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Old 12-04-2018, 11:30 AM   #2441
GOLDDUSTERS5703

Name: GOLDDUSTERS5703
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Questions at Christmas


Read: Matthew 16:13–21 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 47–48; 1 John 3

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15

Well before the calendar flips to December, Christmas cheer begins to bubble up in our northern town. A medical office drapes its trees and shrubs in close-fitting strings of lights, each a different color, illuminating a breathtaking nighttime landscape. Another business decorates its building to look like an enormous, extravagantly wrapped Christmas present. It’s difficult to turn anywhere without seeing evidence of Christmas spirit—or at least seasonal marketing.

Some people love these lavish displays. Others take a more cynical view. But the crucial question isn’t how others observe Christmas. Rather, we each need to consider what the celebration means to us.

A little more than thirty years after His birth, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave responses others had given: John the Baptist, Elijah, maybe another prophet. Then Jesus made it personal: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).

Many will celebrate Christmas without a thought about who the Baby really is. As we interact with them, we can help them consider these crucial questions: Is Christmas just a heartwarming story about a baby born in a stable? Or did our Creator visit His creation and become one of us?

Father in heaven, may our Christmas celebrations this year, whether lavish or small, honor the Messiah who came to redeem His creation.


For more on the life of Christ, see christianuniversity.org/NT111.

Who do you say Jesus is?

By Tim Gustafson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Who was Matthew, the writer of the gospel by the same name? Matthew (also known as Levi) was one of Jesus’s twelve disciples. Prior to Jesus’s call, Matthew served as a despised tax collector (9:9). Tax collectors were particularly loathed because they exacted taxes from their own people, the Jews, to pay the Romans (the oppressive rulers of Israel). And they often collected far more than required. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah (Savior), the eternal King. We see Matthew’s emphasis clearly in today’s passage. When Jesus asked His disciples about His identity, Peter declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:15–16). Alyson Kieda

Alyson Kieda
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PHILIPPIANS 4:13
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Old Yesterday, 09:49 AM   #2442
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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Read: Isaiah 44:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Hosea 1–4; Revelation 1

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16

It doesn’t take much to notice that getting “inked” is very popular these days. Some tattoos are so small that one barely notices them. Others—from athletes to actors to everyday people—have opted to cover much of their bodies with multicolored inks, words, and designs. The trend seems like it’s here to stay, a trend that netted $3 billion in revenue in 2014—and an additional $66 million for tattoo removal.

Regardless of how you may feel about tattoos, Isaiah 44 speaks metaphorically about people writing something on their hands: “The Lord’s” (v. 5). This “self-tattoo” is the climax of an entire paragraph that speaks of the Lord’s care for those He had chosen (v. 1). They could count on His help (v. 2); and their land and descendants were marked for blessing (v. 3). Two simple, powerful words, “The Lord’s,” affirmed that God’s people knew they were His possession and that He would take care of them.

Those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ can confidently say of themselves, “The Lord’s!” We are His people, His sheep, His offspring, His inheritance, His dwelling. These are the things we cling to in the varied seasons of life. While we may have no external mark or tattoo, we can take heart that we have the witness of God’s Spirit in our hearts that we belong to Him (see Romans 8:16–17).

Father, the expressions of Your love and care are all around me and Your Spirit lives within me. Thank You!

How can the truth that you belong to God impact how you live?

By Arthur Jackson | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Isaiah was the most prolific of the writing prophets, but the great size of his book is eclipsed in importance by its content. Commentator John Gill wrote: “He should rather be called an evangelist than a prophet . . . certain it is that no one writes so fully and clearly of the person, offices, grace, and kingdom of Christ; of his incarnation and birth of a virgin; of his sufferings and death, and the glory that should follow, as [Isaiah] does.” Isaiah’s focus on Messiah and His mission was vital to preparing the way for Christ’s coming, for it provided Israel with critical identifiers of Christ and certain hope in His promised victory.

For more on Isaiah, check out Knowing God Through Isaiah at discoveryseries.org/sb151.

Bill Crowder
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