Tag Archives: salvation

Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 3

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. -Matthew 1:19-25, KJV

advent apple balls basin

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With Jesus’ first advent, we can not forget that His mother was yet unmarried at His conception . . . but she was betrothed to be married.

Just as Mary sought understanding about how she could be able to conceive without a man, Joseph wanted to do the right thing, and understanding was needed.

He had the understanding that Mary had cheated on him, because that was the obvious perception. Being an upright individual, he planned to discretely break up with her to prevent her having too much shame. It took God sending an angel to correct him, to see that God had indeed made this pregnancy happen to bring about the coming salvation of God’s people. He quickly changed his mind, and married Mary, even knowing he would have to wait until Jesus was born “to know her” and that it might even bring ridicule on himself, as well. (Either it appeared Mary was unfaithful, or that they had not waited until their wedding.)

Likewise, we should be slow to assume things about people based on appearances and ready to show grace and love toward them. We may go against what everyone else is saying and make ourselves look silly or “condoning of sin,” but it is what our Lord and His earthly parents did.

And claiming He is coming again looks foolish to our fallen world. (See 2 Peter 3) Following Jesus has a cost. (See Luke 14:25-33)

Lord, help us to be faithful servants who love the unlovable, as You did us, and to proclaim Your coming again!

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God’s Word Is True

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. -Proverbs 30:5, KJV

Scripture reminds us time and again that it is the very word of God, and He does not lie nor change. Therefore, we can know that what we read (when faithfully translated for us!) is trustworthy and true.

If it is not pure, it is not true. You may come across passages and verses that are difficult to understand or seem contradictory. We must remember a few things:

  1. We typically are separated by culture and thousands of years of time from when they were written. There may be:
    • euphamisms and figures of speech we no longer use,
    • historical references that seem out of place, or are practices that only make sense when seen/experienced, or
    • descriptions that seem odd to us;
  2. Concepts are beyond our understanding (like the Trinity or free will with God’s sovereignty);
  3. Authors frequently seemed to play loose with details, but it was to make a specific point (such as the gospel writers putting orders of events in slightly different ways to highlight different details);
  4. Other portions of Scripture help fill in details not apparent in other portions (Why does God say “we/us/our” in Genesis? Jesus helps us see the unity of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit).

Jesus helps us see the truth and reliability of Scripture, because His life, death, and resurrection verify it. If any part is untrue, the entire thing falls apart. But He has shown us that He and His Word are trustworthy for the salvation of our souls.


Trusting Our Hearts …

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. -Proverbs 28:26, KJV

We live in a world today that frequently tells us to “just follow your heart, it will lead you true.” And many people rely on their reason even knowing they know very little of our reality.

That second point is striking. The most optimistic scientists say we may know 6% of everything there is to know about the Universe. Yet, atheists will argue there is no evidence for God. But there is at least 94% that we don’t even know about!

However, we can trust our heart, right?

God tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

In our fallen, sinful state, we cannot trust our heart. We are selfish and want to believe what feels good, not necessarily what is true and good.

It affects our emotions, thoughts, and reason.

The wise person realizes that there is a God, who has a standard and has revealed it and Himself to His Creation – through the written Scriptures and the incarnation of Jesus.

Trusting our own heart and reason may lead us deep into sin.

Trusting the God revealed in the Bible and through the Son will deliver us from sin.


Wisdom Is Crying

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: – Proverbs 1:20 

Try to picture the desperate concern of Wisdom. Read the next few verses. Here the pleading in Wisdom’s voice as she cries out: “If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words” (Proverbs 1:23 CSB).

Then read of the sorrow and disappointment as Wisdom bemoans the lack of attention to her offer.

“Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, I, in turn, will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you.” – Proverbs 1:24-27 CSB

Then stop and ponder (meditate upon) the dreadful finality of verse 28: “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me…”

Tragic. Just tragic! Wisdom calls, yet few answer.

But then stop and consider this greater truth: Wisdom has a name, and His name is Jesus.

…Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:24

And Jesus has done his share of crying (both calling out and shedding tears).

“…[He] beheld the city, and wept over it…” (Luke 19:41).

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

Please don’t mock the things of God. Please listen to Wisdom. Don’t be like those in verse 28!

Wisdom is crying out in the street right now, tears flowing. Are you listening?


As He Thinks, So He Is

Proverbs 24:8-9

“He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness [is] sin: and the scorner [is] an abomination to men.”

“A person who plans evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker. The schemes of a fool are sinful; everyone detests a mocker.” – NLT

Preceding Reputation

You can probably think of a few people you’ve known who always had a reputation for either getting into trouble or causing it. These “mischievous” persons – troublemakers – probably had all the right words, but all the wrong actions. Every time they came near you’d wince with the expectation that nothing good would come of it.

What we read in this proverb is the description of one who already has a reputation for causing trouble; he’s always devising some scheme, always about some kind of foolishness. These type of people have a reputation for a reason, and that’s why they are disliked.

Foolish Feelings

Much of what America (and much of the world) is dealing with these days goes back to feelings: hurt feelings, wounded feelings, offended feelings, etc. At every junction we are more concerned with how someone feels than the truth about who he or she is.

I can only imagine how the truth of this proverb must offend the feeling-types of today’s culture! Frankly, this proverb from Solomon could be interpreted as insensitive or bigoted, for it negatively asserts that the one who is always getting into trouble must therefore have a flawed character. Oh, the horror! How insensitive! What about environmental influences?

In reality, many of those who constantly devise evil schemes do so simply because that is who they are – evil schemers, scorners, and mockers. The truly foolish care more about their (the offenders) feelings than the nature behind the actions, therefore they are never able to adequately address the cause.

Change of Nature Needed

Notice, it’s more than just people who do things that get a reputation, but those who think things: “The thought of foolishness is sin.” Do you ever sit around and daydream of getting vengeance? Do you ever contemplate ways to get away with something? If so – and you know who you are – what kind of reputation do you think you have with God?

All of us are guilty of having had evil thoughts and schemes, but if it’s something you do all the time, then you need a change of heart – a new nature.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:11

The best way to change one’s reputation is to start over as a new person with a new nature.