Message Monday 12/22/14 – Signs: Nazarene

Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor

The end of Matthew’s Christmas Story seems rather anti-climactic.  “…and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”  (Matthew 2:23)  The only problem here is that neither the town of Nazareth nor the term Nazarene can be found anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. So what was Matthew up to here?  Well, notice that he writes, “prophets” –plural, as if the idea of the Messiah being a Nazarene was a common theme in the prophetic writings.  One thing we’ve discovered is that the term Nazarene was synonymous with “despised” in Jesus day, which explains Nathanael’s comment about Nazareth in John 1:46.   (more…)

Message Monday 12/15/14 – Signs: Escape

Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor

Herod the not so Great

Herod the Great, the first in the succession of the family of ruling Herods, wasn’t a Jew.  He was an Idumean from the Old Testament Kingdom of Edom, south of Israel.  He was appointed by the Roman Senate in 40 BC to manage Judea for Rome.  So he was not terribly sympathetic to the Jewish plight under Roman rule, but he’d been around long enough to know that the Jews were expecting a Messiah.  When the astronomers from the east showed up in Jerusalem in about 3 BC asking where this newborn King of the Jews was, that’s how Herod knew to call for his scholars and ask exactly where their scriptures foretold the birth place of this long awaited Savior was to be.  (Matthew 2:13-18)

Now, imagine knowing that this One the eastern astronomers were searching for actually was the promised Jewish Messiah, and perceiving him as a threat to your throne, scheming to eliminate him permanently.  That is the bold face of tyrannical evil and prideful, self-centered ambition.  Herod is an extreme example of this.  History provides us with no small number of other examples just like him: Nero, Domitian, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussain.  Extreme, we think, but how different are we, really?   (more…)

Message Monday 12/08/14 – Signs: Shepherd Ruler

Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor

We would not know anything at all about half of the traditional Christmas Story we’re used to if not for Matthew. He’s the only Gospel writer who tells us about the Star of Bethlehem and the wise men from the east who mysteriously appeared in Jerusalem sometime after the birth of Jesus. These Arab astronomers caused quite a stir in the capital city when they showed up asking about the recent birth of a new king in Israel. Herod suspected this might actually be the Messiah. About 30 years later, so did a man named Levi, when a new, young, unconventional rabbi from Nazareth asked him to become one of his students. No Jewish rabbi would have ever paid any attention to Levi. He collected taxes from his own people for Rome—enough to satisfy Rome’s quota and enough more to pad his own pockets. So Levi, whose name Jesus likely changed to Matthew, which means ‘Gift of God’, suspected something was up, just as those eastern astronomers had 3 decades earlier when they saw Jupiter, the king planet and Venus, the queen mother planet align within the constellation of Leo, the Lion…of Judah, to form what looked like the largest heavenly body they had seen in their lifetime.


Message Monday 12/01/14 – Signs: Immanuel

Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor

Jesus not only changed the life of Levi, the tax collector, he changed his name so he’d remember it (Matthew 9:9-13). Levi now called himself Matthew—which means “Gift of God”, his new identity, given him by Jesus.  Matthew’s quest became discovering and revealing the identity of this young life changing, name changing rabbi. What Matthew discovered was incredible.  This Jesus fulfilled all the predictions in the Hebrew scriptures about the Jewish Messiah!  Even the most obscure ones.  Matthew found at least 4 Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah which were fulfilled in the story of Jesus birth.  Obviously, these were not events that Jesus orchestrated.  They just happened to him.  Come join us on this journey of amazement.  Watch as Matthew tells us the story.  It begins with Immanuel—God with us—the sign of the pregnant virgin.  Just as God showed up during the reign of Ahaz, King of Judah, and gave his people an sign that he would not abandon them to their enemies (Isaiah 7), so had he shown up in Matthew’s day, up close and in person.  Matthew knew the only explanation of his own life changing experience was that God had shown up—and Jesus was his name.