Why Was a King Born in a Stable?

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“While they were there the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7)

When I was a kid the Christmas story made me sad because Jesus was born in a nasty stable. He should have been born in a palace! He was the King of kings for Pete’s sake! It was a shame that Mary and Joseph were forced to seek refuge in such an ugly, smelly place. She should have had the best doctors tending her as she gave birth instead of dumb animals. This was the Son of God! It was so unfair.

Or maybe, that was just how He planned it all along. Perhaps, in His divine purpose, Jesus chose the stable as His birthplace and a manger as his bed to make a statement that no place is too lowly for Him. Not the slums of the city or the farthest backroads of the country. Not a crack house or a bar or a brothel.  And I believe he wanted to assure humanity that no person is too sinful for Him. Not an alcoholic or drug addict. Not the girl who had an abortion or the young man who sits in a prison cell. Not the woman with the worst reputation in town nor the man who drove away everyone who ever loved him. Not me. Not even you.

Aren’t you glad to know that there is no place that is too smelly or ugly that Jesus will not go? There is no person too far gone that Jesus cannot love.  The Bible says His closest friends were smelly fishermen and hated tax collectors and healed demoniacs and lepers and people at the lowest rungs of society.  I think there was no room in the inn because Jesus wanted to show that there was enough room in His heart for the whole world – wherever and whomever you are.

Your Kingdom Come

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Yesterday I wrote about the Kingdom of God and today I want to take us back for another perspective, In that devotional we looked at how the Kingdom of God is a present reality and is within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Please understand that I am not and will never espouse a humanistic gospel. We are the carriers of the Kingdom which is present in God’s Spirit and as such, we bring the Kingdom to the world in which we live.

But what is “the Kingdom of God?” The best answer comes from the Lord’s Prayer which He taught to His disciples: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  This is not just a rote statement in Jesus’ prayer, it is an act of surrender.  Simply put, the Kingdom of God is where God’s will is done.

So then, what is God’s will?  I can tell you for certain it is bigger than your life and mine.  Paul said that God’s will is to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under the sovereign authority of Christ (ref. Ephesians 1:10). The ultimate purpose of all existence is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All of history has been moving toward this one thing: the coronation of Jesus Christ as the King of kings with “authority, glory and sovereign power, everlasting dominion, and a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

When we pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are surrendering our will to the will of God and committing to being part of ushering in the Kingdom of God and Christ.  And when we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), we are seeking His rule and reign in our lives. We are following the example of Jesus who said, “not my will but Yours will be done”

The Kingdom of God is now and not yet. The Kingdom of God is present in God’s people. The Kingdom of God is the will of God, and when we seek first the Kingdom of God, we are seeking to do His will. And when the Kingdom of God comes on earth, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). That, Beloved, is what the Kingdom in you is all about.

At the Name of Jesus

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The soldiers put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.  And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’  Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him” (Mark 15:16-19)

John wrote: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him” (Revelation 1:8). Did you catch that? Even those who pierced him! All those who have mocked Him and ridiculed him will suddenly and clearly see Him as “the Lord of lords and the King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). And what will be their reaction? Paul said, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10). Every knee. Every tongue. And they will do so because His majesty will be on full display. Do you see how the soldiers were doing in jest what they and all of humanity will be doing on that glorious day? For those who rejected Him in this life, it will be a moment of abject terror as they confront the truth they so long tried to deny.

But for those who have received Him, who have believed in His Word, who have stood fast in the face of persecution and endured the slings and arrows of the culture in which we live, our knees will gladly bow in honor of His grandeur and our tongues will joyfully confess the Name and praise of Jesus Christ who is forever exalted in heaven and earth. I bow before Him now and offer Him my praise so that when that day of days comes, I will slip into the posture of worship as naturally as drawing a breath.

I pray you know Him today as your Savior and Lord. I pray on that day you will greet him as your King and His Name will roll from your lips with delight at the glorious sight of His face. If you do not know this Jesus, please let this be the day that you say “Yes” to the king of Kings and the lord of Lords.

At the Feet of Jesus

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“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair” (John 12:3).

I often think about the feet of Jesus. Those ten tiny toes kicked against the swaddling clothes as He lay in a manger. Those feet carried Him into the lives of sick children, broken, sinful women, and demon-possessed men. People fell before the feet of Jesus to plead for healing for themselves or someone they loved. And every time Jesus responded with compassion, He never walked away from those who needed him. His feet took Him to teach on the side of a mountain and the lakeshore. They carried Him up to Golgotha where Roman soldiers nailed them to a cruel, wooden cross. His nail-scarred hands and feet were the proof of His resurrected body before His disciples.

All His glory was bound up in that human body with human feet that carried Him to souls in need of mercy, freedom, grace, and life. He walked into my life with those beautiful feet bringing good news, peace, and salvation to this weary sinful woman.

There is one more place in Scripture where we see the feet of Jesus. Zechariah 14:4 says “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west.” When Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His glory, His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives – the place where He surrendered His will to the will of the Father (Luke 22:39-42) – and His glory will be so great that the mountain will split in two. Those beautiful feet will stand atop the mountain, and those scars that spoke of the humble servant of God will now shout of the mighty King of kings. “The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zechariah 14:9).

The feet of Jesus bring us healing, wholeness, freedom, and life. The feet of Jesus bear the marks of His great love for you and me. His feet that once bore nails will one day bear power – earth-shaking, mountain-breaking power. And at His feet, all of humanity will fall in worship and proclaim that He is Lord.

Beloved, have you invited Him to walk into your life?

I Believe

The elders of Israel were invited up the mountain to worship God. The scripture twice says they saw God, even eating and drinking with Him (Exodus 24:10,11). The disciples saw the risen Jesus. They touched the marks of their salvation. We count them as remarkably blessed. We somehow think we would have greater faith and confidence if we could only see Him with our physical eyes. Yet when the elders came down from their mountaintop experience, after waiting forty days for Moses to return, they gave up the glorious vision and pressed Aaron to make them a god they could see and touch. And Luke reports that despite seeing Him in the room with them and even after touching His hands and feet, “they still did not believe.”

Jesus said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:21). I’ve never seen God physically. I’ve never seen nor touched Jesus. But I believe. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Resurrected Savior, the KING OF KINGS, and the LORD OF LORDS. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He is the second member of the Trinity, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who was and is and is to come. And He is my Redeemer, my Savior and my Lord.

No, I don’t have the advantage these men had. But I don’t need to see Him with my eyes to believe. I’ve already seen Him with my heart. #Ibelieve

Jesus is . . .

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Studying in Matthew 13 today and something struck me. Check out Matthew 13:53-58. Jesus is teaching in His hometown – His messages are full of divine wisdom and His miracles display divine power. The people, verse 54 says, “were amazed.” I’m sure I would be too. I love to listen to a good Bible teacher. I love preachers who bring the Word with passion. I think the best Bible communicators are the ones who believe with all their hearts the truth of what they are saying. No wonder the people were amazed at Jesus – He taught with the intimacy of the author. He knew and believe what He was saying because He was the originator of the message. But I digress.

Look back at the passage. The people began to consider who Jesus was – as far as they knew. Mary’s son. James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas’ big brother. Just one of the many kids that grew up in that town. Nobody more special than any of the rest. Just who did he think he was to speak so high-and-mighty? Now, these same people “took offense at Him” (v. 57). From amazement to offense. Why? Because they lost sight of who He was. It reminds me of another time when the people shouted that He was “the King of Isreal who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13) then rejected Him and shouted, “We have no king but Caesar, crucify him!” (John 19:15).

Humans are fickle. And we’re forgetful. When we forget who Jesus is we miss Him entirely. When we reduce Him to a good teacher and humanitarian, we disregard His message and His saving work. If we do not see Him as the Son of God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Savior of the World – we do not see Jesus at all. Oh, Beloved – with all my heart I plead with you – know Jesus in all His divine and saving glory. Know Him and you will know hope. You will know peace. You will know Joy. And You will know eternal life.

Worship the King!

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What kind of faith must you have to chase a star for two years and hundreds of miles based on an ancient prophecy? The wise men – Matthew calls them “Magi” – traveled what scholars suppose to be about 1,000 miles “from the east” (Matt. 2:1), most likely ancient Persia, or our modern Iran. They were probably devout scholars who studied ancient holy texts of many religions. The writings of the Jewish faith – which would include prophecies of a special King – would have likely come to them via Daniel’s time in Babylon. Through their studies, they came to recognize that the star that rose at a specific time signaled the birth of this very King. So they set out on a long, difficult journey with gifts fit for royalty.

Here’s what amazes me about the Magi – it wasn’t curiosity that caused them to leave their homes and families for such an arduous journey. It was worship. Matthew records their words to King Herod, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship him” (v. 2). Here’s the other thing that is surprising to me – He wasn’t their king. Remember – they identified Him as the “King of the Jews.” The Magi didn’t owe him homage. Why would they worship a king not their own? They realized from all they had studied that this king was worthy of worship – not just the worship of the Jews, but the worship of all men everywhere.

These Magi took ancient prophecies, looked forward, and recognized that Jesus was a unique king. In faith and awe, they set out on a long journey to worship Him. You and I have not just ancient prophecies, but we have the New Testament Scriptures that testify that Jesus is this King. We have the eye-witness of the Apostles and we have the heart-witness of the martyrs that testify that Jesus is not just King of the Jews, but King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The faith of all these should inspire faith in us. Jesus – the baby in the manger, the child in Bethlehem, the man healing lepers and raising the dead and dying on a cross and bursting alive out of the grave – this Jesus is worthy of our faith and worthy of our worship. Let’s give Him all He deserves this Christmas – and every day.

Advent Day 10 – The Coming King

“We wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Titus 2:13

Advent is traditionally the time that we prepare our hearts for Christmas – the coming of the Christ Child, the Infant Messiah, the Son of God who became the son of Mary.   Now, on this side of the manger and the cross, we are still preparing for the coming of Christ – but not as a helpless baby.  Today we have the awesome hope of the Lord’s return when Jesus Christ will come in the fullness of His deity, “as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!” (Rev. 19:16).

In Jesus’ day, the Jewish people watched and waited in hope for the promised Messiah, who would break the power of their enemy and set God’s people free.  This Anointed One came, not as a great warrior or ruler as they expected, but as a wee baby, every bit as helpless, it appeared, to overcome the enemy as the people He came to save.  He came in humility “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7). The star shone in the sky and the angels sang their praises when God entered this world.  But the vast majority of Jews missed the humble coming of their Messiah.  Certainly the religious leaders who should have recognized Him failed to see Him for who He was.  He lived and grew up and ministered in their midst, but their eyes were blinded to His true identity.

In the world we live in today, people still fail to believe that Jesus Christ is the Hope for all mankind.  Or perhaps they refuse to believe.  Like the Jewish people, our world is oblivious to the light of Christ and the praises that are proclaimed by those who know Him.

But there is coming a day – a great and glorious day – when Jesus Christ will come again.  At His ascension, the angels told His disciples, “Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).  And this time, when He comes, no one will miss it or be able to deny Him.  Jesus told His disciples, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27).   He will not come to a quiet and humble stable – He will come “with power and great glory”!  1 John 3:2 proclaims “when He appears…we shall see Him as He is.”  Paul adds to this picture: “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” (Phil 2:10-11).  When Jesus comes again, the whole world will see Him for who He is. Paul says that every knee will bow and every tongue confess – even those who had refused to bow in worship and confess His name.  The world will be overwhelmed by His presence and overcome with awe at His glory and majesty.

Oh my friend, what a day – what a grand and glorious day that will be for all who believe, for those who have made a practice of bowing their knee and have savored the sweet taste of His name on their lips.  Our hearts will be filled with joy and adoration for our Savior.  If you belong to Christ, you have the great hope that Jesus will return as He promised, and He will bring you, His beloved child home.

As we prepare for the Christmas season, let us make ready our hearts – both for the coming of the Christ Child and the coming of our great and victorious Savior and King!

Read Philippians 2:5-11

 

Thy Kingdom Come

300px-Denmark_crown“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

One of the first prayers a Christian learns is “The Lord’s Prayer,” which should actually be called “The Disciples’ Prayer” as it was they who asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).  This prayer serves as a model for us, teaching us to approach God with reverence and worship in an attitude of surrender, humility and obedience.  I’ve been in many worship services, classes, and events where the prayer is prayed by the congregation in unison and I often wonder if we, as the pray-ers are really aware of what we are saying.  One part in particular always makes we want to shout, “Wait! Do you understand these words?  Is this really your heart’s desire?

How many times have you prayed the Lord’s Prayer and said “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Have you ever stopped to think about what that really means and why Jesus included it in His model prayer?

Have you considered that we ask for His kingdom to come because God is King?  He is the King of the entire universe because He is the Creator of the entire universe and His rule is sovereign – that means He is the absolute authority over the universe, which includes all humankind. (We will look at the “human” side of creation in the next Deeper Roots post.)  A king’s word is always the law of the land.  The Word of the King of the universe is to be obeyed without question.  God created the universe with only His spoken word.  He said, “Let there be . . .” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 14), and out of the void, life sprang forth in obedience to his command.  The Psalmist wrote, “He spoke, and [the world] came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:9).  God is Creator and King and His will is His absolute priority.

The question of God’s will has been a constant theme for thousands of years.  We want to know God’s will for our lives, but this verse invites us to look for the bigger picture and how we fit into it.  While God does have a will – a plan and purpose – for our individual lives, that will is encompassed by the greater will of God, the will that was in place before He spoke the first command of creation.  The apostle Paul says that God’s will is to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under the sovereign authority of Christ (ref. Ephesians 1:10). This is the fulfillment of the times—the ultimate purpose of all existence is the Lordship of Christ Jesus. God’s plan was firmly fixed from before time began.  Understand that God isn’t making decisions and altering events as they unfold.  All of human history has been moving toward one result: the coronation of Jesus Christ as the King of kings with “authority, glory and sovereign power, everlasting dominion, and a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

So when we pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (emphasis added), we are surrendering our will to the will of God and committing to be part of ushering in the Kingdom of God and Christ.  Like the angels in heaven, we are swearing our total allegiance to the authority and rule of the only rightful Ruler of the universe.  This is God’s will for your life. He created you with so much more in mind than you can conceive.  He created you to be part of His eternal kingdom.  As you consider the words of this prayer, ask yourself, “What would the world look like if God’s will were done on earth through me?”

Holy Father, Sovereign King, I surrender my life and all that I am and have to Your will.  Use me to bring Your kingdom to this earth.  I long for the day when Jesus rules and reigns for eternity.  Amen.

Beautiful Feet

jesus_feet2“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation” (Isaiah 52:7).

On Holy Thursday I wrote about washing the feet of Jesus and I have not been able to shake that thought nor the image of Jesus’ feet since. I’ve thought of those feet carrying Him away from a quiet life in Nazareth and into a mission that would change the world for all time. I’ve envisioned His dusty feet on the streets of Jerusalem or wet from standing at the edge of the Sea of Galilee. In my mind’s eye I see Him with children gathered all around him, sitting on the grass beside His feet. I think of John the Baptist who said he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals, and Mary of Bethany who anointed his feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair, later sitting at His feet to hear Him teach.

Those feet carried Him into the lives of sick children, and broken, sinful women, demon-possessed men, and to the grave of his dear friend Lazarus. At least seven times the gospels record people falling before the feet of Jesus to plead for healing for themselves or someone they loved. Matthew 15:30 says that crowds of people came to Jesus, “bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them.” In every instance, Jesus responded with compassion and love. He never walked away from those who needed him.

His feet carried him to dine in fine homes and to break bread for thousands of hungry people. Countless times He walked the streets of Jerusalem to the temple that was built for his glory. His feet walked through the home of the high priest where He stood trial and through the halls of the palace of Pilate who sentenced Him to death. His feet carried Him up to Golgotha where Roman soldiers nailed them to a cruel, wooden cross. His nail-scarred hands and feet were the proof of His resurrected body before His disciples.

All His glory was bound up in that human body, those human feet carrying Him to souls in need of mercy, freedom, grace and life. He walked into my life with those beautiful feet bringing good news, peace and salvation to this weary sinful woman.

There is one more place in Scripture where the feet of Jesus are seen. Zechariah 14:4 says “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will be spit in two from east to west.” When Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His glory, His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives – the place where He surrendered His will to the will of the Father – and His glory will be so great that the mountain will split in two. Those beautiful feet will stand atop the mountain, and those scars that spoke of the humble servant of God will now shout of the mighty King of kings. “The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zechariah 14:9).

The feet of Jesus bring us healing, wholeness, freedom and life. The feet of Jesus bear the marks of His great love for you and me. His feet that once bore nails will one day bear power – earth shaking, mountain breaking power.  And at His feet all of humanity will fall in worship and proclaim that He is Lord.

Have you invited Him to walk into your life?

Lord Jesus, Yours are the beautiful feet bringing good news of peace and salvation. You walked into my life and left Your footprints on my heart and I have never been the same. Amen.