Big Things from Small Places

This week we finally wrap up our Advent – and now Christmas – teaching series, The World Turned Upside Down. All this month we have been taking a journey through Luke’s telling of the story of the birth of Jesus. It has been a powerful journey, and there have been several new things to learn from these old and familiar stories. This week is no different. While the stories of Jesus’ birth and other heroes of the faith are flashy and impressive, we live most of our lives in the mundane. The trick is: so did they. Their ability to have the giant impact they had came out of their faithfulness in these mundane moments. Let’s dig in and talk about it together. As one more note, this will be the only post for this week. I’m taking this week off to spend extra time with my family. I look forward to being back together with you again in the New Year.

Big Things from Small Places

Have you noticed lately how few truly new television shows there are? The same thing goes with movies. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of the remakes and relaunches and revivals they have done have been terrific. Nostalgia is a terrible god to worship, but it makes for some really fun media content to enjoy. Season 4 of Cobra Kai comes out this week on Netflix and I am about as excited as I can be for that one. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a modern day continuation of the Karate Kid story from the super popular 1980s film franchise. Now, as a bit of a warning before you go check it out if you haven’t, the language of the series is pretty awful, but the redemption element of the story and the way the writers keep weaving in Gospel concepts has been pretty cool to see. 

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Digging in Deeper: Luke 1:60-63

“But his mother responded, ‘No. He will be called John.’ Then they said to her, ‘None of your relatives has that name.’ So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all amazed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I saw a chart the other day from the Pew Research Group showing by comparison the percentage of Americans who claim Christianity as their religious identity versus those who claim no religious identity at all. The former has been on a steady decline, and the latter, a steady rise, since the turn of this millennium. In other words, for the first time in our nation’s history, we are finding ourselves living in a culture that is increasingly more likely than not to push back against us for seeking to live out our faith in public and meaningful ways. The question for us is not whether we can turn back this tide, but how we will respond to it. As we continue into the final week of our Advent journey this morning, we are reminded that this is a place God’s people have found themselves before.

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Morning Musing: Micah 5:2

“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Christmas morning is a time when kids all over the place are looking forward to waking up, going to wherever their tree happens to be, and laying their eyes on their big Christmas surprise. The bigger the better too. I remember a few Christmases when I was little where I had some big toy or another greeting me as I walked in the living room. As you start getting a little older, though, something happens. The toys tend to get a little smaller. Then they get a little smaller still. And the first few times you find something smaller – still exciting, but smaller – it hits a little like a slap in the face. Yet, as the old cliche goes, big things can come in small packages. This verse offers us a potent reminder of that truth. As we continue our Advent journey this morning, let’s talk about God’s tendency to work big things in unexpected ways.

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Morning Musing: Genesis 3:15

“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Jesus came to save sinners. That was His basic purpose in a nutshell. I mean, sure, there’s the whole thing about announcing the inauguration of the kingdom of God, but the growth of God’s kingdom happens as sinners are saved and enter into it. So, Jesus came to save sinners. What’s even better about this is that, as Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, He undertook this whole effort when we were still living in open rebellion against Him. That is, we weren’t particularly interested in being saved if it meant giving up our sin, but He came anyway because we didn’t really understand how bad off we were. His love for us was that great. This program of saving sinners, though, wasn’t something that came out of nowhere. It wasn’t like God finally got tired of our being separated from Him and suddenly threw a plan into action. It was the bringing to fruition of something He had been planning for a very long time. This morning, let’s take a quick look together at the first time that plan was announced.

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Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 9:6

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What kind of a Savior do you want? Given that a Savior has already come, that may seem like a somewhat irrelevant question. After all, if the Savior has indeed come, the kind of Savior you want is a moot point. You get the Savior that is. But it is perhaps not so irrelevant a question as you might imagine. The thing or person we imagine will save us tends to become the object of our worship. The reason that matters is we gradually become like what we worship. I’m thinking about this today because I recently finished watching the latest science fiction film, Dune. Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t read the book (although it is on my shelf and on my list). That simply means I’m pretty new to the story. I’ve seen most of the 1984 version of the movie, but don’t remember it. That being said, I know there’s a second movie coming eventually so there’s more story to come. Still, the idea very obviously driving the story so far is that the main character, Paul, is believed to be a messiah figure by many people. And the kind of messiah they believe him to be affects who they become. This morning let’s talk about the kind of things we want to save us, the kind of Messiah we have, and why this all matters so much.

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