To Being Alive! To Be Able to Live! To be Living Into His Truth! “I Will Look Up to You, Immanuel, I Will Lift Up My Soul.” Psalm 25:1-15

Psalm 25:1-15Amplified Bible

Prayer for Protection, Guidance and Pardon.

A Psalm of David.

25 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

O my God, in You I [have unwavering] trust [and I rely on You with steadfast confidence],
Do not let me be ashamed or my hope in You be disappointed;
Do not let my enemies triumph over me.

Indeed, none of those who [expectantly] wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who turn away from what is right and deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed (humiliated, embarrassed).

Let me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.

Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You [and only You] I wait [expectantly] all the day long.

Remember, O Lord, Your [tender] compassion and Your loving kindnesses,
For they have been from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulness
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my wickedness and my guilt, for they are great.

Who is the man who fears the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worships Him with submissive wonder]?
He will teach him [through His word] in the way he should choose.
His soul will dwell in prosperity and goodness,
And his descendants will inherit the land.
The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
And He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning.
My eyes are continually toward the Lord,
For He will bring my feet out of the net.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

To lift up our eyes upon Jesus ….

To look full in His wonderful face ….

To Let the things of this earth grow strangely dim ….

In the light of His Glory and Grace ….

Not in the darkness of my fears ….

Where the things of this earth grow not so strangely magnified ….

Where the things of this world go and grow not so strangely out of control ….

Psalm 25:1English Standard Version

Teach Me Your Paths

[a] Of David.

25 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

To lift up our souls to God is to confess:

On you, O Lord, we depend; in you we trust, on you we wait and in you we take refuge. O Lord, unless you bless us, we perish.

To lift up our souls to God sets us apart from all who lift up their souls to fear, who look for happiness and refuge not from God, His Son Jesus and Holy Spirit, but, happiness from within dread in their own wisdom or strength or riches.

We lift up our souls unto and into the light of the God of our salvation, not to the dark of these vanities, but to you, O Lord, because you are the center of life.

To you, Immanuel, God with us, God within us, I Lift up my soul ….

You are the great King over all; You are the creator of all things.

This very cosmos that can so astonish us is the robe of glory with which you have clothed yourself.

You are good and very great.

We lift up our souls to you.

Psalm 25:1-2English Standard Version

Teach Me Your Paths

[a] Of David.

25 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.

From this foundational stance spring two requests.

The first is that we not be put to shame.

We ask that God not abandon us, leave us disgraced, lost, but that instead he prize us and remain always committed to our future for the sake of his name.

Our second request is that we be shown the Lord’s ways.

We plead not only for mercy but for power and wisdom to live holy lives.

If the first request asks God to stay with us and be committed to our future, the second request asks that we stay with God and remain committed to his future.

Psalm 25:1-3English Standard Version

Teach Me Your Paths

[a] Of David.

25 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
    they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Can you and I recall a time when a stranger approached us out of the blue and asked what you and I believe about Savior Jesus Christ and the Christian faith?

I easily imagine that you and I have had very few, if any, experiences like that.

I can easily imagine that you and I have a lingering fear about this encounter.

To our shame we have this fear – a shame we may not know the Lord, may not be living the life which the Lord, our Savior calls us to live – “to be His Light.”

“To be His Salt and His Light unto the Gentiles… draw them closer to Immanuel.

Immanuel, God who came to Live with Us ….

Immanuel, God who came to Live within Us ….

Immanuel, God who came to Connect with us ….

Immanuel, God who came to Converse with us ….

Immanuel, God who came to share, shout, one or two Hallelujah’s with us.

Immanuel, God who came to dispel the myth that darkness always wins over.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

His word shall not fail you he promised
Believe him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Psalm 25:5-10Amplified Bible

Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You [and only You] I wait [expectantly] all the day long.

Remember, O Lord, Your [tender] compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.

All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulness
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

To Live, Be Alive and Be Living the Truth

The ever living and always active Word of God calls Christians be alive in God, to live with God, to live in such a way that the truth of Christ is evident in our lives.

The power of our ever alive, living God’s abundant life through the Gospel is displayed, magnified, in the life of a believer by the transformation it brings.

One of the most common metaphors for truth in the Scripture is ‘light.’

In John 8, verse 12 Jesus says:

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus says that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness.

His truth will illuminate their path.

The apostle John writes in 1 John 1:5-7,

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

What do these ancient passages seek to teach us in these contemporary times?

They tell us God still matters, Immanuel still matters, Holy Spirit still matters!

They tell us we still matter just as much as God, Immanuel, Holy Spirit matters!

It means to be a Christian is to live a life that accords with the truth of God.

Jesus says that whoever follows Him, those are the ones who will have light.

John says the ones who walk in the darkness are not truly born again, no matter what they might say or believe about the nature of their relationship with God.

What this means is that if someone walks in the darkness (i.e. not according to God’s truth), they are not fully following Jesus, because if they were following Jesus fully and completely they would have the light, because Jesus is the light.

The good news is that Christians have truth to live by.

John 14:1-3Amplified Bible

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

14 “Do not let your heart be troubled (be afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.

As you and I follow Jesus, as you and I grow in your relationship with Him, you and I will learn truth, you will live truth, and little by little, or lot by lot, we will be living by the truth and your life, my life too will be completely transformed. 

It is a glorious thing to live the truth, to walk in the light of God’s Word, to learn practical biblical principles of everyday life, and to grow in your love for God.

I have discovered that it’s a rather curious thing: that many people fear coming unto Christ because they think or believe that they will have to make all kinds of radical changes in their life; they will have to utterly obey this rule or that rule.

Maybe because of this Christmas season we now find ourselves in this position.

Perhaps, blessedly, new worshippers, worshippers who were never introduced to Immanuel, curious neighbors, worshippers who left the church because of some disagreement or because life’s overwhelming circumstances, come in.

The truth is that yes, when you and I turn away from our sin, you and I will have to definitely give up some “many treasure things,” but it is also true when we live the truth of God’s word, and turn away from those things which anger God, He changes our desires so that we’ll desire Him more than we do those things.

That’s because when we are living the full truth, we are living life the way that God always meant for it to be lived, the way which God created life to be lived.

1 Peter 3:8-15Amplified Bible

Finally, all of you be like-minded [united in spirit], sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted [courteous and compassionate toward each other as members of one household], and humble in spirit; and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection]. 10 For,

“The one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not],
Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit).
“He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right.
He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].
“For the eyes of the Lord are [looking favorably] upon the righteous (the upright),
And His ears are attentive to their prayer (eager to answer),
But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil.”

13 Now who is there to hurt you if you become enthusiastic for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness [though it is not certain that you will], you are still blessed [happy, to be admired and favored by God]. Do not be afraid of their intimidating threats, nor be troubled or disturbed [by their opposition]. 15 But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.

We ought to be prepared for such encounters, to be sure; the apostle Peter tells us to be always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).

But opportunities to explain what we believe most often result not from these random encounters with strangers but from the way we live day in and day out before those who know us well.

How we live and what we believe ought to reflect our attachment to Christ.

This is one reason why Peter says Christians are “a people for [God’s] own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

Our Koinonia, our intimate connection to Jesus as those who are in Him and belong to Him and Live for Him is comprehensive.

That means we are not at liberty to believe whatever we want; we are not free to form our own views of marriage, of sexuality, of finance, or of anything else.

Our view is now to reflect that of our Messiah and Teacher, Jesus.

But He is not content with His disciples simply knowing the truth.

They also need to be living the truth:

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17)

Believing must lead to doing. We are not free to behave in any way we like either, then. Our conduct is to reflect that of our sacrificial Savior, Jesus.

Many contemporary religions and secular creeds require nothing of your lifestyle; they leave you free to live as you please.

In fact, many make their guiding principle: you do what seems right to you.

But the call to Christian discipleship is utterly different, for at its heart it is a call to follow a King who is not you.

Psalm 25:10-15Amplified Bible

All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulness
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my wickedness and my guilt, for they are great.

Who is the man who fears the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worships Him with submissive wonder]?
He will teach him [through His word] in the way he should choose.
His soul will dwell in prosperity and goodness,
And his descendants will inherit the land.
The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
And He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning.
My eyes are continually toward the Lord,
For He will bring my feet out of the net.

God has strewn our path with hopeful, hope-filled, faithful, faith-filled and joyful and joy-filled, encouraging promises, scattered throughout His Word.

He has pledged to lead us in the paths of righteousness and make the way we take straight and secure.

But can we trust His promises?

Can we be certain that His Word is true?

Can we be certain that His Word is faithful?

Can we be certain that His Word is Grace filled?

Indeed we can and this truth is expressed in many of the early psalms of David.

Often in the Book of Psalms, we see David lifting up his heart to the Lord in prayer and praise and calling out to Him for guidance and pardon.

His prayers often contain a request for God’s help in the face of his enemies, which demonstrates a quiet and expectant confidence which declares that God is trustworthy, God is graceful, faithful to His Word and will not let him down.

The promises of God are founded on nothing less than the perfection of God’s holy nature.

They are rooted in the eternal faithfulness of His everlasting Word, and His Word is securely anchored on the rock of our salvation which is Jesus…

Whose name is ‘Faithful and True’ – “for Faithful is He who hath promised, Who also will do it.”

It was David who knew this to be true in his own life, and we find him reflecting on the wonder of the Lord as he prayerfully considers the goodness of God and His faithfulness in meeting sinners and teaching them the way of truth.

“All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth,” he writes,

“His ways lead to gracious love, and He shows His fidelity towards those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.”

The faithfulness, joyfulness, peacefulness, mercy, goodness, and grace of God, are no less true today than during that time when David discovered the Lord was his Shepherd, Who yet gently leads him beside the still waters, faithfully guides him into the way of peace, guards him in the valley of the shadow, and still he prepares a plentiful table of good things in the midst of all his enemies.

Only as we remain in Christ, rest in His love, walk in the path He has planned for us, we will discover all His paths are strewn with joy, goodness and grace.

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Immanuel, God within us, is working in our lives with an eternal perspective, and it is only as we walk in harmony with the Lord, remain in accordance with His revealed plans and purposes that we will remain in harmony with His truth.

The way we travel may not be the path of our choosing, we expected to trudge.

The path we take will be covered with difficulties and dangers… but His truth is sufficient, His faithfulness is sufficient for every eventuality we may encounter.

He is the ONLY One who knows exactly, exactingly, the best way for each of us to take for He is the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE and we need to trust Him to lead us aright, even when the route is overshadowed by dark and thunderous clouds. 

As we trust His Word, carry out His will, abide in Him, and He is us, we will bear the fruit of patience and hone our faith in Him.

His Way, Truth, Life will lead us deeper into fellowship with Himself, enable us to mature in the faith, grow in grace, and gain a deeper knowledge of the holy… for He desires us to enjoy a satisfying and unbroken communion with Himself.

The Lord knows that only as we Koinonia, commune with Him and obey His new commandment to, “love as I have loved,” will He be able to fully, joyfully faithfully pour His streams of living water through us, equip us to be channels of peace, comfort and refreshment to all those with whom we come in contact.

The call to the Christian life is not merely to believe the gospel but to “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

We all fall short.

Do you have someone helping you, and whom you can help, in identifying areas of behavior which are not yet worthy of the gospel?

Lock arms with a brother or sister in Christ, shine the light of God’s Word on one another, and seek to bring the truth to life!

The church is God’s primary appointed means of reaching His world. You are part of that. But do not expect those around you to ask about the gospel—still less to repent and believe the gospel—if you are not living out that gospel:

You are writing a gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true,
Say! What is the gospel
According to you?


In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Immanuel, as we now look back on an old year, anticipate a new one, may we look to you at all times to uphold us and make us strong, that we not go down to defeat.

Lead me, Immanuel, in the path of Your choosing. Lead me I pray, along a level path, for Your name’s sake… for Your grace, peace and faithfulness are without measure. Thank You, ABBA Father, that You are a wise, and truthful and faithful God and the One who leads and guides, and You are the One Who corrects and trains, so shepherd Your Children along the path of Your choosing. I trust You to lead us along the path of grace, truth, and righteousness all the days of my life. This I ask in Jesus’ name!

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Christmas According to Immanuel: Grace and Truth Incarnate Has Come Near to Us, Come to Fully Live With Us, and to Fully Live Within Us. John 1:14-18

John 1:14-18 The Message

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

16-18 We all live off his generous abundance,
    gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
    and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
    all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
    not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
    who exists at the very heart of the Father,
    has made him plain as day.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

The apostle John was one who saw the glory of the Word made flesh.

John was one who physically and spiritually gazed on Him in wonder and praised and worshipped at the true feet of Jesus Christ, his Lord and his God.

John lived with Him, walked with Him, talked with Him, and touched Him.

John, a simple fisherman, spent over three years of his life with Jesus, listening intently to His gracious words, astonished by His amazing truth, watching Him attentively as He fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures, and beholding His glory, the indescribable glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Yes, John, a hard working, skilled and simple fisherman, could proclaim with authority: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” (John 1:1)

John, the fisherman, with both eyes, his heart and his soul saw His glory, the glory as of the eternal God shining in the very face of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The sum total of the eternal, omnipotent, infinite glory of God was reflected in Jesus Christ.

The combined attributes of the living God were reflected in the human person of the only begotten of the Father, the God-Man, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Over, and over again, John and the other disciples gazed on the perfection of the sinless Son of Man, and the glory which was seen in Him was a reflection of the exact image of the glory of God, the Father, both full of grace and full of truth.

The eternal Son of God in the person of the sinless Son of Man was full of God’s grace and goodness, which alone qualified Him to become our One, only perfect Savior and sacrifice for sin.

The Incarnate Word of God, made in the likeness of human flesh, was also full of truth which alone qualifies Him to be the One and the Only perfect source of God’s completed revelation.

Revelation (truth) from God, our Father in heaven, came through the eternal Son of God Who became the perfect Son of Man:

Hebrews 1:1-4Amplified Bible

God’s Final Word in His Son

1 God, having spoken to the fathers long ago in [the voices and writings of] the prophets in many separate revelations [each of which set forth a portion of the truth], and in many ways, has in these last days spoken [with finality] to us in [the person of One who is by His character and nature] His Son [namely Jesus], whom He appointed heir and lawful owner of all things, through whom also He created the universe [that is, the universe as a space-time-matter continuum]. The Son is the radiance and only expression of the glory of [our awesome] God [reflecting God’s [a]Shekinah glory, the Light-being, the brilliant light of the divine], and the exact representation and perfect imprint of His [Father’s] essence, and upholding and maintaining and propelling all things [the entire physical and spiritual universe] by His powerful word [carrying the universe along to its predetermined goal]. When He [Himself and no other] had [by offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for sin] accomplished purification from sins and established our freedom from guilt, He sat down [revealing His completed work] at the right hand of the Majesty on high [revealing His Divine authority], having become as much superior to angels, since He has inherited a more excellent and  glorious  [b] name than they [that is, Son—the name above all names].

Salvation (grace) came through the only begotten Son of the Father, the unique God-Man, Christ Jesus the righteous: “For by grace are You saved, through faith in HIM and not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

God was not content just to proclaim his message — his Word — to us!

Jehovah God, Creator God, Pre-Existing God, was not satisfied that only prophets could reveal his coming message — his Living Word — unto us!

God wasn’t willing that his message, his Word, be confined to a book.

No, God’s ultimate message, his Word, is Jesus. God’s message, God’s Word, is Jesus coming in human flesh to live as one of us to reveal God to us.

This incarnation made grace and truth and abundant life accessible, touchable, palpable, and available and very much physically visible unto our human eyes.

Yet, even in an all too confining and limited human skin and burdened with human mortality, God’s glory, God’s grace, God’s truth, could not be hidden.

In all of God’s Neighborhoods ….

In all of those ancient Neighborhoods and Communities ….


In all of our very own Neighborhoods and Communities …..


full and unfailing, undying love, full unyielding, maximum faithfulness” 

absolutely, completely, fully, utterly, ultimately, eternally revealed in Immanuel!

God came near.

God became touchable.

God became knowable.

God became visible to our naked eyes.

God became huggable.

God became palpable.

God became relatable.

God became conversational.

God became connectional.

God became genuine.

God became real and fully capable of being experienced.

Grace and Truth came near.

Grace and Truth became touchable.

Grace and Truth became knowable.

Grace and Truth became visible to our naked eyes.

Grace and Truth became huggable.

Grace and Truth became palpable.

Grace and Truth became relatable.

Grace and Truth became conversational.

Grace and Truth became connectional.

Grace and Truth became genuine.

Grace and Truth became real and fully capable of being experienced.

God’s trusted message of Grace and Truth became max real in Jesus, the Word!

John 1:14-18New King James Version

The Word Becomes Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me [a]is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”

16 [b]And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten [c]Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

This is a stunning, breathtaking declaration.

It first announces that a miraculous crossing of the great divide—between heaven and earth, between eternity and time, God and man—took place.

God’s Son came to earth to dwell among us.

As God had walked in the garden in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8), so God’s Son came in the wearying heat of human struggle to live with us.

What is it about God that He loves us so much?

What is it about God that He so strongly desires to live with us?

What is it about God that He so strongly desires to live within us?

What is it about God that He so strongly desires to be connected with us?

What is it about God that He so strongly desires to be relatable with us?

What is it about the availability of God’s Grace and Truth, we want to know why we are even aware of our own irresistible need to be asking God all of these questions?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Holy and loving God, my Abba Father, thank you for the Scriptures, the prophets, the scribes, and the scholars. Thank you most of all for Jesus, who came as your Word in human skin. Thank you for coming to my neighborhood and showing me how to live and how much you love me. As we journey through the Gospel of John, please make your presence and your will known to me as I get to know your Son better. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your only begotten Son into Your streets, Your neighborhoods and Your communities to become the unique ‘God-Man’ Who alone is full of grace and truth, Who alone was qualified, worthy to become our perfect, Kinsman-Redeemer, to die on the Cross as our heavenly substitute for sin. We gather to Exalt, Glorify and Magnify His holy name, Praise His holy name.

Adeste Fidelis, Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Immanuel, Our Christmas Hallelujah! Psalm 146, Isaiah 9:6-7, and etcetera

Psalm 146Amplified Bible

The Lord an Abundant Helper.

146 Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)
Praise the Lord, O my soul!

While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.

Do not trust in princes,
In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation (help).

When his spirit leaves him, he returns to the earth;
In that very day his thoughts and plans perish.

How blessed and graciously favored is he whose help is the God of Jacob (Israel),
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,

Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them,
Who keeps truth and is faithful forever,

Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets free the prisoners.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the [a]righteous [the upright in heart].

The Lord protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow;
But He makes crooked the way of the wicked.
The Lord shall reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

This beautiful Psalm is a song of praise that rejoices in the unalterable character and eternal beauty of the Lord.

It extols, it glorifies, it magnifies the greatness of His character, and it rejoices over the unalterable, unchangeable glories and indescribable majesty of our Creator God as, verse after verse, Psalmist reflects on the wonder of His name.

The author reminds us that the Lord is very great and highly to be praised.

The Lord our God is clothed with majesty and honour and brings justice to the oppressed. The Lord provides food for the hungry, sets the prisoners free, cares for His people, opens the eyes of the blind, lifts up those that are bowed down, and He is a righteous God Who loves the righteous, who loves justice and mercy.

The psalmist meditates on the greatness of his God and encourages us all to do the same.

He rejoices in the eternal faithfulness and gracious wisdom of the Lord and ponders over the majestic works of His hand.

The thoughts and the meditations of the Psalmist build into a crescendo of praise as he centers on the steadfastness of the Lord his God, Who is from everlasting to everlasting.

And finally he bursts forth from his joyful meditation on the insurmountable wonders of the Lord his God, by crying out.

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!”

The joy of the Psalmist is inescapably contagious, for when we spend our days reflecting on the eternal faithfulness of the Lord and turn our hearts, souls to meditate upon the beauties of His name, we will also rejoice in His wonderful works, His grace and mercy, His wisdom and might, His faithfulness and love.

As like the Psalmist we will blend the noisiness of our joyful, joy-filled voices with the heavenly choir that proclaims, “Holy, holy, holy.” Hallelujah! Amen.

Isaiah 9:6-7 Amplified Bible

For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

There shall be no end to the increase of His government and of peace,
[He shall rule] on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From that time forward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

Immanuel, God with us and within us!

Jesus – our Wonderful Counselor!

Immanuel, God with us and within us!

Jesus – our Mighty God!

Immanuel, God with us and within us!

Jesus – our Everlasting Father!

Immanuel, God with us and within us!

Jesus – our Prince of Peace!

Say it over and over and over again ….

Sing it over and over and over again ….

Shout it over and over and over again ….

All of heaven needs to be shaken …. needs to reverberate …. Hallelujah!

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, existed long before he was born on this earth. As God, He does not have a beginning; He IS the source of all things.

Before the world existed, he lived in eternal glory and had perfect communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

He was the Word that was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2).

He was coequal, coeternal, and consubstantial with God.

He was not created; He is one with the Creator. “Through him all things were made,” and nothing that was made was made without him (John 1:3).

The universe was in God’s mind before the foundations of the earth were laid.

The starry worlds were created by him.

He measured the waters of the seas in the hollow of his hand and weighed the dust and the sands, all the rocks and trees of the earth on his precision scale.

He called by name each and every one of the stars in the heavens, and none of them is lacking in splendor. He brought into existence the things that did not exist and created everything from nothing, for his glory and our enjoyment.

As our ultimate provider and protector, the Son born to us is called Everlasting Father; Wonderful Counselor; Prince of Peace! He loves us and came to save us!

Psalm 146:1-2Amplified Bible

The Lord an Abundant Helper.

146 Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)
Praise the Lord, O my soul!

While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 146 is a rousing song of praise that celebrates God’s faithfulness.

And today, as we say “Merry Christmas,” as we sing “Merry Christmas,” as we shout “Merry Christmas” back into the heavens we celebrate the birth of Savior Jesus, reminded within this psalm to praise the Lord, put our trust in him alone.

For the name of God and God alone alone is worthy to be exalted, deep into the deepest and furthest depths of the infinite expanse of all of the heavens above.

For God and God alone is worthy to be glorified and praised!

For God and God alone is worthy to be honored, magnified, worshiped!

For God and God alone “reigns forever . . . for all generations.”

“A Christmas Alleluia”

is a contemporary song by Chris Tomlin celebrating the day of Christ’s birth.

It recalls the scene and song of the angel hosts of heaven, singing,

“All glory to our God and King!”

And it calls us to sing “Alleluia,” which means “Praise the Lord!”

We give praise because “Christ, the Savior of the world . . . has come!”

We sing “Alleluia” because Christ’s is the highest name of all.

Joy to the World (Sir Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)

1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing.

2. Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy.

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love.

With joy and expectation, with highest anticipation, we are reminded in Psalm 146 that God is the Maker of all things and that “He remains faithful forever.”

With the coming of Immanuel, God fulfills his promises to send the Messiah, the Savior; to be forever with us and forever within – us he is faithful forever.

Immanuel – our Mighty Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace …

Jesus, Christ our King is born!

And because of his birth, life, death, and resurrection, He demonstrates his supremacy over all. He comes to uphold “the cause of the oppressed” and to give “food to the hungry.” He “sets the prisoners free . . . gives sight to the blind,” and “brings justice and mercy,” “lifts up those who are bowed down.”

And because Christ Jesus Lives,

And because Christ Jesus Reigns for­ever,

we sing “Alleluia” to our Eternal King; we “Praise the Lord all our life!”

we shout “Alleluia!” to our Eternal King; we “Praise the Lord all our life!”

we PRAY “Alleluia!” to our Eternal King; we “Praise the Lord all our life!”

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!”

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!

Mortals, join the mighty chorus
which the morning stars began;
love divine is reigning o’er us,
binding all within its span.
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music leads us sunward,
in the triumph song of life.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

“It is truly ALL Within all our Doing!” Zachariah’s Testimony of Faith. The Story Before the Story! Luke 1:5-17

Luke 1:5-17The Message

A Childless Couple Conceives

5-7 During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.

8-12 It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.

13-15 But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

15-17 “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Every story has a preface – it is what needs to be said before diving in.

It often sets the stage, the tone, for the masterpiece ready to unfold.

Sometimes it is direct author commentary, and many times it explains the story before the story –

as famed Radio Broadcaster, Commentator the late Paul Harvey might say;

“There Will Always be a Story before the Rest of the Story.”

Luke 1:1-4The Message

1-4 So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

Narrator Luke begins his Gospel, lays the foundation for why he is writing this letter to Theophilus, he shares with us an amazing moment in history.

So that we can know “beyond the shadow of doubt” the truth of the stories we have read, been told, our whole lives, the reliability of what we were all taught.

To that much desired end, Luke introduces us to a righteous priest named Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth. We are told that they are obedient to God’s law, and have grown old, past the years they could have had any children.

Zachariah, a priest in the line of Aaron, happens to be on his regular rotation duty at the temple in Jerusalem, and is “set apart” chosen as the priest to enter and burn incense before the Lord – this is his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This would be the one and only time Zechariah would enter the Holy Place.

What a responsibility and privilege! As he enters, he brings the incense, representing the prayers of God’s people, before the presence of the Lord.

Zechariah also brings his own prayer, the desires and longings of his heart.

This is incredibly refreshing to me.

When approaching the throne room of God, Zachariah is honest.

He quietly tells God what is really on his mind and in his heart.

Too often, when we are in church and given an opportunity to share a prayer request, we first default to sharing other people’s troubles and not our own.

We don’t come right out and shriek that we struggled with reading God’s Word this week, or that we messed it up as parents or as human beings that morning, or we desperately need God to show up in the midst of a shredded relationship.

Even in our own private time, when we are supposed to be communing with God alone, we first give a glossed over report so we can make things quick and easy.

Why is that?

Why are we afraid to spend the time to be real, to be broken and raw, why are we so timid about unleashing all of ourselves before the One God we know loves us?

It’s exhausting being “all clammed up, neat-and-tidy, its all okay” Christians.

In Luke’s Narrative, Zachariah is clammed up, he offers no prayers for himself.

Maybe Zechariah was tired, long the righteous man before God, but where were the expected “abundant rewards” and “heavens open floodgate of blessings?”

Zacharias had no children to pass his priestly knowledge and experience to.

There was no hope of any coming generations to further his family lineage.

He loved and served the Lord his God with everything he had for many years.

He loved his wife Elizabeth with the same fervor he loved and served His God.

In this hushed place where few people ever enter, Zechariah cannot help but share his burdens when he has been charged with interceding for his people.

God’s answer for Zachariah’s faith – breaks the 400-year silence of heaven.

Luke 1:13-17 The Message

13-15 But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

15-17 “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

A son…with the spirit and power, style and strength of faith of the great Elijah the Prophet….heralding….preparing the people for the coming of the Lord…

Emmanuel, God with us, God within us, the promised Messiah, is coming soon.

And, Zechariah’s son will lead the way, pointing the Jews back to their long-awaited Savior – softening the hearts of parents to children. kindling devout understanding among even the very hardest, harshest of scorners and skeptics.

God raised up Elijah during a dark time in Israel’s history, where their most evil king prevailed to lead the people’s hearts to betray the God who loved them.

God gave Elijah the gift of fervent, powerful, intercessory prayer (James 5:17-18)

Elijah obeyed God’s plan and stood up, alone, to face those idol-worshippers on Mount Carmel. He called down fire from heaven, and God demonstrated His great power, proving He was God, and the people turned back to their Sustainer.

However, Elijah was also threatened, became fervently scared and ran away to the very deepest wilderness, to the mountain of God, seeking direction, help.

God sent His ravens to feed Elijah when Elijah had 100% given up on himself.

God Himself miraculously answered, comforted him and gave him instructions.

All of this will come to life in new ways as Zachariah’s coming John “will turn many Israelites back to the Lord their God, back to a devout understanding!”

But long years of personal doubt, of severe questioning, of God, had dulled his faith, had made Zacharias cynical and critical of himself and critical of God.

He openly questioned the angels words of prophecy – threw them back into the angels face – probably with not so much as even a respectful glance upward.

The angel responded and disciplined Zachariah for his actions towards him.

Zechariah can’t speak when he leaves the temple because he doubted God’s word, he will not be able to say a word until he sees with his own eyes the birth of his son, until he hears the baby’s cry and holds his son in his own hands.

Now, he has a little more than nine-months to quietly meditate on the angel Gabriel’s words, to “to talk and to walk back” his own behaviors and actions.

The story before the story is about to collide with the One who wrote them all.

God caught Zechariah in the fulfillment of divine promises — fulfillment that occurred with the coming of the Messiah. God had chosen Zechariah, along with his wife Elizabeth, to play crucial roles in God’s great coming story of His grace.

Zechariah experienced the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a priest to burn incense [1] at the great Temple in Jerusalem.

While performing his duties, a heavenly messenger visited him and revealed that he and his aged and barren wife Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah would have a son and that son would bless many, would lead many to their Messiah.

Despite being well past the age to have children!

Zacharias had a significant story to tell that would reverberate over all history!

God was answering their prayer.

The messenger told Zechariah to name their son, John. He obeyed, and God used Zechariah’s “simple” testimony of faith, obedience to bless the world.

Zacharias gets only the briefest of mentions in the pages of holy scripture.

But, his story transcends the ignominy of that very briefest of mentions ….

His lonely, quiet and much reserved story now transcends generations ….

Adds enormously, magnificently to that “great cloud of witnesses” who have come before this generation, live now in this generation, born into future ones.

Zacharias’ story becomes a great lesson for anyone of our own faith journey’s.

As but the briefest of testimonies to turn our hearts back to God’s, provide for us that great Holy Spirit opportunity to gain more understanding of God’s plan.

In this Christmas season, indeed in all coming seasons, We have a story too!

A God favored, indescribably prized and abundantly valued story to tell to our family, friends, and co-workers, our neighbors in God’s own neighborhood,

God, our Father Matters!

Immanuel, God with us and Within us Matters!

God, the Holy Spirit, our Intercessor, Matters!

We have our Doubts and those Doubts Matter to God, our Father!

We have our faith, steadfast or wavering or absent, and that Faith matters!

We have our fellowship, Koinonia, with God, our Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

That fellowship, that connection, that Koinonia, absolutely matters to God!

Our faith or absence thereof in that Koinonia, absolutely matters to our God!

Become more humble and more devout in our praise, prayers, our worship, of the One who abundantly blessed, who’s coming again to take us unto Himself.

Become more aware of, to acknowledge, to recognize, to act upon the relevance and significance, the great privilege, and greater responsibility of our humble role as the Body of Christ, God’s accountable church ministering into the world.

Faith of our fathers, living still,
in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

2. Faith of our fathers, we will strive
to win all nations unto thee;
and through the truth that comes from God,
we all shall then be truly free.

3. Faith of our fathers, we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife;
and preach thee, too, as love knows how
by kindly words and virtuous life.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Psalm 113English Standard Version

Who Is like the Lord Our God?

113 Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
    praise the name of the Lord!

Blessed be the name of the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised!

The Lord is high above all nations,
    and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
    who is seated on high,

who looks far down
    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
    making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

Father, my Creator, Perfecter of Faith and faithfulness, please accept my meek efforts at learning and living obedience, including in the little, clear, and simple things, as an offering of my love to you. Grant me such grace as I can handle in the moments of my doubts and failures, to turn back to such testimonies as Zacharias’, to become more devout, more understanding. Take that and my obedience and bring glory to your name and a blessing to your people whether others know of my part in your plan or not. In Jesus’ name, to his glory, I offer you this humble prayer and my life. Adeste Fidelis! Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

What Is So Magnificent About Mary Walking 90 Miles to Visit Elizabeth? Luke 1:39-45

Luke 1:39-45Amplified Bible

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now at this time Mary arose and hurried to the hill country, to a city of Judah (Judea), 40 and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him. 42 And she exclaimed loudly, “Blessed [worthy to be praised] are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed [spiritually fortunate and favored by God] is she who believed and confidently trusted that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her [by the angel sent] from the Lord.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

One of the most touching moments in the Christmas narrative comes after Mary, miraculously pregnant with the baby Jesus, journeys to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, also miraculously pregnant with her and Zachariah’s son – John.

Together, the two blessed and highly favored women recognize this honor and in a miraculous moment for the ages, rejoice at the role they play in God’s plan.

The story is told in the Gospel of Luke, which contains the most descriptive information about the conception of Jesus and the impact of such a miracle.

As we read in the account, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).

Let’s ask ourselves -what is so magnificent of young Mary visiting Elizabeth? 

Not only does it teach us much about faith, and family, it also confirms God’s plan and shows us how we are to celebrate when we are in a similar situation.

What Has Happened Just Before Mary walks 90 miles to visit Zacharias and Elizabeth?

Before the visit, we are first told of the priest Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, who was “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6).

But Luke also tells us they were beyond their child rearing years, being childless and very old, which was both a disgrace and shame at that time in their culture.

However, one day, when Zacharias was serving God in the Temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and said Elizabeth would bear them a son, John (v. 13).

Moreover, the angel said John would be a prophet in the power of Elijah, who would “turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (v. 17).

Elizabeth was overjoyed at this honor and secluded herself for a time, praising the Lord for this miraculous pregnancy and God’s favor upon her (v. 25).

Then, when Elizabeth is six months pregnant, the angel Gabriel visits a virgin, Mary, in the town of Nazareth and informs her that she is favored by God and is to conceive and birth a child, Jesus, who will be called the Son of the Most High and will reign over her people forever (Luke 1:30-32).

The angel Gabriel further explains she will become pregnant because of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High, and the “holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (v. 35).

Gabriel also tells Mary, her cousin Elizabeth is also miraculously pregnant.

Incredibly, Mary readily accepts this important role, telling Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant …. May your word to me be fulfilled” (v. 38).

What Does the Bible Say about Mary walking 90 miles down a roadway to Visit Elizabeth?

Right after this, we are told by the Word of God that young Mary hurries to make a long 90-mile journey to visit Elizabeth — which at that time, without vehicles, would have likely taken her at least four to five days, possibly longer.

When Mary got there, she went into the house and greeted Elizabeth.

The Bible says that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, “the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).

Elizabeth then loudly exclaims that Mary and her unborn child are blessed and that Elizabeth is favored by the visit by “the mother of my Lord” (v. 43).

Elizabeth also joyfully tells Mary her unborn child leaped in her womb for joy.

Mary then bursts into a praise-filled song called The Magnificat, rejoices in God, acknowledges the grace she has received, declares God’s victory, and confirms for all of us this as part of God’s larger plan in the world (v. 46-55).

Question – Why Does Mary Visit Elizabeth?

We are not specifically told why she visits Elizabeth, but we can certainly imply she — having just been told by Gabriel, her cousin is also the blessed recipient of a miracle — wanted to be with someone else who could understand what she was going through, secondly, as family, wanted to be able to support Elizabeth.

Perhaps she also, filled with the Holy Spirit, was compelled to visit Elizabeth as a way of bringing her divine grace and confirmation of God’s work in them both.

Question – Why Is This Visit Magnificent?

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is magnificent for a number of reasons:

1. Mary, and the unborn Son of God, brought God’s grace and confirmation to both of them.

Young Mary’s courageous, unescorted, unaccompanied visit was not an easy trip but a huge undertaking involving much physical risk and lengthy travel.

But Mary knew it was necessary — and the grace and confirmation it brought caused the Holy Spirit to fill Elizabeth and made the child in her womb leap.

2. It shows Mary’s indomitable faith and certain trust in God’s protection.

We know from Mary’s words to the angel Gabriel that she believes him and accepts her role as mother to the Son of God.

But her actions — making the roughly 90-mile journey to visit Elizabeth — show her faith and willingness to trust in God, be obedient to God, as well.

It’s a reminder of what James says in James 2:17, that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by giving ourselves to God, trust obedience and action, is dead.”

3. From one Generation to countless Generations – It reveals Elizabeth’s faith.

The visit also majestically reveals Elizabeth’s proclamation of faith.

The Bible tells us Elizabeth was overjoyed when she became pregnant, but when her unborn child leaped, and she herself became filled with the Holy Spirit in the presence of Mary and her unborn Savior, she did not just “marvel at this.”

Rather, she magnificently, majestically exclaimed;

“in a loud voice” that both Mary and her baby were blessed and that Mary was carrying the Lord (vv. 42-43) – she spoke her faith aloud for anyone to hear.

4.  It provides an opportunity for celebration.

Not only were they filled with the Spirit, but both the women celebrated their joy together. Mary and Elizabeth both sang their songs of deepest praise which first and foremost glorified and praised God, confirmed God’s plan for them.

5. It is a magnificent example of the importance of Christian fellowship.

Neither woman was ever going to become familiar with the word “Christian,” a term that wasn’t even going to be created until several years after Jesus’ death.

But gathering together to celebrate and draw comfort in this miracle is exactly what we should do. God’s people are supposed to be in community with each other. Not only is it helpful, but it also enables the power of the Holy Spirit.

So much is possible when we claim our God-given gifts of the Holy Spirit and like Mary we risk everything to “walk miles and miles and miles and miles” to join with and support others who have different gifts to build up God’s people.

Too often we allow ourselves to fall into bickering, division, and self-righteous
rhetoric. And while it is important to address systems and principalities that do breed and foster and magnify injustice, it is equally important to build upon our strengths and create and support vital networks of God’s transformational love.

6. Some consider this to be Jesus’ first miracle.

Many consider Jesus’ action of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana to be his first miracle (John 2:1-11).

The Apostle John notes it was indeed “the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory” (John 2: verse 11).

However, I believe Jesus’ unborn presence caused Elizabeth to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then Elizabeth’s unborn child to leap with joy within her, which many may feel is a miracle in itself, or at least a divine act of major significance.

7. It was John the Baptist and Jesus’ first meeting.

We’re told Elizabeth’s unborn child is John the Baptist, who baptizes Jesus with water, plays an important, biblically significant role as the one who prepare the people for the coming of Messiah in accordance with the ancient prophecies .

But while as men, they reportedly don’t meet until the day Jesus asks John to baptize him (Luke 3:21-22), this moment, as unborn souls, through the work of the Holy Spirit is biblically their first meeting.

8. It shows a magnificent example of what we should do when faced with a calling or assignment from God.

In the course of our lives, God calls us to do things outside of our comfort zone, even at the risk of death, ministering into areas of cities and towns with known drug gangs, whether that is moving to a foreign land to become a missionary or taking a very unpopular stand for faith which results in imprisonment or worse.

Surely Mary could have been aghast at the perils of her new role — after all, being pregnant but unmarried might bring her disgrace or even cause her to be accused of and condemned for adultery, a high crime punishable by stoning.

But she willingly accepted her assignment and, even more, rejoiced at it. This is exactly what we should do when God asks us to do something to fulfill his plan.

Question – What Does This Mean?

The Bible tells us Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went home.

Later, Elizabeth did indeed give birth to John the Baptist, and Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah.

As mothers, these women played hugely important roles in their sons’ lives, in their families lives and we can learn much from them in our own families lives.

Family, Community . . . a Reflection of Immanuel – God in Us and God within Us

Genesis 12:1-3Amplified Bible

Abram Journeys to Egypt

12 Now [in Haran] the Lord had said to Abram,

“Go away from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;

And [a]I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you [abundantly],
And make your name great (exalted, distinguished);
And you shall be a blessing [a source of great good to others];

And I will bless (do good for, benefit) those who bless you,
And I will curse [that is, subject to My wrath and judgment] the one who curses (despises, dishonors, has contempt for) you.
And in you all the families (nations) of the earth will be blessed.”

Why do we become families?

Many years ago a man received a message from God, and God basically adopted this man.

Later God gave him the name Abraham, which means “father of many.”

And yet Abraham had no children.

Then God promised to bless Abraham with many children, and somehow, in some miraculous way, through Abraham’s family, God would incredibly and miraculously bless all the peoples of the earth.

God stayed faithful and true to his promises to bless the world’s peoples through Abraham, even though Abraham’s descendants were dysfunctional.

And God surprised everyone by keeping his promises through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, a descendant of Abraham.

It turns out that Immanuel, born of Mary, recognized by Elizabeth, was Savior not only for Mary, God’s adopted people, but also for all other peoples as well.

And by faith, by confessing, trusting in the salvation message of Jesus, people from all nations, tribes, and languages can also be adopted into God’s family.

So when we as family and friends gather this coming Christmas eve or day, sit at our tables in our homes, we come to the Lord’s table and it is a family table.

Just as we do not get to choose our families and all our relatives, there may well be people in our church family whom we might not have chosen are invited too.

God chose Mary and Joseph, and Elizabeth and Zechariah, He chose them—and us—to be gathered together as an essential part of telling his own family story.

So we become family to belong to God’s family but also family to each other – brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Savior, and beloved sons and daughters of the Most High God, our Creator and at this family table there is God’s grace.

Hebrews 12:1-2English Standard Version

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Why do we enter into community?

The writer of Hebrews spends a whole chapter (Hebrews 11) talking about “heroic” people from Israel’s past who lived by faith. And that provides encouragement to believers to keep living faithfully for Immanuel each day.

Let us remind ourselves, The Body of Christ, God’s Church in and throughout the world, Christian community, our neighborhoods and Communities of faith are so much bigger than the host of people who are geographically close to us.

It is also about believers across the miles and miles and miles of our very own small villages, towns, cities states and counties and countries and the world.

It is also inclusive of earlier generations, current generations and the future.

The generations of witnesses connects us together in one, great community!

God, the Father and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit ….

Holy One in Three …. in PERFECT COMMUNITY ….

Why do we enter into community?

Because God is in perfect community, and we are created in His image.

John 3:16-17Amplified Bible

16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] [a]only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him.

God loves us so much, favors us so much, that he sent his only Son, Jesus, who laid down his own life for us in order to set before us His example of family, to reveal His community, and to re-enter our community with us, His creation.

And we ought to find favor, we ought to love others so much that we enter into community again and again with love and with the hope of something greater.

Community is a reflection of God’s favor, God’s love living in us and within us.

It is who and what and why we were created to be.

Our simple family in God’s magnificent family ….

Our simple community in God’s magnificent community ….

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God Sustains His Servant.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

40 I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear [with great reverence]
And will trust confidently in the Lord.

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not regard the proud nor those who lapse into lies.

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of your wonders,
They would be too many to count.

Sacrifice and meal offering You do not desire, nor do You delight in them;
You have opened my ears and given me the capacity to hear [and obey Your word];
Burnt offerings and sin offerings You do not require.

Then I said, “Behold, I come [to the throne];
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.

“I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your law is within my heart.”

I have proclaimed good news of righteousness [and the joy that comes from obedience to You] in the great assembly;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips [from proclaiming Your righteousness],
As You know, O Lord.

I have not concealed Your righteousness within my heart;
I have proclaimed Your faithfulness and Your salvation.
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly.

Do not withhold Your compassion and tender mercy from me, O Lord;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.

O God, my Strength, I put my trust in You. You have never forsaken those who seek You. You have never let me down. I know that You never will let me down because my life so far has become a testimony of Your greatness. Mold my witness and my testimony into Your image, and as Mary and Elizabeth held you close in their hearts, hold me just close to You. Show me how to mature as a Christian and improve on my walk of faith. Steady my trust in You so that it never wavers, no matter what battles I face on this earth. I declare that my faithfulness to You will be strong at all times. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Hark, the Herald Angels and Shepherds Sing: “The Glory of the Lord has Shone All Around Them.” Luke 2:8-11, Luke 2:12-20

Luke 2:8-11Amplified Bible

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for [a]all the people. 11 For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The way all too many of us approach Christmas has not changed in years.

Consider this illustration I just received from a friend ….

A family during the great depression was unable to afford anything but the bare necessities, and even then, barely.

One day the news came that a circus was coming to town.

Tickets cost one dollar.

The little boy came running home excited with the good news and eager to get the money from his dad, he jumped up onto his fathers lap as he read the paper.

The father regretfully told his son that he could not provide him with that much money, but if he went out and worked on some odd jobs, he might make enough to purchase a ticket on his own.

The dad promised to match what the boy could earn.

The boy worked feverishly around the neighborhood and, just a few days before the circus came to town, he found that he had just enough, including his dad’s contribution, so, He took the money and ran off to town to buy his circus ticket.

The day the circus came to town, he grabbed his ticket from his dad and rushed out to the main street, where he stood on the curb as the circus parade went by.

He was so thrilled to watch the clowns, elephants, and all of the performers. A clown came dancing over to him and the boy put his ticket in the clown’s hand.

He eagerly watched as the rest of the parade went by.

After the parade, the boy rushed home and told his father that he had been to the circus and how much fun it was.

The father, surprised that the boy was home already, asked him to describe the circus.

The boy told of the parade that went down the main street and of giving his ticket to the passing clown.

The father sadly took his son in his arms and said,

“Son, you did not see the circus; all you saw was the parade.”

That boy reminds me of myself and so many other people at Christmas time.

They get caught up with “stuff of the season,” the carols, trees, lights, gifts.

They think that they are experiencing what Christmas is all about.

But the reality of it all is this, all they are doing is seeing the parade passing by and do not realize they are missing the main event, the true joy of Christmas.

More importantly we go through life thinking everything is good with our souls – we walk like ducks, smell like ducks, quack like ducks but we are not ducks…

get the picture?

Good time to remember that the first Christmas night:

“The glory of the Lord shone around them”

This season of Christmas let us be more aware, make it about God’s glory.

Luke 2:8-11Complete Jewish Bible

In the countryside nearby were some shepherds spending the night in the fields, guarding their flocks, when an angel of Adonai appeared to them, and the Sh’khinah of Adonai shone around them. They were terrified; 10 but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people. 11 This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Let’s go through the passage and comb through to learn…

We will make pit stops and pickup 7 words to help us take it in.



The greatest event yet on the face of planet earth has just happened in Bethlehem; and we read that in that “same region” there were shepherds.

A. Same region:

i. In the same region: The divine dignitary shares the same space.

I understand the narrative requires this telling but I had to pause to take it in.

This is the first pit stop.

Let me explain what caught my attention…”same region”

This ‘divine dignitary’ invited the shepherds to share his space —“in the same region”.

ii. In the same region: Translation = This was David’s city.

The fields were probably the same area where he kept watch – fought the lion and killed the bear and confronted with God’s aid, the Philistine giant Goliath.

Now in this same city is now born another Shepherd like no other.

A shepherd who is also a lamb – the Lamb of God. [John 1:29; John 10:11].

B. The Shepherds:

i. The Status

Shepherds were the lowest on the social ladder.

They lived in the fields and cared for the sheep 24/7 and so could not keep the Mosaic law, the Sabbath, the other traditionally required temple ceremonies.

Not very different from all those long years ago from a land called EGYPT.

Genesis 46:33-34Complete Jewish Bible

33 Now when Pharaoh summons you and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 tell him, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our ancestors.’ This will ensure that you will live in the land of Goshen — for any shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

“Shepherds were an utter abomination to the Egyptians”. Genesis 46:34.

They were infinitely worse than social outcasts.

ii. The privilege accorded to the shepherds

Why is this important?

Many years later when Jesus begins His ministry we read how crowds were amazed at Jesus’ teaching.

…”How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” [Jn 7:16].

This statement was not about being literate but about being a Scholarly Rabbi which took years of disciplined learning.

They had come to believe only such will receive and explain the revelation of God.

This first Christmas the privilege accorded to the Patriarchs, the Pharisees the Priests and the Rabbis was now granted to shepherds.

The first proclamation of the glad tidings was to those who were poor and social outcasts.

C. Fulfillment of the Isaiah 61 Prophecy

This beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 61 starts with the lowly shepherds.

This is what the Lord reads in Nazareth when the scroll was given to Him.

“The Lord has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor,” [Isaiah 61 / Luke 4 / Luke 2].


All praise and thanks be to God that even today just as the shepherds, you and I are invited to “the very same region,” watch the Divine unfolding, centre stage.

Then this story that happened 2000 years ago is something you and I can be a part of.



This is our second pit stop.

It was a ‘silent night’ as the carol goes.

That night seemed no different from any other night – except of course that the hands of Almighty God pulls apart heaven’s veil for all those glorious moments.

However, on earth it was a different story.

There were political and social rumblings that’s worth noticing.

A. Augustus Caesar’s taxation:

Luke Chapter 2 opens with the news of taxation.

Bethlehem was probably swarming with ‘Censees’ and ‘Censors’—those who came to give their census and those who were there conducting the census.

However, I sincerely doubt that the census experience was a pleasant one.

Years later as Luke’s readers would read or hear about the birth of Jesus they would be confronted with the context or the time when Jesus was born; and it would have undoubtedly brought up past memories that were not pleasant.

Let me explain:

i. Taxation changed from ‘kind’ to ‘coins’:

Paying taxes in kind was acceptable in some sense by the Jews but the coins contained the image of Caesar which led to a revolt by Judas and his bands.

Acts 5:34-37English Standard Version

34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.

Gamaliel refers to Theudas when confronted with the issue of Peter and John and the Council determining the acceptable disposition of the other Apostles.

Theudas and his group had believed God will give them victory for opposing the coin taxation since they were standing up against idolatry.

However, the uprising was squelched by the Romans.

The Jewish rulers were increasingly cautious not to upset the Romans and thus lose their temple and their land and their livelihoods if not their very lives too.

But the issue of coin taxation continued to be a contentious even 30 years later.

Luke 20:19-25English Standard Version

Paying Taxes to Caesar

19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[a] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[b] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

That was the ‘trap’ question that Jesus was asked, “Is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar?”

We know the Lord’s classic answer –

whose image does it bear? And whose do you bear?

Luke 20 verse 25: He said to them “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s ….”

ii. Poll Tax:

Poll tax is a tax not on the income of the person but on the number of heads in the family.

Apparently Joseph was not a ‘clever’ businessman but an obedient servant.

Joseph did not wait till after the census for him to avoid having to pay for two additional heads.

2000 years ago we read about the timing, Quirinius was governor of Syria, the lives of all those so affected are wonderfully connected to the Gospel narrative.

Truth be said: Whether AD First Century or our 21st Century the incident that occurred that silent night is something that will 100% change our lives forever.

Get this:

It is in the ‘light’ of those darkest socio-economic, socio-political moments the rest of the first Christmas story unfolds before every single coming generations.

We can be thankful to God the silence of that night [indicative of the silence for the past 400 years of the inter-testamentary period between Malachi and the Gospels] was torn apart by the angels long awaited announcement of Messiah.


And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. [Luke 2:9-10].

This is our third pit stop.


In the two appearances of Gabriel, Gabriel prefaced his announcements with “fear not”.

While we do not know the identity of this angel, we still hear the phrase “fear not”.

However, we are now not confronted by a “mere” angel but by the glory of the Lord – which is certainly, definitely, a more fearful experience than any other.

We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, about their Mt. Sinai experience that the children of Israel had:

Hebrews 12:19. and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.

Here now for the first time, the revelation of God’s glory was with ‘glad tidings of great joy’.

A ‘terrible thing’ that froze the feet and the vocal cords of their fore fathers and killed their priests, suddenly, is now, an indescribable matter of great joy.


We have a terrible time wrapping our head around the theme of “Glory of God”.

i. What is Glory?

Manifestation of His holiness

Isaiah 6:3. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, the whole earth is full of His… [not holiness] but glory.

• Glory of God from this passage is the inherent quality of God.

• Glory is the manifest beauty of God’s holiness.

No wonder it has been a terrible thing.

How could sinful men ever meet a glorious God?

God’s answer is Jesus Christ.

ii. Glory of God in Jesus Christ

Though we cannot know what the shepherds experienced that night,…

We too are given the privilege to experience the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

We read:

Hebrews 1:3.

 He is the radiance of the glory of God and

• the exact imprint of his nature,…

John 1:14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory,

[whose glory?]

• glory as of the only Son from the Father,

• full of grace and truth.


Excerpt from: Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas.

“..…God only whispers in His creation. He revealed a shadow of His glory in the Shekinah. But He speaks with absolute clarity in his Word.

“God…spoke” [Hebrews 1:1] – and not in a whisper but in full voice.

Still, there was an incompleteness in it all until,

“[God] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. [Hebrews 1:2].

Now that is God shouting.

You cannot mistake it.

John 1:1-5Amplified Bible

The Deity of Jesus Christ

1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

Christ is 100% God, and you see every attribute of God manifest in Him: His judgment, His justice, His love, His wisdom, His power, His omniscience.

It is all there in person as we read and study and pray through these Gospels, we see Him physically walking through the world, working His work, living His life.

The fullness of God may be seen as it was never seen before in Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus Christ?

He is the glory of God. He is the “express image” of God’s glory.

He is the embodiment of the brightness of God’s glory. [John 1:14].

Jesus is the shining forth of God.

– Just as the bright untouchable radiance of the Sun reaches the earth to light us, to warm us, to give us life and growth, so in Christ do we sense the warmth and fullest radiance of the glorious light of God touching on the hearts of men.

– The sun is never without its brightness.

The radiant brightness of the sun cannot be separated from the sun and yet it is distinct.

And so, Christ is God and yet distinct.

– He is God and yet He is the manifestation of God.

– He is the glory of the Lord who shouts the reality of God, which was only whispered in time past.

God’s answer to the dilemma of sin is Jesus Christ – the glory of God made manifest in human flesh.”

We are thankful that the Son of God became the Son of man that first Christmas.

C. No common ground

In the old Hebrew covenant, when the glory of the Lord came down, all business stopped.

• Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle [Exodus 40:34-35].

• When Solomon built his temple for the Lord as a place to offer sacrifice and the glory cloud came down, the priests were so overwhelmed with its presence that they could not do their priestly duties. [1 Kings 8:10-11].

In the old covenant the glory cloud and the presence of the Lord did not abide in the same space that was occupied by men.

Moses: The glory of the Lord left Moses wanting more. Even though Moses had personally witnessed such astounding miracles and the coming of the cloud on Mt. Sinai, on the Tabernacle, his true longing was to see the glory of the Lord.

He had to be “merely satisfied” with “seeing” the “back” of the goodness of the Lord, and obviously ONLY after the Lord fully passed by where he was standing.

D. A promise that “all flesh will see the glory of the Lord”

Isaiah 40:3-6.

The first part was fulfilled by John the Baptist [Luke 3:4-7]; and the later part by Jesus Christ though its complete fulfillment is still in the future.

A voice cries:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, the rough places a plain.

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

E. This coming of the ‘glory of the Lord’ is the good news of great joy

The angel announces the Gospel – “the euaggelizō”.

The original expression is: “I evangelize unto you great joy”.

• Jesus is the “Good news”

• Jesus is the matter of great joy.

• Jesus makes possible for the revelation of the glory of God to all flesh.

In Jesus, heaven’s gate have been opened wide – the news is to “all people”.

• You are now no more the outcasts of the society.

• You and I can now become the citizens of heaven.


Luke 2:11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

A. The gift: Jesus is our Christmas Gift

• “Unto you”: God’s gift to us on Christmas day is Christ Himself.

• Born…City of David: Christ is born in the city of David, so that Psalm 87 will be true for us with regards to the city of God:

Speaking about the city of God,

we read in Psalm 87.4.

“This man was born there.”

This possibility for man and woman to be born in the City of God opens up because of the incarnation, death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

• Christ the Lord: Your savior is Christ the Lord.

He is Immanuel, God incarnate.

B. The Result: Our transformation, as we “Behold the glory of the Lord in Jesus Christ”

2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image [the image of Christ] from one degree of glory to another.

John Owen: One of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world, and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ.

If the glory of the Lord does not grip our attention exactly today and in this exact world, we are exactly eternally lost.

C. The Warning: Consequence of rejecting the glory

Woe to the one who rejects the glory of God made manifest to us.

We read in Romans chapter 1.

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:22,23, NASB).

Earlier, we read about the children of Israel:

Psalm 106:20. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a golden ox that eats non existent grass.

The nation of Israel, having seen and experienced the glory of God thought Him being no more glorious than a golden calf utterly incapable of eating or moving.

The natural expression of glory of God is praise that must bubble over; an over zealous thanksgiving that cannot, under any circumstance, ever be contained.

• Anything less is spiritually dangerous.

• Anything less indicates that we are still dead in our sins.

Luke 2:12-20Complete Jewish Bible

12 Here is how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” 13 Suddenly, along with the angel was a vast army from heaven praising God:

14 “In the highest heaven, glory to God!
And on earth, peace among people of good will!”

15 No sooner had the angels left them and gone back into heaven than the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go over to Beit-Lechem and see this thing that has happened, that Adonai has told us about.” 16 Hurrying off, they came and found Miryam and Yosef, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. 17 Upon seeing this, they made known what they had been told about this child; 18 and all who heard were amazed by what the shepherds said to them. 19 Miryam treasured all these things and kept mulling them over in her heart.  20 Meanwhile, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen; it had been just as they had been told.


Luke 2:12. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

This is our fifth pit stop.

Sign is “Semeion” in Greek means the “finger-marks” of God.

A. The paradox

Not sure if you caught the paradox of this passage yet?

Paradox ….

a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

a statement or proposition that, despite its sound (or its apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems utterly senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

Shepherds had just seen the great display of Divine glory.

What could be the next possible steps?

• That they would have expected now to be invited to the palace?

• That they would witness the transformation of Bethlehem – the city of David because the Messiah is now here?

We all probably expect to see something that would top this experience or at least something that somehow or in some minimal was, almost matched it.

Instead, they are invited to go and find “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger”.

Notice 3 things that’s in stark contrast to what they just observed:

a. It’s a baby.

• How can a baby be a savior? The Christ?

b. In swaddling cloths

• A baby just like any other. For they were all wrapped just the same. You wouldn’t be able to identify the Messiah if laid in a nursery together.

• If they had not witnessed the grand spectacle they would never have identified this baby as the Savior of the world.

c. Lying in a manager

• Something is terribly wrong with this picture – a picture framed by human mindset.

Notice: the revealed Glory of God by His angel armies on one hand; and the humility of a lowly mom and dad, the baby in a feeding trough on the other.

No wonder we sing:

Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible. Love indestructible in frailty appears.

Lord of infinity stooping so tenderly.

Lifts our humanity from our own lowly troughs to the heights of His throne.

O what a mystery meekness and majesty.

Bow down and worship for this is your God.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Cherished Sons and Daughters of the Most High God,

This is our God.

B. The sign screams He is now one of US.

The sign screams out that He who is the Christ has become one of you.

Not just a human but one whom even the poor can associate with.

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this that none of us are excluded in the glad proclamation.

We all can be a part.


Luke 2:13-14. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!

This is our sixth pit stop.

A. And Suddenly with the angel…

R C Sproul:

“All heaven broke loose… [and I think that hell must have frozen over]”

This angelic choir would make Handel’s Messiah concert look like a class of kindergarten singing.

B. “Glory to God in the Highest; and peace on earth”

A praise that rose heavenward; and a peace that came downward.

“Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.”

Peter talking to Cornelius and his household says:

Acts 10:36. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Angels in heaven praise the Lord.

But now even the shepherds – so you and I can say:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”


Luke 2:17, 20.

verse 17. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.

verse 20. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The seventh and final pit stop.

A. The speech of the shepherds

[verse18] What do you make of the phrase “all who heard”?

• Was it Joseph and Mary?

• Was it the milling of those who like Joseph had come to Bethlehem for the census?

Who saw the baby but had not idea what they were beholding till the shepherds told them.

• Was it crowding of the heavenly hosts in that cramped cavern or the open courtyard, trying to catch a glimpse of Deity.

The shepherds were hyper excited to tell the story:

• The shepherds didn’t seem to care that they would not be believed for such an improbable story.

• They didn’t seem to care that no one would listen to them.

They just could not an would not stop talking.

• They had just seen the ‘fingermarks’ of God – a baby laid in the manger.

That’s the timeline of the Gospel story isn’t it?

• The Gospel story reminds me that the one who was laid in the manger by Mary [Luke 2:12] is the one who was, some 30 years later crucified upon a wood cross.

Three days after being sealed into an impenetrable tomb, HE walked out ALIVE!

• Hallelujah!

However, the story neither begins in the manger nor ends in the grave.

My response is therefore to rejoice. I cannot and will not ever keep quiet.


Why this unnatural silence?

Why isn’t our spirit extolling in the glory of the Lord?

If the shepherds were UNABLE BUT to talk about the what they saw, why is it that we are silent?

A. Telling all who will hear

We often wonder how can we can tell our neighbors about Jesus?

Our excuse!

• I don’t know where to begin?

• I don’t know what to say?

If those are your questions, then learn from the shepherds.

• They said what they saw.

• They repeated what they heard.

And so can you and so can I.

Let me end with two closings.

A. Remember the Shepherd was also the Lamb

Because of Jesus, I can face anything.

That is something I will share.

1954 film, White Christmas:

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep.

I count my blessings instead of sheep.

And I fall asleep Counting my blessings.

When my bankroll is getting small.

I think of when I had none at all.

And I fall asleep Counting my blessings.

If your worried and you can’t sleep.

Just count your blessings instead of sheep.

And you’ll fall asleep Counting your blessings.

B. Remember that gratitude cannot be silenced.

Shepherds and the glory of the Lord in the same sentence.

Shepherds enjoyed a great heritage in Israel with Abraham, Moses, and David as notable shepherds, God being identified through Psalm 23 as a great shepherd.

But by this time in Israelite history, they were not highly regarded.

They smelled like sheep.

They spent their time with sheep.

They were not really clean and religious enough to be considered spiritual.

So when God chose to announce the birth of Jesus to shepherds with his contingent of angels he makes his point clear: Everyone is loved by God, everyone has immediate access to God, and everyone is desired by God.

Because of Jesus, I am grateful.

That is why I will share.

Let your gratitude and praises last forever!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, thank You in Jesus’ name for purposing to redeem mankind, by sending Him to be born in Bethlehem of Judea on that astonishing night, while shepherds watched their flocks. Thank You for the good news of great joy, which is for all people who trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Thank You, Father, that You did not leave us dead in our sins, but purposed from the foundation of the world, to give Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God, Who would take away the sin of the world and become the good Shepherd of the sheep, for all who would trust in His holy name. Thank You that in my Savior Christ I have nothing to fear and everything for which to be thankful. Thank You in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Christmas Joy! Christmas Characters! Joy of the Shepherds, Joy of the Angels We Have Heard on High. Luke 2:8-15

Luke 2:8-15 World English Bible

There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people. 11 For there is born to you today, in David’s city, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.” 13 Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15 When the angels went away from them into the sky, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

As you and I have read these scriptures each year, have we ever seriously noticed how the characters in the Christmas story tend to respond to angels when they show up? 

If we rewind to Luke 1:11-18, the angel came to Zacharias as he was going about his priestly duties in the temple and announced the pregnancy of Elizabeth, his wife who has long been barren of child and is beyond her child bearing years.

Zacharias was initially afraid, but then almost immediately settled back down to fulfill his responsibilities.

Then in response to the angelic announcement, he seemed to casually brush the announcement aside incredulously asking; “How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” (verse 18)

It seems that the angel expected Zacharias to suddenly raise up, “jump for joy,” start running around the temple telling everyone, everywhere of his good news.

Zacharias expresses his disbelief with a loud “harrumph,” basically telling the angel to go back to where ever the angel came from and to “leave me alone!”

To which the angel replied – “because you have disbelieved, you will have no voice to speak to anyone until the time of your son’s birth. then you will sing!”

When his wife Elizabeth had given birth to their son, John – Zacharias had his voice restored and then indeed did sing his prophetic song …. Luke 1:67-79

If we rewind to Luke 1:30 when the angel Gabriel visits Mary, he tells her, “do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

Mary said, “so be it!”

Here, in Luke 2, we read that these rough tough shepherds are instantly “filled with fear” at the sight of an angel and are quickly told to “fear not…”

Angels play an important role throughout the entire birth narra­tive of Jesus.

An angel visits Zechariah to announce the coming of John, who would prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry (Luke 1:11-20).

An angel appears to Mary to announce the coming of Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:28-38).

An angel appears to Joseph in a dream, urging him to stay with Mary because she is carrying the baby Jesus, who will “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Then, when Jesus is actually born and an angel announces his birth, a crowd of angels appears, lighting up the night sky in the fields near Bethlehem.

“A great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God. . . .” This was no simple birth announcement—the Savior of the world had come!

“Angels We Have Heard On High” tells the story in a beautifully lyrical way.

And the refrain picks up the angels’ song, using the Latin phrase “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” which means “Glory to God in the highest.”

The angels could not contain their praise.

As we celebrate Christmas this season, we are reminded of God’s great love for us in the birth of Jesus.

Like the angels, we too have the opportunity to burst into praise. And let’s invite others to join us as we give glory to God, for the Savior has come!

With all of these angelic proclamations of “Good News!” and “Great Joy!”

This should just maybe make us wonder why they were initially frightened?

Maybe viewing angels as cute, cuddly versions of cupid is completely wrong.

If we scan the the scope of scripture, it appears that whenever angels showed up on the scene they were on a mission to bring a message from God; quite often to announce, that is “open wide the can” of the good news of God’s judgement.

Some type of serious destruction often followed their arrival.

Luke writes that as this angel is sharing the news of Jesus’ birth with the shepherds, that suddenly, a “multitude of the heavenly host appears.”

For some reason, this multitude is often displayed as a white robed angelic choir, sometimes with song books in hand.

Ironically, the word “host” gives a radically different picture

— it’s translated from the Greek word stratia, and literally means a military encampment or a band of soldiers.

This was not a choir of cupids but an angelic army straight from heaven.

God had sent His army to announce that the Messiah had arrived and the rescue mission for humanity had begun.

This army had no intention of dethroning an arrogant Caesar in Rome or removing a corrupt High Priest in Jerusalem.

They weren’t about to wipe out the Roman army or restore Israel as a world power.

They had arrived to announce “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger”— an undeniably unexpected way for God’s rescue mission to begin.

Why do you think God sent an angelic army to announce the birth of Jesus?

The good news this angelic choir delivered was for ALL humanity.

For God loved the whole world so much that His gave His only begotten Son into the world, not to condemn but to be the ONE sacrifice for the sin of the world –

Not Judgment!

Not Condemnation!

But unconditional, undeserved LOVE so that everyone in the world who would believe on Him would not remain at enmity with God, but would be forgiven of their sin, regain fellowship with God, the Father and receive life everlasting.

This message of goodwill to all men, is particularly remembered when we celebrate the birth of Immanuel – God with us, God within us – recalling the beautiful story of a young virgin, her espoused husband, entrusted with the upbringing of God’s only begotten Son – Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

But the true message that was shared on that ordinary Bethlehem hillside, was that these extraordinary good tidings which spoke of joy to mankind, peace on earth were for a particular group of people – the Shepherds – men of good will!

The good tidings of great joy and lasting peace about which the angels sang, were for MEN OF GOODWILL.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men – the MEN, with whom God is pleased. Peace on earth to people who enjoy God’s favour.” 

We read that on earth there will be peace… among men of goodwill.

God has promised peace to men with whom the Lord is well-pleased – those that are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

Although the gospel message these angels shared continues to be available to ALL men, only those that enjoy goodwill before the Lord, by believing on the infant Immanuel, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and trusting in the name of the only begotten Son of God for the forgiveness of sins, will enjoy the peace on earth that this heavenly choir proclaimed.

Only they will discover the joy of the Lord in their hearts and peace with God in their lives.

Although the message of salvation was for all people –

the Messiah had to be Jewish.

He had to be the Son of God, born of a Jewish virgin, in the little town of Bethlehem, as a descendent of David and Abraham.

He had to fulfil these and numerous other prophecies to fulfil Scripture, and thus He became qualified in two distinct areas

1) as Messiah of Israel and

2) Saviour of the world.

Christ came to fulfil both the Law and the prophets and not one prophetic scripture relating to Christ’s first advent was broken – and every prophecy relating to His second coming will likewise be fulfilled, to the glory of God.

Although this extraordinary good news which was delivered by the army of angels is open to ALL who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ – nowhere in Scripture is it specifically taught that peace on earth is “for all men.”

Peace with God and the favour of God comes by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

Peace WITH God is received when one is justified by faith.

The peace OF God within and peace ON earth, during Christ’s millennial reign, is only given to – men of goodwill.

Only those that trust in the name of the only begotten Son of the Father are identified in this verse as, “men of goodwill.”

John 14:19-31World English Bible

19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 One who has my commandments and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, what has happened that you are about to reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me. 25 I have said these things to you while still living with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. 28 You heard how I told you, ‘I go away, and I come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I said ‘I am going to my Father;’ for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens so that when it happens, you may believe. 30 I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father commanded me, even so I do. Arise, let’s go from here.

Come, and let us arise and join with Jesus, the author, perfecter of our faith!

Come, let us join our voices and our lives with that angelic army, with that angelic chorus, and hearken unto souls that are dead in their sins the truth.

Let us hearken unto the song of the angels, tell all who are at enmity with God,

the extraordinary good news of the gospel of grace – that Christ died for their sins, and rose again.. so that ALL who believe on Him would not perish, but receive peace with God and will be granted the peace of God in their heart.

Only those who have been saved by grace, will be among the joyful congregation witnessing the glory of the coming of our Prince of Peace, when He finally comes to set up His everlasting Kingdom – when true peace on earth will be governed in righteousness, Jesus is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, Giver of every good and perfect gift. Thank you for Immanuel, thy Son! Thank you for the Host of Angels with their message of the coming good news. Let us hearken unto their song of peace to those for whom You have found favor. Thank You for the revelation of your Son to your biblical servants, and their ancient responses which have set the best example of faithfulness for all generations to come.

Thank You that I have peace with God, and as Your born-again child, that I have received Your goodwill and grace, not only in this age but in the ages to come. Thank You that because I am positioned in Christ and clothed in His righteousness, I am identified with Him, have found favour in Your sight, and the peace of God in my heart. I know that without Jesus there is nothing I could have done to warrant peace with You, for I acknowledge that I am a sinner, deserving of death – but glory to God in the highest, that peace has been granted to men with whom You are pleased.

Beloved Immanuel, beloved God with us and within us, Dear Jesus, may we celebrate your birth by rejoicing and joining voices with others in singing your praise. Amen.

Praise Your holy name that both peace with God and the peace of God, is available to who place their faith in the only begotten Son of God, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.