December 2009

Here is a blog post on community from one of my favorite authors Tim Chester who is a pastor in the UK.

Do you ever get disappointed? Not just with big things, but small things in life also. Like traffic or lines at Wal-Mart. Merriam-Webster defines disappointed as defeated in expectation or hope. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about how Joseph dealt with the news that Mary was pregnant with the baby Jesus.

Luke 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Do you think Joseph dealt with any disappointment? Well Scripture tells us he was a just man so he was going to quietly divorce Mary instead of publicly shaming her. Can you imagine Mary coming to Joseph with the we need to talk conversation and then finding out it’s supposedly God’s baby? I can only speculate because the Scriptures don’t elaborate on everything that went through Joseph’s mind. I am sure he had some expectations crushed by the idea that he was marrying a pregnant woman and that he would have a son that was not his, but God’s entrusted to him to be his earthly father. I think he probably had some anxiety when he thought about what people would think and say.

God in his perfect care spoke to Joseph through an angel in a dream and calmed his soul. What calmed the soul of Joseph was understanding that all of this was part of God’s sovereign plan. This plan would bring God glory and provide the way of salvation for sinners. Joseph got a glimpse of how his life was one of the details in God’s plan of redemption. Also this plan and this disappointment of Joseph was for his joy.

Disappointment is not a sin. But I think disappointment is a crossroads where we spend a fleeting amount of time. We encounter disappointment when our expectations and hopes fail or are constrained. Our loving God who disciplines those he loves is willing to frustrate the hopes and expectations in our lives that focus on self or others. Our hope can only be in Christ. God is willing to disappoint me so that he may point me to himself when I am looking elsewhere for joy and fulfillment.

When I encounter disappointment I need to ask myself where my emotion is coming from, what are the hopes and expectations that were defeated? At the crossroads of disappointment I can trust God and his sovereign plan, even when it is something that is uncomfortable or maybe painful. Or I can question the plan and goodness of God. If I begin to question the goodness of God disappointment quickly turns into frustration, anger, bitterness, or despair.

Ask yourself how God is loving you through this disappointment?

We have been studying 2 Corinthians for the past few months in Men’s Bible Study. The plans of God are perfect and He planned for us to study chapters 8 and 9 about giving right before Christmas. Here is 2 Corinthians 9:13-15

13By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Paul is asking the church to prepare a gift offering for the saints in the Jerusalem church because of their need. In these verses Paul brings out a double meaning of the gift by focusing them on the grace of God, ultimately the gift of salvation. The gift of grace and the gift of faith to believe begin a process of sanctification that will stir in us a desire to give.

The Jerusalem church will give thanks and glorify God when they receive the gift from the churches. For one they will be able to glorify God because he is the supreme provider of all needs. The second reason they will glorify God is because he used their brothers and sisters in Christ as a part of their sanctification.

During Christmas, gift giving is a major part of how we celebrate Christ’s birth. We have an excellent opportunity this holiday season to redeem the giving of gifts. Ask yourself how your giving of gifts can point people to the ultimate gift of salvation. There are many reasons people give gifts this time of year and sometimes it is out of obligation or a means of gaining favor or love.

We don’t have to give bibles, Christian books, or even Christian T-Shirts for the gift to have meaning. There should be joy in the giving of gifts. We do need to remember where our heart is in the giving of the gift and also ask ourselves the question of what this gift communicates the one that is receiving. My hope for us this season and beyond is that we can bring God glory in the giving of gifts, build the body of Christ, and be sanctified at the same time.

Welcome to the new Ichthus Ministries Blog. Ichthus exists to disciple believers and teach the Word of God. We will always look for new ways to be effective and want to utilize the internet and social media as much as possible. For these reasons we have started a blog. You can expect to see notes from Bible Studies, devotions, links to other blog postings, and also updates from Ichthus. You are encouraged to interact through the comments section.
Our hope for the blog is that it will continue to open up doors for the gospel to be preached. Please continue to pray that Ichthus will be effective and obedient to the calling of God. Come back soon to see updates on what we will be doing in 2010!