Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Whole Lot of Angels

A Whole Lot of Angels

God was up to something.

He was going to send His Son - Jesus Christ - to be born on earth.

It caused quite a stir in heaven!!!

The account includes a whole lot of angels.

Before Jesus was born, an angel appeared to his earthly uncle.

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.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Just before Jesus was born, an angel appeared to Joseph, who would stand in as his earthly father.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: 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[e] 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,[f] 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”[g] (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.

Before Jesus was born, an angel appeared to his earthly mother - Mary.

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Just after Jesus was born, angels appeared outside Bethlehem

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

There are a whole lot of angels in the Christmas story!

Jesus' birth caused quite a stir in heaven!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Glitz and Glitter

Glitz and Glitter




We were at one of the mandatory Christmas Parties last night.


The wife of a good friend was complaining that they had no lights. No Christmas tree. The house was plain.


"Because the kids are all gone?" we queried.


"No. As you know, we came back from the Holy Land a month ago. Everywhere Jesus went, everywhere something happened in the Gospel account, they have put up enormous Cathedrals over there. It was SO over the top."


"Bethlehem was depressing. It is incredibly dirty. They had put up this huge cathedral hundreds of years ago. Now the Muslims have taken the area over and are blaring their propaganda directly at the Cathedral. It was a bizarre and unsettling experience."


"So, no lights and Christmas tree for me this Christmas."


As I reflected on our conversation, I realized we have no Muslims blaring ant Christian messages at a high volume over a loud speaker.


But the glitz and glitter, and the materialism in our culture accomplishes the same thing. It overpowers and drowns out what God did for the world so long ago.


11. "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."


No Glitz.


No Glitter.


Just a baby lying in a manager...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive

It is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive

It is Christmas, 2011.
The ads on TV are running full force on how you need to give this or that present - basically as proof that you are a good husband or wife, parent or friend.

But one managed to play before I was able to grab the "mute" button.

In it the girl says, "Its is better to receive, than to give"
Her boyfriend says quietly, in the last seconds of the commercial.
"I don't think that's how it goes..."
She replies - "Close enough!"

Cute commercial. Horrible distortion of the saying quoted directly from Jesus himself.

The quote does not appear in the Gospels - the accounts of Jesus life. Interestingly it is the Apostle Paul who quotes this saying from Jesus, way toward the end of his life.

Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”