Advent Faith

advent candlesIn the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38 ESV 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

   “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. –Matthew 1:18-25

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Social Media Christmas

Happy Monday was long enough already and I didn’t want to just stick this in at the bottom. Here is an imaginative take on what the incarnation might have looked like on the pages of social media (i.e. Facebook). Props to the brilliant folks at Igniter Media.

A Seed Must Fall

wheatTruly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24 ESV)  I’ve heard that verse a couple of times this weekend, so it was fresh in mind when I started reading the Exodus this morning.  Let’s first put it in its proper context.

Nearly half of John’s Gospel deals with the events of the Passion week.  The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is recorded at the beginning of chapter 12, and this verse is spoken by Jesus in reference to his hour having come.  A seed must fall into the ground and die just as Jesus must go down into the earth by being placed in the grave.  John 12:24 is an illustration of how Jesus must die and be buried in order to rise again with new life.  By being obedient to the Father’s will, Jesus will produce much fruit for the Kingdom.  God speaks aloud in verse 27 and says that he has gloried Jesus’ name and will glorify it again. Continue reading

God is On My Side

jer 29“God is on my side.”  Consider for a moment the arrogance of that statement.  We’ve all said it, and probably didn’t mean to infer anything by it.  But the implication is that we have a position, a plan for victory, and that God chooses to support our position.  The truth is, we don’t even have a side.

Of all the children in a large family, Joseph was the favorite of his father Jacob.  (As in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Israel.)  Joseph was also favored by God.  When his brothers plotted to kill him, a band of merchants just happened by and one suggested there was no profit in killing him but he could be sold as a slave.  That would get rid of him and they could make a little something on the side.  Joseph was carried down to Egypt, which was of course all part of God’s plan.  Perhaps that traveling merchant caravan didn’t just “happen by” after all. Continue reading

Bible Survey: Joseph: Dreams Do Come True

If you follow The Master’s Table but have never heard of Bible Survey, that’s because it’s been a while.  Specifically it’s been over a year.  There was a time I considered bailing out on that project and deleting the URL.  I once tried to give away but there were no takers.  Every now then it bugs me, so…

Joseph: Dreams Do Come True is the Bible Survey post based on Genesis chapters 37 – 41.  The first several chapters of Genesis deal with a lot and cover several hundred years of human history.  As we near the end of Genesis and begin Exodus the story should speed up.

The Second Sunday of Advent

The Second Sunday of Advent is about Faith, and we light the Bethlehem candle.  Matthew 1 describes the encounter Joseph had with the angel Gabrielle, who told him that Mary’s child was of God.  In faith Joseph took Mary as his wife.  Luke 1 tells how the same angel spoke to Mary, explaining that the Holy Spirit would come up on her and that the child she would carry would be the Son of God.  In faith Joseph and Mary make the journey to Bethlehem, believing God and waiting for the Promise. Continue reading

Christmas Card Theology

What if everything we knew about Christmas came from studying the pictures on our Christmas cards?  Even if you never pick up a Bible, there’s a lot to learn from the cards we send around each year.  Here’s a list of some that I’ve noticed:

  • Mary and Jesus are both white.  I’ve even seen Jesus with red hair, and lots of it.  Way too much for a newborn.
  • Angels are beautiful women.  They basically look like super models in choir robes.  OR
  • Angels are 6 year old children.  They’re cute, and plump, and sometimes play musical instruments.
  • There were 3 wise men.  There were exactly 3 wise men, no more, no less.  Two of them were white, one was black.  AND THEY WERE AT THE MANGER.
  • The manger was in a shelter made of wood with a straw roof.  There were no other buildings of any sort for several miles in any direction.

These are a few of the things we learn when we get our theology from Christmas card images.  Assuming of course that your cards have anything about Jesus on them at all.  I’m going to leave it at this.  Check out the first couple chapters of Matthew and Luke before asking stupid any questions.