Monday, April 20, 2015

King Herod's Plot to Kill Jesus (Unfair Battle... God always Win!)

[King] Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A cry was heard in Ramah – weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead’” (Matthew 2:16-18, NLT).

Evil is real. The Bible explains that ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sin entered the world, people have been born sinners; thus, doing what is wrong come naturally. We tend to look out for ourselves and our own interests first. Taken to extreme, self-centeredness leads to every imaginable evil act. History documents the terrible acts of the evil king Herod, especially concerning potential rivals to the throne. In his later years, Herod had three of his sons killed as well as his wife and many actual or suspected conspirators. Herod didn’t hesitate to spill blood to secure his power. Obsessed with himself, he felt threatened by a helpless baby who might one day become king. After all, the wise men said, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).

Bethlehem was only a few miles from Jerusalem. Herod expected the wise men to return to him after finding the child they sought. When he learned they had gone home without reporting the location of the child, Herod took out his anger on innocent children. [When Emperor Augustus heard that among the boys under two years old whom Herod had ordered killed, his own son was also killed, he said: “It is better to be Herod's pig, than his son!”].

We may question how God could permit such terrible atrocities, even as he allowed Jesus to escape. But Matthew, the gospel writer, a Jew, knew all too well that the history of God’s people was littered with evil acts against them. The Messiah’s arrival caused Satan to unleash an arsenal of evil, in this instance using Herod. Satan, throughout history, have tried (and still trying) to eliminate God’s people – the Jews – from the face of the earth. Satan know that it is from the Jews that the Messiah would come. In the past, through Pharaoh of Egypt, Satan tried systematically to murder every Jewish male baby but Moses survived; through Haman, Persian Empire officer, Satan tried to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews but God called Queen Esther and Mordechai to rescued their people; through King Saul, Satan tried to kill David because he know that the Messiah would come from the line of David but he failed; through wicked Queen Athaliah, the daughter of the notorious King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, Satan plotted the killing of her own grandchildren and anyone that belong to the line of David to secure the throne but baby Joash, the only remaining direct link to the kingly Davidic line, was rescued and hidden in the Temple; through Adolf Hitler, Stalin, etc. Satan failed all the time! God win! Killing Jesus? Yeah, right... Jesus rose from the grave!

Think about this: Today, Satan is working overtime to thwart God’s plan. But don’t worry! Jesus told his disciples and us to pray “rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13) and thus, we need to pray for God’s continued protection and guidance. In Christ, God have a beautiful plan for each one of us. Like how God continue to protect His people, the Jews, (even sometime they behave very badly) God still keep His promise because He is faithful. Like how God accomplished His plan through His Son, Jesus Christ, who would be the King of the Jews, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, God will always win over Satan’s plot and Herod’s brutal action. Like all of these and more, you can trust in Him. Why? Because in the end, God will always, ALWAYS WIN!

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Look at the Star. It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No! It's the King!

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.’ King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1-3, NLT). The wise men seeking “the newborn king of the Jews,” which led to Herod’s jealous rage. After all, Herod should be worship because he was the “king”, and reigned over the Jews at that time… so it seem…

The wise men seem to have specialized in astronomy, but they may have interpreted dreams and had other special knowledge and abilities. They referred to Jesus’ “star.” The Book of Numbers mentions a “star” (24:17) coming out of Jacob (refers to a location of God’s people), but how would the wise men have known that the star represented the Messiah? Perhaps they were descendants of Jews who had remained in Babylon after the Exile and thus grew up knowing the Old Testament prophecies. Or they may have studied ancient manuscripts. Or perhaps God had given them a special message. In any case, they travelled to Jerusalem, the capital city, expecting to find a young king there. Herod had no idea what they were talking about but felt threatened by this talk of a “king.” So he assembled the Jewish religious leaders and asked them.

[Herod] called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, ‘Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?’ ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they said, ‘for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel’” (Matthew 2:4-6). Interestingly, the Jewish leaders told Herod and the wise men that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2), but they didn’t go themselves. These visitors – the wise men – from faraway lands recognized Jesus as the Messiah when most of God’s chosen people in Israel did not.

The wise men travelled thousands of miles searching for the One who had been born King of the Jews. “The star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” (Matthew 2:9-10). And when they found Jesus, the King of the Jews, the Messiah, God’s Son, they joyfully worshiped him and presented gifts fit for a king: “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (2:11).

Think about this: Sometime knowing ‘about’ God doesn’t lead us to seeking the real God. King Herod was a very religious man, but when he found out that there was a “King” to be born, he was threatened, furious and rage to jealousy and planned to kill baby Jesus. The priests and teachers of religious leaders knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem as the Scriptures said and yet they didn’t go seeking Him for themselves. We can be religious, talks and talks, words by words, evangelized and teaching people, but it doesn’t matter to God if we didn’t seeking God’s King for ourselves. God always give us “star” that will lead us to Jesus. Like the wise men, our focus should be on the “star” and do whatever it takes to find the Truth. And when you find the Truth (I’m sure you will if you follow God’s lead), the “star” become insignificant to you because now you have found God’s King, the Messiah, God’s Son – Jesus Christ – and your heart will be filled with water spring of joy! The immediate reaction will be telling, you can’t help it but to burst in worship!

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, NLT)

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The Commitment of Revolutionary

I recently finished reading an informative, challenging and inspiring book by George Barna entitled “Revolution” (2005, 2012). Here I want to quote at length from his book (page 27-28):

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from studying the words of Jesus is that he loved fruit. Not the kind you pick off trees or vines, but the kind that’s evident in the life of a person whom he has changed. Jesus made very clear that the proof of people’s faith is not in the information they know or the religious gatherings they attend, but in the way they integrate what they know and believe into their everyday practices.

The hallmarks of the Church (not refers to building but the aggregation of believers) that Jesus died for are clear, based on Scripture: your profession of faith in Christ must be supported by a lifestyle that provides irrefutable evidence of your complete devotion to Jesus. The Lord encountered numerous people during his earthly tenure who could quote Scripture or pretend that they knew and loved him. But his reaction to them was always the same: “Show me the fruit.”

Revolutionaries are Christ-followers who refuse to make excuses for their failings; instead, they address and overcome those inadequacies. Jesus did not die on the cross to fill church auditoriums, to enable magnificent church campuses to be funded, or to motivate people to implement innovative programs. He died because he loves you and me, he wants an everlasting relationship with us, and he expects that connection to be all-consuming that we become wholly transformed – Jesus clones, if you will indulge the expression.

Does something get in the way of your living like Jesus? Then figure out how to eliminate that obstruction. Does life get so complicated that it’s difficult for you to juggle everything and remain Christlike? Then simplify your life. Are you unable to find words that describe how you believe God has called you to know, love, and serve Him? Then develop new ways to communicate to others how God is ministering to you and through you.

Is society dragging you in the opposite direction from where Jesus calls you? Then acknowledge that your life is part of a spiritual war between God and Satan, declare your side, and get on with it. Admit that you are better off “fighting the good fight” and suffering on earth for the cause of Christ than winning the world but losing your soul for eternity.

God used to the fact that your life is lived in the context of warfare. Every breath you take is an act of war. To survive and thrive in the midst of the spiritual battle in which you live, seek a faith context and experience that will enhance your capacity to be Christlike. This mission demands single-minded commitment and a disregard for the criticisms of those who lack the same dedication to the cause of Christ. You answer to only one Commander in Chief, and only you will give an explanation for your choices. Do whatever you have to do to prove that you fear God, you love Him, and you serve Him – yes, that you live only for Him.

This is the commitment of a Revolutionary.”


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