Manna for Today

 

Hope is Born

Obedience and Worship (Luke 2:16-20)

Hope is Born

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  (Luke 2:16-20)

Learn it:

            The shepherds obediently take off to find the baby in a manger.  When they get there it is just as the angel had told them.  After they see him, it seems they are overwhelmed with excitement and start telling other people what they have found.  What’s interesting is that then those people were amazed at what the shepherds had told them.  Remember, shepherds were not respected people, so it shows God’s mercy and grace that he would choose them to spread the news of his birth.

            Once the shepherds told others about the birth they then go back to their flocks filled with this joy and begin to praise God for what he has already done!  What a beautiful picture we see of the shepherds telling people the good news and then worshipping God.  Luke also throws into the middle of this passage a sentence about what Mary is thinking.  She is pondering everything that is happening.  It has not fully sunk in what has just happened.  Her friend Elizabeth had a baby that is going to be a prophet.  Then she has given birth to a baby, that was conceived of by the Holy Spirit, who is going to be the Savior of the world!  Yeah, that is going to take some time to really understand! 

Live it:

            I see two important things that we can take away from this passage.  We see how the shepherds react to the news of the birth of Jesus.  They first go to see if it’s true.  After they have confirmed its authenticity they go and tell other people.  We all go through seasons where we are passionate about our faith and how the gospel has changed our lives.  We need to remember that joy and want to tell other people about Jesus. 

            The second thing we take away is how Mary and the shepherds worship God.  We need to be in awe of his plan of redemption.  How he came to save us from our sin and give us eternal life with him.  That he chose us!  Do you understand how merciful and gracious God is?  We are imperfect, sinful, wicked people.  Yet God, came to earth as a baby, suffered, died on a cross, and gave us his Holy Spirit to dwell in us.  He is so worthy of our praise and affection.  Mary and the shepherds did not know the details of God’s plan for them.  They just knew of the hope that was about to come.  How much more should we be praising God because we know what he did?


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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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Pastor’s Corner