December 15, 2019
All I Want For Christmas: Restoration
The angel told Joseph that Jesus would “Save the people from their sins.” Sin meant separation from God and in their culture the only way to be restored was to offer the right sacrifices and live the right laws. But it was only temporary, as more sacrifices would be needed for sins committed. In the coming of the Messiah we have two great gifts…one is freedom from the penalty of our sins and the other is strength beyond ourselves to overcome the lure of sin and grow in our obedience and love for God.
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
December 8, 2019
All I Want for Christmas: Change
Gabriel told Zechariah that his son John was coming to bring change. He would right wrongs, change hearts, and prepare the people for someone greater than himself…the Messiah of God. As we are preparing for the celebration of the coming of Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem, what change do we need for our own lives? Do we seek restoration in relationships? Do we have problems with anger and resentment? Do we think we are better than others or do we think of ourselves as worthless? The fact is, we need change just as much as the world did in Jesus’ day and there is good news! The birth of Jesus promises us the change we seek if we seek it in Him.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
December 1, 2019
All I Want for Christmas: Hope
The people of Israel had been waiting for Messiah for generations. They knew He was coming because God had promised it. They knew He would come from the line of David and would be a King. And they knew He would deliver His people. But they did not know how…or when. By the time of the birth of Jesus, Israel’s glory days had passed. They had served time in exile because of their sin and failure to trust God. Now they were subject to Rome and unable to govern themselves. The chosen people of God were in darkness. But they remembered the promise, and so can we. We are also among God’s chosen and darkness often rules our lives. But there is hope coming. The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world is coming. And He is here! There is hope!
9 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.