Re:Verse reading—Matthew 1:18-2:15, 19-23 (day three)
“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man…” (v.19)
Joseph was a righteous man. An angel appeared in a dream and told Joseph to be not afraid. Joseph did as commanded and upon waking took Mary as his wife. And she gave birth to a son who would save his people from their sins.
An angel appeared in a dream and told Joseph to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Joseph got up and the family left for Egypt. And Jesus escaped the wrath of Herod.
Following Herod’s death, an angel appeared in a dream and told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus, and go to Israel. So Joseph got up, and took Mary and Jesus to Israel and then to live in Nazareth. And the words of the prophets were fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
Why Joseph? And why not us, as well?
Lord, let us know you will be with us and give us the strength to be not afraid. Show us the path to a faith and obedience modeled by Joseph so that we, too, may help build your Kingdom in a mighty way.
Charlie Wedge, Associate Pastor for Administration and Operations, guest blogger
Re:Verse reading–Matthew 1:18 – 2:15, 19-23 (day two) “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” (v. 24)
Because we often think of Joseph as a polyurethane figurine in a tabletop nativity scene, it’s easy to forget he was a flesh-and-blood person who lived in turbulent times. Blindsided by Mary’s perplexing pregnancy, his dreams at night became a series of ominous, life-and-death communications from God: “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife…” “Escape to Egypt…for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” “Go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
As Joseph wrestled with his own fears and strained to hear God’s direction in the midst of the confusion, he became a person who helped tell the story of what God is doing in human history. God still calls people—you and me included, in the midst of turbulent times—to help tell the story of what God is doing through the now-risen Savior for the sake of all people.
Bryan Richardson, Associate Pastor for Singles, Small Groups, and Pastoral Ministries, guest blogger
Re:Verse reading–Matthew 1:18 – 2:15, 19-23 (day one) “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (v. 19)
Today we begin our new study: The Gospel of Matthew, and we’ll do so looking at the man, Joseph. Have you ever wondered about God’s choice for who would be the earthly parents of His only son? Imagine the responsibility! Imagine how Jesus would be shaped and molded by His earthly parents during His formative years. What kind of mother would Jesus need? What did God look for in the man who would help parent the Savior of the world?
While we know very little about Joseph, we do know (from this passage) that, in the midst of difficult circumstances emotionally and socially (1) he acted justly and (2) he showed mercy. The man who reared Jesus had the Micah 6:8 characteristics… traits that would become second nature to Jesus Himself.
Seeing how the Savior reflected traits from his parents’ character gives me pause…How will those whom God has entrusted to me be influenced by my character traits? Will God be glorified by that influence?
Heavenly Father, make us a people who leave a legacy of strong character. Build in us a sense of compassion and justice that makes a mark on the generations that follow.
Blake Coffee, FBC Lay Leader, guest blogger
Re:Verse reading – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (day seven). It was one of the most profound feelings of weakness I’ve ever experienced, teaching from God’s Word while my words were translated into four languages. I couldn’t rely on illustrations or vocal tone to add clarity. I couldn’t rely on building momentum with my words. In a way I’d never experienced, I couldn’t rely on ME. Yet, as I spoke of the overflowing grace of God, people leaned into the message. As I spoke of Jesus’ sacrifice, I saw waves of emphatic nods from believers that shouted a louder “AMEN” than I’ve ever heard from an English audience. I became aware of another reality alongside my weakness, “the power of Christ resting upon me” (verse 9). Power accompanied the message of Christ and was at work not because of me but through me. Is that power at work through you? If not, is the message of Christ’s grace coming from you?
Josh Vaughan, Minister to Young Marrieds and Yes, Lord! Community Ministries, guest blogger
Re:Verse – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (day six). It had been 14 years, and Paul was just now talking about it. Even after 14 years, he could only speak of the experience in the third person. Others had the same experience…enter into the presence of God and suddenly and eternally you recognize His majesty. God is so mighty, so majestic, so brilliant that man is forever changed.
Re:Verse – 2 Corinthians 12:10
It happened to Moses! When Moses spent time with God, his whole face shown with indescribable brilliance, so much so that he had to wear a veil before the children of Israel. When Job, the most righteous man on earth, came face to face with God in Job 38-41, he could hardly answer out of fear and the humility he felt. Isaiah came face to face with God in Isaiah 6 and his response was “woe is me, I am undone.”
Paul’s life was so transformed by his experience with God, that there was absolutely no place for boasting except in Christ. Have you been in the presence of God? What is the impact on your life?
Larry Soape, Assoc. Pastor, Core SS, Median and Senior Adults, and Missions, guest blogger
Re:Verse reading – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (day five). “I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me…” (verse 6). Paul knew that the only truly worthy “boast” was in knowing the One truly worthy of all glory (see Jeremiah 9:23-24). So even though Paul could claim a special, personal experience with the Almighty God, he wanted “no credit” for this. Rather he wanted the “credit” to fall upon what could be seen and heard from him, namely the gospel of Jesus (v6). The gospel that Paul knew had the power to reconcile men to God (5:19). May the same be true of us. May the “boasting” of our lives point people not to the greatness of our spirituality but rather to the greatness of Christ who gives His Spirit freely to all who ask (Luke 11:13).
Josh Vaughan, Minister to Young Marrieds and Yes, Lord! Community Ministries, guest blogger
Re:Verse – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (day four). Many people can relate with this Scripture, including myself. Paul is the man who experienced these incredible visions, giving him, initially, a reason to boast in what God was doing in his life. However, instead of boasting in the GOOD that was happening in his life, Paul was boasting about the BAD, the problems of his life, the thorns or pains. Talk about thankfulness, the rendering of I am content with weaknesses can be translated as I take joy or pleasure in my weakness. I know some holidays can be tough for some families because of trials and pains, but I am reminded that Paul was thankful for the pains because then God’s grace was more evident. His grace is sufficient, meaning it is enough to fill the pain in our lives. The greatest grace we received was when there was the greatest pain, when our Savior Jesus died for us. What an incredible God we have! Happy Thanksgiving!
Zach Van Veldhuizen, Assistant Director, Youth, guest blogger
Re:Verse – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. (day three) I hate to be weak. I hate to be wrong. Grace is the gift that reminds me of each of those on a daily basis. What a beautiful thing. I’m weak and I’m wrong, thus I need a Savior. Fact. I love how the bible constantly presents these paradoxes, the beauty of the thorn that won’t leave Paul in the flesh. Without the weakness, I can’t see I need the dependence. I choose to love to be weak; I choose to love to be wrong, that I may boast in the sufficiency of grace and the power of Christ that rests on me. Grace IS (present tense) sufficient. Choose to embrace the beautiful grace of our wrongs made right in Christ’s deep love for us. How thankful I am for this church family that extends that grace to me and to this city. Make Him known! Serve Him well!!
Savannah Mora, Assistant Director, Youth, guest blogger
Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 9:7-8,11-15 (day two) When our children were young they had a ‘Thanksgiving feast’ at their school. We wanted the children to realize how grateful to GOD the pilgrims were when they sowed and reaped bountifully because of God’s provision. We see God supplying the seed and bread and multiplying the harvest (9:10). The result is provision and then overflowing through many thanksgivings to God (9:12). The chapter concludes with Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! What are you thankful for because of the surpassing grace of God in your life? Henry Smith wrote a chorus ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son, and now let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done. Give thanks!’
Julie Webster, guest blogger
Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (day one) “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”. (vs 8) It is a rare story. Judging from the encounter 14 years ago, visible/audible post-resurrection encounters with Christ weren’t everyday experiences, even for the Apostle Paul. We must pay attention when the Lord does speak. His power is made perfect (grows to full size, accomplishes its intended purpose) in a time of weakness! We expect the opposite. Progress for me looks like competence and strength and health and command of the situation. Not for the Lord. His purpose is deeper than my success and his power is never more effective than when I am weak, when I have no other choice than to surrender all expectations and demands, TO TRUST! There is much to learn here for all of us. This week as I am away, I will be praying for you (and for the guest bloggers). Read deeply, dear friends. This is powerful truth.