Proof of when the Star of Bethlehem happened and how…
Proof of when the Star of Bethlehem happened and how…
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23
Sometimes people write down their long-range goals in terms of education, vocation, travel, family, hobbies, and more. Later in life they look back and realize they achieved all their goals but in a time frame and manner they never imagined. They saw the highpoints of life; what they didn’t see was the schedule and situation.
The Old Testament prophets were like that. They saw what God was going to do in the future—Messiah, kingdom, Israel, Gentiles—but not the exact time frame. In terms of the kingdom of God, Zechariah foresaw the nations streaming to Jerusalem to learn about God from the Jews (Zechariah 8:22-23). Isaiah saw a time when animals and humans would live in peace together (Isaiah 11:6-9). But it was up to the New Testament writers to identify when this kingdom would come: when Jesus Christ returns to earth to reign for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6).
Don’t despair at the trouble in today’s world. When the Prince of Peace returns, there will be peace on earth.
I will place no value on anything I have or may possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. David Livingstone
Some Christians have a hard time with the doctrine of grace because they think it’s a license to sin. It just seems too easy to believe in Jesus and then do as you please. Shouldn’t believers still be required to live a certain way in order to please the Lord? The problem with this reasoning is that it mixes legalism with grace by saying, “Sure, we are saved by grace, but after salvation, you’d better follow the rules to stay in God’s favor.” Such thinking cuts the heart out of grace and poisons the message of hope.
What we need to realize is that grace is a greater motivator than law. When you have to perform in order to please the Lord, guilt is your constant companion because you can never be good enough. Every time you fail to live up to your own expectations, you may question whether He loves you—or maybe even whether you’re really saved. God doesn’t want us to live in bondage to performance. We’ve already received His acceptance, and there is nothing more we can add to it.
Grace not only sets us free from guilt but also motivates us to obey and serve the Lord out of love and gratitude for everything He has done for us. Instead of feeling burned out in our service, we will have a burning passion for Him.
Are you working harder and harder to please God? If so, you’re probably worn out. When you truly learn to understand and live in His grace, you’ll be energized because obedience and service will be a natural result of His overflowing love. Instead of guilt, you’ll have joy and gratitude.
“I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:5)
The word for “shame” in this verse is the Greek entrope, meaning “turning inward” or “inversion.” It is used only one other time, in 1 Corinthians 15:34: “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Evidently this special variety of shame is associated with taking controversies between Christian brethren to ungodly judges and also with failing to witness to the non-Christian community. Instead of bringing the true wisdom of God to the ungodly, such “entropic Christians” were turning to worldly wisdom to resolve their own spiritual problems. This inverted behavior was nothing less than spiritual confusion!
The modern scientific term “entropy” is essentially this same Greek word. In science, entropy is a measure of disorder in any given system. The universal law of increasing entropy states that every system tends to disintegrate into disorder, or confusion, if left to itself. This tendency can only be reversed if ordering energy is applied to it effectively from a source outside the system.
This universal scientific law has a striking parallel in the spiritual realm. A person turning inward to draw on his own bank of power, or seeking power from an ineffective outside source, will inevitably deteriorate eventually into utter spiritual confusion and death. But when Christ enters the life, that person becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Scriptures, “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The law of spiritual entropy is transformed into the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2). HMM
Keep thy way and God will keep thee; but let it be the Kings highway, the ancient, well-trodden way, marked out by authority, and traversed by the Prince of pilgrims himself.
Pride must have a fall. As the mercury in the barometer foretells the weather, so does pride warn us that a humbling time is near.
It does not seem so, and few would choose it, but the Word of God knows best. The sharer of the spoil is afraid that he may lose it again, and probably is even now discontented and greedy for more, but the lowly mind is satisfied, and so possesses happiness.
To trust God in all our matters is the wise way of handling them. Let us trust him in all things this day.
The really wise will be discovered, and shall have the credit they deserve; and those who can speak attractively increase the knowledge of the people if their own hearts are rightly instructed.
Even his wisdom is ridiculous, When he does his best it is but folly.
Proverb 16:23, 24
Since pleasant words are both sweet and wholesome, let us use many of them. Words out of God’s Word, kind words—words which cause pleasure to others—let us use them from morning to night, and so though we keep no bees, we shall never be without honeycombs.
Our mouth calls daily for bread, and therefore we must work for it. And spiritual bread is to be laboured for, for so the Saviour has told us.
He searches it out, he dives into secrets, he works hard to unearth it. How men will labour for Satan.
Ready to break forth at any moment, and do infinite mischief.
If you have anything to say which you dare not speak out, never say it at all. Whispering against persons is mean to the last degree, and those who listen to it are mean too.
Proverb 16:29, 30
Some shut their eyes and move their lips in prayer, but revengeful men make malice their devotion, they are always thinking of it, and muttering about it to themselves.
Honour, then, all aged saints. Regard them as crowned heads, and treat them with double respect. Old age is honourable by itself, but associated with piety it is venerable.
He conquers himself, he crushes an inward insurrection, and these are the noblest of achievements. The Lord make each one of us gentle and forbearing. Are we of a hot and angry spirit, let us pray for the waters of grace to quench the flames of nature.
Even in trivial matters and matters contingent and accidental, the Lord rules. This is a sweet comfort.
Thine for ever! Saviour keep
These thy frail and trembling sheep;
Safe enclosed beneath thy care,
Let us all thy goodness share.
Thine for ever! thou our Guide,
All our wants by thee supplied,
All our sins by thee forgiven,
Led by thee from earth to heaven.
Do you ever get so busy and self-consumed that you forget there are people all around you who have needs and challenges too? It’s true that we are often so concerned about ourselves that we forget or bypass people who are struggling terribly, not realizing that they need a special act or word to encourage them. This is especially sad when it happens inside the church, because we are supposed to be a spiritual family who genuinely cares for one another and who helps meet each other’s needs. This is why Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
The word “consider” is from the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata depicts something that is moving downward; the word noeo (from the word nous) depicts the mind and means to think. When the two words are placed together, the new word means to thoroughly think something through or to ponder something from the top all the way to the bottom. It is the idea of mulling something over; carefully contemplating a matter; pondering and carefully looking at a particular issue; or examining and fully studying a subject.
This word pictures someone who is so concerned about someone else that he has taken the time to really consider that other person. He has observed the person’s ups and downs and his highs and lows. He has studied to find out what helps that person feel encouraged and what events tend to pull him down. Because he has determined to really know and understand that other person, he invests a great deal of time and concentration into studying and getting to know that other person. This kind of knowledge doesn’t come by accident, but by determined pursuit.
In light of this understanding, we must remember that although the local church is to be a place where we can come to worship and hear the Word of God preached and taught, it is also a place where believers should “consider one another” as this verse commands. The writer of Hebrews uses this word to convey the picture of a loving community where people are vitally concerned about each others’ welfare. In fact, they are constantly observing and contemplating each other to know how to encourage and provoke each other to love and to good works.
Not only are we to consider one another, but the Bible goes on to say we are also to provoke one another unto love and good works. The word “provoke” is the Greek word paraxusmos. The word para means alongside, and it carries the idea of being close. The second part of the word is the Greek word xusmos, which means to sharpen something, such as a knife, and indicates a very sharp situation. When you put the two words together, the compound word describes someone who has come alongside of someone else for the purpose of prodding and impelling that person to do something.
You may have already guessed that “provoking” one another can be either a positive or a negative thing! One translation for this word paraxusmos would be to call into combat. Throughout the New Testament, the word paraxusmos is usually translated to mean to irritate, to incite, to anger, to inflame, or to enrage. Obviously, this kind of provoking is very bad! But in Hebrews 10:24, the word “provoking” is telling us that our relationships with other believers should incite us to become better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.
How can you provoke other believers in a positive way? How can you stimulate your brother in the Lord in such a way that you make him want to walk in love and do good works? How can you sharpen and inspire the fellow believer who is in need of endurance?
You can come alongside that person and love him enough not to leave him in discouragement and defeat. You can sharpen him, prod him, impel him, and inspire him to keep on fighting the good fight of faith! All believers need to be provoked at times, no matter what their position is in the Body of Christ. Everyone needs a loving push in the right direction now and then!
A paraphrase of this verse might be the following:
“And constantly be observing one another, seriously contemplating studying, and examining each other, until you know exactly how to incite and stimulate each other to love and to good works.”
This verse plainly tells us that we should be extremely concerned about each other’s welfare and spiritual progression. We are to get involved in the local church, not just for our own benefit, but to be a benefit to others as well. We need people who will love us, observe us, and support us when we are struggling or standing on a word from God. But at the same time, others need our assistance too.
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” This verse is telling us that real friends love us at all times and stay with us even in the midst of difficult circumstances. They will love us and stand with us no matter what we are going through, looking for ways to assist us when we are experiencing challenging times.
The local church should be a place of victory where faith is built up, the soul is encouraged, and wisdom and strength are imparted. It’s a community where faith lives and triumphs through a family of believers’ love and concern for one another.
There is nothing like living in an atmosphere of faith and love where you are surrounded by believers who really believe and practice the Word of God. Having friends like this gives you strength—and being a friend like this to someone else helps give him the strength he needs to live as an overcomer.
There is absolutely no substitute for the joy and satisfaction that comes when fellow church members go out of their way to call you, to come see you, to write you a note, or to personally check up on you—just because they have noticed that you need a little encouraging! Just knowing that someone cares enough to do that can make such a difference when you’re going through a difficult time!
If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re probably pretty good at provoking others in the negative sense. So why not commit yourself to becoming just as proficient in provoking your brothers and sisters in the Lord in the positive sense? Make a quality decision to become an expert at provoking others unto love and good deeds!
Lord, forgive me for being so self consumed that I have neglected to see the needs in people around me. I am sorry I’ve been so selfish that I haven’t even recognized the times I could have been a blessing and an encouragement. I repent and I make the decision to reach out to those who are around me. Just as others have strengthened me, I want to be a source of strength to those around me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I take the time to carefully consider other people’s needs. I observe their ups and downs and their highs and lows. I study to find out what helps them feel encouraged. I am constantly observing and contemplating others to know how to encourage and provoke them to love and to good works. God uses me to come alongside those around me to help impel them to stay on track with God and with their God-given assignments. Because I am careful to notice other people’s needs and I reach out to assist them with words of strength, they are becoming better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Yesterday I had coffee with a dad who excitedly told me his son was flying home from college that night to join the family for vacation. Struck by his sense of anticipation and what obviously was an unusual “bond” between father and son, I queried him as to how this friendship “happened.”
So he proceeded to relate how every night for 21 years he had put his son to bed, kissing and affirming him, praying with him, and talking things over, etc.. He recounted that if his boy came in late at night, he would make a concerted effort to stay up and meet him at the door, chat with him for a little while before they both retired for the night.
Then, in the morning, he would go into his son’s room and spend a few minutes with him as he started his day.
“The last 10 minutes of the day and the first 10 minutes in the morning are the most important in raising your kids,” he said with deep conviction. Today, this young man strongly embraces the family’s values, is doing well in school, and, along with his parents, is a sincere follower of Christ.
As I was musing over this remarkable father-son relationship, I recalled another conversation I recently had with another dad, who by contrast is anguished over his estranged relationship with his 21 year old son.
Years ago, when his offspring was but a lad, he had “neglected” him for his career. Speaking with angst over his son’s intense contempt for him, he explained how this young man is now punishing him by pursuing a defiant lifestyle that includes a live-in girlfriend, and a casual approach to work and career, etc..
QUESTION: As a father, what practical, thought-out, and consistent steps are you taking to insure the fact that you and your children are developing a healthy, inseparable bond?
We often quote Proverbs 22:6 as a guarantee that our children will turn out “right”. Surely a concerted effort at bonding would help ensure the fulfillment of this verse of Scripture:
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”