Who are the Magi and what do they have to do with Christmas? Pastor Mark Tiefel tells us that the word magi is related to our English word "magic" although it is not like the magic we think of today. The magi or wise men were students of many different subjects and sometimes even had "super"natural abilities. Think of the examples of Joseph or Daniel in the Old Testament and the God-given ability to interpret dreams. In fact the magi may have been influenced by the "ministry" of Daniel in Babylon centuries before who shared the truth of the coming Savior while he was in that foreign land. The magi knew about the coming of the Savior, and seeing His star, traveled many mile to worship the Savior sent by God. The account of the magi reminds us that God's Word is intended to bring hope and comfort to all people, which is one of the main themes of the season of Epiphany.
Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the word "admonition" as it is used in Scripture and the importance of it in our lives. This is not a popular word in our world today, but the word has the idea of giving information to correct or change our lives for the better (from God's perspective). This is one of the priorities which God has given to parents in raising their children, just as God does for us. This is viewed as arrogant in our society, but something that God does to us and we do for one another in love. God instructs us through the hearing and reading of His Word. As Christians, God has called us to admonish one another in love, it is part of our calling as His children and our faithful witness of our Savior.
In our Christmas Day Word of the Week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the Biblical doctrine of the "Virgin Birth." This doctrine has been doubted and opposed throughout the history of Christianity, but is CLEARLY taught in both the Old and the New Testaments. A close look at the birth accounts recorded in Luke (to Mary) and Matthew (to Joseph) reveal that there was no doubt that the conception of Jesus was a miracle seen in the fact that Mary was indeed a virgin. This is also prophesied in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah (7:14). Thanks be to God for His gift of a Savior who was both True God, conceived by the Holy Spirit and True Man, born of the Virgin Mary! It is this truth that makes Christmas a gift from God!
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World we return to a Name of Jesus: Only Begotten. This term in Greek mean "unique" or "unparalleled" and describes the relationship with another. It is only used 9 times in the New Testament and 5 times to describe Jesus and His relationship with the Father. It is used twice in John 1, twice in John 3 and once in 1 John. There are two important truths that we learn from these references. 1) Because Jesus has this unique relationship with the Father, He is able to be our Savior. 2) We should believe in Jesus because of who He is. Without faith, we are condemned, but through faith we receive the salvation He has come to win. What more important Christmas message is there, than Jesus is the Word, the Only-begotten of the Father who came to deliver us from sin and death? A blessed Christmas to you as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Father!
Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the Second Table of the Law and Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan to define the term "neighbor" as it is used in Scripture. While our flesh would like to justify our actions by narrowly defining our neighbor as those that we like or love, Jesus points out that our neighbor is anyone and everyone, and even includes our "enemies"! Join us for this practical review!
Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the word Iniquity this week. The word has the basic meaning of something which is crooked or bent out of shape. God's prophets of the Old Testament would use this as a common description of the rebellion of humanity against God's Law. Not only does it describe our crooked behavior, but it is also used to describe the result of that behavior. We must carry the burden of our iniquity or "guilt." But while God at times allows us to suffer the earthly consequences of our iniquity, He desires our salvation and sent Jesus to bear our iniquities in our place at the cross. Because of the work of our Savior who has come, we are forgiven and set free!
In our Word of the week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew define and describes the Biblical practice and purpose of excommunication. This is based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-18, and as was practiced by the Apostle Paul and the Christian Church throughout history. Contrary to what many people think or believe, excommunication is actually a loving action that is intended to lead a person who has separated themselves from Christ to repentance. It is not about the type of sin, but the reaction to sin that is the problem. Excommunication is the most severe preaching of the law of God and has the purpose of leading a sinner to see the error of his or her way and to be saved. Join us today as we study this important and often misunderstood Biblical, Christian, and loving action.
Learn more about the word "transgression" in our Word of the Week for this week. The word is used to describe the relationship between God and sinners. In order to better understand what this means it is helpful to know that this describes a person violating the trust of another. It is used to describe nations who break treaties with other nations. This is helpful because the word describes something that shouldn't be. A promise was made but then broken, a trust was violated. That is what man has done to God. Mankind and violated the trust of God going back to the very beginning in the Garden of Eden. We have transgressed against God. But God did not want us to die in our transgression, so He sent Jesus. Jesus bore our transgression, and was completely trustworthy where we were not. Because of the actions of Jesus for us, God forgives our transgressions. What grace! God's grace can only be known through the realization of our transgression and what Jesus did for us.
In our Word of the Week today, Pastor Ben Libby defines the word "saint" in Scripture. There are many false views of the word saint. For example the Roman Catholic Church uses this term to describe a person who has lived a "better" life than others. They even have a process called canonization for declaring certain people saints. But the ancient meaning of the word saint and the way that it is used in Scripture itself is different. A saint is a person who, by faith, has been saved from sin through the actions of Jesus Christ. So what does someone need to be a saint? Jesus! The work of God makes sinners saints through the work of faith. Rejoice that you are saints in Christ!
As we conclude our recent celebration of the Reformation, we are reminded of what the Biblical word "righteousness" means. Pastor Tom Naumann takes us through the meaning and the use of the word in Scripture. In the Bible, God's Laws describe the character of God and the standard by which human righteousness is judged. The problem is we are not able to attain the God's standard of righteousness. The only means by which this is possible for us is through the righteousness of Christ which becomes ours by faith. Jesus has exchanged our sin for His perfection. We are declared righteous by God on account of what Jesus has done for us (2 Cor. 5:19-21). Thanks be to God!