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Inside BST


Inside BST

Inside BST goes behind the curtain of BibleStudyTools.com and into the minds of our editors and developers. You'll discover encouraging stories, information about the site, links that interest us, and devotionals.

3 Bible Verses You May be Getting Wrong

Bible verses need a home. When they get plucked out of their dwelling place—that is, the surrounding paragraphs—they can make a great deal of mischief. Many times, isolated verses can cause damage to our understanding of the truths of Scripture. They can get tossed around to end arguments, shut down discussion, and instill false hope. That’s why one verse a day isn’t enough. You need hearty daily bread, not a daily crumb.

So, if you’ve mastered the verses that aren’t in the Bible, now make sure you know the true meaning of these 3 commonly misused verses. After all, when we truly understand what they say, our knowledge of God grows, too.

1. “Do not judge….” Matthew 7:1a

This one seems so straightforward on the surface. When Jesus was explaining how Christians should live the Kingdom life, He explicitly told us not to judge… anyone... ever. At least, that’s how some have come to understand this verse. If anyone questions their lifestyle choices, moral decisions, or actions, they remind us that Jesus said not to judge.

But we need to be careful how we use this verse by understanding what’s happening. Namely, this verse comes in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus explains to His followers what a God-first life looks like. He shows them why they don’t need to worry, how they should pray, how they should fast, and so much more. His main concern, in fact, involves believers and how they treat other believers or “brothers” (i.e., the Church). In other words, this isn’t really a discussion of confronting someone in sin as it is examining someone else’s Christian walk.

Even still, Jesus tells us that the problem isn’t in judging itself. The problem is in that we must judge a matter in the same way that we would want to be judged (a form of the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12). And if we are to be fit to do the judging, we must do so only after examining ourselves (Matthew 7:5; Romans 2:1).

After all, Jesus—only a few paragraphs later—says that we must watch out for “false prophets” by looking at their fruit (7:15–19). We cannot do so without making a biblical judgment about their lives. Otherwise, we’d be in danger of accepting any teaching without testing it by the Bible.

In addition, God has already declared what is sinful in His Word, and we know that His rulings about morals, lifestyle chioces, and actions are always right. It is not “judging” anyone if we point out what God says about a certain sin. The ruling has already come, and showing them that something is against God’s perfect standard is the most loving thing we can do:

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

So, while we must be very careful about examining ourselves first and treating others with love, we also must judge when judgment is warranted or God has already declared a verdict.

2. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

What goes around comes around, karma, poetic justice, sowing and reaping—for many, this Bible verse proves the concept of getting what we deserve. If someone hurts us or treats us badly, we know they’ll reap what they sow. Right?

Well, that’s not exactly what this verse means. In fact, taking a look at the context shows that the idea isn’t about some “cosmic retribution”; it’s really about how we live our lives. Let’s step down one verse:

“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8)

In other words, when we live a life to please ourselves and satisfy all our desires, we do reap the consequences of our actions. These include heartache, shame, regret, fear, physical effects, and more. Our earthly appetites can cause real damage, not to mention the spiritual ramifications. But when we pour ourselves into Spirit-led living, we reap eternal treasures.

Really, the idea of “karma” is completely contrary to God’s Word. Why? Because we humans deserve one thing, and that’s death:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

We all sin, but we don’t get what we deserve. We get grace instead—all of us. In fact, you could say that God even blesses the “evil” and “unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). His love is so powerful that Jesus came to earth to blast karma to pieces by taking the “reaping” that we should have gotten:

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

To be sure, sin-obsessed living will lead to physical consequences. But God’s mercy and patience mean that He gives us the opportunity to turn to Him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). We don’t deserve the chance, but we get it anyway. We pray that you will take it if you haven’t already.

3. “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

This one isn’t so much just the verse as it is the whole chapter. We know this virtuous lady as the Proverbs 31 woman, but for many wives out there trying to live up to the example, the better name might be “impossible standard woman.” After all, she rises up before it should be legal, goes to bad crazy late, and has her hands in every single aspect of the household. She does it all with a smile and nary any bags under her eyes.

But using this chapter as the definitive job description for a wife isn’t really fair to anyone. Husbands who expect their wives to do everything listed will be sorely disappointed, and the wives who try to make it happen will be sorely exhausted. What was supposed to be encouraging and affirming becomes something that is, instead, a big pain.

Here’s the secret, though. Proverbs 31 works like an amalgamation, a collection of snapshots of women of faith and solid character. (You could think of it like the hall of fame of great wives and some of the amazing things they do for us.) One wife like this wakes up early to get things ready for her house; one knows how to make savvy business deals; one makes clothes like nobody’s business. Some may even have done a couple of them well.

But the point is that the noble wife is a godly woman who loves her family and blesses them. She uses the gifts and talents God has given her uniquely. How she uses her gifts depends upon the situation and what God leads her to do. That doesn’t mean she’s a failure if she doesn’t sew her own clothes; it means she’s a success if she allows God to use her to point her family and others to Christ.

 


Quick Look: ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament

Even for those who have learned biblical Greek somewhere along the line, maintaining that skill can be somewhat challenging. After all, it's not a language most of us use every day. So, wouldn't it be great if there were a Bible that helped you both study the English and brush up on your Greek? That's where the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament (ESV EGRINT) comes in.

Most interlinears, including the one on our site, give you the Greek first and then the English translation underneath. But by turning things around, the ESV EGRINT gives you another valuable tool in your study arsenal:

This state-of-the-art reverse interlinear New Testament, created in partnership with The German Bible Society and Logos Bible Software, breaks with the convention of traditional interlinear texts by keeping the English as the top-line entry and placing the Greek text underneath it. This approach allows you to see firsthand the accuracy with which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) rendered the Greek text.

In other words, you can study Scripture smoothly in English... and also dig into the Greek.

Great for: pastors, theologians, seminary students, and anyone wanting to learn some Greek


7 Ways to Get Creative with Bible Reading

Bible reading plans don't have to follow any set rules or patterns. If you completed something more traditional recently, you could change things up. Here are some suggestions for doing just that:

  • Divide the 66 books of the Bible by months or weeks. Instead of following a set reading plan, you could either shoot for reading five or six books each month or one or two per week. Since some of the minor prophets and letters are short, this isn't as daunting as it may seem. Split the short ones up so that you have at least one each month or save them for weeks that you know you'll be busy.
  • Instead of reading through the whole Bible this year, consider zooming in on one book each month. Read it through several times and take notes about what God's showing you. Use several versions of the Bible for added insight. Then, watch some videos or read study materials on our site to really dig in (you'll find them linked below the reading pane).
  • Read out loud. Sometimes, hearing the words spoken aloud can help you in your studies. You could even read in a group of others so that no one person has to read the whole book.
  • Commit to memorizing one verse from each book you study this year. That may sound scary, but it's not. We memorize things all the time. Plus, it'll help you remember a lesson from each one.
  • Memorize an entire chapter or book of the Bible. This is a big challenge for anyone, but it's well worth the investment. A Psalms 1, Philemon 1, or Jude 1 could be the place to start.
  • Write out verses. Another method of study that some people find helpful involves copying Scripture in a notebook. It can be a slow process, but you might be surprised how well you connect with what you're writing.
  • Learn Greek and Hebrew. There are many sites on the Internet that will teach you these ancient languages. Learning to read the original manuscripts of the Bible is well worth the effort.

8 Things to Pray When You Don't Know What to Say

For those who are new to their faith, prayer can seem daunting and overwhelming. How do I talk to God? What does that even mean? Are there things I’m supposed to say? Are there things I’m not allowed to say? Is there a set prayer or do I just make one up?

Even for those who have been in a relationship with the Lord for many years, prayer can still seem challenging for a whole host of reasons. It can get stale, feel useless, fall to the wayside, or just seem to lose its power.

So what do we do when we need new words to pray? How we can we revitalize our prayer lives? Here are some ideas!

Pray through passages of Scripture. 

The book of Psalms are an excellent place to start-- there are psalms for when our souls feel troubled (Psalm 6), for when we are filled with joy (Psalm 30), for when we are praising His deeds (Psalm 66), for when we desire revival (Psalm 85), for when we need help (Psalm 109), and for all other emotions we experience as well. Here are five other powerful prayers straight from Scripture.

Pray the words of hymns or contemporary modern music.

So many hymns come from Scripture, and the poetic way that hymns present themes of our faith is a beautiful way to pray. You can find a whole collection of hymns here and modern worship music videos here

Pray through journaling.

This is something I’ve found personally to be extremely helpful-- journaling my prayers, as random or rambling as they may be, helps me focus on what I’m saying and process through my emotions. An added bonus of journaling prayer is being able to look back over them and see how the Lord has answered and moved in your life.

Pray as you dwell on one word.

If the idea of prayer is overwhelming, choose just one word to focus on. Maybe it’s “peace” or “grace” or “strength.” Think about what that word means, remember verses or songs you have heard that include that word, think about what that word means for you in your faith, and ask God to show you new things about that word. Prayer doesn’t need to be lengthy or complicated. It can be as simple as just focusing on one word and praying something like, “Lord, I need peace. I want peace. Show me what peace looks like. May I experience more of Your peace this week.”

Pray in questions.

Sometimes, the questions about faith or who God is or why things have happened in our lives seem overwhelming. It can be hard to get past them to feel like we can actually pray...but why not pray those questions and take them to God? You don’t have to have any answers, and you might not even feel like your questions are immediately answered, but just honestly come before the Lord and list all of your doubts, worries, fears, uncertainty to him in prayer.

Pray through the names of Jesus.

There are so many names for the Lord all throughout Scripture, and when we don’t have words to pray, just speaking them can be a comfort to our souls. Abba Father (Galatians 4:6); Prince and Savior (Acts 5:31); Chosen One (Isaiah 42:1); King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15); Immanuel (Matthew 1:23); Stronghold, Refuge, Savior (2 Samuel 22:3); and the list continues. Say these names in prayer and think about what they mean for your life.

Pray using the ACTS acrostic.

This article from our archives by Greg Laurie gives a helpful acrostic for prayer: ACTS.
A stands for adoration or worship.
C stands for confession.
T stands for thanksgiving.
S stands for supplication.
This is a helpful way of orienting ourselves in prayer and giving ourselves a simple blueprint to follow.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:9-15 gives us a prayer straight from the mouth of Jesus. Read through these words and repeat them to yourself line by line. Read it in several translations (you can do this easily on our site) and compare the different ways they word this prayer. Write it out, reflect on it, and learn to memorize the famous words of this prayer.


It is our hope that these ideas will give you new ways to pray and communicate with God. Have any other ideas to share? We would love to hear them in the comments!
 


Let's Make It Through the Bible This Year

Those of us at BibleStudyTools.com love New Year's. During this time, many Christians consider their life plans and what changes they'd like to make. And while we can't do much to help you with weight or exercise goals, we can help you with your renewed focus on God's Word.

Here's how we can help you make it through the Bible this year:

  • A Bible reading plan: This is the most straightfoward way to meet your goals. You could plunge in and read through Scripture one day at a time for 365 days, but not all of our plans are for the whole Bible. You could start off small and work your way up. Whatever you choose, we'll keep your rolling.
  • Scripture by email: With all due respect to your spouse or mom, there's no better email in your inbox than God's Word. We'll send it to you in one of four translations.
  • Daily articles and blogs: Every weekday, you'll find new Bible study articles and blog posts on our site. Each one helps you understand Scripture and grow in your faith. We also provide tips for getting the most from your Bible study.
  • Audio Bibles: Some of us at BST prefer to listen to our daily Bible reading. And if that's you, then we've got you covered.
  • Online library: We've got more than enough books and resources in our free online library for you to study a new one every day of the year. Try digging into one of our classics this year for some added study.

Whatever your goals, make BibleStudyTools.com a part of your daily reading, and we'll do our best to keep you going.


The 5 Most-Watched Videos of 2015

This year, we wanted to make and share videos with you that would inspire you, challenge you, and answer your Bible questions. These 5 videos are the ones you watched most in 2015, and they're a mix of inspiring, challenging, and informative. The best part about these videos? They're timeless, so you can watch them again and again and again...we know we are!

Here are the top 5 videos of 2015:

5. What is a tithe and does it apply to Christians today? -Colin Smith

Christianity.com: What is a tithe and does it apply to Christians today?-Colin Smith from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube.

4. 5 Healing Bible Verses for You and Your Family

BibleStudyTools.com: 5 Healing Bible Verses for You and Your Family from biblestudytools on GodTube.

3. Why is Jeremiah called the weeping prophet?

BibleStudyTools.com: Why is Jeremiah called the weeping prophet? - Gary Yates from biblestudytools on GodTube.

2. What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark Chapter 3? -Brian Hedges

BibleStudyTools.com: What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark Chapter 3?-Brian Hedges from biblestudytools on GodTube.

1. Must-See Version of Psalm 91 Has Taken Us By Storm

BibleStudyTools.com: Must-See Version of Psalm 91 Has Taken Us by Storm from biblestudytools on GodTube.


Top 10 Bible Reading Plans of 2015

It's essential for all of us as believers to spend time in the Word, and we are overjoyed that so many people were able to do so through the Bible reading plans found at BibleStudyTools.com. We offer more than 15 different established Bible reading plans on both our website and mobile app, making it easier than ever to stay engaged with Scripture every day.

So, what plans were you using in 2015? Here are the 10 most popular Bible reading plans! Any of these would be perfect to work through in 2016, too!

10. 71 Days in Isaiah (71 days)
Carefully work your way through Isaiah in 71 days to experience the full impact of the prophet's words.

9. New Testament in 90 Days (90 days)
Read straight through the New Testament in 90 days.

8. Prof. Horner’s Reading System (365 days)
A unique and challenging system where you read 10 chapters a day.

7. Ninety-Day Challenge (90 days)
Read the Bible all the way through in only 90 days. It's a challenge well worth taking.

6. Old Testament and New Testament (365 days)
Read one passage from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each day.

5. Thematic (365 days)
This Bible reading schedule is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish.

4. Chronological New Testament (92 days)
In only 3 months you can read the New Testament in the order that the events happened.

3. Classic (365 days)
Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.

2. Book Order (365 days)
Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.

1. Chronological (365 days)
Read the Bible in the order that the events happened.


Tips on Reading the Bible Daily

1. Start reading the Bible today -- there is no better time, and there's no reason to wait.
2. Set aside a specific time each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently for you.
3. Read the Bible for the sake of learning, not simply to accomplish your next reading. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding, then be refreshed by the words you read!


The Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015

We are constantly working hard to share the best content with you-- content that encourages, challenges, enlightens, and benefits you. We love looking back at this past year and seeing which content you loved most. So, what topped the charts of BibleStudyTools.com during this year?

Here are the top five blog posts of 2015:

5. 5 Destructive Lies You Tell Yourself Every Day

by John UpChurch (Inside BST)

Just go ahead and admit it. You’re lying to yourself today. Life gets complex, relationships get sticky, loneliness creeps in—and sometimes we just feel the need to bend the truth to make it through the week. We need our lies to keep the pain tucked away where it can’t get to us. That deceitful heart of ours has a way making it easy for us to be okay with these lies. Have you seen any of these 5 lies in yourself today?

4. 3 Reasons Why Some Christians Avoid Church

by John Aloisi (Theologically Driven)

Unfortunately the reality is that there are a good number of professing Christians who either shy away from church membership or avoid church attendance altogether. The problem of professing Christians who neglect church involvement is sadly not a myth.
There are a number of excuses that such professing believers give for their lack of church involvement. These are three that I’ve heard.

3. Why Sex is So Addicting

by Chris Russell

Sex is a beautiful thing, and sex is a powerful thing. After all, God created it! And it’s important for you to know that the reason God puts restrictions on sex is not because He is a cosmic killjoy who hates to see us having fun. That’s not it. The reason He has restricted it is because sex has a very powerful purpose in life. The purpose for sex is to create a supernatural bond between a husband and wife that will never be broken. In line with this, sex is actually designed to be addictive!

2. 8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life

by Chris Russell

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. Interestingly, now that I’m “old” (currently 47 years old), I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan. So, then, how can we know God’s plan for our lives? Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have discovered eight vital keys to knowing God’s will.

1. 5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart

by Leslie Vernick (Association of Biblical Counselors)

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.
I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart. Here are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.


How Well Do You Know Christmas?

Most of us have seen Christmas plays, nativity sets, and images that supposedly show us what happened that first Christmas. But how accurate are these symbols of the season? Well, not very. In fact, you might be surprised what isn't in the Bible.

Dr. Ray Pritchard has a Christmas quiz that shows what we mean:


For the last several years David Langerfeld, associate pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, has given a Christmas IQ test to his Sunday School class. I should warn you that this is a tough quiz. When I took it, I missed several questions. Try taking it first without checking the Bible to see how well you know the real Christmas story.

1. Joseph was originally from... (Luke 2:3)
    A. Bethlehem
    B. Nazareth
    C. Hebron
    D. Jerusalem 
    E. None of the above

2. What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
    A. “There is no room in the inn.”
    B. “I have a stable you can use.”
    C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
    D. Both A and B
    E. None of the above


We encourage you to take the whole quiz and tell us how you do in the comments.


Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas

This week A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on national prime time television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.

I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas, and so when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.

I was in the first grade back when they still performed Christmas pageants in schools (less than 50 years, but still a very long time ago), and our class performed a version of the Charlie Brown Christmas. Since I was kind of a bookworm and already had a blue blanket, I was chosen to play the part of Linus. As Linus, I memorized Luke 2:8-14, and that Scripture has been hidden in my heart ever since.

But while working so diligently to learn those lines, there is one important thing I didn’t notice then, and didn’t notice until now.

Right in the middle of speaking, Linus drops the blanket.

Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.

Until this moment.  When he simply drops it.

In that climactic scene when Linus shares "what Christmas is all about," he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, "fear not" (at :38 seconds).

Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it's so simple it's brilliant.

The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

The world of 2015 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2015 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to "fear not."

But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL... READ PART TWO OF THIS ARTICLE, THE REST OF LINUS'S STORY!

As a writer and musician, Jason Soroski strives to communicate in a way that is insightful, meaningful, relevant, and mindful of the small things that we may otherwise overlook in our everyday lives. He effectively taps into his experiences as a worship pastor, classroom teacher, husband, and homeschooling father of five to relate poignant stories from real-life experiences. Jason holds an M.Ed. from Missouri Baptist University, has been featured in various print and web publications, and currently resides in Houston, TX. Read more from Jason at his blog The Way I See It.

Article originally published at The Way I See It. Used with permission.

Publication date: December 14, 2015


A Christmas Sermon that Never Loses Its Power

Sermon styles change, but great sermons never lose their punch. You'll see what we mean if you take a look at the classic sermons from Leo Magnus ("Leo the Great"). His words tumble down through time with the power to impact us even today.

But rather than just tell you, read some of his sermon on the birth of Christ yourself:


Sermon XXI. On the Feast of the Nativity, I.

I. All Share in the Joy of Christmas.

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fulness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin. Truly foreign to this nativity is that which we read of all others, "no one is clean from stain, not even the infant who has lived but one day upon earth." Nothing therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated with the sacred seed and to conceive the Divinely-human offspring in mind first and then in body. And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result, she learns from converse with the angel that what is to be wrought in her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she believe it loss of honour that she is soon to be the Mother of God. For why should she be in despair over the novelty of such conception, to whom the power of the most High has promised to effect it. Her implicit faith is confirmed also by the attestation of a precursory miracle, and Elizabeth receives unexpected fertility: in order that there might be no doubt that He who had given conception to the barren, would give it even to a virgin.

II. The Mystery of the Incarnation is a Fitting Theme for Joy Both to Angels and to Men.

Therefore the Word of God, Himself God,the Son of God who "in the beginning was with God," through whom "all things were made" and "without" whom "was nothing made," with the purpose of delivering man from eternal death, became man: so bending Himself to take on Him our humility without decrease in His own majesty, that remaining what He was and assuming what He was not, He might unite the true form of a slave to that form in which He is equal to God the Father, and join both natures together by such a compact that the lower should not be swallowed up in its exaltation nor the higher impaired by its new associate. Without detriment therefore to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt, belonging to our condition, inviolable naturewas united with possible nature, and true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, SO that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and rise again with the other.


And he's just getting warmed up. Read the rest of this Christmas sermon from our collection of Christian writings that never get old.


5 Things to Notice When You Read Luke's Christmas Story This Year

This Christmas season, Luke 2 will probably be the most-read passage of Scripture. It tells of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the angels’ announcement to the shepherds in the fields, the shepherds’ visit to the stable, and even Jesus’ childhood. This chapter of the New Testament tells the age-old Christmas story, but it’s also extremely relevant to our lives today in practical ways.

Here are five takeaways from Luke 2 that we can apply to our lives today:

  1. Even Jesus wasn’t above simple circumstances. When you think of kings, you think of crowns and thrones and palaces...not stables full of smelly farm animals and a feeding trough as a bed for a newborn baby. Yet Jesus, King of Kings though He is, came into the world in a remarkably simple, lowly, and unassuming way. His birth was the furthest thing from a King’s welcome. Few of us are acquainted with the ways of royalty, and it’s hard to even fathom how elaborate and exquisite that lifestyle is. Many more of us, however, can describe in detail what a barn is like. I find this part of the Christmas story so beautiful-- Jesus didn’t come to earth as a mighty, majestic King who would be intimidating and untouchable. He instead came as a innocent, needy, dependent baby born to parents who were poor and as simply normal as could be. Everything about the very beginnings of his life on earth was humble and unassuming, giving us a Savior we can easily relate to and understand, not one who is distant or on a lofty throne. This is such a comforting truth-- we don’t have to have prestigious job titles or well-stocked bank accounts or fame to be used by God, because not even His Son required those things.
  2. God’s glory is worthy of our praise, even when we feel afraid. When the angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds who were keeping watch over their sheep during the night, verse 9 says “they were terrified.” I would be too! Even though they were afraid and probably trying to make sense of what they were seeing and hearing, wondering if they were dreaming or if this really was happening, the angel’s first words were “Do not be afraid.”
  3. When the Lord makes a promise, we can trust He will keep it. The shepherds heard from the angels that the baby had been born, and they didn’t doubt it. Verse 15 says, “when the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” They heard the message and immediately acted upon it, never hesitating or questioning that what the angel of the Lord had said to them. We should do the same in our lives. We have Scripture as tangible documentation of the Lord’s promises and truths, and we should act on them without questioning His faithfulness and trustworthiness.
  4. Words from and about the Lord are to be treasured. When the shepherds visited Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger, verses 17 and 18 say, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” I can’t even imagine what the shepherds’ stories must have been after seeing the angels in all the glory of the Lord out in the fields, but I know it must have been powerful and beautiful. Verse 19 says, “ Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Verse 51 later says, “His mother treasured all these things in her heart,” after Jesus was found in the temple learning from the teachers. The things Mary heard about her son and the things she saw Him doing were beautiful treasures to her, and they should be for us as well. The stories we have in Scripture tell us about who Jesus is and what He did on this earth, and we should hold them dear in our hearts.
  5. We should make time to learn from those older than us. Jesus did this as a child in the temple, painting a beautiful picture for us. Jesus was the all-knowing and all-powerful Son of God, yet even he sat among the temple’s teachers to listen, ask questions, and learn. Verse 47 says, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Verse 52 later says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” He knew as a boy that his elders had wisdom that he could grow from, and he sought it out. We should do the same, seeking the advice and knowledge of those who are more mature and knowledgeable in their faith. We can learn so much from mentors, teachers, and pastors when we listen to their words, ask them questions, and just spend time among them.

When you hear Luke 2 this Advent season, remember these five things. Look deeper beyond just the familiar story of Christmas and see that these verses are practically relevant for us even thousands of years later.