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|Posted on December 23, 2017 at 6:13 PM||comments ()|
The Wonder of It All
by Chuck Swindoll
When Mary and Joseph began their journey southward to Bethlehem, they probably thought they had time to make the trip, register for the census, and then return home to Nazareth before the baby would be born. The weather cooperated and a donkey carried their provisions, but the journey proved more lengthy than either of them had expected. Mary was soon to give birth.
By the time they reached Bethlehem, Mary was exhausted. To make matters worse, the tiny town was packed with travel-weary people. Joseph searched for lodging . . . nothing. One kind family agreed to let them stay in a stable. It was a crude shelter, but it kept them out of the elements. No doubt a low fire warmed the chilly night air.
Once they were settled, Mary rested while Joseph worked his way through the corrupt registration process. Too soon, a powerful, dull ache gripped Mary's abdomen. She called out for Joseph in a panic, but he would be gone for hours. She had attended many childbirths, so she calmed herself and arranged their little shelter in preparation for the baby. A spare tunic would be His swaddling; a little bed of fresh straw in the feeding trough would cradle the newborn infant.
As evening fell, her labor pains intensified and accelerated. Joseph returned from the city tax office to find Mary moaning through a bone-deep wave of pain. There are no pains like those of childbirth. None so intense. None so hopeful.
Perhaps it was well into the night when Joseph laid the tiny Hope of Israel in Mary's arms. For nine months prior to His birth, Mary had talked to the baby, sung to Him, felt His body move, and looked forward to the day when she could finally touch Him. Now she looked into His eyes—Immanuel, "God with us."
It's hard to know if, in those first hours, God gave Mary a brief premonition of years to come, when another would point to her Son and say, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" . . . or when that promise would be fulfilled and a sword of emotion would pierce her own soul. Anticipated or not, those days would surely come. Mary's little Lamb was destined for sacrifice. But tonight she held her baby close, kissed His soft cheek . . . and wept quietly in the wonder of it all.
See Matthew 1:23; John 1:29; and Luke 2:35.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, "Mary, Mother of Jesus," in The Wise and the Wild: 30 Devotions on Women of the Bible (Plano, Tex.: Insight for Living, 2010), 75-76. Copyright © 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
|Posted on December 24, 2014 at 10:06 PM||comments ()|
Peace on Earth
good will to men
Luke 2:14 KJV
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
I stopped one Sunday morning to visit some military veterans being served at the Crawford House, that provided housing for veterans in need. They were gathered around a stump on a Sunday morning.
I confidently said to them; Glory to God, Peace on Earth and goodwill to men!
This was a voiced objection while visiting with One of the veteran setting around the stump of wisdom & knowledge, as they sometimes called it, bluntly stated “that Jesus wasn’t the son of god” because “there is NO PEACE on earth.”
I thought of another scripture of or by Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus also said: I bring not peace.
( I had no idea where that was ) the vet said, what Jesus really said was; “You think I came to bring peace?”
After looking at several scriptures we settled on Luke 12:51 as being the scripture we were both making reference too.
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. (NIV)²
Now, need I say the conversation became more intense and very interesting. This became apologetics 101. I was going by the seat of my pants, no book I had read or verse in the Bible said; If someone says, Jesus can’t be the Christ, because the angel said “on earth peace” then you say; thus and so.
This was not really a contentious conversation yet a fair statement, I could see on the faces of the other Vets listening in, that his statement wrung a chord with them. And my reply with the reference that we agreed on was Luke 12:51. Opened up a common ground for discussion.
One of the other vets had went and got his Bible, he said here is how it reads in my Bible:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NIV²)
The question came up, is the Peace of God through Christ the same meaning that we consider “peace” in our vocabulary? The NIV says “peace to those on whom his favor rests”. Does that include the unrepentant disbeliever?
Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse in Luke two, put it this way;
“God’s good-will in sending the Messiah introduced peace in this lower world, slew the enmity that sin had raised between God and man, and resettled a peaceable correspondence. If God be at peace with us, all peace results from it: peace of conscience, peace with angels, peace between Jew and Gentile. Peace is here put for all good,all that good which flows to us from the incarnation of Christ.”
In conclusion for this day was TO BE CONTINUED! I was amused as I departed, the vet that got the conversation going said, Padre! “the same bat time, same bat channel.”
The next week we had nine vets (including myself) and the same subject. I brought the following scriptures for their consumption.John 14:27 KJV
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth , give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled , neither let it be afraid .
From here it was all them and discussion among each other, some spirited, some a little contentious. Yet for the most part a very doctrinally sound expository that proved I wasn’t the only one that had read the Bible or paid attention in Sunday school.
Now and then some one would look at me and say, what do you say? Padre!
I would just add to the discussion with something like the following;If you are really serious about walking with God, He will teach you, and guide you, and comfort you, and yes, you will know His peace in your life. By Craig von Buseck, CBN.com Contributing Writer¹ Or add another scripture like this; Philippians 4:7 KJV
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
In the end was pretty much an agreement that the scripture was not necessarily “peace” meaning the lack or cessation of all violence for believers or nonbelievers.
I concluded with this from Matthew Henry;
This Christ calls his peace, for he is himself our peace,Eph. 2:14 . It is the peace he purchased for us and preached to us, and on which the angels congratulated men at his birth, Lu. 2:14 .2. To whom this legacy is bequeathed: "To you, my disciples and followers, that will be exposed to trouble, and have need of peace; to you that are the sons of peace, and are qualified to receive it.’’ This legacy was left to them as the representatives of the church, to them and their successors, to them and all true Christians in all ages.3. In what manner it is left: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. That is, (1.) "I do not compliment you with Peace be unto you; no, it is not a mere formality, but a real blessing.’’ (2.) "The peace I give is of such a nature that the smiles of the world cannot give it, nor the frowns of the world take it away.’’ Or, (3.) "The gifts I give to you are not such as this world gives to its children and votaries, to whom it is kind.’’ The world’s gifts concern only the body and time; Christ’s gifts enrich the soul for eternity: the world gives lying vanities, and that which will cheat us; Christ gives substantial blessings, which will never fail us: the world gives and takes; Christ gives a good part that shall never be taken away. (4.) The peace which Christ gives is infinitely more valuable than that which the world gives. The world’s peace begins in ignorance, consists with sin, and ends in endless troubles; Christ’s peace begins in grace, consists with no allowed sin, and ends at length in everlasting peace. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)
CBN also said it this way:
The peace of God is like a compass for our souls, leading us in the direction that the Holy Spirit intends for our lives. We can take great comfort in knowing that the sovereign God is so involved in our lives that He would supply us with this internal compass as we seek to do His will.¹
I pray that everyone finds the Peace of Jesus this Christmas.
² (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.
R. C. B. Lewis; 2012-14 All rights reserved