Worship the King
Matthew 2:1-12 English Standard Version (ESV)
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
O Holy Night
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine
barak: to kneel, bless
Phonetic Spelling: (baw-rak’)
Definition: to kneel, bless
Showing respect, give something of value to another
Psalm 103:1-5 English Standard Version (ESV)
103 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:11-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 29:2 English Standard Version (ESV)
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
I did not grow up with all the fanciest things, but I was provided for well. I had all that I needed and then some. I had too many toys than I could play with at one time. I had too many books than I could read in a day. I always had food every day; I don’t think I ever missed a meal. I have always had a place to lay my head and clothing on my back. Even though there were days when my pockets were empty, it was simply on those days that the bills were paid and there was nothing left over. I had just enough.
In Deuteronomy 15, it says that there should be no poor because God was going to bless the people in the Promised Land, and so He did. The command was to give generously, not grudgingly. God was going to bless the people. They needed to remember that God was the source of all, and live life with open hands.
Still today, we are to give generously. When we look around, it’s easy to see that there are poor among us. There are people struggling every day. There are people who are not able to have a warm meal tonight, while there are others tossing food in the garbage because they have too much. There are people who are hoping for a place to sleep tonight that isn’t outdoors, while others have numerous homes. There are some people who don’t have a place to call their own, while others need storage areas because they have too much to fit into their house. Give generously. Don’t hold back. If the Spirit is leading you to open your hands, open them and watch what He does. If we all opened our hands, just maybe there would be no poor among us. Just maybe what God has given us is enough for everyone.
“There should be no poor among you, for the LORD your God will greatly bless you in the land He is giving you as a special possession. Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.” Deuteronomy 15:4, 10 [NLT]
God wants the very best for us. This is something that some people cannot fathom because they do not truly know God. Often it is because we think we know what is best, that we grumble at things that are placed before us or we complain as we journey on a path that simply doesn’t make sense. But God wants the best and wherever we are and whatever we have is all a part of His plan. Trust in Him.
If you are scrambling right now, attempting to gain something you consider good, think twice about this goal. If it’s difficult to reach, is it because you are supposed to grow as you walk in faith? Or is it difficult to reach, because God has something different (and better) for you? Rest in Him.
The Psalmist understood that God will “withhold no good thing.” God is good and He will pour out His goodness upon us in abundance. If you wonder where the good is at, first look at where God is at in your life, and then look at where He is leading. Consider the way you view things in your life; sometimes we see something as not-so-good because our perspective is skewed.
Life is a journey, not a race. His timing. His plan. His way. He will withhold no good thing.
“For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” – Psalm 84:11 [NLT]
My daughter went out to eat for her first sit down dinner with a group, where she was then required to take care of her own bill and tip accordingly. She was well prepared for the trip and was excited to have some time to spend with her friends dining out. When it was time to pay the bill, my daughter figured out the tip like I taught her using a simple math trick. She rounded up as well, something else I taught her. Hey, I like my kids to be equipped.
My daughter was ready to pay, but then a few people questioned the tip she was leaving. You aren’t leaving that amount are you?!? That’s too much. A few gasped at the thought. But she was determined to bless the person with a good tip like she saw in action so many times. Nonetheless, there were more gasps and some people telling her it was too much to give. Just an FYI, it was only $5 for a $15 meal; it wasn’t something outrageous. Even so, she didn’t give the tip she planned. She listened to her friends who told her it was too much, and followed their instructions to get change and leave precisely the exact percentage down to the penny as best she could get.
Often during tip time, people do what reminds me of doing a duty, giving what had to be given by society’s terms. Like paying union dues or a gas bill. My daughter felt bad that she caved in. I told her that for the next meal, she can say she wishes to bless the person and just give what is placed on her heart. This was the first time she was in this situation, and with her innocent eyes, she hasn’t witnessed people trying to tip the minimum. All she sees is an outpouring of generosity. Today, stand bold. Don’t allow the people around you to dictate your actions. God is generous, more generous than anyone. You will never out give God. Truth. If the Spirit leads you to bless someone, whether it be a nice tip, some cash, a gift card, some manual labor, etc., listen. We are blessed to be a blessing. And it’s such a blessing to be a blessing. This world is a dark place. We are called to be the light. Don’t hide it. Shine it. Be the difference. Show the love.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35 [NLT]
When considering a change in life, do you consider if you can do it? When you are facing a difficult situation, do you consider if you can do it? From what I have seen, many people consider their own strength. Whatever they are faced with, they consider if they alone can do it. If they cannot physically, financially, and emotionally do it, then that is it.
Moses was told to go lead the Israelites out of Egypt and he immediately considered if it was something he could do alone. He said “what makes you think” that I can do that? More or less it was an excuse because Moses considered his own strength and knew it was impossible. But it wasn’t impossible for God.
Too often we consider our own strength but we are not doing life alone. We have a God who is all-powerful. We have a God who is mighty. We have a God who created the Earth. We have a God who sustains us, who provides for us, who helps us, who blesses us with all that we see, feel, and know. Today, remember that God is with you, and consider what you can do through Him rather than without Him. So much more is possible when you see things through Him.
“Moses answered God, ‘But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?’
‘I’ll be with you,’ God said. ‘And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.’”
– Exodus 3:11-12 [MSG]
I will never tell you that you will be rich because you are a follower of Christ. I loathe the prosperity preaching I’ve heard time and time again. You may not be a millionaire when you accept Christ into your life. I know many Christians who live on very little income. I will still say I am rich because I refer to spiritual blessings always above monetary blessings.
I do think it is important that you understand God has always wanted you to prosper. When God created mankind, when He created the Earth and all upon it, He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!” So from the very beginning, He has wanted us to prosper.
When you are having a bad day (week, month, year), there is this part of you that thinks God doesn’t want me to have these good things or God doesn’t want me to succeed. Tell those thoughts to go away. God has something better for you than those things. It might require patience. There might be a lot of waiting. But God has ALWAYS wanted you to prosper. He loves you. You are His child. A Father always wants the best for His child. Once you align your understanding of the best you can imagine with His best, you’ll realize that it is worth waiting for and you will see that He wants you to prosper. He has given it all so that you have the opportunity to prosper.
“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.’
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.’”
– Genesis 1:26-28 [MSG]
When someone does something wrong to you, there is usually this desire for justice and even revenge. Over the years I have heard many stories about how people have gotten even with others who did something bad to them. We all have this need for retribution but God doesn’t want us to “get even” with people by repaying them with evil.
Too many people take the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” concept the wrong way. God is a God of justice and He will judge. He is fair. He is right. He is faithful. Our retaliation, our revenge attempts only bring us a moment of temporary satisfaction for getting someone back. But does it really do something good for us? Does it really make us feel better?
God wants us to pay people back with a blessing. Has someone done something mean to you? Has someone hurt you? Has someone stolen from you? Has someone spoken badly about you? Pray for them. Pay them back with a blessing. Don’t stoop down a level for retribution. Trust God will handle it all. Be a blessing.
“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” – 1 Peter 3:9 [NLT]
I was blown away last month by an awesome display of Christian service. I serve the Lord and I see so many others serving the Lord. We are told to go above and beyond but we do not see it so often. I know many times I could do and give and say more. I was blessed to see it last month and I must say I was amazed to see how God used a few people.
I needed to have my car inspected. Only having one car and doing everything alone can pose a problem, especially with getting to work. Plus I am not mechanically inclined so I have no idea what all needs to be done for inspection. There was also possible issues that needed resolved for the full inspection to pass. A dear brother and sister in Christ opted to assist with the inspection. I figured I would take the car to him and he would get things ready for inspection and I would take it to the inspection shop. I assumed I would pay him for parts and he would bless me with reduced or free labor. Instead, his wife and I exchanged vehicles. He repaired all that needed repaired. He took it to the inspection shop. They paid for the parts, for the inspection, and even filled up the gas tank before returning my car. A person who could not even afford the regular price for a simple inspection was given special treatment with additional servicing and extra gasoline. What a blessing! I could do nothing much to return to the favor.
This blessing reminded me of Jesus’ saying about doing for others what they couldn’t repay. I prayed for the couple and I continue to pray for them. That is all I can do. I’ve been in their shoes before and I must say it is rewarding. You cannot know how rewarding until you try it yourself. Be warned—the devil will try to deter your open hands. But keep pressing through and you will see how awesome it is to pour out in abundance what God has given to you. Such a great feeling! My car got inspected, but so much more happened. So much more!
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” – Luke 14:13-14 [NIV]
“When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” – Psalm 104:28 [NIV]
If you have your hands closed, chances are it is going to be hard for you to grasp something. You have to open your hands up to have something placed in them. You have to have your hands open to receive something. As well, you have to have your hands free for you to help someone. Closed hands aren’t so helpful.
Today’s verse makes reference to God opening His hands to provide food to all creatures. The Psalmist notes that when He opens His hand, His people are “satisfied with good things.” Consider the good things that God has blessed you with—food, shelter, provisions, friends, family, skills, etc. Remember His open hands and do likewise. Open your hands for someone today.