Tag Archives: Jews

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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Guest Speaker LuAnne Baker – The Story of Esther in Dramatic Narrative

Today’s guest speaker for August 30, 2015 was LuAnne Baker.

LuAnne performed a dramatization of the Book of Esther as told by one of her maidservants.

LuAnne is the Western Pennsylvania District Director for the Alliance Women Ministries of the Christian & Missionary Alliance.

LuAnne Baker

LuAnne Baker

Audio for today’s message is available on our Audio tab or select this link.

 


Stephen: A Servant of God

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Who was Stephen? First, he was just a man. He was a man who loved the Lord and, in the same way as David, he was a man after God’s own heart.

A servant really is doing the highest calling for God. A servant remains in the trenches each day and stays in the battle. The servants of God are the ones who are advancing the kingdom of God.

Stephen loved the Lord and serves Him faithfully. Faithfulness is the asset of a believer, and God is looking for people with this asset. Faithfulness is not just to your beliefs; instead, it is about faithfulness to Jesus Christ Himself.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

Are you confident in the God that you believe in?

Revelation 14:13

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

 

Are you confident that your work and your deeds will honor God and continue on even after you leave here?

Ephesians 5:16-18

16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit.

 

God will be glorified in the midst of your difficulty. It is up to you to see the big picture as you seek God’s will in your life.

Hebrews 6:10-12

10 For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them. 11 Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, 12 so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.

 

God wants you to remain faithful to the work and stay with it. Getting older is no excuse to not remaining faithful to Jesus Christ.

A quick look at Stephen (book of Acts):

  1. He was not an apostle. He had no other title except “servant”.
  2. He was one of the seven to work with the distribution of food (Acts 6:5).
  3. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
  4. He was faithful.
  5. He was full of God’s grace (favor) and power.
  6. He performed great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

Stephen understood that he was a witness for Jesus Christ. He learned the five books of Moses (he knew the Word of God), and he learned to trust his faith and the Person of the Holy Spirit (he trusted the Teacher).

Stephen’s opposition: Synagogue of Freemen (Acts 6:9)

  1. Jews of Cyrene – North African Jewish colony who followed their own laws and teachings. Simon, the person who carried the cross for Jesus, was from Cyrene (Matthew 27:32).
  2. Jews from Alexandria – Greek city by the Mediterranean Sea. It was second to Rome in wealth and second to Athens in science and literature. It had the greatest library of ancient times. The Septuagint was translated there in 285 B.C.
  3. Cilicia – Southeast Asia Minor. Jews who remained after the Babylonian captivity. This may be Paul’s birthplace.
  4. Asia: Seleucus, a Macedonia general, encouraged the Jews to settle in the towns of Asia by giving them freedom within the cities and the same social status as the Macedonians and Greeks.

These were all outsiders that had a different viewpoint. They argued with Stephen.

Acts 6:9

Then some from what is called the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and disputed with Stephen.

 

Even with this, they could not stand up against his wisdom. Stephen spoke by the Spirit.

Acts 6:10

But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.

 

Mark 13:11

So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

 

The opposition, as a result, fabricated a lie against Stephen stating that he was blaspheming against Moses. They brought him before the Sanhedrin, which was a large group of Sadducees, who only hold to the five books of Moses.

Stephen reveals his own knowledge of the five books of the law of Moses (Acts 7:2-50).

Acts 7:51-60

51 “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. 53 You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.”

54 When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 56 “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

57 Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. 58 They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.

 

Stephen was courageous and was led by the Spirit (Acts 7:51).

The opposition was furious. They covered their ears (Acts 7:54-57). They yelled at the top of their voices.

God was at work with Stephen in the midst of trouble. Stephen was now looking not at the crowd but at Jesus Christ–He was his focus (Acts 7:55).

Stephen prayed. He had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ (Acts 7:59).

Stephen knew he would be killed. He prayed to the Lord to not hold this against them (Acts 7:60).

God is looking at your heart for Him. You can say that you are following God and yet your heart can be thousands of miles away from Him. When a person witnesses about Christ, a person who rejects the message is not rejecting the witness–the person is rejecting Christ Himself.

Stephen ministered to his audience through the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes faith to carry out what the Holy Spirit is declaring to you. His courage came through his relationship with Jesus Christ.