Archive for January, 2012

Grievous Correction

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

Proverbs 15:10

Nobody like to be corrected.  Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong.  But, like medicine that doesn’t taste good, it is sometimes necessary.  When we are wrong, we need to be corrected.  When we are wrong, we need to be told that we are wrong.  We won’t always like it, but it will be a great help to us in the long run if we will take our correction and fix our problem.

If a person has “forsaken the way,” they usually don’t want to hear that they are wrong.  If a person has “forsaken the way,” they usually don’t want to be corrected.  Thus, correction is “grievous” to them.  When we are caught up in our sin, it takes an often painful correction to get us right again.  Correction is not pleasant, but it is infinitely better than the alternative.

The end of the verse tells us that “he that hateth reproof shall die.”  That is some hard language, but, being the Bible, it is also true language.  If a person hates reproof and correction enough, they are going to avoid it and ignore it.  They will harden their heart against it.  The person who hates reproof and correction will never get their problem right.  If a person hates reproof, they are going to have some serious problems.

We all make mistakes.  None of us are perfect.  None of us are going to live the rest of our lives without sinning and without messing up.  The key is that, when we get corrected, we pay attention and fix the problem.  I tell my class that missing a math question isn’t a big deal.  What is a big deal is when you miss the same question over and over again because you never try to figure out what you are doing wrong.  Our response to correction and reproof will determine the direction of our lives.  Let us take reproof and correction to heart.

Immediately Following Him

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20

Jesus found some men fishing and told them to follow Him.  He told them that if they would follow Him, He would make them fishers of men.  He offered them something more.  They were fishermen.  There is nothing wrong with that, but when given the opportunity to be a part of something greater, they jumped at the chance.  Many people today are searching for something more.  They live their day to day lives, all the while knowing that there must be something more to life.  People are searching for something, even if they don’t know it or realize it.  These men could have, like Herod, rejected the Lord Jesus.  But they didn’t.  They “straightway left their nets, and followed him.”

I like the fact that the Bible uses the term “straightway.”  “Immediately.”  They didn’t think about it.  They didn’t have to talk it over.  They didn’t say “maybe we’ll follow you tomorrow.”  The Lord spoke to them.  They responded immediately.  That is a wonderful lesson for us.  When the Lord speaks to us, we need to respond and we need to respond immediately.  Think of what would have happened had Simon Peter and Andrew rejected the Lord here.  They would have missed out on following Jesus during His earthly ministry.  They would have missed out on the miracles that they were a part of.  Peter was even used to write a couple books of the New Testament.  Of course he couldn’t have known all of that on that day on the shore when Jesus came by.  But God knew all of these things.

Good things happen when we respond immediately to the Lord.

God’s Beloved Son

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:16-17

There is much to meditate on in the story of the baptism of Jesus.  It is such a wonderful story.  Jesus was different from every other man.  He was unique in every way.  When Jesus was baptized, He came out of the water like no other man in history.  When He came up out of the water, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Him “like a dove.”  That must have been an amazing sight to behold.  But not only did that all happen, but the voice of God Himself came from Heaven and said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Imagine hearing the actual voice of God.  And imagine hearing the actual voice of God saying those words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

While we will probably never hear the audible voice of the Lord (at least not during our life on this earth), we can live a life that is pleasing to Him.  He is our Heavenly Father and we are His children.  Are we living a life about which the Lord could say “…I am well pleased?”

The easiest way to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord is to simply obey Him.  Just read His Word and do what it says.  Jesus said this about Himself “…I do always those things that please him.” Jesus obviously lived a life well-pleasing to His Father.  Are we leading a “well-pleasing” life today?

Enter John the Baptist

The voice of his that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 40:3

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Matthew 3:1-3

The book of Matthew shifts gears a little from the second chapter to the third chapter.  We go from Jesus in chapter two to John the Baptist in chapter three.  John the Baptist is an interesting character whose life should be studied and emulated by Christians.

Today, we will look at his message: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  His first message was one of repentance.  He preached about sin.  It is human nature to think of yourself as being “pretty good.”  It is also human nature to want to justify ourselves to ourselves, no matter what we do.  It is human nature to want to avoid thinking about our own sin.

One of the reasons that most people will not accept Christ is that they will not accept the fact that they are guilty sinners.  They will not see their sin for what it is.  They will not repent.

This is where John the Baptist starts.  He preaches to the people that they need to recognize their sin and turn from it.  The theme of John the Baptist (and a theme repeated throughout the New Testament) is one of the issue of sin and righteousness.  Jesus came to take away our sin and to give us His own perfect righteousness.

John the Baptist wasted no time in getting people to repent of their sin.  He wasted no time in pointing people to the Saviour.  We would be wise to emulate him.

God Knows

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee…

Matthew 2:19-22

The subject of this post has been dealt with over and over by many people.  But there is a good reason.  The subject of this post is a subject that permeates the entire Bible.  Every verse contains it’s truth and every page is a testament to it.  It is the simple subject of God’s knowledge and His plan.

God knows everything.  That is a simple thing to say, but another thing to truly believe.  In these verses, we find again find this truth.  God knew that Herod wanted to kill His Son.  He knew that Herod would hate Him so much that he would have all of the babies under the age of 2 killed in and around Bethlehem.  He led Joseph to take Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt to avoid this.  He knew everything and had everything under control the entire time.

Imagine Joseph during this time.  He is being forced to leave the country because the king wants to kill the baby Jesus.  Imagine all of the things that must have been running through his mind.  But think of the God he had directing him.

God knew about Herod.  He knew when Herod died.  He knew when Mary and Joseph could return to Israel.  He knew that they should go to Nazareth in Galilee.  He knew everything and had everything perfectly under control, no matter what evil plans Herod may have had and no matter what worry Joseph might have felt.  Isn’t it comforting to know that our God knows?

Trying To Eliminate Jesus

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

Matthew 2:16

Verse 3 of Matthew 2 tells us that, when confronted with Jesus, Herod (and the rest of Jerusalem) was troubled.  He told the wise men to come back and tell him when they found the Christ child.  God had different plans, however, and told the wise men in a dream to not return to Herod.  Obviously, Herod was not pleased by this.  In fact, he was “exceeding wroth.”  That is the background of the story, which brings us to this verse.

Herod was so “exceeding wroth” that he decided to kill all of the children who were under two years old in Bethlehem.  Can you imagine the horror of that?  Murder is obviously a terrible thing, but the murder of innocent babies is unthinkable.  Verse 18 tells us that there was “…a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”

The unimaginable horror of children being murdered and their mothers weeping and wailing for them all came about because one man was troubled by Jesus.  One man, when confronted with Jesus, became so desperate to get away from Him that he was willing to go a killing spree. He was willing to do anything to get Jesus out of his life.

Herod found, as every other person who has tried to get away from Jesus has found, that you can not eliminate Jesus.  You can run, and you can try to ignore Him, but it will not work.  Being confronted with Jesus demands a decision.  You can submit and accept Him or you can reject Him and spend your life running from Him and trying to eliminate Him.  It’s your call.

Higher Ground (Hymn)

Higher Ground
Johnson Oatman

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain: Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

This is a great hymn.  As Christians, we should all be pressing on to higher ground.  “I want to live above the world…”  That should be our desire, too.  Wouldn’t it be great to live above fear and doubt?  Wouldn’t it be great to live on higher ground?  There is one way to do that: ask the Lord to help us: “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Presenting Him Gifts

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come 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 unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:9-11

The wise men had made a long journey to see the Christ-child.  They followed the star, they talked to Herod and they had finally found Him.  When they found Him, they worshipped Him.  What we will focus on today is the fact that they “presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  When they found Jesus, they presented Him gifts.

Their gifts were some impressive items: gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Gold is gold.  It has been a valuable commodity since the second chapter of Genesis.  Frankincense and myrrh were two fragrant resins that were popular for many things in those days.  Their gifts were impressive to say the least.  But the point is that they gave Him what they had.  Being wise men and “kings,” they had more than others probably had and were thus in a position to give gold, frankincense and myrrh.  But throughout His life, you find people giving Him what they had to give.  From the little boy giving his small lunch to Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with costly ointment.

When believers in Jesus come to Him, they naturally want to worship Him and give Him what they have.  The question for today is this: what are we giving Him?  What is in our hand to give?  Do we have talents that we are not using for Him?  Do we have time that could be dedicated to Him?  We will never regret anything given to Him!

Troubled By Jesus

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:1-3

The Bible does not give us an exact chronology of these events, so we do not know exactly how old the baby Jesus was when the wise men came to worship him.  He may have been a couple of years old, but I don’t think that we can say for certain.  But we do know that, at most, He was still a small child.  It is this small Child that the wise men enquired about.  And it is this small Child about which Herod “was troubled.”

Think of that.  The great Herod was troubled by a little child.  He was so troubled by this Child that he ended up killing all of the children under two years of age in Bethlehem.  Not only was Herod “troubled,” but all of Jerusalem was troubled with him.  When I first read this, I thought it was odd.  Why would Herod and an entire city feel troubled and threatened by a baby?  Then it occurred to me.

Many, many people over the years have been troubled by Jesus.  Herod was troubled.  The Pharisees were troubled.  The mob that crucified him was troubled.  The Devil himself was troubled at the sight of Jesus.  Being confronted with Jesus is a troubling thing.  It forces you to see your sin and your need for a Saviour.  When confronted with Him, one must answer the question of the old hymn: “What will you do with Jesus?”  If you decide to reject Him, that can quickly become a troubling question.

Are We Among the Wise Men?

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 2:1-2

The wise men are a part of just about every “manger scene” at Christmas.  In churches across the world, children (and sometimes adults) will dress up in robes and gold crowns and bring their “gifts” to the baby Jesus.  They have been recognized in song with “We Three Kings.”  There are hundreds of signs, pictures and plaques saying things like “wise men still seek Him.”  From what we read in the Scriptures, we know very little about these men.  We know that they came from the east and that they bore gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  We know that they followed a star and that they asked Herod about the baby Jesus.  And we know that God told them not to return to Herod on their way back home.  Other than that, we know little.  We don’t know their names.  We don’t know exactly what country they were from.  We don’t even know exactly how many there were (many assume that there were three because they brought three gifts, but that might not mean anything).

But for all that we do not know, there is one very important thing that we do know: “…we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”  If that was the only thing we knew about them, it would be enough to make them “wise men.”  They “came to worship Him.”  The journey must have been long, but when we are dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ, no journey is too long or difficult.  We have made a similar journey.  Ours was maybe not the same, but we still had to “come to Him.”  And now that we have found Him, are we following the example of the wise men and worshipping Him?

Coming to Him and worshipping Him gave these men the title “wise men.”  Are we among them today?