Wise Men

Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12


1  Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,] and we have come to worship him.

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you

    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’]

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Introduction

As you know, I am an incurable list maker. Today, I have a list of things that WISE MEN DO and they come right from the scripture. It is not my list and that is what makes it worth sharing.

  • WISE MEN SEEK JESUS:
    “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? [V.2] These wise men are probably students of Daniel. They are highly intelligent, scholarly men. No doubt men of great wealth and they are GENTILES. Are you not glad that Jesus came to save the world–rich or poor, shepherd or kings, Jews and Gentiles, the elites and the lowly.
  • WISE MEN ACKNOWLEDGE JESUS AS KING
    “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,and we have come to worship him.” [V.2] Herod was a cruel man who had wives and children [his own] executed. Herod was an Idumaean which means he was only half Jew. The Idumaeans were descendants of Esau the hedonist, but he was familiar with prophecy, that the Jews were waiting on a DAVID LIKE king to appear and deliver them from their oppressors. Herod felt threatened. The WISE MEN are Gentiles and they are seeking to worship the King of the Jews yet the Jews show little or no interest in what the WISE MEN have to say. Jesus is born less than 6 miles from where they are standing and they never check it out: UNBELIEVABLE! What gross pride and indifference!
  • WISE MEN CELEBRATE JESUS:
    When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 
    [V.10] The AV reads, “They rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Exceeding Joy is more than we can contain–it overflowing joy. The Greek word for GREAT is Mega and refers to weight and size. The Williams Translation reads…”They were thrilled with ecstatic joy.” I seen a picture of this exceeding great joy, ecstatic joy a few weeks ago when Alabama came from behind and won the SEC championship game. The entire room erupted with ecstatic joy.
  • WISE MEN WORSHIP JESUS
    They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  [V.11] Their bowing was an acknowledgement that Jesus {Child} was greater, that He indeed was their Sovereign, their king. But bowing doesn’t authenticate worship, giving does! As an act of worship, they presented their gifts: Gold [king], frankincense [priest] and myrrh [savior].
  • WISE MEN SEEK TO PLEASE GOD RATHER THAN MEN
    When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.  [V.12] Herod is a type of the devil: Herod was a liar and a murderer just like Satan. Satan is the prince of this world system, he wants you to bow to him, not Jesus. He loathes Jesus. He hates Jesus with all of his being because Jesus is the center piece of heaven and Satan became jealous. He wants to be the center. There is a huge difference between the prince of this world and the PRINCE OF PEACE. Jesus loves you: Satan only wants to use you to get at Jesus. Don’t let him con you into bowing to this world.

Psalm One

Scripture: NKJV

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he ]meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

NLT

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked!
    They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
    Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
    but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Psalms as we know it comes under the Hebrew title Tehillim. When the O.T. was translated into Greek the translation was ‘psalmos’. The word means a song sung to music or literally accompanied by a stringed instrument. The KJV adopted the Greek word instead of the Hebrew and therefore we have the book of Psalms. There are five division to the book of Psalms or five books. The first book is Psalms 1-41 and David is the author of 37 of the first 41. David wrote 73 in all which is almost half. Asaph wrote 12, the sons of Korah wrote 11, Solomon wrote 2 and Moses one.

Psalm one serves as a foundation to all the Psalms. It is a CONTRAST between two men, two ways and two destinies. In spite of what the liberal strain to see, life is made up of only two kinds of men: the repentant and the unrepentant or if you prefer–Saved and lost. There are only two roads, two paths: The BROAD path that leads to destruction which is the easy path, the path of least resistance and the most popular and populated. Then there is the NARROW path that is the high road, up hill, steep, difficult and not popular, and there are only two destines–HEAVEN and HELL.

In Psalm One we have the contrast between the Godly man and the ungodly man. The Hebrew word for ungodly is rasha` and it means morally wrong; concretely, an (actively) bad, condemned, guilty, ungodly, wicked (man). The NLT translates it wicked. We don’t like the word ‘wicked,’ it is too strong for our spiritual sensitivity but it is a good translation. It speaks of a person in active rebellion against God. {Every major modern translation uses the word wicked}

SO LET’S LOOK AT THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE WICKED AND THE RIGHTEOUS–THE UNGODLY AND THE GODLY

FIRST THE GODLY OR THE RIGHTEOUS

FOUR THINGS THE GODLY DO NOT DO

  1. The Godly are HAPPY. The Hebrew word is Asher, just like the son of Jacob. The word literally means ‘happy’. The wicked/godly may appear to be happy but don’t let appearances fool you. They are not really happy. How do I know? Solomon left us his diary. Just read the book of Ecclesiastes.
  2. The Godly do not WALK in the counsel of the wicked/ungodly. The do not follow the advice of the wicked.
  3. The Godly do not HANG OUT with the ungodly/wicked. What fellowship has light with darkness. We have nothing is common.
  4. The Godly do not sit in the seat of the scornful, the mockers, blasphemers. I always dismiss my self from bad company {Barber shop}

THING THE GODLY DO

  1. They delight in the law of the LORD {Love the word of God}
  2. They meditate on the word. {chew it over and over, digest it}

THE RIGHTEOUS ARE LIKE A TREE

  1. Planted: speaks of purpose and deep roots. A tree is a substantial object. It has substance and strength. You don’t just run over a tree, not without getting hurt or even killed.
  2. Fruitful [trees are givers–they give us fruit, shade, warmth, shelter, direction, higher view of things}
  3. Consistent {evergreen}
  4. Prosperous. This word means they are growing, advancing, making progress, succeeding, and profitable. The kind of person that you are better off for knowing.

THE WICKED/UNGODLY

  1. The ungodly are not like a Tree, they are like Chaff. Chaff has no substance. It is easily blown away by the least wind. It is worthless, parasitic, good for nothing.
  2. The ungodly will not be able to stand in judgment.
  3. The ungodly cannot fellowship with the righteous {nothing in common}
  4. Their end is destruction.

The Angles And The Shepherds

Scripture Text: Luke 2:1-20, NLT

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

INTRODUCTION

We probably need two messages to cover the Angels and the Shepherds but I will attempt to do it in one.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS THE CONTRAST

The angels are:

  • Divine
  • Heavenly
  • Radiant
  • Glorious
  • Pure/Unstained
  • Perfectors of praise and worship

The Shepherds are:

  • Lowly
  • Despised
  • Humble
  • Outcast
  • Dirty/Stinking

II. SECONDLY I WANT YOU TO NOTE THE SIMILARITY

 [1] Both shared the good news.

First the Angel of the LORD, many think it was Gabriel but the scripture does not say for sure. Note what He says,  “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 

  • The Message is “Good News!” [We don’t need bad news, we have the TV for that]
  • It was good news that brings “Great Joy!” [bad news brings disappointment and sorrow]
  • It is for ALL PEOPLE. Judaism was exclusive. The shepherds of Bethlehem tended the very lambs used for sacrifice and yet they were barred from the Temple because they could not measure up to the code of purity laid down by the religious elite. In other words, they were not good enough to attend worship–they were excluded. So God sends them a personal message–YOUR Savior is born and this is where you can find Him. The religious elites knew nothing about Jesus birth because God revealed Himself to the lowly shepherds instead of the religious elites.
  • A Savior is born. The word ‘Savior’ is sōtēr [so-tay-ah] and it was used of both kings and gods. It could also be translated deliverer. The world had seen many kings and there were more gods than Carter has liver pills but none were true saviors. No one had saved us from the power of sin. No one had ever saved us from the power of death or even fear of death. Epictetus, the Greek stoic philosopher said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than outward peace.”
  • The Messiah, the Christ {Christos}, the Anointed One. The long-awaited one. 
  • The Lord {kyrios}: master, lord, the possessor and disposer of a thing, the owner; one who has control of the person, the sovereign, prince, or chief.

After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

The Shepherds simply repeated the message: They did not create a message, they simply repeated the same message the Angles gave them:  Secondly, they told everyone. They did not discriminate. If there is any place where I have dropped the ball, where the church at large has dropped the ball, it is in sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen. We are living in a nation of gospel iliterates because we have failed to share the good tiding with all people.

[2] Both are faithful to discharge their duties.

The Angels delivered their message and gave praise and glory to God…

 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Then the angels returned to heaven. [v.15]

The Shepherds, after worshipping at the manger and telling everyone they saw about the good news returned to their flocks…

The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

III. LAST BUT NOT LEAST–THE IRONIES

I think it is very ironic that the religious elites in Jerusalem despised the shepherds of Bethlehem when you consider the fact that the three brightest stars in the Hebrews heaven were Abraham, Moses and David. What did all three have in common? They were SHEPHERDS! Be careful whom you despise. God may favor them just as he did these poor shepherds.

Secondly: What was Christ? Was He not the GOOD SHEPHERD and also the LAMB OF GOD.

CONCLUSION

William Barclay is not a lot of help in Luke 2 but he did say one thing in his commentary that caught my attention. He told about a European monarch, who upon occassion would dress like a peasant and go out among the people. When he was asked by his staff not to do this for security reasons, he said, “I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live.” Christ is our GOOD SHEPHERD and GREAT KING. He dressed Himself in the garb of our flesh and walked among us. He knows our sorrow; He is acquainted with our grief. He knows our fears and anxiety. He knows our sin and transgression and He came to save from it all. Why don’t you trust Christ today? God cannot give you peace of mind and heart apart from giving you HIS SON. Jesus and Peace are one in the same: if you reject Jesus, you will never have peace. There is no peace for a rebel. Trust Christ today.

Standing In Grace

Scripture: I Peter 5:10-14

10 The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. 11 To him be dominion forever. Amen.

12 Through Silvanus, a faithful brother (as I consider him), I have written to you briefly in order to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. — 1 Peter 5:10-14 (CSB)

NLT

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.11 All power to him forever! Amen.

12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.

13 Your sister church here in Babylon sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet each other with a kiss of love. Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.

INTRODUCTION

When we write someone a letter, we put the greeting first but in N.T. times, they put the greeting last. Silas was an educated man and an able scribe and editor. It is believed that he wrote this letter for Peter but here at the end, he gives the pen to Peter, the uneducated Galilean fisherman. I’m no Greek scholar but they tell me the Greek syntax changes dramatically at this point which would indicate a different writer. Peter’s purpose in writing this letter is stated in verse 12…I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. If I were to give the letter a theme, I would take that from verse 12…STAND FIRM IN THIS GRACE.

In life, we have to face difficult and unpleasant things like temptation, stress, physical suffering, rejection, persecution, hard times, grief, disappointment-to mention a few and if we are to STAND through all these difficulties, we have to STAND in His GRACE. Peter is a great example: He is standing in God’s grace.

What do you think of when you hear the name Peter? A big mouth–a man who only stopped talking to change feet…an impetuous person…a cocky bird who is over-confident… a man who denied Christ three times…a prideful person who is determined to serve God his way…a man with big ideas and a small faith…a rugged temperamental Galilean fisherman… a man more prone to fail than to succeed. If any of these things popped into your mind, you would be correct because Peter was all these things and more.

It is very important that you understand the PETER of I Peter is now in his 60’s and due to the grace of God, he is a totally different person. He doesn’t have a big mouth, he is not cocky, but rather humble. He is not prideful and he does not try to please God in his own strength. He is about to die because he will not deny the LORD Jesus. God in His marvelous GRACE has made Peter into a new man. He is a shadow of his former self.

With this understood, lets look at verse 10

The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while.

Peter uses four verbs here: in the AV, they are translated perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle. In the NASB: perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish. The NLT reads more like a commentary…he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

The first time I read over the list, I thought to myself, there has to be a sermon here but I do not understand what it is. I suppose Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary helped me the most.

I. PERFECT/RESTORE

The first word Peter uses coincides with his personal testimony. The AV translates it ‘perfect’ and that is OK as long as you understand Peter is talking about a process, not an instantaneous perfection. The NASB reads “Restore.” The Greek word means to make one fit, to mend what is broken, to repair, to complete, to rig or equip, put in order, arrange, adjust, prepare for use. This is exactly what God, via His grace, did for Peter. He took Peter’s brokenness and He mended it. He repaired Peter and equipped him for ministry. He prepared him for special use.

Peter’s message is simple: God did this for me and in me and He will do the same in you. Take a moment and reflect on your own life. Do you see God’s hand of grace working in your life. Reshaping your attitudes, creating in you new desires, making you into something totally different from when you were young?

I can tell you for a fact, I stand in God’s grace, there is no other place for me to stand. I would not be standing at all if not for His grace. God has radically changed the way I think, the way I act and the way I live. Folks, I have no doubt that it is his grace at work in me. Paul said in Philippians 1:6…I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I also like Philippians 2:13…For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. I definitely want to please the LORD. I pray daily for His kingdom to come and his will to be done. As I told you Sunday, I pray Mary’s prayer all the time, “Be it unto me according to Your word.” Where did all this come from? It did not come from Jack. I tried in my strength to please God and it didn’t work. I tried to do things by the power of the flesh–pleasing God on the exterior but craving glory on the inside. I know what all this produces: anger, frustration, disappointment and unhappiness. I’m telling you folks, it is God’s grace that changes us, not our will power.

II. ESTABLISH US

I really like this Greek verb, it literally means to make stable, make firm, set fast, fix. In laymen’s terms, it means to nail down. There are many things that we need to get nailed down so we will be firmly established. Paul said to Timothy, But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Paul said in Ephesian 4…Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. God does not want us to be fickle and unpredictable. He does not want us to vacillate from one opinion to another, to be wishy-washy. Some folks don’t know what they believe. I know what I believe and I believe it strongly. Seminary was important for me because it gave me some time to nail some things down and I’ve been nailing things down since. I am alienated from family because of my views on abortion. Hey, I don’t see that changing. Yes, I want everyone to love me but not at the expense of my integrity. I believe the world is black and white with no gray. There is a right and a wrong but no in between. Jesus said there is a broad gate and a narrow gate: He never mentions a third gate. There is heaven and hell: a blessing and a curse but there is no gray area in the bible. People who believe in the gray are not established.

III. STRENGTHEN US

Again, this is a word that I relate to. Being a jackleg carpenter, I am familiar with nailing things down and bracing things off and this Greek word is another word for ‘brace.’ When you brace something, you make it stronger. Several years ago, our neighbor contracted a group to build him a barn. They came out and framed it in one day but they left without putting up braces. During the night, the wind got up and the barn folded up. When they got there the next day, it was on the ground.

I’m currently building my grandson a barn and as soon as we got it framed, I started putting braces on every corner and on the trusses. My grandson asked me what I was doing: I explained how important it is to brace a building.

When a strong wind is coming: you need to get braced. When turbulent times come: you need to be braced. We are braced by grace.

IV. SETTLE OR SUPPORT US 

The Greek word means to lay the foundation, to found, to make stable, or establish. No one can stand through the storms of adversity unless they are standing on a firm foundation and that foundation for those of us who believe is GRACE. A song comes to  mind….

Through my disappointments, Strife and discontentment
I cast my every care upon the Lord, No matter what obsession
Pain or deep depression, I’m standing on the solid rock

Even though He’s gone now, I don’t feel alone now
With comfort came the Spirit of the Lord, Now with His word to guide me
From temptations hide me, I’m standing on the solid rock

Chorus:
I’m standing on the solid rock of ages (standing on the rock, on the rock of ages)
Safe from all the storm that rages (safe from every storm, all the storm that rages)
Rich but not from Satan’s wages (rich in love, I’m rich, not from Satan’s wages)
I’m standing on the solid rock.

Weirsbe: Whatever begins with God’s grace will always lead to God’s glory. So stand firm in His grace.

Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

New Living Translation

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel[f] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.37 For the word of God will never fail.[g]

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. 

Christian Standard Bible

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, “Greetings, 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 name him 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.”

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man? ”

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 servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. — Luke 1:26-38 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

We have two things to consider this morning: One is our celebration of the first advent–Christmas and the second is this incredible passage of scripture that we just read. I am a sequenctial learner which means I make a lot of list and as I studies and pondered this passage, I saw a list of things about Mary that I want to talk about this morning.

First of all….

I. MARY IS HIGHLY FAVORED [V.28]

Just what does this mean, “You are highly favored or you have found favor with God?” Let me tell you first of all what it does not mean: it does not mean that Mary is the source of GRACE; it means that she was a recepient of grace. Is this a special favor? Sure, no doubt about it. God choose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. This is an honor that no other human will ever know. But let me remind you that although Jesus brought Mary incredible JOY, He also brought her incredible sorrow. Being the mother of Jesus was not an easy thing: it required a special grace. Our Catholic friends have misinterpreted this passage. They believer that Mary is the source of grace, the despencer of grace. They have elevated Mary to a divine status but Mary was as human as you or I. I find it very interesting that Mary was a descendant of Aaron, a resident of Nazareth [a despised town or village] and poor. No Jewish scholar would have chosen Mary but God choose her to confound the wise.

The scripture makes it abundantly clear that although Mary, a mere human like you and I, would give birth to a son who would not be merely human. Oh, He would be fully human but not merely human. The son that she would give birth to would be the Son of the Most High, the Son of God. Mary was not God but she would give birth to His Son. She would name Him Jesus because He would be a Savior. God’s way of incarnating His son was through the normal process of maturation in the womb of a woman. Her son would be a KING, and not just a king but the KING of kings, an eternal king. Mary would be inferior to her Son from day one. Jesus is God: He is the one we worship, not Mary. Mary we love, Mary we admire, Mary we honor as no other, Mary we long to see and talk with in heaven but we do not worship Mary. She recieved God’s grace just as we did.

II. MARY WAS DEEPLY TROUBLED [V.29]

The word means perplexed, confused, shocked or agitated. Mary did not expect a heavenly visitor. An angel showing up in your bedroom would shock you, would it not! Everything he said to Mary was a revelation of new things. She had no idea what God was up to and no prior warning that she would be central to His plan of redemption. I don’t blame her for being shocked, bewildered and afraid. Again, this is evidence that Mary was as human as you or I. If an angel showed up at my house and told me that out of 7 billion people on earth, God had chosen me to be a recipient of a special favor, I would be more than shocked.

III. MARY IS GREATLY COMFORTED [V.30]

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Another way of saying this is…”Don’t be afraid Mary, God has a special favor He wants you to do because He finds you very special Himself. He has favored you above all women. I also like what Gabriel said in the greeting, “Greeting, favored one, the LORD is with you.” In there anything more comforting than the LORD’s presence!

IV. MARY WAS DIVINELY OVERSHADOWED [V.35]

When Gab told Mary that she was going to have a son, she knew there was a problem: she was a virgin. So she wanted to know how she could give birth to a son without knowing a man. Gab said, “That’s simple, God will take care of it…you will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit will cause you to concieve.” God is going to be the Father of your Son. Basically, he is telling Mary…”Just relax, you don’t have to do anything…God is going to take care of it.” Everything about this birth and life will be a miracle. It is a God thing.

V. MARY IS SUBLIMELY SUBMISSIVE [V.38]

I absolutely love verse 38, “I am your servant, be it unto me according to your word.” You got to love Mary’s attitude. She had a servant’s heart. Mystified and bewildered, she said, “OK LORD, I don’t fully understand all that is going on but I submit to your will, You do whatever You think is best.” I am going to share a little secret: there are two ways to live life–Your way and God’s way. You may think I am crazy but I promise you that life will be sweeter and much more meaningful if you submit to HIS way and stop trying to live life your way. I dare you to try it!

VI. MARY IS INCREDIBLY HUMBLE [V.48]

Many years ago, some 30 or so, we had a lady who attended the church where we served and she was constantly bragging on her children. She not only exalted her children over other children, she taught them that they were better than others. One of her children tested to be in the gifted class and somehow she worked that fact into every conversation. Some of you may get upset with me but I’m going to tell you to truth whether you like it or not: Your children are not exceptional, they are merely children. They aren’t any better than my children or anyone else’s children. Do not teach children that they are better than others. You will create a social misfit if you are not careful. With that said, MARY HAD A PERFECT CHILD. You have to admit, that would be hard to handle. Can you imagine a group of the Nazareth women talking about their children. Suppose Mary is conversing with the Carpenter’s wives and one of them says, “My son drove his first nail this week.” Then Mary interupts, “That’s nothing, Joseph can make a miscut on a plank and all he has to do is hand it to Jesus and when he hands it back, it is the perfect length.” Can you imagine how tempted you would be to brag if you had a perfect child. Mary doesn’t brag. She treasures her time with Jesus but she doesn’t brag. By the way, she gave birth to at least 6 more children, maybe more.

VII. MARY WAS A BELIEVER [John 2:5, “Do whatever He says.”]

Jesus brothers did not believe in HIM but His mother did. His brothers were converted later but Mary believed from day one. ARE YOU A BELIEVER?

 

Joseph

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-21 {NLT}

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 
21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Introduction

This is the first of four Christmas sermons on Christmas characters and today we begin with Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. I know, you have never heard a sermon on Joseph but LORD willing, you will hear one today. There are three things I want to say about Joseph.
I. JOSEPH WAS A GOOD MAN
  • This is rare praise: only four men are referred to as being good men in the N.T…. Joseph, Jesus, Barnabas and Applles.
  • The KJV translates it just: it can be translated righteous, law abiding, upright,  virtuous.
  • It describes a man who does what he ought. A man who makes right decisions
  • Joseph illustrates his goodness in not wishing to embarrass Mary.

II. HE WAS A MEEK MAN or A GENTLEMAN

  • Joseph is not flashy. He is humble, meek and quiet. He never speaks. When Jesus stayed at the temple and Mary and Joseph go back looking for Jesus, Mary does the talking.
  • Not a single word of Joseph’s is quoted in the NT.
  • He is the kind of guy who does his job and expects no praise.
  • Joseph was content to work in the background. He was happy playing second fiddle.
  • This puts him in a very small group of great men who stood in the shadows: John the Baptist, Barnabas, Jonathan. Had the humility necessary to be a supporter, an encourager instead of being the star in the spotlight.

III. HE WAS AN OBEDIENT MAN [Our heavenly Father loves obedience]

  • Every time we see Joseph in scripture: he is obeying
  • Matthew 1:24-25–When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 
     But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
  • Matthew 2:13-15 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.
  • Matthew 2:19-22 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee.

Joseph is always obeying.