“Her husband, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.”

Joseph was righteous, meaning he obeyed the laws of scripture. But this verse reveals that righteousness is not enough. He still intended to thwart God’s plan of salvation for the world because of his commitment to be righteous. Sure, he tried to find a middle ground, choosing not to expose her publicly, but his plan was still to abandon her to bear her child alone. Righteousness is not enough if it only means following the rules. Righteousness has to be more, it has be about doing what is right and good for all people at all times with a good heart. That kind of righteousness is impossible for us, but not for Jesus. He alone is righteous and his righteousness is a gift to us.

-Pastor Travis

“What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?” Matthew 11:7

This is the question Jesus asks of the crowds that went to see John the Baptist. Maybe they didn’t’ know the answer. Why had they gone out? What did they hope they would find from a desert preacher dressed like the prophets of old? Had they found it? Jesus’ question makes me think about our own religious searching and how we mostly come back with more questions and uncertainty. Or maybe we just don’t put in the work to really come to grips with the answers God gives us. Sometimes, I think, we like the uncertainty and mystery because it means we don’t have to take action.

Jesus presses the people who went to see John the Baptist. He tells them what they went out to see, in case they were still wondering. John was the prophet sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus is declaring himself the Messiah to these questioners, these undecideds, these seekers. And he is telling us that he is the Messiah, the one God has promised. With his question Jesus serves up a call to commitment, a call to action. How will we respond? What does it mean to claim Jesus as the Messiah? How does that claim challenge us to live differently?

-Pastor Travis

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
 ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
  make his paths straight.’ ”

Do you find yourself following the same paths most days? I think about my daily routines and the worn paths that come with it each day and I wonder if I lose the bigger picture in my ordinary routines. The voice crying in the wilderness invites us to deviate from the ordinary and to make a path for the Lord. Not just a path, but to make that path straight. At it’s most literal it tells me that I need to make the most direct connection to the Lord that I can in all that I do. Does my daily routine include a straight path to God, am I taking time this Advent season to prepare the way, do I hear the voice crying in the wilderness? It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of the holidays rather than expectant waiting, to be easily annoyed by the mess and clutter of decorating, baking, and wrapping instead of dwelling in the joy that is shared in the receiving of the preparations, and to lose the path when we can’t see beyond the one next thing on the schedule. It’s time to remember that our path to the Lord is only a winding, twisting and turning mess when we let “things” get in the way of our relationships, especially our relationship with God. During this season of Advent, change up your path. Take time to hear the voice in the wilderness and let it direct you to the hopeful, joyful, and peaceful path that guides us into relationship with the Lord our God.
-Pastor Carrie

“The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

Many men and women aspire to power. They want political positions, corner offices, titles and authority. When you meet them they usually have grand offices, wear expensive clothes and have people around them that clue you into their power. Yet, our Lord and King, Jesus, cuts a very different figure. We see him bloodied on a cross, attended by no one except for the soldiers who put him there and they mock him. Jesus teaches a lesson that history has not yet learned. The powerful are called by Jesus’ example to be humble, to be approachable, to be servants. Look around for those who display these qualities and you will find leaders worth following. We are called to follow Jesus and those who are like Him.
-Pastor Travis

“Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

It’s all about focus. There are so many things we want and need in this life. But this promise from Jesus, helps us prioritize. If we seek first the Kingdom of God, everything else will be given to us as well. When you put the things of God first in your life it’s amazing how everything else finds its proper place. I’ve noticed then when I tithe I don’t stress as much about my finances as when I don’t tithe. I don’t think that’s because I have fewer bills or more money, but rather because my heart is right. It’s the same when I am diligent in prayer, or serving, or loving others. The rest of life comes into a kind of focus that allows me to weather the ups and downs better. Striving for God’s kingdom first produces a kind of contentment and peace in our souls. That peace helps us see clearly how God has provided and trust in God when things get hard. May God guide us this week to strive for his kingdom!
-Pastor Travis

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