Hopefully I will be able to post commentary regularly along with the links to our Bible study passages, but if not, here is the guide just in case!
Hopefully I will be able to post commentary regularly along with the links to our Bible study passages, but if not, here is the guide just in case!
Preparing The Way
Please Read: Matthew 3:1-12
Something about John the Baptist strikes us. He is odd… O-D-D. Yet, that is what drew people to him more than likely. He wore strange clothes and ate strange things (v.4) but something about him probably just seemed right. John taught repentance and the Jews were listening. John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ and he is not ashamed to let the people know this (v.11-12) and when he sees the Pharisees and Sadducees, the men that were supposedly above reproach, he rebukes them (v. 7-10). These men thought that their good deeds and their family tree saved them. They believed that because they were children of Abraham and that they counted themselves more worthy than the rest of the “vile sinners”, that they had a special claim on God but John warned them that unless they were repentant and produced fruit in keeping with repentance, they would be “cut down and thrown into the fire” (v.10)
John reminds the religious elite and the commoners alike that repentance will pave the way to forgiveness of sin and closeness with God.
John the Baptist denies being Elijah and the Messiah, proclaims Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God: John 1:15-35
Out of Egypt
Please Read: Matthew 2:13-23
Joseph was obedient to God. His obedience even led to the fulfillment of a prophecy (Hosea 11:1). Once, many hundreds of years before the events of Jesus’ boyhood took place, God called Moses to lead His children out of Egypt but before Moses finally could, an equally horrifying scene took place there as the one that is happening in verses 16-18 (Exodus 11). Now God was calling Joseph to take His Son and flee to Egypt to be kept safe from King Herod’s orders. Once again an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph and Joseph obeyed God as He calls him out of Egypt with Mary and Jesus. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settle into a town called Nazareth in the district of Galilee. Once again Joseph obeys and thus fulfills the prophecy: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (v.23)
Obedience is important to God. Faith and trust are equally important for without them it is very hard to be obedient.
For inspiration and encouragement in faith, trust, and obedience you may want to read Hebrews 11.
Sometimes I think we Christians like to believe that when we start a relationship with our Heavenly Father, it is like starting a relationship with anyone. There was a period when my husband and I, my friends and I, even my mother, father, and siblings and I all had to “get to know” each other. I am seeing this with my children every day. They are growing and learning and expressing different attributes of their personality on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
I am still learning them.
I’ve known my husband for fourteen years and we’ve been together for almost twelve, married for over nine but every once in a while he will do something that is totally unlike him (as far as I know) or he will say something that I couldn’t have possibly guessed he’d say.
I’m still learning him.
Sometimes I feel that God is the same way and of course on my end it is the same. Sometimes God completely surprises me. Sometimes I pray for months or years for Him to work something out in my life if it is His will and He shows me that it is not. Sometimes I pray a solitary prayer that I have no idea is in His will or not and the next day He answers it abundantly! Can we ever truly know this God?! He is wise beyond anything we can ever imagine, His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts “as the heavens are higher than the earth” (Isaiah 55:9).
I’m still learning Him. However, there is no way to know EVERYTHING about God but He does give us a glimpse into His knowledge and wisdom, His feelings and desires, and His vision for us through His Holy Word.
It has been an amazing revelation for me in my life to realize though that God doesn’t need to learn me.
This is what Psalm 139:1-18 says:
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely,
5 You hem me in – behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from you Spirit?
Where can I flee from you presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
If there is any hint in our hearts that God doesn’t know us as well as we know ourselves, if there is any inclination to tell God how we think things should go… this passage silences those thoughts!
We can never know the thoughts of God completely but we should feel secure in knowing that He knows every last thought of ours, He knows every word before it is even spoken! How can we *not* trust Him implicitly with our lives? How can we ever think that we know better? He knows us so intimately and deeply and He loves us just as much!
That is something to be eternally grateful for and to praise Him for. I know that there are people in this world that I am not compatible with. There are people in this world that I have attained friendships with only to realize later that I struggled to love them and to maintain the friedship with them. But God’s love is not so wishy washy. He doesn’t love us because we deserve it. He doesn’t love us because we only show Him the good and presentable parts of ourselves. No. He has seen every moment from the time of our conception. He has seen every thought, heard every word, attended every breath. He knows our ugly parts that we hide from other people. He knows the good parts that we struggle to express as well. He sees our flaws, mistakes, sins, and regrets and not only does He love us DESPITE those things, He made a way for us to be forgiven, to reconcile us to Him, to cover us with His perfect and abundant grace when we didn’t deserve so much as a blanket.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
It is reassuring to me that God knows every part of me. Sometimes it can be terrifying to know that fact but if we are walking in righteousness that fact can bring incredible peace. To know that He knows us and our lives are in His hands!
So, with all of that being said let us strive to know Christ more and more each day, to learn more and more about the heart of God and let’s strive to emulate our Savior and thus glorify our Heavenly Father.
Let us always rejoice in Psalms 139 and the fact that our God, the mighty counselor and King of Kings knows us so intimately and personally. Let that be our incentive to know Him more each day!
King Herod was jealous and unwise, he only thought of himself and how he might be affected by the birth of Jesus.
The Wise men were truly wise; they sought the Savior and offered Him gifts, praise, and worship. We should be like the wise men and have hearts that are eagerly seeking the Lord and always ready to worship Him.
* Scriptures that describe Jesus as “light”:
Joseph loved Mary. Joseph also loved God’s Word and was faithful to the Lord. In those days, a man had a right to divorce his fiancé or wife if he had suspected that she loved someone else or wasn’t faithful to him alone. He was allowed to make a public disgrace or embarrassment of his fiancé or wife if he wished but instead he was willing to show Mary grace and “divorce her quietly” so she would not endure shame.
Thankfully an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and cleared things up pretty quickly. Joseph didn’t argue with the angel, he believed the message from God and he did as the Lord commanded and took Mary home as his wife. It must have been perplexing to him to watch Mary’s stomach stretch from the growth of the Son of God.
Immanuel means “God with us”. Jesus chose to step down from Heaven and BE with us, to be born among us, to live with us, to feel what we feel, see what we see, to depend on earthly parents just the way you do and the way we all have since the beginning of time. Jesus truly is “with us” always.
These first seventeen verses are a kind of preface into the life of Christ. The Messiah had been promised for forty-two generations before He made His arrival. Everything was planned by God to bring the Christ-child into existence under just the right circumstances to accomplish the plan of salvation for mankind.
God used every single person named in this passage, from Abraham to Joseph, to accomplish His will and bring about Jesus Christ who would save us from our sin. The Jews patiently waited for the King of Kings to make His entry into our world and the Messiah wasn’t exactly what the Jews had expected but He was just what God had been promising all along.
I have been listening to this hymn on repeat today and it has been in my heart and on my lips for weeks. I even hummed it to my infant niece today while rocking her.
The new year is beginning soon and with it come resolutions. Resolutions, in essence, are visions. Every year around this time millions of people envision what they want their lives to look like at this time next year. Most envision a smaller number on the scale or a larger number on their paycheck. Some envision nobler things, perhaps spiritual or emotional growth, maybe worthy commitments like spending more time with family or serving within their community or church.
I’ve made many resolutions in my 28 years. Usually by mid – February my fire has burned out. Over the years I’ve realized that a big reason my new years resolutions never really work out is because while having a vision of what I want my life to look like (or my body or my home), my resolutions lacked purpose.
Last year I resolved to be a better home maker and while I feel I did do marginally better than in 2012, I know I could have done much better if I kept Christ as my vision. If I had truly “worked as if working for The Lord” (Colossians 3:23-24), and devoted myself to glorifying Him in everything I did, I could have done better. I would have had greater purpose. I’m not going to be too hard on myself though; twenty thirteen was a rough year. People I loved passed away, the Lord called us to homeschooling, and many more trials and triumphs were had both physically with my children’s health, and spiritually with my faith and my husband’s.
Still, I am being prayerful over the resolutions I make for 2014 because no matter how much growth occurs or how many changes made, I want them to be used to glorify my King.
Let the words of this sweet hymn play in your heart as this year comes to a close. Let’s make resolutions into reality by being prayerful about which areas we need to grow in as God’s beloved children and committing ourselves to the tasks He puts before is, knowing that whatever obstacles may lie in the way are really just checkpoints for our faith.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
May Christ remain our vision for 2014 and every year thereafter until we reach Him, our final goal and are rewarded with the eternal life He purchased for us.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Happy New Year!
May God richly bless you!
Hi! My name is Diane and I am a stay at home mother of four children (7, 6, 2, 1) and I have been married to my best friend for 9 years.
I homeschool my children and love encouraging them to learn.
For several months I have been working on Bible study curriculum for my 6 and 7 year olds to incorporate with our homeschool. I looked at a few pre-made curriculum sets and while they looked appealing, they just did not satisfy my desire to share with and teach my children from my own heart and most were quite a bit pricey.
Finally, I took the advice of a speaker from this past year’s homeschool conference and I prayed, asking God to give me direction and focus for our homeschool. The more I prayed, the more I felt a desire to build my own Bible curriculum to teach to my children. However, this seemed to be a daunting task. I had only been homeschooling about six months and I wasn’t sure I was ready. So, I began to pray for the mental and physical strength to start preparing and to begin this task I believe God has called me to.
One day while in Bible study I decided to just start putting pencil to paper and make a rough draft of the vision I had. The rough draft calmly unfolded in a matter of a week and as it turned out, there was nothing “rough” about it! The rough draft fit perfectly into 360 days. I was astonished by what the Lord had accomplished through me in such a short time period and with me feeling pretty ambivalent about the work.
God is SO good. He is faithful even when we exhibit half-hearted faith or are less than thrilled about following where He leads. He is faithful to complete His work in us!
360 Days is 2 full traditional school years (180 days per year, 90 days per semester) but since we school year round I may be able to get the posts up faster.
The study focuses on the Gospels. Matthew for 90 days, Mark for 90 days, Luke for 90 days, John and the first two chapters of Acts for 90 days.
There is a wealth of information to be gleened from these books and the life of Christ, His ministry, His parables, His teachings, His walk with God, prayer life, love, devotion, sacrifice, and ultimate victory. It is my prayer that you and your family be blessed and encouraged by His truth as much as I know I and my family will be.
See you soon!Diane