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  • Romans 8:1-4 - Free In Christ

    You are free in Christ because He is fully God & fully man. Romans 8:1-4 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth. His human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature— it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death. So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such. These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and true man— true God in order to conquer death by his power, and true man that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh. Summary In Romans chapter 8 we see the importance of the dual natures of Christ. In the previous chapters, Paul has spoken at length on sin and the law. In chapter 7, Paul speaks to how despite his desire to uphold God’s law, which is good and holy, he finds his flesh still serves sin. Despite our ongoing battle with sin, Paul reminds us in the opening verses of Romans 8 that our eternity is secure in Christ. Paul refers to what he calls the “law of the Spirit of life” as well as “the law of sin and death”. Neither of these are the same as God’s law. The law of the Spirit of life is speaking of God’s power, while the law of sin and death is the power of sin. Another way to understand this is that through Christ Jesus, the power of God has set us free from the power of sin. Dig Deeper Verse 3 speaks of God “sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh”. Through the incarnation, the Son took on flesh, which is a human nature. Notice how verse 3 uses the word “likeness”. The Son took on flesh, much like the flesh of mankind, except that he alone is without sin. Through Jesus, God has done what the law could not, which is to set us free. This is no fault of the law of God, the fault lies solely with mankind. Paul described this as “the law, weakened by flesh”. The law is good and holy; however, a sinful humanity is unable to keep God’s law. Because Jesus is both fully human and fully God, he was able to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. Our sin is a trespass against the law of God, one that requires condemnation. Because Jesus has a human nature, yet has not been corrupted by sin, at the crucifixion sin was condemned in the flesh. What this has done is invalidate any claim that sin may have on you. The law has been fulfilled and the power of sin is broken. If your faith is in Jesus Christ for salvation, there is no condemnation. Your enslavement to sin has ended and the Holy Spirit empowers you to do God's will. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who did for us what the law was powerless to do; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Ephesians 3

  • 1 Timothy 2:5-6 - One Mediator

    Jesus is both God and man, so He stands for you before God. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV) 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. Easily memorize this verse with this catchy song: Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth. His human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature— it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death. So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such. These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and true man— true God in order to conquer death by his power, and true man that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh. Summary In this letter to Timothy, Paul speaks to several key theological concepts. The first of these from today’s passage is the oneness of God. Both Old and New Testaments attest to there being only one God. This also feeds our understanding of the Trinity, that there is but one God, who is seen in the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Paul also speaks to Jesus’ role as mediator between God and mankind. The Son came into the world not only to bring about reconciliation but also to be our mediator with God. Dig Deeper A mediator is someone who stands in the middle. They are the go-between when two or more parties are in a dispute and seeking reconciliation. Mankind needs a mediator because our relationship with God is broken. This is the result of our sinful rebellion against the law of God. There is only one person who is perfectly situated to be this mediator, Jesus Christ. Jesus is uniquely suited to be the mediator between God and mankind because he is fully human and fully God. In today’s reading from the Belgic Confession, Article 19 rightly points out that these two natures of Christ are united even in his death. The Son has always been divine, and then a human nature was added at the incarnation. However, during his death on the cross, Jesus did not lose nor shed his human nature. When Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, this included his humanity. And still today, Jesus maintains both his divine and human nature. Having ascended to heaven, he continues to be a mediator with God on our behalf. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our triune God, who is one; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that your relationship to Him has been restored through the one mediator, who is Christ Jesus; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Ephesians 2

  • Galatians 4:4-5 - The God-Man

    God made Jesus just like you so that you could be made just like Him. Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV) But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth. His human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature— it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death. So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such. These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and true man— true God in order to conquer death by his power, and true man that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh. Summary Today’s scripture passage may sound familiar, that is because it was our passage almost two weeks ago. In this opening section of Galatians chapter 4, Paul speaks to our redemption and adoption. We are returning to this passage because it speaks to Christ’ human nature. Specifically, Paul writes that the Son was “born of a woman”, “born under the law”, which was “to redeem those under the law”. Being born of a woman speaks to Jesus’ human nature. The Son was sent into the world, and through the incarnation he took on a human nature. Jesus was born under the law, and while all other humans are found guilty of transgressions according to that law, Jesus alone perfectly kept the law. This is why the human nature of Jesus is so crucial for our salvation. We are guilty under the law and can only be redeemed by one who was also born under the law. Dig Deeper Jesus is fully human and fully God, and there are significant differences between these two natures. While the Son has always been divine, the human nature of Christ does have a beginning. This human nature, through the incarnation, was added to the Son the moment He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary. Being fully human means that Jesus also faced some of the same realities that we face in our humanity. Just as we must breathe air, drink water, and eat food to live, Jesus in his humanity also required these things. Our Confession speaks to the importance of this human nature, stating that “our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body.” God’s plan of salvation requires a Savior who was born under the law and who perfectly kept the law. Essentially, our redemption is dependent on a perfect human exchanging our sin for his righteousness. Since there are no perfect humans, God provided one for us by sending his Son into the world to bring about our redemption. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who sent His Son, born of a woman and under the law, to redeem us that we might receive adoption to sonship; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you'll remember at all times that you are an adopted son of God, and that you'll act accordingly; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Ephesians 1

  • John 3:16-17 - God's ONE and ONLY Son

    Discover the depth of God's love and Jesus' divine mission. John 3:16-17 (NIV) 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth. His human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature— it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death. So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such. These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and true man— true God in order to conquer death by his power, and true man that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh. Summary John 3:16 is one of the most beloved verses of the Bible. Not only are the words of John 3:16 reassuring, they also eloquently lay out the key themes of the Gospel. Because of God’s great love for us, he gave his only Son in order that we would be saved from our sin and have eternal life. Verse 17 further clarifies that the Son’s reason for coming into the world was not to condemn, but to save. In these verses Jesus is described as God’s only Son and His Son. These terms allude to the fact that although Jesus was human, there was something more to him. While He took on human flesh, Jesus still retained His divine nature. While we are considered children of God, adopted through faith in Christ, Jesus is described as God’s one and only Son. Other translations use the phrase “only begotten Son”, which speaks to Jesus being “of the same substance” as the Father. Dig Deeper The Son came into the world to save sinners. Out of God’s great love for you, Jesus, the only one capable of paying the penalty of your sin, did exactly that. No sinful human could pay the penalty for another. Jesus, the only one not stained by original sin, took on a human nature with the intent of paying that penalty on your behalf. The Son coming into the world speaks to more than Jesus being born. Coming into the world also included leaving His place on high. The Son, the second person of the Trinity, existed before the incarnation. And the Son, being divine, has always had this divine nature, even before the creation of the world. The divinity of the Son is not something given to Him, but a matter of who He is. This divine nature is eternal, without a beginning or an end. The Son of God took upon himself a human nature, which did not corrupt nor inhibit his divine nature. And as verse 17 teaches, all this was done so that the world might be saved through him. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for this tremendous gift which makes your salvation certain; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 16

  • John 1:9-14 - Immanuel - God With Us

    Jesus didn't just come to be with you, but to be made like you in every way. John 1:9-14 (NIV) 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ We believe that by being thus conceived the person of the Son has been inseparably united and joined together with human nature, in such a way that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in a single person, with each nature retaining its own distinct properties. Thus his divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth. His human nature has not lost its properties but continues to have those of a creature— it has a beginning of days; it is of a finite nature and retains all that belongs to a real body. And even though he, by his resurrection, gave it immortality, that nonetheless did not change the reality of his human nature; for our salvation and resurrection depend also on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so united together in one person that they are not even separated by his death. So then, what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such. These are the reasons why we confess him to be true God and true man— true God in order to conquer death by his power, and true man that he might die for us in the weakness of his flesh. Summary Jesus is described in this passage as the true light and the Word, the latter being the description John used to open this gospel. John’s wording regarding Jesus speaks to the nature of who he is. Jesus is the true light who was coming into the world. Throughout the Gospel of John, the language of “truth” or “true” is used to distinguish something as heavenly and everlasting. This combined with the mention of how the light was “coming into the world” - as opposed to being created in the world - helps to identify Jesus as the Son, the second person of the Trinity. The Gospel of John opens with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This eternal Word, the Son, was there in the beginning, became flesh, and dwelt among us. What John is attesting to with these descriptions of Jesus is God becoming man. In the incarnation God did not merely take on a human form, but as John states “the Word became flesh." Jesus took on more than just skin & muscle; He took on our very nature. Dig Deeper We have returned to this opening chapter from the Gospel of John repeatedly throughout this year. There is a good reason for this, since John speaks directly to matters covered by the Belgic Confession, particularly as to who and what Jesus is. This week we are going to focus on the importance of Jesus having both a divine and human nature. Jesus is both fully God and fully human, which is a distinction that carries eternal significance. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who has given us the right to become His children; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will walk in the true light that gives light to everyone; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 15

  • Isaiah 11:1-9 - Already / Not Yet

    Looking at what Christ has already accomplished helps you wait patiently for that which has not yet been fully realized. Isaiah 11:1-9 (NIV) A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 18: The Incarnation So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which he had made to the early fathers by the mouth of his holy prophets when he sent his only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by him. The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,” truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation. And he not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that he might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body he had to assume them both to save them both together. In this way he is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.” Summary A tree stump normally doesn't offer much hope. Certainly it's not odd to see shoots and succors growing out of a stump, but they usually don't grow into anything substantial. As the prophet Isaiah writes these words, a stump is all that remained of David's once great kingdom (Jesse was David's father, and so the stump is said to be his). But this is the gospel that Isaiah proclaims: that the coming Messiah will reinvigorate the humble stump that God's covenant people had been reduced to. The first thing Isaiah reports about the Messiah is that He will be filled with the Spirit. He'll have wisdom, understanding, knowledge and might. Isaiah writes that "He will delight in the fear of the LORD (v3)." Think about that as you go through your day: how do the gospel accounts show Jesus 'delighting' in the fear of he LORD? The Messiah will restore justice to the corrupted world. But it will be more than just whatever feels right at the time - justice seen by the eyes or heard with the ears - it will be a justice based on true and objective righteousness. The Messiah will powerfully implement this justice using the most powerful weapon He has: His Word: "with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked (v4)." This passage concludes with a beautiful picture of shalom having been returned to the world: the wolf and the lamb, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, all living in harmony. Children will no longer be in danger from the cobras and vipers of the world. All of this will occur because the void caused by Adam's sin will finally be filled: "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD (v9)." Dig Deeper Does this passage bring you comfort, or cause skepticism? After all, it's been two millennia since the angelic host filled the sky with proclamations of peace on earth, yet injustice remains nearly everywhere we look. Predators continue to prey unabbetted, in ways that often seem to be getting worse. Why didn't the Messiah fix these things the way Isaiah said He would? We understand prophecies like this one in Isaiah to be fulfilled in a two pronged way, which is often referred to as the already / not yet distinction. In many ways, what Isaiah wrote has already been completed. Jesus was filled by the Spirit at His baptism, just as Isaiah predicted. A few weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday we celebrated how this indwelling has come to ordinary believers as well! As God's Word is proclaimed - which is "the breath of his lips" - it brings life to God's people, but it spiritually slays the wicked. Yet a time is coming when Christ will return with a "sharp sword coming out of His mouth striking down the nations (Rev. 19:15)." So part of Isaiah's prophecy is already taking place, but is not yet fully realized. And although we see brief instances of the shalom Isaiah describes in the final part of this passage in our lives today, we're nowhere near the idyllic paradise these words describe. But since you've seen God be so faithful in everything He's already accomplished for our salvation, you can patiently wait for that which has not yet come to be. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who brings new life into dead stumps; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the aspects of salvation you've already experienced, and ask for patience while we wait for what has not yet arrived; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 14

  • Hebrews 2:14-18 - Made Like Us

    Find help from One who knows exactly what you're going through. Hebrews 2:14–18 (ESV) 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family... 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 18: The Incarnation So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which he had made to the early fathers by the mouth of his holy prophets when he sent his only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by him. The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,” truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation. And he not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that he might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body he had to assume them both to save them both together. In this way he is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.” Summary As we began our journey through the Belgic Confession earlier this year, we looked at what it means when we confess that our God is omnipotent, and how although God can do all that He pleases, it doesn't mean He can do all things. For example, God cannot do evil, since doing so would violate who and what He is. This is critical to remember as we begin to understand exactly how our salvation was accomplished. God could not save us from a distance. He couldn't just declare "Let them be saved" the way that He called light into being. Only a man could satisfy God's covenant, so therefore God needed to become a man so "that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death (v14)." This is why Jesus had to become a man "in every respect (v17)." It wouldn't be enough for Him to just come down and be with us, or even to simply look like us. He needed to become a man in every regard: He needed a physical body, as well as a spiritual soul. Jesus took on human nature "so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest..." Remember, whereas a prophet is one who represents God to us, a priest represents us to God. The only way for you to be perfectly represented before God was for Jesus to become God incarnate: that is, God in flesh. Dig Deeper How often haven't you said to someone going through a trial something along the lines of "I know what you're going through..." Certainly we say this sincerely in a way that we hope helps, but ultimately the only way to truly know what it's like to go through something is to actually go through the exact same experience ourselves. Certainly the primary reason the Son of God became man was "to make propitiation (atonement / payment) for the sins of the people." Jesus did this by taking on all of our sin and bearing the holy wrath of God as He hung on the cross. But in doing so, Jesus came to know first hand exactly what it's like to live as a human being in this fallen and broken world. Jesus suffered as He was tempted through life to a degree the rest of us will never truly experience. He can honestly say that He knows what it's like to be us, but we could never say that we know what it was like to be Him as He endured the worst of what Satan could muster. But because He endured this unimaginable suffering in life, "He is able to help those who are being tempted." Jesus suffered physically, mentally, and spiritually. Know that in whatever of these ways you are suffering (maybe even all of them!), Jesus can help you endure it. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who sent His one and only Son to become a man; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will cling to Christ when suffering through temptation, since He knows what you're going through and is able to help; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 13

  • Matthew 1:18-25 - Courageous Couple

    Jesus came to save you from your sins AND fear. Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV) 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”  (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 18: The Incarnation So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which he had made to the early fathers by the mouth of his holy prophets when he sent his only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by him. The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,” truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation. And he not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that he might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body he had to assume them both to save them both together. In this way he is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.” Summary It had to be one of the most awkward conversations of all time: young, innocent Mary, trying to explain her unexpected pregnancy to the faithful young man she was engaged to. Put yourself in Joseph's sandals; what conclusions would you come to as Mary told you about her angelic encounter with the archangel in which he informed her that she who was 'highly favored' by God (Luke 1:28) would be having a child out of wedlock in 8-1/2 months. That's a lot to process! So it makes sense that after trying to wrap his mind around this crazy situation that Joseph "had in mind to divorce her quietly." Now put yourself in Mary's position: days after being visited by Gabriel and being told that she would bear the Son of the Most High, whose kingdom would never end, she's rejected and sent out to fend for herself. If Joseph couldn't accept her and believe her story, what would her father say when she went back to him? But everything changed when Joseph dreamed his dream. This was no ordinary dream, of course. Like Mary, Joseph received an angelic message, corroborating exactly what Mary had tried to explain, right down to the name she also had been instructed to give the child: Yehô·šûaʿ(Joshua), or in its more Greek form: Jesus: the one who will save His people from their sins. As strange as this entire story sounds, it most certainly wasn't something that God was making up as He went along. As Matthew writes, "all of this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ʿim·māʹ·nû ʾēl (God with us).'" But it wasn't just Isaiah who had predicted this some 700 years before Jesus came; this had already been planned by God as He cursed the serpent in the Garden: the woman's offspring would crush the serpent's head. Dig Deeper God must love irony. At the dawn of history, He had to go and find His image bearers, who were hiding from him naked and afraid due to their sin. Now, thousands of years later, the two parents He'd chosen to usher ʿim·māʹ·nû ʾēl into the world were also, in a sense, hiding in fear. But although the angel called out to Joseph in a similar way that God had called out to Adam, the message the angel brought was quite different. Instead of a glimmer of hope buried under a pile of curses, all Joseph heard about was salvation. And it would come exactly how God said it would: through the offspring of a woman. It didn't have to be this way; just as God formed His first covenant representative out of the dust of the ground, He certainly could have formed the new covenant representative in the same way, or any number of other ways if He wanted. But yet He chose a young couple, who both needed to be told the same exact thing by their angelic messenger: "Do not be afraid (v20, Luke 1:30)." God sent His Son, born of a woman, not just to take away your sins, but to also still your fears. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who does exactly what He says He'll do; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for sending Jesus, born of a woman, and pray that you will experience the Spirit filled courage that Mary and Joseph did; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 12

  • Philippians 2:5-7 - Humbled Savior

    God exalted our humble Savior to the highest place, where He intercedes for you! Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV) 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 18: The Incarnation So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which he had made to the early fathers by the mouth of his holy prophets when he sent his only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by him. The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,” truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation. And he not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that he might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body he had to assume them both to save them both together. In this way he is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.” Summary In demonstrating what it means to have the same mindset of Christ, this passage is one of the Bible's clearest christologies; meaning it's a fantastic resource to understand who and what Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, is: He's by nature God, but He then also assumed the nature of man. Having successfully completed His mission, God exalted Christ above all things. Paul writes that atheism is a temporary condition in v11 - every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord - even the atheists will need confess this truth! But in order to gain the everlasting benefits that come from confessing Jesus as Lord, you need to confess it here and now. Imagine one of your best life long friends, who gained success in every area of life, only to give up all they had to take all of the guilt and blame and consequences for all of the wrongs you had committed in your life. That's the picture that this passage paints of who Jesus is and what He did. Dig Deeper Maybe you noticed it as you read verse 7, and maybe you didn't. The NIV text, which we followed today, renders the opening phrase as, "he made himself nothing," whereas most of the other English translations go with "he emptied himself." The original Greek text is quite straightforward. It literally translates as himself he emptied. So what's going on here? Why did the NIV take what should have been a word for word translation and make it so different? The NIV utilizes what's known as a dynamic translation philosophy. Their goal isn't just to give a wooden translation of words, but to convey the thoughts and intent of the original author as accurately as possible. And most of the time, as is the case in this passage, this translation philosophy works out really well. There have been some throughout church history who've taken these words to mean that Christ emptied Himself of absolutely everything - including His very divinity. They take this to mean that while He was here on Earth, Jesus only had a human nature. But certainly when we look at everything else Paul wrote about Jesus, it becomes quite apparent that this isn't what Paul thought! So the NIV translated this phrase slightly differently, so that the reader would understand that Jesus didn't empty Himself of His divine nature, but rather that He made Himself nothing - that is, He let go of all the glory He had enjoyed in heaven. And He did this for you. So give thanks that Christ humbled Himself on your behalf, and also be thankful for the many wonderful English translations of the Bible. Be sure to use them together to get as full of an understanding as possible! AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who exalted our Savior to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above all names; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your knee would bow and your tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 11

  • 1 Chronicles 17:10-14 - Home Builder

    God always fulfills His promises at the time set by Him. 1 Chronicles 17:10-14 (NIV) CONTEXT: David is well settled into his role as the king of Israel, and he wants to build a grand temple for the LORD, to replace the portable tabernacle. The prophet Nathan brings God's Word back to David. It won't be David building a house for God, rather... “ ‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’ ” Listen to passage & devotional: Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 18: The Incarnation So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which he had made to the early fathers by the mouth of his holy prophets when he sent his only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by him. The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,” truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation. And he not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that he might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body he had to assume them both to save them both together. In this way he is truly our Immanuel— that is: “God with us.” Summary The word house, both in the original Hebrew 1 Chronicles was written in, and in today's English, has multiple meanings. The most obvious definition is the structure we dwell in. But it can also refer to a church building, as it's used in the opening line of Psalm 122, "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'" But as we read it here in 1 Chronicles, the word 'house' doesn't mean either of those things. Rather, when Nathan tells David that the Lord will build a house for him, it means that the Lord will build David's kingdom into a dynasty. The Lord is promising to establish the throne of David forever, which is a remarkable promise on its own, but the Lord goes on to promise that this will not just be an earthly kingdom, but that this promised son will be set over the Lord's house and kingdom forever (just like the word house has multiple meanings, so does the word 'son.' The kings of Israel were called 'sons of God'). This coming son who would reign forever would stem from the house of David, and be his biological offspring (v11). But one doesn't need to read too much further in these Old Testament narratives to find out that the sons of David don't fare too well. Starting with Solomon and his penchant for foreign wives, the 'house of David' goes off the rails rather quickly within a few generations. It doesn't seem like the Lord's promises here would ever come true. This is why the miracle that occurred a millennia later in Bethlehem, the City of David, is so significant. The son born to Mary, who was also a daughter of David, is the Son referred to by the prophet Nathan. He is the one whose kingdom has been established forever. Dig Deeper "A time set by Him." That line, used in our Confession to describe when God would send the promised Son to build the House of David, is both comforting and frustrating. Why did God wait so long after presenting His eternal house building plans to David to send His own Son as an infant lying in a manger? Israel had suffered through so much grief by this point (granted, most of it was self inflicted), and although the religious establishment in place at the time Jesus was born was aware of this promise God had made to David, very few were actively anticipating it. So while it's certainly frustrating for us to have to wait for the times set by God, make sure to hang on to the comforting aspect of this phrase as well. God did make good on His promise, delivered by a prophet to the greatest earthly king Israel would ever know. Every word that Nathan spoke has already come true: the offspring of David has had His house established forever, and God will never take away His love for His Son. Even still, you and I, who are citizens of this Kingdom, have not yet fully realized the benefits of it. We're still here in this broken and grief filled world, in which most people are not even aware, much less actively anticipating, the Son who has promised to return, just as His Father promised He would arrive. And He will do so at "a time set by Him." Let this ancient fulfilled promise that you've read in 1 Chronicles fuel your faith as you eagerly anticipate God's House being completely established in both heaven and earth. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who fulfills His promises at a time set by Him; ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you would remember you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God and eagerly anticipate the return of God's Son and your King; ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 10

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