Friday, December 20, 2019

Wednesday, January 1 - Matthew 1 - The Virgin Born Son of God

VER since the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden, we have been waiting for a deliverer. Now we have Him. The Deliverer is Jesus!

Matthew 1 ties the Old and New Testaments together perfectly. This commencement of the New Testament breaks in with a long list of names, including many of the major characters that we learned about in the Old Testament. Matthew's gospel is about Jesus Christ, the king of the Jews. However, the Jews that we have learned about are by no means forgotten.  Of course, there is no reason to forget them. Boaz, Rahab, Ruth, Jesse, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Zerubbabel... these were Christ's human ancestors.

Now clearly, Matthew 1:16-25 is a section that is given to emphasize the virgin birth of Christ. His humanity, His deity, His mission and His position as Savior are also included, but these verses declare first and foremost that Jesus had a legal ancestry, but no earthly father; no biological dad. Joseph is called the husband of Jesus' mother. Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph consummated their relationship. The Holy Ghost was the agent who miraculously caused Mary to have a child. Since he knew that he wasn't the child's father, Joseph did consider divorce. But an angel vouched for Mary's sexual purity. An Old Testament prophecy had called for the sign: the virgin birth of the Messiah. She was not a virgin permanently or perpetually, but she wasunpolluted” in that sense until after she had birthed the Christ.

Why such an unmistakable emphasis on the holy conception and delivery of Jesus? Three reasons: 1. The miracle of His birth validates the prophecy and commences the verification of His claims.  2. His deity and preexistence demand a supernatural conception.  3. The holiness of His nature required that there be a disconnect between Him and Adam (yet he had to be human in order to die for humanity). For Him to be a substitute for the guilty, it was necessary that Christ have no guilt. He was Jesus (Jehovah the Savior), so even without the judicial and logical reasons for the virgin birth, there was just no practical way for Christ to save sinners if He was guilty too. If He had been guilty then He would have needed a savior to save Him. But He didn't need a savior. He is the Savior, the One and only Savior; our Savior!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Taking a break until 2020!

We have spent nearly 4 years in our journey through the Old Testament.  Now that we have finished that portion of the Bible, it's a great juncture for us to stop and invite others to join us on this expedition.  So, the New Testament has 260 chapters in it.  At a rate of 5 chapters a week, we can do the whole New Testament in 1 year.  Spend the next few months reading Proverbs or your favorite Psalms and let's begin again together in 2020 with Matthew chapter 1.  But don't do it alone!  Invite others to take this junket with you.  We have plenty of time to build up a full load for this spiritual bus trip.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday - Malachi 4 - Waiting for the Sun to Rise

T is often repeated that the same sun that melts wax, hardens clay. Similarly, the same Son who saves repentant sinners, destroys the impenitent. As we read in Luke 20:18, "Whosoever shall fall upon that Stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever It shall fall, It will grind him to powder." As we conclude our journey through the Old Testament of the Bible, it is appropriate to remind ourselves that all 39 books have pointed, in one way or another, to the coming of the Messiah. He will be the one who knows the difference between the wheat and the tares; between the sheep and the goats; between those on the Stone and those under it; between believers and unbelievers.  We end the Old Testament waiting for the Sun to rise on a new day; a day upon which the Messiah will come, when the proud will be damned, and the humble will be blessed (Malachi 4:1-2).

Malachi's contemporary audience had a long time to wait before the Sunrise. In fact, they were destined to die in the night. It would be centuries before the day would dawn and the Son would arrive. Appropriately, both Advents of Christ are forecasted here in Malachi 4. This prophet speaks of His incarnation and of His exaltation - with mercy at His first coming and justice at His second.

Malachi 4 has a very distinct "closing remarks" feel to it as you read it. In addition to the allusion to the spiritual Sunrise (which we have already noted), in verse 4 there is also a fitting reminder of the importance of keeping the commandments of God, and in verse 5 he points to the  fact  that the  next major event on God's prophetic calendar will be the coming of Elijah (consider Matthew 11:13-15 & Revelation 11:3-4). And, he points to the eventual climax of human history, the day when Christ will establish His kingdom on this earth. Let us pray with zeal and sincerity: “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is our hope and our future.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday - Malachi 3 - The Immutability of God

ALACHI 3:1 informs us that God intended to send John the Baptist ahead of Jesus in order to get everyone ready for His coming. Of course, God intended to send His Son as Savior and King too. But wait, these were not just God's intentions. These were promises from God. And, God doesn't lie (Hebrews 6:18 & Titus 1:2). But why doesn't God lie? In this chapter, we find the answer to that question. Malachi 3:6, "I am the LORD, I change not; therefore, you sons of Jacob are not consumed." God is immutable; unchanging. His character is always the same. His eternal purposes and the things that He does because of His nature, they are always the same. His infinity causes much diversity, yet even His infinite creativity is always consistent with His unchanging attributes. Yet, what does that mean for us?

Because God does not change, therefore His gracious promises to Jacob are still being kept to this very day. Here we are, many centuries beyond Jacob's life, yet God's promises are still in effect. Ten million centuries into eternity, God will still be keeping His promises to Israel. Despite the multitude of reasons that the Jews have given Him to turn His back on them, He hasn't forsaken them yet. And He won't ever. At His first coming, He made provision for the salvation of Israel. When He comes again, He will fully complete that which He started some 2000 years ago: the total redemption of Israel. In the meantime, they are adrift.

In the days of Malachi, Israel was away from God. They were disobedient to His commandments. God invited them to repent, but they didn't feel like they had anything for which to apologize (vs. 7). They stole from God by holding back that which belonged rightfully to Him (vs. 8).  But again, they were in denial. And, their lack of faith was detrimental to them.  Consider what they missed out on because of their unbelief and lack of devotion (vs. 10). God has the power to intervene and help those who are willing (vs. 11).

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tuesday - Malachi 2 - Redefining Goodness

E live in a world that is a long way down the road of redefining what it means to be good and righteous. The Bible warns us that these tactics will be used by the devil! In Isaiah 5:20 we find it written, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"  Malachi dealt with the same issue in his day (Malachi 2:17). The Jews were excusing their own evil & condemning all who questioned them.

Today, Christians proclaim the old gospel; that Christ is the only way to heaven. And we are scorned by the world.  We are viewed as narrow minded, ignorant, unkind and unenlightened. We declare the obvious order of monogamous heterosexuality, as God designed and demands, and we are quickly dismissed as bigoted, self-righteous and dangerous instigators. With broken hearts, we cry out for the cessation of abortion in America; calling it what it is, murder. And the labels begin to fly chauvinists; haters; liars. We stand against drunkenness, tobacco abuse, divorce, psychobabble, laziness, pride, gossip or lust and even many who claim to know Christ begin to fold their arms in rejection of our message. Friends, in Malachi 2:8-9 we find that Israel had corrupted God's laws and had become partial in their obedience. Are we similarly guilty?

Do we fail to take God's edicts seriously (vs. 2)? Do we lift ourselves up in pride, considering ourselves to be of more value than others (based upon ethnicity, education, socioeconomic position or surname – see vs. 10)? Do our children marry unbelievers (vs. 11)? Do we exhibit great religiosity in public while exercising ourselves maliciously against our own family members (vs. 13-14)? Are Christians as guilty of dissolving marriages as are the unregenerate heathen all around us (vs. 15-16)? If we redefine God's laws so we can feel better about ourselves, we are no better than ancient Israel was (vs. 17).