“You may as soon find a living man who does not breathe, as a living Christian who does not pray.”
Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God: “Lord, there is no one besides You to help the mighty and those without strength. Help us, Lord our God, for we depend on You, and in Your name we have come against this large army. Yahweh, You are our God. Do not let a mere mortal hinder You.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a disease in his feet, and his disease became increasingly severe. Yet even in his disease he didn’t seek the Lord but only the physicians.
2 Chronicles 14:11; 16:12 HCSB
Our twins were born about 7 weeks early, so my wife and I spent two months in the NICU in 2014. It was painful and depressing as much as it was joyful. We literally lived in a hospital room for 7 weeks. It was small, windowless, and yet wonderful. We weren’t supposed to be allowed to stay in there that long, according to the hospital’s policy, but I believe God’s grace was at work. Continue reading
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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.
“Exceedingly with great joy.” When was the last time that could be said of you? It is, in my estimation, one of the most convicting things in the New Testament Scriptures. It’s the feeling you experienced when the Holy Spirit first circumcised your heart, and you knew that God had overcome you with saving grace.
But notice, the worship was not complete. The “exceedingly great joy” the magi experienced was not enough. The worship ended with an exchange; they received great joy, and they gladly gave up the worldly treasures knowing that WHO stood before them was of greater worth than their earthly goods.
That’s how all glorying over amazing things is. A man sees a beautiful woman, and more often than not, it is not enough to drink in her beauty with his eyes. He must point her out to his friend, or he will whistle at her to praise her, or he will take no chance at giving up the opportunity to praise her beauty to her face. So it is with Jesus.
The magi traveled some 900 miles because their joy was not complete with the seeing of the Star of Bethlehem. Their joy was only complete when they saw the One to whom the star was pointing—Jesus, the Messiah—God in the flesh.
The Gentile magi are a convicting lot for the people of God today. They were willing to give of their valued treasure to pay homage due the Messiah, the one born king of the Jews. And their example should lay a model before us; what does it look like, practically, to worship Jesus as Lord? Matthew says that wise men still lay all earthly treasure before Him.
Today, wise men are like a man who found a treasure hidden in a field. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt. 13:44). The field is not what excites them; no, what excites them is the treasure and the everlasting, all-satisfying, never-dulling, never-failing treasure is the Son of God. He is the One who reveals the Father in himself (Matt. 11:25-26). He is the One who promises true Sabbath rest (11:28-30).
This promised rest will extend itself to our anxieties that enslave our trust to money and all kinds of earthly treasures. Matthew/Jesus uses the same word for treasure in other passages of Matthew’s Gospel (Matt. 13;44; 6:19-20; 19:21). The connection seems deliberate. Jesus cares about our anxieties, and he cares about what our earthly treasures are doing to our hearts to inflame those anxieties, and in turn, He cares what are hearts are doing to one another.
This is why His atoning death on the Cross and His Resurrection matter. The work of Jesus Christ for His New Covenant people is such that He creates in us the ability to be free from worldly anxieties and idolatry so that we might hope in the One who is called “eternal life” (1 John 1:2, 3).
God doesn’t need our money to accomplish His good pleasure. But what changes in our hearts and in our churches might come about when we wisely lay all earthly treasures before Him? What does the use of your treasures say to yourself and to the world about where your heart is?
In other words, Does knowing Jesus bring you to your knees with “exceedingly great joy?”
You’ve probably seen the short show A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s one of my favorite things to watch each Christmas season. Charlie Brown, having been so immersed in a culture that has turned Christmas into a commercial enterprise, struggles with trying to recapture the point of Christmas. Everyone around him is enamored with the temporal things of life: commercial real estate, gifts, money, trees, etc., etc. And Charlie Brown knows something’s wrong, but he just can’t figure out why Christmas bothers him so much, why Christmas makes him depressed and not joyful. Finally, while rehearsing the very story of Christmas itself (irony!), Charlie breaks down in frustration and yells, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Continue reading
Photo by ForestWander Nature Photography
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . . 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
MATTHEW 6:25, 32–34
I have been at the gym with a good friend on more than one occasion where one of us has said something like, “I’ll just go pick up some of this or that protein” or “these weight lifting gloves.” And I have been struck by something about American life that the American church thinks little about, I suspect. Though I dare not judge each and every situation or purchase, yet there is an overall milieu of arrogance where we do not “acknowledge God as God” with our smaller purchases (which add up immensely), an atmosphere where idolatry is not only applauded but expected if we are to avoid “judging” one another. Continue reading
“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you so that you too may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things to you so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:3–4)
What if the joy you experienced as a new believer was lost because a God-ordained means of joy has been forgotten? What if one of the reasons your local church is dying (if indeed it is dying) is because it has given up a major God-ordained means of joy? Is it possible that we have become so busy and enamored with our work, with Facebook, with our daily lives, and with working to have bigger TVs and nicer cars and daily Starbucks that we have actually given up a joy that the Apostles reveled in? I believe it is possible, and I believe one answer is given in verses 3 and 4 of 1 John. Continue reading
“If we should say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).
These are frightening words. John uses a type of conditional statement here which creates a hypothetical situation. “Suppose we were to say, ‘We haven’t sinned,’ well, this would be to call God a liar….” To deny that we sin is a means of making God out to be a liar, even if one doesn’t think one has purposely done this. How does John come to this conclusion? I think he comes to this for two reasons.