Promises made, Promises kept

Promises Christmas

Sunday 12/22/19

Christmas Praise Service

Message – Promises made, Promises kept

The Spirit & the Shepherds say…

At the Beginning

Gen. 3:14-15, “(14) Then the LORD God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life.  (15) I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. [Prophecy Date: 5,000 years & Recording Date 1,500 years BC]

VIDEO of Isaiah (This video is made by the ministry of ‘The Skit Guys‘ which I encourage you to support).

Prophecies of Messiah

Mal. 4:1-2,  “(1) For indeed, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the LORD of Hosts, “not leaving them root or branches.  (2) But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall. [Prophecy Date: 500+ years BC]

Rom. 15:8-13, “(8) Now I say that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God, to confirm the promises to the fathers,  (9) and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written: Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and I will sing psalms to Your name. – Ps. 18 (10)  Again it says: Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people! – Deut. 32:43 (11)  And again: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; all the peoples should praise Him! – Ps. 117:1 (12)  And again, Isaiah says: The root of Jesse will appear, the One who rises to rule the Gentiles; in Him the Gentiles will hope. – Isa. 11:10 (13)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Isa. 11:1-5, “(1) Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  (2) The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him–a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  (3) His delight will be in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, He will not execute justice by what He hears with His ears, (4) but He will judge the poor righteously and execute justice for the oppressed of the land. He will strike the land with discipline from His mouth, and He will kill the wicked with a command from His lips.  (5) Righteousness and faithfulness will be a belt around His waist.” – [Prophecy Date: 800 years BC]  

Luke 1:67-80, “67  Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68  “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70  As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71  That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73  The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 76  “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79  To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” 

Num. 24:15-19,  “Then he proclaimed his poem: The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eyes are opened;  (16) the oracle of one who hears the sayings of God and has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls into a trance with his eyes uncovered:  (17) I see him, but not now; I perceive him, but not near. A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel. He will smash the forehead of Moab and strike down all the Shethites.  (18) Edom will become a possession; Seir will become a possession of its enemies, but Israel will be triumphant.  (19) One who comes from Jacob will rule; he will destroy the city’s survivors.”  

Matt. 2:1-6, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem,  (2) saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  (3) When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  (4) So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.  (5) “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet: (6) And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Isa 9:1-7, “(1) Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.  (2) The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned.  (3)  You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.  (4) For You have shattered their burdensome yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian.  (5) For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. (6) For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  (7) The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.”

Luke 2:8-12 “(8)  In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock.  (9) Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  (10) But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  (11) today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.  (12) This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

A backdrop for this next verse is that Ahaz king of Judea, had heard that Rezin king of Aram, along with Pekah king of Israel What’s going to come and attack Judah. And King Ahaz had a heart which was more inclined to the king of Assyria and Assyria’s god than to Jehovah and as such was struggling against his own conscience which told him to forsake his a idolatry and trust the God of Israel.

Henry Morris says, “A secret disaffection to God is often disguised with the specious colours of respect to Him.”

Isa. 7:10-16, “(10) Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz:  (11) “Ask for a sign from the LORD your God–from the depths of Sheol to the heights of heaven.”  (12) But Ahaz replied, “I will not ask. I will not test the LORD.” (13) Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God?  (14) Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.  (15)  By the time he learns to reject what is bad and choose what is good, he will be eating butter and honey.  (16) For before the boy knows to reject what is bad and choose what is good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned.”

Songs we sang:

The Historical account when it occurred…

Matthew 1:16-25,  “(16) and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.  (17) So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.  (18) The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (19) So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.  (20) But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. (21) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”  (22) Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: (23) See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” (24) When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her (25) but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.”

Songs we sang:

Luke 1:26-56, “(26) In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  (27) to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  (28) And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” (29) But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.  (30) Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (31) Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name JESUS. (32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  (33) He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. (34) Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” (35) The angel replied to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.  (36) And consider your relative Elizabeth–even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren. (37) For nothing will be impossible with God.” (38) “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. (39) In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah  (40) where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. (41) When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (42) Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed! (43) How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (44) For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!  (45) She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!” (46) And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, (47) and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, (48) because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, (49) because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy. (50) His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.  (51) He has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; (52) He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. (53) He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. (54) He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy, (55) just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever. (56) And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.”

The announcement from the angels of Messiah’s birth – the hope and restoration of Israel and of Peace on earth.

Epictetus, a first century pagan writer, said: “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy; he cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearn for more than even outward peace.”

Luke 2:1-40, “(1) In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered.  (2) This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. (3) So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.  (4) And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David,  (5) to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. (6) While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. (7) Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough–because there was no room for them at the inn.  (8) In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. (9) Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (10) But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  (11) today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. (12) This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” (13) Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: (14) Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!  (15) When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (16) They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. (17) After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, (18)  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (19) But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. (20) The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told. (21) When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named JESUS–the name given by the angel before He was conceived.  (22) And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (23) (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) (24) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons). (25) There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him.  (26) It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. (27) Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, (28) Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: (29) Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word. (30) For my eyes have seen Your salvation. (31) You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples– (32) a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.  (33) His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. (34) Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed– (35) and a sword will pierce your own soul–that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (36) There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, (37) and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fastings and prayers.  (38) At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (39) When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. (40) The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.”

John 1:1-34,  “(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (2) He was with God in the beginning. (3) All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.  (4) Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. (5) That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. (6) There was a man named John who was sent from God.  (7) He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. (8) He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. (9) The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  (10) He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. (11) He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. (12) But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,  (13) who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. (14) The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (15) (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.'”)  (16) Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, (17) for although the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son–the One who is at the Father’s side–He has revealed Him. (19) This is John’s testimony when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” (20) He did not refuse to answer, but he declared: “I am not the Messiah.”  (21) “What then?” they asked him. “Are you Elijah?” “I am not,” he said. “Are you the Prophet?” “No,” he answered. (22) “Who are you, then?” they asked. “We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What can you tell us about yourself?” (23) He said, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord–just as Isaiah the prophet said.” (24) Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. (25) So they asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you aren’t the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?”  (26) “I baptize with water,” John answered them. “Someone stands among you, but you don’t know Him. (27) He is the One coming after me, whose sandal strap I’m not worthy to untie.” (28) All this happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ (31) I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”  (32) And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. (33) I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on–He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (34) I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”

Songs we sang:

Closing statements…

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!