Summary: Jesus is the greatest promise given to us through scripture and realized through the obedience of Mary and Joseph.

Matthew 1:18-25

She Called Him Emmanuel

Introduction - Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, was having breakfast with his dad and his younger son at the Real Food Café on Eastern Avenue, just south of Alger in Grand Rapids. As they were finishing their meal, he noticed that the waitress brought their check, then took it away, and then brought it back again. She placed it on the table, smiled, and said: "Somebody in the restaurant paid for your meal. You’re all set." And then she walked away.

He had the strangest feeling sitting there. The feeling was helplessness. There was nothing he could do. It had been taken care of. To insist on paying would have been pointless. All he could do was trust that what she said was actually true and then live in that—which meant getting up and leaving the restaurant. His acceptance of what she said gave him a choice: to live like it was true or to create his own reality in which the bill was not paid.

That is our invitation—to accept the promise of a paid debt. To trust that grace pays the bill.


(Background)Gen 17/18

The seed...Gen 3:15

The sign...Isaiah 7:14

The Son...Isaiah 9:6

Ill - Corpse Flower’s Empty Promises

What flower has been likened to "3-day-old road-kill," "rotting flesh," and "fish gone bad"? The answer is the corpse flower.

The corpse flower (titan arum), native to the equatorial forests of Sumatra, can grow up to 10 feet tall. Once opened, the spiked, bright red bloom even looks like rotten meat, a veritable welcome mat for the insects that pollinate it—flies and carrion beetles.

According to University of Connecticut research assistant Matthew Opel, the corpse flower "looks like something has died. It smells like something has died. It has the same chemicals that dead bodies produce."

The flower, however, which begins to disintegrate after two days, is nothing but a big practical joke to the flies and other carrion insects, says Opel. "Unlike other plants that offer nectar, there’s no real reward here. They think they’re going to get a meal because it smells like something dead."

Thus is the story of sin. It is attractive. It holds out promises yet has no true rewards. And it ends in death.

The Bible points to Jesus! He brings life...not death! He IS the posterity!


Possession of Christ...Luke 12:8

Persuasion from Christ...Romans 8:38; 1 John 5:13

Completion in Christ...Jude 24

Ill - Prostitute Experiences Redemption

Philip Yancey recounts stories of prostitutes who have been brought into the kingdom of God:

Juanita, for example, was sold into sexual slavery by her own mother at the age of four. While other children went to school, she worked in a brothel, earning for her mother the higher rates paid for young girls. Eventually she had two children of her own, whom her mother took from her. With no education and no other skills, she continued working in the brothel, in the process becoming addicted to alcohol and cocaine.

One day a customer grew enraged when she wouldn’t do what he asked, and hit her on the head with a baseball bat. She lay in a hospital bed, desperate. "I got on my knees and pled with God. I wanted somehow to escape prostitution, to become a real mother to my children. And God gave me a vision. He said, ’Look for Rahab Foundation.’ I didn’t even know the word Rahab." She found the organization’s phone number, though, and a few days later Juanita showed up, bruised and bandaged, at Rahab’s door.

"I need help," she said, sobbing. "I’m dying. I can’t take it anymore." A kindly woman named Mariliana took her in and told her about God’s love. "I couldn’t believe the hope on Mariliana’s face," Juanita recalled. "She smiled and hugged me. She gave me a clean bed, flowers in the room, and a promise that no men would harass me. She taught me how to be a real mother, and now I am studying a trade to live for the glory of God."

Our hope comes from Jesus! He IS our security. We are to live for the glory of God.


Examination...1 John 2:25

Expectation...Revelation 22:12-14

Ill - The Power of a Father’s Example

At a 1994 Promise Keepers’ conference in Denton, Texas, pastor James Ryle told his story: When he was 2 years old, his father was sent to prison. When he was 7, authorities placed him in an orphanage. At 19, he had a car wreck that killed a friend. He sold drugs to raise money for his legal fee, and the law caught up to him. He was arrested, charged with a felony, and sent to prison.

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