Saturday, November 24, 2018

November 25, 2018

"This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 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. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."  Matthew 1:18-25

In "The Circle Maker", Mark Batterson made a statement that caught my attention. He said, "Sin complicates your life but so does God's blessing."

I have preached about the fact that sin complicates life but hadn't thought about the aspect of God's blessing. But it IS true and Joseph illustrates it very well.

If you are going to be a life-changer you can forget about a comfortable life! Life-changers live very inconvenient and uncomfortable lives. 

it is hard to read the Christmas story and not be very impressed by these two teen-aged life-changers.

I think we can agree they are life-changers, can't we?

And can't we agree they blessed the world more than any other human beings?

Over the next several posts I will illustrate how complicated their lives became when they answered the call of God.

The first awkward and very uncomfortable complication they faced was a serious hit on their reputations. 

For Joseph as a small businessman in a tiny town, his reputation was a matter of his business survival. Who is going to trust an immoral carpenter when there are other carpenters in town who are kosher?

And while Joseph's business was at stake, Mary's life was on the line. The penalty for adultery was being stoned to death.

When children bring shame to themselves, there are also two sets of parents who also carry the shame as well. Children are such a source of hope and pride that it is devastating when they bring shame upon the family.

Imagine all the excitement about the wedding plans and suddenly you a confronted with those plans being crashed and your family reputation being trashed.

Guess who bore the brunt of all this shame and disappointment?

A teen-ager named Joseph and his bride-to-be, Mary.

Complicated, wouldn't you agree?

God's blessing can complicate your life!

Thank God that two teens were willing to be seriously inconvenienced in order to become life-changers!

How about you?

Are you willing to trade comfort for the blessing of changing your world?

November 24, 2018

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

The best definition of discipleship that I have heard comes from Eugene Peterson, a prolific Christian writer and author of The Message translation of the Bible. He describes discipleship as "a long obedience in the same direction". Isn't that good? A long obedience in the direction of God and His Word and His will!

It sure fits with Jesus' call to His disciples here in this verse!

A disciple decides every day to aim his desires at God and shape his feelings, emotions and decisions around obeying Him. And then, the next day he awakes and does the same thing - and the next and the next and, well, you know. That is a "long obedience" in that direction.

A disciple daily chooses to deny himself of any desire, thought or habit that would tug the disciple in an opposite direction. Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, he guards every thought and reigns in every action. And then the next day he awakes and does the same - and the next and the next and, well, you know. That is a "long discipline" in God's direction.

A disciple takes up his cross daily - not the necklace or the bracelet or the lapel pin - the one that hurts, the one that demands him to die to self and sin. The disciple doesn't actually carry his cross, he lays down on it and dies. He dies to self so Christ can live through him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And then the next day he awakes and does it again. And the next day! And the day after that! That is what it means to die daily - a long obedience in God's direction!

As you wrap up this Thanksgiving week, where will you aim your life?

How will you direct your way? 

Who will you follow?