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This Shall Be a Sign unto You

Copyright © 20181

by
Percy Gutteridge

Image of the manger copyright by www.LumoProject.com, licensed exclusively by FreeBibleimages.org for teaching purposes only; used with permission according to license terms.“This shall be a sign unto you.”
But what was the sign?2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because He was of the house and lineage of David:) 5to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:1-18

As we read through Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, we discover a key theme of the Christmas season. It’s the message that the angel gave to the shepherds. The fact that an angel said it underscores its importance. He said:

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

What is the significance of this sign? If God took the trouble [continue reading…]

How Great Our Joy!

Anonymous
(Traditional German Carol)
translated by
Theodore Baker
(1851-1934)

While by the sheep we watched at night,
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.

Chorus:
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!
Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!

“There shall be [continue reading…]

For the Beauty of the Earth

Folliott Pierpoint
(1835-1917)

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each [continue reading…]

Give and Be Given

The Giver and the Given

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Image of a seedling being passed from one generation to the next, used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_yarrutaGod, as the Giver and the Given,
calls for us to give and be given.1

As I was waiting on the Lord this morning, I was reminded that He asked me to give up three major things during my senior year of high school.2 (That was 49 years ago, if anyone is counting.) Although each thing requested seemed large and costly at the time, none of the decisions to obey was difficult or required a protracted inner struggle, because Jesus was my Lord. The cost was counted, and each transaction was [continue reading…]

He Giveth More Grace

Annie J. Flint
(1866-1932)

…He giveth more grace…

James 4:6

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of [continue reading…]

Count Your Blessings

Johnson Oatman, Jr.
(1856-1922)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Chorus:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
[continue reading…]

God’s “Plan B”

Our “Plan A”

A man's heart deviseth his way: 
but the Lord directeth his steps. 
Proverbs 16:9 KJV

Message of the graphic: 'Time for Plan B'; used under license from 123RF.com -- https://www.123rf.com/profile_iqonceptAll any of us should want
is God's will for our life.1

If things had gone according to “Plan A,” right now Denise and I would be just returning from a three-week teaching trip in Perú, having ministered to about 140 leaders in the cities of Lima, Jicamarca, Huánuco, and Chancay. There was one small problem with that – barely a tenth of the amount needed for travel came in. And so, since we're completely dependent on the Lord's supply for these trips, it was easy to determine that Jesus must have [continue reading…]

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

William Williams
(1717-1791)
translated from Welsh by
Peter Williams
(1723-1796)

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore;
Feed me now and evermore.

Open Thou the crystal fountain [continue reading…]

God of Grace and God of Glory

Harry Emerson Fosdick
(1878-1969)

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power!
Crown Thine ancient Church’s story—
Bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Lo! The hosts of evil round us [continue reading…]

An American Invitation

 

Denise & Jim Kerwin at the Iowa Holiness Association Camp 2018Denise and Jim at Iowa Holiness Association
Camp Meeting 20181

I do a lot of travel in order to teach the Bible. In the process of traveling and teaching I learn a lot. And I think what I learned while I was ministering in Iowa recently will give an important, additional focus to our ministry going forward.

It's only in the last four or five years of my overseas teaching that people have begun to think of me and treat me as a “missionary.” That label came as a surprise, because I hadn't thought of myself as a missionary, but rather as an itinerant teacher. Lately 95% of my teaching has been in foreign countries, so I've had little involvement with the spiritual needs of my fellow believers in the United States and Canada.

Context in the Cornfields of Iowa

One on one teachingJim and one his favorite students2

That's why my week of ministry as the Bible teacher at the annual Iowa Holiness Association camp meeting was such a wake-up call. I went there with a burden from the Lord: “Don't tell them what you do overseas; teach them what you teach there.” So, [continue reading…]

He Will Fill Your Heart Today to Overflowing

Leila Naylor Morris
(Mrs. C. H. Morris)
(1862-1929)

1 Kings 17:14-16— “For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, ‘The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.' ” 15And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.16And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by Elijah.

2 Kings 4:2-5— And Elisha said unto her, “What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house?” And she said, “Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.” 3Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. 4And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.” 5So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.

Are you longing for the fullness
Of the blessing of the Lord
In your heart and life today?
Claim the promise of your Father;
Come according to His Word,
In the blessèd, old time way.

Chorus:
He will fill your heart today to overflowing.
As the Lord commandeth you,
“Bring your vessels, not a few.” [continue reading…]

Hushed Was the Evening Hymn

James D. Burns
(1823-1864)

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark;
The lamp was burning dim
Before the sacred ark,
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild,
The priest of Israel, slept;
His watch the temple child,
The little Levite, kept,
And what from Eli’s sense was sealed,
The Lord to Hannah’s son revealed.

O give me Samuel’s ear, [continue reading…]

Best.Trip.Ever!

Yes, Best.Trip.Ever (Despite “Doing a ‘Denise'”)!

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
-Proverbs 16:9-

Jim Kerwin and Denise Kerwin with matching injuries.His & Hers:
One friend accused us of taking the
“they two shall be one flesh” thing a little too far…

I probably shouldn't say this, because only God can judge the merits and results of a given missions trip. But right now, my post-Guatemala “high” is such that I want to call last month's Guatemala trip the Best.Trip.Ever!

This is despite the fact that I had two rather blatant spiritual attacks during the trip. One was a disconcerting bout of dizziness and related vision problems as soon as I arose from my seat after the plane taxied to the gate in Guatemala City. The other, as many of you know, was the pratfall I took on the first day of teaching at the pastors' retreat. (I missed a step down.) The results of my face-plant were [continue reading…]

Holy Ghost, We Bid Thee Welcome

Leila Naylor Morris
(Mrs. C. H. Morris)
(1862-1929)

Holy Ghost, we bid Thee welcome.
Source of life and power Thou art;
Promise of our heavenly Father,
Now thrice welcome to my heart.

Chorus:
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Holy Ghost we welcome Thee;
Come in power and fill Thy temple— [continue reading…]