Saturday, December 24, 2011

O Little Town on Bethlehem

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”
Micah 5:2

The Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, as prophesied by Micah. If Caesar had not decreed that all citizens must register in their place of birth, Joseph and Mary would not have had a reason to leave Nazareth, and Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. In which case, Micah's prophecy would not have been fulfilled. God used the Roman Caesar to orchestrate the birth of His Son Jesus in Bethlehem. From the time of the prophet Micah up through the present time, Bethlehem is credited as the birthplace of only one person widely known throughout the world. And that person is Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Real Event

"Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child."
Luke 2:1-5

In order for Rome to know how much money they could collect through taxation, they needed the people of the empire to register. For Joseph and Mary, it meant traveling over 60 miles to Joseph's hometown.  About a three day trip on foot. It was especially hard on Mary, who was very close to delivering her baby. 

Luke gave Theophilus, the man to whom he is writing this account, more details about the Roman government than he did about Joseph and Mary's trip. Why? Bob Deffinbaugh, Pastor of Community Bible Chapel in Richardson Texas writes,"Who cares which Caesar was responsible for the census, or even that there was one? Who cares about Quirinius? In my opinion, Theophilus, the initial recipient did. The term “most excellent,” which Luke uses in chapter 1 (v. 3), is also used by Luke three times in Acts (23:26; 24:3; 26:25), each time in reference to a political official of high standing. This suggests that Theophilus, too, was a man of high political office. Luke’s information, while of little interest to us, must have been significant to Theophilus. Among other things, Luke was showing the historical roots of the Christian faith. Unlike the appearance of the other “gods” of false religions, whose appearance was couched in 'once upon a time' terms, the coming of the Christ was a real event in real time. The facts Luke has provided were important to a man whose faith was to have historical validity." 

The birth of Jesus Christ is not some nice Christmas fairy tale. It has "historical validity".

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” 
Matthew 1:22-23

The wonder of the incarnation of Jesus Christ: "God with us". God with us to reveal His holiness and our sinfulness. God with us to show His mercy and grace, and not to leave us hopeless in our sinfulness. God with us to save us through His death, burial and resurrection. God with us to cover us with His righteousness when we receive Him as Savior. God with us when we confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness. God with us to change us and make us more like Him. God with us in good times and bad times. God with us in the morning and late at night. God with us, never to leave us. This is Immanuel. This is God with us. This is prophecy fulfilled (Isaiah 7:14). 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The World's Greatest Need

"But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20-21

Joseph doesn't rush to make a decision about ending his betrothal to Mary. He waits, and ponders what to do. We don't know how much time passes, but one night -- in a dream -- his answer comes. "An angel of the Lord" appears to him and calls him "son of David". This is a confirmation of his lineage; Joseph is a descendant of King David. And then to Joseph the angel reveals a most amazing plan. Joseph is to go through with the marriage. He is to become Mary's husband. She is carrying the Son of God and Joseph is to name him "Jesus", meaning "Jehovah is Salvation". But salvation from what? Salvation from sin. Jesus will save His people from their sins. 

The Jews expected a Messiah to save them politically, but their greatest need was not salvation from the Romans. It was salvation from their sins. It is still the greatest need of all th world today. And its fulfillment is met in Jesus. He "brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16 NIV)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joseph's Dilemma

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly." 
Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph and Mary's betrothal was a binding agreement for marriage. Although the betrothed couple did not yet live together as husband and wife, the arrangement required a divorce to break it.  As Mary and Joseph awaited their coming marriage, Mary became pregnant. Upon learning of her condition, Joseph planned to break the engagement  -- to divorce Mary. According to Jewish law, Joseph could have taken Mary to court to divorce her for adultery, which could have resulted in Mary being taken outside the city gates and stoned to death. At the very least, the public divorce would have ruined her reputation. But Joseph reacted honorably. He did not respond to his perceived betrayal with thoughts of revenge. he thought to divorce her quietly.

"The shock to Joseph of the sudden discovery, crashing in on him after he was bound to Mary, and in what would else have been the sweet interval of love and longing ‘before they came together,’ is delicately and unconsciously brought out in verse 18. ‘She was found’—how the remembrance of the sudden disclosure, blinding and startling as a lightning flash, lives in that word! And how the agony of perplexity as to the right thing to do in such a cruel dilemma is hinted at in the two clauses that pull in opposite directions! As a ‘just man’ and ‘her husband,’ Joseph owed it to righteousness and to himself not to ignore his betrothed’s condition; but as her lover and her husband, how could he put her, who was still so dear to him, to public shame, some of which would cloud his own name? To ‘put her away’ was the only course possible, though it racked his soul, and to do it ‘privily’ was the last gift that his wounded love could give her." -- Alexander McLaren

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alone with God

"And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel."
Luke 1:80

John "lived in the deserts" until the time of his public ministry. Away from people, alone with God. Does this sound familiar? Moses lived in the wilderness, where God grew and groomed him until the time of Moses' public ministry. Before Jesus began His public ministry, He was "led by the Spirit" to the wilderness, where He victoriously overcame the temptations of Satan. Sometimes we have wilderness and desert experiences in our own lives. Times when we have no one but God to rely upon; to teach us, grow us and groom us for what lies ahead. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Heart Thermometer

"And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
'Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us 
In the house of David His servant— 
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—'"
Luke 1:68-70

The Holy Spirit will never direct our praise toward man, for only God is worthy of such devotion. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zacharias' prophecy does not focus on John his son, but rather the unborn Savior. "Zacharias doesn't even know Jesus yet, but he praises Him, he loves Him, and he is passionate about Jesus. We know so much more about Jesus than Zacharias does, so what can excuse the coldness of our hearts?" -- David Guzik. If we don't feel moved to worship Jesus Christ -- if we have no passion for Him -- then it's time we check the temperature of our hearts.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...