It’s Christmas time! God’s calling you back to Him with the gift of Jesus! He is calling out to you to remember the reason for this season! It’s not about santa. It’s not about getting the most presents! It’s about sharing the love of Jesus with the world around you! It’s to share the gift of Jesus with the people God has brought into your life! Sharing love! Sharing peace! Sharing good will! It may not be the easiest of most comfortable time – imagine being Joseph and Mary having to travel all that way because of a census! So close and ready to have the baby but having to travel about 100 miles on a donkey. It was time! It had purpose to accomplish God’s Word and prophecy! And so we need to grab hold of the truth of Jesus and be ready to do what He has for us so that we can glorify God! So let’s take a hold of the Christmas story for a moment before we jump into today’s reading and let’s get prepared for the Words God will speak to us today!
The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
–from Luke 2
So let’s praise God for what He has done! Let’s Glorify God for what He has done! Let’s come with an offering to God for the incredible gift of Jesus! Let’s be like David who said that He wouldn’t offer a gift that cost Him nothing and give out of the greatness and amazement of our hearts so that in Jesus’ name God will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name!
Are you ready? Are you prepared? How will you respond on that day when Jesus returns? Will you return to God before Jesus returns to the earth? Before the revelation takes place? Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us! Ask Him into your life! Find peace that He sits at the right hand of the Father! Find joy that He is interceding! Find hope because He has paid the ultimate price once and for all!
Today’s reading begins with Zechariah…
A Call to Return to the Lord
1In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:
2“The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?
“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’ ”
The Man Among the Myrtle Trees
7On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.
8During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.
9I asked, “What are these, my lord?”
The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.”
10Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.”
11And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.”
12Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
14Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’
16“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
17“Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’ ”
Four Horns and Four Craftsmen
18Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?”
He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.”
20Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21I asked, “What are these coming to do?”
He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”
A Man With a Measuring Line
1Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2I asked, “Where are you going?”
He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”
3While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him 4and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. 5And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’
6“Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,” declares the Lord.
7“Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!” 8For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— 9I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.
10“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11“Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
Clean Garments for the High Priest
1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
3Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
5Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.
6The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
8“ ‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.
10“ ‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David.
1Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
8I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
9Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
11Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.
12If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
13But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
14with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.
15Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them.
16As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
17Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
18He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
19God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.
20My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
21His talk is smooth as butter,
yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.
22Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
23But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.
But as for me, I trust in you.
Trust in the Lord! Let’s live in maturity! Let’s show the world in whom our trust comes from! Jesus came ones for all so that we can receive the incredible gift of God! So let’s not grow weary in doing good! Let’s align with God and walk with Him daily! Let’s hold tightly to God’s promises! Let’s complete the work God has prepared in advance us to do! Let’s walk by faith and not by sight!
1Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.
4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The Certainty of Godʼs Promise
13When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.