Matthew 1-2 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He came to rule in our hearts as King

A few years ago an advertisement on television offered the viewers the opportunity to buy a star and name it after someone special.  After watching the ad one night, my husband turned to me and asked while attempting to hide his grin, “Would you like a star named after you for your birthday?”  I thanked him for his generous offer but went on to say something to the effect that I hadn’t really accomplished anything to date that would warrant star-naming; but if that changed, I would let him know.  So far, no stars are out there in the heavenlies bearing my name. Our reading today renews in our minds the story we know so well about a brilliant star that announced the birth of a King, someone worthy to have the entire universe bear His name. 

@ Matthew 2
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’” (1-2)  Most of the wise men of that day were from Persia, a great distance away, and their commitment to finding the newborn King of the Jews is astounding to me.  How did they know the scripture about the birth of Jesus?  They may have been Jews from families that did not leave Persia after the captivity or perhaps scripture scrolls had been left behind after the Jews left.  Whatever the case, they saw the star, studied the scripture and began seeking the King.  Knowing Him as we do, how can we do anything less today?

When they arrived at the location the star had indicated, I can only imagine their disappointment to learn that no one knew about the birth of the king.  No celebration, no paparazzi, no fireworks!  They went to the rulers of the day who really should have been responsible for the festivities and found ignorance and apathy.  When the rulers realized who it was the wise men were seeking, King Herod’s ignorance turned to rage and the apathy of the Jewish leaders … remained the same.

King Herod was a ruthless leader who used politics and violence to secure his throne.  His taxation made him popular in Rome and his rebuilding the Temple pleased the Jews for a time.  He viewed the birth of this “king of the Jews” as a threat to capture his throne, but the newborn was only interested in capturing his heart.  We rub shoulders every day with people of position, power and prosperity who are often threatened by the thought of allowing a new king to rule in their hearts.  They try to kill him off with their legislation and ridicule of Him, but just like the infant so long ago, Jesus still lives, rules and reigns today and longs to capture their hearts.

The Jewish priests and scribes were well aware of the coming King, the Messiah, and knew all the scripture about Him including the prophecy of His birthplace in Micah 5:2, but for centuries they had added their own religious traditions and their own beliefs about the Messiah and this little infant born in Bethlehem was not relevant to them. The One they were looking for was born five miles away from them, and they missed Him!  We, too, can miss Him and what He is doing on the planet today when we are held back by our own traditions and beliefs and by the influence of those who rule in ignorance. Of the cast of characters in our reading today, I want to be a wise man.  I want to see His star shining in the world today, search the Scriptures for everything about Him and seek His presence with all of my heart. 

Moving Forward: My guarantee today from His Word, “you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)  Yes, the familiar cliché has to be said, wise men still seek Him today! 

Tomorrow @ Romans 3-4

Luke 23-24 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is the Bread of Life for those who follow Him, and they will never hunger again

We consider an acquaintance as someone we know only slightly, someone we greet but not necessarily engage in a personal conversation.   But, we also have friends, individuals with whom we share our personal and often intimate thoughts.   It’s a special treat when we have the opportunity to reconnect with a friend from long ago, where 20 or 30 years have passed without communication.  Sometimes we feel a little apprehensive about an upcoming visit, wondering if we will even recognize our friend from the past, but uneasiness melts away when we sit down to fellowship with one another.  We feel like the relationship picks up right where it left off, not missing a beat, and that is true friendship.  Our travelers on the road to Emmaus experienced a similar reconnection with a friend; it just took them a while to realize it. 

@Luke 24
Luke is the only New Testament writer that goes into detail about this encounter on the road to Emmaus. Scripture is not clear as to their identity, but we do know they are followers of Jesus and one is called Cleopas.  Many believe him to be the brother of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, and the other traveler to be his wife who was at Calvary (John 19:25), and they were returning home from Passover and the events of that weekend.  Regardless of their identity, they were blessed beyond measure by an intimate encounter with the risen Lord.

When Jesus came alongside of them on the road and inquired as to what they were discussing so intently with such sadness, they did not recognize Him.  Cleopas replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.’ ‘What things?’ Jesus asked. ‘The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,’ they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and He was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people…We had hoped He was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.” (18-21)

To the travelers Jesus was a man, a prophet, a teacher, but not the Messiah.  He had died without doing what they had expected the Messiah to do by overthrowing the government and setting up His throne.  When I read their response that He was just a man, I envision the nails and cross all over again for Jesus.  But loving His followers like He does, He decided to give them a little history lesson.

Over the next couple of hours, Jesus recounted to them the 120 plus prophecies from the Old Testament regarding Himself.  I can only imagine the anointing that burned up that road as they walked that day, with Jesus, the King of Glory, reciting all the Scriptures about His suffering, rejection, death and resurrection.  They felt it, we know, when they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (32)  But wasn’t He just an acquaintance that they met on the way to Emmaus? It wasn’t until they had fellowship with Him later, when He broke bread and blessed it that they realized He was Jesus, their friend, the resurrected Lord.

When they received from Him the broken bread, something happened.  It wasn’t the Lord’s Supper or like the feeding of 5,000 – it was just dinner.  Scripture doesn’t explain their sudden awareness; but for me, it was symbolic that their eyes were opened when they had fellowship, ate bread with Jesus the Bread of Life. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.” (John 6:35)

In most of the world’s religions today, Jesus is accepted as a man, as a prophet and as a teacher, one who went about doing good.  They can know all about Him and even read His words, but sadly, until they fellowship with Him, sup with Him, and receive Him as the Bread of Life, they will not understand that He is the Messiah, the King of Glory, the Prince of Peace, the only Son of God.

Moving Forward: Who can I tell about the Bread of Life today?  Whose eyes can be opened to knowing Him as more than a man, more than a prophet or teacher, but as the Savior? 

Tomorrow @ I Thessalonians 4-5

Matthew 1-2 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He came to rule in our hearts as King

A few years ago an advertisement on television offered the viewers the opportunity to buy a star and name it after someone special.  After watching the ad one night, my husband turned to me and asked while attempting to hide his grin, “Would you like a star named after you for your birthday?”  I thanked him for his generous offer but went on to say something to the effect that I hadn’t really accomplished anything to date that would warrant star-naming; but if that changed, I would let him know.  So far, no stars are out there in the heavenlies bearing my name. Our reading today renews in our minds the story we know so well about a brilliant star that announced the birth of a King, someone worthy to have the entire universe bear His name. 

@ Matthew 2
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’” (1-2)  Most of the wise men of that day were from Persia, a great distance away, and their commitment to find the newborn King of the Jews is astounding to me.  How did they know the scripture about the birth of Jesus?  They may have been Jews from families that did not leave Persia after the captivity or perhaps scripture scrolls had been left behind after the Jews left.  Whatever the case, they saw the star, studied the scripture and began seeking the King.  Knowing Him as we do, how can we do anything less today?

When they arrived at the location the star had indicated, I can only imagine their disappointment to learn that no one knew about the birth of the king.  No celebration, no paparazzi, no fireworks!  They went to the rulers of the day who really should have been responsible for the festivities and found ignorance and apathy.  When the rulers realized who it was the wise men were seeking, King Herod’s ignorance turned to rage and the apathy of the Jewish leaders … remained the same.

King Herod was a ruthless leader who used politics and violence to secure his throne.  His taxation made him popular in Rome and his rebuilding the Temple pleased the Jews for a time.  He viewed the birth of this “king of the Jews” as a threat to capture his throne, but the newborn was only interested in capturing his heart.  We rub shoulders everyday with people of position, power and prosperity who are often threatened by the thought of allowing a new king to rule in their hearts.  They try to kill him off with their legislation and ridicule of Him, but just like the infant so long ago, Jesus still lives, rules and reigns today and longs to capture their hearts.

The Jewish priests and scribes were well aware of the coming King, the Messiah, and knew all the scripture about Him including the prophecy of His birthplace in Micah 5:2, but for centuries they had added their own religious traditions and their own beliefs about the Messiah, and this little infant born in Bethlehem was not relevant to them. The One they were looking for was born five miles away from them, and they missed Him!  We, too, can miss Him and what He is doing on the planet today when we are held back by our own traditions and beliefs and by the influence of those who rule in ignorance. Of the cast of characters in our reading today, I want to be a wise man.  I want to see His star shining in the world today, search the Scriptures for everything about Him and seek His presence with all of my heart. 

Moving Forward: My guarantee today from His Word, “you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)  Yes, the familiar cliché has to be said, wise men still seek Him today! 

Tomorrow @ Romans 3-4