Manna for Today

 

Hope is Born

Be Willing to Learn (Luke 1:57-66)

Hope is Born

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.  (Luke 1:57-66)

Learn it:

            We now fast-forward three months to where Elizabeth is giving birth.  She has been living in seclusion so when her family hears about her pregnancy, they are celebrating with her!  They go through all the traditional things that happen when a child is born.  On the eighth day they go to the temple to get the baby circumcised as any Jew would do.  Then it was also tradition to name the child after a member of the family.  This was very important to do.  Yet when Elizabeth suggests naming the child “John” everyone freaks out.  That’s how unusual it was for someone to be named not after a family member. 

            They then turn to Zechariah to get his opinion on the name of the baby.  Remember, we know that he has been unable to speak since the beginning of the pregnancy.  Yet, it appears that he was also unable to hear because the family must use sign language to talk to him!  He then writes on a tablet that the baby should be named John.  At that moment he can speak again and begins to praise God.  During Zechariah’s time of silence, he had a lot of time to ponder what the angel had told him. 

Live it:           

            Zechariah lost his ability to speak and hear because he did not believe what the angel told him.  Even though he was older in age, was serving at his temple, and had a strong faith in God.  He still had something to learn about trusting God.  The angel told him that the baby was going to be named John and you bet he was going to remember to do that.

            We should never get too comfortable in our faith thinking we have it all figured it out.  We all have areas in our lives that are immature.  Zechariah thought he had a good understanding of God and the way he operated.  Then an angel appeared to him and taught him something new.  God is going to do things in our life that will stretch our understanding of God.  We can either question him or accept it and be willing to try something new.  


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Hope is Born

When Life Gets Tough, Praise God (Luke 1:46-56)

Hope is Born

 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful

55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Learn it:

            It’s now Mary’s turn to talk and she busts out into a psalm of thanksgiving.  She starts off in verses 46-49 where she focuses on what God has done for her.  She is praising God and giving him glory because he has done a wonderful thing for her.  He has blessed her by allowing her to give birth to the Son of God.  He knows her and chose her.  These are things that we should praise God for as well because he has chosen us to do his work. 

            Then in 50-53, she begins speaking more generally about the goodness of God.  We read that he is merciful to those who “fear” or respect him.  God also performs good works for his people, but he will also discipline those who are proud or power hungry.  God is looking at our hearts and motives.  He does not care about our wealth and good works.  He wants our hearts to be focused on him and that we do things for his glory. 

            She then ends the psalm by focusing on the future promises of God.  He will always be merciful, and his promises will be good for eternity.  Just as God’s promises to Mary came true so will his promises to us.  God’s word is always good.  We can take it to the bank.

Live it:

            Mary’s life is an example to us that God is going to call us to do some bold things.  They will not always be easy and could cause us to look foolish in our society.  Mary was unmarried and pregnant.  People were going to be talking about her and not in a good way.  Yet, even though she was facing tough times, she was able to rejoice.  She could praise God and know that he was going to give her the strength to get through what was coming. 

            What are you willing to sacrifice to praise God?  Mary was willing to sacrifice her public reputation.  Would you be willing to do that?  God has called us to carry our own cross for his glory.  He came to earth in the form of a human baby in order that we may have salvation.  We should be willing to give up things in our life to build his kingdom.  What are you holding on to that needs to be given up to God?  Then praise God that he is all we need.  He is the only thing that deserves our praise and attention.

 

 


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Hope is Born

Rejoice in God’s Plan (Luke 1:39-45)

Hope is Born

 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”  (Luke 1:39-45)

Learn it:

            In the previous passage, Mary found out she was going to be pregnant and the angel told her that Elizabeth was pregnant to prove has credible his words are.  Mary was related to Elizabeth, so she went to visit her to see if indeed she was pregnant.  We see she “hurried”, of course, she hurried because she wanted to know if she was going to become pregnant!  She wanted to see if the angel’s words were true.

            Mary gets there and after she greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb.  John the Baptist is already beginning to point to Jesus!  Elizabeth then says something amazing, that can only come from the power of the Holy Spirit.  It seems that the Holy Spirit has given her insight into her pregnancy, Mary’s pregnancy and that they are both a part of God’s plan.  Elizabeth first blesses Mary and that God chose her.  She then wonders why she was chosen to be used by God?  Why would God send Mary to visit her?  Yet, she was grateful that Mary came in obedience to God.  That she believed the angel and came to see if he was telling the truth.  She learned that he was.     

Live it:

            We can learn a lot from these two women.  From Elizabeth, we can learn about humility and joy.  Elizabeth asked the question, “why me?”  She could not believe that the God of the universe chose her to play a part in his plan.  Guess what, he chose to use you as well.  He has a plan and a purpose for you.  That should lead us to continual joy and excitement!  God in his infinite, all-knowing wisdom wants to use us to build his kingdom.  How awesome. 

            Second, we can learn from Mary that there are times we need to move quickly in our obedience.  God has a plan and we need to play our part today.  Mary heard that Elizabeth was pregnant, and she went.  God is calling us all to do something.  Maybe you just need to pray about something.  Perhaps God is calling you to do something else, call someone, love someone or serve someone.  Whatever it maybe I encourage you to take action and be obedient to what God may be calling you to do.    


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Hope is Born

Who Jesus Is (Luke 1:30-33)

Hope is Born

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.”  (Luke 1:30-33)

Learn it:

            There is so much in this passage I thought we would spend another day here.  We talked about Mary on Friday, so today we are talking about Jesus.  The angel tells Mary who Jesus is and what his purpose is.  The first attributes of Jesus are that “he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”  He is great!  Of course, he is!  More importantly, his identity is connected to God.  He is the Son of God.  Wow!  This is who Mary is giving birth too!  We see exactly who Jesus is. 

            We then learn about what his purpose is.  He is going to take over the throne of David.  He is going to reign over Israel, the descendants of Jacob.  His kingdom will last forever!  Mary is told all of these wonderful things about what her baby will do.  He is going to be the king of her people and he will rule forever!  I wonder if she really comprehended all of these things?  I wonder if we are really to understand all of these things?  His kingdom will never end! 

Live it:

            These truths were spoken over Mary as she was told the news that she was giving birth to the Son of God.  This is before he performed any miracles or spoken any words.  This was God’s plan for Jesus.  We learn so much about God’s plan and his character in this passage.  God knew Israel was going to reject him because Jesus was talking about a heavenly kingdom and the Jews were afraid of losing their man-made kingdom.  The Kingdom of Heaven is going to last forever and that is where Jesus is ruling on the throne.  Praise God for his plans that never fail!


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Pastor’s Corner