Sweden – Linda Johnson

Jan. 6, 2019– Cold? Indifferent?  Unconcerned?  Things going good for you? Feel God’s blessings and just want to lay back and relax? Spread the love.  There were some strangers who spent several years looking for the King of the Jews. All they had to go on was a star. Apparently nothing else mattered to them but finding this king so they could worship him.  (It’s in Matthew 2.)  How do people of today compare to these men who were searching, searching, searching?  

The wise men were men of some position. The trip from the east couldn’t have been cheap. They brought expensive gifts, so they weren’t poor. They weren’t Jews and yet they knew the story of the Christ, who was King of the Jews.  And they saw the sign, the star that led them. And they weren’t willing to give up and go back home. Their quest was to find HIM. How is it that so many then and so many now don’t mount their own quest to find HIM?  Surely these men, who were not among the chosen of God, and yet they believed. This was and is a sign in itself.  

Have the blessed of God become “pew warmers” or don’t even show up in church at all?  The prophet Amos warns in Amos 6:1, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…”.  It’s not good for God’s people to be preoccupied and unconcerned about spiritual matters. God won’t wait forever.  Each day is one day closer.  Those that are unconverted know the story of God’s promises for those that believe on Him. We are finite people.  Our days will come to an end.  None of us are guaranteed the next year, the next month, week, hour or minute. Where will the soul spend eternity? The question that should take the forefront of our minds.  

The passage for the service was taken from Proverbs 3:5-10. It’s a well-known passage that speaks of not leaning on your own understanding and not to be wise in your own eyes.  The Sunday School class discussed the wise men.  After reciting the passage, our beloved pastor said, “How can we be wise men today?”  After some length he took one of those pauses.  It’s just a short interlude where he looks at you and you sit up a little straighter.  He picked a verse from the beatitudes, Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled.”  Then he said, “The world is not righteous because they don’t want it.”  It’s the kind of statement that sucks the air out of your lungs because you know he’s right.  It’s just that nobody ever says it.

So, what’s to happen to us?  Luke 18:10-14 is a little story about two men who go to the temple to pray. One is a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee prays and talks about how he’s doing everything that he should.  He even goes on to say that he’s not like other folks.  Blah, blah, blah.  Off in the corner is the publican. He is so covered in shame that he looks down, pounds his chest and begs for mercy because of the sinner that he is. It’s a good reminder of how to approach a just, holy, and righteous God.

There are plenty of things to learn in the Bible.  It’s a road map for anyone to follow who wants to find their way to God and his Son, Jesus.  Start today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  It may never come. 

Jan. 13, 2019– Not much is really known about Joseph, the husband of Mary, who is the mother of Jesus.  He is a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) by trade.  When Caesar Augustus sent out a tax, it says in Luke 2:4 that Joseph “went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth…” So he belonged to the city of Nazareth.  His lineage can be traced back to King David.  The certainty seems to be that he is descended from David.  The account in Matthew (1:1-16) traces him back through Solomon.  And, the account in Luke (3:23-38) traces him back through Nathan.  Thought has it that Mary’s lineage is the one in Luke.  However one looks at it, there are established lines of descendants.

The important thing to know about Joseph is that he is a just man. (Matthew 1:19)  The dictionary meaning is doing what is morally fair and right. Joseph is a man who takes the moral high ground. God picked a good husband for Mary and a good father for her child, Jesus. This would be a better world to live in if everyone was raised by a father who was just.

And it was a good thing that he was just. When he was betrothed to Mary, he got word that she was expecting and was prepared to quietly end the engagement. Joseph, after an angel appeared to him in a dream, married Mary as the angel had bidden him. (Matthew 1:24)  Joseph’s character is so important to the birth and childhood of our Savior, Jesus.  An angel visited Joseph three more times after this. The second time to escape into Egypt (Matthew 2:13).  The third time when Herod had died (Matthew  2:19-20). And the fourth time when he was warned not to go to Judea (Matthew 2:22).

Joseph, not mentioned much in the Bible, turns out to be the determining factor in the survival of Jesus. He is living proof that God doesn’t make mistakes. Herod the Great was the King of the Jews at this time.  He had been in power for the better part of 40 years.  No one, no one was going to replace him.  A cursory reading of his biography tells one to what extremes he was willing to go to maintain his power.  Herod was so consumed with his power that he ordered all the male children in and around Bethlehem under two to be murdered. This is the reason for the second visit from the angel.  

Joseph was told to take Mary and the child and go to Egypt.  Matthew 2:13-14 leaves no doubt that Joseph got up in the middle of the night and they left. After the threat of Herod had passed the angel came again and told him to take his family and go back into Israel. Once there, Joseph learned that Herod’s son, Archelaus, was in power and had been warned in this, the final dream, to go into Galilee. He did so and settled in Nazareth. There he raised his family and worked as a carpenter.

Joseph, not a notable human being, was chosen by God for his character.  He was a just man.  Had it not been for this man of character, our world would be as lost as a “golf ball in high weeds”.  That’s a phrase that our beloved pastor uses from time to time.  

You can visit us at our website swedenchurch.com.  It is complete with audios of    the sermons.  Pastor Strong can also be heard on our radio program Sunday mornings.  Better yet, come and hear Brother Josh live Sunday morning service begins at 11 a.m. (Sunday school is at 10 a.m.) and evening service begins at 6 p.m.  Bible study is Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. except for our business meeting which is held the second Wednesday of each month.  Sweden Church is east of Ava about 10 miles on Highway 14 and then left onto 14-219 a quarter-mile.

You can visit us at our website swedenchurch.com.  It is complete with audios of   the sermons.  Pastor Strong can also be heard on our radio program Sunday mornings.  Better yet, come and hear Brother Josh live Sunday morning service begins at 11 a.m. (Sunday school is at 10 a.m.) and evening service begins at 6 p.m.  Bible study is Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. except for our business meeting which is held the second Wednesday of each month.  Sweden Church is east of Ava about 10 miles on Highway 14 and then left onto 14-219 a quarter-mile.