Tag Archives: anticipation

Praying with Anticipation (No. 12 of the Series “Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?”)

Today’s message summary of December 17, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Luke 2:1-40

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Dont be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Lets go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesusthe name given by the angel before he was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israels consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lords Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposedand a sword will pierce your own soulthat the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and Gods grace was on him.

Caesar Augustus’ decree made note of the number of people he could render with taxes, but little did he know was acting within God’s control and predestination of the coming of Jesus Christ and His birth in Bethlehem.  Caesar was the head of the Roman Empire, but God was the head of Caesar.

Each one of us is a part of God’s divine plan to live according to His purpose.

Note also the significance of the lineage of David and the prophetic message of Micah:

Micah 5:2-5

Bethlehem Ephrathah,

you are small among the clans of Judah;

one will come from you

to be ruler over Israel for me.

His origin is from antiquity,

from ancient times.

Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time

when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of the rulers brothers will return

to the people of Israel.

He will stand and shepherd them

in the strength of the Lord,

in the majestic name of the Lord his God.

They will live securely,

for then his greatness will extend

to the ends of the earth.

He will be their peace.

When Assyria invades our land,

when it marches against our fortresses,

we will raise against it seven shepherds,

even eight leaders of men.

 

The Anticipation of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:1-7)

Mary was chosen by God to bear and be the mother of the Son of God.  We know that her life changed drastically.  She was hidden for much of her pregnancy and spent much of her time with Elizabeth (she avoided public view to prevent ridicule), and Joseph was going to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-23).

We understand that Mary was blessed because of who she gave birth to.

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, recognized this truth as well, and told her:

Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah  where she entered Zechariahs house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Marys greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!

Joseph honored God’s request to not divorce Mary, and was told to get up and flee Herod’s effort to destroy the first born children.

Matthew 2:13-15

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herods death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.

The world was now beholding the presence of their Savior–the Lord of all creation:

Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Did Mary understand the magnitude and significance of who her child was?

 

The Anticipation of the Shepherds and Angels (Luke 2:8-21)

Look upon these verses and ask yourself this question:  Why did God grant the shepherds the privilege of hearing the message of Christ’s birth?

The shepherds were likely looked down upon by members of society, and because they could not keep up with all of the matters of purification as proclaimed by the Pharisees.  God directly chose the shepherds because He wanted to show that He Himself would be the Shepherd for all of the people.

Ezekiel 34:15-16

I will tend my flock and let them lie down. This is the declaration of the Lord God. I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.

This is exactly what Jesus said of Himself:

John 10:7-10

Jesus said again, Truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didnt listen to them. I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

He proclaimed the good news of salvation and eternal life.

When you look at Jesus Christ’s birth, it was His presence that gives each one of us life.  It is a wonderful assurance of His birth taken in the human form of a servant and humbled Himself through His life to the cross.

Don’t gloss over this moment during this holiday season and recognize that the greatest gift is that from Jesus Christ and eternal life through salvation.

The shepherds received the information from the angels (the word “angel” means “messenger”), and glorified God for everything that they had seen after the angels told them what was happening.  They were able to share the message with others.

Angels played a major part of delivering the message of salvation to the people here.

Luke 2:11-14

Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

1 Peter 1:12

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.  These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Angels desire to look into these things.

The angels are waiting in anticipation of God’s promise of the completion of His plan and how He will reconcile everything to Himself.

If we fail to praise God, the angels certainly will do it.  They are waiting with great anticipation as to how everything will come about.

 

The Anticipation of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-40)

Luke 2:25-35

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israels consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lords Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposedand a sword will pierce your own soulthat the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

 

Simeon prayed to the Lord that he would not see death until he saw the Savior, and God promised him that he would.  He knew when he was going to pass on, but it was clear that the Spirit was on him and was speaking to him about the Messiah. Simeon was anticipating the appearance of the Messiah and noted that He was not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.  He learned from this experience that God would bring all people to Himself.

Anna was faithful to God because of her dedication to worship and praise continually day and night.  When she came to the temple, she showed her appreciation over His presence and was anticipating His coming.

We anticipate Christ’s return and His declaration as Lord and Savior of our lives.

 

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The Ministry of Communication

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

My wife and I presently go twice a week to the place where she had to go through physical therapy after injuring her back last year.  Thankfully, she’s healed from the injury, and we go there to exercise and stay loose through what is termed a “wellness” program.  Along with both of us at these workout sessions using the treadmill, sit steppers, weight machine and stationary bike are other people presently in therapy from recent injuries.  The difference between wellness and physical therapy is that wellness means you work out on your own, while a certified instructor closely monitors those under physical therapy.

Physical therapy requires a close monitoring of the person who is in rehabilitation by the instructor.  There has to be a clear communication of what exercises need to be done in order for the injured person to heal as quickly as possible, and especially because there are a fixed number of weeks that the person can receive treatment under a doctor’s care.  The instructor must give instructions that are easy to follow and understand, and the patient also needs to be clear as to the limits of what they can do in their recovery.  Both persons need to communicate well with each other in order to ensure that the recovery is timely and effective.

When we look at this type of communication, we see that there are positive results when both persons are cooperating and responding to questions and comments.  This is the optimal level of communication that each one of us would like to have in our personal and work relationships.  With this in mind, we readily acknowledge that this is sometimes more of a goal than reality.  The art of communication is a skill that needs to be developed over time.  It requires not just the ability to speak clearly, but also the ability to listen to the other person or persons, interpret the comments, and make a response.

I mention all of this because we need to keep in mind that our best opportunities for relating the gospel of Jesus Christ to others is in how we develop our interpersonal relationships.  The development of these relationships starts with effective interpersonal communication.  As we are each called by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel, we will explore the science of interpersonal communication.  This review of the process will help promote consistency in the ongoing development of relationships, and will hopefully provide a spark for those of us who believe they aren’t the best at communication.  For those who make that statement, I must present you with the challenge that your perceived lack of skills in communication is no excuse for not going out and speaking the gospel at the appropriate time.  Remember, this is Jesus Christ’s command to each of His followers.

Matthew 28:18-20 (HCSB)

18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Here is Moses’ conversation with the Lord about going to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites.  Moses was not confident of his ability to speak at all.  Many of us may feel the same way, but God wants us to see where He works in your communication.

Exodus 4:10-15

10 But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant—because I am slow and hesitant in speech.”

11 Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”

13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and He said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you. 15 You will speak with him and tell him what to say. I will help both you and him to speak and will teach you both what to do.

With this information, we can’t use our lack of ability in speech as an excuse, and let’s not exclude those persons who are young believers.  With the proper focus on God in the process, young believers can proclaim the gospel just as well as seasoned believers, and to some younger demographics, perhaps even better.

Your effective ministry, in general, requires preparation and the repetition of good habits to show yourself to be a qualified servant of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 4:11-16

11Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Whether young or old, a believer will grow in his or her ability to minister to others with practical experience and consistency.  This review will look at five different areas that will promote effective interpersonal communication of the gospel to others.  The first area starts with something very important in the model of effective communication…your approach, which is reinforced by your attitude.

1.  Attitude

Your attitude each day is your daily perspective on the importance of the day.  Your attitude impacts your outlook on life, and it certainly has a profound effect on your ministry of communication.  Do you wake up each morning ready to take on the day with a fervor, or do you approach the day with dread and trepidation?  Let’s not gloss over your approach when you wake up each day…this is important.  Your day should start with a “thank you” with the understanding that God gives us each day that we wake up.  To be thankful has everything to do with your perspective about life itself.  Everything that you do each day, including your communication with others in a work or non-work environment, centers on your attitude.  Having a great outlook promotes a healthy interaction with others, while a negative outlook tends to keep you from interacting with others, if not outright repelling others away from you.  The only ministry that can take place here is a negative testimony about believers.

Your attitude is on display each day.  You don’t need to be perfect (that’s unrealistic).  You need to be a human being, but also be different in how people see your smile often, and your positive perspective even more often.

Ephesians 6:6-8

6 Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. 7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.

Selfish attitudes and behaviors are commonplace today.  While others are out for themselves, to be selfless and concerned for others is refreshing and seldom seen.  You can draw others near to you when you show yourself to be selfless and caring for others.

Philippians 2:4-6

4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

6 who, existing in the form of God,

did not consider equality with God

as something to be used for His own advantage.

Your attitude each day is just the beginning of your ministry of communication.  Your next area for consideration requires a measure of focus on others:

2.  Attentiveness

Believers who are in service for Jesus are participants in the ministry of reaching people just like themselves.  While no one is created alike, the people that we encounter each day have similar hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, tragedies and triumphs.  It is the things that we have in common that help us to be able to reach others for Jesus Christ.  When people see your genuineness and your ability to relate to who they are, where they’ve come from, and where they want to go, you have immediate credibility where you can share the gospel message at the appropriate time…but let’s also consider some important parts of communication that require attention.

Your interpersonal interaction.  Your credibility in communication begins with your body, your posture and your method of addressing the other person with the appropriate tone.  For example, if you are turned away from a person when he or she approaches you, do you take the time to turn and face the person, or only make a partial turn?  Is your posture erect or are you slouching?  Are you speaking in soft and reassuring tones, or do you come across as if you are being bothered with the interruption?  Consider how you would feel if you received this type of negative feedback when you approach someone.  It is also important to note that many people are often hesitant to approach others with personal questions or issues because of the perception that those questions are an imposition on the other person.  A response of poor body language or a discouraging tone reinforces that same conclusion and will likely discourage any other opportunities for discussion.  Your body language and conversation should always be inviting to the other person–no matter how busy you may be.  It is very, very seldom that a person who approaches you will be completely sensitive to your sense of timing, but keep in mind that your ministry for Jesus Christ is not about your timing.  It’s about His timing.

Your eye contact.  This one is huge, everyone.  Have you ever spoken to someone who cannot look you in the eye?  The person is looking somewhere on your person other than into your eyes.  Somewhere on your forehead?  Your shoulder?  Your chin?  How did you respond?  Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact in communication.  Eye contact in communication reinforces your words with confidence in what you are saying.  A lack of eye contact, no matter how sincere the words are, tends to diminish their impact.  To be fair, successful eye contact is only making glances into another person’s eyes and holding it in place for a few seconds.  It is not about staring the other person to a point of creepiness.  If you believe you struggle with eye contact, you should consider practicing reading an article from a newspaper or a magazine to yourself in the mirror, and take your eyes off the material long enough to look into the mirror at yourself.  This will help you to do a couple of things—practice your focus on the person you are speaking to, and also develop good habits of making eye contact that will build your communication credibility.

Proverbs 4:25-26

25 Let your eyes look forward;

fix your gaze straight ahead.

26 Carefully consider the path for your feet,

and all your ways will be established.

3.  Allowing the Spirit to Speak Through You

This is not as obvious or as practical as it seems to be.  Many people may get the first two areas correct but fail to impart the wisdom or information that God would have the person provide because of one thing getting in the way, and that’s pride.  Before you get all puffed up about someone coming to you for advise or for being that go-to person, remember who put you in that position to reach others.

Galatians 5:16

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be a helper for each of us to reach people.  We reach others through the power and wonder of the Spirit who enables us to speak His words.  He does His best work through us when we get out of His way.  If we allow Him to work through us, we receive the additional benefit from His instruction and guidance in how we conduct ourselves each day.

John 14:25-26

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

4.  Anticipate the Possibilities

To anticipate is to be prepared for the eventualities of a situation or circumstance and being prepared to take action when the time is right.  The application in your ministry of communication is to be ready for anything.  The first question that you may ask is “How can you be ready for anything?”  The smart-aleck answer is, “You can’t really be ready for anything.”  What you can do in anticipating the possibilities is to lay the groundwork for friendship first.  Your ministry of communication includes a considerable amount of discussion about those things that show you to be a genuine person, and it’s not exclusively discussions about faith or church; in fact, it’s about everything else.  Your anticipation is in the development of your relationship and ongoing prayer to God in allowing the Spirit to work as you learn more about the person you are interacting with.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Your ongoing prayers will give you the ability to see God working in the situation, and to be able to anticipate every question and comment that will lead you to our final point…

5.  Act in God’s Timing

There will be opportunities to speak the gospel message to others, but you need to be prepared for them and be ready to act according to the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Even with your anticipation of the possibility of such a conversation, it can still occur very quickly when you may not expect it to.  If you are in prayer continually and earnestly seeking God’s help in this area, He will always provide it and never let you down.  When God selects the time, He will give you the words to say that will lead a person to make a decision for Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:13

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

A quick recap of your ministry of communication reveals five components that help one to fulfill their abilities as a believer in Jesus Christ:

1. Attitude

2. Attentiveness

3. Allowing the Spirit

4. Anticipate the Possibilities

5. Action in God’s Timing

You don’t need to be the best communicator for Jesus…you just need to be your best to allow the Holy Spirit to use you in your new and ongoing relationships.  Your ministry of communication is rooted in your kindness, thoughtfulness and a humble heart for others.  Pray about how God will use you this week in your role of carrying out His Great Commission.

Matthew 9:35-38

35 Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


Sunday School Today: Luke 10:17-20

In continuing this quarter’s study of the comparative gospels of the life of Jesus Christ, we covered the verses in Luke 10:17-20. When Jesus heard back from the seventy followers that He had sent to the various towns throughout the lands, they rejoiced at how “even the demons submit to us in Your name” (v. 17). There is an expectation that we may have when we go out into the world serving our Lord, but we really have no idea how fruitful and satisfying the work can be. Sure, the work may be very difficult and may take a good amount of tie, but thankfully we sometimes are blessed to see the fruits of our labor. Hopefully, this gives those of us with finite minds and ways of thinking that our ministry truly does have an eternal value. Jesus reminded the seventy of this very fact. It is not so much that we can overcome anything that Satan throws at us as long as we are working and proclaiming victory in Jesus, but even more importantly that God has a reward for those that dedicate their lives to Christ and to unabashedly serve Him. Jesus said that we are to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (v. 20).