Today’s Scripture – July 19, 2016

Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

God did not just send Jesus to earth full-grown and in a glorified body, which He could easily have done.  If He had, though, the connection between Him and those He was sent to save would have been tenuous at best, and His followers would never hold any hope of being like Him.  Instead, Jesus was born as a real human being, through a real pregnancy enabled to take place in the virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was born to righteous parents.  Both Mary and Joseph were completely devoted to God and to His commands.  This was vital, because when Jesus became a human infant, He emptied Himself. (cf. Philippians 2:6-7.)  Even though He was God in the flesh, His parents had to teach Him everything, including how to read the Scriptures and pray.  Half-way devoted parents would not have been able to provide Him with what He needed to establish His own solid connection with God.  In addition to instruction, He needed to see complete devotion modeled faithfully and consistently by His parents to help Him to learn it Himself.  And, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit, He did learn it, and re-established the intimate, personal connection He had with the Father since before the universe was created.

Those who are born again, born from above through the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:3), share this characteristic with Jesus.  When they first come to the Lord, they are spiritual infants who know little of the things of the Spirit, and have to learn them from simple beginnings.  They must be taught everything, including how to read the Scriptures and pray.  Their spiritual parents need to not only teach them these things, but to model them consistently in their own lives.  And, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit, they will learn them, and grow into spiritual adults who are able to establish their own strong connection with their heavenly Father, so that they can continue to grow in grace and wisdom.

Father, I had never thought about it that way before, but I can see how this concept has been working in my own spiritual life from the very beginning.  Thank You for providing several good spiritual parents for me who were able to teach me what I needed to know and model it in their own lives so that I could grow in You.  Help me to be that kind of spiritual parent to others – not to try to keep control over them and their spiritual life, but to help them to grow into spiritual adults, showing them how to establish their own vital connection with You.  Amen.

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