Vineyard Life Journal

An online forum for our church family to connect around our 2012 daily Bible reading plan using the S.O.A.P. method.

Day 323

Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome to Day 323 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Matthew 1; Matthew 2; Matthew 3; Matthew 4 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Matthew 1:21, “‘You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.'”

Matthew 2:11, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”

16 “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. ”

Matthew 3:13, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”Then John consented.”

Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

O bservation

I’m always amazed when I read Matthew how much ground is covered in each chapter. His genealogy, warnings in dreams, the three kings/magi, temptation in the wilderness, Jesus’ baptism, begins his ministry.

A pplication

There it is, right there in Matthew 1, “Give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Can you imagine having an angel appear to you in a dream, telling you to marry a pregnant girl, what to name the baby, and that the child will save his people from their sins?

That’s a lot to process in one dream.

This is a perfect reminder as we enter the holiday season, isn’t it…

The story of the Magi (They were probably from Babylon or Persia… from the east. Not kings as we so often sing, but star-gazers, astrologers, philosophers… who had heard about the coming Messiah…) who followed the star to worship the young child Jesus. (It makes for a nice nativity scene that the Magi would be there, but obviously they weren’t since Herod had all boys age two and under killed according to their timing and arrival.)

Anyway, it still makes for a great scene… a stable, Joseph, Mary and the infant in a manger, surrounded by animals, shepherds and of course, the wise men. Maybe an angel or two?

I love the current saying “Wise men still seek him.”

I’m still an ad-guy at heart. (After spending nearly fifteen years in advertising, I still love to turn a phrase.)

“Wise men still seek him.”

has a nice rhythm to it, it fits nicely on a bumper sticker AND most importantly, it connects everyone to the story of Jesus’ birth. Most people know the Christmas story, even if it’s as simple as “the birth of Jesus.”

While I’m not crazy about the whole commercialization of Christmas… And now, annually we have the ongoing controversy about what mega-retailer has changed it’s “Christmas” sale to “Holiday” sale…

Still, for a month or so, the focus turns to this amazing story. And Santa Clause, of course. Good ol’ Saint Nick. (Remember the Church Lady from SNL? Santa/Satan??)

While Santa does a good job of muddying the proverbial waters and Jesus being “the reason for the season,” nothing can hide the true meaning of Christmas.

1 Corinthians 1:18 states, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The message of the cross is foolishness? But an old, bearded man in a red suit, flying all over the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer… and don’t forget about those elves, filling Santa’s shelves, fa la la la la, la la la la…

Obviously, my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek as I write this.

I have nothing but mad love for Santa. My dad played Santa in our hometown for more than 25 years, both officially and unofficially, taking gifts to those less fortunate, often showing up at people’s homes with a car load, excuse me, sleigh load of gifts and groceries.

I even had someone remind me of the pagan-origin of the beloved Christmas tree last week… I reminded him of Ishtar/Easter. You can research that one on your own…

Shall we now talk about Halloween?

Not to be too snarky… Sorry it’s early…

All I’m saying is let’s keep the main thing, the main thing. As we scurry about on the inevitable “Black Friday” clawing and scratching for the best deal on a new flat panel tv or the hot new video game, let’s remember Christ, his birth and most importantly, why he came.

“You are to give him the name Jesus, because

he will save his people from their sins.”

P rayer

Lord help us all to keep the main thing, the main thing this Christmas season…

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2 thoughts on “Day 323

  1. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. Christmas eve brings a peaceful feeling that can’t be explained. I think Santa gets a bad rap for stealing the thunder, but I look at it this way; Santa teaches us to believe in the unbelievable. We have to believe in Jesus in much the same way we do in Santa growing up. I just watched one of my favorites with the family (who all fell asleep in the middle) The Santa Claus. In this movie is the line, “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” I see and experience Jesus because I believe…

    I have to admit that I find the slogan, “Wise men still seek him.” overused and kinda cheesy. I think it would better to say, “Men who still seek him are wise.” JMO =)

    Jesus, thank you for Christmas. We want to start it earlier and earlier every year to experience Your presence. Your holiness breaks through all commercialism and whatever origins of any traditions might be. You have overcome the world, and I want to experience that all year long. No matter what may motivate each of us to enjoy this time of year, I pray that it all ends up with each of us establishing a closer relationship to You.

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