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:
As the story of the birth of Jesus is told, and retold, there are many characters whom we frequently hear mentioned: the virgin Mary, the magi (wise men), the shepherds in the field. But one person who is represented in every manger scene, but rarely even mentioned, is Jesus’ earthly father Joseph. This is not entirely surprising, since the Bible actually only gives us a few small snippets of biographical information on Joseph. We are told relatively little about Joseph’s role in the overall story of Jesus.
When Queen Esther faces the daunting choice of risking her own life by going before King Ahasuerus or of letting all the Jews in Persia be slaughtered by Haman’s order — Esther’s adopted father Mordecai says to her, “Who knows whether you have come here — to your position, in this place, in this exact period of history — for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). How much do your worldly friends really love you? Movie or music stars you look up to? The employer who wants you to devote your life to climbing the corporate ladder? The cars, gadgets, carpet, or designer outfits you spend so much time dreaming about or delighting in?
My beloved, flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). Idols have a way of disappointing those who trust them. Because only God is God, everyone and anything that we put before God will fail us. Nothing and no one is as strong and faithful and good as God.
We know that “an idol has no real existence” (1 Corinthians 8:4). Paul, while addressing an immediate problem related to Christian liberty, simultaneously addresses a vital overarching point regarding idolatry. Idols are nothing; they are not just false gods, they are no gods at all. Of course the material, physical stuff from which the idol is made is real, but the god it represents does not exist. There is no need to fear idol gods, and there is certainly no reason to worship them.
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep“ (1 Corinthians 15:20). After providing abundant proof, in verses 1 to 11, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Paul goes on to unpack a necessary implication of this reality. The resurrection of Christ is the rock-solid assurance of the final resurrection of the righteous who are in Christ by faith. Christ is the “firstfruits” of everyone who has died, or will die, in him! “Firstfruits” were the first portion of a harvest, which served as a sample, an indicator of things to