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Archive for the ‘angels’ Category

When children are born, one of the most important decisions is what name to give to the baby. Names have meaning to them. Some names are from grandparents or parents. Other babies are named because of the meaning behind the name. We have celebrities who are known their first name. If someone says Oprah there is little doubt show they are talking about.

The angel told Mary her baby’s name would be Jesus. The angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus. in that culture it was the father chose the names of the babies. Joseph was Jesus’ earthly step-father, so on earth it was his role to choose a name for the baby, however, it was God who actually chose the name Jesus.

The name Jesus means salvation. That is why the angel told Joseph to “name Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sin”. The whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to save us. God wants us back with Him. God wants us to be His children. He loves us so much that He sent His best. He sent His only Son, Jesus.

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When God wanted to announce the birth of Jesus, He first had one angel make the announcement to the shepherds. After the announcement was made, it was time for the musical celebration. I have been blessed to hear several choirs sing wonderful songs. My favorite is still the Hallelujah Chorus in Handel’s Messiah. I have heard many choirs sing the Hallelujah Chorus. Still to this day that song moves me. However wonderful a choir may sound, it cannot compare to that first choir celebrating the birth of Jesus.

The bible tells us in Luke Chapter 2 that after the angel made the announcement, “a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God.” They sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Imagine being there to witness the heavenly host appearing and singing. It would have been a stunning and breathtaking sight.

As glorious as that was, what is even more amazing to me is who God shared this with. He shared it with shepherds out in the field. It was not a formal event with a red carpet that was invitation only with the invitations going to the rich and famous. It was a spectacular event shared with the lowly of the culture to show that God’s love is for all people.

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I always enjoyed the new product launch announcements by the late Steve Jobs when Apple would launch a new product or updated product. He would come out on stage dressed in a black turtleneck and bluejeans with a big screen behind him showing the new product. Millions of people waited in anticipation of the new product whether it be the iPod, iPhone or iPad. When anyone plans a major announcement like running for political office, introducing a new coach etc, it is a major event with the press there to cover it and put it on TV and the internet.

In contrast when it was time to announce the birth of Jesus, God did not call the press corps to cover it. There media coverage available. They did not have TV, radio or internet back then. God sent angels to announce the birth of Jesus, but not to the rich and important of society. God sent the angels to shepherds who were in the fields watching their sheep at night. Think about the significance of God sending the angels to shepherds. Shepherds were not important in that culture. They had hard lives which consisted of staying with the sheep 24 hours a day 7 days a week. By sending the angels to the shepherds God announced to the world not only that Jesus was born, but also that Jesus is for all people no matter what their standing in society is.

It is also interesting to reflect on the fact that these shepherds took care of sheep and lambs. When Jesus came to John the Baptist at the river, John cried out “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior of World had been born. Jesus would become the Savior by sacrificing Himself on the cross and the Lamb of God.

Jesus is for all people and wants all people to come to Him. No one is unimportant to Him. His love is equal for all people.

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Several years ago I wrote a drama monologue from the perspective of the angel Gabriel and what he must have thought to see Jesus born as a baby. The piece began with Gabriel looking down at the manger and then coming down to check it out and being stunned by the scene. Think about the angels who had served Jesus since He created them. They had not only served Him over the centuries, but had also seen Jesus in His glory in heaven. They had seen Him as He really is in the fullness of His glory.

The bible says in I Peter 1:12 that the angels long to look into things pertaining to our salvation. They long to understand God’s love for us and to comprehend the plan of God. I think about how the angels must be amazed by God’s love for us especially since they have never sinned against God. How they must be in wonder over the love God has for us.

Then ponder the fact that the angels who had worshiped Jesus for countless eons, witnessed Him being born as a human baby. Jesus was sent by the Father because as the bible says in John 3;16, “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” How they must have marveled at the sight of Jesus the Son of God laying in a manger which was a feeding trough for animals. One day Jesus was on His throne in heaven and nine months later He was a newborn human baby¬† in a stable surrounded by animals. It is incredible enough for us to ponder, but think about the angels who knew Him in all of His glory in heaven. No wonder the bible says they long to look into the things pertaining to our salvation.

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In our modern culture filled with things like twitter, facebook, emails, youtube, internet, and TV, it can difficult for us to imagine having none of those things to help us communicate major events. At the time Jesus was born, they didn’t have any of those forms of communication. Communication between people in different countries could take months via a message brought by a friend. When Herod died, it was safe for the Holy Family to return to Israel. The vicious ruler, who had wanted to kill Jesus, had died. God sent the message to Joseph through the 3rd dream of Joseph. The angel spoke to Joseph and told Joseph it was safe to return because the one who wanted to kill Jesus had died.

Joseph brought Mary and Jesus back to Israel, but after hearing it was Herod’s terrible son Archelaus who reigned in Judea, Joseph took the family to Nazareth. Even in this small detail an ancient prophecy was fulfilled about Jesus being called a Nazarene.

God spoke to Joseph in three dreams that we have recorded. In those dreams God gave Joseph assurance and guidance and revealed to Joseph God’s plan. Joseph followed through on God’s guidance and did what he was told to do.

When I reflect on Joseph’s part of the Christmas events, I wonder if I listen to God enough. Do we in the modern world rely so much on our technology that we do not listen to God? Do we get so busy that we do not make time for God? I remember an older gentleman at my church and what he asked a pastor who was excited about new technology at the church office. he asked him “does it pray for you?” I am not against modern technology at all. I use it all of the time. I am simply pondering whether we listen to God like Joseph did or do we try to keep God in a box and limit God’s influence in our lives. My desire is to reconnect with God this Christmas Season and take time to reflect on the people and events of the first Christmas.

 

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The angel spoke to Joseph in three dreams. The first one was to assure Joseph the baby Mary was pregnant with was indeed from God. The second dream was a warning to get out of town fast because danger was coming. King Herod was furious that the three wise men did not return to tell him where the baby was, so Herod ordered all of the male babies under 2 years of age to be killed in Bethlehem. Imagine what must have been going through Joseph’s mind as he woke Mary up and told her they needed to flee to safety. As Mary’s husband and Jesus’ step-father, Joseph was responsible for their protection and welfare. He was told by the angel in his first dream that the baby was from God and now the angel tells him the baby is in danger.

So the Prince of Peace was born and King Herod wanted to kill Him. Jesus who came to bring us back to God, who healed the sick, who brought the dead back to life and performed many other miracles, as a baby was a threat to a king. Love had come into the world in the baby Jesus and evil wanted to destroy Him.

It makes me want to pray for the protection of those I care about and also pray to be able show His love to those who have suffered due to the violence of others such as my friends who have come her as refugees and my friends who have come here seeking a better life and have been taken advantage of. There is great deal of suffering in the world and there are people around us who need love and compassion.

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Joseph is a good example of how we at times need assurance from God and at times need guidance from God. Joseph had planned to quietly divorce Mary, so she would not be publicly disgraced and be at risk of public stoning. He did not believe Mary at first, but did not want to harm her. In America when we have a big decision to make we like to say “let me sleep on it” as in give me some time to make a good decision. Well Joseph literally slept on it. He went to sleep and the angel spoke to him in his dream to tell him that the child Mary was going to have actually was from God and to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

There are times we can face a big decision or have confusion. During those times it helps to slow down long enough to hear God’s calm voice of guidance. Take time to pray and meditate on God’s word. God is speaking all of the time. It might be through friends, through life circumstances, or through prayer. He may even speak to us in a dramatic fashion if we don’t listen to His first messages and He wants to get our attention like He did with Joseph.

When the angel spoke to Joseph in the dream, the angel gave Joseph assurance about God’s will by saying the child was from the Holy Spirit and to not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. There are times we need assurance that we are in God’s will. The angel also gave Joseph instruction regarding God’s plan. The angel told him, “you are to name him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Joseph had his first instructions as to what he needed to do. As we read later in Matthew’s account, Joseph followed directions by naming the baby Jesus. When we ask for guidance, it will come with directions. The follow through is what we need to ask God for strength to do sometimes.

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