Tag Archives: Mary

Why Waste Time on Such A Broken-Down Beat-Up Organization as the Church?

Jesus’ mom and brothers try to speak with him but they can’t because he is surrounded by crowds of people. Someone tells Jesus that his family wants to see him, but he surprises everyone with his response.

Jesus asks, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” That would seem obvious. Jesus, however, is full of surprises.

Jesus motions with his hand toward his disciples and says, “Look! My mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in the heavens is my brother and my sister and my mother.”

At first glance Jesus seems to be rather dismissive of his immediate family. (Joseph is not mentioned, perhaps because he has passed away.) But even in his agony on the cross Jesus will make sure that his mother is properly cared for (see John 19:25-27).

Jesus is not rejecting his family particularly or the natural family generally. He is revealing something important about true discipleship. When we follow Jesus, we join a new group, a spiritual family, the family of God.

As followers of Jesus we automatically become part of his group: the church. The Bible knows nothing about ‘Lone Ranger’ Christians. All true believers are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same heavenly Father.

Now, comparing church to family is a double-edged sword. Families should be places of encouragement, nurturing, support and love. But unfortunately they can be places of conflict, frustration, misery and animosity.

Sometimes family seems negative because it is a natural place of responsibility and accountability. Responsibility and accountability can be painful in the short term, but they are beneficial in the long term.

But other times the family experience is simply a bad one. Family members say and do harmful things, and because they are family, the wounds run deeper.

Jesus is right. The church really is like a family. At times she is encouraging but at other times she is discouraging. At times she is loving but at other times she is hateful.

One thing the church is not. She is not optional, not for true believers. When a son or a daughter refuses to visit mom or dad or brothers or sisters, then we know that something is wrong. Likewise, when a Christian refuses to attend church, then we know that something is wrong.

Jesus came not just to save individuals but to build his church. “On this rock,” he said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” Wow! No other organization has that promise, only the church.

So often the church looks ragged and ugly and weak. In fact, she sometimes looks so weak that one might think that even a gentle breeze would sweep her away once and for all. But after 2,000 years of tragedies and triumphs this raggedy institution survives and continues to serve the Lord, albeit imperfectly.

How can such a broken down, scuffed-up, out-of-step with the world organization last so long? Only by the power and promise of someone with great power. Only by the word of Jesus and work of his Spirit.

Someday she will stand before God in splendor, without blemish, spotless, despite all the bumps and bruises and wrinkles and stains she displays now. On that day she will be brilliant, adorned as a bride for her groom at the wedding supper of the Lamb. And she is the only organization with that promise!

May God’s Holy Spirit bind us together in love as brothers and sisters in Christ,

Brother Richard

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Walking With God In 2016

Following Jesus includes times of great joy and wonder. Imagine what Joseph felt as he watched the wise men present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, worshiping the baby Jesus!

That mountaintop moment with the wise men’s worship was soon a wonderful memory. And Joseph’s delight turned to anxiety when he had to flee the country in order to protect Jesus from the murderous King Herod.

As followers of Jesus, we will sometimes face circumstances that require us to flee. Scripture warns us to flee sexual immorality, flee idolatry, and to flee greed. Some things we do not hazard. But when we submit to God, Satan will flee from us!

When the paranoid King Herod realized that the wise men had slipped away without telling him Jesus’ whereabouts, he was enraged. He had all the baby boys in Bethlehem aged two years and younger slaughtered. How tragic for the families in that small town. . . .

Following Jesus does not mean that we will avoid all the sadness of this dark and broken world. We will experience times of mourning and times of questioning. But we do not mourn as the world mourns. We mourn without losing faith in God’s goodness.

Herod died. Joseph could safely bring Jesus and Mary back to Israel. But instead of returning to Bethlehem, God led the young family to Nazareth, a town of very little renown.

Why would God choose such a despised place for the upbringing of the Messiah, our Savior? God has a preference for using people, places and things that look small and unimportant in order to win great victories. In doing so, he focuses attention on his mighty power.

There may be seasons when we feel weak and small. At times we may think ourselves to be incapable of doing much at all. But our Lord Jesus assumed humble beginnings, despised and rejected by men, yet he won the victory.

From Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth, Joseph was directed by God’s angel. We too may flee, mourn and feel small. But when we follow God’s Spirit, he will direct us so that we can share in his inevitable triumph.

May God’s Holy Spirit inspire and enable us to follow him faithfully this year,

Brother Richard Foster

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The Appointed Time

God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son, but nothing happened. They waited for years, until Sarah was physically unable to bear children and Abraham was closing in on 100 years of age. They remained childless.

Then a miracle happened. The Bible says that God visited Sarah, that is, God enabled her to have a baby with Abraham. More than that, the Bible tells us that God blessed the couple with a son at the very time he had promised (Genesis 21:2).

Some people might think that God was a bit late in blessing Abraham and Sarah, but Scripture assures us that he acted at the appointed time. The boy was named Isaac, which means “he laughs.” Sarah was laughing. She was filled with joy.

Some two thousand years after Isaac was born, God promised a miracle baby to one of Isaac’s descendants. She was a young lady named Mary. She was soon to be married to a man named Joseph.

God promised Mary that she would have a boy before she was married to Joseph, before she and Joseph came together, and without knowing any other man. She was understandably confused.

Sure enough, God’s Spirit visited young Mary and she was carrying a baby. Joseph was stunned. He drew the logical conclusion that Mary had been unfaithful to him. But the Lord spoke to him personally and cleared Mary of any wrongdoing.

Some people might think that God was a bit early in the case of Joseph and Mary. Was he not putting Mary in an awkward position? What would people say? But Scripture assures us that God acted at the appointed time. When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem us (Galatians 4:4-5).

God’s great work of salvation started thousands of years ago when he chose a man named Abraham and promised him a son. It seemed impossible, but God does the impossible.

Centuries later a prophet named Isaiah wrote that a virgin would be with child and give birth to a son, calling him Immanuel. It seemed impossible, but it happened. And all who heard it were amazed.

Laugh with Sarah, rejoice with Isaiah, and treasure up all these things in your heart with Mary. Our Savior has come!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to all,

Brother Richard Foster

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