God Has Made You an Heir

 

galatians03v23to29_2016

Numbers 6:22-27

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:15-21

Psalm 8

 

Today, when a rich person dies, she might leave all that wealth to sons and daughters, or just as likely, the family dog. We have all heard of wills that seem outlandish.

But in ancient times, the wealth went to the sons, generally two-thirds for the eldest son and one-third for the other sons, to be divided equally. It was rare in Jesus’ day to give it all to the eldest son. It became common in later days in Europe.

Notice that none of the sons had to do anything to qualify themselves to receive the inheritance. This lack of qualification is the background for understanding our status as heirs of God.

I think we need to go back to the end of chapter 3 with verse 23 of Galatians and read the setup for today’s passage. Paul is explaining the power of the Messiah to take us from children to adults in our relationship with God.

 Before the coming of faith we were all imprisoned under the power of the Law, with our only hope of deliverance the faith that was to be shown to us. Or, to change the metaphor, the Law was like a strict governess in charge of us until we went to the school of Christ and learned to be justified by faith in him. Once we had that faith we were completely free from the governess’s authority. For now that you have faith in Christ you are all sons of God. All of you who were baptised “into” Christ have put on the family likeness of Christ. Gone is the distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female—you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, you are true descendants of Abraham, you are true heirs of his promise.

But you must realise that so long as an heir is a child, though he is destined to be master of everything, he is, in practice, no different from a servant. He has to obey a guardian or trustee until the time which his father has chosen for him to receive his inheritance. So is it with us: while we were “children” we lived under the authority of basic moral principles. But when the proper time came God sent his son, born of a human mother and born under the jurisdiction of the Law, that he might redeem those who were under the authority of the Law and lead us into becoming, by adoption, true sons of God. It is because you really are his sons that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts to cry “Father, dear Father”. You, my brother, are not a servant any longer; you are a son. And, if you are a son, then you are certainly an heir of God through ChristPhillips

That is what the shepherds witnessed to. We no longer need fear that we are not good enough. God loves us no matter what we do or fail to do. We are His sons and daughters. We stand before him as equals in every way.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:

The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peaceKJV

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

A Child is Born

img_6862

Christmas

Isaiah 9:2-7

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

Psalm 96

 

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. NIV Handel

In last week’s lesson, we read that God promised Immanuel. In Isaiah 8:8 we read of a flood that would cover the lands of Judah’s enemies and that, Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, ImmanuelNIV This identifies Immanuel as the Messiah who would be the salvation of God’s people.

The reading today is more specific in identifying the One to Come as having four powerful names.

Despite that prediction, when he was born, and the shepherds received their sign, the sign was to find a baby all bundled up. In those days, all babies were bundled in blankets. But there was one more part of the sign—the baby would be in a manger. Again, in that time the manger was a handy place for a newborn to sleep as it was inside the house with the animals on one side and the people on the other.

The true importance of the sign is that the Messiah came in a most humble way. Many predictions of the Messiah charging in on a white horse were accurate, but only for his second coming. For now, the baby born in a common way with a common name would live a short thirty plus years demonstrating how to love.

As Titus wrote, For the grace of God, which can save every man, has now become knownPhillips

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Immanuel

christmas-1443627-1918x852

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-16

Romans 1:1-7

Matthew 1:18-25

Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18

 

Isaiah is the key to understanding the theme of these readings. We Christians tend to get excited at Christmas time about verse 14, especially while listening to The Messiah. But we do the passage an injustice when we only read, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. KJV

Today’s reading is plucked from the midst of a 12-chapter story line in which King Ahaz and his people become more hardened against God. The message that Judah would become captives has been delivered, but Ahaz refuses to believe the word of God.

We read at the beginning of Chapter 7: Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. NIV Without getting into all the international intrigue, Ahaz and the people gave up before there was even an invasion.

God sent Isaiah to speak with Ahaz and gave him a speech to give to the king. At the end of the speech, God’s words were: “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. NIV

God, not willing to give up, spoke again through Isaiah. This time he said, “Ask for a sign from your GodMSG Ahaz refused God. Even as God pleaded with him, the king would not turn to God.

With God’s presence, Isaiah said: the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name ImmanuelKJV

The only request God made of Ahaz was to have faith and to trust God. But the king turned so far away from God that he forced the Temple priests to make daily sacrifices on a pagan altar inside the Temple.

In spite of the continued decline of Judah and their eventual exile to Babylon, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, became part of the long list of scriptures promising the coming of the Messiah. When Joseph was told by the angel to name the baby Jesus (Yeshua), thousands of baby boys had received the name and hundreds more born later carried the name as well, all hoping that their Jesus would be the promised Messiah. The name was so common that five High Priests carried it. The Jewish historian Josephus includes lives of twenty men with the name in the first century. In Col. 4:11 we meet Jesus Justus and in Acts 13:6 Bar-Jesus. Numerous tax documents have survived the centuries, and the name Jesus is common. Even Barabbas seems to have been Jesus Bar Abbas.

But there is only one Jesus, Son of Man, Son of David, Son of God, Messiah.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Joy

girl-797837_1920

Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 35:1-10

James 5:7-10

Matthew 11:2-11

Psalm 146:4-9

 

The words of Isaiah: Those ransomed by Adonai will return and come with singing to Tziyon, on their heads will be everlasting joy. They will acquire gladness and joy, while sorrow and sighing will flee. CJB

Isaiah lived and prophesied in Jerusalem after the Assyrians defeated the Northern Kingdom and about a century before Babylon defeated the Southern Kingdom. In part, his words speak of the time when God’s people will be able to return to the homeland from their captivity. But mostly he speaks of the end times when the Messiah will return, the New Israel and the New Jerusalem will descend to replace the old, and God’s chosen people will arise and populate the new City of God.

Until that day comes, we can live in joy knowing it is a sure thing. Be patient, then, my friends, until the Lord comesGNT James continues with the illustration of a farmer waiting for his crops. Like the farmer, we must wait through hard times; powerful storms, insects, molds, rodents, birds, and even those early and late rains which are sometimes too little or too much. We face threats every day and some day’s disaster strikes.

Yet, James, and God, would have us be patient. So must you be patient, resting your hearts on the ultimate certainty. The Lord’s coming is very nearPhillips

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,

    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous
NIV

 

It is easy to have joy in the good times. Praise God in the bad days.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

The Root of Jesse

tree-stump-1524490_1920

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

 

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

Jesse, the father of David, is used by Isaiah as a stand-in for King David. Jesse was not a king. By referring to David in this way, we see that David did not inherit his monarchy. God chose him to be king. Isaiah is saying that the Messiah will be both inherited and chosen. There were thousands of David’s descendants, but only one became the Messiah, and then a thousand years after David.

The man we know as Jesus, Yeshua, fulfilled every prophecy of the Old Testament. He was the new Adam, the new Abraham, the new Isaac, the new Jacob, the new Moses, the new Elijah, as well as the new David.

Still, while he came to live on earth as a king, he also came as a servant king. He did not seek power or the trappings of power. He remained common and humble. He dedicated his ministry to helping people. In Matthew, chapter 11. when John the Baptizer was in prison and sent his disciples to ask, Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?” CJB Jesus sent this reply:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side
MSG

The Old Testament promised the Messiah would do all those things.

I am not of the root of Jesse, nor was I born to be a king. But I have been grafted into that root, and as a child of the King, I can do no less, and no more, than King Jesus did while he walked with us.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence