December 19 – Jesus is God with us: The Word to Joseph

For good reason, Mary (the mother of Jesus) gets a lot of attention in the Christmas story.  After all, the Gospel of Luke gives us a number of details (throughout Luke 1-2) about Mary’s experiences while Jesus was in the womb and at His birth.  Further, it seems as though Joseph died by the time Jesus’ public ministry took off, while Mary lived on.  Therefore, there are more biblical records of Mary’s experience than Joseph’s.

All that said, it is important for us to think through Joseph’s experience in the story of Jesus’ birth – as it is a remarkable story of faith and faithfulness.

Matthew 1:18-25 tells the story of Joseph’s experience during the time Jesus was inside Mary’s womb.  Joseph and Mary were betrothed, but not yet married.  This meant that they had made the commitment to spend the rest of their lives together, but they had not yet begun to live together and sleep together.  This month, we have already looked at Mary’s experience from Luke 1 as God announced (through an Angel) that Mary would be pregnant (even though she was a virgin) and have a Son who would be the Messiah.  This was HUGE news, and certainly would have been hard to believe for anyone who was not talking to Angels!  And at first, Joseph was NOT talking to Angels.  God first brought the news to Mary before He brought the news to Joseph.  So, with Mary pregnant, and Joseph looking only to natural explanations for this situation, Joseph decides to divorce Mary quietly – probably so that she could then marry whoever was the father of the child.

But it was not God’s will that Joseph would leave Mary.  So, an Angel intervened and visited Joseph to tell him that Mary’s child was indeed supernatural, and that Mary was telling the truth that the Baby was the Messiah.

Can you imagine being a fly on the wall of Joseph’s room as he prays out loud, processing the news of Mary’s pregnancy and the Angel’s visit.  What must Joseph have been thinking in that moment?  Ultimately, Joseph chooses to trust the Lord (and not his emotion, reason, or logic) and stay with Mary.  As a result, generations of people all over the world have named their kids “Joe” and put statues of him out each Christmas season.  What a great choice Joseph made!

Take a moment and ponder the things about God that don’t make sense to you.  Things you might wish to “dismiss quietly” instead of receiving them as true.  Though God’s ways are sometimes “strange” to us, there is salvation and blessing in God’s plans in this world.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

God with us (part 4) Sermon Questions, Audio, and Video

On Sunday, December 18, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Mark 1:1-45.  This message was part 4 of the “God with Us” Sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group interaction.  You will also find the audio and video from the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

To access the “God with Us” daily devotional, click here.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Mark 1:1-45
  3. In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, he begins at the start of Jesus’ public ministry as a grown Man.  Scan through the chapter and review some of Jesus’ “Greatest Hits” in this section.  What do they tell you about the person of Jesus Christ?  Why do you think Mark began His Gospel here?
  4. It is impossible for you to save yourself.  But what is impossible for men and women is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for God!  Like Mary, are you trusting in God alone for your salvation?  If you are not trusting in Christ, what is preventing you from doing so today?
  5. What are some of the “costs” you have experienced by following Christ?  Have you ever wanted to distance from Christ because of what the “cost” of standing with Him would be?  What does the example of Joseph teach you?  Where are you tempted to turn away from Christ today out of fear of the consequences?
  6. How are you communicating to others in your circle of influence the greatness of Jesus Christ?  Who would God have you reach out to this Christmas season and invite them to come to Church with you to remember the greatness of Jesus?
  7. Think of the year in front of you (2023).  What are some specific ways you can follow Jesus more closely in the year ahead?  
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.


To listen offline, click the link to download:

God With Us #4


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December 18 – Jesus is God with us: Genealogy

I am the son of Dick and Beverly Robinson . . . the grandson of Don and Boonetta Davis and Glen and Alice Robinson . . . and so on, and so on.  These facts are personally very meaningful.  They describe my earthly heritage and contain the names of people who have shaped my life in profound ways.  

Every person reading this ALSO is a part of a family tree.  Though my experience as a descendant of the “Robinson” and “Davis” families is very positive, your experience may have been rocky.  For good or for bad, we are still connected to and marked by our lineage.  Personally, it bears great meaning to each of us.

However, there are some people whose family trees are not just PERSONALLY interesting, but have implications that impact the world.  Think about members of the British Royal Family.  Their blood lines bring with them responsibility and authority that impacts the society around them.

In Matthew 1:1-17, we see the family tree of Jesus Christ.  This family tree lets us know a few things:

  1. It shows us that Jesus (the Son of God) became fully human at His earthly birth.  He did not just become “human-like,” He PERSONALLY took on flesh and dwelt among us.  Therefore, we do not have a Savior who cannot relate to us, but we have One who knows what it means to live in this world.  His lineage is a reminder of that.
  2. It shows us that Jesus genealogy sets Him up for a WORLD-WIDE impact.  He is a descendant of Abraham, reminding us that He is ethnically a Jew, thus continuing the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people long ago.  Also, we see that Jesus’ great, great, great, great, great Grandpa was David – a reminder that Jesus would be the promised descendant of David to sit on the throne of God and reign forever.  His family tree supports and qualifies Him for not just personal influence.
  3. It shows us that God’s grace in Jesus is for all who believe in Him.  Inside of this genealogy are foreigners (Ruth and Rahab), the publicly disgraced (wife of Uriah), and those who have committed very consequential sins (David – among others).  Yet all these show up in the royal lineage of Jesus.  They are there NOT because they are great people, but because our God is gracious. … and He wants us to know His grace runs in the family.

At Christmastime, we sometimes skip the beginning verses of Matthew 1:1-17 and begin our Scripture reading when the Angels show up in 1:18ff.  When we do that, we miss the blessing of generations . . . reminding us of the PERSONAL and WORLD shaping reality of Jesus’ life. Scan over the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 and see how many names you recognize.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 17 – Jesus is God with us: Mary’s Song

When I was a child, I remember my parents occasionally hosting a “Bridge” group some Saturday nights.  When they would host this group, my sister and I would retreat to my parents’ bedroom where we would watch “Solid Gold” and “Hee Haw” on the 12 inch black and white television.  As we would watch this TV, I never thought of it as small or poor quality, because it was all we had.  However, when you compare that 1970’s era TV to the HD flat screen in my living room right now, it is easy to point out how much “better” today’s technology is.

A lot of descriptors we have in our language only gain their meaning by comparison.  To a small child, I am tall, but not to the roster of the OKC Thunder.  To my parents I am young, but not compared to the kids in Wildwood’s children’s ministry.  Old/young, tall/short . . . these terms gain their meaning when they have a point of reference.

Let me ask you a question . . . a MACRO-LEVEL question:  When it comes to your life, what is your point of reference?  Honestly, I think that our point of reference for our lives can be centered in one of only 3 places:

  • Our self
  • Others
  • God

These are the options.

If your point of reference is yourself, then you determine your own reality.  What is “needed” is what you want.  What is “good” is what is “good for you at that moment.”

If your point of reference is “others” you allow another human or group of humans to define your world.  If they say something is important, it is important.  If they say something is right, it is right.

If your point of reference is God, then He is your vision.  He determines right from wrong, truth from error, good from bad.

Here is what I have noticed, both in my life and in the lives of those I know.  When our primary reference point in life is a person (us or someone else), “God” tends to be small in our lives.  When God is our reference point, people tend to be small.  To say it another way, when people are big, God is small, but when God is big, people are small.  By this I don’t mean that people are not valuable, but I mean that when God is our reference point, we tend to not fear the reactions of men, but when people are our reference point, we tend to not fear the presence of God.

In Luke 1:46-56, Mary reveals her response to the news that she would be the mother of Jesus.  Her response (called the Magnificat due to the Latin word for the first word of the “song” recorded here) shows that her reference point was God.  In this song, she magnifies the Lord, thereby properly understanding that she is small . . . and so are the problems around her.  Not small as in insignificant, but small compared to the greatness of our God.  

And even though Jesus was still in utero at that point, measuring just a few inches in length, He stood tall over all because of who He was and what He would do for His people.

This Christmas we will spend a fair amount of time comparing ourselves to others.  Are the gifts we are giving our kids too much or not enough?  Are our holiday plans good or bad?    Is this year’s celebration better than last?  In the midst of these comparisons, spend a few moments magnifying the Lord using Mary’s example from her song.  As we make the Lord our reference point, as He “becomes” big, we will find our problems small by comparison.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 16 – Jesus is God with us: To those who receive Him

Christmas time is a season of gift giving.  Most of you reading this will be buying at least ONE Christmas gift for someone this year.  Maybe it is a toy for your child, a sweater for your dad, a gift certificate for your nephew, or a piece of jewelry for your spouse.  Gifts are a part of the Christmas experience for many of us … but have you ever stopped to wonder why?

The reason why we give gifts around Jesus’ birthday is because His birth WAS A GIFT – and an extremely generous gift at that.  Jesus birth in Bethlehem gave us a picture of who God really is.  Jesus birth gave the opportunity for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins later on.  Jesus birth gave us the knowledge that God really knows what we are going through since He has literally walked where we walk.  These are some BIG GIFTS!  And they are just some of the presents given to us through that very first Christmas morn.  Remembering this Gift, so many of us give gifts to others this time of year.

But with any gift given, it must be received to be enjoyed.  I can buy my dad a sweater … I can wrap it in a beautiful package … I can address it to my dad … I can tell him it is from me … but if he never opens the package, then the sweater will never keep him warm on a cold winter night or have him looking stylish out at dinner with friends in the weeks ahead.  Those intended purposes for the gift remain covered up if it is not opened.

Jesus came into the world to give gifts to the world.  Wrapped up in His advent were so many blessings God intended people to have.  However, many people miss out.  The warmth of salvation is prepared with heavenly style for all, yet many refuse to open this gift.  In our verses for today in John 1:9-13, we see this reality spelled out.  Jesus created the world.  He created us.  Then in Bethlehem He came to us to offer us His gifts of life and light.  But many people did not receive Him.  They rejected the gift.  They left it in its wrapping.  However, not all rejected Him.  To all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God!  I love that phrase … to ALL who receive Him.  

What that tells us is that the gifts of salvation and life that Jesus offers are ready for us … and can be effective for us … if we will just open them.  But how do we open them?  The passage tells us.  We believe in Him.

Do you want forgiveness of your sins?  Do you long to have a personal relationship with God?  Do you want a better direction and trajectory for your life today?  Do you want to have an assurance of eternity?  THEN believe in Jesus.  Believe He is the Son of God.  Believe that His death on the cross paid the penalty for your sins.  By faith, take Jesus out of the box and rejoice!  He is our biggest gift.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 15 – Jesus is God with us: The Giver

One day, Kimberly and I went Christmas shopping.  Faced with a long list of “to dos” that needed to get done, I took a day of vacation and we headed out in the All Wheel Drive sleigh trying to fill it with presents to deliver on Christmas morning.

As we worked our way around the malls looking to make purchases, we were guided by a list of names of people we were buying for.  On this list were friends and family, and because they are so dear to us,  the opportunity to bless them with a gift is always a real privilege.  The problem, however, was what kind of a gift do you bless them with?  Moments like this are a great object lesson for understanding the need for a budget.  If I were to let my love for the people on my list dictate what I bought them, I would never be able to pay off the balance of the bills!  I simply have more love in my heart for the people on that Christmas list than I have money in my bank account  — or even than I WILL have in my bank account if I did not spend a cent between now and when Jesus returns.  Therefore, I could not determine what to give them based on how much I love them, because I do not have a matching resource to offer to the scope of my love.

A second way I could determine what to give them would be to play the principle of reciprocity.  By this, I mean that I would try to give a gift back to someone of equal value to what they have given me.  This principle, however, is also flawed.  I can never pay back my parents (for instance) for all they have done for me.  No sweater (I don’t care which logo is on it) can ever equal sitting through little league games in 40 degree weather or caring for me when I was sick or providing love, food, and shelter for me throughout my growing up days.  I simply will never be able to pay back what has been given to me — I have just received so much.

I was thinking about all as we shopped, and it reminded me of a deep spiritual truth that impacts my understanding of God’s love for me and my response to that love towards Him.

First of all, though our budget always constrains our ability to give, it never constrains God.  God is the only One anywhere who has no budget.  Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have their limits, but God does not.  He has everything at His disposal, so He never tires at ways to demonstrate His love for us.  The obvious “big gift” that God gives us each day (including Christmas) is the gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.  As Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  The God who has everything gave His very life so that we might live and know that He loves us.  Even beyond that big gift, however, God continues to give to us without a budget.  The beauty of nature, the spiritual encouragement of the Body of Christ, tasty food to nourish our bodies, etc. are all evidences of God’s gifts to us.  He never tires or grows weary in giving to His children.  He has all the resources to match the scope of His love for us.  As John 1:16-17 remind us, Jesus has given us “grace upon grace” … literally gift after gift.

As I was shopping, however, a second thing stood out to me.  I cannot practice the principle of reciprocity with God.  There is no “sacrifice” that I can make in this life that is of equal value to the gifts God has given to me.  No “I’ll go serve you on the mission field” claim could ever be the same as all that God has given to me.  We cannot pay back to God what He has given us — for we simply have been given too much.

Given these truths, what are we to do?  Well, when it comes to understanding how much God loves us, we should stand in awe of the gifts He continues to send our way.  What great demonstrations of His budget-less love!  Stop right now and thank Him for His indescribable gifts.  Second, stop trying to pay God back for His gifts to us, for you can never give enough.  This does not mean that we do not serve Him or worship Him or love Him or give back to Him.  We absolutely do that.  Just as I still bought presents for family and friends that day as reminders of my love for them, we still give to the Lord out of our love for Him . . . we just don’t do it to settle a score.  This frees us up and purifies our motives in responding to His gifts!

As you remember the gifts you purchased this December, may they remind you of the gifts we have received from Him that we can never repay.  Jesus brings the joy of gift after gift … grace upon grace!


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 14 – Jesus is God with us: Will God dwell on the earth?

The year was 959 BC.  The place was Jerusalem.  500 years had passed since God had called His people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea.  King David had passed away and now the ultimate “wise guy,” King Solomon had ascended to the throne.  By God’s design, Solomon completed a project his father David had planned . . . the construction of a Temple for God in the capital city.  Inside the Temple, the ark of the covenant would be placed and God’s presence would hover.

In the year 959, Solomon dedicated the Temple and the words he shared provide a powerful reminder for us at Christmas time.  In 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon says of the Temple: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!”

As Solomon looked at the impressive Temple the people of Israel had just constructed, one of the seven “wonders of the ancient world,” he marveled at the thought that God would inhabit such a common place.

Imagine that you were standing in front of the White House, the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, or Notre Dame Cathedral.  As you look at these impressive structures, despite all their grandeur, you probably would say something similar to Solomon.  As beautiful as the best of our buildings are, it is impossible for mankind to create an adequate “home” for an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God.

And yet at Christmas time, we celebrate God coming, not to a palace, but a stable!  We celebrate God arriving not in a chariot but in the womb of a teenaged girl riding on a donkey.  We celebrate God not merely sending a telegram through the stars, but arriving in the flesh.  Listen to what John says in His Gospel, John 1:14, 18: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.”

When we look at nativity sets around our houses this Christmas, we should wonder like Solomon did, “Did God indeed dwell upon the earth?”  The answer to this question is an emphatic YES!

Jesus moved into our neighborhood.  Jesus spoke in a way we could understand.  Jesus demonstrated all grace and truth so that we might KNOW GOD.  By living out a life in human flesh and having that life preserved for us in the Bible, we can understand what God’s character is like in three dimensions.

Do not let the wonder of the incarnation slip by you this year.  God did indeed dwell on the earth, and we are blessed beyond measure as a result.  Yet another reason for joy this year!


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 13 – Jesus is God with us: The Light

3,500 years ago, God called His people (the Israelites) out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the land that He had promised them.  This is the story of the Exodus, and is recorded for us in the second book of the Bible.  As the Israelites left Egypt God led them at night represented by a fire the people could see.  Like a child is comforted by their night light, so the children of Israel were comforted in their journey by the fire in the sky, reminding them that God was with them.

Fast forward 1,500 years to the time of Jesus.  While the rest of the Israelites were celebrating the Festival of the Tabernacle (remembering when God led them like a fire at night), Jesus makes an amazing assertion.  He says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  In this statement, Jesus was making a few VERY important points:

  1. Jesus is the light.  In the time of the Exodus, the people saw a fire cloud in the sky.  That was nice.  But, Jesus is even better!  The fire in the sky was a presence, but it was a presence that did not talk or provide a 3-D example of what God was like.  Jesus is our reminder that God is with us, a Living Light!
  2. Jesus is the Light of the World!  In the time of the Exodus, the fire was only for the people of Israel.  However, by saying that Jesus was the light of the world, Jesus was pointing out that ALL people, regardless of nationality can be encouraged by His presence.
  3. Jesus invites us to Follow Him.  His Light is not just meant to comfort, it is meant to direct.  
  4. If we follow Him we will not walk in darkness.  Jesus will never lead us to sin.  He only leads us towards righteousness.  He is out for our growth, not our destruction.
  5. If we follow Him, we will have life.  Darkness leads to death.  Don’t believe me?  Put your favorite flower in the dark closet for a week and see if it survives.  Jesus is the Light of Life . . . He came to give us life, not take it from us! 

This same designation of Jesus as the “light of men” is found in John 1:3-5 as a part of the Christmas story that John shares.  At Christmas time, we often have lights as a part of our decorations:  on trees, on our homes, etc.  This is so appropriate, because Jesus is the Light of the world!  As we sing look at Christmas lights, be reminded of God’s presence with us, and His desire that we walk in obedience following Jesus’ commands and example.  If we do, we will have life as God intended!  Rejoice!  Jesus lights the way!


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 12 – Jesus is God with Us: The Word

There is a great scene in the 1995 movie “Apollo 13″ where Tom Hanks (playing the part of Astronaut Jim Lovell) sits in his back yard staring at the moon.  Lovell was soon to pilot the famed Apollo 13 spaceship all the way to a lunar landing.  As he sat in his suburban backyard on terra firm, however, Lovell was thousands of miles away from his destination.  While staring at the moon, Lovell closed one eye and extended his hand in front of him.  The captain then extended his thumb up into the air.  The camera switched to Lovell’s perspective and showed us the captain’s ability to make the moon disappear behind his thumb.

Now, two possible explanations exist regarding Lovell’s disappearing moon technique:

  1. The disappearance of the moon was an optical illusion created by the close proximity of the finger to the eyeball.  In other words, it was a matter of perspective.
  2. Tom Hanks has an extremely large thumb!  In other words, his thumb is bigger than the moon.

Of course, option one is the correct answer.  It also serves as a helpful reminder to you and me.

In our lives, the problems we face everyday have a very close proximity to our eyes.  Medical issues we deal with, relationships that crumble, dreams that are dashed, are so close to where we live that they feel absolutely enormous.  In fact, they feel so big, they can even cause us (as we close one eye of perspective under the strain) to not be able to see God in the midst of our difficulty.  As we ponder this phenomena, two possibilities exist:

  1. We have some really large problems … larger than the God who created the universe.
  2. We are allowing our current circumstances to create an optical illusion, blinding us to the reality of the presence of our God.

This Christmas season, many of you are no doubt dealing with difficulty.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that virtually all of us are facing a tough trial of some kind.  Because of that, we might have a tendency to miss God this holiday season.  Under the stress and strain of life, we squint our eyes and see only that which is attached to our own hands.  However, do not be fooled.  God is there!  The infant born in Bethlehem is not small in stature . . . He is larger than life, and He is our Immanuel – God with us.  

In today’s verses, we see Jesus described as the “Word.”  John begins His Gospel in eternity past, not in Bethlehem in the first century.  The reason for John going that far back is to underscore the GREATNESS OF JESUS!  He has always been.  He created all that there is.  His birth in Bethlehem was His arrival in bodily form, but it was not the beginning of His story.  He has eternally existed as the second person of our Triune God.  This reminds us of just how important Jesus really is.  He is God … and that reminds us that He is bigger than anything we face.

We can have great joy because when we open both eyes of biblical perspective, we can see that the Lord Jesus who came to us has been here all along.  And, remember Jesus last words to His disciples were, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  This promise opens our eyes to dispel the illusion that we are alone.  He is here, and He is bigger than all of the problems and issues we face.  We can trust Him with all our problems, big and small.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

God with us (part 3) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, December 11, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on John 1:14-18.  This message was part 3 in the “God with us” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to, watch, download, or share.

Accompanying this sermon series, we have a Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 1:14-18
  3. Have you ever received a present for Christmas that you considered “life-changing”?
  4. In what ways does Jesus birth change the lives of people on earth?
  5. What aspects of God’s character MOST stand out to you from the life of Jesus (as recorded for us in the Gospels)?
  6. Jesus changed the “operating system” that governed people’s relationship with God.  As we saw in the message, Jesus made the Old Covenant obsolete as He established a New Covenant through His work on the cross.  In what ways is the New Covenant (of Jesus) better than the Old Covenant (as described in the Old Testament)?
  7. What is the “operating system” currently installed in your life governing your relationship with God?  Is it more of an open source (something you are inventing as you go)?  A path of religious fervor (similar to the Old Covenant)?  Or is it a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ?  God is offering you a relationship with Him based on grace through Jesus Christ.  Are you trusting in Him?  
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.


To listen offline, click the link:

God With Us #3 12.11.22


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