The Christmas Story, Part 2

The Christmas Story Part 2

Luke 2:1-39 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Birth of Jesus

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.) 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.

An Angelic Encounter

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. 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.

Baby Jesus Dedicated in the Temple

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.

The Christmas Story, Part 1

The Christmas Story part 1

Luke 1:1-56 The Passion Translation (TPT)

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.

Angelic Prophecy of the Prophet John’s Birth

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. They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully. 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!”

Angelic Prophecy of Jesus’ Birth

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.

Elizabeth’s Prophecy to Mary

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.”

Mary’s Prophetic Song

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.

 

God’s thoughts about us

Jeremiah 29:11 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

11 I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.

I speak this scripture daily for it brings comfort to me when I am feeling troubled.  It brings peace and helps me to keep my focus on Him.

All have sinned and come short of God’s glory.

Romans 3:1-18; 21-27 NLT

10 As the Scriptures says,

No one is righteous—not even one.

11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.

12 All have turned away; all have become useless.

No one does good, not a single one.”

13 Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.

Their tongues are filled with lies.   Snake venom drips from their lips.

14 Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

15 They rush to commit murder.

16 Destruction and misery always follow them.

17 They don’t know where to find peace.

18  They have no fear of God at all.

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.

22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,

26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.

28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.