Jesus, the Adopted Son

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Devotional: Jesus, the Adopted Son

Read Matthew 1:18-25

Christmas has ended and therefore many of us have moved on from the birth narratives of Jesus. But, if I may, I’d like to draw our attention back to the part of the narrative that focuses on the role of Joseph.

While there are several things we can learn about Jesus’ birth in the above passage, I’d like to focus on Joseph’s role and how it fit into God’s plan of redemption.

Today’s Truth Statement: Included in God’s sovereign plan of the adoption of men and women through His Son Jesus was the plan of His Son’s own adoption.

Let’s first give our passage some context.

In the book of Isaiah we find prophecies concerning the Messiah, Israel’s coming Savior. One of those prophecies is found in Isaiah 7:14, which says, “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” We also learn that the Messiah will sit “on the throne of David.” (9:7) Jeremiah also prophesizes about the coming Messiah being a descendant of David (see Jer. 23:5).

But here’s the problem with these prophesies. At that time, someone’s lineage was traced through the father. A son of David would come through the father’s line. But if the Messiah is born of a virgin, and as Matthew tells us, of the Holy Spirit, then Jesus has no father to trace a lineage back to David. So how is it going to be possible for Jesus to come through an earthly father’s lineage when His father isn’t earthly?

The writer of Matthew wants us to know that Jesus IS the promised Messiah because he fulfills of both prophecies mentioned above. So Matthew begins with the genealogy of Joseph, demonstrating that Joseph is of the line of David. Then Matthew does something unusual. Instead of saying Joseph, the father of Jesus, he writes, “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” But how, if Jesus is not the son of Joseph, can he be the descendant of David?

Matthew 1:18-25 answers this for us.

Jesus was born of a virgin.

The text tells us that Joseph learns his fiancé Mary was pregnant and not by him as “he resolved to divorce her quietly.” Being engaged at this time had legal ratifications. Engagements couldn’t be called off easily like today. A formal divorce would have to ensue in order to break off an engagement, and engagements could be broken if the girl to be married had been unfaithful. Joseph assumes she had been unfaithful until an angel from God tells him that it is by the Holy Spirit that she is pregnant. Thus, Jesus fulfills Scripture that he is born of a virgin.

Jesus was adopted.

By verse 21 we finally understand God’s plan and we see an answer to the dilemma mentioned above. Joseph must adopt Jesus thereby making him Joseph’s heir and a son of David. Jesus needed an earthly father in order for God’s plan of redemption to be fulfilled. God chose Joseph and Joseph obeyed. Adoptions in the Greco-Roman world were legalized when the father gave the child his or her name. By Joseph calling his name Jesus, Jesus’ adoption was made complete and Scripture was fulfilled.

The importance of Jesus’ adoption.

After the birth narratives of Jesus in the Gospels, Joseph isn’t mentioned again. But Joseph’s role and calling was very important to God’s plan. If Joseph (or any other man for that matter) had not obeyed God and adopted His Son, not only would Scripture not have been fulfilled but Jesus would have been seen as a illegitimate child. His adoption was a necessary part to God’s plan.

So what can we take away from this passage?

I am sure there are more than what I list here but here are a couple thoughts.

  1. We can be sure that Jesus is the Messiah, the One who God speaks about in the Old Testament. And we can be sure that Jesus’ own story is one that includes adoption!
  2. Like Jesus needed an earthly father to adopt him, even more so do we need a heavenly Father to adopt us! Only through adoption do we become descendants of Abraham and heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15-17). God has done what is necessary to guarantee our adoption and to give us a new name, but it is not complete until we accept the righteousness of God through His Son Jesus. God has always had a heart for the orphans, and His plan has always been that of adoption. Jesus was willing to come to earth as an earthly orphan (so to speak) to be adopted so that we as orphans might be adopted by His Father. Praise God!

30 for 30

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So I turn 30 in 21 days!

The picture above was taken the day I was born — Feb. 4, 1983. So in honor of my 30th year, I am inspired to start off this next decade with a bit of gusto and zeal, not to mention a little fun. To make this happen, I’ve created a 30 for 30 goal list. The following are 30 goals I’d like to complete between Feb. 4, 2013 and Feb. 3, 2014 in honor of my 30th year, Lord willing.

I want to have fun with this list and I’d love to have your input and encouragement. Here goes nothing!

  1. Run a 5K.
  2. Get a massage.
  3. Publish a second Bible study.
  4. Take Philip to a museum.
  5. Read and work through the Greek of one New Testament book.
  6. Take a trip to visit friends outside of Birmingham.
  7. Read Lord of the Rings.
  8. Tell someone new about Jesus.
  9. Lose one pant size.
  10. Speak at an event, retreat or conference.
  11. Blog regularly.
  12. Learn to sew.
  13. Go on a weekend “date” trip with my husband.
  14. Finish mine and Osvaldo’s wedding scrapbook.
  15. Consistently update Philip’s baby book and scrapbook his first year.
  16. Have an international over to our home for dinner.
  17. Do a jigsaw puzzle.
  18. Paint one room of my house.
  19. Take a trip with my Supper Club friends.
  20. Go to a college or professional football game.
  21. Go to some place new that I’ve never been before.
  22. Learn Spanish.
  23. Volunteer with a ministry in town.
  24. Play Settlers often with friends and husband.
  25. Make a new friend.
  26. Get out of debt.
  27. Take lots and lots of pictures of Philip.
  28. Teach Philip a new truth about God.
  29. Give lots of kisses and hugs to my husband and son.
  30. Have a big 30th party — which is up to my husband.

Wish me luck! These goals should make for some fun blogging over this next year. In all seriousness, I am deeply grateful to God for His faithfulness these past 30 years (wow, I sound so old) and for allowing me to serve Him. I pray that He will be even more glorified in and through my life as I start a new decade. No doubt His faithfulness will not change.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

There are 27 million slaves in the world today. Did you know that? And that number is probably a conservative estimate.

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

I had heard about the issue a few years ago and then learned more about it during my short stint at WorldCrafts, a ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). But it wasn’t until I accepted the assignment to write an in depth package of article about the issue for The Alabama Baptist newspaper that I began to understand the magnitude of this evil. 

The statistics are staggering. The personal stories are heartbreaking. And here’s the kicker. It’s happening in your neighborhood. The child you see on the missing poster at Wal-mart might have been a victim, kidnapped and sold as a sex slave. The immigrant worker you see out and about town might be one of those in forced or bonded labor unable to get out. He is a labor trafficking victim. The teenage girl you go to school with may be in a relationship where she is forced to have sex if she doesn’t want terrible things to happen to her family. She is a sex trafficking victim.

I encourage you to check out websites such as wmu.com/projecthelp, freetheslaves.net, notforsalecampaign.org, and ijm.org and educate yourself on the issue. There are many others. In fact there’s a more comprehensive list in the human trafficking package I did for the newspaper that came out this week. If interested in getting this newspaper, call 205-870-4720.

I’ll end with a personal story.

While researching the issue, I was told that we as consumers are part of the problem. We create the demand that is filled by traffickers. I remember sitting at a table at the WMU building and Jean Roberson looking at me straight in the eyes said, “When you put a Hershey’s Kiss in your mouth, you are financing labor trafficking.” Hershey’s has lagged behind its competitors in eliminating forced labor and child labor from its chain of cocoa supply. By eating a Kiss, I am creating the demand and sending the message to Hershey’s, “It’s OK that you are using slaves in making your project because I’m OK with eating it.”

That was my first realization that I was part of the problem. I was the purchaser of many goods supplied by companies using workers who are caught in slavery or in unsafe working conditions.

Then, this realization went even further.

While I was in Chicago this past November with my husband, I went shopping one day with some girls while he was attending the Society of Biblical Languages conference. We went into a 4-story Old Navy, and I was in awe of the size of the store (and that it was in downtown Chicago, which of course makes everything cool!). I found some pants and a sweater for Philip at a great price and made my purchase.

About a week later, back in Birmingham, I looked at the tag and saw the words “Made in Bangladesh.” My heart sunk. While doing research, I found a report put together by the State Department on the worse countries for child and forced labor and the trades in which it occurs in that country. Bangladesh was a major violator in several industries including cotton. This information came rushing back to me.

That very same day, I learned that a Bangladesh apparel factory had caught fire killing all 112 people inside. My heart about reached my toes! Although no reports have come out linking Old Navy to this factory (but it did to Walmart and Sears!), it very well could have been the case. In fact, in a New York Times article, it said this case has “focused attention on the unsafe work conditions and low wages at many garment factories in Bangladesh, the No. 2 exporter of apparel after China.” See nyti.ms/WPYxti

Even though I still catch myself buying things from companies who are part of the problem, I am getting better. I only buy fair trade coffee. I haven’t purchased anything from Hershey’s. I am trying to be more conscientious as a buyer. Once informed, it really does affect you.

Some people wish to remain ignorant on issues so they don’t have to change their lifestyles or habits. But what about you? What should be your Christian response? What will be your response?

 

It’s been an exciting month!

A few minutes ago I shared with you work that I did in the early Fall for The Alabama Baptist newspaper that was just published this week — a package of articles and resources on the issue of human trafficking. (See post below.)

Also, this month, another work I did last year has finally been published. (It’s an exciting month for me!).

This summer I wrote my first Bible study for Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU)’s mymissionfulfilled. Mymissionfulfilled is a ministry of WMU focused on reaching young women. Its website is: www.mymissionfulfilled.com. You should check it out as the women in this ministry at WMU have done a fantastic job of reaching this age group.

The Bible study, called myStory: A Study on Our Relationship with God, is the second in a series of missional Bible studies. It’s a 15-month session study, which is broken down into three areas: an in depth Bible study, an activity focused on building community based on the study, and a mission project focused on applying the study.

Here’s the link to the study: bit.ly/Vo1CTb Be sure to scroll down the page; myStory is listed secondly.

My prayer is that it would be helpful to young women in churches all across this nation in learning to tell their stories from God’s perspective as found in Scripture. And, of course, that it would bring glory to God.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write Bible studies and do what I sense God has called me to do.

I am also excited to announce that WMU’s mymissionfulfilled has asked me to write another study. I’ll keep you posted on the second one as I know more.

Latest work: Human Trafficking package

Last year I was asked to write a package of articles on the issue of human trafficking for The Alabama Baptist newspaper. It has finally come out and I am so excited!

Here is a link to one of the stories I wrote: bit.ly/UZr9Ry

A five-page spread was published this week in the newspaper with articles focused on the overall issue of modern slavery, labor trafficking, sex trafficking, and how Christians are responding. I also included lots of resources such as websites, apps, resources for churches, and red flags to watch for someone being trafficked.

For those of you who have print edition or online subscriptions, you can view it this week. But for the rest of you, if you are interested, it should be in the archives section on the paper’s website in a couple of weeks at www.thealabamabaptist.org. You also can call and request a copy by dialing 205-870-4720.

I pray that churches are able to use the articles and resources to inform its people on the issue and that God will move in the hearts and hands of His people to stop this evil.