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Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’

As discussed in yesterday’s post, some characters from the Christmas story , despite their close proximity to the miracle, miss Christmas entirely.

We can make a case that the chief priests and scribes missed Christmas.  As strange as it sounds, those whose life was dedicated to the scriptures, to God’s law and teachings, missed God’s arrival as foretold in prophecy.

In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 2:1-2), Matthew tells us that after Jesus was born, Kings from the east came to Jerusalem looking for “the King of the Jews.”  Herod, when he heard this unsettling news immediately called for his experts in the field, the people most knowledgeable about such things.  He called the Chief Priest and the scribes, the experts in Jewish religion and writings.

As expected, these men knew exactly what the Kings of the east were referring to and where the “King” would be born.  Despite that knowledge, they had no presence in Bethlehem.  No one was monitoring the births of boys in town.  No one seemed to be watching for a Messiah in Bethlehem at all.

The words of the prophet Micah were no more than pen strokes on a parchment scroll.  The knowledge of God that these men had never translated into faith in God, so they missed Christmas.

We don’t want to judge them too harshly as this could happen to you or to me.  We might, like those men and others like them, mistake the mere knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word and even a role as a religious leader as sufficient to satisfy God.  Beware, even the religious leaders, the most “Holy” men of their time, missed Christmas.  Knowledge of God doesn’t equal saving faith in God.

If you do not have a personal, intimate, saving relationship with God.  If you don’t know Him (not just of Him), you can change that today.  Pray the following prayer to change your status from outsider, to child of God.  Don’t miss Christmas.

Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner, and I have broken your law.
I need a Savior; I cannot save myself.  Please allow your shed blood to cleanse me of my sin. Forgive me and cleanse me.  I want to live for you, to submit myself to you, to be a child of God.

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In the Christmas story, characters lurk in the shadows.  They are present, but their roles are minor.  It is among these characters that we find some who missed Christmas.  If we are to avoid this fate, for surely it is possible for any of us to “miss Christmas,” we must learn from their mistakes.

We could make a case that the innkeeper missed Christmas.  The young couple arrive at the innkeeper’s door with the Messiah almost ready to be delivered (oh how rich the irony).  What a blessing for any Jewish family to have the long-awaited Messiah be born in their home.  Sadly, such an opportunity was lost.  The innkeeper was focused on financial gain – not a bad goal in itself, but devastating if it keep you from meeting God, from welcoming Him into your home, from seeing things according to His plan.

Not having a God-centered view of events and circumstances, the innkeeper missed Christmas.  But we don’t have to be like the innkeeper.  We can focus on the eternal and away from the temporal.  We can take our eyes from our finances and consider our inheritance in heaven.  We can embrace Christmas with its reminder that God, Holy and just, took on flesh to accomplish His great plan of salvation for us.

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Matthew 2:1-12 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.

  • What caused the Kings to come to find the Christ child?  Who did they say they were looking for?
  • What was Herod’s response to hearing what the Kings from the east had to say?
  • What is Herod’s plan with regard to this “king of the Jews” that has been born?
  • What was the reaction of the Kings to seeing the star (v. 10)?
  • What was the response of the kings from the east when they saw the Christ child according to Matt. 2:11?
  • What is your response to the Christ child?  Do you worship Him?  Tell others of what you have seen Him do in your life?  Perhaps this coming year, you want to make your response to the Christ child more evident
  • What gifts did they bring to Jesus, the King?  (v. 11)
  • What does each gift signify or foretell?

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Luke 2 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.
  • Why did Mary and Joseph have to go to Bethlehem?
  • Where was Jesus born?  Why?
  • What did Mary do with Jesus after He was born?
  • What happened out on the plains outside of Bethlehem that night?
  • To whom was the first recorded announcement of the birth of the Christ Child made according to Luke 2:8-14?
  • Why is it significant that the announcement of the Messiah was made first to the Shepherds?
  • What does Luke 2:15-16 tell us was the shepherd’s response?
  • What was the response of the shepherds to seeing Jesus in the manager?  (Hint: Luke 2:17-20)

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Matthew 1 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.
  • What horrible news does Joseph receive in Matt. 1:18?
  • How does Joseph come to terms with Mary’s pregnancy according to Matt. 1:19-25?
  • Read Luke 1.  According to Luke 1:26, who came as a messenger from God to Mary?
  • Where was Mary living at the time of this story?
  • To whom was Mary betrothed?  Of what lineage was her betrothed?
  • How does Gabriel greet Mary in verse 28?
  • What is her reaction in verse 29?
  • For what job has Mary been chosen according to verse 31?
  • How does Gabriel describe Jesus and what He will do in verses 32-33?
  • What is Mary’s very practical question in verse 34?
  • What is Gabriel’s response in verse 35?
  • What separate proof of the authenticity of his message does Gabriel offer in verse 36?
  • What is Mary’s response to the message from God through Gabriel in verse 38?
  • Who does Mary go to visit during her pregnancy according to Luke 1:36-41?  Why?
  • What happens to Elizabeth when she hears Mary’s voice?  Why is that significant?

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Consider the following verses from the New Testament that speak of what Christ has done for us who believe.  Thank Him!

• Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

• 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

• Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

• 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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Two mountains which figure prominently in the Bible when taken together, represent the character of God.  One mountain is characterized  by a consuming fire.  On that mountain, God displayed His judgment and His holiness.  The other mountain is characterized by blood and sacrifice.  On that mountain, God displayed His consuming love and mercy.

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai is the backdrop for Israel’s receipt of the Law.  The mountain is where God met Moses and is primarily characterized by fire:

  • Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.  Exodus 19:18
  •  The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.  Exodus 24:17
  • Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.  Deuteronomy 4:11
  •  The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.  Deuteronomy 5:4
  •  Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.  Deuteronomy 9:10
Mount Zion
The other mountain is Mount Zion (found within the land given to the tribe of Judah).   Mt. Zion was sometimes called The City of David, and descriptions of Mt. Zion paint a very different picture from those describing Mt. Sinai:
  • Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed-This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.  Psalm 74:2
  • But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.  Psalm 78:68
  •  Those who trust in the LORD Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  Psalm 125:1
  • And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.  Joel 2:32
  • Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  Revelation 14:1

Paul makes the case for the two mountains in his letter to the Hebrews:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. . . . And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.   Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:18-29

It is the same God of both mountains, so we should keep both mountains in view:

  • one where God laid down His law, a place of judgment.
  • one where God laid down His life, a perfect sacrifice, a place of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
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