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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Peter & John — Acts 9:32-43

Acts 9:32-43 NIV
[32] As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. [33] There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. [34] “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. [35] All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. [36] In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. [37] About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. [38] Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” [39] Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. [40] Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. [41] He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. [42] This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. [43] Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Dear God, as I think about what is going on in my life right now, especially professionally, this passage strikes me from the perspective of Peter figuring out why kind of ministries and activities to be about. What I see here is a man who is completely being led by the Holy Spirit to do this thing or that.

It feels like a theme of my prayers lately have been around the Holy Spirit. Maybe that’s because I’m in Acts right now. But it is a good reminder to be seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, counsel, love, and comfort. I also need to remember to pray the Holy Spirit over others as well.

Father, make me mindful of your call. Every good gift this year at work, every provision seems to have come from you. Really, I can think of huge amounts of financial resources that seem to have come because you (not me) stirred someone’s heart. It wasn’t anything brilliant I did. When we needed a key staff person, you brought them to us. I told the board of directors that if they want to give me credit for anything it can be that I am a praying person and you have said yes to my prayers. So with your yes comes responsibility. Help me to not miss the opportunities you’re bringing me to glorify you and serve your world.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 8:14-25

Acts 8:14-25 NIV
[14] When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. [15] When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, [16] because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [17] Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. [18] When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money [19] and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” [20] Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! [21] You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. [22] Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. [23] For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” [24] Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” [25] After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

Dear God, I love the image of Peter and John going out as a team. I wonder how much their enthusiasm for the belief of the Samaritans was informed by their experiences with Jesus and Samaria. The ones that come to the top of my mind are the stories of Jesus and the Samaritan woman and the well (followed by the entire village becoming part of the story), the time John asked Jesus if he wanted John to call down fire on the Samaritans for refusing Jesus to go through there and Jesus rebuked him, and then the parable of “The Good Samaritan.” Without these lessons from Jesus himself, would Peter and John have rejected this new faith from Samaria?

Then there’s the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I don’t pray this nearly enough for people. Whether it’s my children or my coworkers, I need to be more mindful of this. I have my own story of when I felt like I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and it was when my life was truly changed.

Father, I would be remiss in this email if I didn’t stop and thank you for some particularly great things you’ve done for me and those around me this week. Really, thank you. And now I pray that your Holy Spirit will come and flood those I know and love. Spirit, move. Become part of those who have called on the name of Jesus and believed. Fill them with your peace, love, joy, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, and self control. Protect them from Satan’s attacks and love them well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 6:1-7

Acts 6:1-7 NIV
[1] In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. [2] So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. [3] Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them [4] and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” [5] This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. [6] They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. [7] So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Dear God, in this little series of scriptures I’m doing about Peter and John, I know this story doesn’t mention them by name, but they were both obviously involved in the decision to put this together.

I think it can be easy for a church to get wrapped up in its outreach and forget to be the body of Christ for each other. In this case, you had factions forming and causing division among the people. We just can’t help it, can we? The apostles were wise to put together a team to deal with this and pay attention to it. Satan attacks our unity first. As I’ve said before, that’s his Plan A and he rarely needs Plan B. He does it with marriages, families, friends, coworkers, churches, and I can look around and see that he’s doing it with our nation too. And of course, the world.

In my own world, I see it within my family and I see it at work. I can see divisions form and it all starts with the idea that someone sees some sort of injustice happening and then they respond to it destructively instead of constructively. Right now, I’m thinking of one particular thing at work that I need to address. It’s something that would be easier to ignore, but as the leader I need to ensure that it doesn’t develop into something that will damage the work we are doing with our patients.

Father, help me to do exactly what you need me to do to address issues of division around me. Make me part of the solution and not part of the problem. Give me empathy and help me to address problems at their core and not at the symptom level. Give me serenity, courage and wisdom.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Romans 12:14-20

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Romans 12:14-20

Dear God, I’m not sure I’ve ever spent much time with is passage. Romans has never been one of my go-to books, but I came into contact with this passage recently so I wanted to think about it a bit.

My first inclination in reading it is to wonder about motivation. I love the first part of this passage, but then the part where Paul seems to intimate that being nice to them is like heaping burning coals of shame on their heads gives me pause. But if your go back to verse 9, it says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” At the end of the day, if you really love others, those who you only THINK are your enemies will become your legitimate allies, and those who are truly your enemies will likely experience the confusion and shame that Paul describes here.

I can say that my own hate has never been productive, and has always worked to destroy me probably more than the person I hate. It’s one of those great mysteries of grace—it offers freedom to both the forgiver and the forgiven.

Father, make me an instrument of your peace and help me to decrease as you increase. Help me to see others as more important than myself and to live in your love. I have specific things in my heart that are too personal to mention in this open prayer, but you know what I’m thinking. Be God for us all.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2018 in Romans

 

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Peter & John — Acts 5:29-42

Acts 5:29-42 NIV
[29] Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! [30] The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. [31] God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. [32] We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” [33] When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. [34] But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. [35] Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. [36] Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. [37] After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. [38] Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. [39] But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” [40] His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. [41] The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. [42] Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Dear God, this is next-level faith stuff. The level where my own circumstances are irrelevant when conoared with how you need to use me. What strikes me is the difference in their attitudes than mine. If I were arrested, released by an angel, and then obeyed what the angel had said, I would have been upset, I think, about then getting flogged. But it says they rejoiced because they were considered worthy of suffering disgrace.

I told my wife just this morning about a failing of mine. There are times I allow my own hurt feelings to keep me from seeing the big picture and the needs of someone near me. I am not at the level where these people are.

Father, help me to hit that next level of faith—I admit I’m terrified to think about what you will have to do to me to teach me that. I feel like you’re already teaching me this lesson so maybe I’m on my way. Just help me, please, Father. I want to be the most good for you that I can be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 5:1-11

Acts 5:1-11 NIV
[1] Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. [2] With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. [3] Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? [4] Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” [5] When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. [6] Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. [7] About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” [9] Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” [10] At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Dear God, I suppose there are at least two lessons in this story. The first is, you are not to be mocked/disrespected. Peter makes it clear that Ananias as Sapphira were not only lying to everyone else, but lying to you. Who did they they they were fooling?

Second, there is great danger in just putting on a show for others. I’ve been where they are. I’ve wanted to make myself look better than I really am. And there are times when I give in to that temptation. In the case of these two, I don’t know what would have happened to them if they had just told the truth—here’s a lot of the money, but we are keeping some for ourselves. I don’t know why the peer pressure dictated that they give it all. But there was obviously something wrong with lying about it. Peter even tried to give Sapphira a chance to come clean, but she didn’t take it.

Father, I’m thinking this out Peter in an awkward spot too. He had to lead all of these people through uncharted waters. I guess my prayer for myself is that I ask your forgiveness for the times I misrepresent myself to others for my own glory’s sake. I’m sorry if that has hurt them or your plan in any way. And I pray that you help me to lead when I’m in uncharted waters. Help me to completely submit to you and your still small voice, even when I think I know what I’m doing. Especially when I think I know what I’m doing.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 4:23-41

Acts 4:23-31 NIV
[23] On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. [24] When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. [25] You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? [26] The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ‘ [27] Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. [28] They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. [29] Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. [30] Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” [31] After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Dear God, I can’t even begin to put myself in their position. They were involved in something that no humans had ever experienced in history. They had this great news to share with people and they knew they were putting themselves in harms way with everyone if they shared it. Yes, on the surface you could say that others had been there before, but not like this.

I think they needed that filling of the Holy Spirit to even begin to move forward. How would they have ever done it otherwise? As much as they mention in their prayer about you giving The leaders the power to persecute, you also gave them the power to respond how they are responding. And these wonderful people and their reactions are part of the reason I am here today. I owe them a debt larger than I have probably considered before.

Father, please help me to be appropriately filled with the Holy Spirit at the moments you need me to be filled. Yes, I think the Holy Spirit is always with me and in me, but there is a difference between being present and those moments when you deem I need to be filled for your glory’s and plan’s sake. So help me to be sensitive to you and move through me so that I can be who you need me to be for all of those around me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 4:1-22

Acts 4:1-22 NIV
[1] The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. [2] They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. [3] They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. [4] But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. [5] The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. [6] Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. [7] They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” [8] Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! [9] If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, [10] then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. [11] Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ [12] Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” [13] When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. [14] But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. [15] So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. [16] “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. [17] But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” [18] Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. [19] But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! [20] As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” [21] After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. [22] For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

Dear God, this must have been such a confusing time for the church leaders in Jerusalem. They had stooped to murder. Now they needed to justify their actions by dealing harshly with Peter and John. But then it was hard to deal too harshly with them because they had performed a great miracle in Jesus’ name. It’s a time like this when your lifelong beliefs combine with your sin to box you into a corner.

As I sit her, I’m trying to think of times when my ego has kept me from doing what was right because it would mean I am wrong. Probably the best examples involve parenting decisions I have made. When I take the things that were taught to me about parenting as I grew up and combine them with the sin of making some parenting decisions out of the pain I experienced in the moment I know there have been times when I doubled down on my mistake instead of just repenting and seeking out truth and a wise path forward. I see politicians do this all of the time.

Father, please help me to not fall into the trap of letting my ego and pride get in the way of your truth and love. Help me to love justice, have mercy, and walk humbly with you, for your glory’s sake.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 3:11-26

Acts 3:11-26 NIV
[11] While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. [12] When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? [13] The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. [14] You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. [15] You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. [16] By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. [17] “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. [18] But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. [19] Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, [20] and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. [21] Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. [22] For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. [23] Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ [24] “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. [25] And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ [26] When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Dear God, this isn’t what I want to talk about, but I noticed something interesting in this. Peters short speech doesn’t include any action items beyond believing in Jesus and repenting. There are no commands to join a group of believers, love others, and/or sell what you have and give to the poor. Maybe these things were included in the speech and Luke omitted them, but it’s still interesting. I wonder what happened in the lives of those that believed that day.

What I really want to talk about is Peter taking full advantage of an opportunity. He had people gathered, a miracle happened, and so he shared with him the Good News.

It makes me wonder how many opportunities I’m missing. Should I be more intentional about the reading materials in the lobby? Should we be providing some sort of counseling at the food trailer when it comes to town? Should we maybe have a worship band there from First Baptist? I know I’m missing so many chances to touch people in need.

Father, make me mindful and direct me. Love through me. Bring others to you through me. Use me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Joseph of Nazareth

Matthew 1:18-25 [NLT]
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Matthew 2:13-15 [NLT]
13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

Luke 1:26-28 [NLT]
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Luke 2 [NLT]
2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
21 Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23 The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” 24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
The Prophecy of Simeon
25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30
I have seen your salvation,
31
which you have prepared for all people.
32
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
The Prophecy of Anna
36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
39 When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40 There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
Jesus Speaks with the Teachers
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.
51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Dear God, I just love this man. Greatest man of the Bible? I’d put him in the running. Like the Heisman Trophy voting, he might not win the award (that might go to Paul or David), but he would certainly be invited to New York. Why? Because he did all of the little things that don’t show up in the box score (another sports metaphor). He sacrificed his dreams, reputation, and comfort for the call to live a simple, poor yet unbelievably important and critical life. How much of Jesus formation as a human involved watching his earthly father?

Of course, I could go through each part of the story right now, but I’m not going to. I mean, yes, he decided to do the most honorable thing he could think to do BEFORE he got an angel visit in deciding to break with Mary quietly because “he did not want to disgrace her publicly.” He takes the pregnant wife to Bethlehem (it would have been a whole lot easier to go through the census without her being pregnant). He escapes to Egypt with her on the command of an angel. He goes through losing God’s son in Jerusalem later. And no earthly reward for him is ever recorded. Just one life, submitted to you. He lived and he died and history moved on, but the dominoes he was part of knocking over changed the whole world.

So what do I expect of my life? Do I look for greatness? Do I look for importance? Do I look for wealth and comfort? Or do I simply look to you for my sustenance and daily bread? The answer is yes to all. I confess to you that I want people to think I’m great. My ego is huge and I’m sorry for that. I want to be important and get love from people. My insecurity drives me in that way. I want to not have to worry about money and purchase the things my heart desires. My greed and covetousness can be insatiable. And then there are times like this when I repent of this and just look to you for your direction and your daily bread. I remember that you are my provider and my deliverer. You give me what I need and what I need to have to be the most effective part of your plan that I can be.

Father, I would not get invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony like Joseph would, and that’s okay. In fact, it is probably better for me to live the smallest life I can because my ego has a hard time handling any widespread acknowledgment or acclaim. So do with me what you need to do. Use my life to knock over at least one domino in your plan so that your kingdom will come and your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

[As a P.S. to anyone who might be reading this, here is a link to one of my favorite Christmas songs. It is about Joseph and what it must have been like for him. It’s called “Strange Way to Save the World” and it’s sung by 4Him,]

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2018 in Luke, Matthew, Uncategorized

 

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