Matthew 2:1-2 – Let Your Light So Shine

Matthew 2:1-2
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

-The wise men had a very important mission, they needed to get to Jesus.  The wise men also had a very big problem, they had no idea where to find Jesus.  Thankfully God, in His divine providence, put a bright star in the sky to guide them.  Where would the wise men have ended up without the star?  What would have happened to them if that star had decided not to shine so brightly that particular night?  In this life there are many people on a mission to find Jesus; even though many of them don’t even realize it.  Thankfully God, in His divine providence, puts His followers in their way to guide them.  What happens to those who are searching if God’s people decide not to shine so brightly on a particular day?  Don’t concern yourself with the answer to that question; instead, concern yourself with making sure that question never gets answered.  “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

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2 Peter 1:16-21 – A Sure Word

2 Peter 1:16-21
16 
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

-In verse 18, Peter references his experience watching Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.  During that experience, the voice of God the Father could be heard saying, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Luke 9:35)  In verse 19, Peter tells us that even in light of that experience, there is a more sure word and that is the Word of God.  The inspired, written Word of God is “a more sure word” than the audible voice of God heard on the mount of transfiguration!  For the Word is not of men, but of the Holy Ghost (v.21) and God has magnified His Word above even His name. (Psalm 138:2)

Acts 17:29-31 -He Will Judge The World

Acts 17:29-31
29 
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Romans 3:11 tells us that “there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”  We live so much of our lives completely oblivious to the fact that God exists and that He is the “Judge of all the earth”. (Genesis 18:25)  We sin right in the face of the God who is Holy and, in His mercy; He winks at our transgression (v30).  Why does He wink?  He must because He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil.” (Habakkuk 1:13)  But He won’t wink forever.  He has appointed a time when He will no longer exercise mercy and restraint, but will “judge the world in righteousness”.  Jesus Christ will be the Judge and so Jesus Christ in the only hope any of us has when judgment comes.

Daniel 3:23-29 – The Fourth Man

Daniel 3:23-29
23 
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

-“The form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found themselves in the grip of a mad king who would have burned them alive, but a fourth Man stood by them who cannot be burned with fire and who is not subject to the whims of men no matter how powerful they may be.  Psalm 91:1 says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Take heart in this fact the next time you find yourself in a circumstance that is big enough to consume you or at the mercy of those who would do you harm.  God is our refuge and He cannot be frightened or consumed by our troubles.

Psalm 48:1 – The Mountain of God

Psalm 48:1
1
 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

Why is it the mountain of God’s holiness?  For that matter, why did God choose to reveal Himself to the Hebrew people from Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) or visit Elijah on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19)?  Why did Jesus take the disciples into the mountain before His transfiguration (Matthew 17)?  Why did Christ have to bear His cross all the way to Mount Calvary (Luke 23:33)?  What do we think of when we picture a mountain?  Mountains are impossibly big and impossible to move and so it with the various aspects of God.  In each of these instances, as God reveals His holiness, His character, His glory, and His power to save, we should see them in the same way that we see a mountain.  Although God is very willing to condescend to us (Philippians 2:7-8), we should never forget that God is high and lifted up, He is impossibly big, and He cannot be moved.

Romans 12:1 – Your Reasonable Service

Romans 12:1
1
 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

-People often lose sight of the fact that logic and spirituality go hand in hand.  If you take a step back and think it through, it is perfectly logical that everything that exists must have a Creator; it is perfectly logical that the world is hurting and needs a Savior; it is perfectly logical that the Holy Bible, which has endured unending criticism over countless centuries and yet still endures, must be preserved by God and thus must contain His truth.  Accepting all of this, we are left with the same conclusion as Paul: it is not outrageous to pledge our very beings to the service of our Creator and Savior, it is actually very reasonable.  In fact, the more you think about it, the more illogical the opposite of all this becomes.  It is illogical to deny the very One who gave us life.  It is unreasonable to push away our only Hope of salvation.  It is just plain silly to think that we really do live unto ourselves and will answer to no one.  To embrace or reject the Lord is the most important choice in any of our lives.  When it’s your turn to make that choice, be reasonable.

Genesis 22:9 – “And laid the wood in order”

Genesis 22:9
9
 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

-How do we face the trials of life?  With anxiety and worry?  Fear blind and panic-stricken?  There is a better way to handle our hardest days.  Consider Abraham’s example here in scripture.  He has just been asked by God to sacrifice his son, his only son, on the altar.  He is building the very altar where he plans to end his son’s life in obedience to the Lord.  Notice verse 9, “and [he] laid the wood in order”.  It’s a simple phrase but consider the implication.  Abraham wasn’t throwing the altar together in a grief induced frenzy, neither was he slinging the wood down in anger at the action he was asked to take, rather, he approached the task with focus and order.  That is the gift of God; “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) If you are manifesting anything other than power in your circumstances, love in your heart, and soundness in your mind; just know that you didn’t get that from the Lord.

Jude 1:5-6 – …destroyed them that believed not.

Jude 1:5-6
5
 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

-Wickedness abounds more every day and many times it seems as though the wicked are receiving the Lord’s favor.  But Jude would be quick to remind us that even though God spared all of the Jews from Egyptian bondage, He still destroyed those who refused to believe in the wilderness.  At first they appeared to slip by, but they reaped what they had sown.  Likewise the rebellious angels who turned on God in Heaven, they are being held awaiting final judgment and although they have yet to be fully punished for their unbelief, they will certainly reap what they have sown.  These examples serve to frighten us, but only so that we may be motivated not to follow after them.  For any of us who still breathe, it’s not too late to turn to the Lord and put our full confidence in Him to lead our present life and to ultimately bless us with the fullness of eternal life.  Don’t sow to the flesh as the wicked have done throughout the centuries, sow to the Spirit and reap life.

Matthew 14:25-31 – And He said, Come.

Matthew 14:25-31
25 
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

-In a great act of faith and at the bidding of the Lord, Peter stepped out onto the water.  He was doing so well at first, but he didn’t end well.  What happened?  Peter took his eyes off of Jesus obviously, but let’s think about the greater implication of that action.  If Peter was no longer looking to Jesus, then he was no longer coming to Jesus; if he was no longer coming to Jesus, then he’s just out walking on the water.  The second that Peter stopped focusing on Jesus, he started disobeying, because Jesus didn’t command Peter to walk on water, Jesus commanded Peter to come to Him.  We have to remember this lesson in our own lives.  It can be easy to get wrapped up in the idea that we are doing great things for the Lord, but if we ever lose sight of Jesus and His command for our lives, we’ll sink as quickly as Peter did.

Exodus 20:2-6 – Righteous Jealousy

Exodus 20:2-6
2
 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

-Jealousy.  We often dismiss it as an unwanted emotion; but we see clearly in Scripture that God has no problem admitting that He experiences jealousy.  How can such a good God experience such a shameful emotion?  Consider that jealousy is an aggressive defense of love or relationship.  If the love or relationship is pure, then the need to protect it would also be pure.  The problem that we face is the same problem we always face; our sin has distorted how we see things in life.  In our case, love is seldom pure and so any jealousy we feel is also twisted an impure.  True love is the love expressed by the Lord Himself.  Seek the Lord first, experience His love, and once you have experienced it, He can begin purifying the other areas in your life.