Tag Archives: Joseph

Father of Fathers

Today’s message summary of June 18, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

As a 31-year old, I can’t tell you very much about my biological father.  I have only met him three different times.  I don’t know much about him or his family.  On my mother’s side, I can only speak about her and my grandmother, and that is how much I know about my family history.

With that said, the genealogy in the bible has a purpose to identify lineages.

In Genesis, there are genealogies listed that start with Adam and his lineage, and those that follow lead to the promise made to David about the coming Messiah.

Matthew 1:1-17

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

This passage is a good one to examine for Father’s Day as it shows how fathers were preparing other fathers over time.

The point of this message is that your heavenly Father loves you more than your earthly father.  He will never fail you—in spite of your own disobedience to Him.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an example to all of us.

There is not information within these passages to explain the behaviors of some of these fathers. We don’t know if they were living in righteousness or holiness.

The Scriptures do identify that each of these persons does lead to Jesus Christ.  Some of these individuals we do know of, such as Abraham, Boaz and David.

2 Chronicles 20:7

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

Abraham, in the Christian faith, is recognized as the Father of Faith…but was he a good father?

If you look at his life closely, you would see that he lied often and even committed adultery (with Hagar).  He was far from perfect.  Abraham, at the behest of Sarah, abandoned Hagar and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-13

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.

If it was not for God’s instruction to send his son off, he would have kept him there.  Out of faith and obedience to God, he listened.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

We are reminded that faith and obedience were most important in the relationship between God and Abraham in spite of Abraham’s sinful behavior.

Of the women who were involved within these genealogies, many of them were outsiders.  In Matthew 11:3, Tamar is referenced.  She disguised herself as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law.  Judah, the father-in-law, was hardly an innocent victim.  It was contrary to the law of God.  We also see Rahab’s name in the genealogy.  She was a prostitute, yet she was praised as a woman of faith who turned out to be David’s grandmother.  Another person, Ruth, is listed.  She was a person of honor, but she was also a Gentile, a Moabite, an outsider.  Moabites are descendants of Lot.

Genesis 19:30-38

Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

You see how God moved past the sins of his people and brings different people into the lineage of Christ.

Matthew also wanted us to remember about David and Bathsheba through their adulterous union that led to Solomon.  Uriah, who was a godly man and a friend of David, was one of his most trusted men.  There is great irony in how David, because of his adultery, would have Uriah murdered and try to cover up the relationship.  Remember, God said that David was “a man after His own heart.”  Bathsheba is not mentioned within the genealogy in Matthew, and it was more a point of shame with David.  Nathan’s words of prophecy held true with the turmoil that followed David throughout the rest of his life.  While David failed miserably as a father, he still loved his children.  He still loved his son Absalom, even though Absalom was trying to kill him.

2 Samuel 18:31-33

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you. The king said to the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite answered, May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man. And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Despite David’s sin, he loved his children.  He was willing to trade his life for them.

Solomon, featured in the genealogy, had many, many, many, many wives.  God had declared, of course, that man should have only one wife.

Here is a prophetic verse in Deuteronomy that actually refers to Solomon and his choices:

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me, you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, You shall never return that way again. And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

Solomon’s heart turned from God because of the women he allowed in his life.

Solomon’s wisdom was evident and apparent to everyone, but he was flawed in his fleshliness.

Of the genealogy leading to Jesus Christ, the greatest thing that emerges is God’s grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  The fathers listed here were both good and evil; however, God’s grace was present throughout the lives of each of these people.

It was all part of God’s sovereign plan.

Note that Mary, listed in this genealogy, was a descendant of David.  Jesus was still the heir to the throne of David, and Joseph was His earthly father, who was willing to be obedient to God and take on the responsibility to raise Him.

Single mothers:  Are you helping the child in filling the void in his life by ministering to him and help him recognize Christ as the Lord of his life?

Fathers:  You will fail your children and even disappoint them, but it is an opportunity to display the gospel before them.  For all have sinned and fall short of His glory.  Your humble approach will show them that you are a father that unconditionally loves the children and lives according to the commands of God.

Proverbs 6:20-23

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Bind them on your heart always;

    tie them around your neck.

When you walk, they will lead you;


A Sovereign God Knows the Heart

Today’s message summary of December 20, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today, I want you to see how God was working in the lives of people who were near Jesus Christ when He lived on earth. We will see how the sovereign God was at work. The Lord looks at the heart of the people as being most important.

1 Samuel 16:7-10

But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.

Jesse called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. The Lord hasnt chosen this one either, Samuel said. Then Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, The Lord hasnt chosen this one either. After Jesse presented seven of his sons to him, Samuel told Jesse, The Lord hasnt chosen any of these.

 

God is the one who chooses. Why is he doing so? It is because He knows the heart of the servant that He is choosing.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurablewho can understand it?

I, Yahweh, examine the mind,

I test the heart

to give to each according to his way,

according to what his actions deserve.

 

God rewards the person based upon his conduct.

John 2:24-25

Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.

 

John 15:16

You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

 

These verses set the stage to look at the life of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus Christ.

Joseph is very special in the life of Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-23

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

 

God knew every thought that Joseph had about what was going on, but God recognized Joseph’s faithfulness, and confirmed this by affirming his desire to love and care for Mary, and also care for a son that was not his own.

God knew the heart and conduct of Joseph as a father and as a husband. Joseph stepped out and obeyed God, and his actions were pleasing to God.

Remember that the angel had spoken to Joseph about the reason that Mary was pregnant. Joseph respected Mary and remained obedient to the Lord as he never consummated the marriage until after Jesus was born.

God is dealing with many people around the world about the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior during this season, but it is only God who can provide the knowledge that people can accept Him for who He is.

Luke 2:4-7

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for he to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough–because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

 

Joseph was trusting the Lord that He would do what He had said, and was willing to walk with God even though he did not completely understand. God, however, provided wisdom and confidence along the way.

Matthew 2:13-15

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him. So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herods death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.

 

God asked Joseph to take his wife and child to Egypt. He remains obedient and faithful to God by doing what he was asked to do.

Matthew 2:19-23

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Get up! Take the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, because those who sought the childs life are dead. So he got up, took the child and His mother, and entered the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that He will be called a Nazarene.

 

If God entrusted you with something, how would you be able to respond?

God does not always appear at times that are convenient to you.

I want you to catch the level of character that was demonstrated by Joseph in his faithfulness and obedience to Jesus Christ.

When you live for the Lord and serve Him, life is not all that simple. You will be challenged with your level of obedience. He will show you your own heart for Him.


Change: Cooperating with God and His People

Today’s message summary of November 9, 2014  from Pastor Gus Brown:

Change may come in a negative form that is beyond your control; however, you will need to have the courage to face that change and be prepared to step into it. Are you willing to cooperate with God through these changes? Are you willing to cooperate with the people that God puts in your life?

To cooperate is to unite one’s efforts. It is to band together, to participate. In contrast, society has taught us to be independent and self-reliant. Society wants you to “stand on your own two feet.” To not cooperate or participate with others is to not allow yourself to be dependent upon others. Every now and then, you will need some help.

God didn’t mean for each of us to live this life on our own. He made us in a way that we need others in our life.

Look at examples of this through Moses:

Exodus 17:10-16

10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.

14 The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.”

15 And Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord Is My Banner.” 16 He said, “Indeed, my hand is lifted up toward the Lord’s throne. The Lord will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

 

Exodus 18:13-23

13 The next day Moses sat down to judge the people, and they stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw everything he was doing for them he asked, “What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I make a decision between one man and another. I teach them God’s statutes and laws.”

17 “What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’ father-in-law said to him. 18 “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone. 19 Now listen to me; I will give you some advice, and God be with you. You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to Him. 20 Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them the way to live and what they must do. 21 But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 22 They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every important case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear it with you. 23 If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.”

 

Exodus 2:5-10

5 Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child—a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”

7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?”

8 “Go,” Pharaoh’s daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy’s mother. 9 Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the boy and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

 

Moses had help from others to execute these very important tasks. In the case of Moses’ mother, she cooperated with Pharaoh’s daughter, and the result is that Moses lived.

Don’t see the people that God sends before you to help you as your enemies. Allow God to work on your heart so that he can work on you and for others to help you.

Change that you may experience will sometimes require a personal sacrifice. He wants you to leave that matter that keeps you from following Him at the altar in order to allow for the change to be complete in your life.

To change in life, be willing to cooperate with others. God will send you all of the help that you will need to make the changes. Cooperate with Him in it, and surrender to Him.  Our goal is to always live according to God’s will.

  • God sent Paul to Ananias (Acts 9:11).
  • Peter was sent to Cornelius (Acts 10). God was at work in the lives of two people who had to cooperate with each other in order that God’s will and glory would be recognized.
  • Barnabas was a helper to Paul (Acts 11:25).
  • Paul ministered to Timothy (Acts 16).
  • Philip helped the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26).
  • Joseph helped others, but there were also people that he cooperated with (see Potiphar, Genesis 39).
  • Joseph was helped by the prison warden (Genesis 39:20-23) and a cupbearer (Genesis 41:9).
  • Paul learned from Gamaliel (Acts 5:34, 22:3).

If you are going to make changes in your life and work with God and with others. You need to be a team player and want to see change take place.

Amos 3:3

Can two walk together

without agreeing to meet?

 

Romans 14:7

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12, 26

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.

26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.


Standing Up for Jesus

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today we will look at Joseph of Arimathea (in the New Testament) about his faith and the steps that he took. We need to be reminded that Scripture reveals to us real people with real problems. No matter what occurs in life, we learn that all things bring us back to what it means to have God in your life.

There needs to be time a place where you will conclude “Jesus is all that really matters.” Will you stand up for Him? There needs to be a willingness to surrender your life to Him. It will not be about who you will keep or lose as friends. Your choice to follow Jesus will sometimes break up your family, too. In the end, Jesus is all that matters, even through the hardship and difficulty.

At some point you will have to stand up for Jesus and not be fearful or ashamed of Him, or ashamed of yourself for believing in Him.

One of things that we find out about Joseph of Arimathea is that he was wealthy. See if the following verses give a picture of Joseph’s life.

Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me.

Give me neither poverty nor wealth;

feed me with the food I need.

9 Otherwise, I might have too much

and deny You, saying, “Who is the Lord?”

or I might have nothing and steal,

profaning the name of my God.

 

Matthew 10:32-33

32 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.

 

Matthew 12:30

Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.

 

Titus 1:15-16

15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.

 

As you read God’s Word, your mind is being transformed into a person with pure thought and discernment. A person who truly seeks God is transformed into a person who resembles Christ–a light in the world. Our actions define who we are before others.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

 

A lot of young people have to get to the point where they are not ashamed of who Christ is in the effort to preserve friendships and relationships.

Joseph of Arimathea is written about in all four gospels. Each one has a little something different to express, but all of them are key points.

John 19:38

Luke 23:50

Mark 15:42

Matthew 27:57

He was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one (John 19:38).

A secret life is one of fearfulness. He was in fear of the Jews. You should not live in such a way where you are concerned about what someone may find out about you. Living a secret life for Joseph of Arimathea was out of a fear of getting caught and the truth being known. When you protect the things in your life and keep them hidden, your friends and family can’t know who you are. You are pretending to live in such a way when you’re not really doing it.

Fear, to be fair, is a very real experience for many.

John 20:19

In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

 

Who did Joseph fear?

Luke 22:1-2

1 The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called Passover, was drawing near. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Him to death, because they were afraid of the people.

 

He was a member of the Council. He was against their decision. Note that these people were friends and coworkers, and some had the ability to hurt him in different ways:

  • His good name (Mark 15:43)
  • Physically (Matthew 10:28)
  • Financially (Matthew 27:57)

Mark 15:43

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.

 

Matthew 10:28

Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

 

Matthew 27:57

When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

 

Luke 23:50-51

50 There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, 51 who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God.

 

Joseph came to a point in life when it didn’t matter what people thought of him, or what they would do to him. He couldn’t go in to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body without others finding out about it.

Joseph made a decision not on what he would lose or keep, or what people thought of him, but on what he believed about Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it takes a first step in living for Jesus, and the second and third steps become much easier.

 

Joseph went boldly (took courage) in taking a stand for Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:43). He took Jesus’ body down during the day (openly and in plain sight of others) (Luke 23:53). Note that he also only asked for the body of Jesus. If he wanted to keep it a secret he would ask for all three bodies. His focus was on Jesus.

 

Now, the secret was out. Everybody knew he was a follower of Jesus. Joseph was not concerned about what others thought of him.

 

Joseph took the body and prepared it for burial on Preparation Day. The Sabbath was about to begin (Luke 23:54).

  • He took the body down
  • He took it to his home
  • He had to wash the body
  • He had to anoint the body
  • He had to wrap the body
  • He took the body to the tomb that he had bought for himself
  • He had to go back home and purify himself before the Sabbath

 

Joseph’s action encouraged another person who came to Jesus by night…Nicodemus.

John 19:39-40

39 Nicodemus (who had previously come to Him at night) also came, bringing a mixture of about 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. 40 Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the aromatic spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

 

When you stand up for Christ, others will see your efforts and take a stand for Christ, as well. When you live as a Christian should live, others will be encouraged in your faith and boldness.

Make up your mind to live for Jesus Christ every day. When you do, you will be an encouragement to others.


God’s Involvement with His Creation

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Last week, we spoke about God’s plan for His creation and His involvement.  We discussed that His creation was for each of us.  He is the One who performs miracles for His people.

God makes Himself evident to His people through his miracles.  God comes to us, and He always has historically come to His people.  We are unable to go to him in our state of sin.  He must provide the path of fellowship for us, including a desire to seek Him.  Because He loved us, He wants us to have the desire to love Him.

God was involved with His people from the very beginning–at the time of creation.  His desire was to reveal Himself through Jesus Christ.

John 14:7

Jesus Reveals the Father

“If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

The word “magnify” is to reveal oneself in a very practical way.  God has indeed revealed Himself and magnified Himself.  It is God’s desire to be involved with us–do we have the desire to be involved with Him?

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her: 

Do not be afraid, Mary,

for you have found favor with God.

31 Now listen:

You will conceive and give birth to a son,

and you will call His name Jesus.

32 He will be great

and will be called the Son of the Most High,

and the Lord God will give Him

the throne of His father David.

33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,

and His kingdom will have no end.

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

 

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Therefore, the holy One to be born

will be called the Son of God.

36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

 

38 “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Shekinah glory – this is a word that was brought into the Hebrew language and developed over time.  It speaks of the manifestation of God’s glory.

God walked in the garden with Adam.  He made Himself evident to Adam, and note that Jesus did the same thing when He came to minister to His people and declare that He was the Messiah.

God will never leave us nor forsake us, but He must deal with our sin each day.  Sin causes a broken fellowship with Him.  He will not magnify Himself with us in the midst of a broken relationship.

Exodus 40:34-38

The Lord’s Glory

34 The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. 37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.

The glory of The Lord filled the tabernacle.  The cloud represents God’s glory.

God spoke to Moses from the tabernacle and speaks with Moses and the people.

Solomon, many years later, built the temple that replaced the tabernacle.  God would speak to His people from there, where the Ark of the Covenant was located.

2 Chronicles 5:13-14

13 The trumpeters and singers joined together to praise and thank the Lord with one voice. They raised their voices, accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and musical instruments, in praise to the Lord:

For He is good;

His faithful love endures forever.

The temple, the Lord’s temple, was filled with a cloud. 14 And because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled God’s temple.

The cloud is God’s shekinah glory.

God with Adam

God with the tabernacle

God with the temple

God is demonstrating that He wanted to have a relationship with His people.

After the temple was destroyed, it was rebuilt around 515 B.C.  The glory of God returned to the temple even greater than in the past, and note that Jesus spoke to the people from that very temple.  God sent His son to be involved in our lives.  God’s glory and presence is there.  The shekinah glory is the very presence of the living God.

Shekinah is a resting place in God’s presence.

Titus 2:11

For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people.

1 Timothy 3:16

And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:

He was manifested in the flesh,

vindicated in the Spirit,

seen by angels,

preached among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory.

He was manifested in the flesh–he appeared in the flesh.  This is a form of God’s shekinah glory.

In Luke 1:31, note the declaration of Jesus’ name represents Jehovah saves–He delivers–He saves us from our sins.  God is involved in our lives through His Son, Jesus.  It is a great and glorious name.  All throughout the world, the name of Jesus is known.  The name is from the Greek word Yeshua , which means that He will save His people from their sin.

Matthew 1:18-23

The Nativity of the Messiah

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant

and give birth to a son,

and they will name Him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

In Luke 1:33, it is noted that Jesus will rule over the house of Jacob…why?  The meaning of Israel means “to contend with” or “to wrestle with.”  If you look at Israel, they were often fighting with enemies, and often they were at odds with God.  God was trying to communicate that there was no more wrestling or fighting with Jacob.  In the same way, Jesus Christ was declaring that He was no longer wrestling with His people.  God has a standard that His people have continually struggled with.

Genesis 32:24-34

Jacob Wrestles with God

24 Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. 26 Then He said to Jacob, “Let Me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.”

27 “What is your name?” the man asked.

“Jacob,” he replied.

28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” He said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”

29 Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.”

But He answered, “Why do you ask My name?” And He blessed him there.

30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “and I have been delivered.” 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel—limping because of his hip. 32 That is why, to this day, the Israelites don’t eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because He struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.

The word “Jacob” means “to take by the heel” (Genesis 25:26).  The word means to supplant, or take the place of something.  Lord, are you saying that Jesus will take the place of the God of this world?  Are you saying that Jesus is the God we are to follow after instead of the God of this world?  Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophesy stated in Genesis 3:15:

Genesis 3:15

I will put hostility between you and the woman,

and between your seed and her seed.

He will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.

The story of Christmas being shared is much deeper than what we know about each year.  The story is really the fulfillment of God’s promise that He will always be with us.  The story is the understanding of the depth of meaning with God’s presence–everyday in our lives.  He came to us while we were yet sinners to draw us near to Himself.


The Gift of Christ for Christmas

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Many of us will wake up Christmas morning in anticipation of what we will find as gifts under the Christmas tree, but consider that we already have a wonderful gift that we have in Jesus Christ!At the time of Christ’s birth, there was not much stated about it publicly…note that it was a message of good news that was carried forth by the angels.Matthew 1:18-21

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

The angels proclaimed the message but even they did not have a complete understanding of what God was doing.

Hebrews 2:6-7
6 But one has somewhere testified:

What is man that You remember him,
or the son of man that You care for him?
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor.

The angels asked of God why He cared so much for them:

Psalm 144:3
Lord, what is man, that You care for him,
the son of man, that You think of him?

The angels understood the power of God and how he could eliminate those who did not regard who He was.

1 Peter 1:12
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Why is it that the angels wondered about these things and yet we, human beings, are less concerned about God, His presence, and His second coming?
If the angels were questioning how God gave favor to man, why don’t we? Note that angels were not redeemed or any means of salvation. They saw evidence of God working in the lives of people, and yet, after 400 years of silence, God used the angels to bring forth His message. Perhaps the angels were busy doing this because man had forgotten the God that they were to serve because we were occupied with other things.

Matthew 2:1-6
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Note that Herod was not a Jew. The religious people were not the ones initiating the search for the Christ child. Herod was the one who called for information about the Messiah. He asked if this child was the “King of the Jews.” The three wise men were also not Jews. They came from different lands to seek Jesus. The ones that had the information were apparently not seeking Him.

Note that we have the information available to us as believers in Christ. Do we believe the information in Scripture about Christ’s presence and act upon it?

Micah 5:2
Bethlehem Ephrathah,
you are small among the clans of Judah;
One will come from you
to be ruler over Israel for Me.
His origin is from antiquity,
from eternity.

The birth of Jesus caused some men to seek Him out, while others were troubled by it (Matthew 2:3). Many religious people had the knowledge but were not even looking or acting upon it (Matthew 2:4-5) and were even fighting amongst themselves. The priests saw the same information over and over and yet did not seem to believe what they already knew. They were not looking for the sign that The Lord gave to them in Isaiah 7:14:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

The birth of Christ was not hidden from us. Isaiah 7:14 was a sign of what would come. Are we conscious of when God is speaking to us? Some of us spend more time trying to disprove Jesus’ existence instead of choosing to believe in Him.

The angels were providing the messages. They can’t see the future, though.

Luke 1:10-17
10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him:

Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will name him John.
14 There will be joy and delight for you,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
and will never drink wine or beer.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother’s womb.
16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

The angel spoke to Zechariah that the person to prepare for Jesus through Elizabeth would be John. Elizabeth was well beyond child-bearing years, but this was to be a testimony to others.

Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.
36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Do you see how God is working in this matter? The people that were chosen were all to provide the testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior. Joseph’s role was very important, too:

Matthew 1:18-24
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Finally, the angels provided a message to the shepherds.

Luke 2:8-20
8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

We need to keep in mind that God had been silent for quite some time before this moment because the people were enemies of God. They were not paying attention to Him or regarding His presence. It is to the wonderment of the angels that God paid so much attention to His creation, yet they were rejoicing over what God had done.

The message had been passed on from the angels to the people. The shepherds proclaimed the message and praised God while doing so, and the people who heard it were amazed! The people are proclaiming the gospel message to everyone who hears it to this day.

God will show Himself to you if you truly want to see Him. He will make Himself known to you if you truly want to know Him. God wants each of us to know that Jesus Christ is your Savior and He is ready to make Himself known to you. All it takes is believing that He is your Lord and Savior with all of your heart.

There’s no pastor that can save you. There’s no deacon or elder that can save you. There’s no church denomination that can save you. There’s only one name under heaven and earth that can save you…Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17, 14:6). You can come to Jesus Christ just as you are, but you will not stay as you are.

This Christmas, do not allow yourself to be troubled or uncaring about Jesus Christ and the gospel of His saving message. If there is any time that we need to be telling the truth about Christ, this is the time. Leave the results to Him.


God With Us

Matthew 1:18-25
The Nativity of the Messiah
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant

and give birth to a son,

and they will name Him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

When we look at the story of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, we find that it is more than just a baby boy’s birth–it is, in fact, seeing God at work. It is the story of God being among His creation. God’s plan was to have Immanuel dwell with us. Even though He came to be with us, He did so as God in the flesh.

Why did God choose to be among us and leave His kingdom? The short answer is that we could not go to Him in our sin. He is a holy and righteous God that would never allow sin to enter His domain. As a result, God, who is holy, righteous and just, came to us to do the work that would make us righteous before Him. God loves us so much that He desires to be present with us. We are reminded, even in the very beginning, that God walked with Adam. This was before the fall of man. His desire was to dwell and walk with man, but He does not excuse the sin that we possess, which calls for the need for a Savior.

Why didn’t God use a great person of faith to do this work? While people like Mother Teresa and Gandhi were great people indeed, none of these great people could do the work that God was to do. God did not have a fear of man, while Abraham, a great man of God, was unable to take on such a burden where a sacrifice needed to be made.

Genesis 12:12-13
12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me but let you live. 13 Please say you’re my sister so it will go well for me because of you, and my life will be spared on your account.”

Jesus was willing to come to earth to dwell among us to give His life for us on the cross. God is life in Himself. Without God, there is no life. He came into the world to save us, not Himself.

What about Moses, a great man of faith?

Numbers 11:10-12
10 Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents. The LORD was very angry; Moses was also provoked. 11 So Moses asked the LORD, “Why have You brought such trouble on Your servant? Why are You angry with me, and why do You burden me with all these people? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to [give] their fathers?

How would Moses bear the burden of the entire world? He couldn’t do it. Only God Himself could bear the burden of the entire world.

The name of Immanuel…God with us. The name of Jesus…because He will save everyone from their sin.

What about David? Read the account of the sin of David and misuse of his power and authority in 2 Samuel 11:14-27. More than just the adultery that David committed, he demonstrated that he could not be trusted with the power and authority. Jesus declared that He was the One who was given all power and authority, but He never abused that power.

John 8:3:11
3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, ” Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”]

God made the choice to come to earth to forgive…not to condemn.

What about Isaiah? All he could do was confess his unrighteousness in the midst of a holy God:

Isaiah 6:1-5
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe [a] filled the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another:
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts;
His glory fills the whole earth.
4 The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 Then I said:
Woe is me, for I am ruined,
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
[and] because my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of Hosts.

What about Jeremiah?

Jeremiah 20:7-9
7 You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived.
You seized me and prevailed.
I am a laughingstock all the time;
everyone ridicules me.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out—
I proclaim: Violence and destruction!
because the word of the LORD has become for me
constant disgrace and derision.

9 If I say: I won’t mention Him
or speak any longer in His name,
His message becomes a fire burning in my heart,
shut up in my bones.
I become tired of holding it in,
and I cannot prevail.

God loved His people so much that He readily proclaimed the truth from His father, and no one would keep Him from proclaiming the message of His Father.

John 17:4-5
4 I have glorified You on the earth

by completing the work You gave Me to do.

5 Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence

with that glory I had with You

before the world existed.

Jesus was born in order to carry out the message of truth and would not be deterred. His message was one that no one else could deliver.

John 8:26
“I have many things to say and to judge about you, but the One who sent Me is true, and what I have heard from Him—these things I tell the world.”

He loves us and cares for us in a very personal way. When Jesus spoke, we were able to see His heart for His people and His love for us.

Romans 8:3-4
3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

There is no one on earth that could carry out the message that God can. Let’s remember that the Christmas that we celebrate was indeed God Himself coming to us to do His work. He came to save His people and deliver them from their sins.