3 Truths I Learned From The Wise Men

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Have you ever seen a satellite in space? Most likely, you have and didn’t realize it. I recently read that twenty-seven satellites on six different orbital planes at an altitude of 12,400 miles circle the earth at 8,640 miles per hour. They each circle twice a day, with four of them visible at all times everywhere on the planet, sending signals to radar stations around the world. These fantastic machines form the Global Positioning Satellite system which is amazingly accurate and help make this the most mobile generation in history.

Many people travel more than 30 miles each day, but in the time of the birth of Christ, the average person never traveled beyond a 30-mile radius of their birthplace; this makes the story recorded in Matthew 2 all the more amazing:

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no longer least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come a Governor, who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, carefully inquired of them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, so that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed. And the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great excitement. And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Mt. 2:1-11 MEV

While most believe this happened as just part of the Christmas season, in reality, these wise men didn’t show up at the birth of Jesus but at while later. Sorry, but they were not gathered with the Shepherds around the manger while the cattle were lowing. I take the time to point this out because the lessons I want to share with from the Wise Men are much more than sweet little Christmas devotionals for December.

THE WISE SEEK HIM

The first lesson seems quite obvious and has become a cliché: “Wise men seek Him!” Or another way to phrase it is: Wise men and women go out of their way to encounter God! The religious scholars lived just 5 miles away from where Jesus was born, but not one of them traveled that short distance to see Him. Meanwhile, these Magi went at least 900 miles, not in a beautiful, comfortable Cadillac but on a camel’s back. It had to be uncomfortable, but they determined it was well worth it! How about you? Are you ready to allow some discomfort in your life in this next season? Why ask this? Because the last time you were uncomfortable was the last time, you grew! To get in better shape physically requires a measure of discomfort. The same is true emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As we enjoy this season and look to enter a new year, we need to make a quality decision that being in His presence is worth every mile, every dime, every discomfort. We will spend ourselves to encounter Jesus like never before!

THE WISE LIVE BY FAITH

The second lesson is also a very familiar one: Wise men and women travel this journey with FAITH! There is no way these men would risk their reputations, their lives, and their fortune if they did not believe prophecies concerning the star and the King it represented. Faith is crucial in the lives of the wise. Hebrews 11:6 teaches that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” It isn’t just difficult, it is impossible, to live a life that pleases God outside of the faith place. More than once the Bible instructs that the righteous “shall live by faith.” [See Ro. 1:17, Hab. 2:4] Corrie Ten Boom described the power of faith this way, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Faith honors God and God honors faith. Therefore, let’s make a quality decision that we will live like our God is bigger than our enemies and any circumstances we face. We will live like He is faithful to fulfill every promise He makes. We will live like there is nothing impossible for Him. Let this next season be the season of the big ask! Ask big, believe big and receive big for His glory!

THE WISE ARE WORSHIPPERS

The third lesson we learn from the wise men is regarding worship. The wise men were bold in proclaiming that their purpose for making the journey was merely to worship. Wise men and women understand the true essence of worship! For many today worship is about what God does for us and what we get out of it. But the wise men understood two essentials of true worship: First, true worship is not about being served but about serving. Second, true worship is not about receiving but about giving. They traveled nine hundred arduous miles to simply see the baby and give him gifts valuing hundreds of thousands of our common currencies. What did they hope to receive from their worship of Jesus? Only the honor and joy of serving and giving to Him. They considered it the highlight of their life and worth all it cost them to be part of God’s plan. They counted it an honor to use their resources for His glory.  This is worship! I pray that you and I will make a fresh and quality decision to live the lives of real worshippers.

My prayer for you is that in this season and the upcoming year, you will walk in a new and ever-increasing level of wisdom. As you put these three keys to work in your life, you will become known in Heaven and the earth as someone counted among the wise.

 

Do You Believe In The Impossible?

FaithImagination

The Bishop stepped to the podium with a determined stride. It was evident to all in the building that something had stirred him and they were about to hear it. With a scowl on his face, Bishop Wright, in holy indignation, boldly rebuked the College President who had just spoken.

“That is, without a doubt, one of the most ludicrous things I have ever heard,” began the Bishop, and he didn’t stop there. He continued,  “How foolish for any man, much less, an educated man to make such statements as One day in the future men may fly through the air like birds.” The Bishop went on to tell the Methodist gathering, “If God had intended for humans to fly, He would have created them with wings!”

When Bishop Wright returned to his home in Ohio, he related the foolishness of the College President to His wife. He also told her how he had set things straight and soundly rebuked him in the hearing of the entire gathering. They smirked over the preposterous idea that men would one day fly through the air. What foolishness!  Although they scoffed at this ludicrous idea unable to see it’s potential, two of their sons, Orville and Wilbur,  would one day dream the impossible dream.

“What if?” the boys asked. “Could it one day be possible that men could fly through the air? What if? True, God did not create us with wings, but did he give us the power to create wings with which to fly?”

These two young men dared to dream the impossible and through their diligence opened the door for one of the great marvels of the modern era. Flight!

Although I have taken liberties to reconstruct the conversation, the above story is factual. By all I have read, Bishop Wright and his wife were faithful Christians and wonderful parents. They just couldn’t see! This man of God could not see the jet age which we now experience. But, Orville and Wilbur dared to dream an impossible dream and birth it into reality. If we hope to make a difference in our generation, we must also dare to dream the impossible.

I love how little children dream. Have you ever watched a small boy with a toy train? He’ll make train noises as he moves it around the track, complete with whistles and bells. He’ll load the cars then chug around and around, deliver the load and start all over. How about a little girl with a doll? She’ll talk to that toy, wash it, hug it to herself, discipline it, and change its diaper, and want you to help her take care of her baby. This is not mere child’s play; it is preparation for the future.

I don’t believe God wants us to grow up and forget how to use the power of imagination. It is a God-given gift to prepare us for ever better and bigger things. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” [Mark 9:23] Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [Proverbs 29:18]

We were created to dream. Or as Walt Disney would say, “Imagineer!”

Here are three keys to dreaming God’s way:

  •  Dream big! It honors God when we believe HE is big enough for us to imagine big, ask big and act big. As Dwight L. Moody said, “If God be your partner, make your plans big.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us.” Eph. 3:20
  • Dream God’s dreams for your life. We must surrender our thoughts and let Him birth His ideas in us. How do you know it’s God’s vision? “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” [Ps. 37:4]
  • Hold on to the dream and don’t give up! If you hold on to the promise, the promise will hold on to you! One way to hold the dream is to write it down. God said, “Write the vision, and make it plain…” [Habakkuk 2:2]

Keep dreaming! What past generations could not even imagine, you may be the catalyst to make it a reality. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” [Luke 1:37] If you stopped dreaming, let God resurrect the Imagineer in you. Let’s become like childlike, and let God train us for the preferred future He sees. It is filled with mind-blowing possibilities! Through Jesus, we can and we will accomplish the impossible!

The End Time Sign You Dare Not Miss!

End TimesLast Days

In the words of an old Gordon Jenson song, “Signs of the time are everywhere. There’s a brand-new feeling in the air.” These words are ever increasing in their veracity.  All around us, violence is on the rise. The tensions of inter-racial relationships seem to be increasing rather than growing better. Political differences divide our nation like never before in our history. Internationally wars and the rumor of wars abound. Natural catastrophes are occurring on a record-breaking scale.

Deception is on the rise even within the ranks of the church.  Many seem determined to follow after signs blindly even if the source appears questionable. While signs and wonders are still valid for today, Jesus gives us a strong warning about false prophets who would come with great signs and wonders. [See Matthew 24:24]   We dare not qualify something as being of the Lord just because it appears to be supernatural. Jesus instructed us to, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” [Matthew 24:4] The followers of Jesus must be discerning so that no one causes us to wander from the path of truth. The Church must avoid both sensationalism and skepticism; living open to the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit but not ignoring affirmations, attitudes, and actions that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that lawlessness would abound in the last days and we see it on every hand. Many, even in the Church, want to cast off anything that brings restraint to their lifestyle choices. Under the guise of being free, they mistakenly act as if freedom equals a life without boundaries. But real freedom isn’t the right to do our own thing but the enabling of grace to do the God thing! Jesus also predicted that with a lawless attitude true love would grow cold. When people live as their own standard, they inevitably chill in their love toward others.

But real freedom isn’t the right to do our own thing but the enabling of grace to do the God thing! Click To Tweet

These seven continual signs Jesus gave as indicators of the end [See Matthew 24:6-12] are ever increasing in our generation. He then goes on to talk about what can be called climatic signs. He mentions stars falling; the sun darkened, light-less moon sea and waves roaring, etc. [See Matthew 24:29-35 and Luke 21:26] But it seems to me, His most impacting point is the one most easily skimmed over in the search for the signs of His coming.

He says, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and were given in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built.” [Luke 17:26-28] Jesus plainly describes the days of the end as being similar to the time of the flood and the destruction of Sodom and the surrounding cities.

What is amazing is that He doesn’t reference the wickedness of Noah’s time nor the perversion of Lot’s time. What He does reference is the preoccupation of the people with living their lives to the max! Nothing Jesus mentions is inherently sinful. Good food, engaging in commerce, planting, building, and celebrating marriage are all activities that are meant to be enjoyed. But Jesus says the people were so engrossed in the attempt to carve out the best life for themselves and their children that they missed the signs of impending doom and the door of their deliverance.

Jesus says the people were so engrossed in the attempt to carve out the best life for themselves and their children that they missed the signs of impending doom. Click To Tweet

Jesus warns us, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts become burdened by excessiveness and drunkenness and anxieties of life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” [Luke 21:34] Deception is not just something we guard against from false prophets. We must guard our hearts against self-deception. James says that we can hear the word, even get excited about it and “Amen” it, but if we don’t put it into practice in our personal lives – we deceive ourselves! [See James 1:22]

Today, our challenge is to learn how to be awake and stay awake to the things of eternity while living here and now. Jesus promised abundant living to His followers and gives “who richly gives us all things to enjoy.” [John 10:10, I Timothy 6:17] It is evident that Abba delights in blessing His children in this life! But He calls us to live with our heart set on His glorious return! The hope of the Church isn’t prosperity, healing, comfortable lives or success. Our blessed hope is the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! [Titus 2:13]

So we must hold loosely the things you enjoy along the journey! Live. But live with your heart burning with a passion for laying your eyes on the One who loves you completely!  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

The hope of the Church isn’t prosperity, healing, comfortable lives or success. Our blessed hope is the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! Click To Tweet

 

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Signs of the Last Days?!

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What’s up with all of the ends of the world predictions from Christians? The latest in a long list of such predictions pointed to September 23, 2017, as the end of the world as we know it.  The so-called “Revelation 12” sign in the heavens was to signal the rapture of the church and drastic changes in the earth. It seems the man who is making the latest prediction, David Meade, is now pointing to October 15th as the day.

A quick google search will reveal that such predictions are not a recent development among believers. As early as the year 500, three theologians were predicting that was the year the world would end. One based his teaching on the dimensions of Noah’s ark. But of course, they were wrong. Even the Pope got involved in the prediction that the Lord would return in the year 1000. When He didn’t come in 1000, a few Bible scholars said it would be 1033, a thousand years after the crucifixion instead of His birth. Again, they were wrong!

The list is quite long but a jump to the 19th century reveals that Jesus was predicted to return on October 22, 1844, then in 1874, then in 1891. Predictions kept coming. Then in the 20th century, Edgar C. Whisenant a NASA scientist and Bible teacher predicted the Lord would return during Rosh Hashanah 1988. His book sold 4.5 million copies, and a major Christian network interrupted their regularly scheduled programming as the date approached to give people instructions on how to prepare for the rapture. When the Lord didn’t return in 1988, he released a revised edition of his book claiming it would be 1989. Then He predicted it would be 1993, then 1994.

Harold Camping got into the act in the 21st century, declaring that the rapture would happen on May 21, 2011, and the world would end in October of 2012. Those dates came and went, and the only thing that happened was many in the church had to eat crow. Predictions like this may sell books, garner hits on websites and go viral on social media, but they bring discredit to the Church. These predictions are also a direct disregard to the teaching of Jesus! In His own words, “But concerning that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray. For you do not know when the time will come.” Mark 13:32-33

Predictions like this may sell books, garner hits on websites and go viral on social media, but they bring discredit to the Church. Click To Tweet

The Christians who get caught up in speculation and sensationalism with solar eclipses, blood moons, natural disasters and political maneuvering and try to date the Second Coming lose credibility with their unsaved family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Eventually, they become like the boy who cried wolf one too many times – no one will listen to their message that Jesus is coming again! This brand of speculation and sensationalism results in many, even in the Church, swinging the pendulum too far to the other side and becoming skeptical about the return of Christ.

Jesus is coming again! And happenings such as the blood moons, the recent solar eclipse, record-breaking hurricanes, typhoons, multiple earthquakes and even the so-called, “Revelation 12” movements with Virgo and Leo should not be ignored and quickly dismissed. Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming…When you see these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.”  [Luke 21:25-26, 28] Scripture in many places points to signs that will indicate the closing of the last days and the beginning of the end times. And, though we cannot know the day or the hour of His coming, the day will not overtake the Church as a thief! [I Thessalonians 5:4]

The Church must avoid sensationalism and skepticism regarding signs of the last days! Click To Tweet

Jesus taught us two valuable foundational principles that we must follow if we seek to navigate a sensible, Biblical approach to these days. First, while we wait for His coming, we must watch. The word translated watch means to be or keep awake, be alert, on guard, vigilant. He encourages us to be able to read the signs of the time we live in – and remember, He always empowers our obedience. [See Matthew 16:3] But He places a far greater emphasis on our keeping an eye on our spiritual condition than on the signs around us. Look at His word recorded in Luke 21:34, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts become burdened by excessiveness and drunkenness and anxieties of life, and that Day comes on you unexpectedly.” The reality is we cannot accurately discern the signs of the times if we are overcome by the issues of our everyday living.” While we wait for His return we determine to watch – keeping awake and aware of the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives and in our generation.

The reality is we cannot accurately discern the signs of the times if we are overcome by the issues of our everyday living. Click To Tweet

The second foundational principle Jesus teaches regarding the end times is that while we wait, we work. We don’t pack our bags for the rapture and huddle with other fearful believers complaining about how bad things are getting! Jesus teaches that the faithful do His kingdom business until He returns. [Luke 19:13] In fact, He said the end isn’t coming until, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations…” [Matthew 24:14] Like Jesus we must work while it is day! The Church is the expression of Jesus in the earth and our world desperately needs to see Jesus these days. We are the salt of the earth! We are the light of the world! We are the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. [Matthew 5:13, 14]

I don’t know exactly when but I know He is coming. While we are waiting, let’s stay alert and watch and do His work of letting everybody in on the good news. They don’t have to experience the wrath of God. Jesus took it! Today is the day to make ready for eternity. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

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