Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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Jan 21, 2018 - Isaiah 61: 1

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,  because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,   to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,  and release to the prisoners:
The word “anointed” means; “chosen, set apart for a particular task.”  God’s anointed Messiah was chosen to bring good news to the oppressed; bind up the broken hearted; proclaim liberty to the captives; to release the prisoners.  In our confession of sin we declare that, “we are in bondage to sin and death and cannot free ourselves.”   In Dicken’s story, “A Christmas Carol,” we see Marley weighed down with the chains of his own sinful life.  Marley tells Scrooge that Scrooge’s chain is much longer.  The slave, the one who is oppressed, the captive, the prisoner cannot free himself.  Freedom, the end of oppression, liberation can only be granted by some authority outside of ourselves.  Jesus Chris is the authority who has torn asunder our bonds of sin and death.  He has freed us from the oppression of the evil one and he has made us the sons and daughters of God once again. 

Jan 14, 2018 - MARK 1: 27

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority!
We often use the words “power” and “authority” synonymously, but are they the same?  Today we live in a world where people long for power.  The vast majority of people who serve in government today are invested in power.  They want control.  They want the power to change things, to make the world in their own image.  One seizes power.  Authority on the other hand is granted, is given to someone who is willing to serve and to do what the will of the one who granted him the authority.  Jesus never tried to seize power.  He never tried to re-make or re-create the world in his image.  No, he came to do the will of God the Father and because of that willing, servant heart, he was granted authority by God.  Are you hungry for power or are you a willing servant of God?

Jan 7, 2018 - MATTHEW 2: 1-2

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?
Tradition tells us that the wise men came to pay honor to the Christ on January 6.  We call that Epiphany.  Epiphany is a Greek word which means. “enlightenment.”  The people of Israel were not the only ones looking for a Savior.  People from other countries and ethnic backgrounds had heard of the promise of a Savior and when a fantastic star rose in the sky, many believed that this marked the coming of the Messiah.  Wise men were philosophers, scientists, astronomers, and theologians.  They too longed for “peace on earth, good will to all people.”  They journeyed to Bethlehem to see the fulfillment of a centuries old prophecy and to find peace and hope.  They were indeed wise and the question is, “Are you wise enough to find your enlightenment in Jesus Christ?”   You alone have the answer. 

Jan 1, 2018 - MATTHEW 28:19

Behold I am with you to the end of the age.
The thrill of the holidays is over.  The tree and the lights have been taken down.  Mercifully we have had the last of the leftover Christmas Turkey and things have returned to normal.  Cold, bleak January sets in with its snow and winter winds.  The days are short, the darkness comes way too early.  We are thrust back into the hum-drum of life.  Work needs to be done, assignments turned in on time, and deadlines must be met.  Our lives seem rather empty and our purpose seems meaningless.  But then the message of the gospel bursts into our lives.  A message which says, “God is with you in both the good and the bad times, the joyous and the sad times.  We are reminded once again that life has meaning because life with God is a life of meaning and purpose.   Why am I here?  To be God’s hands, feet, and voice in the world.  To live a life dedicated to God, live a life of honesty, integrity, justice, and compassion.  Just because the holidays are over does not mean that God has left us.  In fact God promises to be with us from this moment to the end of time.    

Dec 24, 2017 - LUKE 2:16

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
Webster defines a manger as: “a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to feed from.”  What else would you expect a baby who was born in a stable to lie in.? A manger of course!  Filled with fresh straw, the manger would make a comfy bed for a newborn to lie in.  But was there something symbolic here.  Thirty-three years later Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”  In the night he was betrayed Jesus took some bread, thanked God for it, broke it and said, “This is my body given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  Then Jesus took the cup, thanked God for it, and said, “This is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  The body and blood of the Christ are both food and drink that brings us forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.  Maybe the next time you receive Holy Communion you will think of the manger in a whole different light.

Dec 17, 2017 - MATTHEW 1: 19

“…Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.”
Being righteous does not mean sinless.  There was only one who was sinless and that was Jesus.  So what does it mean to be “righteous.”  In the Hebrew language “righteous” means to “do, or to be what anything was created to do or be.”  If you flip the light switch and the light goes on, “the switch is righteous.”  If you jump  in your car and it starts right up, your car is “righteous.”  If you turn on the TV and you get a picture and sound the TV is righteous.  For Joseph to be righteous means that he lived according to the teachings of the Word of God; he was just, forgiving, merciful, and compassionate.  He did the will of God and not the will of men.  We are not called by God to be sinless.  We are called to be God’s children.  That means we carry God’s DNA in us, which means we are to be righteous; follow God’s Word, be just, forgiving, merciful, and compassionate.  If someone wrote about you, would he be able to say, “You are righteous”?

Dec 10, 2017 - LUKE 1: 38

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’  
When I was a young boy I remember my dad telling me, “Don’t ever volunteer for anything.”  Yet isn’t one of the themes of the Word of God, the willingness to volunteer?  When Isaiah was called to be a prophet he didn’t want any part of the job.  He came up with the excuse.  “Not me, I am a man of unclean lips.”   Mary said, “Not me, I am not even married.”  Each of them was asked to make the leap of faith; to put aside their excuses, and let God be God.  God told Isaiah not to worry that He would give Isaiah the words to say.  He told Mary not to worry, that with Him nothing was impossible.  God said, “All you have to do is trust me and I will give you everything you need.”  In the end, they both trusted God and said, “Here am I.”  When God calls you just say, “Here I am,” and trust that God will take care of the rest.   

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