We had a wonderful celebration last night. We were only a few this year due to the restrictions, but still had a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy the fun with us.
We had a wonderful celebration last night. We were only a few this year due to the restrictions, but still had a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy the fun with us.
11 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.
23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,[d] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 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. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 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.
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.
6 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.
7 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!
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1 This is the scroll of the lineage and birth of Jesus, the Anointed One, the son of David and descendant of Abraham.
2 Abraham had a son named Isaac, who had a son named Jacob, who had a son named Judah (he and his brothers became the tribes of Israel).
3 Judah and Tamar had twin sons, Perez and Zerah. Perez had a son named Hezron, who had a son named Ram, 4 who had a son named Amminadab, who had a son named Nashon, 5 who had a son named Salmon, who, along with Rahab, had a son named Boaz. Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse had a son named David, who became the king.
7 Then David and Bathsheba had a son named Solomon, who had a son named Rehoboam, who had a son named Abijah, who had a son named Asa, 8 who had a son named Jehoshaphat, who had a son named Joram, who had a son named Uzziah, 9 who had a son named Jotham, who had a son named Ahaz, who had a son named Hezekiah, 10 who had a son named Manasseh, who had a son named Amos, who had a son named Josiah, 11 who was the father of Jeconiah.
It was during the days of Jeconiah and his brothers that Israel was taken captive and deported to Babylon. 12 About the time of their captivity in Babylon, Jeconiah had a son named Shealtiel, who had a son named Zerubbabel, 13 who had a son named Abiud, who had a son named Eliakim, 14 who had a son named Azor, who had a son named Zadok, who had a son named Achim, who had a son named Eliud, 15 who had a son named Eleazar, who had a son named Matthan, who had a son named Jacob, 16 who was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus, who is called “the Anointed One.”
17 So from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the Babylonian captivity, fourteen generations, and from the Babylonian captivity to Christ, fourteen generations.
18 This was how Jesus, God’s Anointed One, was born.
His mother, Mary, had promised Joseph to be his wife, but while she was still a virgin she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Her fiancé, Joseph, was a righteous man full of integrity and he didn’t want to disgrace her, but when he learned of her pregnancy he secretly planned to break the engagement. 20 While he was still debating with himself about what to do, he fell asleep and had a supernatural dream. An angel from the Lord appeared to him in clear light and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t hesitate to take Mary into your home as your wife, because the power of the Holy Spirit has conceived a child in her womb. 21 She will give birth to a son and you are to name him ‘Savior,’ for he is destined to give his life to save his people from their sins.”
22 This happened so that what the Lord spoke through his prophet would come true:
23 Listen! A virgin will be pregnant,
she will give birth to a Son,
and he will be known as “Emmanuel,”
which means in Hebrew,
“God became one of us.”
24 When Joseph awoke from his dream, he did all that the angel of the Lord instructed him to do. He took Mary to be his wife, 25 but they refrained from having sex until she gave birth to her son, whom they named “Jesus.”
2 1–2 During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. (Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time.) 3 Everyone had to travel to his or her hometown to complete the mandatory census. 4–5 So Joseph and his fiancé, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth.
6–7 When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. After wrapping the newborn baby in strips of cloth, they laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village.
8 That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! 10 But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! 11 For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. 12 You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!”
13 Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:
14 “Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven!
For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.”
15 When the choir of angels disappeared back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go! Let’s hurry and find this Word that is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 So they ran into the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a feeding trough.
17 Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. 18 Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was astonished by what they were told.
19 But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.
20 The shepherds returned to their flock, ecstatic over what had happened. They praised God and glorified him for all they had heard and seen for themselves, just like the angel had said.
21 On the day of the baby’s circumcision ceremony, eight days after his birth, his parents gave him the name Jesus, the name prophesied by the angel before he was born. 22 After Mary’s days of purification had ended, it was time for her to come to the temple with a sacrifice, according to the law of Moses after the birth of a son. So Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to be dedicated before the Lord. 23 For it is required in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be a set-apart one for God.” 24 And, to offer a prescribed sacrifice, “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25 As they came to the temple to fulfill this requirement, an elderly man was there waiting—a resident of Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He was a very good man, a lover of God who kept himself pure, and the Spirit of holiness rested upon him. Simeon believed in the imminent appearing of the one called “The Refreshing of Israel.” 26 For the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death before he saw the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. 27 For this reason the Holy Spirit had moved him to be in the temple court at the very moment Jesus’ parents entered to fulfill the requirement of the sacrifice.
28 Simeon cradled the baby in his arms and praised God and prophesied, saying:
29–31 “Lord and Master, I am your loving servant,
and now I can die content,
for your promise to me has been fulfilled.
With my own eyes I have seen your Word,
the Savior you sent into the world.
32 He will be glory for your people Israel,
and the Revelation Light for all people everywhere!”
33 Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby.
Simeon then blessed them and prophesied over Mary, saying:
34–35 “A painful sword will one day pierce your inner being,
for your child will be rejected by many in Israel.
And the destiny of your child is this:
he will be laid down as a miracle sign
for the downfall and resurrection of many in Israel.
Many will oppose this sign, but it will expose to all
the innermost thoughts of their hearts before God.”
36–37 A prophetess named Anna was also in the temple court that day. She was from the Jewish tribe of Asher and the daughter of Phanuel. Anna was an aged widow who had been married only seven years before her husband passed away. After he died she chose to worship God in the temple continually. For the past eighty-four years, she had been serving God with night-and-day prayer and fasting.
38 While Simeon was prophesying over Mary and Joseph and the baby, Anna walked up to them and burst forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child. And from that day forward she told everyone in Jerusalem who was waiting for their redemption that the anticipated Messiah had come!
39 When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required of them by the law of Moses, they took Jesus and returned to their home in Nazareth in Galilee. 40 The child grew more powerful in grace, for he was being filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.
1 1–4 Dear friend,
I am writing for you, mighty lover of God, an orderly account of what Jesus, the Anointed One, accomplished and fulfilled among us. Several eyewitness biographies have already been written, using as their source material the good news preached among us by his early disciples, who became loving servants of the Living Expression. But now I am passing on to you this accurate compilation of my own meticulous investigation based on numerous eyewitness interviews and thorough research of the story of his life. It is appropriate for me to write this, for he also appeared to me so that I would reassure you beyond any shadow of a doubt the reliability of all you have been taught of him.
5 During the reign of King Herod the Great over Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah who served in the temple as part of the priestly order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also from a family of priests, being a direct descendant of Aaron. 6 They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully. 7 But they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old.
8–9 One day, while Zechariah’s priestly order was on duty and he was serving as priest, it happened by the casting of lots (according to the custom of the priesthood) that the honor fell upon Zechariah to enter into the Holy Place and burn incense before the Lord. 10 A large crowd of worshipers had gathered to pray outside the temple at the hour when incense was being offered. 11 All at once an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing just to the right of the altar of incense.
12 Zechariah was startled and overwhelmed with fear. 13 But the angel reassured him, saying, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God is showing grace to you. For I have come to tell you that your prayer for a child has been answered. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son and you are to name him John. 14 His birth will bring you much joy and gladness. Many will rejoice because of him. 15 He will be one of the great ones in the sight of God. He will drink no wine or strong drink, but he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even while still in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will persuade many in Israel to convert and turn back to the Lord their God. 17 He will go before the Lord as a forerunner, with the same power and anointing as Elijah the prophet. He will be instrumental in turning the hearts of the fathers in tenderness back to their children and the hearts of the disobedient back to the wisdom of their righteous fathers. And he will prepare a united people who are ready for the Lord’s appearing.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child. What sign can you give me to prove this will happen?”
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel. I stand beside God himself. He has sent me to announce to you this good news. 20 But now, since you did not believe my words, you will be stricken silent and unable to speak until the day my words have been fulfilled at their appointed time and a child is born to you. That will be your sign!”
21 Meanwhile, the crowds outside kept expecting him to come out. They were amazed over Zechariah’s delay, wondering what could have happened inside the sanctuary. 22 When he finally did come out, he tried to talk, but he couldn’t speak a word, and they realized from his gestures that he had seen a vision while in the Holy Place. 23 He remained mute as he finished his days of priestly ministry in the temple and then went back to his own home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for the next five months. 25 She said with joy, “See how kind it is of God to gaze upon me and take away the disgrace of my barrenness!”
26–27 During the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent from God’s presence to an unmarried girl named Mary, living in Nazareth, a village in Galilee. She was engaged to a man named Joseph, a true descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Grace to you, young woman, for the Lord is with you and so you are anointed with great favor.”
29 Mary was deeply troubled over the words of the angel and bewildered over what this may mean for her. 30 But the angel reassured her, saying, “Do not yield to your fear, Mary, for the Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift. 31 You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be supreme and will be known as the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will enthrone him as King on his ancestor David’s throne. 33 He will reign as King of Israel forever, and his reign will have no limit.”
34 Mary said, “But how could this happen? I am still a virgin!”
35 Gabriel answered, “The Spirit of Holiness will fall upon you and almighty God will spread his shadow of power over you in a cloud of glory! This is why the child born to you will be holy,[ and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your aged aunt, Elizabeth, has also become pregnant with a son. The ‘barren one’ is now in her sixth month. 37 Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!”
38 Then Mary responded, saying, “This is amazing! I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass.” And the angel left her.
39 Afterward, Mary arose and hurried off to the hill country of Judea, to the village where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. 40 Arriving at their home, Mary entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the moment she heard Mary’s voice, the baby within Elizabeth’s womb jumped and kicked. And suddenly, Elizabeth was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit! 42 With a loud voice she prophesied with power:
“Mary! You are a woman given the highest favor
and privilege above all others.
For your child is destined to bring God great delight.
43 How did I deserve such a remarkable honor
to have the mother of my Lordcome and visit me?
44 The moment you came in the door and greeted me,
my baby danced inside me with ecstatic joy!
45 Great favor is upon you, for you have believed
every word spoken to you from the Lord.”
46 And Mary sang this song:
“My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God!
47 My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God!
48 For he set his tender gaze upon me, his lowly servant girl.
And from here on, everyone will know that I have been favored and blessed.
49 The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me;
holy is his name!
50 Mercy kisses all his godly lovers,
from one generation to the next.
51 Mighty power flows from him
to scatter all those who walk in pride.
52 Powerful princes he tears from their thrones
and he lifts up the lowly to take their place.
53 Those who hunger for him will always be filled,
but the smug and self-satisfied he will send away empty.
54 Because he can never forget to show mercy,
he has helped his chosen servant, Israel,
55 Keeping his promises to Abraham
and to his descendants forever.”
56 Before going home, Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
I once was lost but now I’m found
Once was blind but now I see
Once was deaf but now I hear
Gone are my shackles and chains
For my Lord Christ Jesus came and rescued me