Joseph The Carpenter

JOSEPH THE CARPENTER

By Marvin Griffin at Highway Gospel Hall
March 28, 2018

Scripture Readings:
Matthew 1:16, 18-25; Matthew 2:11-15
Luke 2:3-7, 16, 21-22, 39, 41-51

JOSEPH:  means “may he add”

  • chosen of God to “add” to God’s kingdom
  • chosen of God to be the stepfather of Jesus
  • the OT Joseph, son of Jacob, was a dreamer of prophetic dreams
  • the NT Joseph, son of Jacob, was a dreamer of instructive dreams

TRADITIONAL  young man:  The time-honoured tradition was that parents of a young male would approach the parents of a young female about the possibility of their daughter becoming the wife of their son when they reached adulthood.

This was not a random thing but God was in it when a NT Jacob and his wife would pay such a visit to the parents of a maiden named Mary.

Thus the special young Joseph was betrothed to wed a special young Mary when the time was right. Of course, this would be dependent on physical health and moral uprightness on the part of both.

LESSON: Traditions are usually good and should be changed only for a good reason.

JUST  young man:  Joseph would have prepared a home to bring his bride to in the flower of her youth.  However his eager anticipation would be dealt a severe blow as a covert communication would come from the young woman’s parents. Our dear daughter Mary is with child.  She has a story how this came about but it is so extraordinary, can we believe it?  The just in Joseph demanded divorce.  Fornication must not taint his marriage.

LESSON:  Do we do the right thing no matter the cost?

KIND & GENTLE young man: Joseph’s justness is well balanced by his kindness and gentleness.   Joseph could not understand how his Mary could be with child by honorable means.  It would be undreamed of that his betrothed would be THE virgin, the one among millions who would be the Messiah’s mother.  So yes, Joseph thought about putting her away before they had ever come together.  Had something happened in the hill country of Judea?  Just a sample thought of many that Joseph may have had.  Hurt, but not vengeful, Joseph wants to spare Mary from additional pain by divorcing her quietly, privately.  He sought to keep the circle of shame as small as possible.

LESSON:  Do we try to keep the circle of shame small?  The Lord teaches us how it’s done in Matt. 18:15-17 verse 15 you & him alone, verse 16 one or two more, verse 17 the church.

THOUGHTFUL young man: (the 1st dream) Joseph didn’t act rashly or quickly but thought on these things and I think, slept on these things, giving time for the Lord’s input.  Thus a most instructive dream is given to Joseph.  The dark is made bright.  The will of the Lord is made clear.

LESSON:  Do we look before we leap?  Do we think before we thump?  We are the most blessed when we inquire of the Lord.

OBEDIENT young man:  To my understanding the angel ended his instruction to Joseph at verse 21. It would have been helpful if Joseph remembered Isaiah 7:14 as Matthew quotes it in verse 23.  Whether he did or not, Joseph was obedient.  We read he did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him and took unto him his wife. This obedience would change the rest of his earthly life.  (Not always to be desired)  His eternal reward would be great (always to be desired!)

LESSON:  Obedient – am I?

SELF-CONTROLLED young man:  God-given, the sex drive is strong in young men. Joseph controlled his when it wouldn’t have been appropriate, before he had brought her home to be his wife. Joseph was equally self-controlled when it normally would have been right to consummate the marriage. The Scripture is concise and precise “and knew her not until she had brought forth her first-born son: and he called his name Jesus”. (More obedience!)

LESSON:  God wants us to be self-controlled. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Does what I do with my body bring glory to God and further his kingdom?

LAW-KEEPING young man:  Joseph saw to it that Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day. He made sure that Mary’s purification days were finished, then they brought Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord and to offer the required sacrifice. In Luke 2:41, we read that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem annually to keep the Passover feast. Fast forward a few years, on such an occasion, Joseph was very active and anxious to find his “lost” step-son of 12 years. God had chosen Joseph to be a provider and protector for Mary and Joseph, a life-long commission.

LESSON:  Are we as eager to please the Lord as Joseph was?

PROTECTIVE young man:  (the 2nd dream) Joseph, upon the instruction of the angel to take the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt, did not hesitate. No doubt, the night departure was extra protection in that there would be no witnesses as to the direction they went. We are beginning to see that Joseph’s obedience to God and protection of his charges was at quite a cost. He must leave his native land and go into exile in Egypt.

After an unspecified time,(the 3rd dream) instructs him to take the young child and his mother back to Israel. Herod is dead. Joseph would be happy to obey only to find to his dismay that Herod’s son was on the throne. Then (the 4th dream) came as a result of this continued danger. The angel warns Joseph and he takes the young family to live in Nazareth.

LESSON:  Our children and God’s people need protection. Love bears (to roof over, cover) all things.

PROVIDING family man:  Joseph worked hard to provide for his family. His trade was carpentry. Matthew 13:55 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” Some scholars read into this verse that Joseph was still alive until the early days of Christ’s ministry but passed away before His crucifixion. We really aren’t able to be conclusive as to the time of Joseph’s passing. He also took the time to teach Jesus the same trade.  Mark 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary”.

LESSON:  May we too take it seriously to provide for our own and serve the Lord in our generation.

© Copyright 2018 by Marvin Griffin.  Please do not copy or distribute this content without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

The Life of Mary

THE LIFE OF MARY

By Lucas Griffin – MARCH 14, 2018

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Mary was a normal human like you and I, but chosen by God to bring Christ into the world. She was not sinless, not divine, and not born by immaculate conception, but there are many lessons we can learn from her life.
  • Mary is the mother of Jesus, and is NEVER called the Mother of God in Scriptures.
  • Mary was a virgin at the time of Christ’s conception of the Holy Spirit, and was until after his birth. However, she was NOT a perpetual virgin and had natural children with Joseph after.
  • She is a woman admired for her bravery and loved for her devotion to God. She walked a difficult path, knowing how costly her submission would be.
  • God chose Mary for what could be arguably the most important job in history – bringing our Savior Jesus Christ into the world. She was the perfect unlikely choice, which made her story even more remarkable.

 

KEY VERSE:

  • Luke 1:38 – “Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

 

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF MARY – OUTLINE

  1. Mary knew the Word of God well – but she also knew the God of the Bible
  2. Mary lived a pure, virtuous life – she pleased God in the everyday activities of life
  3. Mary was normal, but God used her – He delights to do the extraordinary with ordinary people
  4. Mary was a humble person – although she was shown divine favour, she gave God the Glory
  5. Mary obeyed God and submitted to His Will – even when it could have cost her EVERYTHING
  6. Mary steadfastly endured God’s plan – even when she didn’t understand the details
  7. Mary was a woman of faith and trusted God unwaveringly – from beginning to end
  8. Mary was a woman of courage and character – “I am the Lord’s servant…”
  9. Mary was a wonderer and a ponderer – she meditated on the Word of God and Ways of God
  10. Mary was an unrelenting follower of Jesus Christ – she was at His birth, death, and Pentecost

 

LIFE LESSONS – EXPANDED

 

1. Mary knew the Word of God well – but she also knew the God of the Bible

  • Mary knew, believed, and applied Old Testament scriptures to her life and God’s promises.
  • In her prayer of praise in Luke 1:46-55, it is very obvious that Mary knows God and His word.
    • Mary shows spiritual insight as she talks about soul, spirit, and physical state in vs 46-48
  • Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
    • Prophetically fulfilled in Matthew 1:23
    • Physically impossible from a human perspective. Totally possible with God.
  • Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me, The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
    • Prophetically fulfilled in Matthew 2:6
    • A promise that an Eternal Being, God Himself, would come into this world as a Ruler in Israel. “Although eternal, Christ entered human history as the man, Jesus of Nazareth.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • “Christians who believe and obey speak far more loudly than all the bombast of so-called religious leaders. Who speaks for God?  He does quite nicely for Himself. Through His holy and infallible Word – and the quiet obedience of His servants.” (Charles Colson)
  • The Scriptures are the Word of God. In the account of the Birth of Christ we are reminded that they are accurate and specific.  We are not to add to them or take from them.

 

2. Mary lived a pure, virtuous life – she pleased God in the everyday activities of life

  • Mary loved God and wanted to serve Him with all her heart.
  • She was a woman of unquestionable character. It would have to be both shocking and unbelievable for friends, family, and neighbours to hear that she was with child.
  • Mary found favour with God, due to her character and a short life, lived well. Mary joins the “Ranks of Favour” with: Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Joseph, Samuel, David, and Jesus
  • In Luke 1:39, we are not told why Mary went to visit Elizabeth at this time. It may have been to avoid the scandal which would inevitably arise in Nazareth when her condition became known.
    • Mary may have also gone for moral support.
    • She may have left Nazareth before the Child was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit. Her distance from Joseph also proved he was not involved.
    • While with Elizabeth, she would have been chaperoned, and Elizabeth could testify that she had remained pure during those three months.
  • Elizabeth was a godly, older woman. Her prophecy and insight in Luke 1:41-45 before Mary opened her mouth was another stamp of God’s approval, and the legitimacy of this situation.
  • “A person’s character is revealed by his or her response to the unexpected.” (Life Application Study Bible). Despite the unexpected events in her life, Mary remained calm, obedient, available, and sought to praise God for His Work in her life.

 

3. Mary was normal, but God used her – He delights to do the extraordinary with ordinary people

  • “Until Gabriels’s unexpected visit, Mary’s life was quite satisfactory.  She had recently become engaged to a carpenter, Joseph, and was anticipating married life.  But her life was about to change forever.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • In Luke 1:29, we see how NORMAL Mary was. She was so normal, so ordinary, so everyday that the NLT states “Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.” 
    • She was not a divine person used to receiving messages from angels.
    • She was not an important person who expected people to pay her compliments.
    • She was so ordinary that she was shocked to see an angel and didn’t understand what he was saying at first.
  • “Mary was young, poor, female – all characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her seem unusual by God for any major task. But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience he has ever demanded of anyone.  You may feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service.  Don’t limit God’s choices. He can use you if you trust him.”  (Life Application Study Bible)
  • Mary was an ordinary person who received extraordinary blessings from God (Luke 1:41-45)
    • God has abundantly blessed ordinary people like you and I. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3)
  • “God’s best servants are often ordinary people who make themselves available to him.” (LASB)
  • Luke 1:37 (NLT) “For nothing is impossible with God”

  

4. Mary was a humble person – although she was shown divine favour, she gave God the Glory

  • After the angel had delivered His message to her, in Luke 1:28 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” She took the lowly place.
  • Mary was a woman of genuine, godly humility. A great example for us today.
    • She could have been proud that she had seen an angel. Very few people have.
    • She could have been proud that the angel had given her a message from God.
    • She could have been proud that she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit.
    • She could have been SO PROUD that she was the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God
    • Mary was humble and simply saw herself as a servant that God would use.
    • James 4:10 (NKJV) “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
  • Mary could have been puffed up with pride because of the favour God had shown her, but she repeatedly gives God the glory in Luke 1:46-55. It is all about Him and what He has done, and what He will do!
  • Mary exudes humility by calling her estate “low”, referring to herself as a maidservant, and as someone who is lowly.
  • In Luke 1:47, Mary states “my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Mary admitted that she needed a Saviour. She was merely human, a sinner by nature, in need of a Saviour.
    • This is a statement of humility and disproves the false teaching that Mary was sinless.
  • “When Mary said in Luke 1:48, ‘From now on all generations will call me blessed,’ was she being proud?  She was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her.  Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done; humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God.  Don’t deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts.  Thank God for them and use them to his glory.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • Mary really brings out the character of God in this prayer of praise in Luke 1. She states that God is saving, considerate, mindful, mighty, holy, merciful, strong, sovereign, gracious, giving, righteous, helpful, communicative, omniscient, omnipotent.

 

5. Mary obeyed God and submitted to His Will – even when it could have cost her EVERYTHING

  • Mary understood the magnitude of her decision to say yes when God chose her. Her knowledge of God’s promise to send a Saviour (Messiah) for His people showed through her worship.
  • Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a severe social stigma. According to Jewish civil law, Joseph had the right to divorce her; the Jewish authorities could have had her stoned to death.
  • She likely knew that she would be doubted, disdained, and mocked by the people around her, but Mary was willing to face this in order to carry out God’s will.
  • In order to obey God, Mary:
    • Sacrificed her reputation, humanly speaking. Imagine her telling her parents and friends and those around her.
    • Put her marriage at stake. Think about how hard it would have been to tell Joseph. She didn’t know how he would react, or that an angel would visit him as well
    • Jeopardized her future. She could have been stoned for her apparent sin.  It was very possible that she would have had to resort to a life of begging, or worse.
  • Mary’s choice to obey God changed the course of her life. She trusted that God was good, loving, gracious, considerate, mindful, mighty, holy, merciful, strong, sovereign, righteous. Mary was confident that even if she was putting her well planned life in God’s hand, He would provide, protect, and bless her despite this difficult path.
  • Why do we struggle to trust God with this simple, unwavering faith?
  • “God’s plan encompasses your personality, your talents, and your future. Ask God today to help you be a witness, open to new assignments, and eager to grow in faith” (The Inspirational Study Bible)

 

6. Mary steadfastly endured God’s plan – even when she didn’t understand the details

  • This was a tough journey for Mary in every way.
    • She had to face humiliation in her pregnancy.
    • She had to put her future in jeopardy.
    • She had to travel an 8-10 day journey while pregnant, on a donkey
    • She had to give birth away from her mother and support network
    • She had to give birth surround by animals, hay and manure
    • But Mary never complained – what an example of endurance for us today.
      • James 1:12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
      • 2 Timothy 2:12If we endure, we will also reign with Him.
    • “God did not soften Joseph’s bumpy road, but strengthened him. God did not provide a luxurious inn for Joseph and Mary, but brought his Son into the world in humble surroundings.  When we do God’s will, we are not guaranteed comfort and convenience.  But we are promised that everything, even discomfort and inconvenience has meaning in God’s plan.  He will guide you and provide all you need.” (The Inspirational Study Bible)

 

7. Mary was a woman of faith and trusted God unwaveringly – from beginning to end

  • Hebrews 11:1, 6 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
  • Mary listened to God’s message from the angel with faith.
  • Mary did not doubt the angel’s message, but rather asked how pregnancy would be possible.
  • God’s announcement of the birth of a special child was met with various responses throughout Scripture.
    • Sarah, Abrahams’ wife, laughed (Genesis 18:9-15).
    • Zechariah doubted (Luke 1:18).
    • By contrast, Mary graciously submitted. (Luke 1:38)
  • “Mary believed the angel’s words and agreed to bear the child, even under humanly impossible circumstances. God is able to do the impossible.  Our response to his demands should not be laughter or doubt but willing acceptance.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • Mary displayed unwavering faith in response to the angel’s message, in her Magnificat, at the Birth of Christ, during the visits of the shepherds and wise men, at the Marriage in Cana, at the Cross, and in the early Church.

 

8. Mary was a woman of courage and character – “I am the Lord’s servant…”

  • Matthew 1 gives us the genealogy of our Lord Jesus. Because Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant, Matthew lists Joseph only as the husband of Mary, not the father of Jesus.
  • “Jesus’ genealogy makes it clear, not that there were a few disreputable people in his family, but that all of them were sinners. God sent his Son as Saviour of all people – Jews, Gentiles, men, and women.  No matter what the sins of the people, God’s plan was never thwarted.  It continues to unfold.  That plan includes you.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • Matthew 1:18-25 make it very clear that Mary was a virgin, and Joseph had zero physical involvement in the conception of Jesus Christ. This child was conceived of the Holy Spirit
  • Mary’s response should be our response to God’s will and word “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38)
    • She only knew that God was asking her to serve him, and she willingly obeyed. Don’t wait to see the bottom line before offering your life to God.  Offer yourself willingly, even when the outcome seems disastrous.
  • After the Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Mary continued to exude courage and character:
    • Mary was obedient to the Lord by naming him Jesus
    • Mary was obedient to the law regarding circumcision
    • Mary was obedient by presenting the child to the Lord and offering the sacrifice after her days of purification
  • God gave His Son to a woman of character. A woman who was blameless in the community.  She was someone that God could trust.  She would take care of Jesus and all His needs.  She would look after him.  But, she would also teach Him the law, and help him to keep the law even before he was physically able.  Jesus could truthfully say in Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  Mary raised him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, humanly speaking.


9. Mary was a wonderer and ponderer – she meditated on the Word of God and Ways of God.

  • “Mary had a deeper understanding of what was going on; she treasured all these things, and knowingly pondered them in her heart” (MacDonald 1374)
  • Mary had so much to ponder, but knew God was at work, and had the faith to let him work. She likely pondered:
    • Why has God chosen me for this daunting task?
    • Why do we have to go to Bethlehem right when I am pregnant?
    • Why isn’t there room for us at the inn?
    • Why does God want His Son to be born here?
    • How did the Shepherds know to come here? What did the angels tell them?
    • How did the wise men find us here, and why these amazing gifts?
    • AT HIS CHILDHOOD: How is Jesus so perfect? He is different from my other children.
    • AT AGE 12: Where is Jesus in Jerusalem? What is he doing?
    • AT AGE 20: What happens next? When will he become King?
    • AT AGE 30: Something is happening, I can tell. He has been baptized by John.  It is time for His mission to start.  He can make wine for this Feast at Cana.
    • AT AGE 31: He won’t stop teaching and helping and healing and leading. He is going to burn out.  What?  Why is denying that I am His mother?
    • AT AGE 33 AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS: What’s happening? This is wasn’t what I was expecting.  I thought he would have a kingdom by now.  I don’t understand and yet I completely understand all at the same time.  God is my Saviour.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is my Saviour.  He is dying here for me, for my sin.  Thank you God. Thank you Jesus.
  • When Jesus answered her in the temple, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 1:49), Mary didn’t fully understand all that Jesus had come to accomplish, but she chose to wait patiently and trust God.
    • Mary knew God was at work, even when she didn’t understand how or why.
    • We don’t have to understand all the details in order to trust God, see that He is at work, and submit to His sovereign will.
    • We need to acknowledge that God is good and loving and kind. We should trust that He is working out His will in us and through us, and we must submit to His plan.

  

10. Mary was an unrelenting follower of Jesus Christ – she was at His birth, death, and Pentecost

  • Mary was a follower of Jesus from before His birth until after His death – to the end of her life.
  • In Luke 8, Mary desired to see Jesus. What a noble desire, and one that should mark our lives.
    • Psalm 27:8 “When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
    • “Many have looked at Jesus; but few have seen Him. Many have seen His shadow, His people, His story.  But only a handful have seen Jesus.  Only a few have looked through the fog of religiousity and found him.  Only a few have dared to stand eye to eye and heart to heart with Jesus and say, “I believe that you are the Son of God.”  (From On the Anvil by Max Lucado)
  • Mary believed that her Son was no ordinary man – He was the Divine Son of God
    • Mary believed in her Son, and believed that He could be trusted and should be obeyed
  • “Jesus response in John 2 at the Wedding in Cana indicated that in the performance of His divine mission, He was not subject to instructions from His mother, but acted entirely in obedience to the will of His Father in heaven.” (MacDonald 1474)
    • Mary’s challenges echoes down through the centuries to us – “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
    • “Mary submitted to Jesus’ way of doing things. She recognized that Jesus was more than her human son – He was the Son of God.  When we bring our problems to Christ, we may think we know how He should take care of them.  But He may have a completely different plan.  Like Mary, we need to submit and allow him to deal with the problem as he sees best.” (Life Application Study Bible)
  • In John 19, the woman who had given birth to Jesus stood at the feet of the cross and watched Him bow His head and die.
    • Can you imagine the pain of a mother to see her son tortured and crucified?
    • Mary saw Him arrive as her baby son, and she watched Him die as her Saviour
    • Mary was at His birth and at His death. The only human to be in both places.
  • Acts 1:14 – “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
    • Mary the mother of Jesus was a saved woman, and was part of the early church
    • The early church didn’t give her a special place – she was an equal
    • They were praying WITH her, not TO her
    • Mary was waiting with them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
    • This is the last mention of Mary in the New Testment
  • What a loving mother, and faithful disciple to follow Him right to the end.
    • How far are we prepared to follow Jesus? Will we take up His cross and follow Him?

 

© Copyright 2018 by Lucas Griffin.  Please do not copy or distribute this content without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

A Time to Decide

A Time to Decide

What will you have for breakfast this morning?
Which school should you attend in the fall?
Who will you marry?

CHOOSING – something we do day in and day out. Some decisions are very simple and unimportant, but others can mean the difference between life and death.

We are all travelers on the road of life. We have a start in life and someday we will all reach the end of the road. We are not robots that are pre-programmed to our destiny. We have the God-given responsibility and privilege of free choice. We choose our route and we end up at the destination.

It comes down to this. We are all headed toward an eternal destination in one of two places. Either heaven or hell. We do not deserve heaven because we have ignored God and left Him out of our lives. But in His grace, He holds out a hand of mercy. This hand of mercy is the offer of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose from the dead three days later, and now God offers this unconditional pardon to every person on earth. But each person has to make the all-important choice: either to accept God’s offer of forgiveness and a home in heaven, or to reject it. It is your decision.

What do you choose? For the coming of the Lord is near…

Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44

Click Here for Invitation!

I AM

I AM

(Written by Rhoda Griffin January 16, 2018)

 

I am the bread of life

Sent down from above

Whoever comes to me shall find

I am quite enough

 

I am the light of the world

In darkness I do shine

Whoever follows me shall have

This light and life of mine

 

I am the door of the sheep

To pastures safe and sweet

Whoever enters by me has

Salvation full and free

 

I am the good shepherd

Who lays his dear life down

Whoever hears my voice, I know

And by him I am known

 

I am the resurrection

And the life, that am I

Whoever believes in me shall live

In me he shall never die

 

I am the Way, the truth, the life

The only way to heaven

Whoever comes to God through me

Will find his sins forgiven

 

I am the true vine

You branches rely on me

Whoever abides in me shall bear

Much fruit for eternity

 

© Copyright 2018 by Rhoda Griffin.  Please do not copy or distribute this content without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift

Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet said, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isa. 9:6). That prophecy was fulfilled in the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.

Jesus Christ was God’s Christmas Gift, and God never gives anything but the best! The Bible says in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights”.

With deep gratitude for this Gift, the apostle wrote, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Cor. 9:15).

The blessed Heavenly Father gave the first Christmas Gift. Romans 8:32 states, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Salvation is the gift of God.

The Scripture says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” As we think about God’s glorious Christmas Gift, let’s consider that it was:

An Unsolicited Gift
It wasn’t man who saw his need and asked for God’s help; it was the blessed Father who foresaw our need and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). We get many gifts that we don’t need, but the gift of God, which is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, is a gift every one of us needs.

An Unlimited Gift
Jesus Christ was God’s Gift to the entire world. No one is excluded. “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” states I John 2:2. And Hebrews 2:9 plainly states “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

An Unspeakable Gift
Thinking of this wonderful Gift, the Apostle Paul said, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Cor. 9:15). Rest assured that God never gives anything but the best: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17). Jesus Christ is God’s unspeakable Gift! He is beyond telling! He is indescribable! He is inexpressible!

An Unchanging Gift
Jesus Christ is God’s unchanging Gift.  Christmas gifts we received several years ago have now become obsolete, but Jesus is always current; He is always new; He never changes. He is the same today to those who trust Him as Saviour as He was to those who trusted Him two thousand years ago! He is perfect, so He cannot get any better.  Also, because of His perfection, he will never deteriorate or disappoint.

An Undeserved Gift
The very fact that salvation is a gift indicates that it is undeserved. If it is earned or deserved, it is no longer a gift. A gift is something offered with no strings attached. Salvation is wholly of grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9).

An Unclaimed Gift
How sad to imagine that after sacrifice and expense, some gift is unclaimed, some package is unopened! How sad the giver must feel to think that the gift is not wanted! Yet the greatest gift of all, God’s Gift, Jesus Christ, is still unclaimed by millions!

The words believe and receive are used synonymously in the Scriptures. The Bible says in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” To believe is to receive. The Bible word believe means to trust, to depend on, to rely on. To receive God’s Christmas Gift simply means that one must admit that he is a sinner, believe the gospel story that Jesus Christ died for our sins at Calvary, and then trust Him completely.

Written by Dr. Curtis Hutson, adapted and revised by Lucas Griffin

Worship

Worship

(From the notes of Hector Alves (1896 – 1978))

“I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,”
Genesis 22.5.

In Abraham’s words, spoken as he approached Mount Moriah to offer his son there, we find what worship is and when we worship. While it is true that in chapter 18 he bowed down to the ground before three messengers, our verse is the first use of the word worship in the Scriptures. The “law of first mention” is important. We will always find something concerning our subject in the first time that it is mentioned.

Worship is the exercise of our priesthood. We are built up “a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 2.5. It is a matter of the heart rather than the head. However, it ought to be done in an intelligent manner.

Prayer is not worship. Ministry of the Word is not worship. Service for God is not worship. Worship is not defined anywhere in the Scripture. We associate it with the term worth.  Abraham did not go to Moriah with the express purpose of singing a hymn, or to praise God, although these activities may be expressions of our worship.

We worship in the Breaking of Bread meeting, but it is not the only opportunity for worship in the Christian’s life. No indication is given as to when we take the bread and the cup, and no set form of words is prescribed in the Word of God, but worship leads up to that point in our gathering.

That worship is giving to God, is amply confirmed in other parts of the Scriptures. “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name,” Psalm 29.2. The wise men in Matthew 2 fell down and worshipped, opening their treasures and presenting gifts to the Child (the first mention of worship in the New Testament). When Abraham made this present to God, he gave what he had received from God. All of us know that he got Isaac directly from God as a promised gift. Now he is going to give Isaac back to God, and that is called worship.

We might call worship the overflow of the heart’s appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ. But, if we got nothing from God from Monday to Saturday, what can we give Him on Sunday? That which occupies us on Saturday night will affect our worship on Lord’s Day morning.

Mary sat at His feet. That is worship. Later we find that same Mary at Bethany, pouring ointment over the Lord’s feet. The house was filled with its odour. I will mention that the seraphims of Isaiah 6 had six wings. With two they buried their faces; with two they covered their feet; with two they flew. That is worship and then service. I question whether one who does not worship is fit for service.

Four features of heavenly worship are brought before us in Revelation 5.6 to 9. (1) “Thou art worthy” — the worshippers were occupied with the worth of Christ. (2) “a Lamb as it had been slain” – they remembered His suffering and shame. (3) “redeemed us to God” – they had been blessed, and God received the glory. (4) they “fell down before the Lamb” —  in Old Testament language, they were inside the veil, shut in with Him and Him alone. Let us learn from these four clauses something of what becomes us in worship.

Finally, in our verse, “[I will] come again to you.” So it is with the gifts which we give to God. We never give Him anything that He does not give back with increase. Abraham offered Isaac and God gave him a seed more abundant than the stars of heaven and the sand of the seashore.

Stephen – The Full Man

Stephen – The Full Man

Written by Donald R. Alves

Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3), full of wisdom (Acts 6:3), full of faith (Acts 6:5), full of grace (Acts 6:8); and, probably a result of possessing these virtues, he was full of power (Acts 6.8). Power is not an end in itself – it is result of a proper spiritual condition. This man stands as an excellent example of how a Christian can be a force for God.

We cannot excuse our weakness on the grounds that the Spirit has not chosen to fill us. He has, but we can prevent it. We do not acquire the Spirit by degrees. He lives in us and fills us to the extent that we do not extinguish his light (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or cause Him grief (Ephesians 4:30). We who are born again, live in the Spirit; the question is whether or not we are willing to walk in Him (Galatians 5:25).

Ephesians 5:18 is the verse that exhorts us to be filled with the Spirit, and the verse is surrounded by instructions on how to behave so this can be a reality. The chapter does not talk about exotic and sensational experiences of superconsecration; but rather of everyday matters such as walking carefully, not wasting time, being humble, and treating one another respectfully in the home. Stephen must have practised what Ephesians 5 teaches, and that is part of what the Jerusalem Christians meant when they held him to be of good report (Acts 6:3).

Stephen was also full of wisdom. We could expect as much, because when he was asked to serve as a deacon, it pleased the whole multitude, even though he and his fellows were apparently Greeks among Jews (Acts 6:5). 1 Timothy 3 does not require that the deacon be apt to teach, as is required of the elder, but it says he has to be a person of good character and pure conscience. Stephen was able to be fair and understanding at a time when the Lord’s people were sensitive to possible partiality between them (Acts 6:1).

His wisdom was shown not only amongst the Christians but also before the ungodly that railed on him. A lesser man would have answered these fools according to their folly, but Stephen carefully calls them brothers and fathers (Acts 7:2), before he proceeds to show their sinful condition (Acts 7:51). He walked in wisdom toward those outside; he knew how to answer every man (Colossians 4:5,6).

His wisdom showed out in his command of the Word of God, as we see in chapter 7 where he recounts Israel’s history. Stephen must have spoken for fifteen minutes at least, but he limits his message to the Scriptures. A dozen times or more he quotes directly and at all times he gives the sense of the Word, as did Ezra years before. Stephen was wise in applying the Word to his particular audience.

Stephen used the double-edged sword of the Word in such a way that it cut to the heart as soon as he applied the message to Christ (Acts 7:54). He knew Christ as the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:25).

He was full of faith (Acts 6:5). A deacon in the Jerusalem assembly needed great faith to care for the material needs of a group that was growing so rapidly! His faith went far beyond the question of how to feed God’s people. It extended to the valley of the shadow of death, when evil men accused him in circumstances remarkably similar to the trial that led to Christ’s death only a few months before. And Stephen before those evil men? Why, his face was angelic! (Acts 6.15). Then, in the moment of death, this man of faith looked steadfastly into heaven and commended himself to a faithful Creator.

Stephen was full of grace. The King James Version reads in Acts 6:8, “full of faith and power,” but a more common translation is that he was full of grace and power. He was gracious in caring for widows and in doing great wonders and miracles among the people. His speech was certainly with grace, seasoned with salt, when he appeared before the council. And, as Hebrews 13:7 says, consider the end of his manner of life. Stephen leaves the stage of the Church’s written history with a gracious prayer that the Lord would not lay to the charge of his murderers their terrible sin.

God gives grace to the humble and Stephen qualified right to the end. God’s purpose for Stephen, as far as is recorded in Scriptures, was that he wait on tables (Acts 6:2), so that others would be free to preach. Stephen’s fullness of power was manifest among the common people before it was made evident in the council chamber! God’s ways are not ours, and we will never know power in our lives as long as we imagine that we can define our own ministry.

Stephen’s ministry was different from what we would have expected it to be, and brief. Nevertheless he, the first deacon, stands as the ideal fulfilment of the promise in 1 Timothy 3:13, which says that the faithful deacon purchases good standing (before God?) and great boldness (before men?) in the faith.

If you and I were filled with the Spirit, wisdom, faith, and grace, the power would be evident to others even if not to ourselves. Stephen’s light burned brightly and not in vain; devout men lamented his death and then went abroad to continue what he started in the power of God (Acts 8:2,4).

 

© Copyright 2017 by Donald R Alves.  Please do not copy or distribute this content without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Break Free

Break Free

(By Rhoda Griffin October 2017)

 

I’m standing here again, O Lord

Confessing that same haunting sin

I’ve asked so many times before

I’m asking to be forgiven

How many times will I have to plead

How many times will you intercede

Will you forever find me on my knees

How many times can I be freed

 

I’m praying for a victory

I’m looking for a breaking free

I’m asking for some liberty

I’m hoping for your life to breathe

I want forgiveness, yes, I do

But more than that, I want you,

This time please help me see it through

I need your Spirit to break through

 

No condemnation now, I read,

For those who let the Spirit lead

In You I can walk very near

In you closer I cannot be

Abiding in the Father and the Son

United with the Three in One

Our fellowship has just begun

And so with all the rest I’m done

 

You plead for me before the Father’s throne

And in Your love You won’t let go

 

© Copyright 2017 by Rhoda Griffin.  Please do not copy or distribute this content without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

His Name is Jesus

His Name is Jesus

(Author Unknown)

In Genesis, He is the seed of the woman.
In Exodus, He is the Passover lamb.
In Leviticus, He is our high priest.
In Numbers, He is the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.
In Deuteronomy, He is the prophet like unto Moses.
In Joshua, He is the captain of our salvation.
In Judges, He is our judge and lawgiver.
In Ruth, He is our kinsman redeemer.
In 1 & 2 Samuel, He is our trusted prophet.
In Kings and Chronicles, He is our reigning king.
In Ezra and Nehemiah, He is the restorer.
In Esther, He is the advocate.
In Job, He is our ever-living redeemer.
In Psalms, He is our shepherd.
In Proverbs & Ecclesiastes, He is our wisdom.
In Song of Solomon, He is our bridegroom.
In Isaiah, He is the prince of peace.
In Jeremiah, He is the righteous branch.
In Lamentations, He is the weeping prophet.
In Ezekiel, He is the man upon the heavenly throne.
In Daniel, He is the fourth man in life’s fiery furnace.
In Hosea, He is the faithful husband.
In Joel, He is the baptizer with the Holy Ghost and fire.
In Amos, He is our burden-bearer.
In Obadiah, He is the mighty to save.
In Jonah, He is our great missionary.
In Micah, He is the messenger of beautiful feet.
In Nahum, He is the avenger of God’s elect.
In Habakkuk, He is God’s evangelist.
In Zephaniah, He is our Savior.
In Haggai, He is the restorer of God’s lost heritage.
In Zechariah, He is the fountain opened in the house of David.
In Malachi, He is the sun of righteousness, rising with healing in His wings.

In Matthew, He is the Messiah.
In Mark, He is the perfect servant.
In Luke, He is the Son of Man.
In John, He is the Son of God.
In Acts, He is the Risen One.
In Romans, He is our justifier.
In 1 & 2 Corinthians, He is our sanctifier.
In Galatians, He is our liberator.
In Ephesians, He is the Christ of unsearchable riches.
In Philippians, He is the God who supplies all our needs.
In Colossians, He is the fullness of God, bodily.
In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, He is our coming king.
In 1 & 2 Timothy, He is our mediator between God and man.
In Titus, He is our faithful pastor.
In Philemon, He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
In Hebrews, He is the blood of the everlasting covenant.
In James, He is our great physician.
In 1 & 2 Peter, He is our chief shepherd.
In 1, 2 & 3 John, He is love.
In Jude, He is the Lord coming with ten thousands of His saints.
In Revelation, He is the KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS!

Author unknown

 

Blessings for Christians

Five Blessings for The Christian

(Outline by Gordon Stewart)

Colossians  1:12-14

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

INTRO:

  • Reminds us how much we have to be thankful for.
  • Five Blessings of the Christian – Are you thankful for these?
  1. FITTED US TO SHARE (Heaven’s blessings)
    • The Blessings
      • What does heaven mean to you? Where is “home”?
      • What are you working for? Treasure in heaven?
      • What are you living for? He rewards what the world doesn’t recognize. (The world only recognizes achievement)
    • The “Fitting”
      • We are not “fitted” by nature
      • We cannot fit ourselves – we come short
      • God does the “fitting” – gift of God
    • FITNESS TEST: What is your ATTITUDE about the future? World only values the “visible” and doesn’t recognize God as a giver.
  1. DELIVERED from an authority (darkness is sin, God is light)
    • Ruler of Darkness’s authority is broken by Jesus Christ
      • Authority broken means no “second death”, no fear
      • Absolute assurance of live; no anxiety
    • EXPERIENCE TEST: Do you know peace?
  2. TRANSLATED (carried over)
    • Under new authority
    • To us, Christ is King
      • We appreciate His victory – in death
      • We acknowledge His supremacy – in future
      • We enjoy his love – in His kingdom of love
    • OBEDIENCE TEST: Do you desire to obey Him?
  1. REDEEMED (not stolen)
    • Price paid: we love to remember Him
    • We are valuable to Him.
      • We glorify God in our bodies
    • APPRECIATION TEST: Am I thankful each day for His grace?
  2. FORGIVEN
    • World lives under guilt: The Christian is FREE
    • All our sins are FORGIVEN

CONCLUSION: If you are not saved, you are missing out!