Unpacking the Birth and First Years of Christ
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” G.K. Chesterton
These 28 missives along with a few EXTRAs will guide you in making right decisions. Every day is a day of new beginnings. Take time to examine the new beginning we have in relation to Christ’s new beginning as GOD/MAN. He is our example of new beginnings.
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All scriptures used here are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible is a modern English Bible translation from Holman Bible Publishers. The first full edition was completed in March 2004, with the New Testament alone having been previously published in 1999. Wikipedia
Originally published: 2003 Version revision: 2009 Complete Bible published: 2003
Copyright: Copyright 2004 Holman Bible Publishers
01: IN THE BEGINNING: CHRISTMAS
John 1:In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
4 Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
5 That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it.
The word “Christmas” means a festival of the Anointed One. The celebration began at creation. Everything that was made was made through Him and for Him. The Light He brought overwhelms physical light. It defeats darkness.
Begin your Christmas, your festival of the Anointed One, with me as we tell the story in the Morning Moment over the next 30 days of the event that changed everything.
02: DEDICATED DOCUMENTS
Luke 1:The Dedication to Theophilus
1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.
This detailed recording of Jesus’ birth comes with a motivation. Luke wants to get it accurate. Luke wants to open our minds and hearts to the truth.
Recently, a subpeona appeared on my desk. It did not just appear. It has been a long time coming. The privapte detective, who delivered it, knew just how to find me. The lawyer knows who I am. The judge knows me. The prosecutor knows me. The plaintiff knows me. And they all want to hear what I know. Luke is giving his perspective as accurately as possible and led by the Holy Spirit to get it to us.
Take time to listen to his words and allow God to activate them. I hope someone listens to me in this court matter and it helps them form an honest and accurate opinion. A jury will be listening and a judge and others. But it will not make anywhere near the important difference of the words of Luke, the historian. These words are life. They can create a new path for your life. Listen closely. Angels will appear. Shepherds will be amazed. Prophets will speak. Prayer warriors will declare. Wise men will approach. Kings will be afraid. This is a big story.
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord . “And I will heal them.”
Isaiah 57:18–19 NIV
The Lord sees our patterns and mistaken living. He gets it. He understands. He sees our ways. And He reaches out to heal.
For our mistakes, He gives comfort, praise (songs of joy and thanksgiving), and peace. He brings healing and restoration. May He find you today and heal and restore.
He is near. He is here.
03: GABRIEL INTERRUPTS
LUKE 1Gabriel Predicts John’s Birth
5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.
There you are. This simple couple, who are living in peace and doing their life in a good manner, are about to receive a visit that changes everything. An elderly couple are just giving life their best. The man is getting ready to go up to the church house, the temple, to do his duty, and a messenger from God is about to change everything for them and for us.
Are you ready for Gabriel to interrupt? Maybe you are content with where you are. You have settled into a path and a pattern. And unknown to you, God is sending a messenger to change your path. Would you receive him and his message?
04: QUESTIONS ARE OKAY
Luke 1:8 When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear.[g] 13 But the angel said to him:
Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will name him John.
14 There will be joy and delight for you,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
and will never drink wine or beer.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother’s womb.
16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.
18 “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”
Zechariah steps into his twilight years. Maybe he will never be the one to have his lot drawn for this duty ever again. Right now, God ensures that he gets selected. God has a special moment for him. Then an angel shows up.
Oh, no. Can you imagine? Zech might be thinking, “What have I done now? The religious rulers are going to be angry. This is not the way this duty is supposed to happen.”
The messenger tells him he and his wife are going to have a baby. That is ludicrous. And Zech does not believe. God has picked a man, who does not believe. What? Why would God pick this man of doubt? God sure is strange in how he gets things done. Why does He not pick some super salesman leader of the community? Why Zech?
God picked you for something special. Just like Zech. He is looking for ones who might be doubtful and astounded at first, but cooperative and willing later. I love God. He is so simple and loving.
05: ARE YOU NUTS?
Luke 1:19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept making signs to them and remained speechless. 23 When the days of his ministry were completed, he went back home.
I’ve never seen an angel face to face. Most times they are so intimidating they have to say something like, “Don’t be afraid”. Zechariah looks into the face of the miraculous, the stupendous, the powerful, the voice box for God, and tells him, “No.” Now either Zech is a nut or extremely brave or just having a really bad senior moment. How can he do this.
The angel must be stumped. Okay, Zech, you are going to have to silent. Keep doing your job,but you can’t talk to anyone. Maybe they will believe. Zech is a great guy. Remember God selected him to be the father of another great man, John the Baptist. We will see that as the story unfolds. This is a great man here. Full of doubt. Unable to believe even when the top dog angel of heaven appears, but he is God’s selection to raise a great prophet and preacher.
God is just looking for a few nuts, who are willing to listen after confronted. They can do great things.
06: HAVE SOME JOY TIME
Luke 1:4 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived and kept herself in seclusion for five months. She said, 25 “The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people.”
Here is pure joy. Elizabeth has wanted a’ child. Her mother instincts are still alive and powerful. In a few more months, she will rejoice at Mary’s pregnancy. Her baby will jump over Jesus presence in the womb.
She takes some time to enjoy, to wait and let God work out the details. Surely, it is a few months before she is ready to let everyone else know. It is a special joy to be cherished.
Maybe God has planted something in your heart. You may not be ready to let others know. That is okay. Have some joy time. Let it build.
07: SUDDEN SURPRISES
Luke 1:26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her:
Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.
At first, Mary is deeply troubled at this announcement. She does not reject it, but it troubles her. Of course it does. That is normal for us. Change puts us on edge. It troubles us. We don’t know if it is good or bad change. It is change. And the messenger is a little frightening and exciting all at once.
Teenagers are fun. Most love excitement. Unlike Zech, Mary is ready for the roller coaster.That is good. But, she has no idea of the cost of her compliance. This baby is like no other.
EXTRA: THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.
1 Corinthians 1:18–19 HCSB
Everyday life with depression, anxiety, addiction, sadness, rejection, violence and abuse has an alternative in Christ. The cross made a way up and out. We can write a new story for our life.
Every step in obedience to the will of the Holy Spirit through our spirit advances power and abundance. Abundance is enough and ample to be generous. Power is ability to do the task in front. Faith is released. Supply is appropriated.
Where does the cross connect? The cross was the ultimate point of obedience in history. The Son of God took our punishment and defeated the ruling power of Satan, sin, and death. The door to the ruling power of the Spirit of Life was flung open and the Son of Righteousness rose over us with healing in His wings. The Holy Spirit overwhelms and fills the believer that accepts fullness of forgiveness and life made available through the cross, death, and resurrection of Christ.
There is nothing to compare with this limitless supply of life in Christ that only is available because of the cross. Freedom is here. Ability is here. Hope is here. A new opportunity for joy and friendship and family is here.
One breath of the Holy Spirit frees and advances.
Un aliento del Espíritu Santo libera y avanza.
08: GOOD QUESTIONS and GOOD ANSWERS
Luke 1:34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”[j]
35 The angel replied to her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.
36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
38 “I am the Lord’s slave,”[k] said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
This little discussion says a lot. Mary asks good questions and gives good answers. She wants to know and finds out. She submits to God’s plan. Her attitude is right.
What about you? Is your attitude right about God’s plan for your life? It may not fit your schedule of ideas. It may blow you wedding plan out the window. It may put your life at risk. It did all of this to Mary and she knew it when she said yes. What about you?
09: SHARED HAPPINESS
Luke 1:Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah 40 where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her,[l] and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry:
“You are the most blessed of women,
and your child will be blessed![m] 43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me 45 She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”
Do you love to share happiness? I do. When something is going good, I just have to find someone to tell. Elizabeth and Mary have had to be quiet. Both of their situations were unexplainable. Here God puts them together to share each other’s joy.
Others just may not be able to understand you and your joy. They might think you are disconnected from the normal. Okay, God will do that to you. He will disconnect you from the normal to get something powerful done. Let Him. Find someone who can understand and enjoy each other.
10: BREAK OUT
Luke 1:Mary’s Praise
46 And Mary said:
My soul proclaims the greatness of[o] the Lord,
47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
50 His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
51 He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
52 He has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
mindful of His mercy,[p] 55 just as He spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his descendants[q] forever.
56 And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.
Mary has a movie moment. She breaks out into singing. That is some happy in her heart. Have you ever had that happen? Not just a big point in a game or a new job or a raise or even knowing a baby is coming. But something so powerful, you toss yourself into it with exclamation.
Look for God to do that for you. He wants to. Have a movie moment with God.
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11: BOY, HOWDY
Luke 1:The Birth and Naming of John
57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. 58 Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her His great mercy,[r] and they rejoiced with her.
59 When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother responded, “No! He will be called John.”
61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62 So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote:
HIS NAME IS JOHN.
And they were all amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.
Can you get this? Zech and Elizabeth have been submitted to God’s plan and the time for the baby is here. They know there is much work to raising this child. They are confident God will sustain them until John is at the right age. They are old and expectant of greatness.
Maybe you think it is too late in life to do anything significant. Take a lesson from these two. In the latest years, they embrace their biggest moment. Go for it.
I can just see Zech grabbing for a pencil. He has not spoken for nine months. And then he finishes writing JOHN and joy explodes.
12: A FATHER’S SOLUTION
Luke 1:Zechariah’s Prophecy
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has visited
and provided redemption for His people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation[s] for us
in the house of His servant David,
70 just as He spoke by the mouth
of His holy prophets in ancient times;
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the clutches[t] of those who hate us.
72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers
and remembered His holy covenant—
73 the oath that He swore to our father Abraham.
He has given us the privilege,
74 since we have been rescued
from our enemies’ clutches,[u] to serve Him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness
in His presence all our days.
76 And child, you will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare His ways,
77 to give His people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the Dawn from on high will visit us
79 to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
80 The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
This son will be a solution to the fatherless generations. He brings the heart of the Father back to the world. He announces peace with God. He paves the path for Jesus, our Savior. This is a big job and his father, Zechariah, steps up to the plate and delivers a home run message.
God know how to launch a thing. When He is launching something in you, He knows how to get it done. Really.
13: LIKE THE DETAILS
Matthew The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
1 The historical record[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
From Abraham to David
2 Abraham fathered[b] Isaac,
Isaac fathered Jacob,
Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
Perez fathered Hezron,
Hezron fathered Aram,
4 Aram fathered Amminadab,
Amminadab fathered Nahshon,
Nahshon fathered Salmon,
5 Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,
Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,
Obed fathered Jesse,
6 and Jesse fathered King David.
From David to the Babylonian Exile
Then[c] David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon fathered Rehoboam,
Rehoboam fathered Abijah,
Abijah fathered Asa,[d] 8 Asa[e] fathered Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat fathered Joram,[f] Joram fathered Uzziah,
9 Uzziah fathered Jotham,
Jotham fathered Ahaz,
Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh,
Manasseh fathered Amon,[g] Amon fathered Josiah,
11 and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.
From the Exile to the Messiah
12 Then after the exile to Babylon
Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel,
Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel fathered Abiud,
Abiud fathered Eliakim,
Eliakim fathered Azor,
14 Azor fathered Zadok,
Zadok fathered Achim,
Achim fathered Eliud,
15 Eliud fathered Eleazar,
Eleazar fathered Matthan,
Matthan fathered Jacob,
16 and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary,
who gave birth to[h] Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.
God takes care of details. He plans them out. Mary and Joseph of the tribe of Judah and lineage of David. There is kingly blood for Jesus’ ancestry. From David, promised kingly line, to her father, Mary can trace the lineage and so can God. There are some shady characters in Jesus’ ancestors. There are many races represented. Jesus is a person.
You are a person. God takes your situation and makes it a miracle. Receive it. Jesus has quite a craxy family tree on His human side. That just makes His miracle life all the more miracle and tells us we are free in Him.
Matthew 1The Nativity of the Messiah
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
Joseph is a good man. He knows the law. He knows Mary can be killed for being pregnant. He makes a compassionate choice. There is no way for her to explain this baby. Only God can do that. Joseph is doing a good thing , but not a God thing.
When you decide on a good thing, give yourself time to think it further. Maybe there is a God thing that you can do.
15: TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
Matthew 1:20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus,[i] because He will save His people from their sins.”
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,[j] which is translated “God is with us.”
24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him.
These angels are busy. Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and in a little while shepherds and Joseph again. This is a big event. it is being arranged by the strength of God’s intervention.
God will intervene for you also. Believe Him. Trust Him to take you on a journey that may not be what you want or how you want but protected and provided.
16: SHIFTING HISTORY
Luke 2:The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
Taxes are powerful. An entire nation is put on edge to register in order to pay taxes. Jesus is born in Bethlehem because of taxation decree. Sure, God saw it coming. He sees events coming in your life. He knows how to control the tax man on your behalf to get you to the right place on time. He can control the laws, business leader, government official or whomever it takes to get you to your appointed destiny on time. Let Him.
In the birth of Christ, I think of glory. My heart is glad and full and expectant of greater things than all of what I have know and do know.
How great must it have been for everyone involved that knew and would shortly know of the greatness of this moment. Mary and Joseph and Elizabeth and Zechariah and the wise men are expecting. Simeon and Anna surely feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Something is getting ready to burst.
18: Almost A Side Note
Matthew 1:22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,[j] which is translated “God is with us.”
24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.
This incredible story focuses at this point on the prophet Isaiah along with Joseph and an angel. Much has been said and much more will be said. In the middle of all the text comes…. she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus…
Take a moment to mull on that. Jesus stepped into a swarming hornet’s nest in Israel. Violence covered every street. Anger ruled. Romans killed Jews. Jews killed Romans. Historical accounts tell us that it was a horrid time.
Take a moment to mull on that. Jesus stepped into a swarming hornet’s nest as a defenseless baby. Joseph is confused, but obedient. “She gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.”
How about your life? What if Jesus just quietly stepped into your chaos for a moment and brought the greatest celebration of historical peace, changed the dating system, shifted the morality of the world and rocked your boat? Would you let Him? Let Him. He is ready.
19: MERRY CHRISTMAS
Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him[d] and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.
As you celebrate the powerful interruption in history of the Son of God, I pray you consider letting Him interrupt your history. Look into tomorrow with a fresh vision engineered by His plan for your life. Fear has no place in you. Greatness is in your new genetics once connected in Christ. Start.
20: ENJOY THE WOW
The Shepherds and the Angels
Luke 2:8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before[e] them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.[f] 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:[g] 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
Wow.. Can you imagine this moment. An army of angels shows up in the field. Every day you are out here with stinky sheep and now the glory of God shows up in your normal.
Grab it. Enjoy it. Respond. When God shows up, smile big.
Father, show up for me big.
21: DO NOT WASTE TIME
Luke 2:15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things[j] in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.
When you know what to do, do it. These shepherds moved quickly. They found Jesus and found life. When you know what to do, come to Him and give Him your life. Do not sit around and think about it. Move.
Father, I want that heart of speed and obedience.
EXTRA: A Psalm of Confidence and Assurance
In Ps 16, I find great comfort. Read the entire psalm. At the core is this comprehensive verse.
Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely.
Psalms 16:9 HCSB
Body(flesh), soul(heart), and spirit(glory) are confident in Christ. No part of us is left out.
There are reasons the psalmist is secure and confident. When this was written, Jesus had not come in the flesh. There is a present and future application of the psalm. The way the psalmist lives it prior to Christ and the way we live it in Christ is similar. However, we have a more powerful and secure path through the door opened by the sacrifice of Christ and the resurrection and dispensing of the Holy Spirit. The psalmist looked ahead in faith and we receive fully in faith.
- He takes refuge in God. (Commits His life in Christ) Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You. I said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”
Psalms 16:1–2 HCSB
2. He secures himself in communion with others who do the same. (The local church) As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them.
Psalms 16:3 HCSB
3. He separates the influence of the normal evils from his life and those that follow them. (Holiness) The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.
Psalms 16:4 HCSB
4. He determines his allocation of provision and calls it good (spiritual gifts) Lord , You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
Psalms 16:5–6 HCSB
5. His direction comes from His relationship with God (infilling of the Holy Spirit) I will praise the Lord who counsels me — even at night my conscience instructs me. I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 16:7–8 HCSB
5. He lives a life of praise and presence (praise and worship) For You will not abandon me to Sheol; You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.
Psalms 16:10–11 HCSB
In Christ all of this is provided. Like the psalmist, we can take advantage. The psalmist lived in an era under the law of sin and death, yet chose faith and relationship as his path to security. We live in the era of the law of the Spirit of Life and do well to do the same. Our position is a gift, freely given by grace. And that gift is realized through faith in action and applied to daily living. The psalmist had no indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to sustain him. We do. We have ability in Christ to stand and receive a great life that overcomes weakness and infirmity of the mind, emotions, body, relationships, and provision (daily bread). We have the faith of the Son of God in us that the psalmist never had. How much more should we enjoy our lot, our position, and our inheritance freely given to be lived in faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.
22: DO THE RIGHT THING
The Circumcision and Presentation of Jesus
Luke 2:21 When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named Jesus—the name given by the angel before He was conceived. 22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) 24 and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).
Joseph is a good man. He knows the right thing to do at the right time and gets it done. He leads his family in right living.
Lead your life in right living. Provide an example. Provide strength.
Father, thank you for this greatness in Christ. Thank you for giving Jesus a good father, dedicated to do the right thing. Help us be the ones that do the right thing.
23: SPEAK WHAT YOU SEE IN HIM
Simeon’s Prophetic Praise
Luke 2:25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation,[p] and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered[q] the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
29 Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
as You promised.
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
31 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles[r] and glory to Your people Israel.
33 His father and mother[s] were amazed at what was being said about Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed[t]— 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts[u] of many hearts may be revealed.”
Speak what you see and hear in truth not what you want others to hear. It can be tempting to speak what others want. Simeon was a faithful man of God. He did not come to judge or point fingers, but he did need to speak of the hardness along with the greatness. He gave Mary and Joseph truth that would help make things clear in the following days. He gave much hope. Be a bringer of hope and truth.
Father, I need hope and truth. Speak to me in both. Help me to see the hardship and the beauty. Both build my life.
24: BE IN THE HOUSE PRAISING
Luke 2:36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years,having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for 84 years.She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Get this. Anna was living her faith. She was in the house of God along with the people. That put her in the position every day of being blessed. This woman must have been 100 years old or more. Here she is doing the work of God in fasting and prayers.
Do we give up too early? Do we expect God to move in a moment and really He is planning on a longer time?
Father, give me the faith that Anna had. She dedicated to you. Here she is. Here I am. Use me.
Published on https://www.facebook.com/groups/morningmoment/
25: GET THE STORY STRAIGHT
Matthew 2: Wise Men Seek the King
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east[a] and have come to worship Him.”[b]
3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.
5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:
6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.”
7 Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.”
Stories can be confusing. Right? Imagine being one of these men looking for Jesus. The Bible predicts Bethlehem. There are other predictions. But do you believe them? How do you interpret a star and prophecies and the wishes of Herod the King?
These men had a tough task. So do we. It is not always clear what is happening around us even when a miracle from heaven leads us to the moment. We must trust and get as many pieces of the story straight as possible.
Father, guide us with straight stories. Make the facts jump out like a star in the sky. Don’t let us get off track and confused by distractions. Help us to arrive on time.
EXTRA: A New Year A New Opportunity.
For this is what the Lord says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete,
I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place.
For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord ’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you” — this is the Lord ’s declaration —
“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you” — this is the Lord ’s declaration.
“I will restore you to the place I deported you from.”
Jeremiah 29:10–14 HCSB
These verses hold promise that when we seek Him and Him alone there is a plan waiting for us to be fulfilled. He is always ready to receive us into that plan.
Many read the promise portion and forget the connection and return. God is not a sugar daddy or a cosmic vending machine or a casino slot. He is God.
He is ready to receive you
He is ready for your return
He has plans for you
He has place for you
He has power for you
He has ability for you
No matter how long you have avoided Him
No matter how painful you have stayed away
He is ready
EXTRA: Anatomy of a Miracle: A story for the books
About 8 years ago, I printed and paid for 400 books for a friend. They were his testimony. Today, I saw him for the first time in many years. My friend reported he has given away over 1000 of the 400 books I gave him and still has two cases. Do the math.
When God has a message to deliver, He is able to do what He needs to do. He does it through the church, His people working together.
What miracle will you allow him to work through you in 2018?
“Look, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?
Jeremiah 32:27 HCSB
26: RIGHT WISDOM IS TIMELY WISDOM.
Matthew 2:9 After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen in the east![e] It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. 11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him.Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.
The wise men really were wise. Herod tried to trick them. He sought to interfere with God’s plan. The wise men looked to God and His stability to get the job done. They found the star in the sky as before and continued on God’s path. Sometimes, I wonder why they talked to Herod at all. It ended badly for all. Babies died. Mothers grieved.
Along the way they made good choices that led to worship of Jesus and gifts that would sustain Him and his family while hiding in Egypt and probably many more years. That is good.
When you are seeking God, you may make a mistake. But, He is ready and able to correct it and put you back in right motion on the right path. Trust Him.
Father, You are full of forgiveness and good correction. You are our God. Guide us. Steer us. Move us along a safe path.
27: EVEN IN A GOOD TIME, WE MAY NEED TO RUN
The Flight into Egypt
Matthew 2:13 After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.
All had been going well for Jesus and His family, but the enemy had other plans. Jesus and family had to run. They had to hide. When life attacks, it is okay to hide. Not every fear needs to be faced. Know the difference. There is a time to run and a time to stand. Let God be your guide. You cannot run every time, that is cowardice and will cause you to lose growth in Christ. But some days, you need to run. God will guide and let you know when.
Father, cover my friend against the anger of life. You are our protector and ever present guide. Show us when to stand and when to leave.
28: WHEN ALL IS DONE, REST.
Luke 2:39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.
In Christ, we have rest and restoration. We have growth and times of being filled and blessed. After so many incredible events surrounding Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary returned to a normal life. They left this surge of power and experience and went about the job of being a family.
Be a family. Be who God called you to be. Life is not about power and glory everyday. It is most about just living it. Be blessed in this 2018 and grow in Christ.
Blessed are those that receive.
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- 330 completed 90 day workshops and the journey to a better life forward.
- 14 children restored to stabilized homes/parents
- Uncounted salvations and healings.
Meet the founder and director of
SOLUM Community Transformation Initiative
Philip A. Larson mentors church planters and is pastor of Hope Connection in Gainesville, Texas along with serving as Executive Director of SOLUM Community Transformation Initiative nationwide. . As an ordained minister since 1988, he has ministered in prisons, homes, the workplace, inner city missions, and around the supper table. He has prior pastored in El Reno, Oklahoma in a multi-cultural mission outreach and in administration and outreach and volunteer ministries with Cathedral of Praise World Outreach Center, a large multi-cultural church in Oklahoma City. Phil’s career in corporate management includes retail and healthcare, insurance, profit, and non-profit concerns. He loves the ministry of pastoring, administration and outreach. Phil has served in every capacity in the church from preaching to cleaning to ushering to children’s worker. His greatest love in life is seeing God move in individuals, especially men. In the last fourteen years, Phil has taught as a trainer with the National Center For Fathering and has been a sponsor and coordinator of several citywide prayer and fathering events involving groups of multiple churches of different denominational backgrounds. Dian, his first and only wife since 1978 live in Yukon, Oklahoma. From there Phil commutes to Texas and across the nation and Mexico . Phil and Dian have three married children and one unmarried teenager, two grandchildren, and many who call him Poppa, Papi, and Papa in Oklahoma and Mexico.
Published on https://www.facebook.com/groups/morningmoment/
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Copyright, Philip A. Larson, 2018
SOLUM Community Transformation Initiative
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