Manna for Today

 

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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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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Pastor’s Corner