MERRY CHRISTMAS!  

Dec. 24 – (Foretold- Isa. 60:3,6; Fulfilled - Matt. 2:1-12) WISE MEN

                Let’s think about the Wise men.  From seeing a gigantic star appear, they believed there was born the King of the Jews.  They spent months (years?) traveling just to worship Him.  They brought extravagant gifts to give Him (that was the practice of the day when visiting a king).  When they got to King Herod, they needed to know the street address and town, so they asked him.  Herod asked the Scribes and Pharisees where The King would be born.  They knew!  They told Herod and of course Herod told the Wise men.  The Wise men then went and worshiped a baby.  Can you believe that? The outward appearance of this “king” was nothing they would have honored or worshiped before and yet they did worship Him! So, here’s what I am pondering: The Wise men had knowledge of the King and did something with that knowledge by spending much time and money to worship Him (relationship).  The scribes and Pharisees had the knowledge as well and did nothing with that knowledge (religiosity).  Am I taking the knowledge I have as I study, and worshiping “The King” by sharing it and living it out each day? Or do I get knowledge from His Word and then just go about my daily living? The scribes and Pharisees missed out on so much and their descendants would eventually be instrumental in having Him crucified. How are my responses to “The King” effecting my descendants?  Selah   


Dec. 25 – (Luke 2:22-38) SIMEON AND ANNA SEE THEIR INCARNATE “SALVATION”

                What do we know about Simeon? He was directed by the Holy Spirit.  He was old. He took Jesus up in his arms and blessed Him.  God had promised Simeon, he would behold Jesus before he died.  Can you imagine an old saint who lived all of his life to this point, with a silent God to his people (400 years silence) and did not know when “Salvation” would be born?  What hope and faith he must have had!  Simeon lived most of his life not seeing his Salvation face to face, in faith and hope.  We have seen and accepted His Salvation by faith but hope for the day we will see Him face to face! I just realized though there was 400 years silence for the Israeli nation, God spoke to some individuals!  What a revelation to me!!!

                What do we know about Anna? She was 84 years old. She was married for 7 years until she became a widow. She was a prayer warrior and prophetess living in the temple.  She was from the tribe of Asher (so she wasn’t from the priestly tribe of Levi).  I always think about logistics.  How was she allowed to stay there 24/7?  Who took care of her needs? Those are not important (I digress). Anna prayed most of her life for “His Salvation” to come. When her prayer was answered she came up and “began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” I see four things we need to emulate. 1. She kept praying for something until she saw it. 2. She recognized it when it came. 3. She immediately gave thanks to God 4. She “witnessed” of this to those who were receptive.  That is a big “SELAH”

                I would like to end this study with a wonderful description of these two saints by Herbert Lockyer: How imperative it is to count the aged Anna among the witnesses of Christ’s birth! Mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament, a distinction Anna shares with saintly Simeon, we can detect divine wisdom in that a woman and man should testify to the fact of the Incarnation, “Simeon and Anna, standing near the infant Jesus, are types of the Old Covenant decaying in the presence of the New, which shall never grow old.” In the mouth of two witnesses it shall be established.  


Dec. 26– (Matt. 2:13-15; Hosea 11:1) FLEE TO EGYPT

                The Egyptian border was about 90 miles south of Bethlehem.  That was not a quick trip!  If you remember the prophesies from the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament, this was one of them.  The prophet Hosea recounted how God had faithfully brought Israel, God’s “son”, out of Egypt in the exodus (Hos. 11:1).  Matthew cites this about Jesus, God’s true Son.  When God gave up His only-begotten Son, He emptied heaven of the very best for the worst of earth.  God did not “give up His only -begotten Son at the cross (I always think in those terms).  It started way before that, but Jesus’ birth was definitely a part of that “giving up”. In allowing Himself to become a baby, Jesus has implicitly obeyed the Father’s will (as He does all through His life as man on earth).  I am realizing that just as God delivered Israel from Egyptian rule in Moses’ time, He delivered us from “Egyptian rule” in sending Jesus to us!  By obeying the “Father’s Will” in our choices, we are continuing that process of “getting Egypt out of us”!  Amazing, loving, and wonderful Father!

                Here is another thing I am pondering. Did Mary and Joseph have a hard time going to Egypt? Did they think they would become slaves as their ancestors had? Sure, it was hundreds of years in the past but I’m pretty sure they knew their history.  Have you ever needed to go back to a place or person that you never wanted to revisit again? Did God urge you to go anyway because He had healing He wanted to do, at least in you? I’m thinking now of the Jewish people with the Holocaust, Africans with slavery, children and spouses in abusive situations to name only a few.  These are all most horrible sins of mankind.  Yet God has provided peace for all of us who have encountered any traumatic experiences. It comes as Mary and Joseph did in obeying whatever God tells us to do, especially in forgiving others and even ourselves and knowing without a doubt that God loves us and with never leave us.  SELAH 


Dec. 27– (Foretold -Jer. 31:15; Fulfilled - Matt. 2:16-18) HEROD’S MASSACRE

                I am drawn to stepping outside the beautiful picture we have of Jesus birth to imagine what it was realistically.  Of course, I fail miserably but here is where I went concerning Herod’s massacre of young son’s.  It is guessed that there were 10-30 sons who were killed.  That means there were at least 10-30 mothers and fathers and families that were affected by Herod’s decision and Satan’s attempt to prevent Jesus from defeating him.  Did those families know why their child was killed? If they did and knew someone else’s son was to be King, were they bitter about another child that may have lived? Here’s another thought.  Did any of the scribes and Pharisees who told Herod where the King was to be born, have sons who were killed because of it? This takes me back to my deeper realization from this Christmas study: Knowledge without action is religiosity, pharisee-ism, and may be injuring others (they have not heard because you didn’t tell or show them Christ).  SELAH

 


Dec. 28 – (Matt. 2:19-23; Luke 2:39-40) RETURN TO NAZARETH

                Let’s look at Mary and Joseph’s travel log.  They started from their home in Nazareth, traveled over 90 miles to Bethlehem (in Mary’s 9th month of pregnancy), then traveled at least 90 miles to Egypt (with a young child). After a time there, they traveled over 180 miles back to Nazareth. As I am looking at a map to see just what that route might have been, I realize either Mary and Joseph had to travel through Judea or go way out of their way on the other side of the Dead Sea to stay out of Archelaus’ jurisdiction. There are so many little details these parents had to decide to keep Jesus safe, but they relied on God to guide them.  Aren’t you thankful that Jesus’ parents listened to what God was telling them?  It wasn’t just through the pregnancy but in escaping all the pitfalls the enemy threw at them after His birth. It causes me to pray for families that that they too, would listen closely to the Holy Spirit to escape the pitfalls the enemy has for their children.

                Matt. 2:23 says Mary and Joseph were returned there to fulfill prophesy that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. Matthew is not quoting any specific OT prophecy but is referring to a general theme in the OT prophets.  They foretold that the Messiah would be despised (Isa. 53:3) and the town of Nazareth was despised in Jesus’ time (Jn.1:46; 7:41,52). The people of Nazareth at the time of Christ’s birth had established a very poor reputation in morals and religion.  Think back now to when Joseph realized Mary was pregnant…in that town. Hmmm.  Think also to a young Jesus who grew up there among friends and maybe even family who were part of the reason for the reputation.  Only God could think it up.  Only God can make it work!  


Dec. 29 –    NAMES GIVEN AT BIRTH

                Jesus was given several names before His birth. Most times His name was preceded with “He shall be called”. Although we can try to explain the significance of the Names given to Mary’s Holy child in the two birth-narratives, it is impossible for the human mind to unfold the overwhelming mystery of the Incarnation itself.  Let’s end this year by reflecting on the names He was given and how each name has impacted us.

·         Called JESUS (“Salvation of Jehovah”) (Matt. 1:21,25b) 

·         Called CHRIST (“Messiah” “Anointed One”) (Luke 2:11)

·         Called LORD (“Master” “Authority” “Dominion”) (Luke 2:11)

·         Called Emmanuel (“God manifest in flesh”, God with us) (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22-23)

·         Called King (“Ruler”) (Matt. 2:2; Jn. 12:15)  


Dec. 30 –  Let’s study a few more of Jesus’ names. As we look at them, let’s also ask ourselves the question: What does this name mean in my life? Selah 

·         Called GOVERNOR (“represents one holding a most responsible official, governmental position”) (Matt. 2:6)

·         Called SON (“Second Person of the Blessed Trinity” “Son of God and Son of Man”) (Isa. 9:6; Matt.1:25; 2:15) 

·         Called a NAZARENE (despised by man) (Matt. 2:23)

·         Called WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE (Isa. 9:6)