I’ve Met Jesus’ Sister, and so have You!

Did you know that Jesus had a sister?  You know, I really hadn’t thought about it much.  However, in the last year with the controversy that Dan Brown’s book The DaVinci Code sparked, folks have actually taken a look at such things.  Well, what do we know about Jesus’ family?

The story of Jesus’ birth told in the New Testament reveals that Jesus’ birth was a miracle.  Mary was chosen by God and called by an angel to carry a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph, realizing that he was not the father, was going to cancel his engagement to Mary quietly.  An angel appeared to him and convinced him to marry Mary anyway.

From here the details of the story are more sketchy.  So, what do we know?  We know that Mary had more children, sons at least, and that we don’t see any other evidence of Joseph beyond that.  The assumption is that, after the birth of Jesus, Mary & Joseph had several other sons and then at some point, probably prior to Jesus’ public ministry, Joseph died.

Mary shows up in the Gospels on several occasions, most notably at Cana of Galilee when Jesus performed a miracle at her request and at Jesus’ crucifixion.  But, there is another reference to Jesus’ family that includes a reference to Jesus’ sister, however. 

In the opening chapters of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is shown beginning His ministry of teaching, healing and delivering those possessed by demons.  Crowds of people flocked to him from all over the area.  Then Jesus’ mother and brothers also show up.  Jesus is in a building, probably a home, teaching a group of people crowded around him.  His family, unable to enter the building, are left standing outside.  Someone conveys to Jesus the message, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you” (Mark 3:32 NIV). 

Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  Then He looked at those seated around Him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35 NIV)

Now this doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t respect his family.  We see that Jesus, later, while He was being crucified, specifically made sure that His mother, Mary, would be cared for after His death and resurrection.  The point that Jesus is making is that you and I can be part of His family!  Anyone who chooses to follow God’s purposes, which includes accepting Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior, is Jesus’ brother, sister or mother.

So, do you know someone who is pursuing God’s purposes in her or his life?  That person is Jesus’ sister or brother!  Chances are, you know Jesus’ brother and probably His sister too!

But a more important question is:  Are you doing God’s will?  If you are, guys, you are Jesus’ brother!  Ladies, if you are, you are Jesus’ sister! 

(Maybe the next topic I write about should be “The need for humility!”)

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Christmas and Waiting

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Do you remember Christmas when you were a child? Didn’t it seem like it would never come! We had to wait for what seemed like YEARS! We couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to arrive! In fact, I think I remember wanting to go to bed early on Christmas Eve so that Christmas morning would seem to arrive sooner! Well, no matter what we did to try to “hurry up” Christmas, it still came on the same day every year, just like the calendar said!

Paul said in Galatians 4:4, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son…” The first Christmas happened according to God’s schedule. He had a plan and a time-table for the plan. When the right time came, God sent His Son and the world was blessed!

 

Since our church is going through a relocation project, friends and acquaintances often ask me, “Well, do you have property yet?” And, to date, I have to say, “Not yet. But we’re still looking.” And we are looking! Since mid-July we have sent out over 1000 e-mails to real estate agents and have corresponded individually or talked with real estate agents 25 times. We have reviewed dozens of properties, it seems! At times like these, it is good to know that God has a plan and when the right time comes, God will work out His plan for us!

For what are you waiting? Are you waiting for a promise of God to be fulfilled? Are you ready for God’s plan to come to fruition? Are you waiting AND watching? When His time fully comes, God sends His answer! Don’t lose hope! You don’t want to miss out on His Gift!

Thank you for visiting FaithBuilders Podcast Blog site. Build your faith today by waiting on God!

 

The Quest – Day 38

This is the devotional for Thursday, November 2, 2006 which is the 38th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 38 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free. 

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 38 – Growing in the Spirit of Christ

 

The Spirit of Christ wants to grow a Christlike character in you.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”   (Colossians 1:9 NIV) 

Character growth doesn’t happen while you sleep or watch television.  God expects you to roll up your sleeves and do your part to exercise, grow and mature.  You and I cannot build a foundation on feeling and emotion.  Growth in wisdom, understanding and good works lead to growth in our knowledge of God as well as growth in Christlike character.

On Days 34 and 35 we reviewed the characteristics of Jesus’ life that offer goals for us to develop Christlike character.  We can’t develop these qualities on our own.  God works in our hearts to create these qualities in us.  God accomplishes decisive, character-building work in us only after we consecrate ourselves totally to Him.  After we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, He fills us with the Spirit of Christ.  We then enter a clear path to a lifetime of growth and development in Christlike character.  So take a moment to review the strategies for growth we mentioned on Day 3

In Ephesians 4 Paul shows us that God’s plan is to enrich our lives personally as well as to enrich the community of faith.  We grow as we minister to one another and the community of faith grows as well.  Christ works like glue holding believers together to form His Body on earth.  The purpose of this plan is to bring us to a common belief, a common Savior, and a common model for our spiritual maturity.  God doesn’t want you to be a spiritual baby, an infant who will never grow out of the “baby stage.”

Right standing with God does not exempt us from the need for further spiritual growth.  We must balance our thinking between satisfaction in what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross and a hunger to press on to a deeper walk with God. 

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.  

Build your faith today by pressing on toward maturity.

The Quest – Day 36

This is the devotional for Tuesday, October 31, 2006 which is the 36th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 36 of Frank Moore’s incredible book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 36 – A Holy and Pleasing Offering

We must offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)

Author Frank Moore says that the common experience of saints down through the ages has been an awareness of a remaining hindrance to further spiritual growth. We come to realize that our problem involves wanting the best of both worlds—what God wants and what we want at the same time. But we know we cannot have it both ways.

Once we pinpoint the self-centeredness that is the heart of the problem, we realize it must be replaced with Christ-centeredness. We confess our need to God and surrender ourselves completely to His will. We sacrifice ourselves for God’s purposes and then trust God to change us. The Spirit entered our lives when we accepted Christ; now we are inviting Him to take charge of our control center.

Today’s Scripture lesson reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. He willingly gave Himself to be nailed to the Cross. We too, should willingly offer our entire beings back to God as a living sacrifice. When we do this, something miraculous happens. Our values are changed from the world’s values; God radically transforms our lives. We receive the “mind of Christ” that the Apostle Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 2:16. We say to God, “Whatever You ask, I’m willing to do. I’m just a glove for Your hand to fill.”

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

To hear the message for Discovery 5 of the Quest, which reveals that “You can develop Christlike character,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by offering yourself as a living sacrifice to God.

The Quest – Day 35

This is the devotional for Monday, October 30, 2006 which is the 35th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 35 of Frank Moore’s thought-provoking book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 35 – Christ in You, Part 2

You can become like Christ!

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NIV)

Today we continue the study of Christlike character development we began yesterday. Now, remember that this character development does not occur overnight.

13. Jesus was not vindictive and did not retaliate when others treated Him wrongly.
14. Jesus did not need to make a name for himself.
15. Jesus expressed strong emotion and indignation when the occasion called for it.
16. Jesus showed great courage throughout His life.
17. Jesus had a clear mission and purpose for His life.
18. Jesus lived with eternity’s values in view.
19. Jesus realized and accepted His human limitations.
20. Jesus always sought to do the will of His Father.
21.Jesus lived in constant communion with His Father.
22.Jesus depended on the Holy Spirit for constant spiritual strength and encouragement.
23. Jesus lived a life of service.
24. Jesus submitted himself to suffering on our behalf.
25. Jesus submitted himself to death on the Cross to accomplish our salvation.

Look back over the list of qualities and virtues from yesterday and today. God wants to form these in you as you grow in Him. Resist the tendency to make a list of these character qualities and grade your daily performance, or you’ll fall into the trap of bondage to performance. Just live for God and seek His ways. Growth in Christlikeness will follow as naturally as “April showers bring May flowers.”

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 5 of the Quest, which reveals that “You can develop Christlike character,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by asking the Father to make you like His Son.

The Quest – Day 21

This is the devotional for Monday, October 16, 2006 which is the 21st day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 21 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 3 of the Quest, or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 21 – To Will One Thing

Purity sometimes means simply willing one thing—God’s will.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.’” (Genesis 17:1 NIV)

Purity is not so much perfect performance as it is pure intention and undivided loyalty. But for many of us, our loyalties are too divided to allow us to focus on purity of direction for life. Our recent study of God’s purposes for our lives helps us in this regard. Once we understand God’s purposes for our lives, we can filter the ambitions, activities and goals of our everyday lives through His purpose and see how they measure up. When your list matches His list, you’re ready to go. Everything else can go in the trash.

Abram (also known as Abraham) is an example of single-mindedness. God called him to be “blameless.” That’s a powerful concept. Blameless does not imply perfect performance, as in free from mistakes. It pictures a person wholeheartedly seeking to do God’s will. There’s no mix of wanting God’s will along with my will. It’s an undiluted desire to do what God wants me to do. God finds such unmixed desire acceptable and characterizes such a life as blameless. This offers us another insight into the biblical understanding of purity.

Abraham wasn’t perfect. But, through his occasional errors in judgment, Abraham kept fellowship with God and he sought wholeheartedly to find and do God’s will. When he stumbled, he sought God’s guidance, got back up, and started again.

Single-mindedness cannot stand alone as the sole meaning of the word purity. However, it shows us an important insight into God’s truth about purity.

A computer which devotes 100% of its processing time to fulfilling the requests necessary to run the programs you choose to run is a powerful tool. A computer infected with spyware which steals processing time and computer memory from the programs you want to run becomes a useless paperweight very quickly. A computer yielded to the purpose of its owner is a beautiful thing.

Abraham yielded the life God had given him back to God to be used for God’s purposes. What a beautiful life!

The memory verse for this week is Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcasts. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by making the “One Thing” of your life God’s will, not yours.


40 Days of Purpose – Day 40

This is the devotional for Thursday, June 8, 2006 which is the 40th day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 40 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

If you have found this 40 Days of Purpose podcast helpful, we’d love to hear from you, so take a moment and leave your comments. It would be a great encouragement to us.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 40 – Living With Purpose

Living on purpose is the only way to really live!

“For David … served the purpose of God in his own generation.” Acts 13:36 (NASB)

In the Upper Room, as Jesus was concluding his last day of ministry with his disciples before his crucifixion, he washed their feet as an example and said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17 (NIV) Once you know what God wants you to do, the blessing comes in actually doing it.

You may wonder, “What about God’s will for my job or marriage or where I’m supposed to live or go to school?” Honestly, these are secondary issues in your life, and there may be multiple possibilities that would all be in God’s will for you. What matters most is that you fulfill God’s eternal purposes regardless of where you live or work or whom you marry. Those decisions should support your purposes. Focus on God’s purposes for your life, not your plans, since that’s what will last forever.

It’s easy to drift away from what matters most and slowly get off course. To prevent this, you should develop a purpose statement for your life and then review it regularly.

Imagine what it is going to be like one day, with all of us standing before the throne of God presenting our lives in deep gratitude and praise to Christ. Together we will say, “Worthy, Oh Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power! You created it all; It was created because you wanted it!” Revelation 4:11 (Msg)

We will praise him for his plan and live for his purposes forever!

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 4:5 (NIV), “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Thank you for visiting the FaithBuilders Blog at buildyourfaith.net. This blog is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Subscribe to the FaithBuilders Podcast by clicking on the “Subscribe with iTunes” link in the right-hand column, or copy and paste the Podcast Feed link into your podcast reception program. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today and every day by living for God’s purposes!