Christmas and Family

I have heard it said that Christmas is about family.  

I know it is about so much more than family and friends but over the last two days, but other the last two days I have been reminded of the importance of family as it relates to Christology (the doctrine of Jesus Christ) and hamartiology (the doctrine of sin).

Jesus' genealogy shows us that he was born in the flesh. "God himself embodied the same frailty and helplessness that every single one of us did at birth" (Mathis).

The genealogy also shows us our sinfulness.  John MacArthur's "Knots in Christ's Family:  Untangling the Lord's LIneage" article reference to Matthew 1's genealogy as a "Chronicle of God's Grace."

Today, this Sam Allbery quote came up in my Facebook memories.  "Matthew's genealogy includes the outcast, scandalous, and foreigner.  The family Jesus comes from anticipates the family he came for."

And finally, I heard this beautiful song entitled "Christ," which contains the entire Matthew 1 genealogy. Don't let that description cause you not to listen.  The beautiful accompaniment starts very simply and as they draw nearer and nearer to Christ, the music becomes fuller and fuller.  Check out the video and other genealogy resources at


Dec 24 2020

The Day Heaven Kissed Earth

The eternal Word—the golden Son of heaven—humbly and willingly took up our comparatively lowly humanity, without ceasing to be God, and entered into the created realm, coming to earth as one of us.

The meaning of Christmas is not just that he was born among us, but that he came to die for us. He came to secure for us eternal saving benefits. But there’s more.

The deepest significance of Christmas isn’t just that Jesus came to save us, but that he is who he is. The great treasure isn’t what the magi brought but the one held in Mary’s arms. The surpassing value of Christmas isn’t finally knowing ourselves to be saved but knowing the Jesus who saves us.

Father in heaven, as the psalmist wrote, there is fullness of joy and pleasures evermore at your right hand—where now sits your Son. No one satisfies our soul like you, in the person of your Son. You made us for yourself. Give our souls rest this Christmas, and forever, in Jesus. In his name, we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 24 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 23 2020

The Festivus Miracle

The best answer to the Christmas mess... is clarity about the true miracle of Christmas: that God himself, in the person of Jesus, took a true human body and a reasonable human soul (as the ancient creed puts it) so that, fully God and fully man, he might bring us humans from our mess to himself.

Father, with Christmas now just two days away, renew our focus. May this Christmas not be a lost opportunity. As we gather with friends and family, help us to make the most of this occasion by commending and celebrating your Son. He is the great gift of Christmas. Thank you, Father, that you gave your own Son to dwell among us and die for us. And that you raised him. There would be no salvation, and no true comfort and joy, apart from your living Son. In his name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 23 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 22 2020

 Swaddling God

[His swaddling cloths] are a mark of the commonness of his newborn humanity. God himself embodied the same frailty and helplessness that every single one of us did at birth.

“The arrival of the incarnated Son of God,” comments Bock, “is a study in contrast between how God did it and how we might have done it” (p 86). This indeed is the Christmas we didn’t expect. From the virgin conception, to the parents of lowly estate, to the little town, the undignified visitors, and now the manger, God does it like no human would have planned.

Father in heaven, what humility, what condescension your Son embraced to take our humanity! From the beginning, one humbling restriction after another formed and shaped his human life, as they do for ours. So, Father, here at Christmas, in remembering his infant binding, we also look to his adult binding at the cross, and we glory that he endured the chains and nails, and shed his grave cloths, for our sake. We are his, and he is ours. Draw us all the nearer to our Lord as we draw near the end of Advent and the arrival of Christmas Day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 22 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 21 2020

 Loving Hard People At Christmas

When we enjoy God and his Son as our great possession, we are finally free to surrender our small, private enjoyments for the greater enjoyment of meeting the needs of others and pointing them to our treasure.

The call to look to the interests of others, to gladly spend and be spent, and to remember our better and abiding possession is not a call to give up true Christmas joy but the opposite—to truly taste the depths of delight that God himself came to bring.

Father, help us to forget self and embrace the greater joy that comes with self-sacrifice for the good of others. At Christmas, of all times, we need to remember that love “does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Fill us with satisfaction in your Son and your mercy, and make us instruments of your grace to others, especially those nearest to us who can be the hardest to love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 21 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts


Dec 20 2020

Words Are the Greatest Gifts

When we stay quiet about what makes us happiest, we don’t preserve our happiness. Hearts don’t stay full by us keeping the lid on them. Our joy dwindles when we stay quiet. But when our joy inspires us to expend energy to express it in understandable words—which can be hard work—our joy actually ripens, deepens, expands, and “completes the enjoyment.” Giving ourselves to the effort it takes to carefully say it (or write it) both sweetens our delight and makes it more contagious. Others can share in it when they hear about it.

Even more valuable than anything we can wrap in paper is the joy we can capture in words, whether spoken or written, to help fill others with the sweetest delight a soul can taste: Jesus’ own fullness of joy.

Father in heaven, this Christmas make our words your means of joy. Keep us from souring the great occasion of Christmas with the lingering discontent in our souls. Grant instead that the joy in us, through Christ, would rise to the level of sweet, encouraging, upbuilding, hopeful words. Make our mouths to be foundations of contagious joy in Christ this Christmas. May Jesus be honored in our words, and may the hearts of our friends and family be enriched, rather than encumbered, by the things we say. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 20 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts


Dec 19 2020

Christmas Tests Our Treasure

In the end, as cheerfully as we may give, we cannot outgive the truly cheerful Giver. Willingly, he gave his own Son (John 3:16; Romans 8:32), as he had decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion but with overflowing joy. 

God loves cheerful givers because he is one—the supreme one. And every gift we give in Christ is simply an echo of what we have already received and of the immeasurable riches to come (Ephesians 2:7).

Consider three truths for Christmas spending and year-end giving:

  1. Money is a tool that can be used for long-term Godward goals, not just short-term selfish purposes.
  2. How we use money reveals our hearts.
  3. Surplus and sacrifice vary from person to person.

Father in heaven, here at Christmas save us from the heart of Scrooge and make us more like you. You are truly the ultimate Giver. Christmas expresses your stunning generosity. You gave your own Son to the constraints and miseries of our humanity and world. And what love you have demonstrated in history, for all to see, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So, Father, bend our hearts to be more like yours this Christmas. May we know, as never before, the heights and depths and riches of the blessedness of giving. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 19 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts


Dec 18 2020

Christmas Doesn't Ignore Your Pain

Christ did not come to put on a show or make a cameo appearance in history. He came to bring life to the dead, to rescue the perishing, to heal the sick, to destroy the works of the devil.

Christmas doesn’t ignore our many pains; neither does it bid us wallow in them. Christmas takes them seriously—more seriously than any secular celebration can—and reminds us that our God has seen our pain and heard our cries for help (as in Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-9; 6:5), and he himself has come to deliver us.

Father in heaven, in our toughest seasons of life, it’s good to know that you’re not pressuring us to feign merriment. You see our pains. You hear our cries for help. And what greater demonstration of your care and concern could we have than that you sent your own Son into our world of sin and chaos and frustrations that first Christmas to come to our rescue? O Father, in our sufferings and stress, grant that we do not ignore the great display of your love in sending your Son to die for us. Touch our souls this Christmas. Show us that real joy is possible, even in the midst of pain. Give us a glimpse and foretaste of the glory to come. In Jesus’ healing name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 18 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts


Dec 17 2020

Learning the Habit of Christmas

An important part of practical redemption and holiness, by the power of the gospel and God’s Spirit, is the creation, over time, of new habits—daily habits of hearing God’s voice in his word and having his ear in prayer and walking with him in glad obedience; and weekly habits of belonging to and gathering with his body in worship.

Father in heaven, how marvelous that your people waited centuries, and yet here we are, in the age of the Messiah, conscious of your grace and your grand design to visit us in the person of your Son. Rekindle our awe in this final week before Christmas. The incarnation of your Son is truly awe-inspiring. Keep us from being steamrolled by secular assumptions and patterns. Inspire in us fresh initiatives and habits to remember what’s at stake and who we celebrate in these precious days. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 17 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts


Dec 16 2020

You Were Made for Christmas

God himself arrives not only to save us from sin and death but to rescue us for himself.  Christ comes and will pay the ultimate price in suffering and death "that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18) and that risen he would be our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4).

Jesus himself is the great joy that makes all the attendant joys of our salvation so great.

Father in heaven, we acknowledge that the great joy of Christmas is Christ himself, and we marvel that such joy in us is not icing on the cake or some added extra, but the live concern of God Almighty. With all your heart and soul, you see to it that the souls of your people are satisfied in your Son, to the glory of his name. Exalt him in us this Christmas. Satisfy our thirsty souls in him: not just in his salvation but in your Son himself. We receive him as the great gift of Christmas and gladly declare that we were made for him. In his precious name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 16 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 15 2020

How God Became a Man

That he would send his own Son to live and mature and labor in relative obscurity for some three decades, before “going public” and gaining recognition, has something to say to us about the dignity of ordinary human life and labor—and the sanctity of slow, incremental growth and maturation.

Father, grant that we do not begrudge you the glory of our long, arduous maturation processes. As we stumble, and even flounder, in our awkward stages and hardest moments, we are tasting the growing pains that your Son knows well. And he stands ready to help us persevere until your process is complete. So we lean on Jesus our brother and the power of your Spirit, who upheld him. Show us yourself, and your Son, in our growth in favor with you and others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 15 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 14 2020

 God Grew Up In a Forgotten Town

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? The answer to Nathanael’s question is an emphatic yes. And not only good but the greatest. And because our God loves to produce his best in the places we least expect, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised when he makes the forgotten places in our stories into his chosen channels of our greatest good. 

Father, we believe you are sovereign over, and present in, the most modest and uninteresting aspects of our lives. Forgive our disdain for the things you have ordained for us. Banish from us any lust for the limelight that would send us running from our Nazareth, prematurely angling for Jerusalem. Father, grant us the faith and patience to live with joy in the callings you’ve given us, as we marvel at the faith and patience of your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 14 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 13 2020

Jesus Obeyed His Parents

[Jesus] own self-humbling—which began in coming as an infant and now extends in submitting to his parents—will culminate “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). 

Jesus’ highest and final submission was to heaven. Submission on earth, however proper, would not keep him from obeying his Father, dwelling in his Father’s house, or even parting from his parents for three days. His Father in heaven was the sole recipient of his absolute allegiance, even as his father and mother on earth received his real and substantial respect.

Father, we marvel at this “admirable conjunction” in your Son: fully God, yet fully man, and submissive to his human parents. Asking questions to grow in his understanding, and humbly formulating answers because you have spoken. Father, give us, like your Son, the humility of submission to the human authorities you’ve given us. May we, like him, know that the path of glad submission is the path of full and lasting joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 13 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 12 2020

 Exceeding Great Joy.

At Jesus' birth, God is making wizards into worshipers.  If such sinners as these can approach the Christ and fall down in worship, so may all - so may we.

Father in heaven, as we come and we wait in this Advent season, we long to be appropriately joyful and triumphant. We do not want to be chipper or emotionally thin or triumphalistic. Nor do we want to underappreciate the glory of your own Son coming among us. Father, grant that we may be more like the magi—that we rejoice, and do so exceedingly, and with great joy. And give us, in such joy, rooted in the security of your own Son, the wherewithal to endure the waves of pain that will come or are already upon us. Great joy does not mean no sorrows. But it does mean you have prepared us for them and will keep us in them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 12 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 11 2020

 The Irony of the Epiphany 

The chief priests and scribes know the answer to the wise men's question "Where is the Messiah to be born?"  However, they did not act on this information.  Dirty shepherds leave their flocks.   Pagan astrologers traverse afar.  Meanwhile, the religious leaders, full of inside knowledge and Bible jargon and pat answers, don't bother to make the relatively short journey to Bethlehem.  Biblical training does not guarantee that our hearts incline toward worshipping the true king.

HERE is a song by Sovereign Grace Music entitled We Will Seek You 

Wise men saw a starry sign  

And left their homes behind for You

We too have seen the Morning Star

And hope has filled our hearts anew

So like the wise men we will come

Father, here, almost halfway through Advent, we check our hearts. Advent is not for the mere increase of knowledge. Advent is for adoring your Son. Remove whatever barriers in us are keeping us from falling to our knees with the magi. Forbid that we would stand idly by, puffed up in our seeming knowledge, yet unwilling to come and worship. Save us from the traps of man-made religion and its pride, and give us the humble desperation of worshipers who don’t pretend to be worthy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 11 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 10 2020

 We Three Kings from Orient Aren't.

God calls out for himself, and his son, worshipers from the most unexpected of places.  Not only would God graciously draw Gentile sinners to himself and permit them to come near to his son, but he would provide eternal salvation for astrologer-sinners like these three men, and sinners like us too, through the willing death of that very child they came to honor.

Father in heaven, we remember that we were at one time separated from Christ, alienated from your people and strangers to your covenants, having no hope and without you in the world (Ephesians 2:12). But now, O God, in Christ Jesus, we who once were far off, like magi, have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Christmas is a tribute to your grace, not our deservedness. Advent marks your coming in Christ to pluck us from our sin, and only then our coming to Christ to bow the knee in worship. He came not to call the righteous but sinners. We own our rebellion and many failures and gladly bow before your Son. In his name, we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 10 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 9 2020

Hark, The Long-Lost Verses Sing

Hark!  The Heard Angels Sing (verses 1 through 3)

Hark!  The Lost Verses (verses 4 and 5)

Come, Desire of nations, come 
Fix in us thy humble home 
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed 
Bruise in us the serpent’s head 

Now display thy saving pow’r 
Ruin’d nature now restore 
Now in mystic union join 
Thine to ours, and ours to thine 

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface 
Stamp thy image in its place 
Second Adam from above 
Reinstate us in thy love 

Let us thee, tho’ lost, regain 
Thee, the Life, the Inner Man
Oh! to all thyself impart 
Form’d in each believing heart

From Day 9 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 8 2020

The Arrival of Great Joy

Christ's coming is not simply an occasion for joy but for GREAT JOY!
This great joy is for all people.
This great joy endures the many trials and sufferings we face in this age.

At Jesus' birth, the good news of GREAT JOY was brought to the shepherds (Luke 2:10).

And the angel said to [the shepherds], “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.

When the wise men found Jesus, they rejoiced exceedingly with GREAT JOY (Matthew 2:10).

When [the wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

At the resurrection, the women departed the grave with GREAT JOY (Matthew 28:8)

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples

Right after the Ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem with GREAT JOY (Luke 24:52).

And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 

Jesus is our GREAT JOY, in the manger, on the cross, and at the right hand of the Father.  

Father in heaven, we thank you for the great joy of Christmas. The coming of your Son, for us and for our salvation, is indeed a cause for great joy—and he himself the greatest of all joys. Father, stir in us in this Advent season a joy in Christ that is increasingly high and wide and deep enough to endure the many trials and sufferings we face in this age. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 8 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 7 2020

Glory to God In the Lowest

Glory to God in the lowest.  The angels announced this good news of great joy to shepherds, men living near the lowest rung.  Jesus was not only announced to lowly shepherds, he came as a child to lowly accommodation.

"The shepherds returned, GLORIFYING & PRAISING GOD for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."  Luke 2:20

Christmas is not about the worth and goodness of humanity but the mind-blowing mercy and glory of God.

Father in heaven, make us more like these shepherds, glorifying you through our joy in you, and praising you through our words and witness in the world. We don’t want to pretend to be strong and wise and noble. We acknowledge our lowliness and marvel that you sent your Son from the heights of heavens to the lowliest of earthly accommodations to announce and accomplish this good news of great joy. In his name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 7 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 6 2020

The Word Became Flesh

Jesus is fully human.  Advent is a ripe opportunity for reflecting on not just the easy parts of the incarnation but also the uncomfortable and challenging aspects of what it means that our Lord is fully human.  Jesus took on a human body to save us.  

Father, these truths are past finding out. We follow where your word leads, but we don’t pretend that our mere human experience can make full sense of it. But as we look at your unique and spectacular Son, the one God-man, we marvel. What a Savior, brother, and friend. This man is indeed worthy of our worship, and as God, he will be the focus of our happy praise forever. In his majestic name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 6 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 5 2020

The Word Became Flesh

God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were sinners [the Word in the Flesh] died for us (Romans 5:8).  The Word became flesh and has two natures - fully human and fully divine.  Because Jesus is both, we have permanent proof that Jesus "in perfect harmony with his father, is unstoppable for us."

The hypostatic union is the personal union of Jesus’ deity and humanity—or the one-person union of his two natures.  It is immeasurably sweet, and awe-inspiring, to know that Jesus’ two natures are perfectly united in his one person. Jesus is not divided. He is not two people. He is one person—one Christ.

Father, we marvel at the singular person of your Son. He was fully divine, in infinite bliss with you, from all eternity, and yet he took on our humanity and subjected himself to the pains and miseries of our sin-sick world “for us and our salvation.” Your love for us in and through Christ is far beyond our finding out, but we want to know more. And what we do know is cause for great worship. We worship your Son, dear Father, and long to know and enjoy him more, and all the more in this Advent season. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 5 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 4 2020

What Child Is This?

We know the answer. It has been plainly revealed. 

God himself has become a man in this child and has come to rescue us. The eternal Word has become flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14).

He is God himself who became a man in this child and has come to rescue mankind.  The manger is for all sinners because the cross is for all sinners. 
The lowliness of the manger to
a life of lowly sacrifice with no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58) - and
finally to the ultimate lowliness:  when he was condemned unjustly as a criminal, stripped of his garments, and raised up to the most odious of public executions.  

None of us are too lowly or too exalted to bow the knee this Advent.

Father in heaven, we do indeed worship your Son. We bow before him in awe and wonder that he would descend from such heights and that he would go so low, to rescue us. We thank you that he came for both peasants and kings. None of us are too lowly or too exalted to bow the knee this Advent and forever. In Jesus’ mighty and merciful name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 4 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 3 2020

 The Glory of Jesus' Virgin Birth - Luke 1:35

Jesus' virgin birth highlights the supernatural, shows that humanity needs saving that it cannot bring about for itself, and puts God's initiative on display.

We marvel at his peculiar glory as the God-man, fully divine and fully human, conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Father, we adore your Son. We marvel at his peculiar glory as the God-man, fully divine and fully human, conceived of the Holy Spirit, in one spectacular, pre-existent, incarnate, and now reigning person. Father, in this Advent season, open our eyes to Jesus’ glory. As we turn and admire the diamond of his majesty, work within us new heights and depths of love for your Son. In his name, we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 3 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 2 2020

The Eternity Before Christmas - John 1:1 -  2.

The glory of Christmas is that it is not the beginning of Christ.  It is a becoming.  Jesus was not created.  Jesus came.  Jesus existed before the incarnation and before creation because of his divinity.  And Jesus is before, and better than, anything in this created world.

Father in heaven, may your Son assume his rightful place in our hearts this Advent. At this most material time of the year in our materialistic society, your Son’s pre-existence reminds us of his preciousness over every party and present, over all the trees and trimmings. He is before, and better than, anything in this created world. Cause our hearts to swell in this season at the gift of the person of Christ as our greatest treasure. In his precious name, we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 2 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 1 2020

A Christmas Carol for the Weak -  Luke 1:46 - 55

Mary's Christmas Song is about praising God because of what he has done for her.  This song is a celebration of God and his ways.  God humbles the strong and magnifies his strength by exalting the weak.

God is magnified in us not through human pride and confidence, nor through human wealth and strength, but through the humble heart that rejoices in.

Father, you humble the proud and exalt the humble, and we stand in awe. We recognize that the way we feel fragile, exhausted, and burdened this Advent may mean we are right where you want us. You sent your Son to help the weak and weary. Open our eyes to the weaknesses we try to ignore and cover over. In your Son, we are safe to own them and come humbly to you, to rejoice in you and your strong arms, not ours. Magnify yourself in us this season through our rejoicing in you and your Son. In his name, we pray.  Amen.

Quotes from Day 1 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HEREare other Advent posts 


Advent 2020


This Advent season my family is reading David Mathis' The Christmas We Didn't Expect.
To find out more about this book   go to https://www.desiringgod.org/books/the-christmas-we-didnt-expect

Starting on December 1st, I will be posting quotes from each day's entry.
I want to encourage each of you to do something this Advent.

Mathis writes, "Advent is not the mere increase of knowledge.  Advent is for adoring Jesus."
Come, let us adore Him, not just this Advent season but every day.

Below is a post originally made on 11.22.17 as the first of series of Advent posts related to a class I taught.

There are two different ways Advent can be celebrated.
Churches can have Advent readings and candles on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
Individuals can do Advent readings and activities beginning December 1 through December 24.

This word Advent has several definitions that will help you understand why using an Advent devotional/reading during this time of the year is helpful.  These definitions are taken from www.latin-dictionary.net/search/latin/Advent.  My thoughts are in italics.
  1. arrival, approach - Advent celebrates the arrival of the Messiah - Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.  It also reminds Christ-followers of the anticipatory hope we have that Jesus is coming again.
  2. invasion, incursion - Advent reminds us of our sin problem.  While Jesus did come as a baby in a manger, His purpose was to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  He did this through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.  He came for God's glory and so that we could have victory over sin.
  3. ripening - Of the four definitions given this is the one that might seem the most strange at first.  However when you consider one of Merriam-Webster's definitions of "ripening" - to bring to completeness or perfection along with Galatians 4:4-5Romans 5:6-8, it provides a great visual reminder.  The time was ripe for Jesus' birth.  
  4. visit, appearance - Advent is about so much more than a baby in a stable.  It is about the appearance of God's grace, Jesus, who brings salvation (Titus 2:11).  It also reminds us that Jesus will appear again (Titus 2:13).
We are not commanded to celebrate Advent throughout December.  However, we are told to consider who Jesus is and what He has done for us (Hebrews 3:1-2Hebrews 10:19-25Hebrews 12:3).   

HERE is an article that gives Seven Reasons to Celebrate Advent

Use this Advent season to do what we should be doing all the time, glorying God by making much of Jesus Christ.  

Advent Resources:
Dawning of Indestructible Joy - free ebook
Good News of Great Joy - free ebook and/or podcast
Come, Let Us Adore Him - book to purchase and videos
The Bible Projects four-part advent series - videos


Church 2 0 3

As this Church 2.0 study wraps upon, it is my hope that three essentials have been emphasized throughout the study.

The Word of God - God’s revelation of himself to the world.  In each study, we looked to the Bible to understand what the church is and does. 
Prayer – “The fruit of a relationship with God, not a technique for acquiring blessing.”  In each study, we took time to break into smaller groups to pray to God and for one another.
Relationships with God and with each - Relationships that bring glory to God and encourage others to do the same.  Each week, there was an opportunity to connect with others and there was teaching that stressed the reality that church is not to focus on programs but rather relationships with others. 

On this last night of the study, the focus is going to be on Paul's prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3:9-14 and what we can pray for our church.

In verse 9, Paul is thankful for God's people.  In Praying With Paul, D.A. Carson writes “How much would our churches be transformed if each of us made it a practice to thank God for others AND THEN tell these others what it is about them that we thank God?"

God, I am thankful for the people at my church. 
Thank you, specifically for ____who is a blessing because ____
Thank you, specifically for ____ who serves as a ____
Thank you, God, for using people to bless and encourage me.

In verses 10 and 11, Paul wants to be used by God to help the church grow.

Consider what Milton Vincent writes in the Gospel Primer.  "The more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died, the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine."

God, use me to help individuals and the church grow closer and closer to you. 
Use my time on Sunday mornings to encourage others to grow into the image of Christ.
Use me throughout the week to seek out opportunities to help our church grow.


In verse 12, Paul prays that God would make them increase and abound in love for the church and all people.

I preached a sermon on this passage at Oakfield Baptist Church, where Chris Minor, a pastor friend, serves.  You can listen to the sermon HERE

God, help our church grow in its love for other believers.
God, help our church grow in its love for the people of the community around us and around the world.
God help us pursue peace (Romans 12:18), do good (Galatians 6:10), be patient (Philippians 4:5), and show consideration (Titus 3:2) for the church and the world. 

Verse 13 - Paul wants the church may have established hearts that are blameless in holiness before God.  "There is no prayer we can pray for others more fundamental than this:  that God might strengthen their hearts so that they will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father on the last day.

Bottom line for this 3-week study: 
Ordinary Christians need to be growing as disciples and making disciples.  
An ordinary Christian is not merely someone who shows up to a Sunday morning service.



Church 2.0.2

During the second week, we continued looking at the church and the Bible with a specific focus on the ministry of Trinity Baptist Church.

Acts 6:1 - 7 has some practical tips for the church to implement.  The problem in this passage was a specific group of widows, Greek widows, were being overlooked.  The disciples' solution involved remembering their main tasks,  the Word of God and prayer, and equipped a group of men to help with the needed ministry to widows.  This ministry and serving focus led to the Word of God increasing, the number of disciples increasing, and the unlikely conversion of priests.  

The other passage we looked at was Hebrews 10:19 - 25 that says 
"Since we have the confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus and since we have a great priest over the house of God"
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith."
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope with wavering."
"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works."

"Not neglecting to meet together."
"But encouraging one another."

With the great things, rather the great person, JESUS, we have and the things we need to do - drawing near, holding fast, considering how to stir up one another, the "not neglecting to meet together" statement is so much more than just a command to meet one or two hours once a week.

And the ministry of the church is not for the purpose of entertainment or easy answers.

Ministries like children's ministry and youth ministry are disciple-making tools for moms and dads.  

Children's ministry and youth ministry provide disciple-making opportunities for children, parents, and ministry workers.

Biblical counseling enables people to know and find Biblical answers to real-world problems.

In thinking about the ministries and gospel work at Trinity Baptist Church, it is important for members to think biblically and remember some important statements used regularly.

The first statement is "joyfully pursuing the living God" which appears on the wall entering the auditorium and on the bulletin each week.  With eternal hope, disciples daily make decisions for the one who has changed his life.  This ongoing, joyful, spiritual growth relies upon God, moves towards God, for God's glory. 

The other statement is the description of the ministries on the church website.  "The church is for believers to be strengthened and that those strong believers are to reach out in the communities God has placed them."  Trinity's ministries are designed to educate and equip church members to minister in the communities where God has placed them.  Ministry that happens within the church walls should go beyond the church walls.


Church 2 .0.1

Church 2.0.1 Lesson Notes
Church 2.0.1 Lesson Video
Yet Not I  But Through Christ In Me Video

This first week of Why Church 2.0 we looked at what the church is in the Bible.

During the quarantine, there are many elements of meeting together that were missed.  Singing together, talking face to face with friends, playing children, and so many other things.  Being able to gather together now is about so much more than just meeting together in a building.  The true joy for the church is glorifying God as the church gathered together.  Making much of him and helping others make much of Him. 

As we meet together, we need to remember that the church isn’t a business where the goal is making money.  The church isn’t a store where you shop for what you want.  The church isn’t a school where the main focus is education.  The church isn’t a building where people meet together.

The church is a family (1 Timothy 3:15).  The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24).  The church is a building (1 Peter 2:4-5).  The church is a body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).  The common part of each of these images is there is a relationship between each part. 

The church is about relationships with God and with one another.

The first three chapters of Ephesians talk about God's rich mercy and love (2:1-9), Jesus' great sacrifice for our reconciliation (2:11-22), and the mystery of the gospel (3:1-12).  The last three chapters talk about various relationships. During this first week, we looked at Ephesians 4:1-16.  Ephesians 4:1-10 shows that God has given us unity and diversity through Jesus Christ for our growth and maturity.  Ephesians 4:11-16 shows the God has given us the body of Christ for our growth and maturity.  This growth and maturity is shown as a disciple grows more and more into the image of Christ.  

The Trellis and the Vine and The Vine Project are great resources to help churches think through the process they are using to develop disciples. 

The first resource is the Pathway for Disciple Growth (The Four E's of Engage, Evangelize, Establish, Equip).  Page 146 explains these terms.  

We could usefully identify four broad stages that people pass through on their road 'to the right': 

  • Some people are very 'far away' from Christ and his kingdom: they may not have ever met or spoken with a Christian person.  Very often the first thing they need in order to take a step to the right is to meet and ENGAGE with a Chrisitan. 

  • Other have met and engaged with Christians or Christianity in some way.  The next step for them is to hear the gospel:  that is to be EVANGELIZED. 

  • For those who have responded to the gospel in faith and repentance, their next step is to be ESTABLISHED as a Christian, to send down roots, and to begin to grow in godliness and Chrisitlikeness (a 'walk' that will continue for the rest of their lives).  

  • As Christians are established, and grow in love and knowledge, they will become increasingly concerned not only to step to the right themselves, but to help others do so in whatever they can.  They will benefit from being EQUIPPED to do so through teaching, encouragement, coaching, prayer.

The second resource is 4P's.  Disciple are made by the PERSEVERING PROCLAMATION of the word of GOD by the PEOPLE of God. in PRAYERFUL dependence on the Spirit of God (p. 83)


No Broken Bones

Over the last eight weeks, I have been thinking about and reading Psalm 34.  I have preached on Psalm 34:1-3 and wrote posts about several sections.  

This Psalm reminds us to praise God.  To praise Him continually.  To praise Him with others.
This Psalm reminds us to savor the Lord.  To enjoy Him.
This Psalm reminds us to watch what we say and pursue peace.
This Psalm reminds us that we need to cry out to the LORD.

Today is the last day of Psalm 34 on Fighter Verses

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

The last set of verses are 19 through 22.  There are some big promises in these verses -
deliverance of the righteous,
punishment of wicked,
redemption of God's servants, and 
freedom from condemnation.  

The promise that struck me when reading and thinking about this verse throughout the week is verse 20.  "He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken."  In a sermon on Jesus' crucifixion, John MacArthur makes reference to this verse.  "In perfect complement to the type of the Passover Lamb, with no broken bone, Jesus will not have a bone of His body broken."  (See also John 19:33, Exodus 12:46, and Numbers 9:12).

Because of Jesus, the perfect, once-for-all, sacrifice for my sin, I have true, eternal life with God that began the day he saved me from my sin!!

This song captures the greatness of this promise of no broken bones and the truth of John 3:16, Romans 14:11, and Revelation 7:9   


Cry for Help

Psalm 34:17, 18 

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord 
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Lord is near to the brokenhearted 
and saves the crushed in spirit.

These verses serve as a great reminder of humble prayer.
Here are some important points from these verses.
  • The righteous will face trouble and need help.
  •  The brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit need comfort that only the LORD can before (nearness and salvation).
The truly righteous, those who have been made righteous by God, understand that God has already saved them and blessed them beyond anything they could even imagine.  So crying out to him for help with the troubles of this world is an obvious decision, not necessarily easy.  

God is the faithful deliverer of those who are broken and humble.   
God not only hears the righteous' cry, but he also delivers the righteous one.