(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Matthew Ch. 1 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(Mt. 1:1-17) The Book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Following the Jewish family tree tradition, the Book has recorded generations starting from Abraham to Joseph, who was the husband of Mary and the father of Jesus on earth. Please take a closer look at this family tree. How many women can you identify their names of?
“Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” (Mt. 1:5-6)
Rahab was originally a prostitute in the City of Jericho in Canaan and she was mother of Boaz (Joshua 2: 1 – 5). Boaz’s wife is Ruth, a Moabite, who met Boaz after returning to Judah with her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 1:4). Boaz and Ruth’ great-grandson is Israel’s famous King David. Surprisingly, the foreign names of a Canaanite and a Moabite were found in the genealogy of Jesus!
In the era of the New Testament, the Jews were not allowed to fellowship with the Canaanites because the Jews regarded the Canaanites as unclean. The Jews believed they were God’s only chosen people – which they themselves were proud of. Yet, have the Jews ever thought about the fact that their King David was not entirely Jews in his pedigree? It is known that when Jesus was on earth, he often led by example, taking his disciples and traveling in and out of foreigners’ lands. Jesus enabled his disciples to break through their personal barriers and then bridge the gap between different racial groups. The presence of Jesus revealed a new era.
Do you have any old/stubborn mindset(s)? What do you think is “orthodox”? Is there something about yourself that you feel privileged or being proud of? Have those mindsets ever influenced your faith and/or created unconscious bias/barriers that prevent you from loving God and loving people? As you pray today, may the Lord’s light shine upon you. Allowing the true light of Jesus shining into your hearts is the only way to get rid of those mindsets – the barriers that Jesus meant to tear down for you!
(Mt. 1:18-25) Subsequent to the genealogy of Jesus, the true identity of Jesus was made known through what the angel said when the angel appeared in Joseph’s dream: Jesus was conceived and born by his mother Mary through the Holy Spirit. That was God’s intervention that Jesus willingly humbled himself and the embodiment of Jesus Christ in limited human flesh. The main purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was to save His people from their sins, which then fulfilled the prophet Isaiah’s prophecy.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (which means “God is with us”).” (Isaiah 7:14)
Both Mary and Joseph were chosen by God for His purpose. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a righteous man.
When Joseph had heard Mary’s pregnancy, he had in mind to divorce her quietly (and that was a normal reaction by his human nature). But, in the end, Joseph chose to follow God’s command to marry Mary and then everything was done at God’s behest.
“Honoring God” involves more than declaration from our mouth and lips. “Honoring God” requires actions in our submission to God. In which areas, will you be willing to obey God’s Word and be a person that is pleasing to God?
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)