Tag Archives: Advent

Do You See What I See? #5

The Magi’s Perspective – Matthew 2:1-12

Some time after the birth of Jesus, a group of magi visited the small child and brought gifts worth of a king. Christmas tradition often show three stately figures bearing three gifts. Some consider the visitors to be kings, wise men or astrologers.

wise-menWe do know that they traveled a long distance and used a single star as their navigational aid (Matthew 2:2). We can deduce that they were scholarly astrologers who were so moved by the stellar sighting, that they change their course of study, packed up an entourage and headed west to follow this spectacular and unusual sighting. Their lives were dramatically changed.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, King Herod called for them because he wanted to enlist them to conduct a search and find mission in Bethlehem to locate Jesus (Matthew 2:7-8).

As they departed Jerusalem, the star re-appeared as their navigational aid. They found the Christ Child, presented their gifts, worshiped Him and departed a different way for they were advised to not report back to King Herod (Matthew 2:9-12).

The magi brought special gifts to offer Jesus in worship:

  • Gold – a rich commodity that often signifies divinity. It was used to cover the Ark of the Covenant – God’s presence (Exodus 25:10-17 ). It signifies Jesus’ deity.
  • Frankincense – an incense (Exodus 30;34-36) used to produce a sweet aroma from burnt offerings presented to God in worship. It signifies Jesus’ willingness to give himself up – a lamb given for redemption.
  • Myrrh – a spice used in the embalming process  (John 19:38-40). It signifies the death of Jesus on the cross.

Following the magi’s visit, Mary, Joseph and Jesus traveled to Egypt as instructed by God (Matthew 2:13). Oral tradition implies that these gifts financed the journey.

Key point(s)

  1. Something dramatic happening in the world parallels something dramatic happening in the heavens. (Revelation 12)
  2. When God reveals Himself to you, you cannot remain where you are. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  3. God supplies all your needs. (Philippians 4:19)

Reflect
This Christmas season, I hope you take time to reflect on the events surrounding the birth of Christ. More importantly, I pray that you use this season to refresh your commitment to Jesus and share the good news of the Gospel message to those around you.

If you do not know Jesus in a personal way, I encourage you to invite Him into your heart. The gift of life from Jesus is yours to have.

  1. Acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for your sins and was raised from the grave after He defeated death.
    (John 10:10)
  2. Confess your sins to Him. He will forgive you and cleanse you. (1 John 1:9)
  3. Thank God for the new work He will complete in you as you walk in the newness of life. (Philippians 1:6)
  4. Ask God to lead you to a group of Christians who teach the truth from God’s word. (Acts 2:42)

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Do You See What I See? #4

Simeon and Anna’s Perspective – Luke 2:22-40

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for purification rites as prescribed by Jewish law (Leviticus 12:2-8). This is where we encounter Simeon, a righteous and devout man, and Anna, the Prophetess.

simeonBefore Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon people to empower them to perform specific task. Here are a few of many examples:

The passage tells us the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. He was promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah.  On that faithful day, Simeon was moved by the spirit to enter the temple courts where he met Joseph and Mary and identified Jesus as the Messiah. He praised God for His faithfulness and declared that Jesus was the Messiah to all including gentiles.

After praising God and offering a special blessing to Joseph and Mary, we encounter a new character – Anna, a prophetess (Luke 2:36-38).

AnnaAnna, like Simeon was quiet old. She, too, was righteous and devout. I find it interesting that she is the first female recorded to have an encounter with the new-born Jesus. To me this an example that Jesus is the Messiah to all. The passage does not tell us what she may have said to Mary and Joseph. Her witness following the encounter is the significant point of the story.

Anna “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

Key point(s) – God empowers His people with a message of hope and salvation.

To be continued…


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Do You See What I See? #3

The Shepherd’s Perspective – Luke 2:8-20

Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem only to find the city was packed with people. They only found a spot to rest in a nearby stable. That is where Jesus was born.

Meanwhile, in a field away from town a group of shepherds were tending their flock of sheep.  I would  expect it was very quiet and calm under the stars on that moon light night. Then an angel appeared.

2010-83-Luke-shepherds

God had been silent for 400 years. Then He spoke to Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph and now the shepherds. We can learn a couple of lessons from the shepherds and how they responded to God’s messenger.

  1. When God speaks, the hearer knows it is God.
  2. The shepherd knew they were in God’s presence and responded obediently.
  3. They had not lost faith in God after years of silence.
  4. When God speaks, we cannot be remain silent – we must share the message.

The shepherds understood ‘waiting‘. The Bible tells us,

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31, NIV

What did they talk about as they tended their flock? My guess is that they shared stories from the past, especially those they heard from their ancestors. Perhaps as they gazed at the star lit sky, they were awed by God’s canvas. Perhaps they shared stories about how God appeared to Moses. What ever was on their mind that night, their faithful waiting was rewarded by a spectacular light that spoke in words they understood. God showed up – and gave them a simple message that they could share with others.

Key point(s) – When God speaks, His voice is recognizable; His message is simple. The hearer cannot remain silent.

Christmas is just a few days away. The Christmas message is a simple message. In the Charlie Brown Christmas special, Linus tells us the simple, yet clear message of Christmas (Luke 2:8-14).

How are you telling others about the gift of Jesus? I would love to hear your story.

To be continued…


 

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Do You See What I See? #2

Continuing with the theme I started yesterday, I want to see Christmas from the perspective of another character.

Do You See What I See? (Joseph’s Perspective – Matthew 1:18-25)

The Bible is not clear on how Joseph discovered Mary’s condition. We know from Luke’s account that Mary went to visit Elizabeth a few days after Mary’s encounter with Gabriel (Luke 1:39). My opinion is that Mary told Joseph before she left for Judea.

Matthew described Joseph as a righteous man (Matthew 1:19-NASB), a man faithful to the law (Matthew 1:19-NIV). He was also a man of mercy because he did not want to make a public spectacle of the situation. He chose to break off the engagement quietly. But, before he could take any action, God’s messenger, Gabriel, visited him in a dream. The message was clear –

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

Being a righteous man, Joseph knew the message was from God and therefore did not hesitate to follow the message. He remained faithful to Mary and obedient to God.

The Bible is silent from this point until the birth of Jesus. One can only speculate about comments Joseph and Mary may have received from family and others as they await their journey to Bethlehem where they would travel to register for a Roman census. All we know for certain is that Joseph remained obedient and faithful to God and Mary.

Joseph & MaryKey point – When the circumstance became difficult, Joseph chose to remain faithful and obedient to God. He remained true to the course.

The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
(Psalm 34:19)

How do you face adversity? Do you remain faithful to God, knowing He will guide you through, or do you feel as if God has abandoned you?

To be continued…

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Do You See What I See?

We are all pretty familiar with the Christmas song Do You Hear What I Hear made popular by Bing Crosby in 1963.

The first verse sets the theme for our church’s Advent series.

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
do you see what I see
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
do you see what I see
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

As I listened to the messages, I saw the traditional Christmas message from a new perspective. It is my hope that you will also see from a new perspective how God’s grace was evident in this Christmas story.

Do You See What I See? (Mary’s Perspective – Luke 1:26-56)

After 400 years of silence, God spoke through the Angel Gabriel, first to Zechariah (Luke 1:5-25), then, about 6 months later, to Mary. Gabriel assured Mary there was no need to be disturbed because she “found favor with God!” Then Gabriel continued with the message by telling Mary she would conceive and give birth to God’s Son. After Gabriel explained a bit more to Mary, she expressed confidence. “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (vs 38)

Tradition tells us Mary was most likely a young teenager. Apparently this was a common age for young girls to become engaged and marry. Jewish laws were very strict about premarital sex so this posed a slight problem for Mary. God had just spoken to her and soon it would be apparent that she was pregnant. Who was she going to tell? God gave Mary an out – she would visit her relative Elizabeth who also had miraculously conceived six months earlier.

Mary took off on her own to make the journey from Nazareth to the hills of Judea where Elizabeth lived about 80-100 miles away. Upon arriving, Elizabeth greeted her with open arms and said:

“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

While spending 3 months with Elizabeth, Mary was able to reflect on what had just happened and penned what we now call “Mary’s Song” (Luke 1:46-55) and Gabriel had a time to visit Joseph.

Key point – Mary believed from the middle of her circumstances. (Luke 1:38) God not only bless Mary with this child, but He also provided for her supernaturally. (Philippians 4:19)

How do you respond to periods of God’s silence? Do you let disbelief take over your mind as Zechariah did, or to you carry on in faith as Mary did?

To be continued…

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