Manna for Today

 

Hope is Born

Mary’s Humble Obedience (Luke 1:26-38)

Hope is Born

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 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.

Learn it:

            Intertwined in the birth story of John is the birth of Jesus.  Luke tells us the story of how Mary found out she was going to be pregnant with Jesus.  An angel appears to Mary and greets here.  We then hear that Mary was “greatly troubled at his words.”  I always figured Mary would have been scared by the sight of an angel, but she was really concerned about his words and what they might mean. 

            The angel tells Mary not to worry and then tells her what is about to happen.  Even though she was a virgin, she was going to become pregnant with the Son of God!  Naturally, Mary is confused as to how this is going to happen.  The angel tells her that the Holy Spirit will put it in her and as proof, he tells her of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy. 

            Mary’s response to all this news is remarkable.  She says, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”  She just accepts it!  She’s not worried about what her future husband or family will think.  She doesn’t think about how it will harm her in society.  She just says that she is willing. 

Live it: 

            How good are you at following orders?  I often want step by step instructions and as much detail as I can get.  If an angel appeared to me, saying I was going to give birth to the Son of God, I would have some questions.  Yet Mary had a question and was concerned, she said, “okay”.  Are we willing to do what the Lord is telling us?  If God tells us to share our faith with someone, are we obedient? 

We have to be like Mary and offer up our lives to God’s ways.  His way will always come true.  If God says something, it is the truth.  We are called to be his hands and feet in this world.  He has so many wonderful plans and he has chosen to use us!  We may not be the bravest people, or the most intellectual but he wants to use you.  Are you willing to say ‘yes’?


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Hope is Born

God is Always at Work (Luke 1:5-25)

Hope is Born

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.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.  (Luke 1:18-23)

Learn it:

            The Gospel of Luke starts before the birth of Christ.  It starts with the foretelling of the birth of John.  John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, are old in age and without a child.  This would have been disappointing for them to not have a child.  Then one day Zechariah was serving in the temple, worshipping God, when an angel appears to him and tells him he is going to have a baby.  This would have been amazing news, but Zechariah is doubtful and questions the angel.  The angel then tells Zechariah that he will not be able to speak because of his doubt. 

            We then learn that Elizabeth is indeed pregnant and when she responds to it by praising God.  She says in verse 25, “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”  We see that she felt shame for not having a baby.  She has probably struggled with these feeling all her adult life.  Now, God has truly blessed her! 

Live it: 

            This story tells us that God is always at work.  Zechariah and Elizabeth have probably given up on the dream of having children and had to be okay with that.  Yet, in their older age God was moving and had a purpose for them.  Is there something you are waiting for God to help you with?  If so, continue to worship and serve him while you wait.  Then keep your eyes open and look for God moving. 

            This is what Zechariah did.  While he was serving and praising God in the temple, that’s when God sent an angel to talk to him.  Zechariah kept serving God and did not grow bitter in his relationship with God.  If it seems like God is giving you the silent treatment, he is not doing it to punish you.  He’s doing it so that we lean more on him.  God is planning on using us in some way.  God is doing something in your life.  Do you see it?  Are your eyes open to his moving or are you always looking at what is missing?


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Hope is Born

Confidence in God’s Word (Luke 1:1-4)

Hope is Born

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.  (Luke 1:1-4)

Learn it:

            Luke starts out his gospel letter with an explanation as to the purpose of his writings.  He has taken the responsibility seriously to put together is a historical narrative of the life of Christ. Luke thoroughly researched what happened and even interviewed and visited the places where Christ did his ministry.  He even says that he started at the beginning, which as we will see means he went all the way back before Christ.  He tells us of how John the Baptist was pointing toward Christ. 

            We also learn to who Luke was writing.  He was writing to Theophilus. We do not know much about this person, but we can assume that he was probably Greek and either a new believer or someone struggling in their faith.  Luke wanted to write to Theophilus to encourage him so that he can have a strong confidence in his faith.  Theophilus we need this because the Christian faith was uniting Jews and Gentiles.  This would have not been a smooth process and Luke wanted the Gentiles, which included Greeks, to feel confident of their place in Christianity.

Live it:

            The introduction to Luke should give us great confidence in what we are reading.  It has been researched and it is NOT fiction.  The ancient Greek writers knew there was a difference between fiction and non-fiction.  Luke is clearly saying that what he is writing about actually happened!   This should give us great peace and reassurance. 

            Each of the gospels was written for a different purpose and even different people groups.  Matthew was written to the Jews to show them how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament.  Mark was written to Gentiles in Rome to teach them that Christ is the Son of God.  Luke is written to Theophilus to defend the Christian faith from a historical perspective.  John is written to those in Ephesus and it is more theological but is still focused on how Jesus is the Messiah and how we have eternal life. 

            We are grateful for the different gospel letters and how they give us the full picture of Christ.  As Luke says in verse 4 that we should, “know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”  It is still true for us today.  Almost 2000 years later.  We should have security in what the Bible teaches us.   


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Thank God for Hearing our Prayers (Psalm 34:15-18)

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

    and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Learn it:

            Psalm 34 is all about focusing on how good God is and how he protects his people.  David is calling us to trust God because he knows what we need, and he will always be with us.  In this section of the Psalm David describes how the LORD is aware of our needs.  How he is watching us and always there to listen.  He is waiting for our prayers and he wants to be in a relationship with us.  He is on our side.  Those who are evil the face is against them and will wipe them out. 

            In verses 17-18 he moves to how we, the righteous, should act.  We need to cry out to God!  We need to share our needs and struggles with him.  God will deliver us from all our troubles if we come before him in humility.  The Lord is close to those who are brokenhearted.  When we pray to God, we should be totally vulnerable with him.  He knows everything anyway!  Why do we hide our true feeling from him?  If we share with God what’s going on, he will lift us up.

Live it: 

            How is your prayer life?  Is it something you do just before meals and maybe in the mornings?  It’s easy to get into routines and for passion to fade away.  We must remember that God hears everything we say to him.  We have to enter into his presence with confidence that he is going to respond to our prayers.  We must be willing to bare our souls and know that God is going to comfort us.  God will not reject us.  He will pour out his mercy and grace. 

            What do you need to share with the Lord today?  Is there are struggle or temptation you need to let him take control of?  Or are you in the middle of a rough season and you need him to give you the strength to get through it?  No matter what the situation God will hear your prayers.  Thank God for hearing them and trust that he is going to move in your life.


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Pastor’s Corner