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 →
As Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) he offers some practical advice concerning his teachings. He says that anyone who hears his words and does them is like a wise man that built his house on a rock. Do we all know what happens next? The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, but the house did not move. To not heed the word of Jesus is to be the foolish man who build his house on the sand; great was the fall of it. Continue reading →
Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, saying that a virgin would conceive and have a child, and his name would be called Immanuel. When Matthew quotes Isaiah he adds that Immanuel means “God with us.” That’s the true meaning of Christmas.
I recently wrote that when we could not come to God, he came to us. In Isaiah chapter nine he writes “His name shall be called Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” If the baby in the manger is anything other than God with us, you’re not understanding the full implication of Christ’s birth. Continue reading →
In the first chapter of Mark (I happen to be leading a study of Mark) Jesus begins to call his first disciples. Jesus had many followers, but from those he called out 12 to be his “inner circle” if you will. In verses 16-20 he calls first Simon (Peter) and Andrew, then James and John. All 4 of these men were fishermen. This was not the most respected vocation in first century Israel. Fishermen worked long hours, spent a lot of time away from home and family, and they, well to be honest, stank. Fish stink, guys that spend a lot of time with them also stink. It was hard work, and while you could make a living at it, a fisherman would never really “be somebody.”
In Mark chp. 2 Jesus calls Levi (Matthew). He was a tax collector. He may have had more education than a fisherman, and would have definitely had more money. Most were crooked however, so he still would not have had a lot of friends. If he did, they were also crooks and/or tax collectors. We don’t know as much about some of the other disciples. Luke was not one of the 12, but he was obviously hanging around. Remember that Jesus had other followers and students besides the 12. If Luke was not following Jesus from place to place during his ministry, we know for sure that he was very much involved in the formation of the early church. Luke was physician. This was a guy that was not only educated, he would have been respected in the community. So what am I getting at?
God calls all types of people into his service. There is not a Christian type, but he invites all types to become Christian, then uses whatever they bring with them to the table to further his kingdom and spread the gospel. In Luke 8, we find out that many women were not only following Jesus, but supporting his ministry financially. Luke does not neglect to list some names for us. And just to top off the list, one of the first miracles performed by Jesus was healing Simon’s mother-in-law (Mark 1). There’s only one way to get a mother-in-law; it’s a small detail, but we learn that Simon was married. God calls into his service the educated and the illiterate; the single and the married; men and women; those respected by the community and those disrespected. God is not interested in our ability, but in our availability.
One more thing: Go back to Exodus chp 3 and see what happens when God calls someone who is not interested. After God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, Moses’ first response is “Who am I to go before Pharaoh?” God answers he will be with him. In chp 4 Moses questions if the people will believe God spoke to him. Moses complains he is not a good speaker. He finally comes right out and asks God to please send someone else. By this time God is angry with Moses. We are the body of Christ; he has already done the hard stuff. We need to be willing to respond when he calls us. And there is no one that he cannot use, no matter how many excuses we can come up with. Let’s be the salt and the light people.