Just Like Dad, but Not Dad

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 13 & 14

Psalm Reading: Psalm 9

New Testament Reading: Matthew 8

Don’t you love seeing pictures of two family generations where the younger looks just like the senior? The family resemblance can’t be mistaken. As I was reading of Jesus calmly calming the storm I was thinking – I have seen this before. The masterful control exercised over the wind and water. It’s been done before. There is a family resemblance there that can’t be mistaken. Sure enough – in the account of Noah and the great flood found in Genesis 7 & 8 (which you may have just read last week), it is recorded that the LORD God controlled the springs of the deep, the floodgates of heaven and the winds. Perhaps the astonished disciples weren’t thinking of the ancient time of Noah, but they were asking, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27 NASB).

Interestingly, in the very next passage it is revealed who Jesus is – by the demons. It appears the spiritual world has a pretty clear picture of who Jesus is, as well as what fate awaits them in the future at Jesus’ hand. Even back in Matthew 4 in the wilderness the tempter/devil twice began tempting Jesus by saying, “If you are the Son of God…”. And now here in Matthew 7 the demons recognize the family resemblance and see Jesus as the Son of God. That is an amazing title and honor and job to be the Son of the Most High God Almighty.

But being the Son of God is not the same as being God. Just as you are the son or daughter of your dad and mom, but you are not your dad or mom. There are still many differences. Here is a partial list of some of those differences…

God can not die – but Jesus did.

God knows everything (including when Christ will return) – Jesus didn’t. (Mark 13:32)

Jesus increased in wisdom – God already had it all.

Jesus was God’s servant and he knew God was greater than himself.

Jesus didn’t do his own will, he did God’s – they have different wills.

Jesus had a God.

Jesus prayed to His God, and called Him Father.

Jesus cannot be a mediator between man and God if he was in fact God.

Jesus is now at God’s right hand.

They will rule at different times.

As we spend the year asking God to reveal Himself to us in His Scripture, we get the added supreme joy of finding Jesus in the process. As we read of Jesus’ love and compassion, power, judgment, forgiveness and mercy – we are reminded of his dad. There is an unmistakable family resemblance. There is often much you can learn about a parent by watching a child (even a child all grown up). Also, there is much you can learn about a gift-giver by seeing the gift they have given. As we read through the Bible seeking God may we recognize Him as the Father and God of his Son Jesus and as the ultimate gift-giver who gave His Son to His broken creation, knowing full well they would break his gift as well – for a time.

As I am journaling what God is revealing to me about Himself in Scripture this year, I am also writing in notes about His gift, His Son – clearly labeling those lines with an underlined “Jesus”. In my Bible margins I am using an asterisk to remind me where I found something of God’s character (sometimes with a note to explain at the bottom of the page). I am also using a cursive capital J in the margin marking the passages where I learn more about Jesus, the unique Son of God. I pray this will be a year of great revelation as I seek Him and His Son. I pray this for you as well.

-Marcia Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. What do you learn about Jesus in Matthew 8?
  2. What is most incredible to you about this gift that God has given?
  3. What family resemblance do you see in the Son of God – where did you see those qualities first in his Father? What do you learn about the gift-giver by looking at the gift He has given?

Abiding in Truth

2 John

Thursday, October 20, 2022

For such a short letter, John really packs a lot into it.  The greeting, which, if I am being honest, often gets skimmed, offers some insight into what the letter contains.  He mentions truth or the truth four times in the greeting alone.  I think his point is that truth matters.  So, what is the truth that he is talking about?  Verse 9 talks about abiding in the teaching of Christ.  This is the truth that is empathized in his greeting.  Verse 7 says that a deceiver is one who does not confess (believe) that Jesus Christ came in the flesh – that he was a real man who lived on this earth.  No one likes to find out they were deceived, tricked, or made to look foolish because they believed a lie.  The truth is that Jesus is the Son of God, he did live on the earth, he did preach a message of the coming kingdom, he did die for our sins, he was raised up, and he will come back.  We are to abide in that teaching, in that truth.  

I looked up abide and was surprised at the many definitions it has.  Here are a few:

  • to accept or act in accordance with
  • to remain in a stable or fixed state
  • to continue in a particular condition, attitude, or relationship
  • to be able to live with or put up with

Not only are we to abide in this truth, but to NOT abide in it is to NOT have God.  That is a scary thought!

John provides a warning to us in verse 8 to “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward”.  He warns us because there will be “many deceivers” – many people who won’t be abiding in the truth about Jesus.  The only way to know if you are being told the truth or if you are being deceived is to “test everything” (I Thessalonians 5:21).  In order to do that, we need to know the truth ourselves.  We need to “test” what we are being taught against what is in God’s word, the Bible. 

  • Todd & Amy Blanchard

Questions:

  1.  Have you ever been deceived by someone?  How did you learn about the truth and what steps have you taken so you aren’t deceived in that way again?  
  2. How can you apply that to being watchful with regard to your faith walk (walking in the truth)?
  3. Being aware that knowledge of the truth prevents deception, how can you share your knowledge to help keep others from being deceived?

Today, If You Hear His Voice

Hebrews 3

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Having read the first two chapters of Hebrews, we have seen the author building up this case for belief and hope in Jesus as the Son of God. Now in chapter 3, the author is trying to bring us back to an example that the readers would have been familiar with to help us understand the necessity of our faith. He calls back to Moses, the prophet who first heard the name of YHWH, delivered the Hebrews from enslavement in Israel and performed many signs and wonders in the midst of the Jews (Exodus 14:31). This Moses that the Hebrews are so familiar with, who brought the law that they hold in such reverence, was faithful in God’s house. However, his faithfulness was to testify of the Prophet to come (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19), namely Jesus.

By conjuring up this image of the Old Testament prophet, Moses, we are reminded of the rebellion of the Hebrew people after they were delivered from Egypt. In only a matter of years, the people hardened their hearts and they were filled with unbelief even though they had seen the signs of God in their own lifetimes. Can you imagine witnessing the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of Cloud and Fire or the radiant face of Moses and yet still turn your back on the God who freed you from slavery? It doesn’t make sense to me at all. For some reason, the peoples’ hearts were hardened so that they couldn’t believe in God, even though they heard the voice of God.

Now this story isn’t just an example from the past, it is a story that represented the people to which this book is written. Many Jews believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, but others refused to believe. Their hearts were hardened even though they saw all the signs and healings that Jesus performed. It is their unbelief that is their downfall.

I want to apply this story to today as well, while it is still called “today.” If I hear God’s voice, what will I do? Will I believe or will I harden my heart? I believe there are signs and works being performed today through the power of the Holy Spirit as it was promised by Jesus (John 14:12). If you don’t believe that there are still signs being performed to this day, ask a believer in your congregation if they have ever witnessed or performed a work through the Holy Spirit. More have than I think we realize.

The other part of hearing God’s voice today, is that the author of this book is re-presenting the words of God, the words of the Holy Spirit, words spoken Prophetically through David. This is the voice of God that you hear today. Encourage each other every day as long as it is called “today” (Hebrews 3:13). This should be your main takeaway from this passage. If you want to ensure that no one is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin so that they will enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 3:18), then tell someone the word of God today, while it is still called “today.” Speak the word of God in power, for there is certainly power in the word of God. We are given a message of hope that we can boast in (Hebrews 3:6). Pick up your phone and text a brother or sister in Christ and remind them of this hope. Get up and visit your brother and sister to tell them of this hope. If you believe in this hope, then let the whole world know and be a partner of Christ in his work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 3:14).

-Nathaniel Johnson

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

  1. Who can I tell today about the hope that is found in Jesus?
  2. How often do I think about the hope that is found in Jesus?
  3. Ask a Christian, have you ever seen a sign or a work of the Holy Spirit?
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