July 30-August 5
The Bible is one book with two testaments -- Old and New. Despite the division, from start to finish, the Bible tells one story: the story of God redeeming humanity from their sin. The Old Testament unfolds the story of creation, the relationship-severing effect of humanity’s sin, and God’s covenant promise to use the offspring of Abraham to bring blessing to all nations of the earth. At the very beginning of the New Testament, in the Gospels, we see the culmination of God’s eternal plan to save humanity from sin through the life, death, and resurrection of His own Son, Jesus Christ -- not through the Law, a priest, a judge, a king or a prophet, but through the fulfiller of the Law, the Highest Priest, the King of Kings. Through Immanuel, God with us.
In the birth of Jesus, we see one of the great mysteries and wonders of Christianity -- the incarnation. Jesus’ birth is announced to Mary by an angel who tells her the exact purpose of His life. “He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus Christ, the eternally-existent Son of God, takes upon Himself the flesh of humanity. He is fully God and fully man, not half of both. He has a human body, human mind and human emotions, while retaining all the characteristics of His divinity. We see this in the miracles He performs, the authority of His teaching, as well as the references He makes about Himself as being the Son of God. The blessing-bearing, covenant-fulfilling seed of Abraham is born in the small town of Bethlehem, will lead a humble life, perfectly uphold the commands of God, die on the cross unjustly yet willingly, resurrect triumphantly over sin and death, and usher into the world the greatest blessing of all: salvation from sin held out to all the nations of the earth.
FOR THIS WEEK'S SERMON OVER THE INCARNATION, LISTEN BELOW:
NEW TESTAMENT VISUALIZED
A simple way to think about the incarnation of Jesus is with the phrase: "Remaining what He was, He became what He was not."
Adapted from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
The Old Testament and 400 years of silence is coming to a close. Since the beginning of sin in Genesis 3, God, the Master Craftsman, has promised a solution for the separation between Himself and men. Our ingredient for today’s passage is Storytelling, a story of the hope of God coming to earth in the form of baby Jesus. Its the story of Mary, a humble, peasant girl chosen as Jesus’ mother and of the carpenter, Joseph, called to shoulder the responsibility to be an adopted father to the Son of God on earth. Our supporting cast includes inn keepers, shepherds, angels, even some lowly sheep and a donkey. As each scene of the story unfolds, ask yourself the question: What does this teach me about God’s character?
Who did God choose to be Jesus’ earthly parents? Can you guess some of the reasons God may have picked them?
What is a stable used for? Would you like to sleep there?
Who did the angels tell rst? Why that group of people?
How did the angels describe their news to the shepherds? Hint: G________N_________. Why was Jesus’ birth described with those words?
How would the shepherds know if they found the baby Savior?
What one thing did the angels and shepherds do when they heard about baby Jesus?
Activity 1: Christmas Puppets
Christmas in summer! This is the perfect time to concentrate on the Christmas story itself without any of the normal distractions during the holidays. To help your kids remember the main events and joy of the story, make Christmas puppets. Google "Like a Pretty Petunia: Nativity" for puppet patterns and story. For older kids, go beyond Luke 2:1-20 and include Luke 2:21-38, the stories of Simeon and Anna and their faithful watch for the promised Messiah.
Activity 2: Christmas in July
Throw Jesus a fun, outdoor birthday party with your family or neighborhood where families can hear about the birth of the Savior. Give wintery activities a summer spin, like white water balloons
for a summer "snowball ght," and serve cold chocolate milk
with a candy cane. Additional idea: purchase school supplies to donate; contact Love Inc, a local assistance ministry, for further information.
Small Group Discussion
What principles are there to follow?
There is stark contrast in the circumstances between the encouragement of Luke 2:10 and Luke 6:22-23. The message remains the same -- rejoice! Nothing in this world can undo or even diminish your joy in Jesus. Unfortunately, we seem to battle the most to keep our joy. What robs you of your joy?
How can you remain steadfast in the truth that nothing can undo or diminish your joy in Jesus?