He is here!
The quiet, deliberate and selfless compliance of Joseph and his fiancée, Mary
I’m fascinated by leadership. It is something that is so profoundly hard to be “good at”, but when it is done well, it is immediately recognizable. Good leaders are focused on the goal and purpose of what they do. Furthermore, they perform in the fashion that they do to accomplish that goal/purpose, not to receive recognition or praise. Such was the case with Joseph. When he learned that Mary was pregnant and knew that the baby was not his, he didn’t waiver in his belief of Mary’s character. Given that she was pregnant and the baby was not his, he was planning to divorce her quietly when an angel appeared to him, explained what had happened and encouraged him to take Mary as his wife. In recognizing Mary’s character, Joseph was confirming his own. It was his character that drove him to take Mary with him as they journeyed back to his roots in Bethlehem, despite the questions that were certain to come as they went along their way.
- Have there been times in your life where you exhibited “selfless” service?
- How did it make you feel?
- Give some thought as to how you can put yourself in similar circumstances in service to God’s kingdom through service to the church, other believers or others in our community. Capture these ideas by writing them down and share them with your family.
1 Peter 5:5-7
Humility (not loud, boisterous celebration) as God sent His Son to the world, who would eventually (and willingly) die for our sins (the “Forever Gift”)
Yesterday we looked at Joseph’s leadership with focus on why (the purpose of) he did what he did. Another trait that an unwavering focus on the goal allows to surface is humility. “Humility” is defined as “a modest estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.” (Dictionary.com) In today’s scripture, Peter clearly directs young men to “accept the authority of the elders”. He doesn’t offer it as a suggestion or a best practice. It is clear that he is directing the younger men to do it and further backs it up with reference to God’s Word in Proverbs 3:34. This may seem like a “no brainer” to you, but as I was thinking through this, I was reminded as to how much vanity is in our world now. Vanity is defined as “having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s achievements; conceited”. We can avoid this, though, with a focus on God, as 1 Peter 5:6 (the Apostle Peter) directs us and, “at the right time, he will lift you up in honor” (Life Application Study Bible).
- Are there areas of your life where you could take your focus off of yourself and put it on God and His Kingdom?
- Consider what action it would take in your life to “live out” Matthew 6:33, to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Capture these ideas as actions / goals in your journal.
Mark 14:22-24; Eph 5:1-2
God’s grace exemplified through a sacrifice that He and His Son make for us (in freeing us for eternity, God did something FOR us that is SO TERRIBLE, He would never ask us to do it)
We’ve heard sermons in the past that talked about the sacrifice that God and His Son Jesus willingly gave for us. Can I encourage you to give that some deep and focused thought? Many of us are parents. Try to imagine and think about how it would feel to give up your child as God did, there comes a point where our brain (or maybe it’s our heart) shuts off. We get to the point where it is too terrible to consider what going all the way through that would feel like and simply have to stop. It is just too terrible and horrifying to think about. Yet that is what God and His Son willingly did for us! When we consider the season we’re in, give some thought to the special gift that God gave us. It all starts with Jesus’ birth.
- Take time to consider how much God must love us in order to sacrifice (a heavy word, but an appropriate one…) His only Son to pay the price for our sin. How special does this make you feel? Doesn’t this provide an incredible boost of hope?
- Consider opportunities you might have this Christmas season to share that hope with someone who desperately needs it.
Luke 1:17-20, 69 – 70
Preparing the way for our Savior – Zechariah was mute for a time when he did not believe Gabriel’s prophecy about John the Baptist and his preparation of the way for Jesus.
This is the season of the birth of our Savior. God sent the angel Gabriel to Zechariah to tell him that his wife was to bear a son, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Jesus. In his unbelief, Zechariah expressed doubt as to how this could happen (at his and his wife’s ages) and was struck mute until after baby John’s birth. After the baby was born and Zechariah confirmed that his name would be John (as the angel had directed), he was again able to speak. He immediately began praising Almighty God and “prophesied the coming of a Savior who would redeem his people and predicted that his son, John, would prepare the Messiah’s way.” What an amazing “design” God has created! In truth, my reaction, had I been in the same situation as Zechariah, would likely have been the same! “How could this possibly be?” would likely have been my question as well. The truth is that nothing is impossible with God.
- What situations in yours, your family’s or friends’ lives can you subject to prayer for a dose of the “possibility” that the power of God brings?
God’s gift to us is born
God’s “Forever Gift” (Jesus) to us was born amidst the most humble surroundings. It certainly did not seem like appropriate treatment of a Savior. But knowing what God and Jesus stand for and have done for us is a stark reminder of how special this season needs to be for all of us. What a celebration of hope, joy, love and peace! I encourage you to take the time both privately and with your family and friends to reflect on what our Savior’s birth means. Consider how you can share it with people who may only hear it from you…
January 21, 2018
January 15, 2018
January 07, 2018