FAMILY: JOY {Advent}

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But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

— Luke 2:10-11

Great joy? Is it almost too much to hope for?

Where did all the Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated? So rushed? So squeezed and cluttered? A nonstop buzz of Christmas lights and weary shoppers, boisterous television specials and pleading children. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to step aside, step into a quieter moment, and read the angel’s words that came on the night that changed the world: “I bring you good news of great joy!”

It was just another night of work in the field for the shepherds, with a chill in the air and the soft bleating of their flocks. Another night of work, a night like thousands of nights before—even thousands of years before when the shepherd David was still a boy and stood watch in those same fields. Life hadn’t changed in a millennium. But on this night, everything changed.

When the angel appeared, bathed in a glorious light, these shepherd men and boys who were used to fending off wild beasts to protect their sheep were suddenly filled with terror. Were they convinced by the simple words: “I bring you good news of great joy”? Probably not. Joy would have to come later. They would need to see proof.

That’s the way it works with joy. Real joy never originates from within; it must come from without. Searching for joy within you is like searching for the ocean within a droplet of water. Perhaps this is why so many of us have a difficult time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a Christmas cookie and you might enjoy it. Open a shiny package and you might delight in what you find inside. But joy itself—true and pure—is so much more than enjoyment.

Joy is the startling realization that God has claimed territory in this world. He has taken back what belongs to him. Every day we can remind ourselves of this revelation—reignite this joy again and again. Joy is a thirst that doesn’t want to be quenched; a hunger that knows it will go on and on. It’s a good thing to never get enough of God.

This “great joy”—God come into the world—is great because it’s everywhere. A joy “that will be for all the people” is here. Now. Let us delight in this tremendous news today.

Prayer for today:

Dear God, turn my fear into great joy.

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(Source: Bible Gateway)

FAMILY: Happy Thanksgiving! A Thankful Heart

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Today is a great day to meditate on all of God’s abundant blessings in our lives and spend time expressing gratitude to Him. Today’s the perfect day to lift up your thanks to the Lord all day long! Praise Him in song! Praise Him in poetry! Praise Him to your family & friends! Praise Him for the small miracles of each day and for the grand gestures of His lavish love! 

* * *

Philippians 4:6

Come to Me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy My Presence.

This is the day that I have made.

I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow. Search for all that I have prepared for you, anticipating abundant blessings and accepting difficulties as they come. I can weave miracles into the most mundane day if you keep your focus on Me.

Come to Me with all your needs, knowing that My glorious riches are a more-than-adequate supply. Stay in continual communication with Me, so that you can live above your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them. Present your requests to Me with thanksgiving, and My Peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind.

Read today:

Psalm 118:24
The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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(Source: Sarah Young and Faith Gateway)

FAMILY: Love Drives Out the Fear in Your Relationships

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“Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it … shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (1 John 4:18 NLT, second edition).

“I hate you!”

When people say that in relationships, it’s often a sign that somebody’s trying to control somebody else. What’s beneath that control? It’s fear. Insecurity causes us to try to control others or resist the control of others. When you’re so insecure that all you think about is what others think of you, it destroys your relationships and disables your life.

It’s an amazing dilemma we have as human beings: We long to be close, but we also fear being close. We long to have intimacy with others, but we’re also scared to death of it.

Insecurity prevents intimacy and destroys your relationships. You can’t get close to somebody if there’s fear in the relationship. If insecurity destroys relationships, then what builds them? Love! Love builds relationships.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it … shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (NLT, second edition). How does that work? How does love expel all fear?

Love takes the focus off of you and puts the focus on others. People ask me a lot of times, “Do you ever get nervous when you’re talking to a lot of people at Saddleback?” The answer is, “Of course!” But you know what makes the difference? I get the focus off of me and focus on the people in front of me instead. If I stood there thinking about what they thought of my hairstyle, I would have something to be afraid of, right? But the minute I start thinking about how much I love my church family and how we serve God together, all of a sudden the fear is gone.

It’s the same in any relationship. Focusing on the other person gives you the power to throw fear out of your life.

So how do you find that power to focus on other people? You realize how much God loves you. The moment you begin to understand how much God loves you, you don’t have to prove yourself any more. You don’t have to spend your life trying to impress other people, because you already know that God loves you.

Do you know how freeing and enjoyable it is to live life that way? Your identity and self-worth are not caught up in what others might think of you. When you’re secure in your relationship with Christ, you’re no longer pressured by everybody else’s expectations. God’s love frees you to love others fearlessly.

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God Bless,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

FAMILY: How to Help Your Family Grow

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“Since I have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15 NLT, second edition).

If one of the marks of an awesome family is that we help each other grow, how do you do that?

Let me give you two ways that help people grow and two ways that don’t. This applies in every area of life.

Help each other grow:

  1. Through example. Jesus did this in teaching the disciples. John 13:14-15 says,“Since I … have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (NLT, second edition). Your kids don’t want to hear a sermon. They want to see Jesus’ example in your life.
  2. Through conversations. If you’re not having critical conversations with your kids about real issues, they’re not growing. Unfortunately, most conversations we have with kids are about schedule, eating, or homework and not about the stuff that really matters in life.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:7, “You must teach [God’s commandments] to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning” (TLB).

Now let me tell you two ways that don’t work to help people grow:

  1. Through criticism. Nagging doesn’t work. Condemning doesn’t work. Criticizing and complaining are totally ineffective in helping a person change. Why? Because when you criticize, you’re focusing on what you don’t want rather than what you do want. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.”
  2. Through comparing. Everybody’s unique. There’s nobody in the world like you! That’s why comparing never, ever works. In fact, it’s lethal to any relationship. The Bible says, “Each person should judge his own actions and not compare himself with others. Then he can be proud for what he himself has done”(Galatians 6:4 NCV).

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God bless.

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(Source: Rick Warren)

FAMILY: Marriage Is Meant for Connection

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“In God’s plan men and women need each other” (1 Corinthians 11:11 TLB).

Marriage doesn’t solve your problems. Marriage does not create your problems. Marriage reveals problems. It simply magnifies what was already a problem when you were living as a single adult.

There are a lot of things marriage can’t do, but it does have a God-designed function. So why did God design marriage?

God created marriage for the connection of men and women.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11:11, “In God’s plan men and women need each other” (TLB).

Whether or not you get married, if you’re a woman, you need men in your life. If you’re a man, you need women in your life. Why? Because nobody holds the full image of God. Women get part of it, men get part of it, and we need each other. God wired it this way. God thought up gender. God thought up sex. And God thought up marriage. What a God!

Did you ever wonder why God made man and then woman a little bit later? Why didn’t he make them both at the same time?

I think he did it for Adam’s benefit. I think he wanted Adam to realize how much he needed women in his life.

Genesis 2:18 says, “It isn’t good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him.”

You need companions in all different areas of your life. But there is nothing like the companionship of a marriage. It is in a relational class all by itself.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about it: “‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together” (Mark 10:6-9 NLT, second edition).

That passage makes three major points about marriage:

  1. Marriage is God’s plan. It’s not a tradition we can just throw out.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Their body parts fit together for a purpose — the creation of everybody else.
  3. Marriage is to be permanent. It’s meant to be for life.

Do you realize how radical those three statements are? It seems like most people don’t believe those statements any more. But it’s still the truth! It’s still the way God designed marriage. And just because we live in the real, not necessarily the ideal, doesn’t mean we get to say the ideal doesn’t exist.

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God Bless,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

FAMILY: God Wants You to Join the Party!

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“Go out into the country lanes and out behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I invited first will get even the smallest taste of what I had prepared for them.” (Luke 14:23b-24 TLB)

Jesus told a story to explain the party that God has invited you to: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When all was ready, he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to arrive. But they all began making excuses. One said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it, and asked to be excused. Another said he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out. Another had just been married and for that reason couldn’t come.

“The servant reported to his master what they had said. His master was angry and told him to go quickly into the streets and alleys of the city and to invite the beggars, crippled, lame, and blind. But even then, there was still room.

“‘Well, then,’ said his master, ‘go out into the country lanes and out behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I invited first will get even the smallest taste of what I had prepared for them’” (Luke 14:16-24 TLB).

God has prepared a generous banquet for all of us. It’s a party in Heaven that’s going to go on for eternity! God planned this party because he’s gracious and because he is generous. And he wants a full house!

In the story, the servant is sent out to get all the guests. If you are a servant of God, your job is to bring in the guests.

Are you a servant of God? Are you a child of God? Are you in God’s family? Are you saved? Then this is your job description.

I want you to notice some phrases in this passage: “Notify the guests,” “Go quickly,” “Invite,” “Go into the country lanes,” and “Urge anyone you find to come.”

This is how God wants you to do your job: Go quickly into every part of the world, tell people about God’s invitation to salvation, invite them into the family of God, and do it with urgency.

If you’re in the family of God, that’s your job description for the rest of your life while you’re here on Earth. Go invite the guests. And go in faith!

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God Bless,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

FAMILY: Why Satan Exists For Christ’s Glory and Your Joy

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In a very real sense, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). All humans, including those who compose the church, are subject to the evil god of this world.

So here’s a question for you: True or false? God — and from the vantage point of the New Testament, let us specify our Savior, God the Son, the promised crusher of the serpent’s head — could have cast Satan into the lake of fire immediately after he rebelled, or immediately after the deception in the garden, or at any point from then until now, thus sparing his people and the world untold misery and suffering. Answer: True.

By [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

Christ spun forth galaxies with a word. He could just as easily have removed the entire kingdom of darkness with one little word. Wouldn’t the bride of Christ have been better off? Why didn’t the Divine Bridegroom care for us in that way?

All this is just one way to pose one of the most knotty questions in all of theology.

Why Does Christ Allow the Enemy to Exist?

The short answer is this: for our joy and his glory.

Jesus Christ came “to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18). Through his death, he destroyed “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). What a Savior! What a Deliverer! Every liberated POW story shares a common climax — triumphant jubilation. If there were no enemy to free us from, we would never experience this extraordinary magnitude of joy.

Light is all the more glorious in contrast to darkness. Freedom is enhanced by the experience of captivity. Holiness is more beautiful when we have been shocked by the gargoyle face of evil.

Remembering how our Divine Rescuer irreversibly saved us from the jaws of the enemy maximizes our delight, admiration, and reverence for him. Thus the very existence of Satan ultimately magnifies the glory of Christ. And this type of glory would not be possible were Satan not allowed to range throughout the earth. And we have at least three more ways to see these truths in the Bible.

1. Satan and Demons Obey Christ

Consider Christ’s forty-day battle with the devil in the wilderness. Not only did Jesus win, but when the ordeal was over he said, “Be gone Satan,” and the evil one immediately obeyed (Matthew 4:10–11).

Christ was also victorious over demons. Even by the thousands they were clearly no match for him (Mark 1:23–27, 5:9–13). He cast out demons “by the finger of God” (Luke 11:20).

The fact that Satan and demons obey Christ results in glory for him — and profound joy for us who follow Christ.

2. The Hour That Changed Everything

In Gethsemane, as the mob approached with swords and clubs, Jesus said, “This is your hour and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53).

He knew this was coming. But instead of asking the Father to save him from this hour, he prayed, “Father, glorify your name.” The voice from heaven replied, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” Jesus explained to those who heard it, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:27–31).

The hour of the power of darkness was also the hour of Christ’s glory. Whenever we remember and proclaim this most extraordinary hour — this amazing cosmic turnaround — Christ receives glory, and we receive joy in him.

3. This Drama Is No Cliffhanger

Scripture reveals the ultimate destiny of Satan. Good news lies ahead: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20). How will spiritual warfare ultimately conclude?

Then comes the end, when [Christ] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:24–25)

When we look to our future hope and realize what lies ahead for our enemy, Christ is glorified, and we can rejoice knowing no one will ever snatch us out of his hand or separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (John 10:28; Romans 8:38–39).

What Is Spiritual Warfare About?

Spiritual warfare is not primarily a story about believers dressed in awesome armor. Nor is it primarily a story about Satan and demons. Instead, spiritual warfare is first and foremost a story about Christ and his all-surpassing glory over and above the kingdom of darkness. The bad news about Satan becomes the good news about Satan when we recognize that the glory of Christ shines most brightly against the black backdrop of the kingdom of darkness. As for Satan, he means it for evil against us, but God means it for good (Genesis 50:20).

And even in the heat of the fiercest battle, with our faith riveted on the indomitable Jesus Christ, we can “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:3–9), knowing that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

 

Why Satan Exists

God Bless,

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(Source: Bob Bevington)

FAMILY: Christian Conflict Five Ways to Fight It

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I wish I never had to deal with conflict. I am a card-carrying conflict avoider. Whatever the reason (character, context, sin, etc). I would rather run away from conflict than take it head on. It wasn’t until I began my training as a counselor at nearly thirty-years-old that someone explained conflict didn’t always have to do damage. In fact, it was possible to have conflict with a person and to feel closer to them in the wake of it.

This was a revolutionary idea to me. However, skilled conflict doesn’t come easy. It requires dedication, persistence and the willingness to forgive when things go poorly. In other words, it mirrors the rest of our Christian walk.

Scripture has something to say to us in this regard. While studying Colossians 3:12–17, I was taken by the fact that these attributes — which we are to cultivate in our lives as Christians — should be exercised both externally (to the world) and internally (to our Christian brothers and sisters). I think Colossians 3:12 specifically helps us to get a bit of a roadmap for what it looks like for Christians to struggle alongside and with one another:

1. Compassion

It is no surprise that compassion is the first attribute listed for Paul. Compassion is the emotion most often ascribed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13; Matthew 9:38; 14:14; 15:32; Mark 6:34; 8:2).

To be compassionate means to be moved, deeply, by the state of another. In order to be moved by someone’s condition, we must struggle to understand his or her condition. It means rushing to hear rather than to speak (Proverbs 18:13). It means being willing to understand how they’ve been hurt, even when you are the one who has done the wounding. This is especially difficult when both parties feel that they’ve been wronged. However, it is a sign of spiritual maturity to be the first one to lay aside (if only temporarily) one’s own feelings in order to listen to someone else’s.

2. Kindness

Kindness is compassion in action. Be willing to show through your actions that even in the midst of conflict you still love and care for one another. Nothing can escalate a conflict more quickly than a poorly placed eye roll, shrug, or sigh. Body language and tone of voice are crucial to communicating care in tense times. Being kind also means guarding your thoughts and your words. Constructive communication is so often scuttled in advance as both parties stew in their own thoughts and feelings of hurt and anger.

Confront those thoughts. Remind yourself that you, too, are a sinner who desperately needs grace (Romans 3:23). Pray prayers of thanksgiving for God’s provision of forgiveness in your life and beseech the Lord that you would reflect some of that back to the person with whom you are in conflict (Colossians 3:13).

3. Humility

Humility is action without regard for reward. So often people enter into conflict with a sort of “game theory” mentality. The whole exchange becomes about assigning blame and fault rather than building each other up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15–16; Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Die to your desire for personal gain through conflict and instead live to the idea that you have an incredible opportunity to display Christ!

4. Gentleness

Gentleness is action received as help, not just condemnation. This means that our conflict needs a measure of intentionality to it. So often conflict is just a volcanic eruption of emotion rather than a strategic release of pressure. While we cannot choose when and where someone will hurt us (or us them), we can choose how and when we will communicate about it.

Also, not all hurts need to be discussed. If on a scale of one to ten, your hurt is less than or equal to five, then try to forgive and just move on (Colossians 3:13). But if you can’t or if it’s bigger than that, then be wise about how and when you discuss it. For example, some people are morning people; if you start the conversation and it’s late into the night, you can’t expect them to pay very much attention and vice versa for night people. You can also choose to use words which are not meant to be hurtful and which lack accusation (Proverbs 16:24). No matter how frustrated and angry you feel, choosing to use words that put someone on the defensive rarely works (less than 8% of the time!) We have the ability to accurately describe our experiences of pain without having to try to hurt others.

5. Patience

Patience allows us to continue to offer help even when it doesn’t appear to yield results. In seminary I had a professor who once asked, “Can you be as patient with X as God is being patient with you?” Replace X with the name of the person with whom you are in conflict. Every time we sin, God doesn’t send a giant lightning bolt to zap us. And I’ll be darned if I don’t tend to sin in the same ways now as I did in the past. Yet God doesn’t cast me off or throw me aside. Instead he promises to his people, “[I] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

People tend to struggle with the same sorts of things their entire lives. Are you friends with someone who isn’t good at asking for help? Is your spouse someone who doesn’t communicate well? Does your sibling stink at details? Guess what, that’s probably not to going to dramatically change anytime soon. We don’t have to pretend that those things don’t cause hurt — they do — but we shouldn’t let our expectations get too crazy either. Being a lovingly consistent voice is far greater than an occasionally shrill one.

Being compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient in the midst of conflict can be extraordinarily tough. Yet Paul’s advice is clear that these attributes need to be self-evident in every sphere of our lives and at all times (Colossians 3:17). Doing so not only increases the chances that on the opposite side of conflict we will be closer together, but it effectively points to the character of Christ at a time and in a place where the gospel is needed most.

 

God Bless,

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(Source: Josh Squires)

FAMILY: There’s No Christmas without the Cross

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“For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity — the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 NLT, second edition)

Christmas without the cross is irrelevant. If Jesus had just stayed a baby in a manger, you could stop reading this right now — it’s pointless. Without the cross, there’s no reason to spend an entire month getting ready for the celebration of his birth. There’s no reason to put up Christmas lights, play music, send cards, or buy gifts.

The whole world shuts down one day a year to celebrate a day that split history into A.D. and B.C. God came to Earth and invaded human history. And because he did, the world will never be the same.

But it wouldn’t have mattered a lick without the cross. God sent his Son as the Savior for the whole world so that all people can know him.

The Bible says, “For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity — the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 NLT, second edition).

In the Bible the symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice of himself is called the “Sacrificial Lamb.” The Bible uses this metaphor because lambs are harmless. They’re not predators. They’re innocent. Jesus didn’t hurt anyone, and he did not deserve to die. He was the Son of God, but God allowed him to be sacrificed for us — all of us.

God knows the pain of losing a child, because he sent his Son to die in your place. And he did that for every person who has ever walked the planet. No person is beyond the love and reach of God.

Not even you.

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God Bless,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

FAMILY: The First Noël

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[The wise men] went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9–11)

On the night Jesus was born, that First Noël, one star sang a song for the ages. In all of its brightness, it declared, “Glory in the Highest!” with the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. It was a long-awaited star proclaiming a long-awaited Messiah, a star of stars that announced the King of kings.

Matthew writes that wise men studied the skies and saw this star, a star that told them something profound had happened, something that would change the course of history. They came to Jerusalem, walked into the town in which Herod is king, and asked, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Not, “where is the baby who will become the king one day?” No, a star told us that there is a baby King — a baby who is already King — and we are here to worship him.

No Way to Treat a King

And how do Herod and the Jews respond? With joy and excitement and gratitude? Remember these — the people of Jerusalem — are Jesus’s people. This is Israel, the ones to whom Jesus was promised, their King, their Savior.

But unlike the wise men, Herod was threatened by this baby King and didn’t want to worship the child. He wanted to kill the baby, and so he was willing to kill every young boy in Bethlehem to make sure that Jesus was dead. Jesus’s own people hear that the promised King has arrived to save them, and how do they respond? Over and over throughout the Gospels, we see that the Jews were troubled. They were filled with fear and pride and faithlessness. They try to stop Jesus.

Like so many of us today, the Jews were clinging to what they knew. They were content with the king they knew, the world they knew, the life they knew. They knew that if this child really was the Christ, everything had to change. They were terrified of what changes Jesus might bring or of what he might take away. Instead of running to the newborn King, exalting him, welcoming him into the world, they feared him and they rejected him.

The Brightness of His Rising

But in the very same moments with the very same news, the wise men responded very differently. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10). The wise men were beside themselves with joy because of this star. These guys weren’t Jewish priests. They weren’t Jewish at all. They were men from the east. From the moment of his birth, the joy Jesus brings is a joy for the nations, for the whole world. It happened just like Isaiah predicted, “The Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:2–3).

And by the light of that same star,
Three wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

The wise men were enamored with the star, the way we might be with the first snowfall of the year or a best friend’s engagement ring or a last second shot to beat our biggest rival. They couldn’t take their eyes off of it. Nothing would distract them or get in the way because they knew the Savior would come by that great light.

The Poor Child, the Promised King

They finally arrive at Bethlehem. “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Wouldn’t you think they would be completely disappointed, confused, defeated? The star led them to a humble home with a humble family, who had given birth in a stable.

Yet the wise men are not fooled or caught off guard by the strange circumstances. No, they fall down and they worship the baby Jesus. Give us a poor child with modest accommodations and little fanfare. Just give us Jesus. We need our King.

They brought expensive gifts, but they knew nothing they brought would be enough. This wasn’t just a king; this was the King, the King of kings. And it had been given to them to see his star and to see him — the little baby — with their own eyes.

With His Blood, Mankind He Bought

Why did this baby King come? He came to save his people from their sins, and to bring them to God (Matthew 1:21–23). How do you respond to this Jesus? How do you respond to the baby wielding all power and authority before he’s even spoken a word, the baby whose birth stopped the stars? How do you respond to this unassuming answer to years of promise — little hands and ears and a nose in which infinite almighty God dwelt? Do you rejoice? Are you confused? Is it threatening? Maybe even offensive?

Make no mistake. If you follow this Star, your life will change. When we pursue Jesus and his light, he uncovers and confronts our sin, our selfishness, our resistance to him. But fear not! Through this King, by his death years later on the cross, we are saved from ourselves, and from death, into eternal life with him. Don’t miss the Star, and don’t fear its message. It brings the best news any of us has ever heard.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind has bought.

The First Noël

 

God Bless,

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(Source: Marshall Segal)