Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Story Part 1

Hello everyone.  Because it is the Christmas season, I will try to tell the Christmas story in my own words.

Now we all know that Jesus was born on Christmas day and that there were some wise men involved plus a barn with a bunch of animals and a star, etc.  But the Christmas story actually starts about 9 months before that.  The interesting thing is that there are two kids involved not just Jesus.  The first one's name is John.

OK, John's parents were Zacharias and Elisabeth.  Now both of them were too old to have kids.  I don't mean that they felt too old, I mean that their bodies were too old to have kids and they didn't have any kids because Elisabeth was barren.  Now Zach was a pretty important guy.  He was a real big wig in his church.    His job that year was to go into the holiest part of the temple and burn incense to the Lord.  We really don't do this today but it was a real important job.  It was so important that a whole bunch of people were outside the temple praying while Zach went in to do it.

So this angel of the Lord appears right next to him and it freaks him out.  He was really afraid.  Think of something that really scares you and that will give you a hint about what Zach was feeling.  Now something I just noticed was that Zach was a man of faith.  See he had been praying that God would give he and Elisabeth a child even though they were past the age of child bearing.  I guess he knew that if God could do it for Abraham, God could do it for him.  So this angel tells him that he will get Elisabeth pregnant and they will have a child named John and that he will be really happy and so will everyone else when John gets here.  The angel goes on to say that John will not ever drink alcohol and that the Holy Spirit will be upon him before he is even born.  Also, he will turn many of the Israelites to God and lastly that he will prepare the way for Jesus.

OK so we should all stop hear and rejoice that Zach got his prayer answered and this mighty miracle took place right?  Well we would if that was what Zach actually did.  But here is something else interesting that happens.  Now understand that Zach has been praying for a kid for a long time and here an angel appears out of thin air right in front of him inside a place where only he could go.  The angel tells him that his prayer has been answered and immediately Zach goes from talking faith to talking doubt and unbelief.

Now I don't know if I would question the angel after his entrance, etc., but Zach wants to know how it will happen and says he is way too old for something like this and that his wife is too.  Why was he praying for it then?  He obviously had some measure of faith but that faith was shaken when the angel showed up.  I think it was shaken by fear.  Now the Lord already had a plan so he decided to make Zach unable to speak until John was born because Zach didn't believe him.

Let's stop for a second.  There is a lesson to be learned.  Sometimes we start praying for God to do something and then when we get a word from Him that He will, we instantly question it.  Have you ever needed to hear from God and when you got a scripture or someone told you something, you didn't believe it?  I think I have which doesn't make sense.  Also, notice that God showed up to tell Zach what he was going to do before he did it.  When Zach walked out of the temple that day, Elisabeth was not pregnant yet.   All Zach had to go on was the word of God.  But also notice that when God tells you he is going to do something, He will do exactly what He said.  Once you have a word from God on something, just keep standing on that word until He brings to pass what He said He would.

So there was a whole prayer group that marveled at how long he spent in the temple.  It was normally an in and out job but the angel changed the plans.  Now when he came out to them he couldn't talk so everyone figured that he must have seen a vision.  Then he finished out his term as the head preacher and went home to his wife and Elisabeth got pregnant.......More to come.

That's part one of Christmas by the Minion.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Joseph - Jesus' Dad

I want us to take a look today at the story of Joseph.  Now when I was a kid, the story of Joseph was about a guy who had a coat that was a bunch of different colors and I will get to that story at some point but today I want to talk about Joseph, Jesus' dad.

We all know that Joseph was Jesus dad but not really.  He was Jesus' step dad.  So why is he important?  Why is he even mentioned?  We only hear about him a couple of times so for years I didn't think he was very important but I was wrong.  This story is a little short but important anyway.

See Mary was the mother of Jesus.  While it is a very miraculous story, I will leave it for another time.  Basically, the Lord came to Mary and he started her pregnancy without them having sex.  Mary was a virgin at the time she gave birth to Jesus.  See Luke Chapter 1.

But what about Joseph.  Did you know that the Lord chose Joseph out of millions of people on the earth.  Why did the Lord choose Joseph?  We know that God doesn't just do things without thinking about them and He certainly wouldn't choose someone to be the step father to His son without thinking about it.  So why?  The answer was because Joseph was a man of integrity who knew the Lord's voice when he heard it and knew how to obey God when God told him to do something.  Let's look a little closer at this story.

So here's what happens.  Joseph and Mary are engaged to be married.  Before they actually get to the marriage part and the honeymoon, Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant.  Now put yourself in Joseph's place for a minute.  You are engaged to this girl and she comes up to you and says, "Joe, I know we are engaged but I want you to know that I am pregnant."  My first thought would be that she cheated on me and I would be really mad.  On top of that, how would you handle it if she said, "Joe, there's one more thing.  I didn't have sex.  The Lord just made me pregnant."  Now I don't mind people who lie to me when they tell me a story but don't insult my intelligence.  At least make the story a believable one.  That would make me even madder and I would definitely dump that chick.

This is exactly what Joseph had in mind.  He was going to dump her.  But here is where we get our first good look at Joseph's character.  The bible says he was a real good guy.  Now back then, Joseph could have gotten Mary in a lot of trouble for what he thought she did.  And after all, no one had ever heard of such a completely made up story like the Lord made her pregnant.  But because he was a good guy, Joseph had mercy on her and decided that he would just dump her very quietly not wanting to make a big deal out of this whole thing.  I would say that man knew something about giving mercy.  I don't know if I could have done it.

So as he was sitting around thinking about this stuff he fell asleep.  Now I can just see this.  He is sitting in his favorite chair thinking this whole thing over.  Have you ever been through a situation where someone made you really mad.  Maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend dumped you.  Were you able to go to sleep?  I can tell you I would have been up all night thinking about this stuff over and over again.  But not Joseph, he fell asleep.  That is another thing God needed in Jesus' step dad.  He needed someone who could stay at peace even in a really tough situation.  Because later, Joseph would face some much tougher ones.  People would want to kill his step son Jesus.

Well while he is sleeping, the Lord appears to him in a dream.  Basically God appears and says don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife because that crazy story she told you about the Holy Spirit making her pregnant is true.  She didn't cheat on you.  Oh by the way, you are going to call this boy Jesus and he will be save his people from their sins.

OK, so what would you have done if you were Joseph's friend and he told you this story?  First of all, I would tell him that dream was just wishful thinking.  That there was no way this girl got pregnant without cheating on him and that he needed to wake up.  I would have told him that I knew he was a great guy because he didn't make a public example of her.  I would have said that she didn't deserve such a great guy like him and that I though his dream was just what he wanted to believe, that he didn't hear from God.  That was crazy.  The bible doesn't say this but I bet some of his friends told him that very thing.

But Joseph knew he had heard the voice of God.  Joseph must have had some practice to know when it was really God and he was convinced enough that this was God to do what he was told.  How many times have we heard the Lord tell us to do something?  Maybe the Lord told us to do something nice for a friend or say something nice to a family member and we didn't.  Now here the Lord tells Joseph to take this woman as his wife but not to have sex.  He tells him what to name the kid and Joseph just trusts the Lord and does exactly what the Lord tells him to do.


That's another Bible story by the Minion.