Today’s Scrip-Bit 31 December 2015 Luke 2:33‏‏‏

Luke 2:33.  And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. 

Well Friends, it’s Old Years, New year’s Eve; 2015 is on its last legs. And it’s a day that many of us have been looking forward to, hoping to come out from under its suffocating shroud and shadow into a new year that promises so much. 

But let’s remember friends that a new year is just another day, and nothing much changes from one day to the next. And though we might have several areas of our lives that need upgrading, let’s not burden ourselves with too many resolutions. 

As I said sometime before, there’s only ONE that we really need to make, and that’s being a stronger and more faithful follower of Jesus!  

When we accomplish that, everything else will fall into place. So just enjoy the partying and don’t be overly concerned about New Year’s resolutions, just concentrate on Jesus, and everything will be fine. 

Now let’s turn to our Bit, because I want to finish this series of messages on Mary today. ‘And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.’ 

Ah mih people, what an interesting and no doubt sometimes frustrating experience Joseph and Mary had as Jesus’ parents. And none was more frustrating than this one. We’re talking about the time when Jesus was twelve and his family went up to Jerusalem as usual for the feast of the Passover. 

Because of the big gathering of the extended family from Nazareth, when they left for home they automatically thought that Jesus was in the company of his relatives. But unfortunately he was not. When they realized this they turned back to Jerusalem. 

And the Good Book details it thus: ‘And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the midst of the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors (teachers), both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.’ (Luke 2:46-47) 

Wow! Imagine a twelve year old reasoning intelligently with the rabbis and teachers of the Jewish nation nuh. That also begs the question where did He eat and sleep and wash for those three days? Hn! 

The scholars explain that last verse by saying: ‘2:47. This may be due not only to Jesus’ person but also to a careful upbringing by His parents. The Old Testament placed great responsibility on parents to saturate their children’s minds with Scripture. (Deut. 6:7).’ 

And yuh know what my people? That responsibility has never been cancelled! It’s still our duty today to inculcate the Scriptures into the minds of our children. It’s jut that we have shrugged it off. That’s why our children are the godless way they are right now, and we have no one else to blame but ourselves. 

But anyway, can you imagine the concern, the anxiety Jesus’ parents must have had, no doubt blaming them selves for not paying closer attention to his whereabouts? Unlike a lot of us today who don’t know where our children are, and don’t seem to care. 

And the Good Book continues the story: ‘And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us (done this to us)? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing (anxiously). And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist (know) ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?’ (Luke 2:48-49) 

Ah Lord eh! Imagine at twelve years old talking to your parents like that nuh! Hn! Some of us would have been begging Santa to bring us some new teeth. (smile) 

The scholars explain that bit of impropriety by saying: ‘2:49. Wist ye not or “Did you not realize?” There is a certain tension between Jesus’ responsibility to parents on the one hand and to His heavenly Father on the other.’

I guess you could quite rightly say that, although at twelve years of age it does seem a bit much. 

However the Good Book goes on to say: ‘And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’ (Luke 2:50-52) 

Poor Mary and Joseph didn’t know what was really happening, and though Jesus went home with them and seems to have behaved properly after that, Mary still kept all those things in her heart, and no doubt pondered them regularly. 

And again, like after His circumcision, we see that Jesus grew strong and wise and found favour with everybody. 

The scholars tell us there: ‘2:52. The picture is one of consistent and well-rounded growth. There follows a gap of nearly two decades in Jesus’ life. When we see Him again, He is prepared for the task set before Him.’ 

He certainly is, and thus set to cause His poor mother more grief when they lock up Him up for sedition and blasphemy. How do you think she felt when she saw or heard about His beatings and scourging and the crown of thorns upon His head, traipsing back and forth between Pilate and Herod like a common criminal, being made a pappyshow instead of a royal show? 

And how do you think she felt when she saw Him faltering under the heavy load of the cross, struggling up Calvary’s hill? 

But most of all, what do you think it did to her very heart and soul when she saw her wonderful son, all battered and bruise, impaled on that wooden cross, His life blood slowly ebbing away in the hot noonday sun? 

I’m sure it brought back to her memory the fateful words of Simeon some three decades before, re the division and anguish His life would cause, but especially the words ‘(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also).’ (Luke 2:35) 

And I guess what must have hurt Mary the most is that she couldn’t do anything about her son’s situation, because deep down inside she knew that that was His destiny, that is what He was born for. 

And regardless of how His earlier acts might seem, Jesus did have a soft spot for His mother, because He knew that was the only one who even had an inkling of His true earthly purpose. 

Listen to the Good Book. ‘Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he LOVED, (John) he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.’ (John 19:25-27) 

Ah mih people, though Jesus caused Mary some worries in His life, in His death, He made sure that she had somewhere safe to go, like all good sons ought to. 

That brings us to the end of Mary’s story, and I do hope that I was able to bring home to us, just how important she was and is to our faith, for without her strong and unbroken faith, the story of Jesus might have turned out differently. 

Now let’s ring out the old year and ring in the new, prepared to embrace Jesus even deeper in our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Much LOVE!

…there’s no human LOVE…to beat a mother’s LOVE… 

P.S. Friends, I know it’s long, but I couldn’t shorten it without having it run on for another day. You can’t have it both ways. (smile) Much LOVE!

 

 

 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 30 December 2015 Luke 2:33‏‏

Luke 2:33.  And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. 

And then it was Wednesday! Yes friends, the day before Old Year’s, before New Year’s Eve, when we make such a big hoopla about things changing for the New Year, when in fact they mostly remain the same. (smile) 

For the first few days we might try to keep our resolutions, but invariably we end up back at the same spot we were at, at year’s end. 

Now it’s good to make sincere and productive resolutions and all that, but the trouble is that most of just talk for talk sake, without any serious intention of making the changes we talk about. Or if we’re serious, when the enormity of the situation truly hits us, we just give up and revert back to our former state. 

Anyway, I’m not going to bad talk New Year’s resolutions anymore. (smile) Instead, let’s wail our Wednesday Wail with sincerity and a true sense of purpose. ‘Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: I’m so glad to be alive on this Wednesday! Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: Thank God the breath of life is still flowing through me on this Wednesday! 

I am halfway home. My hands are fixed securely on the plough, and I’m not turning back. I’m not looking back at the past, not focusing on what has gone before. But my eyes are fixed straight ahead; straight ahead to a glorious future with Jesus. Glory Hallelujah!’ 

Oh my people, that’s all the New Year’s resolution we need right there; looking ahead to a glorious future with Jesus! 

And I’d like to plead guilty to not checking with us during the year, as I used to, and ought to, as to whether we are keeping up with our New Year’s resolutions, especially the only one I claim that we need, forging a prosperous relationship with Jesus. 

However, I do hope that all of us did improve our relationship with Christ during this past year; that we grew and matured in Him, even if it was just a li’l bit. 

Yes my fellow believers, I sincerely hope that all of us came up a little higher in living for Christ this year, and that we’ll keep on pursuing that beautiful dream in the coming year, because it’s simply the BEST option that exists. 

Now let’s turn to our Bit. ‘And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.’ And how could they not eh mih breddren when every time they turned around, somebody had some glorious insight into Jesus’ future? 

And we’ll go back to that day in the temple when they brought Jesus to be circumcised, how the old prophet Simeon was so ecstatic at seeing the Messiah, and the Good Book invokes our Bit. But the old man wasn’t finished. 

‘And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set (destined) for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against. (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’ (Luke 2:34-35) 

Ah friends, as if Mary needed to hear any more contentious talk re the life of her first born. Remember she was still just a teenager without a whole lot of life experience. And who knows what dire thoughts fled through her young, inexperienced mind when Simeon spoke about a sword piercing her soul? 

The scholars though explain those verses thus: ‘2:34-35. Jesus’ coming will bring deliverance, but also division and anguish. Both redemption and judgement are bound up in His advent.’ And His coming certainly did bring all those things. 

And if listening to all the stuff that Simeon said wasn’t unnerving enough, as soon as he was done, and old prophetess by the name of Anna came on the scene. 

The Good Book tells it like this. ‘And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.’ (Luke 2:37-38) 

Ah Lord eh! As though the poor parents didn’t already have enough to put up with. 

And the scholars tell us: ‘2:36-37. Like Simeon, Anna was of unusual commitment, and had been blessed, being a prophetess, with special spiritual insight.’ 

Now how would you like to be the parent of such a child eh? Many of us would have been tearing out our hair, and wondering what kind of child we had given birth to. But Mary and Joseph didn’t, because they knew that Jesus was special, though just not how special. 

And the Good book ends this period of anxiety and surprise by simply saying: ‘And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed (became) strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.’ (Luke 2:39-40) 

Yes friends, they certainly needed a break from all the attention. But don’t think that through those years of Jesus’ growth that their minds weren’t filled with wonder and worry. 

And can you even imagine Mary’s thoughts as she watched Him feeding at her breasts, drawing the life enhancing milk from her body? They must have run the whole gamut of imagination; from good to bad and back again. 

No doubt over those early years, she kept pondering all the unlikely things that had happened. But we do know that her faith was strong, and she would not give up though her trials and tribulations were plentiful. Hopefully the same can be said of us my fellow believers. Much LOVE!

…a Christian’s reaction to trials…should not be giving up…but a turning to… and crying out to God in faith…for help and mercy…as He has decreed…

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 29 December 2015 Luke 2:33‏

Luke 2:33.  And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. 

Well mih people, at long last we got a taste of the white stuff. Last evening a blanket of snow finally covered my neighbourhood. This morning around 3 o’clock, before I went to bed, I opened my front door and it was just a pretty picture as you can get of an all white scene, before man defiles it. 

However, a while ago, when I went to put out the garbage, most of it had already melted and instead the rain was falling. So the purists who did not get their white Christmas are also in danger of not getting a white New Year’s either, if these warm and above seasonal temperatures persist. 

The man I pay to clean the snow from my driveway won’t be working today either. He’s still collecting money under false pretenses. But I guess them’s the breaks. (smile) 

And as you can see above, I went to bed late, hence the abnormally late Bit. My intense and sincere apologies, but the ole fella is really a creature of the night, and going to bed early is sometimes difficult. (smile) 

Anyway, it’s a festive Tuesday in the Christmas season, so let’s declare our Tuesday Mantra like we really mean it nuh. All together now: ‘I’m not what I do. I’m not what I have. I’m not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God, that’s who I am. No one can take that from me. 

I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to hurry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share His LOVE with the world.  Amen!’ And is all of that is ever so true my fellow believers in Christ! 

Yes friends, we’re not defined by what we have or do! Our identity is found in being the children of God: His beloved offspring, in whom He is well pleased! We are also Jesus’ close Friend and confidant. That’s who we are! So let’s stop defining ourselves by our material possessions and worldly positions nuh. Nuff said! 

And I’m sure some of you must be wondering how I got on this Mother Mary kick. But there’s no rocket science behind it. It’s just that over the last couple of years, as I delve deeper into the Good Book, I’ve come to LOVE and appreciate Mary. 

So much so, that I’ve come to believe that she is the one who most understood Jesus, also the one who had the truest and strongest faith in the Good Book, after Jesus Himself. We all know the miraculous things she went through at a tender age, but her faith never wavered. In fact I believe it got stronger. 

As the saying goes, she became a mother, while still a child. And yuh better believe my brethren that motherhood is the hardest job in the world, as most mothers would agree, because there are no real instructions on how to do it, especially if you have several children, all with different personalities and needs, as Mary no doubt had. 

And one of the reasons she knew Jesus best, besides the mother and son angle, is that she had the best idea of what His mission was all about, having participated in His miraculous birth and hearing all the magnificent things that were said about Him from his very birth. As we saw yesterday, all those things she kept note of them in her heart and sincerely pondered them. 

My favourite story about Mary and Jesus though is the one at the wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee, where Jesus performed His first miracle; the making of wine from water. I just LOVE the way she handled Him. 

As reported by John, they had run out of wine at the wedding and Mary came and shared that fact with Jesus. ‘Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee (what concern is that of mine)?’ (John 2:4) 

Mary must have chuckled and said to herself: ‘So you think you’re a big man now eh, with your biggish answers? Well just look out for me and you today.’ Then she put her motherly and feminine wiles, her devious plan to work. 

‘His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.’ (John 2:5) Then she flounced off and left Him. Hn, hn!‘ Typical woman and mother eh. 

‘And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after (according to) the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.’ (John 2:6) 

Now here is some important info from the scholars on that verse. ‘2:6. Waterpots were normally used for washing feet. Firkins were about nine gallons, so each pot held 18 to 27 gallons (total capacity: 108 to 162 gallons).’ 

So friends, these must have been some rather big waterpots. Then ‘Jesus saith unto them (the servants), Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. (That means roughly 162 gallons). And he saith unto them, Draw (some) out now, and bear it unto (take it to) the governor (master) of the feast. And they bare it.’ (John 2:7-8) 

What a bam-bam that caused friends! For when the master of the feast tasted the wine that had been made from the water, and didn’t know where it had come from (though the servants knew), he called the bridegroom and admonished him. 

‘Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse (inferior): but thou hast kept the good wine until now.’ (John 2:10) The poor bridegroom must have been at a loss to know what the master of the feast was talking about. 

But here is some more info from the scholars re that wine. ‘2.9. Much has been written about the wine Jesus created. Oinos is the New Testament word for the fruit of the vine, but it implies nothing concerning fermentation. Whatever Jesus re-creates (water) is better than it was and better than man can make it (fermented wine).’ 

For sure friends! That was probably, no, not probably, but the best wine ever made and drunk in this world! I would have LOVED to taste it! (smile) So you see my people, Mary indeed had more knowledge of Jesus’ capabilities than anyone else. 

And the Good Book afterwards, comments thus on the situation. ‘This beginning of miracles (signs) did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth (revealed) his glory; and his disciples believed on him.’ (John 2:11) 

I guess the disciples had no choice but to believe, after they witnessed such an outstanding event. But deep down inside, because of her natural maternal instincts, plus all the unexpected and unusual things she had experienced during His growing up, His mother Mary knew what He was capable of. 

And we’ll end on that note today. It gives us stuff to keep in our hearts and to ponder on, just like Mary. Much LOVE!

…oftimes…because of the normally close relationship and the natural maternal instinct… a mother has the best knowledge of her child…

 

 

 
 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 28 December 2015 Luke 2:33

Luke 2:33.     And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

And after all the hoopla and celebration, we right back to the same ole, same ole; the daily grind and common task. Chuh! 

Yes friends, it’s Monday morning and the agonizing trip back to work is facing most of us squarely in the face. But hopefully, after all the thinking and talking about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ over the past week, our spirits are at an all-time high and we’ll have no problems getting up and getting out there to face the infidel, bright and strong.  I just know that it’s going to be a piece of cake mih people! (smile) 

However, just to be on the safe side, let’s sing our Monday Morning Battle Hymn with all the enthusiasm and fervour that we’ve been lavishing on the Christmas season. So as a mighty choir, like the heavenly angels that sang at Christ’s birth, let’s fill the airwaves with our glorious song.  

‘Oh Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe and all therein! We, your humble servants, praise your Holy Name and thank you that this Monday morning we have jobs to go to; jobs we don’t like, jobs that are unfair, difficult and even dangerous, but which serve a useful purpose here on earth; keeping lives and families together. 

We also thank you Father for the renewed vitality and enthusiasm you’ve wrought in our weary souls over the last two days. It’s that rejuvenation of Spirit which allows us now to sally forth with confidence into the evil, ungodly world that surrounds us, to begin a new week of work, constantly buffeted and bombarded by the enemy’s wicked taunts, wiles and lies. 

But heavenly Father, we’re not afraid, for we know we’re invincible, sure conquerors, once we’re wearing your powerful, protective spiritual armour. We surrender our all to you, and humbly ask that you let your incredible aura of LOVE, the Holy Spirit, lead and guide all your servants as we go out to meet the enemy in battle. 

Fill us with steadfast faith, so that we can make worthwhile inroads into the enemy’s ranks, and thereby further your glorious kingdom. We pray this in the Holy Name of your Son, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. AMEN!’  

Oh precious people, that was beautiful, or as the French would say, ‘tres magnifique!’ You could see the light in Jesus’ eyes as He swung His baton up and down, from side to side with much verve, conducting us. And all of heaven gave us a ‘Standing O!’ Glory Hallelujah! Maybe we should just celebrate Christmas every week. (smile) 

Now let’s turn to our Bit, as we consider some more of those signs and wonders that enveloped Joseph’s and Mary’s lives after Jesus was born into their household. ‘And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.’ 

Now while Mary was in the late stages of her pregnancy, she was forced to go up to Bethlehem with Joseph to be registered in a census, per the orders of Caesar Augustus because he was of the lineage of Bruh David.  And per the Lord’s plan, she had the baby Jesus there in a smelly stable with all sorts of funky animals because there was no room for them in the inn. 

And a host of heavenly angels broadcast the good tidings of great joy to the shepherds watching their flocks in the field. ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’ (Luke2:11)  Again fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of chapter 9:6: ‘For unto us a child is born…’ 

Then the shepherds went and saw the baby Jesus and spread the word of his birth all around the countryside, glorifying God! 

And I like this particular verse of scripture. While everybody was wondering about the shepherd’s news, the Good Book states: ‘But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:19) That was to be her trademark in her association with her firstborn; not saying a whole lot, but simply storing and pondering His ofttimes seemingly eccentric nature. 

And if the shepherd’s inquisitiveness wasn’t enough, there came three wise men out of the East, following a bright star to worship the baby boy, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, gifts worthy to be offered to a king. (Matt.2:1-12)  

Now to add to all that drama, after the wise men left, Joseph had a dream to take his family and flee to Egypt, because Herod the jealous, crazy king was seeking to kill Jesus.  So Joseph departed into Egypt and lived there for a while until after Herod’s death. In the meanwhile Herod killed all the children in the area under two years of age, because the wise men had fooled him, had not come back to tell him where the baby Jesus was situated.  

Nonetheless when Joseph returned to Israel, he settled in the region of Galilee, fearful of Herod’s son, Archelaus who was then reigning in Judea. ‘And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene.’ (Matt.2:23) 

Oh friends, our God is the greatest dramatist ever yes! You’ll notice that many of the situations throughout the New Testament, had already been prophesied in the Old Testament and Jesus was the fulfillment of them all! 

But before that particular bit of drama re fleeing to Egypt, we can recall the story of Simeon in the temple, who had been promised life until he saw the Messiah in living colour. And that he did when Joseph and Mary brought him to the temple to be circumcised on the eight day, as per Jewish custom.  

And he took the child and blessed God, and said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word (God’s promise to him). For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten (bring revelation to) the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.’ (Luke 2:29-32) 

Yes my people, Jesus’ life was colourful and dramatic from beginning to end, as befitted the Son of God, and it certainly wasn’t easy on His parents. But they never gave up on Him, just like we are never to give up on our difficult children. 

Tomorrow, more signs and wonders, God in favour. Till then, let’s keep the bubbling spirit of Christ and Christmas overflowing in our hearts as we tread confidently and righteously in this evil and ungodly world. Much LOVE!

…All hail the King of glory…whose virgin birth significantly changed world history…

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 27 December 2015 Luke 2:33

Luke 2:33.   And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

Oh my people, this Sunday morning, the first after Christmas Day is the perfect opportunity for us to sing and ponder this song, sung by several artists. It’s titled ‘Mary Did You Know?’ 

Please sing along with me: ‘Mary did you know that your baby boy Will one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy Will save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy Has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered Will soon deliver you? Mary, did you know that your baby boy Will give sight to a blind man? 

Mary, did you know that your baby boy Will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy Has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby You’ve kissed the face of God. 

Oh, Mary did you know   Ooh…  The blind will see, the deaf will hear, The dead will live again The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, The praises of the lamb? Mary did you know that your baby boy Is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy Will one day rule the nations? Did you know that your Baby Boy Is Heaven’s perfect Lamb? This sleeping child you’re holding Is the great I am?’ 

Oh Friends, I don’t know how many of those things Mary knew, but I am sure she knew that her baby boy was very special, especially from the manner in which He was conceived! Then there were so many signs and wonders along the way, how could she not know that He would indeed be a mover and a shaker. 

As our Bit so pointedly puts it:  ‘And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. 

Now let’s look at some of the signs and wonders. First off is the manner in which she was apprised of the situation by the sudden appearance of the angel telling her that she had found favour with God and would conceive and bring forth a son to be called JESUS, who would be great and called the Son of the Highest (Most High) and the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David. And the angel went on to explain how it would all come to pass. (Luke 1:27-38) 

Now if that didn’t give her some indication that something important was going to happen, then I don’t know what would have. And by the way, Mary was no simpleton, so her unhesitating agreement, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word,’ was more a matter of faith, rather than a lack of understanding. 

After that Mary went to visit her cousin Elisabeth, who previously considered barren, was then some six months pregnant with John the Baptist. And when she entered Elisabeth’s house and greeted her, John jumped for joy in his mother’s womb. (smile) 

‘And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me (why is it) that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance (fulfillment) of those things which were told her from the Lord.’ (Luke 1:41-45) 

Then Mary declared the awesome words we now call the Magnificat. ‘My soul doth magnify (exalt) the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate (lowly state) of his handmaiden (maid servant): for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.’ (Luke 1:46-48) You can read the rest of it for yourselves my people. It runs up to verse 56. 

And according to the scholars: ‘1:46-56. This passage is called “the Magnificat,” based on the first word of the Latin translation (the Vulgate). It is rich in Old Testament imagery: Jesus’ coming was in fulfillment of Old Testament promises.’  

So even if Mary wasn’t too sure of the situation, once she heard Elisabeth’s pronouncement and spoke the immortal words of the Magnificat, then spending three months with Elisabeth, she must have been aware that an event of great importance was going to take place in her life. 

I am sure too that Mary was quite relieved when most likely, she very anxiously told Joseph about her situation, because the consequences of adultery or fornication were great in those days, even leading to the stoning of the woman. 

But the Good Book tells us: ‘Then Joseph, her husband, being a just (upright) man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily (secretly). 

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.’ (Matt.1:19-21)  

Now all of that was done to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy re the virgin birth of a child called Immanuel, God with us. (Is.7:14, 9:6) 

‘Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. And knew her not (kept her a virgin) till she brought forth her first-born: and he called his name JESUS.’ (Matt.1:24-25) 

And the scholars explain: ‘1:19-20. Because Joseph was a just man, he decided to put her away (divorce her) privately (“privily”). The Jewish betrothal had to be legally broken. Joseph’s merciful attitude gives an insight into his true nature as a man.’ 

Yes friends, it wasn’t an easy row for either Mary or Joseph to hoe with the Saviour of man placed in their laps, but hoe it they did, with strength, wisdom, faith and obviously the Lord’s help. May we go forward on our own row today doing the same thing, of course with Jesus’ help. 

And we’ll continue Mary’s story tomorrow, God willing. Till then may we rest in the peace, comfort, joy and LOVE of our heavenly Father. Much LOVE!

…it’s Sunday…and still the Christmas season…so please let’s fill the churches with people…giving thanks and praise to God…as we ought to…

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 26 December 2015 Isaiah 9:2

Isaiah 9:2.  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Well Friends, Christmas Day is over for another year…but not the season! Today is only Boxing Day, when many of you will rush to the malls to get those bargains so widely advertised. (smile) We still have lots of celebrating to do over the next two weeks right into the New Year! 

So we still need to remember that the birth of Jesus was, and still is the reason for all the hoopla all around the world and still pay our respects and reverence like the three wise men and the shepherds did. 

Anyway, I don’t know if I have shared this prayer before, but even if I have, it’s well worth sharing again. It comes from Gramps Schuler’s (Dr. Robert H. Schuler) Hour of Power Devotional. It’s called ‘A Christmas Prayer.’ 

Please pray with me. ‘You lead me, Jesus Christ, to thoughts of God. I see you in a manger carved from a tree. I see you as a young man with hands that reach to touch hearts that hurt. Your caring reaches out like the strong and kind branches of a gentle tree reach out to invite road-weary and travel-worn wayfarers to quiet rest. 

I see you again hanging on a tree with outstretched arms taking in the whole world. From your cross, you show me that God will stop at nothing to save my soul. So, I celebrate God’s LOVE today as I celebrate your birth around a twinkling Christmas tree. I pray my life, like yours, O Lord, may be tall and upright as a pine tree pointing, reaching, sharing, sparkling, life-giving; solid, sturdy, strong rooted in God’s LOVE, a beautiful soul, evergreen forever. Amen.’ 

Ah mih people, after all that our God has done for us, how can we doubt His wonderful and heartfelt LOVE eh? But lots of people seem to do so, and sadly they will suffer for that mistake.  

Now it’s time for our Bit. But first let’s get some context of what it’s all about. Isaiah had earlier prophesied deliverance for Israel, however that would be only after a period of trouble and darkness. 

And he begins Chapter 9 thus: ‘Nevertheless the dimness (gloom) shall not be such as was in her vexation (upon who is distressed), when at the first he lightly afflicted (esteemed) the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea (he shall glorify the way), beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations (Gentiles). 

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.’ (Is.9:1-2)  

And the scholars offer this explanation: ‘9:1-5. The dimness of Israel’s rejection was especially prevalent in the northern tribal areas of Zebulun and Naphtali, which would suffer greatly under the Assyrian invasion. Galilee is named and identified with the nations (goyim, Gentiles). 

To those in the darkness of the north God promises to send a great light, which is quoted in Matthew 4:15-16 as being fulfilled in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. The prophet sees these events as though they were already happening. Thus he predicts the future with certainty, as though it had already come to pass.’  

What great prophecy my people! And Isaiah could not have figured out all that by himself. It had to come from a Higher Power. And Matthew concurs in his gospel when he talks about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. 

‘Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, The Land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles; 

The people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light has sprung up (has dawned). From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matt.4:12-17) 

 So Friends, Isaiah was quite right, for the child that was born unto us, called Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace etc. did begin His serious ministry in the region that Isaiah identified.  Oh glory to God my brethren for the might and depth of His Word! 

And we’ll get another prophecy fulfilled soon after Jesus’ birth. He was brought to the temple at eight days old, as per the Jewish custom to be offered to God and be circumcised. 

Now when Joseph and Mary showed up at the temple with Jesus, they met an old man named Simeon, ‘just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel (Messianic hope): and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.’ Luke 2:25-26) 

And would you believe that day the Holy Ghost led him to the temple just as Mary and Joseph showed up? ‘Then he took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word (God’s promise): for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;  

A light to lighten (bring revelation to) the gentiles; and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of them.’ (Luke 2:28-33) 

And per the scholars: ‘2:32-33. Here for the first time the parents hear the startling prophecy that Jesus’ significance would extend even to the Gentiles. This would be surprising even if it had not come from an apparent stranger.’ 

It certainly would my people, and I can just imagine how Joseph’s and Mary’s mouths must have been wide open with wonder at the child they had borne.  

And yuh know what Friends, two thousand and odd years later, we are still drooling in wonder at the Christ child, as we should, because that is wisdom of the highest order. Much LOVE!

…no other baby ever born…can match the wonder that’s Jesus…

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 25 December 2015 Isaiah 9:2

Isaiah 9:2.  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

  MERRY  CHRISTMAS !

Oh my fellow believers, friends, neighbours and the great unwashed, Jesus Christ is born! Glory Hallelujah! At long last the day for which we’ve waited is here, so to show our appreciation and gratitude let’s offer up some sacrificial praise and thanksgiving nuh! 

Please sing with me: ‘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 heaven, and nature sing. 

Joy to the earth! The savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy. 

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, far as, the curse is found. 

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, wonders, of his LOVE.’ 

Yes my brethren, our Lord and Saviour was born some two thousand years ago in the dirty and ‘dingy’ stable with the all the animals and their funky smell, but that didn’t bother Him one iota. And a lot of people wonder if God is so omnipotent and otherwise why He allowed His blessed son to be born in such lowly and humble surroundings. 

Well Friends, that’s just because God wanted to show that Christ came to save the lowly, the lost, the needy, not the righteous and wealthy. Plus He also likes to ‘confuffle’ mankind by using the lowly and poor when others expect Him to use the wise and wealthy. 

But be that as it may, today is Christ’s birthday and it is being celebrated all around the world with joy and gladness and good tidings to one and all. Even those who are being relentlessly persecuted are celebrating, because their faith is strong enough to withstand the persecution, for it’s based on the wonderful and faithful promises of Jesus! Glory to God my people! 

And now turning to our Bit: ‘The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.’ 

And isn’t that the gospel truth my believing brethren? It certainly is, because Jesus is the LIGHT of this dark world, and when He was born His healing and comforting and saving light was let loose on the darkness and the people rejoiced, because they could then see their way clear by the brilliant LIGHT that Jesus brought to planet earth. 

Now here is why our God is so great, especially when coming to promises. The prophet Isaiah foretold centuries before Christ’s birth this wonderful news that the people faithfully held on to for so long. 

‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord will perform this.’ (Is.9:6-7) 

And though it took many centuries for this to happen, in God’s time, His zeal did perform the promise through the miraculous birth of Jesus through the Virgin Mary. 

Yesterday we saw how Mary’s faith was great, as she acceded to the Lord’s purpose in her life without any hesitation. Oh friends, are we doing the same eh? Are we getting in agreement with God’s plan for our life without too much hassle and doubt and anxiety? I surely do hope so, because that’s when the Lord performs His miracles in our lives and raises us up. 

Now let’s turn to Luke and get his account of Jesus’ birth. ‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in their field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon (stood before) them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore (greatly) afraid. 

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: 

Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes (cloths), lying in a manger. 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, good will toward men.’ (Luke 2:8-14) 

Yes Friends, that is what Jesus came to earth to bring; peace and good will to all mankind. Let’s never forget that because it’s one of the basic tenets of our faith. 

And time and space has run out on us, but we all know how the shepherds ran to where Jesus lay and found Him just as the angels had declared, then they spread the good news all around the area, praising and glorifying God. (Luke 2:15-20) 

Now that’s what we ought to do today and everyday my people. Anyway, today is Friday, and I believe it is one day when we badly need our Friday Chant to keep us in line, since the celebration of Christ’s birth is so phenomenal. So let’s go home chanting it with sincerity and enthusiasm nuh. 

‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through another week of work! It hasn’t been easy, but with your generous help, I made it through. Now, please help me to get sufficient fun, fellowship, rest and relaxation in these two short days off, so that I can be renewed and refreshed in soul, body and mind, to go back out and do it all over again next week, furthering your glorious kingdom with each step I take. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.’ 

And please remember Granny’s plea, that drunk or sober we must mind our business. That is ever so important in these times of celebration.  Merry Christmas my brothers and sisters in Christ! Much LOVE!

…Christmas…the time when Christ’s light…first shone in a darkened world… 

P.S.  The Bit’s early today friends, so no complaints. (smile) That’s because I wrote it right after I came from the 11 0’clock service at church. This way I can do my own celebrations without having to worry about waking up to write it. Oh there is indeed method to my madness! (smile) And though it’s somewhat long, I think it’s good. Hope you do too. Much LOVE!

 

 

 

 

 

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