Manna for Today

 

Hope is Born

The Shepherds Hear the Good News (Luke 2:8-15)

Hope is Born

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.”

Learn it:

            After Mary gives birth Luke goes on to tell us about some shepherds.  Shepherds back then were not highly respected.  Because of their work with animals, they were often seen as unclean and they also had a reputation of being untrustworthy.  It makes one think as to why God would send angels to them to proclaim the birth of the Savior of the world!  When the angel appeared before them like Zechariah, they were afraid.  The angels told them not to be scared and then where the Savior was and how to find him.  He would be the only baby laying in a food trough. 

            After hearing that many more angels appear and begin to praise God!  I am sure this would have left the shepherds in complete shock and awe!  They praise God and hope for peace on earth.  That is what Jesus has come to do, bring peace to the earth.  After the angels leave the shepherds then hurry into Bethlehem because they have to see this baby!  I think that is what any reasonable person would have done. 

Live it:

            Could you imagine being with those shepherds that night?  Having angels appear before you and they tell you the Savior of the world had just been born.  Wow, what a night that would have been!  God chose to first go to the outcasts of society and proclaim the good news to them.  In Jesus’ ministry, he always went to those that were needy and looked down upon.  We see his mission has been consistent since the time he was born.

            We have heard the same message the shepherds heard.  That Jesus came to give us hope, take away our sins, and the promise of eternal life.  This should cause great joy in our life.  We should be earnestly seeking out Jesus to find the truth.  We do not deserve God’s grace, but God loves all people.  I encourage you to thank God today that his gospel message came to you and that you put your life in his hands.  


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Hope is Born

Beauty in a Feeding Trough (Luke 2:6-7)

Hope is Born

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  (Luke 2:6-7)

Learn it:

            Once Joseph and Mary make it to Bethlehem that is when she gives birth to Jesus.  Luke wants to make it clear that this is Mary’s firstborn child.  In Greek, it then literally says that she “swaddled him”.  Mary treats the Savior of the world as a normal baby.  She wraps him in soft linen and keeps him warm.  She then places him in a manger.  A manger is a feeding trough for animals.  Hopefully, it wasn’t used and they had a chance to clean it out a little! 

            We then learn that they had to place Jesus in a manger because there was “no guest room available for them.”  Back in Bethlehem did not have hotels and places to stay like we do today.  There was probably one place that would be a crude overnight lodging place where caravans could stop to rest.  This would not have been a pleasant place to give birth.  That is probably why Mary and Joseph chose to go to a stable or another place to give birth.

Live it:

            This is the setting in which our Lord and Savior came to earth.  He was not in a clean hospital.  He was not surrounded by the best doctors and had no pomp and circumstance to celebrate his birth.  The most private place his parents could find was a stable.  Then his first bed was a feeding trough for animals.  This was a precious intimate scene when Jesus took his first breath as a baby.  What a humbling beginning for one who was destined to save all of mankind. 

 

            Jesus’ life was not one of wealth, prestige, or power.  He always displayed humility, service, and sacrifice.  These are traits to be sought after.  We are to follow the example that Jesus showed in his life.  Reflect on how Jesus’ birth was not flashy.  It was simple yet beautiful.  We are constantly bombarded by our culture to have a lot of material things.  That our lives should look a certain way.  Yet, our faith tells us to forsake all those things and follow Christ’s example.  How can you simply follow Christ today?  


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Hope is Born

The Setting for the Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-5)

Hope is Born

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  (Luke 2:1-5)

Learn it:

            As if Mary and Joseph did not have enough on the lives right now with giving birth to the Savior of the world.  Caesar Augustus decides to take a census and have people go back to their hometowns to probably pay taxes.  Can you imagine the frustration they probably felt when they found about that?  Mary is far along in her pregnancy at this time and I bet she was not wanting to go on a three-day journey to go to Bethlehem.  Yet they were good citizens and did what was required of them. 

            Whether Mary and Joseph knew it or not, it was important for them to be in Bethlehem.  In Micah 5:2 it predicted that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem.  We see God using rulers to guide where the birth of Jesus would happen.  God is behind everything.  God used even the plans of the government to get his people where they needed to be.

Live it:

            In our lives when we are focused on God it does not mean that everything is going to go smoothly.  Mary and Joseph may have thought they could relax and wait for the baby to come.  Yet God had something else in store for them.  They had to be flexible and do something that they did not want to do.  When life gets bumpy, we need to be willing to make changes.  God may be guiding us to something better. 

            Often we get stubborn or just stop moving when we encounter something that is challenging.  If we trust God and keep our feet moving forward God is going to do something great for us.  He will be with us every step of the way and he will give us the strength to overcome.  What are things in your life that seem like roadblocks?  What could God be teaching you right now? 


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Hope is Born

Jesus Showed us Mercy by Coming to the Earth (Luke 1:67-80)

Hope is Born

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David

70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies

    and from the hand of all who hate us—

72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:

74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear

75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

 

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

 

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Learn it:

            After John’s birth, Luke writes down a psalm that Zechariah spoke.  The first half of the psalm is about God’s faithfulness.  How he remembered the covenant that God made to Abraham and how he was going to send a savior to help his chosen people.  Zechariah is also asking that God would continue to show his people mercy and protect them from their enemies. 

            He then goes on to speak about John’s role and how he will be pointing people to Jesus.  He is then given knowledge by the Holy Spirit about what Jesus has come to do.  Jesus is going to give people true forgiveness of sins!  He then goes into the imagery of light and darkness.  Notice how Jesus is always the bright light like the sun.  He has shown great mercy to us by coming to the earth.  This is something that he did not have to do.  We are living a sinful life in darkness, but he has come to shine a light on our paths, so we can find peace in him. 

Live it: 

            These songs of praise the parents sing are full of rich truths about Jesus’ ministry and his purpose for coming.  We learn all of this before Jesus is even born!  We see parts of the gospel already being told to the readers at the very beginning of the book.  There is so much hope and anticipation with the birth of Jesus.  He is coming to bring salvation to the world!  He is giving us hope and light! 

            Take time to reflect on God’s faithfulness to Israel and in your life.  I know I’ve asked you to do that before, but we read the importance of it all over the Bible to remember how God has been so good to us!  Then thank God for sending his Son to us and showing us compassion.  That he was willing to send his Son to the dark earth and light our paths.  That we may have salvation.


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Pastor’s Corner