What then is This Child going to be?

Luke Chapter 1

Luke 1 66 NIV.png

Reading through the first chapter of Luke came at a very appropriate time for myself.  I recently had my first baby last month.   On top of that, I first became an uncle just a couple of months ago.  Therefore, my wife, Jamie, was pregnant at the same time her sister, Jennifer, was pregnant.  I find myself writing this devotion while we are Facetiming my twin niece and nephew and holding our baby.

 

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was pregnant at the same time her cousin, Mary, was pregnant with Jesus.  Both John the Baptist and Jesus (clearly) end up playing huge roles in the grand scheme of things.  I appreciate that Luke took the time to start both of their stories as newborns!  Everybody’s story starts as a wee little baby, even the Savior of the world!  I would have loved to have seen and held baby John and Jesus!

 

When they were babies, they had all the potential in the world.  John the Baptist went on to prepare the way for the Christ, and Jesus was the Christ himself!  Every little baby that we come into contact with has all the potential in the world, and I hope that we can all realize that.

 

We will talk more about baby Jesus tomorrow, but these babies were no ordinary babies.  John the Baptist was peculiar in that “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:16).  Not only was he filled with the Holy Spirit, but his birth was foretold by the angel Gabriel.  John’s father, Zechariah, was also made mute until his son was born because of his disbelief.  From the very get go, John was a very special baby, and he grew to be a very special man of God.

 

The babies and young children that we come into contact with may not have had some of the same experiences as John the Baptist or Jesus.  However, they still have all the potential in the world.  We need to be taking great care of our younglings.

 

I encourage you to take a minute or two out of your day and pray for all the little fellas and gals in your life and pray that they grow to be marvelous men and women of God!

 

Kyle McClain

Faith ____ Works

James 2

James 2 14 NIV

In Chapter two of James he continues to tell us that we need that Humble Pride and we are not to judge others in partiality. We must not look at others and decide that God isn’t going to use them because we don’t like the way they look. Just as we may turn away from a book when the cover is worn and frayed, we occasionally turn away from people when we see they are worn and frayed. The thing we must remember is sometimes the books, and people, that are worn the most are worn from use not from neglect. When we look at someone we should seek the potential that our LORD sees. When Samuel went to anoint the king he would have overlooked David but God was looking at David’s heart.

In the same way that we tend to judge by what we see on the surface James tells us that our faith is to be more than mere words.

When you look at Faith ______ Works, what would you place in that blank?

  • Faith or works
  • Faith VS. works
  • Faith and works

We know that we are cleansed of our sins by faith (not by works), so why would James ask in 2:14, “Can faith with no works save you?” Do Paul and James have a long-standing disagreement on this matter? No, they agree beautifully! James is not saying that we are saved by our works but that our works are evidence of our faith. In verses 15 and 16 he says that empty words mean nothing. For example, if I simply say I am feeding my dogs regularly, yet I give them no food; eventually they starve. They will not survive on my words or good intentions alone. The same is true of our faith. Luke just told us last week of that “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 11 that were all shown to be faithful and that faith was made evident in the works they did for God.

James says if we have true faith it will be shown by our actions! He says in verse 19 that if all it took was a belief in the truth that God is one then even the demons would be okay, because they believe and shudder. Although they believe, their actions and their allegiance are not inline with God’s plan. They understand truth but choose to do their own thing. We need to understand truth AND let that truth move us to action for God!

James says that we need a Faith that Works!

If our faith is not causing us to work for God we must ask ourselves, “Do I truly have faith, or do I have empty words?”

-Bill Dunn

 

The Underdogs

used by God

Moses is one of the most real people in the Bible. What I mean by this, is that in reading his interactions with God, often times, his responses are not ultra-spiritual, but rather down to earth and matter of fact. For example, when God tells him he has been chosen to free his people from Egypt, Moses tells God “nope, sorry! You’ve got the wrong guy! I don’t do public speaking, I’m shy…find someone else.” (paraphrasing Exodus 3). Moses does this time and time again throughout his story . What’s so great, is that God puts up with Moses. In fact, he made him one of the most famous people in scripture. That knowledge reassures me that God can handle whatever sass I may throw at him. That when I am angry and fed up with him, that I can be just as real as Moses was. That when I pray and talk to God, I don’t have to act like I’ve got it all together and sound super spiritual. I can just be me. God will not reject me when I doubt or complain. He may be a bit annoyed with me, but he won’t abandon me. I’ll never be too much for him. That’s the first lesson we can learn from Moses.

The second thing that Moses teaches us is that our weakness does not limit us in our ability to serve the LORD. Several years ago, a bunch of contemporary Christian artists got together to make an album called The Story with songs designated for each major Bible story. Bart Miller, the lead singer for MercyMe sings “It Must Be You” a song for Moses. Right now, go open up a new tab in your browser and type in “It Must Be You the story” click on the first video that pops up and listen to that song.

Moses’ life in itself is a miracle. He was supposed to die as a baby – murdered by the pharaoh, not taken in to be his ward. Moses was a stutterer and afraid. He wasn’t supposed to lead an entire nation – and yet, through God’s power, he did. God sees something in each and every one of us. Potential to do great things for him and through him.

I know this because I see God at work in my own life. You see the chorus to that song “It Must Be You” is my life’s anthem. I wasn’t supposed to succeed. In second grade I was diagnosed with ADHD and tourettes. In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with OCD. My OCD and tourettes were so bad, I was taken out of public school and homeschooled. I could hardly go into public places without freaking out. I was scared of germs and scared of soap. It was completely debilitating.

But somehow by the grace of God, I recovered. I defeated tourettes, I learned how not to let it control me. I graduated high school seventeenth in my class of 586. I went to college on a full tuition scholarship. I picked up a minor in speech communication and found how much I enjoy and how good I am at public speaking. I recently graduated with high honors. Now the little girl who would freak when a stranger touched her arm has plans to attend the Bible College this coming August.

The story of Moses teaches us that with God there are no limitations. In fact, we serve a God that invites the challenge. When we succeed, he wants to ensure that people know it was because of him. That’s why he picks the underdogs, the Moseses. It’s why he’s chosen you.

-Emilee Ross

 

 

Entitled

David

man after my own heart

Acts 13:22, 2 Sam 11:1-17, 2 Samuel 12:7-14

If you grew up in church your Sunday school classes were probably full of the stories of David’s triumphs. He was the shepherd boy who killed lions, bears, Goliath and eventually became King. His triumphs were nothing short of amazing. David was even called a “Man after God’s own heart” in Acts 13:22. Yet just like the other characters we have discussed, David was flawed.

In arguably the most famous story of his flaws David ultimately caused catastrophe to befall his entire Kingdom. First off, in 2 Samuel 11:1 it says that David stayed home in his cozy palace instead of going off to war as he was supposed to. Next, since he wasn’t where he was supposed to be he saw a beautiful woman named Bathsheba bathing on her roof. Even though she was married to a man who was serving in David’s army David decided to send messengers to bring her to him. We find out in verse 5 that she became pregnant.

In an attempt to cover up what he had done David asks for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to come home from battle but Uriah is honorable and refuses to sleep in the comfort of his home knowing the other men in his army are not able to do the same. Frustrated David sends a note with Uriah as he goes back to the battle front. The note carries Uriah’s death sentence as it commands the commander of the army to send Uriah to the front line of the fiercest battle. With Uriah out of the way David takes Bathsheba to be his wife and she gave birth to a son who later died because of David’s sin. Not only that but David was later driven out of his own Kingdom because of the sin he committed. Everyone suffered because of the flaw that David allowed himself to be entitled to do as he pleased.

David suffered for his actions and repented for it. Despite his flaws through grace God used David to establish the throne of Israel even making Jesus a decedent of David. No matter what you have done God sees your potential and can use you in amazing ways.

-Lacey Dunn

Bold

Peter

When being bold can be a flaw

Matt. 14:22-31, Matt. 16:21-23, Luke 22:31-34

I think we all know someone, it may even be the person in the mirror, who seems to have the Frank Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way” playing as their anthem. I believe one such person in the Bible is Peter. Peter seemed to try to be the exception to every rule and push boundaries that the other apostles didn’t dream of.

Remember when Peter walked out on the water to meet Jesus? It doesn’t mention anyone else volunteering but Peter in faith and boldness offered to meet Jesus on the water. This is just one of many stories of Peter stepping up and speaking out. While many times his boldness was a good thing there are times the contrary was true.

In Matt 16 Jesus explained that he would suffer and be killed but Peter rebuked him! Can you imagine taking Jesus to the side and telling him that he was wrong? Jesus set Peter straight on the matter but Peter still didn’t seem to understand.

In Luke 22:31-34 Jesus tells them again that he must suffer and that they cannot go where he is going. Peter boldly proclaims that he would follow Jesus even to death. Later in the chapter (vs54-62) Peter boldly denied Christ three times just as Christ told him he would. I can’t imagine the sorrow in Peter’s heart as he looked into his Savior’s eyes knowing that he had denied that he even knew him.

Peter’s boldness when not thought through was a flaw but Jesus knew there was potential in Peter and even prayed that his faith would be strengthened so he could also help strengthen his brothers (Matt. 16:32). After Jesus’ resurrection Peter boldly spoke about the death and resurrection of Christ and proclaimed the gospel message.

God answered Christ’s prayer and helped shape Peter into an evangelist. If Peter, Jesus and God chose not to focus on Peter’s flaws that tells us that we should also choose grace and not focus on our own flaws or the flaws of others.

-Lacey Dunn

Reprobate

Rahab

Hebrews 11-31

Read Joshua 2:1-21, Joshua 6:22-23

If you have made it through high school literature classes you have more than likely ran across the story of “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Whether you sat down and read it while sipping on a cup of cocoa or madly skimmed through the cliff notes you probably know the basic story. Hester Prynne is marked with a scarlet letter because of her sin of adultery and is forced to be branded with the letter A making her and her illegitimate child reprobates in their town.

Early in the book of Joshua we find another woman who could have also been branded as a reprobate. Joshua 2 tells us about how Joshua sent out spies to get a glimpse of Jericho. While at Jericho the two men end up seeking refuge at Rahab’s home. Rahab was a harlot in Jericho. It seems that she was pretty well known for being a harlot as the King himself sent her a message to hand over the men that came to her home. (Joshua 2:3)

At this point we as readers can do one of two things. We can treat Rahab like the townspeople did Hester Prynne’s character and focus on that giant “A” embroidered into her clothes or we can focus instead on her heart and faith. Basically we can either focus on Rahab’s flaws or potential.

In Joshua 2 while the spies are still hiding in her home Rahab demonstrates great faith and courage. By hiding these spies she was committing treason which could have resulted in her death but she recognized the power of God and was willing to be courageous and hide the spies while sending her own countrymen on a wild goose chase. Although she had grown up with pagan gods she saw that Yahweh was powerful and was willing to put her faith in him so that she and her family would survive. Rahab also showed that she was intelligent and wise with how she very carefully orchestrated the spies’ getaway.

In Joshua Chapter 6 after the walls of Jericho tumbled down we find that Rahab did as the spies instructed and that God was faithful to her. She is also noted in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 as a woman who was faithful and righteous. We even find that Rahab is in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1:5).

How can it be that a prostitute is so highly spoken of and even in the lineage of our Savior? It is because God didn’t see her as a harlot but rather as His creation. He saw her as a person who had value and potential and redeemed her as His own.

-Lacey Dunn

Thief

Jacob

A THIEF redeemed (1)

Read Genesis 27:1-37 and Genesis 35:9-12

 

My husband and I attended Atlanta Bible College when it was located in Morrow, GA and lived in one of the duplexes across the street from the college. One bright Saturday morning we decided that it would be a perfect day to ride our bikes. We went out to our patio so we could hop on our bikes and ride like the wind. However, wind was all we found on the patio and we quickly realized that our bikes had been stolen, never to be seen again. As a broke college student I remember feeling so angry that this had been taken from me because it wasn’t something that could be easily replaced at the time. Now imagine how you might feel had a bike or even something much more precious been stolen from you by a thief. It seems Esau had some rather strong feelings toward his twin brother Jacob after his blessing was snatched away from him.

Jacob was the favorite child of Rebekah and he was pretty cunning. We read in Genesis 27 that with the help of his mother, Jacob tricked his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that was meant for Esau. While Esau was out doing what Isaac had told him to do to prepare for his blessing Jacob was getting dressed up in goatskin so he could trick his father. He even went so far as to lie to his blind, on the verge of death father that he was back from hunting so quickly because God caused the animal to come to him (Gen. 27:20).

Although I’m sure God was not pleased with Jacob’s actions God didn’t strike him down or have the earth swallow him up but instead God eventually changes Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 35:9-12) and makes him a nation. Many times when God is mentioned in the Bible He is referred to as the “God of Jacob”. When doing a search in the NASB version of the Bible, Biblegateway.com brings up 353 results for “Jacob.

I’ll be honest, in the past I have found it difficult to be a Jacob fan because I would get hung up on his flaws; but thankfully, God sees things much differently than I sometimes do. Jacob was a thief and a liar in whom God saw potential. Instead of writing him off God redeemed him for His own and made him into a great nation.

-Lacey Dunn