Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Well do you know the First Christmas

Not meaning to skip past Thanksgiving but since I'll be starting with Christmas stuff this Sunday, I thought I would get this discussion started.

Starting this weekend, The Pursuit College class at Westside Baptist Church will be taking a closer look at the story of Jesus' birth.

Here's a few questions to think about. Send some answers back here if you know or come on Sunday prepared to talk about it--9:30 AM.

Be ready to explain the traditional Christmas story—

stories found in Matthew 1&2 & Luke 1&2

1. Why did Mary and Joseph even need to go to Bethlehem?

2. What time of year was it?

3. Were Joseph and Mary alone traveling to Bethlehem?

4. How long of a trip was it from Nazareth to Bethlehem?

5. Did Mary give birth to Jesus the night they arrived?

6. Did Mary & Joseph know anyone in Bethlehem?

7. Which Inn had No Vacancy? Ramada Inn or Red Roof Inn?

8. What verse mentions the “inn”? Could it be anything other than a motel type business?

9. Was it a good or bad thing that Mary and Joseph went to the stables with the animals? How?

10. Why did the angel go to shepherds and not people more important?

11. Why were the shepherds afraid of the angel?

12. How do you think Joseph reacted when strange men showed up at the door in the middle of the night?

13. When did the Wise Men notice the star: before Jesus was born, the night Jesus was born, after Jesus was born?

14. Why would the Magi first go to the King’s palace?

15. When did they arrive in Bethlehem? The night Jesus was born or after? If after, by how much?

16. How long did Mary & Joseph stay in Bethlehem after Jesus was born?

17. Why would the king want to kill all the boys in Bethlehem?

Before the Journey & Other Questions

1. How big of an issue was it for Mary to be pregnant before getting married?

2. How do you think Joseph felt about the situation? What was he doing to do when he found out? (see Matthew’s gospel)

3. How do you think Mary & Joseph were treated during her pregnancy?

4. Why did Mary rush off to her cousin’s house? How long was she there?

5. Why is the concept of the Virgin birth/conception so important?

6. Did other people have questions about Jesus’ “questionable” birth situation? See John 8, particularly 8:19

7. Are there any passages from the Old Testament that speak about Jesus’ birth?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Mission - Burden or Privilege

Imagine that you wake up in the morning to the United States in a time of great need (a big stretch over the last 10 years I know!). You turn on the news to see the President addressing the nation before cameras and reporters. "And now," he says, "I'm going to call the one person I need to help accomplish and fulfill the mission before us--the task of saving the people of our great nation."

From off camera, one of his staffers hands him a phone. He starts dialing. He puts it to his ear.

And your phone starts ringing.

Caller ID says: Washington D.C.

It's him. He's calling you.

What is going through your mind in this moment?

OK, here's the deal--If the President were ever to call me, I would first think it was a joke. Then I would be stunned and flabergasted that the President would call me for anything. Then I would consider myself totally unqualified and I ...would try to find a way out of it.

Among other things. I would be intimidated, I might be tempted to avoid answering the phone, but I would neverbe rude to the President, never hang up on him or pretend I can't hear him because of a bad cell connection (whether I like the current guy or not). Would you have the nerve to hang up on the President? I wouldn't.

Above all, I hope I would have the courage to do what was asked of me.

The connection in this scenario is that we have someone who has called us that is far bigger and more important than the President: the Creator of the Universe. He has a Mission to be accomplished and it is very important to Him. He wants to save people and give them an eternity with Him.

When God wants to save someone, He SENDS someone. The best example of that is Jesus. Read John 3:17 (everyone knows 3:16). When God wanted to save us, He SENT His Son. God is a Mission Sending God.

And He wants to include us as a vital part of His Mission. God wants to save people now by Sending You. He calls you, maybe not on the phone, but He is calling you to fulfill a great need.

Is this a burden or a Privilege? Do you think God only calls a few select people to this mission? Would you rather God call someone else to do it? Do you want to be left out of it?

Too many believers in Jesus see this mission as a burden and not a responsibility much less a Privilege and a joy. They don't want God to include them--when He calls they refuse to answer the phone or even hang up on the Creator of the Universe.

If it is wrong to do so to the President, how much more to our Creator?

When you become a believer, you given a Mission. How big is your mission? Do you really want the most menial, insignificant and least satisfying mission? Do you really want to go AWOL to the One you call Savior?

You will never understand your faith as well until you become someone who is fulfilling your mission and actively sharing your faith--Philemon 1:6 (NIV especially)

This is more than Smokey the Bear saying, "Only You can prevent forest fires." It's more than just a suggestion--it is a command and a privilege.

Begin seeing your mission as a Privilege and not a burden.