Posts Tagged ‘ Bible ’

Psalm 119:89-104

Find the virtues of a godly woman over at Proverbial Thought!

Proverbs 119:89-104, ESV

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
If I had not delighted in your Law, I would have perished in my in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.

Please Join Me At Track 22

Tune in to the voice of Wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

I was sitting in my preaching class this past week, and the conversation started tracking a certain way. It got me to thinking about something.

I love that song!

Have you had conversations about some of your favorite songs? I am sure you have.

Perhaps sometimes you start trying to sing a song but you cannot remember either the tune, the words, or both. You desperately want someone to tell you the name of that song!

How would you feel if someone simply told you the track number of that song? Would you find that helpful?

Usually, we do not refer to songs by their number (with exceptions for music like “Piano Concerto Number Five” or “No. 9” … extra points if you can give me names to go with those!) Occasionally we may know when someone says “Oh, that was track four of that album.”

Typically, the response we get (and want) is the title of the song. We may even find the lyrics rushing to our mind at the mention of the title.

We are often okay with the recitation of the first line of the song or the chorus.

My God, My God

The funny thing is, we have become so accustomed to labeling things in the Bible by number that is almost all we know anything by anymore.

Perhaps if we read the Bible as much as we really should, we would recognize references in the New Testament to passages in the Old Testament.

For example, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, it would have been much easier on all of us who were not raised Jewish if He had said “Go look up Psalm 22.”

Instead, He did what many of us would do when we are in some situation: He quoted lyrics.

Think about: how many times have you been doing something and song lyrics popped into your head that seemed to fit the situation?

Now imagine you are the Son of God, and you want people to understand something about you?

When Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have your forsaken me?” He was not suggesting that the Father had abandoned the Son. He was saying, “Hurry, someone read Psalm 22!”

Read it:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Did you notice that all of the bolded sections describe the crucifixion, and this Psalm declares the greatness of God and His salvation.

This not only shows how Jesus fulfilled prophecy and the Law, but it shows the importance of the Old Testament.

We may not always refer to things as has always been done, but we are not too different from those in the past.

We may use numbers to refer to ancient songs, but we are better prepared to understand the connection between them and the gospel message.

Now, join me in Track 119, a psalm of praise to God for His Word!

Crucified, Dead and Buried, and Rose Again to Life

(Proverbial Thought. Go. Get wisdom.)

We have been looking at the Hard Knocks Life. I am not going to write much this week. Instead, I will let the Word speak for itself, because it tells about some of the hardest knocks anyone can face.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then

“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The Burial of Jesus

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Jesus Has Risen

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Luke 23:26-24:12, NIV

Let us remember this week: HE IS RISEN!

Another Adulterous Wife and the God Who Loves Her

Once again, I remind you to get some wisdom from those inspired by God’s wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

There was a man who was called by God to speak out against the wrongs and injustices in his nation.

He spoke out against the nation turning away from God to follow its own lusts. He spoke out against the rising violence. He spoke out against the rise in crime. He spoke out against the rise of disrespect for parents. He spoke out against the lies of the government leaders as well as the religious leaders. He spoke out against the partnership of those leaders with different religions and hostile governments.

While this could be someone from any moment in the past fifty years in pretty much any part of the world, you probably already guessed that this person is in the Bible.

The First Adulterous Wife

Hosea was told by God to take a wife who was little more than a prostitute. Even though Hosea and Gomer had three children together – a son, a daughter, and another son – Gomer began to live and sleep with another man.

When things began to go badly for Gomer and she found herself on the auction block as a slave, God told Hosea “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1) Hosea essentially paid his entire savings to buy his adulterous wife from prostitution and slavery.

The message was and is clear: Just like Gomer, Israel had sinned by turning from God to the false gods of other nations. They neglected their relationship with God, they neglected their children and parents, and they neglected common decency.

God’s punishment for these sins was exile. But God loves His people.

He brought the nation, at that time divided in two, back to the Promised Land as a united people.

Beyond that, and this is where the Christian Church comes in, God sent His own Son as payment for the sins of not only Israel but of the whole world! In essence, God sacrificed Himself in payment for the sin we are all guilty of committing: worshiping anything other than God!

Another Adulterous Wife

If only those who believe the truth of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins never strayed!

If you look around our world today, especially within the Western World of Europe and North America, there is much corruption.

Leave governments out of this. Except for the mini-nation of Vatican City, national governments are not of God. He may have established the governments of the world for this time (Romans 13:1), but they do not govern the matters of God. They govern the matters of people. (Regardless of what most of the world and the Conservative Right say of the United States of America, it is not a Christian nation.)

Read the newspapers and watch the news on TV. Hardly a week goes by without hearing of some sex scandal, controversy, or fraud from some church or denomination. Many congregations, leaders, and denominations choose to work more with governments and other religions than with other congregations, leaders, and denominations. Many compromise their beliefs to appease the masses, the government, other religions, or simply passing fads or ideas.

Looking around today seems to show a Church which has left its Groom (Christ) to have relations with those who do not believe in or even mock the God of the Universe.

God’s Love

Even with all of the sins the people within the Church of our Lord continue to commit, He still loves her.

His Bride continues to allow many sins to be committed in His name, but I think there are good reasons He has not brought the same judgment on the Church as He did on Israel.

For starters, His faithful are still loving the least of these and showing God’s love.

Among those who rob God are those who give more than their fair share.
Among those who compromise their bodies are those who remain chaste and pure.
Among those who compromise their beliefs are those who remain steadfast in faith.

Secondly, God holds back His wrath because of His promises.

He has promised that His wrath was poured out on His Son.
He has promised that His wrath is not for His faithful.
He has promised that He will wait until He separates His faithful from the world.

Lastly, God holds back His wrath because of His love.

If God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), would He not give us time to repent, to choose His love in our hearts?

Hear the Truth and Turn

We each, in our own time, sin against God, yet He so desires to be with us that He died on a cross for our forgiveness and waits to destroy the world until His proper time.

As Peter said:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
2 Peter 3:10-15

Let us not worry about the sins going on around us in the name of the Lord. Instead, let us focus on our own relationship with God. In the process, God working in our lives will either cause guilt leading to repentance or guilt leading to further sin.

In any event, we are to remain pure to God to the glory of God.

What Love Do You Have?

Today I offer part two of the devotional time from the recent trip to the Desperation Youth Conference. Again, it has been adapted for the blog.

This devotion is taken from 1 Kings 3.

Have you read that?

Good.

Seeking Wisdom

Many Bibles title that chapter “Solomon Asks for Wisdom” or something like that.

I now invite you to read the entire book of Proverbs. (You can also head over to Proverbial Thought for some excellent commentary!) If you do not read it all right now, I understand.

Solomon made the right choice. Wisdom is the ultimate thing you can get. If Proverbs 8 is compared to John 1, we understand that Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God.
Wisdom helps us understand what God is doing in our life: Wisdom guides us to God; Wisdom helps us understand when the Holy Spirit is working in us or God is working in our circumstances

The usual theme for this passage is Solomon’s wisdom shining through.
It is a good example. Imitate Solomon in this regard!
But this is not the theme of our lesson today.

These two women are prostitutes. This helps explain why they were living together, they both had children, and there are no fathers mentioned.
In a previous devotion we discussed crazy things: Things that happen to us, things that we hear about hapening to others, and things God calls us to do. Imagine being labeled a prostitute, kind of like being called a slut in school or the workplace. Everyone knows you have this reputation. Would you be willing to go before anybody, let alone a king, to fight for your rights if everyone thinks you are practically worthless?
These women going before Solomon would be like school bullies going before the principal saying one stole the other’s stolen lunch money. Society did not look very highly on them! This is a crazy or even silly situation (at face value).

The real point of this devotion, however, is this:
What is your most favorite thing or person?

Would you … could you give that thing or that person up? Would you be willing to let your worst enemy take it? Would you be willing to let your girlfriend/boyfriend go to another person? Would you give up your child?

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:37-39

One of my favorite definitions of hate is that it means you love something more than another thing.

And the Wisdom that leads us to God, is Christ Himself. If you claim to love Jesus Christ, are you willing to give up your life for Him? Do you love Him enough to give up your life?

Just like prostitute who cried out to let her baby live with the other woman if it would spare his life, are you willing to say “Lord Jesus, take my life and do with it as you will!”?

Proverbial Thoughts and Thinking

I have had a really busy month with travelling around, homework, a wedding, and all manner of other things!

You know what … I am on vacation!

So, for today, you can head on over to my contribution at Proverbial Thought (http://proverbialthought.com).

The topic today is about the importance of Bible study and knowing the Word of God. Another passage that goes well with this is 2 Corinthians 10:5. The only way to take every thought captive to be firmly rooted in the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer.

I think it is time we all work on building the callouses on our knees as we read our Bibles!

Bad Teacher

First of all, do not forget to get some wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

Today’s post is not about a movie starring Cameron Diaz. Rather, true to this blog, today’s post is about theology.

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience(and a sincere faith.Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
1 Timothy 1:5-7

To tell you the truth, this passage scares me.

I am a big believer in God speaking through dreams (but not all dreams). I am big believer in God speaking through visions. I believe prophecy still happens.

I have had dreams and visions in which I speak to a large audience (perhaps blogging will be that realization?). I have had others (both Christians and non-Christians) say or speak over me (either specifically as prophetic or “in passing”) that they see me one day leading ministries and/or a congregation (or congregations) or speaking to large groups.

This scares me simply because I know my past and how I have treated theology and teaching. What if God eventually calls me to be a pastor/priest over First Church of Hometown, USA?

I hate to break it to you (tongue-in-cheek), but there are many teachers and preachers today who simply should not be. These are men and women who replace love of God and/or people with a love of money, power, influence, or popularity. These are men and women who either do not have or have lost a pure heart and good conscience. These are men and women may or may not have a sincere faith, but the question becomes where that sincerity or where that faith truly lies.

I may step on some toes and perhaps offend here, but here are some examples of things people teach and confidently affirm without really knowing what they are talking about:

  • God wants you happy and financially rich in this life. There is never a biblical guarantee that all godly people will have both or either of these in this life. In fact, there are promises of the opposite for the believer in Christ.
  • There is no Trinity. Quite frankly, Christianity falls apart without the Trinity. My Catholic brother Richard has begun covering this over at CatholicBoyRichard.
  • Women have no place in ministry. Let me just say that people who believe this are complete idiots. They may be very intelligent, but they really stupid.
  • Jesus sinned. The faith falls apart if this is true. I cannot express enough how important this is and how false and straight from the pits of Hell this is.
  • God hates ... This one is taken specifically from Westboro Baptist Church, the people who say “God hates fags” along with many other people. It is this kind of “christian” (not just those who blatantly call for the destruction of others, but also those who promote hatred through favoritism, indifference, and bigotry [misunderstanding mixed with fear]) who gives the Church the bad name we seem to see and hear about today.

There is a long, long list, and I know I have been guilty of at least all of these at one time or another. Paul listed a few others to Timothy:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith.The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Timothy 1:3-11

How can we – how can I – know we are staying true to good teaching? How can we know our teachers and preachers are staying true to good teaching?

The simple answer:

We must continue studying together. We must not give up on the traditions from Church history (and before some complain, where do you think our Bible and even most of our liturgy, keeping in mind I currently attend and serve in a non-denominational church, came from? Why do we know many of the facts we know about the early Church? From what did Christianity arise?). We must always strive to express the love of God to all people.

Traveling Mercies

For most of the month of June (already started!), my wife and I are traveling around Illinois and Wisconsin to visit family and friends.

This has reminded me of a few things.

  • Youth trips in high school, when we would pray before setting out on each trip.
  • Driving around with the youth leader and praying as we got in the car.
  • Big family trips which would start out with a prayer.
  • Going to Morocco and praying with the church before we set out.
  • A particular message the pastor shared about seven years ago.

A new church was going to be launched out of our church. He led up to the announcement by sharing about Ezra taking Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. I am sure you can see the connection: Ezra went out to rebuild the Temple; some of us were going out to build a new congregation.

Something he said really stuck with me, however. It came from Ezra 8:21-23:

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

 The first part that stuck with me was the call to a fast.

We need to remember that God is the one in control, but He wants to hear from us. He desires to hear us ask Him for things.

The second part that stuck with me was that even in our shame and pride, God listens.

Ezra pointedly says “I was ashamed to ask the king . . . because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him.” This pride was not one of a personal nature. Oh, no! This was pride in the promises of God, of which Ezra knew to be true.

Therefore, Ezra prayed, and “he answered our prayer.”

The final part that stuck with me was that this was a “biblical institution of praying for traveling mercies!”

This one may not be the most holy, per se, but that is a direct quote from Pastor Scott. “And here we see the biblical institution of praying for traveling mercies!”

This reminds me that God wants us to ask Him for anything and everything. To be fair, though, we need to remember that His answer is yes when we pray according to His will (see John 14:12-14, and really all of John 14-16). (He may say yes to things “outside of His will,” but that is a matter for another day!)

So, on this fine day, I remind you to take prayer seriously, believe that God will answer, and do not be afraid to ask for His protection on your journeys.

Also, please pray for us as we travel!

Imitating Christ’s Humility

I know this is a little later in the day than I have been posting these, but here is my follow-up from last week’s post!

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

There are not only denominational differences, regional differences, and even congregational differences, but it is very difficult to even find one or two other people who believe exactly the way we do as individuals on every little thing (theologically, biblically, socially, and habitually).

We need to stop assuming we are right about everything, or at least more right than everyone else. Unless someone is flat-out heretical and/or blasphemous, we can still get along with our differences.

Therefore, how can we fulfill what Paul (and God!) has commanded us here? How can we be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose?” With another quote:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Matthew 22:37-39

Seek out and love God, then seek out and love on people. Show God’s love. Indiscriminately.

I have friends who are Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, charismatic, fundamentalist, “free-thinking” (I honestly still have no idea what that is really supposed to mean!), non-denominational, denominational, institutional, etcetera …

We get along for one important reason: We love God so much that our differences seem like nothing.

We each reach out to others in God’s love for one important reason: We know that God loves us first.

I dare you to try it.

Responses to Christmas: The Least of These

This last part might be a bit fanciful, but one of the joys of Christmas is having some fun.

When Jesus was born, we read: “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

Immediately following His birth, we read: “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)

Eight days after He entered our world, we read: “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.'” (Luke 2:22-24)

A while later, we read: “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” (Matthew 1:1)

What is connection in all of these?

Those are barely mentioned, if at all, in each segment of the story: the animals!

Think about it:

  1. Animals had to give up their place to eat for the night.
  2. Animals were left alone for the night.
  3. Animals had to die for the Lord!
  4. Animals had to help carry worshipers and gifts for the Savior of the world.

When Mary and Joseph laid Jesus in the manger, a feeding trough for animals, this meant that for at least that night and into the morning the animals gave up their dining table.

When the shepherds left their herd for the night, as I mentioned the other day, the sheep lost their security system for a while.

When Jesus was dedicated, two pigeons gave up their lives!

When the Wise Men journeyed from the East, it was their camels and horses who bore the brunt of the excursion and lose any comfort during the trip (though I am sure the Wise Men would have mentioned a thing or two about riding animals through desert and mountain paths).

Would you give up your dining table for a poor baby? Would you like knowing you were unprotected for the night? Would like to carry someone else’s belongings for hundreds of miles (or several dozen … no one really knows exactly how far they travelled)? Would you die for someone?

My take on these under-mentioned characters is this: they were unwilling participants … actually, more like unawares … in this story of our Lord’s birth, yet they can still teach us something.

There are times when God will call us to go hungry for the sake of the Kingdom.

There are times when God will call us to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of the Kingdom.

There are times when God will call us to give up our lives for the glorification of Jesus Christ.

I can almost guarantee you that these things happen frequently throughout our lives without us even realizing it.

Think of Chinese believers who are worshiping together in someone’s home, when authorities come in and break up the meeting.

Think of Asian/Arab believers who are going to church, and they get beat up as they walk for simply believing in Jesus.

Think of African believers who sit in prison for reading the Bible at home.

Think of the missionaries who die entering a town, yet their children are able to share the gospel with hundreds or thousands through their tragedy.

Think of that time you saw a man on the side of the street, begging for money, and you gave him or fast food sandwich to help him survive a couple more days.

We are all called to serve. We do not always get an angel or a star to warn us and guide us before our service starts.

Merry Christmas, and peace and joy from our Lord to you!