A King is Coming!

“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.” Matthew 1:17

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Ever wonder why in the world the Holy Spirit would inspire Matthew to take an entire verse to summarize what he had just done in the first sixteen verses by dividing up Jesus’ genealogy into fourteens????

From Abraham to David – Fourteen Generations

From David to Babylon – Fourteen Generations

From Babylon to the Christ – Fourteen Generations

What is the point?

Matthew has a Holy Spirit inspired agenda: Jesus is King over everything.

In Old Testament times, names were assigned numbers. Don’t ask me how or why all of this was done (go ask the smart guys). But they did. Every name was also given a number to represent their name. Guess who had the number fourteen? The greatest King Israel had ever had up until that point – King David. Matthew is setting the birth of Jesus up beautifully. . .

The Spirit of God inspired Matthew to summarize Jesus’ genealogy by showing how it divided neatly into three separate generations of fourteen in order to point us to a major theme of his Gospel – Jesus is King.

Think about one of the last things Matthew records Jesus saying: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus is King, period. He is your King whether you acknowledge it yet or not (see Philippians 2:10-11). For those who bow in submission to Him now – everlasting joy. For those who reject Him as King over their lives – everlasting pain.

Christmas reminds us that the baby born was and is and always will be a King.

Come and Worship, Come and Worship, Worship Christ the newborn King.

Why Do People Do That?

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” Matthew 2:16

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The first Christmas wasn’t full of joy for some momma’s and daddy’s. Because of the first Christmas, scores of boys were killed by government authorities. Future Christmas’ for many heartbroken parents weren’t celebrated with tidings of comfort and joy. They were remembered for the time a scared and jealous king killed their son.

Last night the Pearson 5 tuned into NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Me (37), Katie (36), Luke (9), Seth (7), and Birti (7) all watched as Mr. Williams reported on the massacre in Pakistan where 145 people/children were killed in a school yesterday. That story was followed by another where 2 were shot and killed while being held hostage in Sydney, Australia. In the middle of one of the stories, Luke asked aloud what we were all thinking: “Why do people do that?”

Great question, son.

I am sure one of the sisters of one of the boys whom Herod killed that first Christmas season asked their parents the same thing. “Why would Herod do this mommy?”

In short, we live in a world sick with sin. The world God originally intended (see Genesis 1 and 2) is now groaning to be put back together (see Romans 8:22). When Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3, all hell (quite literally) broke loose. Everything was subject to futility (see Romans 8:20). Translation: everything in all creation is going crazy due to sin. Herod killed all the boys 2 years old and younger for the same reason men held innocents hostage in Sydney and gunmen killed innocent children in Pakistan yesterday: sin, fear, jealousy, greed, power, and deception.

But here’s the thing: the first Christmas was the dawning of all things being made new again. Jesus has come to repair what was broken. Jesus was sent by the Sovereign Creator to restore what we messed up. He’s bought the right to have all authority in heaven and on earth. He is coming again to put everything back as it should be. In the meantime, our job is to help as many sin sick people as possible know this news, pleading with them to trust in this Jesus who has come and is coming again.

Our hope is not in the here and now. It’s in the “what is to come.”

Our job is to urge others to know about this hope that we have.

I don’t know what all the parents of the boys Herod killed that first Christmas knew and understood. I simply cannot imagine, fathom, nor have any categories for how they felt. But what happened (the death of their boys due to Herod’s sinful heart) and what caused the event (Jesus’ birth) simultaneously demonstrated the need for, and the answer to, this world needing a Rescuer.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

 

Delayed Obedience is Disobedience

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. . .” Matthew 1:24

“And (Joseph) rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt. . .” Matthew 2:14

“And (Joseph) rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.” Matthew 2:21

“And (Joseph) went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:23

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It’s a good thing the Lord did not choose me to be the earthly father of His Son. The reasons why are too many to count, but when I consider the first 2 chapters of Matthew what gets me is Joseph’s immediate obedience.

Every time we read the Lord speaking to Joseph via angels, he obeys what is commanded. . . immediately.

If I were in Joseph’s shoes, I would have tried to manipulate the “vision” or the “message.” I would have tried to translate what was spoken to fit my own thoughts and means. I would have spent a lot more time trying to figure out “what was really being said.”

Know what I mean?

Certainly, there are times when we do need to evaluate what we believe God may or may not be doing. But there are clear directives all throughout Scripture that need no interpretation. We don’t have to wonder what we should or shouldn’t do. We, like Joseph, are to obey immediately.

When it comes to clear instructions and commands from Scripture – delayed obedience is disobedience (this is a phrase I “borrowed” from my pastor while at Auburn, Al Jackson).

Here’s the thing: Joseph obeyed immediately. The result? He got to experience the presence and direct work of God – around him and right in front of his own eyes! Joseph’s obedience allowed him to experience God in a intimate and supernatural way. What we so often miss when we disobey (or “delay” obedience) is the presence and work of God in and through our lives.

God doesn’t lead us to things or command us to do things in order to make our lives miserable. No, no. The opposite is true. He commands us and directs us like He does in order to bless our lives and help us live the way we were created to live: in intimate and joyful relationship with Him.

So, in what specific and clear ways do you need to obey today? Don’t delay. Intimacy with God awaits.

 

Lessons from the Shepherds

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:20

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Oh how we need to learn from these shepherds!!!

Consider two observations:

First, they were giddy with excitement. . . though NONE of their physical and material circumstances had changed. They returned, having seen Jesus, and still had the same job. They still had the same deplorable reputation in society. They still had the same marriage problems. They still had the same financial situation. Nothing. . . absolutely nothing had changed about their lifestyle and status in society. Nothing.

Yet they were full of excitement. Luke tells us they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” If this were written about many of us, it would be because we just got a new car or a raise or a nice new something. Not that it’s wrong to rejoice and praise the Lord when these things do happen. But it does force us to ask this question: Are we giddy with excitement because of who Jesus is for us EVEN WHEN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES STINK? The shepherds got it right. They knew they were children of Almighty God. They were informed of this glorious news . . . this “good news of a great joy.” Life changed for them – not because their physical and material circumstances changed – but because they were now able to enjoy and worship and walk with God as His own children! The shepherds can teach us where true and everlasting joy is found: in God.

Second, no one had to teach them how to share this good news. They didn’t need to be trained. They didn’t need to be pushed or encouraged or challenged to go home and “share the Gospel.” The news was too good, and had affected them too deeply NOT to share! Luke says they returned “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” How would Luke know this unless they went back telling everyone they knew what had happened and why they were so excited?

We’re the same way, aren’t we?

- Ever get all A’s on your report card? What do you want to do?

- Ever get engaged? What do you want to do?

- Ever give birth to a child? What do you want to do?

- Ever hit a home run? What do you want to do?

YOU WANT TO TELL PEOPLE THE GOOD NEWS!

Friends, let’s not make evangelism harder than it is. In fact, let’s remember what it is: sharing the good news of a great joy that has drastically impacted our lives. If hearing it and embracing it like the shepherds has happened to us, it won’t be hard. . . at all.

Christmas really is about good news of a great joy that is for all people.

Oh come let us adore Him.

 

They Went with Haste

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” Luke 2:15-18

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I am not sure who “Haste” is, but he went with the shepherds to find Jesus. As soon as the angels delivered the news to these guys, they went with Haste to find this “sign.” Luke tells us that, with Haste, they found the baby and His parents in a manger. This prompts a question in my mind: How in the world did they find Jesus? This was in the middle of the night outside in an old, run down stable. No one – including the Innkeeper – had a clue that God had been born. How did the shepherds find Him?

(By the way, I am kidding about the whole “Haste” thing. I know it means they went with a sense of urgency. . . just trying to get a little Christmas “ha ha.”)

No mapquest.

No Google maps.

No telephone, cell phone, email, news updates, location alerts, or “Find My iPhone” apps.

The Bible says they went “with haste” and found precisely what the angels said they would. How did they locate Him?

Well, ultimately – we just don’t know.

We know the angels came and told them the news (the Bible says so).

We know they found Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus (the Bible says so).

We know they went quickly and urgently (with haste) to find the “sign” (again, the Bible says so).

What we don’t know is how they finally got there. Did they ask around town? Did they wake people up in the middle of the night asking if they had seen a pregnant woman? Did they hear a baby crying? Did they hear Mary and Joseph snoring from being so tired from the journey?

We don’t know. Thus, we cannot say for sure (because the Bible doesn’t say so).

But I think it is possible to at least say this: When you go looking, with haste, for Jesus – you WILL find Him. Jesus doesn’t deceptively play “hide and go seek.” In fact, He oftentimes seeks and finds us! No doubt, in this story, God the Father is heavily pursuing the shepherds.

I think it is safe to say that when God has prompted something in your heart and life that leads you to Jesus – and you go “with haste” to see and know Him, it is impossible NOT to find Him.

I don’t know who this guy Haste was, but let’s seek Jesus with urgency – committing ourselves to making known to others what God has revealed to us.

 

Christmas and God’s Glory

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” Luke 2:13-14

How does a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger bring glory to God? The first thing the multitude of “heavenly host” said about this new birth was, “Glory to God.” How is it? How does God get glory for this?

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It’s something we better grasp, because obviously it is why God did it. He did what He did, the way He did it, to get glory for Himself.

How?

Quite simply because God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Someone gets glory when they do it all. Someone gets glory for getting the credit for doing something. We needed someone to rescue us from the wrath of God because of our sin. We needed a representative to do it for us. Every human being – from Adam to the most recent baby born today to the last baby to be born at the end of time as we know it – has failed. We have turned our own way and done our own thing (See Romans 1-3). We cannot save ourselves. We cannot enter into the relationship we were created to enter into (see Genesis 1 and 2) without someone intervening on our behalf.

To put it another way, it is not possible for a human to have genuine, authentic, deep, and everlasting peace unless God does something. Which is why, the second part of the angel’s chorus says, “and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased.” God gets glory because God brought peace.

Unless God acted on our behalf – indeed did everything for us – we would all get what we deserve and never – ever – have peace.

But God. . .

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved . . .” Ephesians 2:4-5

For God. . .

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God sent a Savior.

God sent the Messiah.

God sent Himself in the form of a human.

There came a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in an animal’s feeding trough.

Glory to God in the highest.

The Sign of Christmas

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

The angel uses an interesting word to describe what the shepherds were to look for doesn’t he?

“This will be a sign for you. . .” A sign????

A sign points to something. images

A sign points to a reality.

A sign helps show the way.

A sign has a special meaning.

A STOP sign points to the place where you stop your vehicle.

A McDonald’s sign points you to where amazing fries can be ordered and consumed.

Tight pants are a sign you ate too much at last night’s Christmas party.

Dark clouds in the sky are signs of rain.

A sign reveals a reality.

“This will be a sign for you. . .”

What was the sign they were to look for? A baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

And what was the sign pointing to? A Savior, who is Christ the Lord (see Luke 2:11).

A newborn, infant baby – lying in a manger points to the reality that a Savior, who is Christ the Lord has come.

Oh my.

Do you see? Do you see how this baby in a manger points to that reality?

A Savior – We need a human substitute to do for us what we cannot do (a baby).

Christ – We need a Messiah to be King and rule over our enemy (lying in a manger indicates that He would come to serve and give His life as a ransom for many).

The Lord – This baby is God.

Don’t miss the sign of Christmas. The sign points to the fact that a Savior has been born to us. He is Christ the Lord.

 

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