“When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:3
There’s always a villain in every story and Herod is it for this one. All the devil could do to try to stop God from coming down to earth was use people, just like he does today. In this case his primary target would be a Jewish man of influence, Herod. Most don’t know that King Herod was a Jew, but in name only. He was put in power by Rome as they knew he could be manipulated. All he really cared about was the power he had and the benefits that came along with it. When confronted with any challenge to that he turned to the Roman way of responding, get rid of it.
Through the wise men he found out as much as he could about the birth of Jesus, then he told them to let him know when they found Him so he could worship Him too. All of that was a lie, and when Herod found out the wise men weren’t coming back he sent his men to Bethlehem to put any male child under the age of two to death. Of course we know that Jesus wasn’t killed, Joseph was warned of this so he left Bethlehem and went to Egypt until Herod died.
One of the reasons people don’t accept Jesus as their Savior is they like the power and control they have over their lives. At least they think they have power and control, the enemy is good at convincing us of that. If we’re not careful we can become as evil as Herod was in doing everything to rid ourselves of Jesus. When we remove Him from every aspect of our life, then we are left with a vacuum and the devil is glad to fill it.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 Amplified
As we enter the Christmas season we are looking at the verses that speak of love and giving. How much more giving and loving is it then to be gentle and kind when someone is being harsh and hard.
Yesterday we looked at the first verse in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, and I said we would look more into what God says love should be. I had a situation come up last night, though, that made me think of today’s verse. Angry words were spoken to me and my carnal nature responded with angry words. Prior to this incident I’d been praying for God to help me respond to harsh words with a soft answer, so I suppose last night was a test. I failed. That’s ok though, in a way. Of course I asked God to forgive me, but it showed me rather quickly what I should have done and how I should have handled it. The trick is to learn and not repeat. You know in school you had to keep taking the test or class over until you passed it. Speaking of which, if you keep having the same problems with other people you may need to have a counseling session with the Teacher so He can help you pass those tests. Don’t be like the Israelites who kept going around the same mountain for 40 years!
Our verse today says a soft answer turns away wrath, and grievous words, those spoken in anger back, stir up anger. Though it’s usually very hard to not respond to someone in the same way they speak to us, God wants us to be gentle. Being gentle is what’s best for us and the other person. Have you ever seen a heated argument end in hugs and kisses, not usually. Usually the two parties get mad and don’t speak for a while.
So the real question is, how do we respond gently. The truth is I can’t do it, but if I stop and ask God to help me to do it, then I can. So the key is to stop! When angry words come our way, whether from a stranger or the closest person to you, don’t respond immediately, stop and ask God for help. It’s something I will likely have to do over and over again until it starts to become a part of my response mechanism, but I believe God wants me to do it and He will help me to do it, and He will help you too if you will only say those three little words – God help me.
Let’s follow what Proverbs 25:15 says – “soft speech breaks down the most bonelike resistance. “
“If I can speak in the tongues of men and even of angels, but have not love; that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 Amplified
Today we are taking a closer look at love as we approach the greatest Love given this month of Christ’s birth.
The 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians is often referred to as the love chapter because that is its primary topic. Appropriately so it starts out in the first verse with a definition of what love is not. The first four verses state that no matter what I do for others if I do it out of requirement or duty and not out of my love and caring for them, then it is worthless. There are a lot of things in life that we are required to do, but loving shouldn’t be one of them. Our love for others comes from God and how much He loves us. He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us. That’s how you know if you are being religious or a Christian. Religion makes requirements, God inspires us to love.
We will stay in 1 Corinthians for a little while longer so we can take a closer look at what real, God like, love is.
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He even gave up His only begotten, unique Son, so that whoever believes in, trusts in, clings to, relies on, Him shall not perish, come to destruction and be lost, but have eternal, everlasting life.” John 3:16 Amplified
As we move into the Christmas season I feel led to focus on love, that’s what Christmas is all about. The best place to start is to look at why we celebrate Christmas – God’s great love for us, that’s why He sent His son to earth.
“For God so loved the world that He gave….” That’s how love starts, giving.
Some people have suffered in relationships where they gave and gave and gave, but received nothing in return. Some even vowed that they would never love again because of that. True loving, the agape or God love is giving with wanting nothing in return. Love gives because it wants to give, not to receive anything in return. This is the love of Christmas, the unselfish love that gives just to give.
As we go through this month we will look at verses that encourage us to love with a God like love.
“First of all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men.” 1 Timothy 2:1 Amplified
As we continue looking at verses regarding thanksgiving, this verse today encourages us to give thanksgivings on behalf of others. So not only are we to be thankful to God for what WE receive, but also for what others receive. The verse says on behalf of ALL men, all people. We don’t usually have a problem with being thankful for the people around us who are a blessing to us or who are nice to us, but those others? The human tendency is to complain and runaway from those “others”, those who bring stress and even harm into our lives.
There are a number of people who dread the Thanksgiving holiday because it means they will have to be with their families and that can often be uncomfortable. The larger the group the more chance there is that there may be several people who don’t get along or who we don’t get along with. Past hurts, that may go as far back as our childhood, resurface and the heartache is felt all over again.
I believe this verse is twofold. First, Paul tells us to offer petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings on behalf of all the people we know. Do you pray for those who have hurt you? Not the prayer that tells God to go get ’em like sicking a dog on an enemy, but the prayer that thanks God for blessing them, and asks God to continue to bless them. Secondly, in praying for all people, even those we don’t like, doesn’t that humble us before God and bring us closer to Him? To me that’s the key to praying for all people. We can be thankful that though they bring us stress, they bring us closer to our Creator Who gives us the peace we want and need.
Give Him the stress and be thankful.
“And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!” Psalm 107:22 Amplified
In this Thanksgiving week we are looking at verses that talk about just that, thanksgiving. Today’s verse is short, but oh how powerful it is.
First, it talks about the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Well, how exactly do you sacrifice an intangible? The Bible has many stories, especially in the old testament, of the Jewish people sacrificing animals to God for their sin. Since Jesus gave the greatest sacrifice at Calvary we as Christians are not required to give animal sacrifices. This verse tells us what we are to sacrifice, our words, our life, by continually thanking God for what He’s done for us.
Secondly, the verse says to rehearse His deeds. If you’ve ever been in a play or had to recite anything you know that you have to repeat it over and over again. We should almost daily telling someone of what God has done for us. This verse says we are to do it with shouts of joy and singing!
Go shout hallelujah today to someone, everyone!
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and with a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 Amplified
In honor of Thanksgiving, a holiday started by the Pilgrims to glorify and honor God for what He did for them, we will look at verses this week that speak of thanksgiving.
When we read today’s verse it speaks of God as someone you converse with, like a friend. God is our friend, at least if we are a believer. If you have a hard time doing what the verse says, then just for a moment give Him the name of a friend and substitute it in this verse. I’ve heard the story of a little boy who said he knew God’s name and when asked what it was he replied Andy. When asked how he knew that was God’s name he said he heard it in a hymn sung at church. Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am His own. So thanks to that little boy let’s review our verse today replacing God with Andy (I don’t think God will mind if it gets the point across).
Enter into Andy’s gates with thanksgiving and with a thank offering and into Andy’s courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Andy, bless and affectionately praise Andy’s name! For Andy is good; Andy’s mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, Andy’s faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.
It’s not as hard to “say so” to Andy is it? God wants you to talk to Him and He especially loves to receive your praise. As parents we enjoy hearing our children say thank you to us and so does God, he is our Father after all. Try, at least for this week, to be more thankful than ever before. We can all find something to be thankful for, start with your next breath.
“But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to say will be given you in that very hour and moment. For it is not you who are speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20 Amplified
As we stay in the 10th book of Matthew studying what Jesus told His disciples before they went out, we see He tells them to wait. He’d already informed them that they’d be arrested, in verse 17 He said that those opposing God will deliver them up to councils to be beaten. Now He tells them not to speak until God gives them the words to say.
I don’t know to many people who like waiting, it seems the faster and further along in our society that we go the less and less patient people become. Quite often though, we miss out on the best because we’re in a hurry. In this instance the Lord tells them they wouldn’t have to wait long, He said in that hour and moment God would give them the words.
As believers we must ready to be brought before councils and if we are standing up for God and speaking His word, we must then wait for Him to speak through us. It would appear that troubling times lie ahead for Christians and we must be ready.
“Be on guard against men whose way or nature is to act in opposition to God; for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues. And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a witness to bear testimony before them and to the Gentiles, the nations.” Matthew 10:17-18 Amplified
We return to the scene where Jesus is instructing His disciples before they go out into the world to share the good news. I find it interesting that our verse today applies to our situation in this country. With the possibility of foreign refugees coming into our country and possibly bringing among them those that would seek to harm us, we must be on guard. Islam is in total opposition to what God says in the Bible and based on the radicals who practice it, it’s a religion of conform or die.
Most pastors and leaders of Christianity believe we are in the end times. In fact even unbelievers comment on how fast the time seems to be going and how much is going on around the world. The escalation of events around us is incredible and can be frightening. Jesus never wants us to be afraid, He is victorious and has already won the battle, but the enemy will do whatever he can to make us doubt.
In our time we may very well see believers brought before authorities for being a Christian. If and when that happens we must heed the advice He gives us, in tomorrows verse.
“Be strong and courageous. Be not afraid or dismayed before your enemies, for there is Another with us greater than all those. With them is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 Amplified
We have certainly seen some horrendous events take place over the weekend. It’s one thing for some sort of weather event like tornadoes, earthquakes, fire and hurricanes to wipe out lives, but it is a whole different effect when man is cruel to man. We feel the presence of an enemy when that happens, an evil that hangs over us and we often wait for the next strike. This brings along with it the feeling of fear and anxiety primarily because we don’t know when that next event could take place. We ask ourselves and those around us, are we safe?
Today’s verse tells us Who we need to turn to. Those who choose to harm others only have an arm of flesh. No matter how smart or devious they are, God knows what their plans are and can intervene. Why He does that sometimes and not always is a great unknown. All I know is that all things go through His hands and I trust Him with my life.
As Psalm 27:1 says “The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” I keep His word even closer to me at times like this, you can too. I just gave you two to get you started, the Bible is full of more. I recommend you go and find them.
“If anyone serves Me, he must continue to follow Me, to cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, and wherever I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26 Amplified
In honor of Veterans Day I chose the scripture above. I know not all those who served in the military are believers, but serving in our military is an unselfish act. I’m sure there are those who joined for other reasons, but they still offered their life as a sacrifice.
To me the point of this sacrificial service and our verse today is that as believers we are to have that same mind-set. We have joined the Lord’s army when we accept Him as our Savior. He is our Lord and the Commander of our life. We must follow, cleave steadfastly to, confirm wholly to and if need by die for Him.
When we stop and think about and thank the men and women who served this country in our military, we must decide for ourselves if we will do the same in the Lord’s service.