, were excited for us, mankind, that God was coming to live among us. They knew that His coming would mean that we would have hope, that we would not have to continue to dwell in darkness, separated from the God who was so holy, loving and majestic – King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They saw our future to be bright with Jesus. They knew what it meant to have Jesus living with you. That is what the angels’ conduct was saying that Christmas night over 2000 years ago.

What is your conduct saying about the message of Christmas? Are you, like the angels, rejoicing because you know God and you know His plans for man are for good and not for evil?

Are you, like the shepherds, going to find Jesus daily in the pages of your Bible, and sharing his love in the pews of your church, in the streets of your city, and in the corridors of your work place? Are you telling people about Jesus because you know He alone has the words of eternal life?

My prayer for you . . . for me . . . is that this Christmas season, we would be like the angels and like the shepherds. Each of them did what they did because they had an encounter with God.

Copyright M.E.Bush 2009

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Who’s coming?

The coming of Christ should not have been a surprise to the people of God.  Multiple prophecies foretold of the coming of Messiah.

The following are just a few of the things that were known:

  • He would be born of a virgin and He would be known as “God among us” (Immanuel).  Isaiah 7:14
  • He would be a child, a Son of God.  Isaiah 9:6
  • He would be a descendant of David (son of Jesse).  Isaiah 11:1
  • He would be born in Bethlehem.  Micah 5:2

Interestingly, all of these prophecies, given over 500 years before His birth, were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.  All of the promises of God are true.  He is faithful to keep His promises.  He is not slack concerning His promises, but in the fullness of time, they will be revealed.

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