Luke 2:1-7, “The birth of Jesus is reliable and relatable.”

Luke 2:1, “1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”

  • The Gospel of Luke is an investigative report on the life of Jesus.

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The Essence of Life: Proverbs 26:18-19, “The Lord is compassionate toward the widow.”

Proverbs 15:25, “25 The Lord will tear down the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.”

  • That phrase “The Lord” doesn’t always carry a lot of weight in our 2019 ears, but in the original language we see the word “Yahweh.” Yahweh is the personal name of God. It is how the God of Scripture introduces Himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3, and it is thought that “Yahweh” is a play off the Hebrew verb, “To Be / HYH.”

I know this is technical, but it’s so good. When you watch the Prince of Egypt, and you should, (Mariah Carrie and Whitney Houston Duet, amazing), the God of Scripture tells Moses to go to Pharaoh (King of Egypt, “Let my people go.”

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The Essence of Life: Proverbs 11:22, “How do we become men, women, and children growing in character?”

Proverbs 11:22, “22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.”

Proverbs is in the Old Testament, considered wisdom literature, Proverbs make you think, and the original audience for Proverbs is a training guide for boys, otherwise known as a manual for growing young men in character.

Now, in 2019 we hear that language, and we say to ourselves, “What about the ladies?” In fact, when you see verse 22 reference a “beautiful woman” it is possible our inner “Beyonce” comes out, we get in “Formation” and we wonder, “What about the ladies?”

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The Essence of Life: Proverbs4:1-2, “Stirring up wisdom.”

Proverbs 4:1-2, “1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction.”

It is important to note that in the context of Proverbs wisdom is always presented relationally. Do you see it in verse 1, “Hear, O sons the instruction of a father.” The context of wisdom is relational.

In addition, it is important to note that the “instruction” in verse 1, do you see it, “instruction of a father” in the original language is often used in the context of correction, especially in the context of discipline.

Which means if our church family is going to stir up wisdom in our relationships with one another then we must fostering close relationships with one another and willing to have hard conversations with one another.

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The Essence of Work, “The Work of Jesus.”

John 4:31-32, “31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

  • John 1, Word becomes flesh, Jesus is introduced, John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb!” John 2-12, Jesus works and words are miraculous, so that in John 4 we get to see Jesus engaging in an ordinary conversation with a woman at the well.
  • In the context of John 4 we see that Jesus is tired, the disciples go into town to buy food (vs. 6), and Jesus starts a conversation with a woman who has come to the well to draw water and Jesus says to her, “Go and get your husband.”
  • Now, if you are sitting in the pocket of this story there is tension all over the story.   The woman at the well says to Jesus, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus says, “That’s right. You got five husbands, and the guy you’re with right now isn’t your husband.”

It’s a powerful moment, and there is external tension all over the conversation in John 4. First, Jewish men didn’t typically speak to women who were strangers. Second, this woman is a Samaritan woman; historically Samaritans and Jewish people didn’t get along. Like Longhorns and Sooners.

Third, this woman has been through 5 marriages, in a small town, so that socially she had become an outcast, so that we see ethical social tension, religious tension, ethnic tension, and moral tension all over the conversation.

In addition to the external tension, Jesus is pressing into the soul of this women to create internal tension. This is hard to see at first reading, but Jesus is using the watering well as a metaphor for romantic relationships, so that as a person comes to a watering well to get water, so has this woman come to the “well of romantic relationships” and she keeps coming up empty.

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Ephesians 6:5-9, “Hope of Work.”

Ephesians 6:5, “5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

The letter is written by the Apostle Paul, to the church in Ephesus, a real location in Turkey, you can visit today, and in the opening words of the first chapter we see the Father’s plan is to sum up all things in Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth will be summed up in Jesus as He comes to restore, reclaim, and renew everything that belongs to Him (Verse 10). That’s the plan!

Therefore, in Ephesians 1, 2 and 3 the Apostle Paul is teaching how this plan of restoration takes place theologically, and in chapters 4, 5, and 6 the Apostle Paul is teaching us how this plan of restoration takes place practically today.

In Ephesians 5 and 6 we see the Apostle Paul starts taking Jesus’ plan of restoration all the way down to the marital level, the parenting level, the children level, and in verse 5 we see the employee / employer level of restoration, and verse 5 starts off with “slaves, be obedient to those who are you masters according to the flesh.”

Now, I am guessing that most of us see the word “slave” in verse 5, and it makes us uncomfortable. We are thinking, “Doesn’t seem like ‘slave’ should fit into Jesus’ plan of restoration, right?

Perhaps we have even had a college professor say that the Bible endorses slavery, and yes, there have been pastors who have used these verses to endorse American Slavery, particularly in the south, but this was and is a complete misuse of Scripture.

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Genesis 3:14-17, “Frustration of Work.”

Genesis 3:14, “14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, And dust you will eat all the days of your life;

Alright, before we jump into verse 14 we need to keep the big picture in mind of Genesis 1, “All of creation is spoken into existence.”  Then, in Genesis 2 the God of Scripture zeroes in on His prize creation of humanity, and Adam and Eve are given the responsibility to cultivate and keep the garden (2:15), and everything is good.

Until Genesis 3 we see a fracture that enters into this story of goodness, and as a result we see frustration in our lives and in our world today. Write that in your notes, “Genesis 1-2 everything is good, but in Genesis 3 we see frustration.”

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