Tag Archives: Christmas
This week of Jesse Tree has primarily been in reading about some of the prophesies of Jesus. Knowing how he has fulfilled them and will one day bring it all to completion has been exactly where my heart has needed to land all week. I remember saying to myself on Tuesday, the 15th just before going to bed “I need the Prince of Peace today.” It was a day that was triple booked. I had crawled into bed that morning near 1 AM after finishing up cookies for an exchange, rounded up kids for school, and as I was leaving for the day, received a call that made me cancel the day to check on my MIL. Needless to say I spent the rest of the day at the hospital with her. When they got her into ICU I finished the day out with running kids, a band concert, more running, last-minute shopping, attended a party briefly that was supposed to be at my house that night (thankfully my dear friend had it at her house instead), forgot my wallet, scrambled to trace my steps to locate it, and more running around. When the day was done, so was I.
Immanuel: God with us. It was super crucial for me this week to find the time to reflect on what He promises for those who trust in him. I cannot even imagine doing life without the His presence.
Day 13: Prophecy of the Root of Jesse: Day 13 and 14 both fall within the same passage, so their illustrations were a kind of 2-fer.
Day 14: Prophesy of the Lion and the Lamb
Day 15: Prophecy of the Prince of Peace: This had to be a simple design for me!
Day 16: Prophecy of the Good Shepherd: I was challenged in this illustration because art is not really a strong thing for me, but I wanted a more realistic drawing of the Shepherd watching over his flock. It was inspired by a painting I saw on Pinterest.
Day 17: Prophecy of the Suffering Servant: Another Pinterest inspired painting
Day 18: Promise of the New Covenant
Day 19: Prophecy of the town of Bethlehem: This illustration I had done some months ago while reading through Micah. It is also inspired from a painting I saw on Pinterest.
Already half way through the month and as we near the home stretch before Christmas I feel both relief and stress. Relief because of all the things that have occurred parties, decorating, Christmas shopping, and stress because of what is left to come. It’s nice, for me to take them time though, and adore the King as I study the passages for the Jesse Tree. These are absolutely some of my favorite stories!
Day 8: Moses and the Law:
The inspiration behind this was taken from Deuteronomy 6 where we are told the importance to impress on our children the law of the Lord and to follow Him with all our hearts. It is the 10 commandments written to look like a finger print.
Day 9: The Promised Land:
This past year, I had focused on the theme of God as our shield. This passage below has inspired me to take some time in 2016 to study the theme of overcoming. I guess it’s very similar, but I can’t wait!
Day 10: Ruth and Boaz:
Day 11: King David:
This was hard for me to choose, because 1 Samuel 17 is a sort of “Lesson for Life”. God doesn’t see things like we see things.
Day 12: King Josiah finds the scroll:
On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields. -2 Kings 25:8-12
Four kings after Josiah, the southern kingdom of Israel came to an end. The entire city was destroyed. Their sacred temple became ashes. The wealthy and healthy were carried off to exile, others died, and the rest were left as slaves of the land. They ignored the warnings given to them.
We don’t know much about what happened while they were in Babylon, with the exception of Esther and Daniel. We know that the people would have been mixed up, encouraged to start a new life. A melting pot of other conquered nations were brought together to begin again. The young, attractive, and intelligent were brought into the king’s service. First they had to go through training in how to serve the king properly.
young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. (Daniel 1:4-5)
This is when we are first introduced to Daniel and his 3 friends. Daniel and the friends didn’t want to eat the kings high fat, but most delicious food. They choose instead to eat vegetables and water. The guard was afraid that they wouldn’t be strong enough, but agreed on a short-term to allow them to follow their own meal plan. At the end of the time, they were still physically strong, so the guard decided to allow them to continue to eat as they choose. By not eating the king’s food, they were able to stick to the food recommended in the law of God.
This was their first bold move to stay true to the word of God, even though all seemed to be lost, but it definitely wasn’t the last.
It seems to me that Daniel had gone on to serve the King more closely, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego also became trusted leader within Nebuchadnezzar’s governmental officials.
Nebby (as I affectionately call him) had a huge statue made of gold, probably to honor his great accomplishments. It was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. He gathered all his officials to dedicate the monstrosity with some simple commands. Some music would play a lovely song, and then at the sound everyone would bow down and worship. If you choose not to worship the statue, then you would be killed. The music sounds, the people bow all but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
I would like to point out the Nebby couldn’t see everyone. It was some astrologers who brought to his attention about the 3 friends. I can’t help but to think they there were put off by the Jewish men. Perhaps they had gone through training with this guys, and had been watching how different they were. They were in Babylon, but had not blended in with the Babylonians.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:8-12
Furious that they didn’t follow his command, he goes to them and gives them a chance to defend themselves. “Is this true,” he asks. They are unswerving in their answer and decision. They knew God’s command to not worship any thing else. They knew that they were here in Babylon because of the people breaking God’s law. They didn’t fear death; they would only fear the Lord.
Now you may be wondering, where is Daniel? Did he bow to the statue? We don’t know. I think, since Daniel is the author, that he wasn’t with them, but remember how they got caught. Someone else (some astronomers) had told on these three young men. They were accused of the wrong. Perhaps where Daniel was, the people choose not to say anything. Maybe they wanted to see what would happen to the other 3 before turning him in as well. Of course this is just speculation.
When the 3 refuse to accept their second chance, Nebby is even more angry. No longer does he look at them with favor, but will make them (and anyone else like them) pay dearly. He has the furnace heated 7 times more than normal. The soldier tied the men up, fully clothed, and threw them in to the furnace. The fire was so out of control that some soldiers who were charged with carrying it out died as the 3 friends were thrown inside.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” Daniel 3:24-26
So 3 men go in to the fire. Nebby sees something that doesn’t seem quite right. He double checks with the advisers. “I see 4, not 3. And they aren’t burning up. They are erectly fine, walking around without their ropes, and not hurt.”
So who was the 4th person in the fire? I believe it’s one of two possibilities. The first is that this person is simply an angel sent to protect the men. Clearly, he isn’t human. He doesn’t come out of the fire with the other 3. The other possibility, which I think is more accurate, is that this person is The Angel of the Lord. As in, the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. He looks like the son of the gods, he is clearly quite different. There have been other times that God appeared in this form in the Old Testament.
The three men come out from the fire. Everyone is amazed at what they see. (I’m sure those astrologers were a bit afraid. They crowd around the three men to have a look for themselves. Not only have their clothes been unscorched, their bodies unharmed, but there isn’t even the smell of smoke on them. Their hair is still all there. It is truly an act of God alone. Why can God do such things? He made this world, he made the rules and laws of creation, but he doesn’t have to follow them. He is undefined by his creation.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
I would like to point one final thing about these three heroes. When faced with adversity they had a choice to make in their attitude. They knew that God had the ability to save them. They didn’t know how he would do it, but their conviction about who He is was stronger than the fear of death. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” In life, we will be face with trials and hard times. Maybe we will never face the threat of death, or maybe we will. No matter the situation, you can find assurance that God is unchanging. EVEN IF he doesn’t do the mighty thing that you need, the miracle, the amazing job, or notoriety you seek, he is still God and in control of your life. Choose to glorify him even in your trouble.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth. -Micah 5:2-4
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. -Luke 2:1-7
The name Bethlehem, literally means “house of bread”. It was a name of several towns in the area, which is even common for us today to find towns in different states with the same name. Miami, FL is nothing like Miami, OK. The people of Oklahoma don’t even pronounce it the same way.
The significance of the passage in Micah is that it names the specific town of Bethlehem, Bethlehem Ephrathah. This is the town that King David’s family derive. Other than David, the town is small and insignificant. It was a small town in the area of Judah, near Jerusalem, but in no way compared to Jerusalem’s significance. The Jewish scholars noted that this would be the town that the Messiah to come would be derived.
The first time this is noted is in Matthew. The entourage from the east arrived in Jerusalem in search of the King of the Jews. They meet Herod to ask for help finding him. They had seen a great star and traveled the distance to worship the newly arrived king.
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.’”- Matthew 2:3-6
The priests and teachers of the Law recognized the significance of the prophecy in Micah. Having this bit of information, Herod send the foreigners on to Bethlehem to find this new king. He had secret plans to take him out. (We’ll discuss this more in a couple of days.)
There is another time when the teachers of the law bring of the prophecy of Bethlehem. We find this account in John 7. It is during the Feast of Tabernacles (the same time that Jesus will later proclaim “I AM the light of the world.”). Jesus’ brothers tried to tell him to go to Jerusalem and “show off” his miracles. Jesus hangs back, and later goes up to Jerusalem. Half way through the Feast, Jesus begins to teach in the temple area. Naturally a crowd is draw, amazed by his knowledge and speaking ability.
As crowd mentality tends to do, things seem to turn bad. There are some that no longer appreciate what he is teaching, because it contradicts their comfortable religious apathies. Speaking to the leaders, Jesus questions why they are trying to kill him (although they can’t because it’s not quite time). The crowd is confused. Some think he’s talking to them and that he’s a little crazy. Others understand the seriousness of the situation- that the leadership thinks he may be the Messiah.
At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” John 7:26-27
As the situation intensifies the religious leaders begin to go into panic mode. The crowd seems to begin to piece together what Jesus us claiming- He is God’s Son, the Messiah. They must stop him. They try to arrest Jesus, but are unable. (verse 30)
On the last day of the Festival, the situation continues to intensify. Jesus makes a huge proclamation, to try and clear the situation:
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39
Jesus proclaims- I am the Messiah. At this the crowd is thrown into more confusion. Some hear what he is saying but don’t quite put it all together. They call him the Prophet, referring to the one before the Messiah (who was John the Baptist). Other have put it all together and understand. Jesus is the Messiah. Then there is some disagreement.
Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. John 7:41-44
There are some who believe that because Jesus was from the Galilee area, that the Bethlehem mentioned in the gospels was twisted later. They claim that he was really born in Bethlehem of Galilee, not Judea. They claim that the writers of the gospels changed the city to the one prophesied so that the prophecy would then have been fulfilled. I can’t help but think that this argument is invalid. Why would the writers of the gospels point out this same argument that even the people of Jesus time used. The people knew Jesus was from Nazareth, the Galilee area. That’s part of the confusion about him being the Messiah. The people (well, some of them) were familiar with the Messiah as to come from Judah. Jesus’ birth was unknown to them, and what they didn’t see was that the prophesy was correct and was fulfilled in Jesus.
So what is the significance of Jesus being born in Bethlehem of Judea, David’s birthplace? We have studied the covenant, or promise, that God made to David. God would protect his line for kings and would one day send the Savior from this line. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem not only fulfills the prophecy from Micah, but the other prophecies and promises made about David. Jesus is the root of Jesse fulfilled.
gather old family pictures, birth certificates, etc., Bible and ornament
Look together through pictures or other birth keepsakes. Talk about your children’s birth, memories you have, things you’ve kept to remember it. Read the Micah passage together. Explain the significance of Jesus’ birthplace. Not only was the Micah passage fulfilled, but all the prophesies about the Messiah to come. Pray together, thanking God for His word that is true.
Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:30-34
Jeremiah was the prophet know as the Weeping Prophet. He served the southern kingdom during the time from King Josiah (who we recently studied) through the time of the fall of Jerusalem. During his ministry, very few people listened to him. Instead he was mocked, tortured, imprisoned, and mistreated. At one point he is even carried away with other exiles to Egypt. He messages were mostly full of judgement and wrath to come for the way the people disregarded God’s laws.
God had established a promise with the people of Israel all the way back to the time of Moses (Deut. 6). Promises he made was an agreement to be kept, called a covenant. Some of the covenants that God made with people at various times were one-sided, like with Noah after the flood. Other people who God made covenants with were Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David.
To Abraham God made this covenant:
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3
He also made the same covenant to Isaac, and Jacob (later known as Israel). He would create a nation, a chosen people, and provide a place for them to live. The promise was then extended through Moses. They were to stop worshipping other gods. God would provide a sacrificial system for the people to follow as part of the covenant. They were to keep the laws and only worship God. In return God would take care of them, protect them, and would forgive their sins. If they broke the covenant, they would be sent away to exile.
It is on the heels of the exile that we find God foretelling of a new covenant to come. Under the old covenant, children would be punished for the sins of their parents. They were to make reminders of God’s law all around them to help them follow him more closely. Under the old covenant they would have to make sacrifices to appease the guilt of sin. But God had a plan in the works for something better.
No longer would the people struggle to follow and keep God’s law. The New Covenant would be different.
The New Covenant would begin with the sacrifice the Jesus made on the cross. The Old covenant had established that a priest would make a sacrifice once a year that would pay for the people’s sins.
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:11-12
Once the New Covenant was completed in Christ’s death and resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit to come as a seal of the New Covenant. I believe this is what Jeremiah is referring to in the prophecy above. No longer will we have to struggle to remember to keep the Law. No longer will we wonder or doubt. If a person has recognized the debt owed for sin and receives the forgiveness offered only through Jesus’ sacrifice, then the Spirit dwells within them. His job is to remind me of God’s laws and holiness.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Salvation is for all, not only the promised people of Israel. The people of Israel were to be a light to the nations around them. God was willing to accept any who worshipped him, but rejected the people who didn’t, even his own. The New covenant offers forgiveness of sins, something the old covenant could never offer. Now all peoples are under the same obligation. The new covenant begins with this command:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31
flour, tape, 2 dark-colored contraction paper or fabric, scrapbook paper pre taped to look like a cross the same size as the walking area, Bible and Ornament
Read the passage above in Jeremiah about the new covenant. Ahead of time tape off an area in your kitchen or bathroom that is longer than the distance your kids could jump (about 4 feet). Sprinkle flour all inside this taped off area, and place the dark paper at the other end. Explain that Moses gave the people of Israel the instructions for animal sacrifice. Although an animal was killed every year to wash away the wrongs they did, it was never a complete sacrifice. Have the kids try to get from one end of the flour to the other (where the black paper is) without getting flour on their feet. No matter how hard they try, they either can’t make it, or will step in the flour. The animal sacrifices never were enough. Jeremiah promised the people that a new Covenant was to come. With it, God would change their hearts. Cover the flour area with the “Jesus” paper and change the black piece to a clean piece. This time walk across, and you will have clean feet on the other side. Jesus sacrifice is the only one that can remove all our sins. Pray together, thanking God for the New Covenant. Then clean up the messy flour together.
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. -Isaiah 53
So far, all the prophecies that we have looked at with Isaiah have been positive. They have shown us the goodness of God or hope to come in Christ’s return. But absolutely none of that would be possible without the great suffering that Christ would have to go through, and I’m not talking about him dying on the cross alone.
Crucifixion was a masterful way to make people suffer. The Romans had mastered torture and utter humiliation well. It was a very common way to be sentenced to death in the time of Jesus. In fact, thousands of people had died on the cross. It’s not the cross alone that makes Jesus death redemptive. It wasn’t the hanging on the cross in front of huge crowds naked, or the suffocation for hours as he struggled just to take a breath of air. Neither was it the constant mocking of the crowd, the betrayal of his best friends, or the pure agony and suffering that made that cross so difficult.
The beatings he received before dying were not uncommon either. The soldiers who were in charge of beatings were professionals. They knew exactly how much to beat a person without killing him. They carefully designed their tools of suffering to inflict the most pain and damage. Thirty-nine lashes were a human engineering masterpiece. They could bring a person nearest to death without completely taking him out. Ripping flesh from all sides of the body. But again, it wasn’t the beating combined with the crucifixion that made his death glorious.
The suffering of the Servant includes these, but is much more. Jesus never came to live a good life. He came with the purpose of replacement. He laid aside every right that he had as God. Instead of being worshiped and honored, he was despised and rejected. Instead of his glorious presence being known, the bright illumination of his existence, he looked like an average, humble Jewish man. Instead of being honored and celebrated, he was oppressed and judged. This was just the beginning.
He is God’s Son and has never been anything put perfect, pure, and Holy. When God poured out his wrath for the sin of all man kind, how great the wrath, Jesus received every bit of hell and judgment that could be poured out. He separated himself with the nature of God, and took on the punishment of mankind. He was crushed and suffered great loss. When all damnation was poured out and the price was paid in full, Jesus breathed his last and died.
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
In the death of Jesus we have redemption from our sins, but that isn’t the end of what he did. Death wasn’t enough. We need more than redemption. Three days he laid dead. The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy is also seen in his resurrection.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
In his death we have redemption, but his life he gives us the power to overcome sin. No longer are we bound to the death grip of sin but have the victory to overcome. Paul explains it this way,
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21
We can overcome sin because as believers the Holy Spirit lives in us. Bettering our actions is not what life is about. Living as Jesus- honoring God, loving your neighbor- in all I do is what it’s all about. I am no longer bound to sin, but have the same power to be greater. The power that Jesus displayed in overcoming death is the power I have to overcome sin’s effectiveness.
Before Christ I could be a better person, but it was all about me doing it and for the purpose of my own glory as a good person. After the salvation through Christ, I am empowered through the Spirit, who draws me to him. It’s not about me being a better me. It’s about me being more like Jesus himself, and for no other reason than to bring glory and honor to His own name.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4-10
Gather a plate (I recommend a bowl for it’s concave shape), penny, small candle, glass with colored water, and something to light the candle Click on this link for complete instructions. Bible and ornament
Read the passage together. Explain to your family how this was written over 600 years before Jesus was born. It describes Jesus death and why he came. He came to pay for the debt we owed God for our sin. Follow the instructions linked above to illustrate how Jesus took away our sin. He did it, not by removing it, like a stain, but it became his burden that he had to be punished for. Pray together thanking God for Jesus, and the power to overcome sin.
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:9-11
This passage is most known for the verses that close it:
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
I am the kind of person that likes to look ahead in a book. Not because I want to know what happens, but…okay maybe I do. I can admit that it’s not the right thing to do. At the beginning of the year I read The Book Thief. The temptation to look ahead was taken, because the narrator of the story (the angel of death) tells you from the beginning that Leisel’s best friend Rudy dies. It was my kind of story.
There are so many great gems in the entire chapter 40 of Isaiah. It opens with a strong command from God.
Comfort! Comfort my people! Speak tenderly to them for they have paid for their sins.
Then we have the familiar passage that points to Jesus’ cousin John the baptizer. The one who calls from the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.
Isaiah is commanded to cry out again. He is to remind us of how temporary we are. This is something this year I have really began to grasp. Think of one of the greatest people to have lived. No matter what they strived for in life, how wonderful they lived, what great things they did or said, they cannot live forever. As a kid, 80 years seems so long and so old. As I sit on the eve of my 40th birthday, it’s definitely not looking old at all. And then when I think of my kids in 10 years and where they will be in life…it all passes like fading flowers.
Then we have the prophecy of Jesus. Here in this passage of comfort we see Jesus as the gentle shepherd. He tends to their needs, gathers them close to his care, carries them in his arms so they know is heart beat, and gently leads the young. They are verses to contrast with the devastation that was around them. The Shepherd is strong, powerful, and ruling in authority. The sheep don’t fear death, because the Shepherd is there to care for them.
In the book of John, Jesus says this about himself,
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
This summer Alan and I had the privilege to visit some good friends living abroad and tour ancient Turkey. Late in the afternoon, as we were getting refreshments, our friends pointed out to a nearby field where a shepherd was sitting with his sheep. I grabbed my camera with my friend and we started to capture the beautiful sight.
My camera battery died before I was able to capture very many pictures. I noticed that as my friend and I would move closer to the sheep, they would move away from us. They would move closer to the shepherd. Even though he was there with them, they didn’t trust us. But in him, they put their full trust in. They didn’t even look up to us. They just knew that we were strangers and wanted nothing to do with us.
What a better Shepherd could we ask for than in Jesus. He laid down his life for us to save us from our sin. And if that wasn’t enough, he sent the Holy Spirit to live in us as a helper.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord