From His Abundance…

Second Sunday After Christmas Day | January 5, 2020

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Jeremiah 31:7-14 • Psalm 147:12-20 • Ephesians 1:3-14 • John 1:10-18

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

John 1:10-18 New Living Translation (NLT)


From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another…

Usually when we look at this passage…and by we, I mean me…we focus on “The Word became human and made his home among us.” I love that part and it has been the basis of several sermons during the Advent season, and I will even use it this morning during my sermon.

John tells us that Jesus came into the world that He created and the world that He created rejected Jesus. Even God’s very own people rejected Jesus. But the great thing is that if we believe and accept Jesus we can become the children of God. How cool is that?

In another version following the Word became human…the text says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Think about that for a moment. What does it mean to be full of grace and truth – full of unfailing love and faithfulness. The God who came down – who put on human flesh – God, Incarnate, desires us to be one of His own. He wants us to be His children.

Sometimes we get a really wishy-washy idea of what God’s love looks like. Yes, God’s love is unconditional. But even more so, God’s love is pure…it’s not like the love we know. Sometimes our love can get jaded. Sometimes we are not unconditional in our love. We attach strings to our love. But God does not. He loved us so much that Christ came – to put on human flesh – to die for us – to sacrifice His own life for us – so that we could be saved and have eternal life (John 3:16.)

Know wonder John writes, “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” Jesus came with unfailing love and faithfulness. The Apostle Paul writes:

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Ephesians 1:5-8

This is the blessing that we receive because “The Word became human.”

Prayer for the Week

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Massacre of the Innocents

First Sunday in Christmas | December 29, 2019

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Isaiah 63:7-9 • Psalm 148 • Hebrews 2:10-18 • Matthew 2:13-23

13 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.”

14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. 17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—
    weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
    refusing to be comforted,
    for they are dead.”

19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “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.”

21 So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22 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. 23 So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Matthew 2:13-23 New Living Translation (NLT)


Today’s passage is typically labeled the Massacre of the Innocents. It happens following the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. The Magi are warned in a dream not to return to Herod. We learn that Herod has no plans to worship the child but to kill Him. Herod was in many ways a puppet ruler, but was given leeway by the Romans.

Herod, not knowing exactly how old Jesus is, gives the command to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem under the age of 2. Mary and Joseph are also warned and escape to Egypt. This would not be the first time a Hebrew or Jew escaped to Egypt. Abraham fled to Egypt during a famine and do did Jacob. It is Jacob’s moving to Egypt that eventually triggers the events of the exodus.

This Sunday I connected two events that I had never seen before. Between the time of Joseph and the Exodus it was 400 years. The time between the Old and New Testaments is also 400 years. Both of these 400 year seasons are not well documented – at least in the Bible. The Apocrypha does give us more history of these 400 years, but for 400 years God appeared to be silent – before the arrival of Jesus. Just as God raised up a leader for the Hebrews in Egypt, so God also provided a deliverer for his people. This time he would deliver them from sin – the sin that happened in the Garden of Eden.

Obviously this did not sit well with Satan. Just as he tempted Adam and Eve successfully so did he successfully tempt Herod to go after Jesus. Herod went after Jesus but was unsuccessful. A great cry was heard in Judea. This massacre of the innocents was another of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. As I mentioned in a sermon a few weeks back, the chances of Jesus fulfilling just 8 prophecies was 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 or the chances of finding a specific silver dollar – that are covering the state of Texas two feet deep. Those are quite insurmountable odds. Even early in his life, Jesus has fulfilled several prophecies.

This passage signifies the war in the heavenlies. This spiritual battle comes to life in Revelation 12:

12 Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.

Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.

She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.

Revelation 12:1-5

The dragon – Satan was trying to silence Jesus – and the war continues to this day. We are reminded that we need to keep our eyes open to all of the enemies tricks. Jesus came as a human – He was God in the flesh – so that he would know the shortcomings of what it means to be in these mortal bodies.

As I close let me quote from this week’s Hebrews passage:

or only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Hebrews 2:14b-18

Jesus knows what we are going through, after all, Satan pursued him immediately after coming to Earth. Jesus is her for us – he knows what it is to be tempted, he knows what it means to suffer, he knows what it means to be tested – and he is able to help us through.

Christmas Day | December 25, 2019

Isaiah 52:7-10 • Psalm 98 • Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12) • John 1:1-14

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:1-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

The writer of Hebrews pens these words:

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 

Hebrews 1:1-3

In the beginning…GOD created the heavens and the earth…our congregation heard these words this past Sunday. They are the words that begin the holy scriptures in Genesis 1. These words begin the old covenant. John’s gospel the fourth gospel begins in a similar way. In the beginning the Word already existed. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – the Trinity have always been, always is, and always will be. They were there at the creation of the world and now in John’s gospel, we learn that the very one who created the universe, humbles himself to come into the world He created. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The writer of Hebrews states: The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Yet this very same God came to earth to save us from our sins through the shedding of his blood. It is a gift that many people reject – even God’s own people rejected Jesus. But we are given this promise:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Jesus loved us so much that He gave up his own life to save us from our sins. God’s grace is evident, even in the coming of Jesus to Bethlehem. He didn’t have to save us, but because of his grace and mercy, He came anyway to give us life.

On this Christmas morning, I encourage you to receive the gift that Jesus has given to you so freely and so richly.

Prayer for Christmas

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Rise Up Shepherds

Nativity of Our Lord | December 24, 2019

Isaiah 62:6-12 • Psalm 97 • Titus 3:4-7 • Luke 2:8-20

Isaiah 62:6-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls;
    they will pray day and night, continually.
    Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.
Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work,
    until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength:
    “I will never again hand you over to your enemies.
Never again will foreign warriors come
    and take away your grain and new wine.
You raised the grain, and you will eat it,
    praising the Lord.
Within the courtyards of the Temple,
    you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”

Go out through the gates!
    Prepare the highway for my people to return!
Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders;
    raise a flag for all the nations to see.
The Lord has sent this message to every land:
    “Tell the people of Israel,
‘Look, your Savior is coming.
    See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”
They will be called “The Holy People”
    and “The People Redeemed by the Lord.”
And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place”
    and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”


Psalm 97 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Lord is king!
    Let the earth rejoice!
    Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
Dark clouds surround him.
    Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire spreads ahead of him
    and burns up all his foes.
His lightning flashes out across the world.
    The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory.
Those who worship idols are disgraced—
    all who brag about their worthless gods—
    for every god must bow to him.
Jerusalem has heard and rejoiced,
    and all the towns of Judah are glad
    because of your justice, O Lord!
For you, O Lord, are supreme over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.

You who love the Lord, hate evil!
    He protects the lives of his godly people
    and rescues them from the power of the wicked.
Light shines on the godly,
    and joy on those whose hearts are right.
May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
    and praise his holy name!


Titus 3:4-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

But—

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.


Luke 2:8-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

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, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

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.”

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.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 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, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 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.


The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice! This is the reaction of the shepherds. Yes, first there is fear and the angel reminds the shepherds that there is no need for fear, for a Savior has been born in Bethlehem.

The Savior has been born. Several decades later, the Apostle Paul writes about this Savior:

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7

This baby was born to give life to the whole world. The shepherds were the first to hear the Good News of his birth. They were the everyman at the time. They were the blue collar workers – the lowly – the humble of society. Nobody really cared about the shepherds. I believe God chose to reveal the birth of Jesus to the shepherds because of their humble status – a status that Jesus himself would have for His entire life. Jesus was not born in his own bed. Jesus was not buried in his own tomb. Jesus told those who wanted to follow him, “Foxes have holes and birds have nest, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

The shepherds had to make a decision. They quickly make that decision and go to Bethlehem to see the child and they made the most of it. I truly believe that in the act of going to see the child, they received Jesus into their heart. They were obedient. After they saw the child, they let everyone know that this Savior was born. I’m sure they told everyone in Bethlehem, and after they returned to the fields, they continued to rejoice. They probably even sang songs to rejoice in the birth of the Savior of the World.

Prayer for Christmas Eve

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Celebrate, Jesus Our Savior

The Nativity of Our Lord | December 24, 2019

Isaiah 9:2-7 • Psalm 96 • Titus 2:11-14 • Luke 2:1-14

Isaiah 9:2-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
    a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
    and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest
    and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
    and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
    just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
    and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
    They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!


Psalm 96 New Living Translation (NLT)

Sing a new song to the Lord!
    Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
    Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
    Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround him;
    strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;
    recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
    Bring your offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
    Let all the earth tremble before him.
Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
    The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
    He will judge all peoples fairly.

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
    Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
    Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he is coming!
    He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
    and the nations with his truth.


Titus 2:11-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.


Luke 2:1-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

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, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

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.”


Today we begin the celebration – while there are some who probably have some last minute Christmas shopping to do – the days of preparation that we call Advent come to a close today. This evening churches will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a manger, just as described in Luke’s gospel.

Paul writes in Titus, that the “grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” It’s the same message that was given to the shepherds – good news for all people – a Savior which is Christ the Lord.

The prophet Isaiah tells us His names – things that this Savior will be:

  • Wonderful Counselor
  • Mighty God,
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace.

It is for this reason that the Psalmist wrote:

Sing a new song to the Lord!
    Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
    Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.

Today we celebrate that Jesus – the Savior of the world has come – and He is worthy of all of our praise. We can sing with the angels:

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