Merry Christmas to you all! This week has been a fruitfull one for my work with CCM. I have finally managed to get caught up on the organizational "paper work" that keeps CCM organized.
CCM will begin to welcome new members as a part of our weekly devotionals. I want to encourage you to pray for our new members each week, and for CCM as the "congregation" grows.
We welcome you in prayer asking THE LORD to bless you through this ministry.
This week we will pause in our study of the Gospel of Mark to focus on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My thanks to Rob McRay, the Pastor of NorthTown Church, my local Congregation, who is the Author of this week's devotional.
"The Greatest Story Ever Told", was originally designed to be read by three readers, at our annual Christmas Banquet, however, it could be used as a family devotional, or could be read by a single reader for private meditation.
I recommend that you add your favorite appropriate Christmas Carols and Hymns between the readings to enhance the naratives.
"But you, Bethlehem . . . , out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. . . . He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace."
[Micah 5:2,4-5 NIV]
"Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means, 'God with us.'"
[Isaiah 7:14 + Matthew 1:23 NIV]
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."
[Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word as with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. . . . The Word became a human being and lived among us. We saw his glory, full of grace and truth. This was the glory which he received as the Father's only Son. . . . For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its Judge, but to be its Savior.
[John 1:1-2,14; 3:16-17 NIV, GNB]
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
[Luke 1:26-35 RSV]
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. . . . And everyone went to his own town to register.
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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
. . . So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. . . . The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
[Luke 2:1,3-14,16,20 NIV]
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod . . . had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written. . . . "
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
[Matthew 2:1-5,9-11 NIV]