Posts in the "God's Odd and Wonderful Plan" Category

God’s Odd and Wonderful Plan to Save the World: Week 3

Sunday Sermon Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

We’ve looked at the birth announcements and the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the first two weeks. Now we look at what happened after the birth of Jesus. We look at some of the visitors that came to see Him.

Matthew 2:1-23

Why would God communicate through the stars with Magi from an eastern country? What does their visit tell us about God’s plan to save the world? … Magi are wise men from the east. They are probably astrologers, people who study the stars. It seems odd that these Magi would come to visit Jesus. … There is a lot about the Magi that we do not know. We don’t know if there were only three of them or more, or maybe even less. They may or may not have been kings.

The Magi come to Jerusalem and visit King Herod to ask him where the newborn King was. Herod, a very disturbed man, did not like that a new king was born who might overthrow him. Herod had his own son killed when his son became popular. He also had a few wives killed. … So, Herod plots to kill the child. He consults his people who would know where the Messiah was to be born and sent the Magi on their way with instructions to return to him and tell him where to find the baby. Herod said he would worship the baby, but his real motive was murder.

The Magi followed the directions given and then followed the star to the precise location of the baby. When they arrived, they bowed down. The phrase “bow down” is not what we might see on tv when characters “bow down.” The phrase here means they fell on their faces. These Magi were laying down, prostrate, in front of a bay, the Messiah.

Before the Magi could return to Herod, an angel told them to not go to Herod. An angel also appeared to Joseph and told him to take Mary and Jesus to avoid Herod’s wrath. When Herod realized the Magi were not returning to him, he ordered all boys young enough to be the Messiah according to the Magi, in Bethlehem to be killed. A terrible massacre of young boys occured.

Once Herod died, an angel appeared Joseph again, saying they could return to Israel. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had a detour early in their family life. Many of us also face detours in our lives as we try to become who we are meant to be. This detour retraced the journey of the Israelites in the Old Testament.

They plan on returning to Bethlehem, but they heard the worst of Herod’s sons was ruling there and decided to return to Nazareth, which is where they were before all of this happened. It’s amazing how God uses everyone to ensure that Jesus is born in Bethlehem, as the prophecies say, and that he would grow up in and be from Nazareth, as the prophecies say.

God is telling us that Jesus is a worldwide Savior. He came to save all people from all nations, all backgrounds, and all religions.

God reaches out to people in ways they can understand. For the Magi, it was a star. For others it might be dreams or another person. The possibilities are limitless.

There are three responses in this passage to the news that a King has been born:

  1. Hostility … Herod is against Jesus, sees Jesus as a threat, and wants to get rid of Him. Even today He still threatens the lifestyles of people living in sin.

  2. Indifference … The religious leaders and scribes told the Magi where to go and did not go themselves. These are the people you would expect to be most excited to see what they’ve been studying their whole lives.

  3. Worship … The least likely people in this story to worship the Messiah are the ones to do it. The Magi come and fall down and worship the Messiah and give Him gifts.

God's Odd and Wonderful Plan: Week 2

Sunday Sermon Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

Last week we learned about 2 odd and wonderful pregnancies.

  1. Elizabeth is pregnant and Zechariah didn’t believe the angel, so he is mute until the baby is born and named John.

  2. Mary is pregnant and is engaged to Joseph and is a virgin. Joseph thought to divorce her quietly but was persuaded by an angel to still marry her.

Luke 1:57-2:38

Elizabeth gives birth to a baby (Luke 1:57-80).

  • Elizabeth and Zechariah name him John. … The relatives there did not understand why      the baby was to be named John. It was more traditional to name the first male son after his father.

  • Zechariah is able to speak again, and he praises God. …

Mary gives birth to a baby (Luke 2:1-21).

  • Joseph and Mary journey to Bethlehem. … Caesar Augustus issued a decree that everyone should return to their ancestor’s hometown for a census. Joseph was a descendent of David, yes, the David who killed Goliath and later became king of Israel. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, but had to go to Bethlehem for the census.

  • The baby is born in a place where livestock are kept. … Mary and Joseph couldn’t find anywhere to stay, probably because so many people came back for the census. They ended up in some type of livestock holding area. It may have been a cave where animals were kept or structure like a stable.

  • Angels announce the birth to shepherds. … In and odd and wonderful way, the first birth announcement is to some shepherds. The shepherds are just out there watching their sheep for the night and angels appear to them, declaring the birth of the Christ.

  • The shepherds find the baby and praise God. … The shepherds were told the baby would be in a manger and go to find him. Imagine this group of shepherds enthusiastically knocking on doors and asking residents if their was a baby in their manger.

  • When the baby is 8 days old, He is named Jesus. … The name is important.

Joseph and Mary take Jesus to Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-28).

  • When Jesus is 40 days old, they go to the temple. … When a child was 40 days old, the mother was required to offer a sacrifice for cleansing. Also, the first born was to be consecrated to the Lord.

  • Simon and Anna recognize Jesus as God’s salvation. … Anna, an old lady, prophecies to Mary and Joseph about Jesus. Simeon, an old man who had asked God to show him the Messiah before he died, recognized Jesus as that Messiah and knows salvation is here and on the way. … Anna and Simeon knew Jesus was how God would save the world in an odd and wonderful way.

Salvation is not a philosophy. Salvation is a relationship with Jesus. We all need saving from our sin. For those of us who have already accepted that salvation, we sometimes need to ask for forgiveness for our failings too. For those who have not accepted it, consider doing so by starting that relationship today.

God's Odd and Wonderful Plan: Week 1

Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

The story of Christmas is the story of God saving the world.

Where do we begin? Before we get to that, let’s look at the last verses of the Old Testament. In Micah 4:5-6 the prophecy of a Messiah comes and the people wait 400 years before He comes. God works on His own time, not ours.

This story starts with two odd and wonderful pregnancy announcements.

  1. First we see that Elizabeth is pregnant (Luke 1:5-25). … Zechariah and Elizabeth were an old couple who had been unable have children. Zechariah, a priest, goes into the temple to perform his duties. Gabriel, an angel, appears to him and tells him he we have a son and that his son’s name will be John. John is to take a vow to never drink any kind of wine. John is to prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah finds all of this hard to believe and then we learn that God wants us to take Him at His word and makes Zechariah mute until the baby is born and named John.

  2. Second we see Mary is pregnant (Luke 1: 26-38). … Gabriel goes out to the boondocks of Israel in Nazareth and appears to Mary. Gabriel tells her not to be afraid, that she has been chosen to give birth to the Messiah. Mary is confused. She doesn’t understand how she, a virgin, could have a baby.

Then Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. Both are pregnant at this time. Something odd and wonderful happens. John senses the presence of Jesus and jumps in Elizabeth’s womb. Mary breaks out in song.

When Mary returns home, Joseph, her betrothed, finds out she is pregnant and decides to quietly divorce her (Matthew 1:18-25). … But an angel appears to him and tells him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel tells him to name the baby Jesus. The name is significant. It means Yahweh saves. It is a message to Joseph and to the world that this child will save the world, He will save us from our sins. … The angel also tells Joseph this was happening in this way to fulfill the prophecy of the virgin birth. The virgin conception is certainly odd and wonderful. … The baby will also be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” The virgin conception is important to this. If Jesus had had two human parents then we might have more trouble believing He is fully human and fully God. But with God as His Father, we can see more easily how Jesus is both.

It is truly an odd and wonderful plan.