It’s easy to think that Jesus ministered for three years and then the Holy Spirit showed up on Pentecost. In fact, Jesus’ earthly ministry could not have happened without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus the same way he empowers believers today. In part, that means mostly operating in the background.… Read the rest
Matthew describes the virgin birth of Jesus from Joseph’s viewpoint in Matthew 2. Have you ever studied the first chapter of Matthew? Most Christians probably skip it. It seems like nothing but a boring genealogy.
But let’s pay some attention. Matthew mentions four women in the first six verses. And all four names recall stories of sin.
Jesus had to be born sinless, live a sinless life, and die as a perfect and unblemished sacrifice. Everyone from Cain and Abel onward has been conceived and born in sin.
And that’s not because they were conceived through sexual union. God planned for that from the beginning.… Read the rest
Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus told his disciples to be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In Matthew 28:20, he specifically said to “make disciples of all nations.”
It took a while for them to understand that he meant for more than just Jews to become disciples. Finally, God prepared a very special person, Cornelius, to become the first gentile Christian.
The Jews had long suffered under Roman occupation. So isn’t it just like God to choose a Roman centurion to hear the gospel first?… Read the rest
We think of the Beatitudes as part of the Sermon on the Mount, but they get their name from the opening words, “blessed are,” or in some translations, “happy are.” Lots of other verses begin that way, and many more with the singular, “is.” Here is the last of several from the psalms:
… Read the rest
- Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal offspring” (2 Kings 11:1 — NASB).
Ancient Judah had only one ruling queen, Athaliah. Consumed with hatred for the God of her husband’s people, she ordered the murder of her own grandchildren. (How can anyone think the Old Testament is boring? Its stories are as powerful as anything in modern fiction or drama, and more convincingly true!) Athaliah lived out what all too many continue to live out to this day: they hang on to hatred because they think those they hate deserve it.… Read the rest