Tag Archives: Gospels

Visitors at the Door

Peering into the stars, the scholars noticed something different and amazing one night. As they researched, their familiarity with the Scriptures caused them to follow the star. They knew a Messiah was coming, and they wanted to see him. Their journey took them to the land of King Herod, who asked a lot of questions, and eventually, their journey took them to the home of Mary and Joseph.

Matthew 2 records, “After this interview, the wise men went their own way, and the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped at the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshipped him, then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route. For God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.”

These wise men’s example offers some pointers for anyone desiring to deepen in our relationship with the Lord.

  • They were sensitive to the Lord’s leading. When they saw the star, they followed it. They didn’t ignore the prompting of the Lord. Do we pay enough attention to the Lord to know when he is prompting us?
  • They worshipped the Lord. The wise men realized who they were in comparison to the Lord, so they offered the Messiah praise. How often do we thank the Lord for what he has done for us?
  • Matthew tells us the wise men shared with the Lord. They shared gold, which is something of value, and frankincense and myrrh, which are incense. For us, we can share the gold of our time and talents with the Lord and the incense of our prayers with him.

As you think of the wise men’s example, try putting these pointers into practice in your walk with the Lord.

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Different Views of Christmas

Given the opportunity to have a conversation with one of the characters from the Christmas account, who would you choose? I was recently asked this question, and it spurred my thinking. The people starring in Jesus’ birth story would have witnessed the events from a wide array of perspectives, yet we see much faith shine through each perspective.

Mary

Mary obviously plays a crucial role, being the young mother of Jesus. This would have been a lot for her to take on, but she does in a faithful way. Luke records the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to reveal her part in God’s grand plan. Luke 1:28 says, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

After reassuring Mary his visit was to bring good news, Gabriel explained how she would be the mother of Jesus, and reminded Mary God can do anything. Mary was an ordinary girl, but she was given an extraordinary part to play in God’s plan. We know she inquired about the virgin birth, but we can only imagine what else went through Mary’s mind’ as she listened to the angel’s words.

She would have to explain this to Joseph. A pregnancy can’t be easily hidden, and people would speculate about her as they would not understand what the Lord was doing. This would have been a lot for Mary to process, and she may have not fully grasped it, but because of her faith, Mary was willing to offer herself as a servant. She realized fulfilling her purpose would have rough parts, but she trusted the Lord to be with her during those times. 

Joseph

Joseph would have to take on much in his role. Joseph was certainly put in a unique spot. Hisfiance was pregnant, but the baby wasn’t his. As Joseph was struggling with what to do, he was faithful to the Lord’s calling. Matthew 1 tells us Joseph was going to divorce Mary, but listened when the Lord told him to stay. Joseph’s response in this moment truly demonstrates his faithfulness.

Shepherds

The shepherds could have stayed in the field with their sheep and dismissed the angel’s message, but they had a different response. “When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

The shepherds responded to the angel with much faith. Believing the angel, the shepherds acted upon their belief. The shepherds’ faith shined through brightly.

Magi

The Magi allowed their faith to push them. As they were studying the stars, they could have ignored the star introducing Jesus as another supernova, but they chose to seek the answer to why the star suddenly appeared. Their faith pushed them to investigate God’s Word.

Each of these characters has a different perspective of Jesus’ birth, but they all respond with much faith. As we all approach life from differing perspectives, we should share this commonalty with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi. We should approach the Lord with faith. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord rewards those who earnestly seek him.

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Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11 says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”

You and I have been given a gift. The gift is Jesus. Jesus brings the gift of grace. He came to help us. Jesus did not stand at the top of the mountain and tell us to climb. He came down to hold our hand as we climbed. Jesus did not stand on the opposite side of a gulf and tell us to cross the bridge. He came across to help us. Jesus came as our Christmas gift.

The angel’s good news to the shepherds is for you and me also. As you celebrate today, I hope you have a moment to reflect on the gift of Jesus.

I appreciate you spending part of your day reading this, and I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas. Please share this post.

No Broken Promises

It has been said promises are made only to be broken, and since we do not live in a perfect world, this holds true on many occasions. Someone with the best of intentions makes a promise to us, but the person is unable to keep it. For many, politics comes to mind as soon as they think of broken promises. An imperfect world leads to imperfect promises.

But what if I told you there was someone who always keeps promises. What if I told you there is someone who always tells the truth? There is! He is the Lord, and we see this lived out the night the shepherds heard of Jesus’ birth.

The stillness of their night had been interrupted by an angel giving them good news of great joy, so the shepherds went to investigate. Luke’s Gospel tells us, “They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph, and there was the baby lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). They investigated the message they received from the angel and found that it was true. Everything was just like they had been told.

God doesn’t lie. He doesn’t change his mind or his character; he doesn’t go back on his word. Hebrews reminds us the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. He will always keep his promises. His word will always be true.

We can trust the promises given to us in the Bible. We can trust that the Lord will give us peace. We can trust that he will be with us. We can trust that he will provide for us and protect us. There is not one promise in Scripture which will be broken. God will always keep his word, so we can be like the shepherds, praising God for finding things just as we were told (Luke 2:20).

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Good News of Great Joy

The sun had set, and the shepherds were gathered around a small fire keeping warm in the darkness and coolness of night. Their sheep resting close by. It seemed like an ordinary night, but suddenly it became extraordinary. The darkness was pierced by the light of an angel, and the shepherds were terrified. Who can blame them? The darkness of night interrupted by the brilliance of an angel is enough to make the hair on anyone’s neck stand on edge.

“But the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David. And you will recognize him by this sign: you will find a baby, wrapped in strips of cloth lying in a manger.’ Suddenly the angel was joined by a vast host of others, the armies of Heaven, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest Heaven and peace on earth with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:10-14).

Good news of great joy is what the shepherds needed. We all need good news of great joy, especially in the darkness of this era. Everywhere we turn we find negative headlines, but Christmas is a reminder there is good news, joyous news that is for everyone. This good news is Jesus. He is our way to peace with God.

The Bible says, “Do not let your hearts be trouble, but present your requests and petitions to God in prayer. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Because of Christmas, we can take the anxieties of this world and hand them over to the Lord. We can rest in the peace he offers.

The shepherds were the first to receive good news of great joy, but it is also for you and me. Allow the light of the Lord to pierce the darkness around you and bring you peace this Christmas season.

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Less Than Ideal

The census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but a Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. This “less than ideal” situation is the last place we would expect God to work, but he did some mighty work.

There are many “less than ideal” situations in life, yet God works through them.

  • It is less than ideal when we feel all alone in a moment of life. We find ourselves amid a life season we don’t think anyone else could even begin to understand, yet God does. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus understands, and he is able to help us in our time of need. It may not be a perfect season, but God is still working.
  • It may be a season where you feel absolutely alone. No family close, so you’re just mingling around your house by yourself. You’re not really alone though; God is there. Hebrews 13:5 tells us the Lord will never leave us; he will never forsake us. Even when we are alone, the Lord is there with us and he is working.
  • Maybe your heartbroken and devastated. Your marriage ended as your spouse walked in and said, “I’m done.” Psalm 34:18 reminds us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and heals those who are crushed in spirit.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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The Extent of God’s Love

A census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

Christmas shows the extent of God’s love. The Lord has such a sacrificial love for you and I that he came to us.

The Gospel of John reminds us the Lord became human and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14), and we know from the Bible, he gave up much to come be with us. Philippians 2 says Jesus did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but he gave it up in humility so he could be with us. All this out of love; John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save it.”

You see, Christmas is the result of God’s love. It demonstrates how close the Lord will come to help us. He is right beside us helping us.

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An Unexpected Hero

Everyone has a list of heroes. We admire these men and women because of their achievements, nobility, or courage. We expect some people to be heroes, but occasionally, we find a hero in an unexpected place. This holds true with heroes of the faith as well.

Most of the time when we think of Bible heroes, we think of Moses or David. We may think of Jesus’ first disciples, the Apostle Paul, or anyone listed in Hebrews 11. They are certainly all heroes and worthy of our admiration, but I would like to bring to mind another hero. Though we do not know his name, we know enough about this gentleman to classify him a hero. His character and courage are impressive, and though he is only known as the man born blind, he leaves an iconic mark in history.

We are first introduced to this hero in John 9. “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth” (John 9:1). Jesus’ disciples immediately judge the man. Either he or his parents had to be steeped in sin; otherwise, the man would have been born with his sight. How often this must have happened as the man begged to meet his daily needs. He received what he needed plus an abundance of judgement because of his vision loss. Passers-by would jump to conclusions about the man, his family, and his life. They automatically assumed things about the man based only on his eyesight. They did not take the time to find out more, or even get to know him. They knew he was a blind beggar, so everything else they thought had to be true.

Jesus, on the other hand, offers a different perspective, which truly shows the man’s heroism. Jesus uses the situation to magnify his glory. Notice how Jesus answers the disciples’ question in John 9:3. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Jesus says this man’s life and vision loss can bring glory to God.

This is the first reason the man is a hero. He allows the Lord to be glorified through his life. To spite the judgment and criticism the man encounters, his life is still able to glorify the Lord. Just like the man born blind, our lives have been put in a unique position by the Lord to glorify him. In those moments when we feel helpless, when we feel as if we cannot do anything for the Lord, this hero reminds us we still have an abundance of opportunity to glorify God.

Glorifying God is only one reason this man is a champion. As the timeline of John 9 continues, we see this man demonstrate heroic resolve, courage, and character. His healing grabbed the community’s attention and was widely discussed. There were those who were grateful because the man could see, but more so, there were those who were upset because Jesus made mud on the Sabbath. They were upset and began asking several questions, which is where we again see the man’s heroism.

Again, and again, we see the man being questioned about his healing, and each time, he takes a firm stand for Jesus.

  • When his neighbors ask how he was healed, “He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So, I went and washed, and now I can see!” (John 9:11).
  • “The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So, he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” (John 9:15).
  • “Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” (John 9:17).

Each time the man is asked how he received his sight; he points to Jesus. He does not claim to fully understand, and he is undoubtedly aware of the divisiveness caused by crediting Jesus. But he knows the truth, and he is resolved to proclaim it. This is the mark of a true hero: someone who stands up for the truth in spite of the consequences. Taking such a firm stand for Jesus meant being kicked out of the synagogue. The man would no longer have access to the place he has been day after day for years; he would no longer be able to worship in these familiar surroundings. Our hero risked a lot by crediting Jesus for his healing, but he was determined to tell the truth. His resolve spurred on by his courage.

The final time the man is questioned, we see his courage fully displayed. “So, for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” (John 9:24-27).

The man’s question is inspiring. It is as if he is saying, “Look at what Jesus has done for me! Don’t you also want to come follow him?” With much courage the man presents the Gospel. The testimony of his life is a true picture of the Lord’s grace, and he is not afraid to share it. We find in this man’s story an example of courageously sharing the Good News.

Our lives are testimonies of the Lord’s grace, so we should be ready to share it. The Lord may put us in some unique places with opportunities to share the Gospel just as he did our hero. A neighbor’s curious question could easily turn into an opportunity to share our hope in Jesus Christ. When it does, we have the man’s example to follow. We can look to this icon to see what it is like to speak the truth with much courage. Scripture implores, “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15), so be ready to imitate this champ’s response.

The man’s character is another reason he is a hero. After the man endured much criticism and had been expelled from the synagogue, John tells us Jesus came to the man. He could have used this opportunity to complain. He could issue a complaint for a number of reasons; blindness, judgment from others, and being excluded from religious services just to name a few, but he did not display a grumbling attitude. Rather, the man pronounced faith in Jesus and worshiped. He was grateful for what the Lord had done. Life may have not been perfect, but the man realized the Lord had shown goodness to him. He displays a character worthy of modeling.

Our lives may not be perfect, and we can easily come up with a list of complaints to present to the Lord. But the Lord’s goodness is also prevalent in our lives. A gracious and merciful God is walking with us through each day. He is guiding our steps and directing our path, so we should strive to imitate our hero’s character: displaying an attitude of gratefulness for what the Lord has done.

“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done,” instructs David in 1 Chronicles 16:4. We are also encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Just as our champion did, we should concentrate on our blessings rather than our complaints.

He may not have a name and may only be in the Bible for one brief chapter, but the man born blind is truly a hero. As he responds to being healed, the man’s resolve, courage, and character are admirable. These qualities set him apart as a hero, and we should strive to model them in our own lives. This man may have come from an unexpected place, but he certainly left a heroic mark on history.

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Appearing to the Brokenhearted

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The events of the past few days have certainly been difficult. Watching someone you are close to suffer the excruciating horror of crucifixion is enough to make even the hardest person’s emotions raw. For those close to Jesus, the grieving process had to pause a bit because of the Sabbath, but now that it is over, it is time to pick up where they left off earlier: visiting the tomb to ensure a proper burial. The Gospel writers tell us Jesus’ friends headed to the cemetery as soon as the sun was rising and the Sabbath was ending. Heartbroken, they didn’t want to waste any time.

John’s Gospel specifically tells us Mary Magdalene was the first to go and realize the tomb was empty. Mary thinks she’s going to ensure a proper burial, but she finds an empty tomb and neatly folded linens with no Jesus. What happens next shows us the compassion the Lord has for the broken-hearted.

John 20 records, “Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Mary is seeing something here that looks an awful lot like the Ark of the Covenant. Prior to now, the Ark of the Covenant, which represents the Lord’s presence, was only accessible in the Holy of Holies, and only one day a year by one person – the High Priest. But not now! The presence of the Lord is accessible to this heart broken woman.

She is not the High Priest nor is she in the Holy of Holies. She is a common person standing in a garden, outside an empty tomb, in tears because she doesn’t know what is happening. The person she cared about so deeply was ripped from her life, he was tortured to death, and now she can’t even make sure he has a decent burial because he is missing. Heartache is stacked on top of her heartbreak. Can you understand how she feels?

We are certainly not strangers to this pain. Heartache comes to us in any number of ways. The person we thought we were going to marry walked away from us. The child who should have outlived us didn’t. The husband who pledged his faithfulness was anything but faithful. The spouse of 50 years was ripped from our arms by death. The pain of a broken heart is not a foreign experience.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I know how she feels. It is exactly how I feel today.” If so, please remember, you are not alone in this moment.

Mary’s story shows us we are not left to drown in the tears of our heartache. As she is standing there crying, Mary is not alone. John 20 continues, “She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ” Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).”

Jesus does not leave Mary standing in the garden with tears running down her face. The tomb is empty, and Jesus is right beside Mary amid her heartbreak. He brings compassion and grace. He brings encouragement and comfort. Jesus brings himself to the heartbroken Mary, and he brings himself to those who are heartbroken today.

Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

When our hearts are broken, we can look to an empty tomb and find a Savior who comes to the heartbroken. Just like he was with Mary amid her heartbreak, he is with us amid our heartbreak. The same accessibility and compassion are present. Jesus does not flee from the heartbroken; he comes to us. Jesus is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those with a crushed spirit.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to be alone in our pain. We can allow the Lord to come close and rescue our crushed spirit.