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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Knowing God: Part 3

K nowing God Part 3: How well do you know God? In the beginning of this series, I confessed that (in spite of the fact that I've been a Christian for over 20 years) I still don't feel like I know God very well. It troubles me. I'd like to know Him as I do my family members or best friends. But He's different, so I guess I'd like to know Him as well as a person can know Him...if that makes any sense. So, I'm setting out to know God better. I'm starting with the book of Matthew. I have no idea where I'll stop.

Official Disclaimer: I don't claim to be a theological guru. I haven't graduated seminary. I'm not a pastor. I'm doing this series of posts just because I want to know God better. I'm sharing it online, not to teach others--though I'd be pretty happy if God used this to help others get to know Him better also. I'm not doing this to argue--though, if people have related ideas to share, I'm all ears. I'm simply posting this to explore and maybe encourage others to explore. If you are a young reader, run everything by your parents. They are your spiritual authority. See what they think. And, as the Bible tells us: If on some point, we disagree, pray about it, and may God give us clarity.

Matthew 2:1-12*

2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem 1  in Judea, in the time 2  of King Herod, 3  wise men 4  from the East came to Jerusalem 5  2:2 saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose 6  and have come to worship him.” 2:3 When King Herod 7  heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. 2:4 After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, 8  he asked them where the Christ 9  was to be born. 2:5 In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet:
2:6And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are in no way least among the rulers of Judah,
for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.
2:7 Then Herod 11  privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. 2:8 He 12  sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.” 2:9 After listening to the king they left, and once again 13  the star they saw when it rose 14  led them until it stopped above the place where the child was. 2:10 When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. 15  2:11 As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down 16  and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, 17  and myrrh. 18  2:12 After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 19  they went back by another route to their own country.

Initial Take: This is just my knee-jerk reaction to the text. Whatever pops into my mind. Heaven help me.  

More than anything else, the thing that sticks out the most about Jesus in this passage is that his arrival shook the world. Herod could have snapped his fingers and had whole cities put to death. He had major power, but the moment he hears of this "King of the Jews," he becomes alarmed. But notice it's not just Herod, but all Jerusalem with him. I'm guessing that means the people in power since the Israelites we hoping the Christ (ie: the Messiah) would come. So Herod and the power establishment in Jerusalem are shaking in their collective booties over the Christ's arrival. Jesus shook the world.

But not only were folks freaking out, but there were some who were willing to travel huge distances to find Jesus. Why? Because they wanted to worship and adore Him. The wise men from the east came, and they brought gifts. The good stuff too. Not that cheap stuff from Walmart. These wise men were rich (another form of power), but when they found Jesus, they went down on their knees and worshiped him.

Knowing God Take-Away: What do I learn about God from Matt 2:1-12? 1) God is a threat to those who want to rule independently from God. When King Herod heard that the foretold King of the Jews, the Messiah, had been born, he became alarmed. Why? He didn't want anyone ANYONE to have authority over him. He wanted to rule his way, with his power, and his goals. But he knew that Jesus would create instant problems. The Jews would have their promised leader. And anyone who could make a star move around could probably knock a lard-butt king off his corrupted throne. 

It's the same today. There are a lot of people out there who refuse to recognize God because they don't want anyone to have authority over them. If I believe God, then I'll have to live differently. All these evil things that I like to do will have to go away. And I don't want that. So, God can't be real. And lest we point hasty fingers at atheists and naturalists, we'd better check ourselves. Christians need to be very careful. We need to make sure that we aren't making God in our image, sanctioning our lifestyles because we like them, not because God said it was okay. The Christian church does not need any more hypocrites...and that begins with me.

2) The next thing I notice about God is that He is worthy of worship. A lot of times around Christmas, when we think about the wise men, we focus on the gifts they gave to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I know those three gifts are very symbolic. But what gets me with this fresh read is not that they gave expensive gifts, but that they worshiped a child. Many adults today basically scrape children off the bottom of their shoes. But these guys bowed down before Jesus. And their worship didn't start when they arrived. It began long before...when they were researching the Messiah. Where would he be born? What would the signs be? Their worship continued when they left their homes and went on a LONG journey to go find Jesus. That must have been a serious HIKE. And on camels no less. But Jesus is worth it. He's worth the time. He's worth the trouble. He's worth our possessions too. The next time I'm feeling burned out from writing and writing and writing; the next time I feel frustrated that I'm spending so much of "my" time writing, I hope I'll remember just how worth it Jesus is.

Til next time.

Never alone.

*All Scriptures from the NET Bible:!bible/Matthew+1

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Death is Dead.

Consider the specter of death that lingers over all our shoulders, whispering that it's not a question of if, but of when. Rich or poor, popular or unknown, busy or idle--death waits for us all. This is why Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are so important to mankind. When Jesus died and then rose again, He destroyed the dominion and power of death once and for all. He trounced sin and death, b...lasted the enemy's plans, and cured the curse we all were born under. And all He asks in return is that we come to Him and believe. 

Think of it like this: there has been a terrifying outbreak. A disease has infected us all. It is absolutely deadly, and there's nothing we can do on our own to cure it. But one man, one amazing doctor, has discovered the cure. And this crazy dude, when he could make billions by selling it, he's just offering to give the cure away. How unfortunate would it be if some people just refused the cure? That is what happens too often today. Jesus offers you life...real life...everlasting life. Jesus said, "Come to me you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest for your soul."