032 | Seemingly Unremarkable Kingdom

Awesome The full glory of God would completely blow us over! God is simply awesome, but God's interaction with us humans in this world, is not primarily remarkable or outwardly overwhelming. Maybe to put it another way: God does not work in an awesome, immediate, universal, visual sort of way, but in a faithful, long term, inward, growing sort of way. Perhaps so as not to overwhelm us. I hope I am making some sense here.

To me this becomes apparent when I read certain accounts in Scripture. Just consider the account and circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus.
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. (Matthew 1:18)
Matthew is so "matter of a fact" in his account about the circumstances surrounding the birth of the Messiah. When you think of all the ways God could have come to this earth I would not naturally zero in on how he actually did. I would have never been able to predict that he would have come as a defenseless baby born to a seemingly unimportant poor Jewish father and mother living in a small town of little apparent importance. Yes the birth of Jesus was truly a remarkable miracle, but for the vast majority of people to ever live only in hindsight and with the help of the Holy Spirit through the written words in the Bible. Seems to me that even the virgin birth was not obvious to very many people. Really, at the time the only two to actually truly believe that Mary became pregnant while remaining a virgin were Mary and Joseph. If it wasn't for a message from God through an angel during a dream I think Joseph probably would not have believed it. I am sure most everyone else thought they were lying and there was really no miracle.

Now you do have a star appearing in the sky at the time of Jesus' birth. A star that is recognized by the Magi as the star of the King of the Jews. A star that brought these gentile Magi to Jerusalem to find this new King and worship him. Something about this star must have been remarkable enough to attract these gentile foreigners to Jerusalem. But we don't get a sense from any of the accounts that the star was universally seen by all as a sign from God of a miraculous and historic event.

Angles appeared to some shepherds in a nearby field and told them what had just happened. I am sure a very incredible and remarkable experience for these shepherds, but still not a universal demonstration by God. Aside from Mary, Joseph, the Magi, and some shepherds very few people that were living at the time knew that the Savior of the world had just been born. Very few knew that the Son of God had just entered the world. God was living and breathing here on earth as a human, as a baby boy and hardly any one noticed.

God taking on the form of a man and coming to earth, the most incredible event of all history, and it happens in a way that very few really even noticed at the time. This most awesome event was outwardly unremarkable to most people living at the time. One would have expected a massive earth shattering event. A spectacularly powerful scene. Something that would overwhelm all of our senses. An awesome visual event that would have been seen by most people, perhaps all. But it wasn't. It was very real, none the less, just not outwardly, visibly, remarkable. Really at the time, to most of the people around, it appeared as just a normal slice of human life. Just another couple having a baby.

Actually this is a pattern throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. A pattern where God works in ways that appear to us as unremarkable, but in reality are totally awesome.
  • The way God chose to speak to Elijah - a low whisper or a sound of a soft breath. (1 Kings 19:11-13)
  • David when selected by God through Samuel to be king was not outwardly remarkable to those around him. (1 Samuel 16:1-13)
  • The Kingdom of God Jesus spoke of in the parables started very small and unremarkable. (Matthew 13:31-32)
  • The 12 disciples Jesus selected were unremarkable by the standards of the world. Just regular people with very regular standing in their society. (Matthew 4:18-20)
God is not looking for the remarkable in the immediate obvious sense from a human perspective, but the long term true sense from a divine perspective. God works in seemingly unremarkable ways with seemingly unremarkable people building a seemingly unremarkable Kingdom. A growing Kingdom that is at work today changing the world one unremarkable person at a time.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let those who boast boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
Are you unremarkable? I know I am and I long to see the Kingdom fully come in a completely, unbelievably, totally awesome, and remarkable way.

| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |
photo credit: The photo in this article is title "discovery v2" and was uploaded to Flickr.com by concretecandy on Feb. 5, 2006

About my Bible Devotional Blog

Bible pagesImage by almoko via Flickr Very simply this blog is a place for me to write down the thoughts that develop out of the time I spend before God reading the words he has given us in the Bible.

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Much of my life I have struggled with relating to the accounts recorded in the Bible. They have often seemed distant and confusing. Don't get me wrong certain passages have hit me hard, even convicted me and made me think seriously about my life and actions, but on the whole especially in the Old testament I just felt like I was missing something. The Old Testament has always been difficult for me to relate to and as a result, in the past, I have tended to ignore it. However, I am discovering that the more I examine it, test it, and put it into the context of God's love the more I can relate to it and understand it. Recently, however I have felt more like I am getting "it" - the big picture of God's plan.

I started this blog at the beginning of 2008 as a journal of my thoughts as I worked through the Essential 100 Bible reading program. I blogged roughly once a day as I read each of the 100 passages. You can follow my E100 journal here at my blog. Note the tab at the top of this blog.

Currently I am journaling through 100 verses laid out in a book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story.. This book was written by the same guy, Whitney T. Kuniholm, who put together the E100 challenge. This journey I hope will put some of my understandings of who Jesus is under the microscope of the Word of God. For me it is a time to reexamine what the Bible says about Jesus. To reexamine his life, his actions, his words. Please consider joining me on this journey. I have also included a tab at the top of my blog for quick access to these posts.

Here is a little background on the title of this blog "sound of a soft breath" and me. Please stop and say hello.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments on the words written for us all in the Bible.

peace & grace in Christ,
brad @ sound of a soft breath

031 | Undeserved Favor

Grace Came Down
I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. I am on the 31st passage reading.
the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God..." (Luke 1:30)
The second definition in The American Heritage Dictionary for the word favor states "Friendly or favorable regard; approval or support: won the favor of the monarch; looked with favor on the plan."

This announcement made to Mary was the beginning of a new era. The era of favor. A time period marked by the mercy and grace of God. This new era would begin with a pregnant unwed teenager in Galilee. Just as God found favor with Mary, God would find favor with us through the baby Mary would give birth to in Bethlehem: Jesus. Because of Jesus God finds favor with us.
As God's co-workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
I have heard grace defined as "undeserved favor". It is a free gift from the Creator of everything. We have not earned this favor or done anything to deserve it. In fact, according to the Bible, we have fallen way short of the favor of God.
...There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)
Why would God give us something that we simply don't deserve. Why would God desire to find favor with us?
..when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
Why? Because of God's kindness and love. God is love (1 John 4:16) and mercy flows from true love. So what is your response today, what is my response, to this undeserved gift of grace, the favor of God? Is it similar to Mary's response as recorded by Luke?
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
God has done incredible things for us, for me. My soul and my spirit rejoice today in my Savior!

| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |
Photo credit: The photo in this post is titled "Grace Came Down". It was uploaded to flickr.com by sarowen on June 30, 2008.

Extreme Living

I was challenged and encouraged by both the boldness and honesty of the apostle Paul in the letter he wrote to the Philippian Church.

In this letter Paul raises the bar on how to live as a follower of Christ. Really, when you think about it and are completely honest, it is an extreme way to live. I rewrote some of what I found challenging from the letter into personal statements. I created

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