She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:21-23). After the long genealogy with which Matthew opens his gospel in verses 1 through 17, proving that Jesus was indeed the promised son of Abraham and of David, we finally come to the fruition of hundreds of years of prophecy: “The virgin
The command “Behold!” appears 247 times in the New Testament. Each time this imperative is used in order to call attention to what is being said, or seen, or considered. It is a powerful word that forces us to pause, reflect, and be amazed by the subject matter being described. There are some things that are simply worth taking a long and careful look at. Not surprisingly, then, the New Testament opens — in the first two chapters of Matthew — with no less than six occurrences of this command as the story of Christ’s birth is narrated.
The testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:6-7). In verse 4 of this same chapter, Paul speaks of “the grace of God” and that it is a gift “by Jesus Christ.” As Paul continues to describe this grace, and its effect in our lives, he makes the striking claim that God’s grace by Christ means that we need no other gift if we have this gift. You are not lacking in any gift — in other words, you
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s true. You have seen someone trying to clean up their own mess before, and that this just ends up making things worse as long as they continue doing more of whatever caused the mess in the first place.
It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18). After hearing the constant refrain “it was good” throughout the Creation narrative, we are jolted by this declaration. In the mist of all the “good” that God is creating, there is something not yet good enough! “It is not good that man should be alone.” Here we must tread carefully and yet boldly. We see in this that God’s normal prescription for humans is that they not be alone, that they be married.
But all things should be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). The information we have about the early Christian church is rather scant. Much of what we do know gives us a sweet picture of devoted believers who lived out their faith in tangible ways of worship and service. They usually met before sunrise, then came back together after working all day to have Lord’s Supper in the evening. The worship service on Sunday lasted about three hours, with the congregation standing the whole time. The sermon was delivered by the pastor, who was seated (you didn’t know
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:6-7). Jesus was born when “the time came.” The time came, not just for the fulfillment of Mary’s pregnancy, but for the fulfillment of God’s pre-world plan to become a divine human being. Think of it! The Bethlehem prophecy alone (Micah 5:2) reminds us that God had hundreds of years to plan this event! How will
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered (Luke 2:1). What powerful truth and what precious comfort are contained in this familiar verse! Here we see that God’s purposes are perfectly and promptly completed. Did you think that kings, or presidents, or dictators make history? No! They are but instruments in the hand of the eternal and purposeful God. Hundreds of years before, God had spoken through the prophet Micah saying:
Do not fear, only believe (Mark 5:36). As you read this, you may at this moment be filled with hope and expectation … or you may be filled with dread and anxiety about the future. Either way, Jesus’ simple words to a suffering man speak volumes. Jesus invites us to rest in him, now and always. But why should we trust Jesus? How can we be certain that he has our best in mind, or that he is working for our good?
Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). In the midst of the Flood narrative, in which we are told that God saw all the world as corrupt and decided to destroy every breathing creature, we read in contrast that Noah was righteous, blameless, and walked with God. From there, of course, we learn that out of all humanity, only Noah and his family were saved from the Flood. The obvious question that this passage forces on us is this: what kind of person escapes the judgment of God?
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). What an unspeakable blessing, to be chosen — of all women, from all generations — to be the one woman who would be mother to the holy Son of God. In the very next verse in Luke the angel announces that Mary will conceive and bear a son, who is to be named Jesus. He will be great, he will be called the Son of the Most High, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! (Psalm 147:7). In this season of Thanksgiving, it is helpful to consider what “thanksgiving” specifically is, in biblical terms. And in this verse we see at least three crucial elements to godly gratitude. First, thanksgiving above all involves communication with God.
Jesus paradoxically describes those as happy who are poverty-stricken in their souls. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). As upside-down and inside-out as this may sound, if we believe Jesus then we certainly want to know what he is talking about. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”?
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100) Thanksgiving above all involves communication with God.
This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know (1 Corinthians 8:1-2). Paul, writing to two groups in the Corinthian church who were split over what to do with idol-food, interestingly does not at first even mention idol-food. Instead he talks about “knowledge” and “love” and how they must relate to one another.