Matthew 3:16-17 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
What we see at the baptism of Jesus is the Father confirming the ministry He was sent for and the Holy Spirit empowering Him by coming upon Him. Jesus, being God himself, is at all times filled with the Holy Spirit, but the picture we get here as believers is that when God calls us to something, He empowers us to do it. We have the blessing of the Father, the authority given by the Son (Matthew 28:18), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to carry out God’s mission.
All three persons of the Trinity are at work as we carry on with what God has called us to do and each plays a part in their own respective roles along the way. As finite humans who are quite incapable of fully understanding how God works, we may never know exactly how God is working in a given situation, but we can know that He is working and that He is simultaneously acting in the distinct persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one and they equip us to do what we’re called to do.
Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Justification belongs to those that believe on Christ Jesus for salvation. If you’re saved, you were first called, but the thing is, not all who are called receive justification. How is this verse reconciled in light of the fact that not everyone who receives God’s invitation to salvation responds to it? The calling here can’t refer to the invitation, but must refer to an effective call of the Holy Spirit on the life of the one who would believe and become justified. Those He chose from the beginning are those who received this call. If you’re a Christ-follower, that’s you.
You’ve been chosen with a purpose and with that comes justification. In other words, you’ve been declared “not guilty” because Jesus took on your sin when He died on the cross. Your sin is forgiven. With that comes a promise.
You’ll be glorified on the last day. This is to say that you’ll receive a new body, a resurrection body. It’ll be perfect, free from all the flaws our current bodies entail. When God called you, He equipped you for faith and He justified you when you followed Christ. This is not without reward. When you get to see Jesus, you’ll be justified, sanctified, and glorified.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
Ephesians 6:18a praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
One aspect of Christian belief that does not often make its way into devotions or teaching on how to apply biblical truth to daily living is the Triune nature of God. We neglect to focus on the nature of God as three persons in one as part of our view of God in daily life. But it’s essential that we remember who God is as we seek to know Him more, as we petition Him, as we carry out His will.
As we pray, we are in fact engaging with all three distinct persons of the Trinity. We speak to the Father, asking Him for our needs to be met, giving Him praise, interceding for the needs of others, and giving Him thanks. We do this through the Son, who is our mediator. Were it not for the role of Jesus Christ standing in the gap between man and God, we would have no access to the throne and our prayers would go unanswered. Since God himself is spirit, we must act in the Holy Spirit to communicate with Him. All three persons of the Triune God are present and active as we pray.
We can’t neglect any part of God’s nature as we seek Him. If we forget that He is good, we will have an unnatural fear of Him. If we forget that He is all-powerful, we will tend to pray without expecting results. If we forget that He is all-knowing, we may fear that we won’t quite say the right thing and that God will answer our prayers incorrectly because we didn’t get our message across right. The fact is that God is all of these things and He is present in our lives as our Father, as Jesus the Son, and as the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28 has got to be one of the most quoted and memorized of all Scripture. It’s important to know that God purposes all things to work together for good. But when you pay close attention to the latter half of the verse, you see the need to read on.
Paul is stating that there are some who are called by God to fulfill His purpose. In context we learn that those who are called are also to be conformed to the image of Christ (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:14) in order to bring about that purpose. The work of the Holy Spirit within us brings about our sanctification which numbers us among the brothers/sisters of Christ.
So what’s our part in this? What application do we make out of this truth? Trust, for one thing. Do you trust that in all things, in all areas of your life that God is active and present, working things towards His purpose? Do you trust that He is conforming you to the image of His Son through the events and circumstances of your life? We’ve got to trust that, even when things aren’t going as we planned, our Creator chose us from before creation (Ephesians 1:4) to be part of something bigger than ourselves. His plan calls for the lives of HIs people to be transformed into the image of Christ and He brings that about one step at a time (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Did they know? Did the people sleeping in Bethlehem that night know that the baby being born in the stable was their King? Did the people staying in that inn where there was no room know that they were in the vicinity of the Savior?
Chances are none of them knew what was going on that night. The angels proclaimed their message to the shepherds we’re told, but no one else seems to receive this news. The shepherds of course immediately go to see the newborn, but it’s probably safe to assume that there were no other visitors that night. If only they knew. He was right in their midst.
But don’t we miss Him too? Jesus isn’t being born in a manger in our town, but He is evident around us and we sometimes still don’t seem to notice. He’s holding all things together (Colossians 1:17), not letting a single grain of sand fall out of place, and yet we go for sometimes long periods of time without even giving Him a second thought. Maybe the shepherds were chosen to receive the good news because they would listen and respond…
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
Why Jesus? What does it mean to name the child Jesus? Of all the things the Savior of the world could have been named…Jesus…
The Hebrew name from which Jesus derived is Yeshua, or as we would know it, Joshua. Yes, Jesus was a popular name and the Messiah was one of many. This is even more puzzling as to why He would be given a name that didn’t stand out, that is until you realize what the name means in the original language. Yeshua means “salvation”, and this should be no surprise in light of Matthew 1:21. The child promised to Mary was to be named salvation because He would save His people from their sins. Fitting.
But consider the other Joshua’s of the Bible. Joshua, son of Nun was the leader who delivered the people of Israel into the promised land. He won many military campaigns in the land of Canaan and was considered a godly man. He was, for all intents and purposes, a savior for God’s people. Joshua was salvation. Maybe not as glorious in battle, but also used by God, was the high priest of the book of Ezra. Jeshua helped to rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem after God’s people returned from exile to their home land. He rebuilt the temple to reconnect the people with God. He made a way for them to seek after God.
And Jesus of Nazareth is the name above all names. The name bestowed upon Him is the one at which every knee will bow, on heaven and on earth, and under the earth. It’s HIS name at which demons tremble and it’s HIS name that every tongue will confess. He, Jesus Christ, is Lord of all. He is salvation.
Luke 2:8-10 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Why do you suppose the angels of the Lord would visit shepherds to deliver the message of the Savior’s birth? Of all the people who could have received that special message, God singled out shepherds who were out in the fields with their sheep. Why would He do this?
Shepherds were two things during the time of Christ’s birth: they were lowly people who weren’t very well respected, and they were fairly common. We read of several significant shepherds in the Bible (Moses and David among others), and Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd. This was definitely a thematic element of the story.
The common nature of the shepherds who were out in those fields tells us that God wanted everyone, even the lowest, most ignored people, to hear the Good News. He could have sent His angels to the King or the Governor, but He chose the common man. The commonest of the common even. The Savior came, not just for the respected and the religious (notice the angels didn’t visit the temple with their news), but for the any-man.
No matter who you are, the Good News of Jesus is for you. No matter how insignificant you are, He notices you and cares for you enough to pay the price for your sins so that you can have a relationship with God.
John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Was the world prepared for what it was going to encounter that first Christmas? For so long the world had been in darkness. Even the religion of those chosen by God had been corrupted into something other than what God had commissioned. John the Baptist was working to prepare people to turn their hearts back toward God. But did he even know what was to come?
In all that darkness, there was about to be light. Not just any light, but the true light, which enlightens everyone. Jesus was that light. The problem is, not everyone likes to be enlightened. Those who live in darkness often prefer the darkness and resent the light. They’d rather not have light shed on their sinful behavior and their sinful hearts. Jesus would shed that light and people hated Him for it.
The child born on that day in Bethlehem would be the One to conquer sin and darkness once and for all. Where His light is shone, there can no longer be darkness. He could have entered the world on a cloud, in a lightning bolt, or in a single flash of light, but He came as a baby. A precious innocent baby was born that day, and He would soon let His light shine. The true light.
Luke 1:16-17 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
Before there was Jesus, there was John the Baptist. There had to be. If Jesus had come into the world apart from the way being prepared for Him, the mission would have been compromised. The people were not ready for the Messiah, they needed someone to prepare them. John was that someone.
Long before John’s birth, there was a prophesy of the one who would come in the power of Elijah to prepare the hearts of the people to turn back to God (Malachi 4:6). John’s one role was to make the way for the Promised One, and then it was his time to decrease so that the Savior could increase (John 3:30). Because of the prophesies, John’s parents would have understood what the angel’s revelation to them meant. Their son would be the last prophet before the coming of the Christ.
In God’s sovereignty it just so happens that John and Jesus were relatives. The man who would declare Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) was His own kin. The baptizer who would watch as the Father and the Holy Spirit gave testimony about Jesus (Matthew 3:16,17) had affection for Him as family. Before Jesus could come, John had to come and get things ready for Him.
Luke 1:26-27 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
Why Mary? This is a question that some think is important while others brush it off as not important at all. Regardless of where you stand on that, Mary was part of a grand story and it was for a reason.
God is sovereign over all things and He provides a way for His will to be carried out. Long before John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Messiah, God was getting things in order. Mary was chosen specifically by God. There is no coincidence in regards to her being the one who would carry the Christ child in her womb. Mary was descended from the right line of Jews to fulfill the prophesies of old. Not only her, but Joseph as well.
Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He was to be born unto a virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14). He was to live a life that could only have happened exactly as it did if Mary was His mother. Being engaged to Joseph meant that Mary had to make a journey to Bethlehem in Judea for a census at the time of Jesus’ birth. This was God’s provision for the prophesies to be fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Mary was chosen for many reasons, but it had to be her. It had to be her that bore the Son of God into the world.