31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 26 – The shepherds tell their story

shepherds-with-mary-joseph

Christmas Day may be over but the Christmas story is just beginning. From the start of Genesis when sin was first introduced into the world, God has been telling us about the Savior. Not a day has gone by where there was not hope of a Messiah to come. It started with the Abrahamic covenant where God promised Abraham that all of the world would be blessed through his offspring. Then the Davidic covenant is where God promised that the Messiah would come from the line of David. Next, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Micah prophesied about the coming of the Messiah 700 years before it happened. And now we have the shepherds testimony.

And the shepherds 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 (from the angels) concerning this Child.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Luke 2:16-20

May you believe in this season of miracles, from the virgin birth to the angels visiting the shepherds, and ponder them in your heart just like Mary. For with God, the Creator of our world, nothing is impossible – then or now.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 25 – The angels announcement to the shepherds

christmasangelannouncingthebirthofjesus

“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!”

The angels first proclamation of the good news was to the shepherds who lived out in the fields of the same country, watching their flock at night. The angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them.

When the angels had left, 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.”
From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice,
Let the sea and what fills it resound;
Let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
Psalm 96:11-12

Blessings to you this Christmas day!

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 19 – An angel visits Joseph

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When Joseph heard the news that Mary was with child, he considered divorcing her from their engagement. But that was not God’s plan. This becomes the third time an angel appears announcing the baby Jesus. The first time was to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ. Then the angel appears to Mary, and now Joseph. And the angels are not finished yet with this Heavenly celebration!

Matthew 1:20-22,24
But after Joseph had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

May you find the God of joy and celebration this Christmas season.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 14 – Gabriel visits Mary

annunciation2Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14 

Here we continue with the story of events told by Luke.

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month (of Elizabeth’s pregnancy), the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”  But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.  Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?

The angel replied to her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.

And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”

“I am the servant of the Lord,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

May you believe this Christmas, that the God who created the world, and created you, can do anything.

* Merry Christmas

Life.

Life.  That is the only word that comes to my mind at this moment.  I reflect back on the last month or so of changes in my life, also leading me to think back on my childhood and everything else in between, and I have come to this one conclusion: Life.

Life is living – the happy, sad and challenging times.  It is not perfect.  Don’t beat yourself up trying to make it perfect, or even fair.  We have a perfect Savior in Jesus Christ, and that is all we need to make sense of our sometimes tangled lives.

Life is relationships.  Put down the stuff.  Jesus Christ was all about relationships.  Jesus did not continue to dwell on our past sins and transgressions, but rather what are we going to do right now.  If you want to have an idea of what God is truly like, just look at Jesus’ life and actions.  Love, relationships, restoration, living.  He never sought fame or things.  Jesus knew what was truly important and lasting in this life.  Only the One claiming to be Son of God Himself could have led such a perfect example.

Life is temporal and eternal.  I know that sounds like a contradiction, and maybe it is for a little while.  Life on this earth will end, and probably unexpectedly.  If that is all there was, it would be terribly unfair and cruel.  But the God of life, love and relationships did not create us that way.  We have a choice.  Choose to follow the God of life.  It makes all the difference at a funeral.

My Dad ~ 1930-2017

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life.  I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
– John the Evangelist, 1 John 5:11-13

I know this testimony is true.  I saw it.

My dad laid in the hospital bed of the Intensive Care Unit after having a massive stroke.  IV tubes and oxygen machines were hooked up to him.  He could correctly answer a few questions while laying there, but his mind seemed to be mostly reminiscent of past times in the 1950’s and 60’s.  He was restless and tried to get out of the bed, pulling off his tubes.  My dad never even wanted to be in a wheelchair so I understood.  He was a Navy veteran and strong to the end.  But there was also something else.

I stood beside my Dad’s hospital bed.  He wasn’t able to move his arms very much or focus on people’s faces.  Then suddenly he began reaching his arms up into the air, to the left of where I was standing, and grasping both hands in an open-and-close movement as if he was trying to hold onto something.  He saw something the rest of us did not.  Maybe it was the angels waiting to take him home, or maybe it was Jesus comforting and speaking to him.  It is life’s great mystery that we will not be privileged to know until it is our time.  But I do want to know the God of eternal life and His Son Jesus at that time.

After that, my Dad was more peaceful.  A few days later he spoke his last words, “Goodnight“, and slipped peacefully into the loving arms of Jesus in heaven.

Jesus said to the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m on My way to wake him up.”  Then the disciples said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.”  So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.  I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.”
– John 11:11-15