The historical event of Jesus’ Baptism served as the kick off God’s plan of redemption. John the Baptist ushers in His cousin's ministry through the simple act of Baptism. The hour had come for Jesus to take center stage.
The Virgin Mary “hid all these things in her heart.” Thank God because who else could dictate the account of the Visitors from the East to the gospel writer? John Merlo retells the story (and the untold story) of the visit of the Magi, signifying the divine revelation of the Jewish Messiah to the Gentiles.
Finding their lost son after 2 days of searching, Jesus told them, "I must be in my Father’s house, about my Father’s business." And for the next 18 years, Jesus was in his father’s house, about his father’s business. The carpenter’s shop is as sacred as the courts of the Temple, and to obey Mary was to do the will of the Father in heaven.
What the Magnificat says is not the language of sweet maidens. It’s the language of Maccabees. It speaks of dethroning the mighty and exalting the lowly, filling the hungry and sending the rich away. Mary’s praise to God is a revolutionary battle cry. And the engineer of this revolution was in her womb.
The Apostle Paul repeats himself. No, it’s not signs of dementia. It’s a double injunction and for good reason. It’s Advent. In all the circumstances and misfortunes of the Christian life, the believer is supposed to maintain a spirit of joy in the Lord, especially as the Lord draws near. But how? Listen in as Paul shows us how.
One of the things an Advent voice of any kind does is confronts us with a message to tell us the truth about ourselves. John the Baptist was a confrontation waiting for people, calling them to repentance in preparation for a new age, a new exodus. The religious leaders didn’t get his message. But common people, tax collectors, Roman soldiers and even Herod took it seriously. You have to hear this.
Advent calls us to start our journey, once again, in expectation of the second coming of Christ. When is the date of His return? It doesn’t matter and it isn't important. What is important is that we be waiting, expecting, longing. This is an Advent spirituality.
Let us move away from things that rust and approach the near Kingdom of the restorative God that doesn’t disappoint, dishearten or devastate.
When Paul wrote, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works,” the first example that came to his mind was "to gather." There was no other way to love (agape). You can do “faith" alone. You might be able to do “hope" alone. But you can’t do "love" alone. You can, but that’s called narcissism. Pastor Joe address this current phenomenon: Believing in God, and reading His word, with no need for the physical, local church.
For centuries we have commended her...but hardly ever imitated her. Why? Maybe because we shouldn’t. What is the reason that someone, who’s been cheated out of everything by the Church, feels compelled to give all that she has to the Church? Something is wrong here. Let’s find out what it could be.
Entrance into the kingdom is not by answering wisely. Entrance into the kingdom is by faith in the Savior, who is ‘the Way.’ If one wants to know God’s word and what it requires, but not be brought to the consciousness of our own sin, then one can be "not far but not in" the Kingdom of God.
Again the loving kindness of God is witnessed by Job. God after rebuking Job’s friends tells him to pray for them. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. What is Job, a priest?
In our journey towards new opportunities of influence and leadership, Christ invites us into deeper levels of servanthood and suffering. Not for our own merit but for the expansion of the Kingdom and to make Christ known to those that we love and serve.
But when believers are convicted by the Holy Spirit of the wrongness of their condition, stuck in partial and temporal inadequacies they will begin to long for a more personal relationship with God, a more direct experience of His presence and power. Enough will not be enough anymore. This is when our walk needs to move beyond words, thoughts and feelings, beyond Christian one-liners, churchy rhetoric and catch phrases, beyond acronyms and into the second blessing.
“We told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group” (The Apostle John). This “Us Vs. Them” is an ancient problem. But Jesus’ response is as shocking today as it was then.
Those who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night will be like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves will never wither, and they will prosper in all they do.
Christ invites us to exchange our life for His and to pick up our cross and follow Him. Exchanging our worst and our best for all of Him.
What ever profession you’re involved with will be secondary to your reputation. Just being nice, is not good enough. Is your word reliable? Are you trustworthy?
Were there even mirrors in Bible times? Apparently, there were and James tells us, just as we look into one today, trying to find every pimple, wrinkle or blemish…so we should look at the word with the same attentive scrutiny. It can save our souls. But don’t stop there because if we don’t act on it, we’ll get religion…but not true religion.
We all, near and far, have an inner world, an inner universe and an inner treasure chest waiting to be challenged by God’s awesomeness. God’s all reaching glory can often appear overwhelmingly intimidating. But when we allow Him in His role as a Father, He enables us to His full beautiful life.