But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. (Micah 5:2 NLT)
Two thousand years ago, that Scripture by the prophet Micah came to pass when Jesus Christ was born in the little town of Bethlehem. As Micah said, even at his birth, Jesus was recognized as the ruler of Israel. In the Gospel of Matthew, it says when the wise men came here to Jerusalem, they asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2 NKJV)
In fact, the Bible is filled with promises and prophecies that Jesus will rule and reign. The prophet Isaiah wrote: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV)
Daniel said: “To Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14 NKJV).
And in Revelation it says, Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NLT)
The rule of Jesus is also part of the spiritual DNA of CBN. In its mission statement, it says CBN is to prepare the nations of the world for the coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom here on the earth. And this Christmas it can be part of your spiritual DNA by making Him, or recommitting yourself to Him as, Lord and Savior. We can make Jesus the Lord and the Ruler of our hearts and fulfill the purpose and plan He has for our lives. And this Christmas is a great time to do that.
Merry Christmas from the Holy Land!
Ezekiel 3:17-19 17“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
Ezekiel was called to be a prophet to the people of Judah in exile in Babylon. His calling was similar to that of the prophet Isaiah. He saw a vision of the glory of God several times. He described the same beings that fly about the throne and gave a little more detail than Isaiah did. The descriptions are fascinating. You can read them in the first three chapters of Ezekiel. Try reading it in several translations. We will all see the same thing one day, for we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of God.
Over and over God told Ezekiel that the people would not listen, but that was not to be his concern. He had to tell them anyway. God even told him that if he were sent to other people as a missionary, those people would listen, but not this stubborn people of Judah. Some pastors wonder if they have the same calling. Our ministry is not about numbers. It is about obedience to God! There will be those that do hear, even if the vast majority does not. All are given a chance to hear and are then accountable to God with what they did with what they heard.
In this passage God gave Ezekiel an extra incentive to speak out what God had spoken to him. If we do not speak when God tells us to, we are the ones accountable to God for the blood of the wicked. When others respond to God’s words through us, they are obeying God. When we speak what God commands us to speak, we are being obedient to God.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be faithful to speak what You command us to speak.
Streams in the Desert – December 22
- 202122 Dec
Lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him (Gen. 15:12).
The sun at last went down, and the swift, eastern night cast its heavy veil over the scene. Worn out with the mental conflict, the watchings, and the exertions of the day, Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep is soul was oppressed with a dense and dreadful darkness, such as almost stifled him, and lay like a nightmare upon his heart.
Do you understand something of the horror of that darkness? When some terrible sorrow which seems so hard to reconcile with perfect love, crushes down upon the soul, wringing from it all its peaceful rest in the pitifulness of God, and launching it on a sea unlit by a ray of hope; when unkindness, and cruelty maltreat the trusting heart, till it begins to doubt whether there be a God overhead who can see and still permit–these know something of the “horror of great darkness.”
It is thus that human life is made up; rightness and gloom; shadow and sun; long tracks of cloud, succeeded by brilliant glints of light, and amid all Divine justice is working out its own schemes, affecting others equally with the individual soul which seems the subject of special discipline.
O ye who are filled with the horror of great darkness because of God’s dealings with mankind, learn to trust that infallible wisdom, which is co-assessor with immutable justice; and know that He who passed through the horror of the darkness of Calvary, with the cry of forsakenness, is ready to bear you company through the valley of the shadow of death till you see the sun shining upon its further side.
Let us, by our Forerunner, send forward our anchor, Hope, within the veil that parts us from the unseen; where it will grapple in ground and will not yield, but hold until the day dawns, and we follow it into the haven guaranteed to us by God’s immutable counsel.
–F. B. Meyer
The disciples thought that that angry sea separated them from Jesus. Nay, some of them thought worse than that; they thought that the trouble that had come upon them was a sign that Jesus had forgotten all about them, and did not care for them.
Oh, dear friend, that is when troubles have a sting, when the devil whispers, “God has forgotten you; God has forsaken you”; when your unbelieving heart cries as Gideon cried, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” The evil has come upon you to bring the Lord nearer to you. The evil has not come upon you to separate you from Jesus, but to make you cling to Him more faithfully, more tenaciously, more simply.
–F. S. Webster, M.A.
Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when He seems to have abandoned us. Let us enjoy light and consolation when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but let us not attach ourselves to His gifts, but to Himself; and when He plunges us into the night of pure faith, let us still press on through the agonizing darkness.
Scripture Reading — Matthew 2:1-12
I urge you . . . in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. — Romans 12:1
Today we revisit the story of the Magi who came a long way from the east to worship Jesus. They came bearing costly gifts: “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” And we need to ask ourselves, “What can we bring as a gift to the King of kings?”
The contemporary song “Christmas Offering” retells the Christmas story in a way that focuses on offerings of praise, joy, and worship. Beginning with the shepherds and the Magi going to find the new King, this song points out that they honor Jesus with offerings of worship—and we are called to do that too.
As the song puts it, “We bring an offering of worship to our King./ No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing./ Jesus, may you receive the honor that you’re due. . . .”
Throughout Scripture, God calls his people to truly worship him. He sent his Son, Jesus, to reconcile us to himself and make us holy. And because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are washed clean. It’s only by his blood and through his mercy that we can say, “Lord, I come to you.”
In view of God’s mercy for us, we are called to offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” When we worship—as a community or individually—we are praising God for who he is and what he has done. And we can do this with our whole life, bringing “true and proper worship” to Christ our King.
Dear God, may we bring our whole selves as an offering to you in worship. Amen