December 31 – Luke 2:36-39. Thanks Be to God.

Saturday, December 31, 2011


December 31 – Luke 2:36-39. Thanks Be to God.

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

Anna told everyone about the child who would redeem Jerusalem.  Did she have any idea that He would redeem the entire world, that He would also die for the sins of those who would be born two thousand years later?

Anna’s response to seeing the child was to give thanks to God and spread word of His greatness.

As we close out an old year and approach a new year, may our response to Jesus be the same.  May we give thanks for meeting Him and then tell the world about Him.

He has come to redeem the world, let us ensure that the world recognizes Him through us!

December 30 – Luke 2:33-35. Good News. Bad News.

Friday, December 30, 2011


December 30 – Luke 2:33-35. Good News. Bad News.

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

This is what life does to us, isn’t it! One moment you hear great news and within a heartbeat, that news is replaced by something that is difficult to hear.  It doesn’t diminish the greatness of the original news, but our hearts are rarely strong enough to remain excited after we hear something awful.

We don’t get a chance to know Joseph and Mary’s reaction to Simeon’s follow-up, but most of us can imagine it in great detail.

Jesus didn’t let that part of the story affect Him as He began His ministry, though. He didn’t worry that His work would hurt His mother or that people wouldn’t accept Him.  He wasn’t concerned that there would be those who spoke out against Him or that He might be rejected because He exposed the hearts of people.

Jesus walked in confidence, knowing that He was doing the work of His father.

While we don’t know for sure what happened to Joseph, we do know that Mary remained a part of Jesus’ ministry through His resurrection and there are stories that she lived with the apostle John in Ephesus as Jesus’ ministry on earth was extended through Him.

Her soul may have been pierced at the physical loss of her son, but she didn’t allow that to change the awe and wonder that had been hers from the moment the angel announced to her that she would bear God’s Son.

Jesus was to bring forth the salvation of the world. There will never be enough bad news to deflate the excitement that news brings to us.

December 29 – Luke 2:25-32. Simeon Saw Salvation.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


December 29 – Luke 2:25-32. Simeon Saw Salvation.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 

      “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Isn’t it interesting that Simeon didn’t hear from an angel, but from the Holy Spirit.  He spent so much time walking with God that the presence of the Holy Spirit was with him.  What a glorious gift to bring to a man who had lived his life as a righteous and devout man – the assurance that he would see the Messiah.

What a moment this was for Simeon.  The revelation from the Holy Spirit had been fulfilled.  He held the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world in his arms.

I had a very dear friend, a man who walked with the Lord, who daily did the work of the Lord and to whom I am eternally grateful for his teaching.  He felt that God had told him Christ would return before his death and he lived his life with that assurance.  He listened so closely to the Spirit that one day when he was driving, he heard the Lord telling him to pull over and walk up to a house.  He had no idea why, but he did so.  When a young woman answered the door, he simply told her that God had sent him and he wasn’t sure why.  She began to weep.  She had served the last of the food to her children that morning and had eaten nothing herself for several days.  Her family was about to starve and she could do nothing to change the outcome.  Tommy recognized immediately that he stopped so that he could be God’s hands in this situation.  He fed them a meal, stocked groceries for them and then helped the young woman find a job with child care.  He walked with God because he expected God to use him.

Well, Tommy died several years ago and I found myself wondering at his absolute trust in God and that he heard God telling him Jesus would return while Tommy still lived.  I spent a lot of time thinking about his words and have yet to fully understand the entire story.  I doubt that I ever will while still here.

Simeon, though, saw the promise fulfilled in the eyes of a child.  One day we will all see the promise of Christ’s return – whether we are still living or when we meet Him in heaven.  I am confident that Tommy is in the presence of God and has seen the fulfillment of Christ’s return.

Simeon saw salvation that day. The greatest gift any of us can ever know.

December 28 – Luke 2:21-24. Bound to the Law.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


December 28 – Luke 2:21-24. Bound to the Law.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 

In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

The only problem for many of us is that we miss the fine details of Jesus’ ministry and paint it with such broad strokes that we don’t see how God fulfilled the Law through Jesus.  We only see a great divide between His interpretation of the Law and humanity’s method of wielding God’s law.

Joseph and Mary were responsible to care for the Son of God.  They obeyed the angel when naming the child and then followed the letter of the Law when it came to presenting the child and purifying themselves.

The Law that the Lord had given to Moses and to the Israelites was the guiding light for them as they strove to maintain a relationship with God throughout the centuries.  Even though it had become a duty rather than a joy, obedience to God’s Law was still necessary – especially when raising the Son of God.

With a flick of the finger, the child could have set all that aside, but God’s commitment to humanity and to His chosen people was so great when He bound Himself to the limits of being human, He also bound Himself to His own law.  He never set Himself above it.

December 27 – Matthew 2:19-23. Conversation With An Angel.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


December 27 – Matthew 2:19-23. Conversation With An Angel.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 

So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Do you think you would ever get used to angels showing up to keep you informed of what you should do to raise your child?

Would Joseph have missed his conversations with the angel?  Would he have begun to wonder when the next time was that the angel would show up to give him some direction?

I don’t know how it is in your family, but we seem to always talk a lot more just prior to getting together.  Before a holiday or a vacation, we call, email and text each other … as if we can hardly wait to see each other and hope to extend that relationship as long as possible. The anticipation is so great that we stay in pretty close contact.  After the holiday is over, we drop back into our normal patterns and call each other when something is going on … but not for a random conversation.

The angels have had a great deal to prepare for.  The child was finally here, but he isn’t settled yet.  This child is here to draw together the people of the world and reintroduce them into a relationship with God.

We don’t hear about any other conversations Joseph or Mary have with angels … maybe they stay in pretty close contact with the heavenly host … maybe this is the end of it.  But the child will soon be safe and settled into his home.  Things can go on as if all were normal.

The angels become less and Jesus becomes greater.  He will now be the voice of God among humanity.

Jesus is here now.  Joseph has a daily connection to God.

Jesus is here now.  We have a daily connection to God.

December 26 – Matthew 2:13-18. God’s Protection.

Monday, December 26, 2011


December 26 – Matthew 2:13-18.  God’s Protection.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”  

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” 

Herod was furious! People simply didn’t ignore his commands, especially when those commands were so desperately important to his reign.

In his rage, he ordered the deaths of young boys in the region where the wise men had landed. In his eyes, it was better to be safe than sorry.

While there are historical questions regarding this massacre of the innocents (there is no public record of it), the simple fact is that in that area surrounding Bethlehem, it was very rural and there may have been as few as twenty children killed. While it would have been traumatic for the families and the community, it would not have registered in the annals of his reign.

God’s grace and mercy are greater than humanity’s rage.  Before the words were uttered by Herod, God sent an angel to Joseph to command him to leave with Mary and the child and flee to Egypt.  Once more they were traveling, but this time it was to safety.

God prepared the world for the coming of His Son and He continued to care for His Son offering protection and safety when danger approached.  As God’s adopted children through Jesus Christ, we can hold on to the promise that God will also protect us, if only we listen for His voice and obey Him.

December 25 – Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7. Be His Light!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


December 25 – Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7. Be His Light!

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Today we celebrate the entrance of light into a darkened world.  In a world filled with sin and sorrow, the Savior comes to release humanity from the chains that bind us to that world.

We rejoice because we are free.  We rejoice because darkness has been set aside and light prevails.

The light of Christ fills the world … through us.  We take His light to those around us.  Be that light today and tomorrow and every day.

December 24 – Matthew 2:9-12. Choose Joy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


December 24 – Matthew 2:9-12. Choose Joy.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  When they saw the child … they bowed down and worshiped him.

Pretty soon the Christmas season will pass and the New Year will be upon us.  We hope to hold on to the feelings of joy and anticipation that surround us at Christmas, but when the realities of life settle in – sometimes it gets awfully difficult.

I wonder if life isn’t a little like King Herod.  The world wants to rob us of our joy.  Sometimes circumstances rule our emotions to the point that we can’t be happy unless life is good.  Herod didn’t want the world to see the Messiah.  He wanted the wise men to give him intelligence regarding the location of the Messiah so he could just rid himself of the annoyance and remain in control of his little world.

The wise men chose to go their own way.  As they searched for the Messiah and found Him, they found joy and worshiped him.  They chose not to go the way of King Herod, which would bring destruction and death.

When Christmas is over, we can choose to follow the path of the wise men.  We don’t have to be ruled by circumstances. We don’t have to fear the coming of the Messiah into our lives.

We can choose to be overjoyed in the moment to moment discovery of Jesus’ love.

Choose joy.  Bow down and worship Christ – not our daily circumstances.  

December 23 – Matthew 2:1-8. Peace on Earth?

Friday, December 23, 2011


December 23 – Matthew 2:1-8. Peace on Earth?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 

      “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 

There is an interesting difference between the Luke and Matthew story – beyond the fact that one tells us of the shepherds and the other of the wise men.

Luke’s story tells us how the angels promised peace on earth because of the Savior’s birth.

Matthew’s story tells us that not only was King Herod upset at the possibility of the birth of the Messiah, but all of Jerusalem was also disturbed along with their King.

This doesn’t bode well for the beginning of the story of our Messiah.  Before He can even speak, people are frightened of what He might say and do!

Herod sent the wise men to search for the Messiah … just in case the prophecies might be true.  He wanted to deal with this little problem all by himself before it could upset his reign as the king of the Jews.

Peace on Earth?  Not while Jesus walked on the earth as a man this time. That’s far, far away and just in case we didn’t understand that truth, we are introduced right away to just a little bit of the stress that Jesus would encounter throughout His lifetime and Christians would continually encounter throughout history.

December 22 – Luke 2:15-20. Amazed by His Story.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


December 22 – Luke 2:15-20. Amazed by His Story.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Looking upon the face of the Savior is all about seeing God’s love.

The only thing that the shepherds could think to do after being in the presence of Jesus was to spread the word about everything they had seen.

Those who heard what the shepherds told them were amazed.

We have an amazing Savior and have experienced His presence in our lives.

The only thing that we should do is spread the word about what we know.

The world needs to hear about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The world needs to be amazed by His story.

December 21 – Luke 2:8-14. The Face of Love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


December 21 – Luke 2:8-14. The Face of Love.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

We all think that (most) babies are absolutely adorable.  When my first nephew was born, it occurred to me one of the reasons we believe so is that in their little faces, we see everyone we have ever loved.

When Jesus was born, what would the shepherds have seen when they looked at His face?  Can you even imagine?

They looked upon the face of God.  The Creator of the Universe who came to earth to save humanity from itself.  The Lord God Almighty whose love fills the earth, whose compassion for those He loves is beyond bounds.

They saw love beyond measure.

The angels knew what the shepherds would see when they looked at that tiny baby in a manger and all they could do was sing “Glory to God in the highest heaven.”

Today as we prepare to remember His arrival on earth, remember that one day we will look into the face of Jesus and sing “Glory to God in the highest” because we will see love.

December 20 – Luke 2:1-7. King of Kings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


December 20 – Luke 2:1-7. King of Kings.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. 

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

I can’t read these words without feeling a flutter of excitement well up from deep within me.  Every time these words are read – it is in preparation for one of the most exciting times of the church year for me.

That Caesar Augustus and Quirinius are marked as being involved in this powerful event offers a timeline for us.  We know that it didn’t happen 50 or 500 years ago, but a couple of thousand years ago when Caesar Augustus was emperor of Rome.

Joseph took a very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem.  It was expected that he would do so as a citizen of the Roman Empire.  Sometimes the world around Jesus seems so small.  Born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, died in Jerusalem.  But, with these words, Jesus is placed within the Roman Empire, even though He was a Jew who lived under Herod’s rule.

From the beginning of His life, He was obedient to the laws of the land. It wasn’t yet time to upset the nations and kings.

Jesus will be known as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16) and when He reigns in heaven with God, “the glory of God gives the city (New Jerusalem) light, and the Lamb (Jesus) is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (Rev. 21:23b-24).

It was possible for God to allow the kings of earth to rule over His Son because the day was coming in which Jesus would be seated on the throne above all things.

December 19 – Matthew 1:22-25. God With Us.

Monday, December 19, 2011


December 19 – Matthew 1:22-25. God With Us.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

The prophesies regarding Jesus fill the pages of the Old Testament. They tell of preparation for his coming, of his birth, his life, his death and his return to draw us all unto himself.

Joseph and Mary were part of this amazing prophecy. They were essential in the telling of this story.  God had planned for the day they would come together and raise His Son.  He had prepared their lineage, their parents and their lives.

God was with them from the moment that He created the world.  He was with each of their ancestors and from the moment of their conception He was with them. He was with them as they pledged themselves to each other and when it came time to tell them what their place in the story would be … He was not only with them, but He sent His angel to help them understand the power of His will and to give some explanation for this extraordinary event.  He was always with them.

Immanuel – God With Us.

God is with each of us.  He has been preparing us for the lives that we can live in Him.  He has brought each of us to this time and place.

He may not ask us to raise His Son, He may not send an angel to help us understand His plan, but He has a plan for each of us and wants us to know that He is With Us.

He sent His Son so that we could know for certain that He is with each one of us.

December 18 – Matthew 1:18-21. The Honor of Joseph.


December 18 – Matthew 1:18-21. The Honor of Joseph.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Gabriel had already told Mary she was to be the mother of the Son of God.  While she was processing on the wonder of it all with Elizabeth, Joseph had no idea what was happening.  Most men I know wouldn’t be terribly surprised that he had been left out of the planning.  But, when he needed to know, it wasn’t Mary who told him what had happened, but Gabriel.  I can’t imagine the conversation that would have occurred if it had been up to her.  How do you explain to someone who thinks you’ve betrayed them that God was in the middle of the entire episode.

Mary and Joseph had been pledged in marriage … a contract that was as strong as marriage.  He was willing to let her out of the contract quietly and not expose her.  He was honorable in all things.  Her honor was more important to him than a contract.

When Gabriel spoke with Joseph, all of a sudden the story changed.  He was not only going to fulfill the contract with Mary, but he was responsible for raising God’s son … for keeping him safe as he grew to be a man, to love him and give him a human childhood so that this young man could save the earth.

It wasn’t going to be easy, yet Joseph was still honorable.  What God asked him to do, he would do.

December 17 – Luke 3:23-37. Adoption into the Lineage.


December 17 – Luke 3:23-37. Adoption into the Lineage.

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 
     the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, 
     the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 
     the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 
     the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 
     the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
     the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 
     the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Luke was very interested in presenting things as accurately as possible.  Genealogies were used in ancient times to establish the identity of a person.  While the genealogy in Matthew begins with Abraham, Luke reverses the order, beginning with Jesus and leading back to Adam … the original creation … the original son of God. Then, he does something phenomenal and traces Jesus’ lineage straight to God.

He identifies Jesus strongly as the Son of God.  There can be no question as to who this man is.

Now why do these genealogies differ so much? There are a lot of solutions given, but one that has a great deal of support is that Mary had no brothers. Her father – Eli (Heli in this translation) adopted Joseph as his own son.  Matthew gives Joseph’s ancestry by birth – Luke by adoption.

This is profound for our understanding of our relationship with God.  Just as Joseph was adopted into the lineage (even though he also had his own lineage), so are we adopted into the Kingdom of God.

Jesus has come.  No matter how you trace his genealogy, he is the Son of God … he is descended from the patriarchs, the men and women blessed by God to lead their people into His presence.  Jesus will complete this mission.

December 16 – Matthew 1:1-17. Glory and Sin. A Genealogy.

Friday, December 16, 2011


December 16 – Matthew 1:1-17. Glory and Sin. A Genealogy.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. 

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 

After the exile to Babylon: 
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. 

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

In Matthew’s Gospel, the story of Jesus begins with his genealogy.  This wasn’t done to bore those of us who aren’t impressed with lists to death, but to establish Jesus’ place in the history of the Jews.

He is descended from Abraham, the first man with whom God established a covenant.

He is descended from David, to whom God promised that his throne would always exist.  In Jesus, it will always exist.

In his line are several women – sinners, in fact.  There is Rahab, a prostitute and the author blatantly states that Solomon’s mother had been Uriah’s wife, until David’s great sin destroyed him.  Another woman, Ruth, is a Gentile.  The last woman to be mentioned is Jesus’ mother, Mary.  This lineage would have offended a great many Israelites because of these women, but Jesus came to save everyone and He never denied women a place in salvation in history.

There are some great kings in this line – Uzziah and Hezekiah.  There are some awful kings.  There is the story of the great exile.  There is glory and destruction, beauty and sin.

This is the world that Jesus entered over two thousand years ago.  This is the world in which we live today.  He is the same yesterday, today and He will be the same tomorrow.  The world will never change. There will always be glory and destruction, beauty and sin.  But, neither will Jesus change.  He will always be here as our salvation.

December 15 – Luke 1:67-80. The Child – A Prophet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


December 15 – Luke 1:67-80. The Child – A Prophet.

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 

 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” 

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

I read these words and can barely get through them without emotion. To know that the Lord is coming to earth, that this small boy will proclaim His coming, to understand that John will call the people of Israel to repentance in preparation for the Lord and to believe that these signs will bring peace.

Zechariah was given a prophecy that would be fulfilled in his son’s lifetime – by that very son.

I know that many of you, as parents, pray for your children. While I know my parents prayed for me, I remember a specific time when I was in the hospital and they expected me to die and if I lived, to have such a weakened heart, I wouldn’t be able to function.  They spent a great deal of time beside my hospital bed in prayer.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had a charge for their son from God.  Their prayers were constant and they brought him up to understand the will of God and how he fit within it.  It began with a message from an angel and now … a prophecy from God.  John grew in the spirit from the moment he was conceived.  Zechariah and Elizabeth dedicated themselves to the Lord’s will, for themselves and for their son.  This boy would proclaim the coming of the Lord!

December 14 – Luke 1:57-66. What’s In A Name?


December 14 – Luke 1:57-66. What’s In A Name?

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. 

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” 

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” 
Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 

Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

When you were choosing names for your children (or if you will be, or when your parents did), what were the things you looked for in a name?  I have absolutely no idea why my parents came up with Diane.  Mom said it was just a name she liked.  My middle name doesn’t come from family … but, as to this story … it works nicely since my middle name is Elizabeth.

Carol got a unique name for the family, but her middle name is the same as my mother’s.  My brother’s first name came from my mother’s father and from my father’s brother.  Dad’s middle name was Lester, the same as his father’s, and he couldn’t imagine saddling his son with that name.

Names still tend to be handed down from family member to family member.  A Jewish friend of mine told me that they couldn’t name their children after a living family member because it brought bad fortune on both, but to name the child after someone who had died was a great honor.

The baby was born and about to be circumcised and named.  When Elizabeth named the child John, no one could believe it.  After they had waited all these years to have a child, the least they could do was give it a family name.

But, God had a plan for this child and wanted his name to be John.  As soon as Zechariah declared that it was so, his voice returned. Luke tells us that his first words were those of praise.

A child given a name outside of family tradition. A father who begins to speak again after the naming.  No wonder the people of Judea were curious about what would come of this child!

December 13 – Luke 1:46-56. My Soul Glorifies God!


December 13 – Luke 1:46-56. My Soul Glorifies God!

And Mary said: 
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Those first words of Mary’s, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” have always been special to me.

We say thank you to God for things He has done for us. We praise Him for His creation and things that he has done in our lives.  With our words we praise His name.

Sometimes in the depths of ourselves, the part of us that expresses itself in something deeper than words reaches beyond us to the deepest part of God, making contact with His glory and we know we are dwelling in His will.

It is at that point that our soul and our spirit affirm everything that Scripture has told us and we know for certain that God loves us and that He would do anything to bring us close to Him, including coming to earth in the form of an infant to a young girl.  All we have to do is respond.

December 12 – Luke 1:39-45. The Lord Fulfills Promises!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


December 12 – Luke 1:39-45. The Lord Fulfills Promises!

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

I like thinking about the impact of this young woman’s decision. She heard from the Lord and responded by saying, “Yes.”

Elizabeth said, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Do you believe that God will fulfill His promises to you?

Oh, please do … He’s been doing so since before the beginning of time!

December 11 –Luke 1:26-38. When an Angel Shows Up.


December 11 –Luke 1:26-38. When an Angel Shows Up.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” 

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

I think what we should learn from some of these stories is that when an angel shows up, we don’t question the words that come out of his mouth.  If he tells you, as an old man, that you are going to have a son … believe him.  If he tells you that, as a virgin, you are going to conceive a Son … believe him.

The other thing I notice from these stories is the simple thing that both Zechariah and Mary focused on.  The angel delivered a whole lot of information and she heard one thing. She heard that she was going to have a baby – and she was still a virgin.

She didn’t focus on the fact she would bear the Son of God … the holy one or that God would give him the throne of David … a kingdom with no end.

She focused on one thing.  The one thing that would impact her.

It’s so easy to miss the impact of the big picture by the one thing that upsets the quiet of our own little world.

Mary finally heard his words and realized that doing what God called her to do was more important than her own worries.

December 10 – Luke 1:21-25. Zechariah’s Silence.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


December 10 – Luke 1:21-25. Zechariah’s Silence.

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 

When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

We had a young man work for us at Insty-Prints who was deaf.  Since we wanted to be able to communicate, we hired a young woman to teach us sign language.  One evening I drove him home and he invited me to meet his roommates – both of whom were also deaf.  I walked in with him and though I could get through a conversation with him because he was very helpful and went slowly, when the three of them began communicating I couldn’t understand anything.  It was awful.  I felt like the outsider.

During those months that he worked for us, I gained a new perspective on someone who has difficulty communicating with the world.

Zechariah had absolutely no one with whom he could communicate.  He made signs and they got the basic gist of his encounter with the angel, but he was alone.

He went home and Elizabeth conceived a child.  Zechariah was probably communicating in basic ways with his family and the people in his community, but his thoughts and feelings were more than likely trapped within his own mind.

When Zechariah finally gets a chance to speak out loud again, he will have plenty to say.

December 9 – Luke 1:16-20. Please Believe the Angel.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


December 9 – Luke 1:16-20. Please Believe the Angel.

He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

I hate to admit how much I have missed in Scripture.  Every time I read it, I discover something new.  That’s one of the reasons I like to break passages up differently when I study.  The beginning of today’s passage startled me.

Gabriel told Zechariah that his son, who had yet to be even conceived, would bring back many of the people of Israel to God.  What a glorious responsibility!

The Israelites had moved far from God and they didn’t know how to return to him. Gabriel told Zechariah exactly how John would live out his ministry.  He would prepare God’s people for His presence.  What an exciting promise!

Zechariah just makes me laugh.  An angel shows up and gives him some incredible news and the one thing he can’t believe is that he’s going to be a father.

Imagine an angel showing up out of the blue to give you some news.  I can’t imagine questioning the news before I questioned his presence!

Gabriel simply identified himself and his task. Then he told Zechariah that his unbelief would cause his silence.

I guess the moral of the story is that if an angel shows up and tells you some news that seems unbelievable, it would be best to believe him.

December 8 – Luke 1:11-15. Your Prayer Has Been Heard.


December 8 – Luke 1:11-15. Your Prayer Has Been Heard.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.

We’d certainly like to think we would be prepared for God to actually show up, but the truth of the matter is, we’d be startled and gripped with fear.

Zechariah had entered the temple to do his duty in the past and nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened.  He knew that he was supposed to expect God to respond, but he was an old man and experience had taught him that life was what it was.  He would receive his glory from God when he saw Him in heaven.  Right?


Years and years of prayers had gone up to no avail.  But, now all of a sudden, Zechariah has an angel standing before him telling him that his prayers had actually been heard.

He was going to be a father to a son that would be a joy and a delight.  People would rejoice at John’s birth and before he was even born, the Holy Spirit would fill him.

That’s pretty amazing news.

But, that was only the beginning.

December 7 – Luke 1:8-10. The Worshipers Prayed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


December 7 – Luke 1:8-10. The Worshipers Prayed.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Imagine as the pastor of a church getting up to preach on a Sunday morning, knowing that everyone in the congregation was praying with you.

When I was growing up, Dad always went to the altar as the organist was playing the prelude.  He’d kneel in prayer for several minutes before everything began.  After he began doing this and months progressed, soon more and more people would join him at the altar.  Sometimes they were praying for their own needs, but more often than not, they were praying for the worship service.  Others were still gathering in the foyer, some were chatting quietly with each other in the pews, but before the service had even begun, prayers were being lifted up.

Zechariah had come in to the temple from his home out in the country.  The priest of Abijah’s division was chosen by lot to enter the temple and burn incense – an offering to God.  As the priest of Abijah, it fell to him.

There had to be some sense of anticipation every time a priest went into the temple while people were praying outside.  This time God was going to send an angel to give Zechariah some unexpected news.

What if you were to pray before and during worship every Sunday with an expectation that God was going to deliver some unexpected news?  How would that change your worship experience?

December 6 – Luke 1:5-7. Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


December 6 – Luke 1:5-7. Zechariah and Elizabeth.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

In 1 Chronicles 24, we find David dividing up the sons of Aaron (the Levitical priests) for service.  This was the order in which they would enter the Tabernacle for service.  Abijah was the eighth name – not terribly special, just one of those who served.

Zechariah was not a high priest, he was a simple temple priest, living according to God’s laws and doing what was right.  It wasn’t necessarily a requirement that a priest’s wife also belong to the tribe of Levi, she only needed to be Jewish, but Elizabeth was also from the line of Aaron.  Their child would be of the priestly line.

It’s so interesting to see how God prepared His people for the coming of Jesus.  God set up the original plan for the priesthood which would care for His people and now, when He was about to introduce His Son to the world, that introduction would come from a man who grew up in the home of a righteous and blameless priest.

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s case reminds us of the story of Abraham and Sarah.  When they were old, they conceived a child that was the beginning of God’s response to the covenant He made with Abraham.  Abraham had been promised that His descendants would be greater than the grains of sand, the stars in the sky.

Now, this older couple would conceive a child who was the one to point the way to the New Covenant.

December 5 – John 1:19-28. Change Will Come.


December 5 – John 1:19-28. Change Will Come.

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” 

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” 
He said, “I am not.” 
“Are you the Prophet?” 
He answered, “No.” 
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”  

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 

This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

We are rarely ready for changes that come into our lives.  Parents aren’t ready for their first baby (no matter how hard they try), I wasn’t ready to have a little kitten show up at my back door, you can’t prepare to lose your job or have your home blown away in a tornado or fields flooded by spring rains.

The world wasn’t ready for Jesus.  He was born 30 years before He began His ministry. His cousin, John spent time calling for preparedness.  Prophets had spoken of Him for centuries. Creation was groaning in anticipation.

The world wasn’t ready.

We want to be ready. We want our hearts to be prepared for the entrance of God’s Son, but we never are.  When He comes into our lives – everything changes.  Not only does it change in that moment, but the rest of our lives will be filled with change as He transforms us into the person we can be.

Make straight the way for the Lord.  Be prepared for change.  Be ready.

December 4 – John 1:14-18. Jesus Was (Is) Real.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


December 4 – John 1:14-18. Jesus Was (Is) Real.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

The Jews lived for centuries faithful to God.  They knew that Moses had seen Him, that Abraham had walked with Him, that Joseph had wrestled with Him, that the high priest each year entered his presence in the holy of Holies.  They remembered the stories of those who traveled through the desert with God among them as either a cloud or a pillar of fire.  God’s presence was real and had been made manifest to them.

Those stories are so far from our time period that sometimes they seem like stories told ‘round a campfire.

But, then … there is Jesus.  We are able to read the testimonies of those who walked with Jesus in the flesh.  They prayed with Him, ate with Him, celebrated with Him, hid with Him. They saw miracles and people being healed.  Jesus was real and tangible to enough people that we have their stories and memories written down.

Jesus was a real person.  He was seen by many.

John testifies to seeing Jesus.  He reminds us that Jesus Christ came from God.  He was with God. He was (is) God.  He has returned to God.  We don’t have to see God because we have seen the Son.

He transformed the memories of the early Israelites.   He transformed the Law and brought God’s Law to us in grace and truth.  He makes the relationship between God and his people – all people on earth a reality, a personal reality.

Through Him we receive God’s grace.

December 3 – John 1:10-13. Believe in His Name.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


December 3 – John 1:10-13. Believe in His Name.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

It’s difficult to imagine we live in a world that refuses to recognize its creator.  It really doesn’t matter what God does to show Himself to us, we still find ways to question whether or not He exists, don’t we!

We want to believe in Him, we pray for our faith to be strengthened, yet it sometimes seems easier to just believe we’ll handle things on our own rather than trust He’s got it.

Jesus Christ came on the scene and no matter what He did or said, people refused to believe that He was God.  It was as if they wore blinders.  He did amazing miracles in their midst and still they couldn’t seem to accept that He was God.

But there were those whose lives had been changed by Him, who saw Him clearly from the moment He crossed their paths.  Some became His disciples, others simply accepted the miracle of His presence and had their faith renewed.

Today there are some who see Him clearly at the moment He is introduced to Him.  Some accept that He is who He is and never question it.  Others fight with their faith until He makes Himself known to them.

Whoever it is that believes in Him – in all that He is revealed to be – become children of God. They are adopted into the Kingdom.

Today is the day to accept Jesus Christ, to believe in His name.

December 2 – John 1:1-9. Logos.

Friday, December 2, 2011


December 2 – John 1:1-9. Logos.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

Each of the Gospel writers had something different to say about the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry.  Matthew began his gospel with Jesus’ lineage tracing back to Abraham … the beginning of God’s covenant relationship with His people.  Mark begins with Isaiah’s words regarding the preparation of the world through John the Baptist. Luke tells the birth stories of both John and Jesus, affirming those stories with prophecies and prayers.  His lineage traces Jesus back to God, through Adam.

Then, there is John.  The most important thing in John’s Gospel is to show that Jesus is God. Jesus was the LOGOS – the Word.  The word ‘logos’ is defined as (read this carefully – it’s beautiful) ‘a communication whereby the mind finds expression.’

Read that again.  ‘a communication whereby the mind finds expression.’

When God thought about something – it was expressed through Logos – through the Word – through Jesus Christ.  That is a concept that destroys me every time I think about it. It overwhelms my senses and generally drives me to tears.

Jesus was with God – Jesus was God. He was with God in the beginning.  It was through Him – God’s imagination found expression.  Without Him nothing was made.  When God imagined life – it was given expression through Jesus Christ.  In Him was life.  A light to all humanity.  It shine in the darkness.

Jesus came to earth as an infant. But, the first time He saw earth was when God’s imagination created it and expressed it through Logos … the Word … Jesus Christ.

December 1 – Isaiah 11:1-9. A Shoot from the Stump.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


December 1 – Isaiah 11:1-9. A Shoot from the Stump.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

I probably could have stopped quoting scripture before the last paragraph, but it is one of my favorites, so at the beginning of December, it seemed like a good thing to do.

When you begin reading this passage, more than likely you recognize that Jesse is David’s father and these are prophetic words regarding the Messiah.  But, why would Isaiah speak of David’s father rather than David himself?

With David’s arrival on the scene of history, things really changed.  No longer were the Israelites a tribe of nomads, they were an organized group of people.  David built a palace and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem to reside.  He created plans for God’s temple and his son, Solomon, built the temple and placed the Ark in the Holy of Holies.  The Israelites had a stable home.

But, the shoot (Jesus) didn’t come just from King David, it came from Jesse, whose lineage looked back to the time of the Tabernacle, whose ancestors were among those who left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea.  The ‘shoot’ was not set as a plant in new, fresh ground, but came from one who had been part of the original recipients of the covenant.  As a ‘shoot’ of Jesse, Jesus revived that which had been old and dying, He breathed new life into the people of Israel.

The Spirit was with Him and through Jesus Christ, ultimate peace will be found.

November 30 – Hebrews 13:20-25. Equipped to Do His Work.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


November 30 – Hebrews 13:20-25. Equipped to Do His Work.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all.

I only have a couple of weeks left in my fall semester.  Soon, Hebrews Exegesis will be behind me.  But, I have learned a lot about an amazing book in the New Testament (and it has only taken me 3 ½ months!).

It is a difficult book to plow through without some assistance.  The author and audience continue to be a mystery to us, but we know that the readers of this letter were in danger of crossing a line that would move them far from God.  Faith is difficult sometimes, but the author of Hebrews offers many reasons why we should hold on to our faith, not the least of which is what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

Not only did He offer himself as the ultimate sacrifice, but he did so as the Son of God, superior to all of creation.

Just like so many in history, we face trouble and persecution from within and without – but faith is what helped them take each step and faith will help us as we continue our journey.

The covenant that God made with the Israelites in the Old Testament was transformed into the covenant He made with us through Jesus Christ.  The author pleads with His readers to follow after God, so that he can ‘equip us with everything good for doing his work and work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.’

November 29 – Hebrews 13:7-19. Pray for Leaders.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


November 29 – Hebrews 13:7-19. Pray for Leaders.

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. 
The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. 

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Remember your leaders and pray for them.

While this letter is asking for prayers for the author himself and those that work with him, it is not something we should take lightly.

When scandals hit – and they do all too often, we seem to take a certain amount of pleasure in a leader being brought down.  We might try to hide it and speak with pitying words, but we quickly justify our words with the behavior that brought them to this point, whether or not it has been proven.  We are absolutely certain that they deserve what has happened to them.

It happens with pastors, priests, political leaders, coaches, teachers … everyone.  It happens to us.

In high school, someone’s downfall might mean that we become more popular.  We might be proven right on an issue, but generally our stock goes up when someone else is destroyed.

In church or in the workplace, it is hideous to see, but the same type of thing happens.  We respond when someone’s awful stuff is exposed – they are destroyed and we quietly hide in the corner grinning because they will no longer be able to hold the power or prestige that had followed them.

We don’t often identify with the one whom God calls to be a servant.  We preach those words, but we want to ensure that everyone else is ready to be a servant so that we can be in power.

In God’s kingdom, though … we are each called to support and pray for those who are in leadership.  Now that doesn’t mean we only support and pray for those who are in leadership in our small group – it does mean that we do so for everyone, no matter who they are.  We are to care for, pray for, support and extend our confidence to those in authority – rather than wait for them to be exposed for a mistake or a sin.

Pray now.

November 28 – Hebrews 13:1-6. Love One Another.


November 28 – Hebrews 13:1-6. Love One Another.

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 
         “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  

So we say with confidence, 
         “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” 

The last chapter of Hebrews is filled with the author’s closing words.  It seems he has a lot to say before he goes.  Those for whom the letter was intended are in danger of turning away from a relationship with God found in Jesus Christ and moving back to something that they can control – a sacrificial system whereby they simply take an animal to the temple and call it good.  They don’t want to work on their relationship, it might just be too much trouble.

He has moved back and forth from encouragement to harsh words. In the end, he just wants them to remember what God has called them to do.

Love each other. Take care of each other. Take care of those who need you.  Be content. Trust God.

These are things we still need to do today for the world to see that Christianity is a good thing.  They don’t need to hear us delivering morality lectures and see us living lives with hidden ugliness.  They see through all of that.  The look to find chinks in our armor when we set ourselves up as the holder of all morality.  We’re human. They will find it every single time.

What the world needs to see is that we love … unconditionally.  No matter who a person is, what they look like, how they live, who they love, who they vote for or whether they hold down a job.  We are called to love them with no strings attached.

Those who need us to care for them need that and that alone.  They don’t need lectures about how they should live or reminders of the things they screwed up that got them to this place.  They need us to care for them.

Keep on loving one another.

November 27 – Hebrews 12:22-29. Unshakeable Kingdom.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


November 27 – Hebrews 12:22-29. Unshakeable Kingdom.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” 

God calls us no longer to the foot of Mt. Sinai, where we stand trembling in fear before Him, but we are called to Mount Zion – the city of the living God – the heavenly Jerusalem.  There we will join the angels in joyful worship.

The day is coming when God will judge the earth.  There is not a single book in Scripture that denies that.  The earth will shake and all will be judged.  The author of Hebrews begs his readers to never turn from Jesus.

We know what the earth looks like when it is shaken.  We know the damage that can occur.  We’ve seen the countless lives that are lost and property that is destroyed.  We understand the long-term effects of this kind of terrible destruction.  The early readers of this letter understood those things as well.

After all of the natural catastrophes that have occurred throughout our lifetimes, can you imagine living in a place that will never be shaken?  Nothing will disturb the peace that comes from living within God’s kingdom.

I worship God now with reverence and awe for the things He has done and the unshakeable kingdom that will be.

November 26 – Hebrews 12:18-21. Terror at a Mountain.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


November 26 – Hebrews 12:18-21. Terror at a Mountain.

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” 

Throughout Hebrews, the author has reminded his readers of the experiences of the early Israelites of the first covenant … in the desert, building the Tabernacle.  He has called his readers to be smarter than the Israelites and to live as Christians because of the incredible sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

These verses remind them once again of the experience of those Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  They were frightened, knowing that the power of God was so great it even had Moses trembling with fear.

The Israelites were terrified of what the Lord might say to them from Mt. Sinai.  They were fully aware of what He could do with His voice.

I am thankful that we no longer have to be afraid of that mountain burning with fire.

November 25 – Hebrews 12:14-17. Make Peace.


November 25 – Hebrews 12:14-17. Make Peace.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

At least the author of Hebrews knew that it would be difficult for us to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.  He didn’t tell us that it was do so or die, he simply said, “Make every effort …” and so we must.

What are some ways that you make every effort to live in peace?

My mother abhorred outward violence.  I suspect that part of her reason for hating it so much was her realization that it rarely brought about anything but more violence and destruction.  She’d grown up as an only child and hadn’t experienced anything like a normal family.  Her children were NOT going to ever strike each other.  She and Dad did spank us from time to time, but we weren’t allowed to react in violence to each other.

I think one of her defining moments was early in her marriage.  None of us were old enough to have witnessed it, but I have the rocking chair she threw across the room at Dad when she was furious with him.  The only thing that happened was she broke the chair.  I suspect Dad laughed at her ineffective attempt at hurting him.  She had also tried to throw a toaster at him, but it was plugged in and dangled in the air harmlessly as she realized what foolish decisions she was making.  She had to fix the chair and apologize to Dad for her anger.  She had to clean the toast crumbs up off the floor and apologize to him again.  That was the last of her violence.  Dad just wasn’t going to put up with it.

Living in peace isn’t easy.  Surprisingly enough, as much as we want to live in peace with each other, we tend to make things difficult ourselves.  I’ve been known to provoke an argument or two in my life just for the heck of it.

As much as God wants us to be in relationship with Him, He wants us to be in relationship with each other.  We should treat each other with grace, we should live in peace.  It’s not an easy task, but sometimes God calls us to do difficult things.

November 24 – Hebrews 12:4-13. Discipline.

Friday, November 25, 2011


November 24 – Hebrews 12:4-13. Discipline.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, 

         “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

When I was a kid, there were a few words I really despised.  Discipline was one of those words.  When Dad spanked me because I had been bad, he told me that when I was older, I would love him for disciplining me.  When he forced me to stay on the piano bench until I could play a piece 5 times in a row perfectly, he told me that I was learning discipline.  In both of those cases, I would have much rather been off doing something else rather than submitting to discipline of any sort.

Dad always told me that it was for my own good and though I knew he was rarely wrong, I didn’t want to have that thrust onto my young life.  Fortunately, he was the dad and I was the kid.

God works the same way with us.  He brings things into our lives that make us grow – even when they’re painful.  He disciplines us when we move too far from His will for our lives.

Discipline is never an easy word to have to live with, but fortunately … He is God and we are not.  He sees the big picture for our lives and for the universe and works to bring us all in line with it.

Dad saw a bigger picture for my life than I did when I was young and knew what would be important as I grew older.

God sees the bigger picture for me as well.  I still don’t much like the word, but I’m old enough to understand its importance.

November 23 – Hebrews 12:1-3. A Great Race.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


November 23 – Hebrews 12:1-3. A Great Race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  Chapter 11 lists many who lived their lives by faith. They are among that cloud of witnesses.  They persevered through many things.

I am surrounded by a great number of people that have gone before me.  They persevered through many things and are among that cloud of witnesses.

We are called to run with perseverance a race marked out for us.

I’m not a runner. I tried several times in my life to enjoy running.  It didn’t happen.  But, I do know that race courses are marked and laid out to challenge runners.  No one offers a marathoner and easy run – if there were no challenge, the run wouldn’t be worth it.  When coming to the end of a race, a marathoner hopes to find those he or she loves cheering and encouraging. It’s always better to end a challenging race surrounded by people who think you are the best runner out there.

The race we are running, though, has been marked out by Jesus Christ.  He is always before us, encouraging us.  He’s already run the race.  He’s made sure that the course is perfect for us.  It isn’t necessarily going to be easy.  It will be a challenge.  Our lives are worth it.

At the end, when we have persevered through it and we are panting from a race well-run, Jesus will be at the right hand of the throne of God.  It is there that we will finally see Him face to face and He will say, “Well done.”

November 22 – Hebrews 11:32-40. Sacrificial Faith.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


November 22 – Hebrews 11:32-40. Sacrificial Faith.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

When I used to teach sixth grade Sunday School class, I was fond of telling the kids that they would never read a story so wild as the things they would discover in the Old Testament.  I still stand by that and I’m a huge science fiction fan.

These people lived through incredible events and faced them with courage because of their faith in God.

The funny thing is – sometimes we think our lives are difficult.  Then, we look at those around us who live in more difficult situations than we face and think that it isn’t all that bad.  But, there were those in the OT who lived through unimaginable times and they did it without the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  They did it simply because God called them to their faith and they believed in the relationship with Him so much they could do nothing else.

It occurs to me, though, that when we think our lives are difficult, things are only difficult because of our expectations of life, not because we are sacrificing something for our faith.

When someone cuts you off in traffic and you end up with a fender bender – it’s a trying situation, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with sacrificial faith.  When you stress about paying bills, putting a kid through college or worry about whether to purchase a new washing machine because the old one has died; it’s not about sacrificial faith.

When you are upset because someone has gossiped about you – it’s because your name was besmirched … not God’s.

When was the last time you had to sacrifice for your faith?

November 21 – Hebrews 11:17-31. Faith = Action.

Monday, November 21, 2011


November 21 – Hebrews 11:17-31. Faith = Action.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. 

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. 

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones. 

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. 

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. 

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. 

Have you noticed yet that each of these events is an active event?

By faith, someone did something.

They didn’t sit still; they offered, blessed, worshiped, spoke, hid, chose, left, persevered, passed through, marched, welcomed … action.

Faith takes us beyond what we are comfortable with and calls us to action.

What is God calling you to do by faith?

November 20 – Hebrews 11:13-16. Faith in Change.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


November 20 – Hebrews 11:13-16. Faith in Change.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

One thing you learn when growing up in a pastor’s family is how to move.  I learned how to pack a house, how to say goodbye and how to walk into a new situation and meet new people.

Moving away from friends was never easy, but one thing I learned was that you can’t go back – it’s never the same.  If you end up back in the same place, it had better be because you continue to move forward in your life, not because you are running backwards.

I always thought moving was exciting … there were new things to learn, new places to see, new friends to meet, new chances at life.  The thing I began learning as I grew older was that God was there before we arrived.

God prepared us and prepared a place for us within the community.

He goes ahead of us no matter what He calls us to do – to prepare a place for us.  Living by faith means that we count on this and can look forward to the transitions and changes in our life rather than fearing those things.

What is God calling you to do next?

November 19 – Hebrews 11:4-12. Heritage of Faith


November 19 – Hebrews 11:4-12. Heritage of Faith

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. 

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. 

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

The author of Hebrews takes us into the great Hall of Faith.

Even though these first men have died, notice how their faith continues.

Abel died, but he still speaks to us.

Enoch was taken away, but he believes that God exists and will reward those who earnestly seek him.

Noah became heir of the righteousness.

Abraham produced descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

How will your faith continue?

I look back through my father’s genealogy and find a heritage of faith.  His father was a pastor his mother was an incredible Christian woman.  There was no one more loving and forgiving than that woman and she had a lot of children to love and a lot of hurt in her life that she quietly forgave.

She was so forgiving that it drove her children crazy, but she refused to live with anger in her life.  Her faith in God’s hand on her life was greater than anything else in this world and that faith was what supported her in everything she did.

Her parents were strong people of faith and that faith went back through the generations.

Even if you can’t look back through generations of faith in your family – what are you teaching your children and grandchildren?  Will they be able to look at you and mark events that changed your lives due to your faith?  

November 18 – Hebrews 11:1-3. Confidence. Assurance.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


November 18 – Hebrews 11:1-3. Confidence. Assurance.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. 

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

It really is fun to dig into the minutiae of scripture sometimes.  In the case of Hebrews, the author was quite bright and had an amazing grasp of vocabulary and language.  He used words that we don’t see in any other book of the New Testament.

But, in these two verses we see him do something a bit subtle.

In the first verse he describes faith as having assurance in what we do not see.  This is a commendable thing.

He continues the concept of seeing and not seeing throughout the third verse.  God made something visible out of the invisible.  There was absolutely nothing to see when God was ready to create the universe because nothing existed.

God couldn’t see anything … yet He created the universe.  We can’t see God … yet we must have faith in Him and have assurance that He exists.

This concept is important.

The Greek word for ‘world’ or ‘universe’ is generally ‘kosmos.’  Of course you recognize that word.  But, in Hebrews, the author uses a different word (aeon) – or one that we would recognize as ‘eon.’  It means ‘through the ages.’

The author used it both in this instance and at the beginning of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:2), in writing of the entirety of the universe – in both space and time.  Interestingly enough, He considers God to be continuing His creation … it encompasses all of space and time.

This author loves language, the study of using language, rhetoric and has an amazing vocabulary.  It would have been fun to get to know him personally … he challenged his readers to step outside their regular world and understand God in a big way.