Saturday, September 25, 2021

Matthew 2 - Homiletics

Matthew 2 is the tale of two kings and some wise men.  It begins with the birth of the King of kings.  After which the magi from the West came to Israel and inquired of king Herod about the birth of the King of the Jews.  This disturbed Herod since, technically, he was crowned “the king of the Jews” by the Roman Senate in 40 BCE.  It apparently disturbed all of Jerusalem as well.  But this got Herod thinking, and he went to the chief priests and teachers of the law and inquired about where the Messiah would be born.  They informed Herod that the Scriptures indicated the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem according to the prophet Micah (Mic 5:2).

So, Herod gave that information to the magi and asked them to return to him after they found the Child and tell him where the Child was so Herod could worship Him, too.  We’ll learn Herod’s true intentions in just a moment.

Meanwhile, the magi travel on, following a star that guided them straight to Jesus and His mother at their house.  The overjoyed magi bowed and worshiped and presented the King with gifts of gold (a symbol of kingship) and frankincense (a symbol of deity) and myrrh (an embalming oil, symbolic of death).  After their visit, they are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back home by another route.

Meanwhile, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take his family to Egypt because Herod wants to kill Jesus!  So Joseph packs up and goes and moves to Egypt.  During this time, Herod became furious that he was tricked by the magi and issued an order to kill all the boys age 2 and under.  This event is called the slaughter of the innocents or the massacre of the innocents.  And there is no historical record of it from the first century outside of Scripture.  So I asked myself, “why not?”  What I discovered was interesting.

First of all, children were not valued in that culture at that time in history, so it possibly wasn’t really newsworthy.  Second, the population of that area wasn’t as large as it is today, so very few children were probably executed, possibly escaping notice of historians.  Also, Josephus Flavius, a first century AD historian, may not have chronicled the killing of the 2 year old boys in and around Bethlehem around 3 BCE, but he does record Herod’s wickedness including a number of murders in response to a perceived threat to his throne.  So such a response to a rumor about the birth of the “King of the Jews” was absolutely possible considering the character – or lack of character – attributed to Herod.

There is actually a testimony of the slaughter of the innocents from around 400 AD from Macrobius’ Saturnalia (2.f.11), which says, “when Augustus had heard, that among the children within two years of age, which Herod king of the Jews commanded to be slain in Syria, his own son had been killed, he said: ‘It is better to be Herod’s hog than his son.’”

There is a lesson in this for us today:  insecurity can cause really bad decisions.  We not only see this in Herod’s life.  Take a look at the Old Testament life of king Saul.  There was another dangerously insecure king!  And now, back to the Scriptures…

So Joseph’s family remained in Egypt until he received word again in a dream to return to Israel after Herod’s death.  But Joseph was afraid because Archelaus was reigning in Herod’s place.  He received another warning in a dream and settled in Galilee, in Nazareth.  I love Joseph’s sensitivity to God and his obedience to God’s instruction.  I love God’s care for Jesus and Mary and Joseph to warn the magi to avoid Herod and go home a different way.  I love that God warned Joseph in a dream to go to Egypt and told him when it was safe to come back and where to settle.  God is in the details!  How have you seen Him in the details of your life?  What keeps you motivated to seek God when He seems difficult to find?  Where are you fighting God rather than submitting to Him and what will lead you to repent and ultimately submit to His plan for your life?

 

(Below is the homiletics that led me to the thoughts above.)

 

Content (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture, fit on one line):

1.after J born, magi came: where king of Jews?(2:1-2)

2.King Herod heard, was disturbed, and all Jerus(2:3)

3.called chief priests & teachers law, asked where Messiah born(2:4)

4.Bethlehem, prophet: Bethlehem, out you come ruler shepherd Israel(2:5-6)

5.Herod found out exact time star appeared; sent them Beth,find him, report me, I go worship(2:7-8)

6.they went, star went ahead, stopped where child was; they saw star, overjoyed(2:9-10)

7.they saw child w/mother, bowed & worshiped, presented gold, frankincense, myrrh(2:11)

8.warned dream go Herod,ret’d country by another route(2:12)

 

9.aoL appeared Joseph dream,escape Egypt, Herod search child to kill(2:13)

10.he took child, mother, left;stayed until death Herod, fulfilled proph:out of Egypt called son(2:14-15)

11.Herod realized outwitted, furious, gave orders kill boys 2y & under(2:16)

12.proph Jeremiah fulfilled: Rachel weeping for children(2:17-18)

13.after Herod died,aoL appeared dream Jos:go Israel;he got up, took child/mother, went Israel(2:19-21)

14.heard Archelaus reigning,afraid,warned dream, withdrew Galilee(2:22)

15.lived Naz, fulfilled prophets, he called Nazarene(2:23)

 

Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture/Principles are Aims for each Division – a truth about God, a truth about man, a truth about God’s relationship to man; a sin to avoid, promise to trust, example to follow, command to obey, truth to believe):

1.The magi seek and find the Messiah (Matt 2:1-12)

Principle:  Those who seek God with a pure heart, find Him.

2.Joseph obeys God and flees to Egypt, and later obediently settles in Nazareth (Matt 2:13-23)

Principle:  Obedience to God fulfills His plan.

 

Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure showing exactly where you are in Scripture):

Magi find and worship Messiah; Joseph flees and returns obediently.

 

Aim (“To Cause My Audience To…” Know, See, Learn, Understand, etc.):

TCMATK God’s people seek and obey His will.

 

Application (not yes or no question.  Meant to bring about heart change):

1.What keeps you motivated to seek after God when He seems hard to find?

2.Where are you fighting God rather than obeying Him?  What will lead you to repent and submit?

 

The Big Idea (author’s main purpose in writing; the one thing all the other things in the passage is about; if you couldn’t talk about it, you would still understand the passage is trying to convey this):

Seek and obey God.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Matthew 1 - Homiletics

In Matthew chapter 1, Matthew records Jesus’ ancestry and the circumstances of His birth.  In the first 17 verses, the former tax collector presents the meticulous plan of God to bring His one and only Son, the Messiah, into the world to save it.  Each name in this list has significance.  The initial mentions of David and Abraham speak to the covenants given to these men promising the Messiah.

Many other names in this genealogy may be familiar to you, as well.  You’ve read their stories.  Isaac, Jacob and Judah.  Boaz, Jesse and Solomon.  Look up these names - and the less recognizable ones.  Read their stories.  It’s interesting that women are mentioned in Christ’s lineage, too!  Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, who dressed as a prostitute and became pregnant with her father-in-law’s twins.  Rahab, an actual prostitute who hid the Israelite spies in Jericho.  Ruth, the Moabitess who returned to Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi.  Uriah’s wife, aka Bathsheba, who was summoned to King David after he saw her bathing.

What do these names teach us?  That God uses imperfect people!  That God’s plan cannot be thwarted.  That it’s not about what I do, but about what God does!  God specifically chose the bloodline for His Son.

Who is in your spiritual ancestry?  Who told you about Jesus?  Who brought you to church?  Who prayed with you to receive Jesus as your Savior?  Who taught you to navigate your Bible?  Whose Bible studies increased your Bible literacy?  Take a moment to assess your spiritual ancestry.

Now take a minute to think about who might be your spiritual descendant.

Into whom are you pouring the love and wisdom you have received from Jesus and the Scriptures?  Who are you telling about Jesus?  Who are you bringing to church?  Who are you praying for (or with) to receive Christ as Savior?  Who are you teaching to navigate their Bible?  With whom are you doing Bible study?  Who is watching the example you’re setting?  These are potentially your spiritual descendants.

One more thing about the genealogy before we move on.  In verse 16, the language changes.  Joseph is not listed as the father of Jesus.  He is listed as the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  This verse jumps out like a neon sign that Joseph is not Jesus’ father!

Matthew, in detailed bookkeeper fashion wraps up the genealogy with three mentions of the number 14.  Fourteen generations between Abraham and King David, 14 between King David and the exile to Babylon and 14 between the exile and the Messiah!  Numerology is very important to the Jewish people.  And the use of the number 14 speaks of spiritual perfection twice (7 x 2)!  God’s plan is certainly perfect!  God specifically chose the timing and circumstances of His Son’s birth.

God’s choice of parents for His Son is displayed beautifully in the remaining verses.  We receive a glimpse of Mary’s willingness to be used of God and submissive to His plan in Luke 1:26-38.  Joseph’s story is told here at the end of Matthew 1.  What character attributes do you observe in Joseph at the end of this chapter?  Why do you think the King of the Universe would choose these people to raise His one and only Son?  What characteristics of Jesus’ earthly parents would you like to possess?

But the most incredible moment appears in verses 20 and 21 where an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take Mary as his wife; what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; that he should name the boy Jesus because He will save His people from their sins!  Mind-blowing!!!  What an encounter!  Joseph obeyed and raised the Messiah as his own son!

As we see in chapter one of Matthew, not everyone has a “once upon a time…happily ever after” story.  But our stories are our stories, and can be used to help others work through their stories.  How are you willing to allow God to use your pain to help someone else?  What are you willing to sacrifice or share to point someone else to salvation in Jesus?  What areas of your life could use a fresh infusion of Jesus?  What can you share that might be a fresh infusion of Jesus for someone else?

(Below is the homiletics that led me to the thoughts above.)

 

Content (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture, fit on one line):

1.genealogy Jesus Messiah son David/Abraham(1:1)

2.Abraham father Isaac – Jacob – Judah/brothers(1:2)

3.Judah – Perez/Zerah,mother Tamar,Perez – Hezron – Ram;-Amminadab – Nahshon – Salmon(1:3-4)

4.-Boaz,mother Rahab,-Obed,mother Ruth,-Jesse;King David – Solomon,mother Uriah’s wife(1:5-6)

5.-Rehoboam – Abijah – Asa;-Jehoshaphat – Jehoram – Uzziah;-Jotham – Ahaz – Hezekiah(1:7-9)

6.-Manasseh – Amon – Josiah;-Jeconiah/brothers exile Babylon(1:10-11)

7.after exile Jeconiah – Shealtiel – Zerubbabel;-Abihud – Eliakim – Azor;-Zadok – Akim – Elihud(1:12-14)

8.-Eleazar – Matthan – Jacob;-Joseph husband Mary, mother Jesus Messiah(1:15-16)

9.fourteen generations Abraham-David, fourteen David-Exile,fourteen exile-Messiah(1:17)

 

10.how birth Jesus came, Mary pledged Joseph, pregnant through HS(1:18)

11.Joseph faithful law, want public disgrace, in mind divorce quietly(1:19)

12.angel appeared dream: take Mary wife, conceived from HS(1:20)

13.son you name Jesus, he save his people from sins(1:21)

14.fulfill prophet: virgin conceive/birth son call Immanuel (God with us)(1:22-23)

15.Joseph woke, did what angel commanded; consummate until gave birth Jesus(1:24-25)

 

Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture/Principles are Aims for each Division – a truth about God, a truth about man, a truth about God’s relationship to man; a sin to avoid, promise to trust, example to follow, command to obey, truth to believe):

1.The Genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17)

Principle:  God chose the bloodline for His Son.

2.The Birth of Jesus and Joseph’s Faithfulness (Matthew 1:18-25)

Principle:  God chose the timing and circumstances for the appearance of His Son.

 

Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure showing exactly where you are in Scripture):

Matthew records Jesus’ ancestry and the circumstances of His birth.

 

Aim (“To Cause My Audience To…” Know, See, Learn, Understand, etc.):

TCMATK God perfectly planned and executed the physical and spiritual genealogy of the Messiah.

 

Application (not yes or no question.  Meant to bring about heart change):

1.What are you willing to sacrifice for (or give to) your spiritual children this year as a legacy pointing to Jesus?  (What will you pass on to your spiritual children as an “ancestor”?)

2.What areas of your life need a fresh infusion of knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah?

 

The Big Idea (author’s main purpose in writing; the one thing all the other things in the passage is about; if you couldn’t talk about it, you would still understand the passage is trying to convey this):

Jesus is the promised Messiah!

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Things I Learn About Myself from My Dogs!

Sometimes an epiphany comes at 4:45 in the morning while I’m walking my dogs.  My day hasn’t come under attack by everyone trying to accomplish the tasks on their plate who invariably interrupt me while I’m trying to accomplish the things on my plate!  It’s dark outside and although some lights glow through crack-like openings in closed drapes in the windows I pass in my neighborhood, the world still seems to be asleep.  Peace.  J

Then, our new puppy decides she wants to breakaway!  The leash rubs my hands raw, but I hold fast.  She gags as she pulls her collar tight on the front of her throat.  She stops and then tries again.  Stops again.  All three dogs see a cat!  Another breakaway attempt, but I’m braced for it.  Heel!

This morning, it felt like Jesus was whispering to me, “Heel.”  Oy!  Massive realization:  I’m just like my dogs!  Maybe not often like the puppy that runs off at every opportunity, but certainly like the older dogs that see the cat and want to chase!  What pulls me off the path with Jesus?  What makes me want to take off running away from Him rather than keep a nice, slow, enjoyable pace with Him?  What makes me choke myself when I should just enjoy the walk?  Accumulating stuff?  Competing for kudos at work?  Saying “yes” to every activity I’m asked to participate in?  Saying “yes” to every ministry opportunity?  Someone else’s emergency?  What shiny thing distracts me from my purpose of fellowship with Jesus?

Wanting to be with Jesus has to be a priority.  It has to be the most important thing I do all day.  It has to be the first appointment I set.  And the appointment I never skip or put off.  How do you prioritize your time with Jesus?


Thursday, September 02, 2021

Something Wonderful This Way Comes...

 


Fall is here.  I can feel that little chill in the early morning air.  BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) is starting back up, which means I will be posting homiletics more regularly.  And I am actually planning to coming up with more creative content to share here on the blog.  This change has been inspired by a brother in Christ I’ve had the privilege to get to know a little better over the last few weeks.

I’ve been part of the launch team to promote J. Warner Wallace’s latest book “Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible”, and he has challenged the launch team to become Content Creators, not just content consumers.  I am taking that challenge to heart, and God is flooding my mind with ideas right now.  So be on the lookout for new things happening on the blog.  And check out J. Warner Wallace’s book “Person of Interest” (http://personofinterestbook.com).  Preorders are available right now.  The book releases 21 September.  It shows Jesus’ impact on several aspects of life and culture to the extent that His life and ministry and teaching can be recreated completely from sources outside of the New Testament Scriptures!  Check out Wallace’s other books, too, if you haven’t already.  They bring the perspective of a Detective to the investigation of Jesus and God!

I’d like to issue the same challenge to you to become a Content Creator.  What’s your unique niche?  What do you love to do?  How can you leverage what you know into a platform for sharing, honoring and glorifying Christ?  How can you use who He made you to be to make Him known?  Maybe not on a blog or on YouTube, but in the workplace or in the home or at church or where you volunteer…  What interests and talents do you have that can build a bridge to someone else’s heart for Jesus to walk across and into the life of another person?  Think about it.  Then put it into practice.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Person of Interest by J. Warner Wallace

*** Consider Pre-Ordering Now!!!  (http://personofinterestbook.com)  It's a wonderful, enlightening and inspiring read!!!

Description

Can the truth about Jesus be uncovered--even without a body or a crime scene? Join cold-case detective and bestselling author J. Warner Wallace as he investigates Jesus using an innovative and unique approach he employs to solve real missing person murder cases.

In Person of Interest, Wallace carefully sifts through the evidence from history alone, without relying on the New Testament. You'll understand like never before how Jesus, the most significant person in history, changed the world.

Features:

Join a cold-case detective as he uncovers the truth about Jesus using the same approach he employs to solve real murder cases.  Marvel at the way Jesus changed the world as you investigate why Jesus still matters today.  Learn how to use an innovative and unique "fuse and fallout" investigative strategy that you can also use to examine other claims of history.  Explore and learn how to respond to common objections to Christianity

Detective J. Warner Wallace listened to a pastor talk about Jesus and wondered why anyone would think Jesus was a person of interest.

Wallace was skeptical of the Bible, but he’d investigated several no-body homicide cases in which there was no crime scene, no physical evidence, and no victim's body. Could the historical life and actions of Jesus be investigated in the same way?

In Person of Interest, Wallace describes his own personal investigative journey from atheism to Christianity as he carefully considers the evidence. Creative, compelling, and fully illustrated, Person of Interest will strengthen the faith of believers while engaging those who are skeptical and distrusting of the New Testament.

"Wallace has an uncanny ability to discover clues where no one else sees them. Now he tackles perhaps his toughest case ever: solving a deeply personal mystery involving his own religious faith."

—ROBERT DEAN, producer of NBC News Dateline

"A creative and eye-opening work. You'll be captivated as Wallace takes you on a thrilling journey of discovery."

—LEE STROBEL, bestselling author of The Case for Christ

"If you read this book, you will have to reckon with Jesus, not just as a historical person but as Lord and Savior. This is not your typical apologetics book!"

—ALISA CHILDERS, author of Another Gospel

"Bring your doubts, bring your skepticism--but if you bring them in open-minded honesty . . . be prepared to render a shocking verdict."

—SCOTT HANSON, host of NFL RedZone


“Person of Interest:  Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible” is a feast for the mind and the soul!  J. Warner Wallace has penned a doozy of a book and created first-rate artwork!  I really enjoy books that start off at a run, and I clicked with this book right away.  Wallace parallels “a past case” with his own investigation of the truth about Jesus Christ.  The way he presents Tammy’s disappearance case put me in the exact headspace to examine the clues from history, science, music, literature, education, science and art to make the case for the importance and impact of Jesus Christ.  The author skillfully bounces back and forth between these two cases as he moves forward in presenting the evidence gathered in each investigation.

My mind was frequently blown as I was drawn to moments of worship of a meticulous God Who perfectly wove the fabric of time and circumstances to usher in the very moment the Messiah would appear!  In the first couple of chapters, the author lays out how language and writing and transportation advanced through history to the point of Jesus’ time on earth with such precision to allow the message of the Gospel to be spread to the ends of the earth!

As the book progressed, I became grateful that, in this time of “cancel culture,” the Savior of the world can never be canceled because of His influence on so many different aspects of culture!  Even if every Christian Bible were destroyed, we would be able to re-create the life of Jesus, His miracles, His death and His resurrection through His influence.  “Person of Interest” has grown my faith and equipped me to support my beliefs using resources other than Scripture!

But wait, there’s more!  After devouring this book, although I am inspired to go back and re-read Wallace’s other books to see if I glean more from them the second time around, I don’t think I’ll have time to do that!  There are so many other things to read!  The collection of resources in the Case Notes at the end of this book is (almost) worth the entire cost of this surprisingly small work and earns the book prime real estate on my keeper shelf!  The Case Notes are meaty and point the reader to the author’s sources so you can verify what he’s written!  Don’t take his word for it.  Look it up for yourself!