home speaking schedule bookstore contact

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Shepherds and the Magi – Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12 -- Part 1

       Only One who knew the height and depth of the Father’s love could reveal it. So, God sent the Word/Jesus to earth to share God’s love, grace and truth. Jesus left the place of no limitation to come to earth which is limited. He was further limited by being confined in a womb and placed under the Law to fulfill it and release humans from its penalty of death for disobeying one part of the Law. He came as an infant who had to rely upon others to feed and care for Him both physically and spiritually. Jesus gave up His glory in heaven to become human, suffer and die for the sins of the whole world. There is no greater love than this. While on earth, Jesus’ glory, splendor and beauty were hidden. He had no outward appearance that would draw people to Him. Jesus wanted people to recognize Him through the Word of God and His miracles. He still wants people to recognize Him this way.
            God will work out His plan of salvation and redemption. The Word/Jesus became flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary. God sent an angel to Zechariah to tell him that he would have a son who would announce the coming of Jesus and prepare God’s people to meet Him. God also used the decree of Caesar Augustus to get Mary to Bethlehem by decreeing that a censor be taken of every family in their hometown. The census was so the Romans could collect taxes from everyone.God is in control.
Mary was a descendant of David, and Bethlehem was David’s town. The prophet Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (see Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6) Joseph and Mary could only find rest in a stable where animals are sheltered from worldly elements, and rest in the darkness. Jesus was born in a stable for animals and laid in a feeding trough for the animals. As the Word of God brought to life, Jesus would become the feeding trough for sinners! He came to earth to save and be our feeding trough of Divine Truth that feeds us spiritually. Our flesh is beastly to the Lord who is holy! Jesus will be our shelter from the storms of life. Our rest and peace from spiritual darkness is in Him.

God’s Angel Appears to the Shepherds – Luke 2:8-20
          These shepherds are Jewish. They were in the fields of Bethlehem near the place where Jesus was born. God had given this territory to the tribe of Judah. Where David, the Jew from the tribe of Judah, had cared for and protected his father’s flock, the shepherds were keeping their watch in the night to protect their flocks. Some of these lambs would be used for sacrifice to God in the temple. Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, keeps watch over His sheep and protects them from the spiritual enemy of their souls. We are the sheep of His pasture.
            An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory o f the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:9-10  When the Angel of the Lord appeared, the glory of the Lord was all around the shepherds which terrified them. This Angel reflected the light and glory of God. The angel of the Lord told them not to be afraid. This is a term Jesus spoke many times to His disciples to assure them that He was with them, so they had nothing to fear. Jesus is the light and glory of God. His glory and light were hidden within His flesh body while on earth. Only once, on the Mount of Transfiguration, did Jesus reveal His hidden inner glory to His disciples. As we walk as Jesus tells us, His glory and light will shine forth through our flesh body to others.
The angel of the Lord brought “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” V11 This is the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy in 5:2. In this scripture in Luke, Jesus is called the Savior. As Savior, He will deliver us from sin and Satan’s domain. He is not only our Savior, but also Christ the Lord who rules over His people. No one can have Jesus as Savior without submitting to His Lordship. He came to save us from sin. The way to do this is through letting Him be Lord over our lives and remove sin in us by the power of His Holy Spirit and Word. Our “self” must be dethroned, and our pride humbled to know the glory and life of God’s spiritual kingdom. By dethroning our fleshly ways, we will rise higher with Jesus and radiate His glory and light to a lost and spiritually dying world.
            Next, the angel gives the shepherds a sign. “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” V12  The greatest event in the history of the world took place in a stable in the humblest and simplest circumstances.
            Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Vv 13-14  This heavenly host gave glory to God for the great thing He had done. When the angels had gone, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” V15  When they saw  baby Jesus in the manger, they told others what the angel had told them about this baby, “and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. And they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” V20 They gave God the glory for the great thing He had done.
            God who loves all of humanity will reveal the good news of His Son Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles, as He revealed Jesus to both the Jewish shepherds and the Gentile Magi. All are included in God’s redemptive plan through His Son Jesus Christ.

                           ( Next week: The gentile Magi)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

David Escapes Saul and Goes to Samuel

David Escapes Saul and Goes to Samuel

         Saul’s attempts to kill David have been thwarted by David dodging his spear, and warning by Jonathan and by Michal, Saul's son and daughter. Saul’s fourth attempt to kill David is thwarted by Samuel. David began his anointing with Samuel. He will return to Samuel probably for advice, strengthening of his faith, comfort, rest and prayer.
David reported to Samuel what Saul had done to him.Three times, Saul sends his men to take David. However, when Saul’s men saw a group of prophets with Samuel as the leader prophesying, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul’s men and they too prophesied. They forgot about their mission. God intervened! As Saul intensified his pursuit of David, God intensified the power of His Spirit against him. Finally, Saul himself went to get David, but the spirit of prophecy fell upon him also.V23 Saul “stripped off his robes and prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all that day and all that night.” V24 Saul stripped off his royal robes and lay bare before God indicating humility and openness.
        Saul’s jealousy of David escalated to envy, then anger and then wanting to take David’s life.These sins of Saul became his bondage and ultimately led to his  death. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23

David Goes to Jonathan Again
       Eventually, David leaves Samuel’s place to go to Ramah to see Jonathan. David seeks counsel from those he trusts in the Lord. David asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?” 1 Samuel 20:1 David’s humility is displayed once again. He wants to find out if there is anything he has done to cause Saul’s desire to kill him. David trusted Jonathan. They have a deep covenant bond because of their love of God and each other like spiritual brothers. Proverbs 18:24: A man who has friends, must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jesus tells us who are His mother, sisters and brothers in Mathew 12:48-49, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
 Jonathan doesn’t believe that his father is still trying to kill David. Jonathan wants to believe the best about his father. But David swears an oath to Jonathan that this is true. It was Saul’s custom to not do anything without informing his son Jonathan. Jonathan is surprised by what David is telling him. David tells Jonathan that the reason that Saul probably didn't tell his son is because he knows that Jonathan is David’s friend and cares about him. Therefore, Saul didn’t want Jonathan to know his plans because it would grieve Jonathan and Jonathan would probably warn David.  Jonathan now believes David and tells him that he will do whatever David wants him to do to help.
David has a plan. David is to dine with Saul at the New Moon Festival. David will hide and not show up until the evening of the day after tomorrow. If your father misses me at all, tell him, “David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.” 20:5-6 If Saul says this is okay then Jonathan will know David is safe. But if Saul loses his temper, Jonathan will know that Saul is determined to harm David. David then tells Jonathan to be honest with him because they made covenant with each other before the Lord. V8 David goes on to say to Jonathan, “If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?” “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?” David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” Jonathan swears to God and David that he will warn David either way. If he doesn’t, Jonathan said, “May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely.”

Jonathan asks that the Lord be with David and then wants David to promise that he will “show Jonathan unfailing kindness like that of the Lord as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family – not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. 20:14-17 Again, Jonathan and David made a covenant oath to each other before God. David honored this oath with Mephibosheth. (see 2 Samuel 9:10)
The Law in Leviticus 19:18 said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and Jesus said  in Matthew 19:19; 23:29 and Mark 12:31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In Mark, Jesus added, “There is no greater commandment than these.” When a “word” is spoken three times, it is established. (see Matthew 18:16) Jonathan and David lived this.The Law said that the Israelites should love their neighbor as themselves, but Jesus started with loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Then we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is in loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and learning of His pure, perfect love that enables us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Covenant Oath between David and Jonathan -- 1 Samuel 18:2

Jonathan and David were friends because they walked together in agreement. They were of like character and purpose as Christians are to be with Christ. Like David, Jonathan was full of faith in God, courageous in battle, a loyal friend, tender and capable of deep love. Even though Jonathan was torn between devotion to his father Saul, he offered love and encouragement to his friend David. No doubt, Jonathan never gave up hope that one day his father would return to the Lord. He stayed with Saul to the end, fighting beside him even to his death. Jonathan gave his life for David. The death of Saul and Jonathan opened the door for David to sit on the throne, just as Jesus’ death opened the door for all who love and follow Him to be seated on the throne with Him. God’s last will and testament is the New Covenant of salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ, which gives us our inheritance with the Father and Him.

Covenant Oath between David and Jonathan – 1 Samuel 18:2
David and Jonathan made a covenant oath between them before God. Neither of them will renege on that oath. After making his covenant with David, Jonathan remained faithful and true to his friend David. He was a peacemaker. He tried to bring reconciliation between Saul and David when Saul’s jealousy and rage against David brought division. He warned David to flee because his father was trying to kill him. Jonathan risked repercussions from Saul on his own life by vindicating his friend David. Ultimately, Jonathan’s final gift to David was his life. He laid down his life for his friend. Unselfish love is the root of noble and courageous character. Jonathan’s heart was so knitted together with David’s that they became one heart in the Lord. Jonathan loved David more than his own soul as Jesus loves us more than our own soul. Jesus proved this in His willingness to die on the cross for us. He laid down His life for us – His friends – and gave us all the inheritance that is rightfully His through His Father. In type and shadow Jonathan’s love for David, God’s anointed king, was a picture of what Christ the King of kings did for all who receive Him.

David will not Return Evil for Evil
     The Bible says that David did “whatever Saul sent him to do and did it successfully.” David was submitted to authority and successful in all that Saul asked him to do.  David was a good and faithful servant! This caused Saul to give David a high rank in the army of Israel. This pleased all the people, and Saul’s officers as well.” 1 Samuel 18:5b David would not allow his heart to be hardened against Saul. David had served Saul unconditionally, but Saul wants to kill David!
      When Christians are faced by unjust treatment by someone, we must not only consider ourselves but also the honor of God. The action we take should bring honor to God as well as the Body of Christ. Even though Saul mistreated David, David dealt with Saul with respect. Despite Saul’s treatment of David, he continued to minister to Saul until the threat became so great that David had to flee.
        But “all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them into victory in their battles.” Love casts out fear! Instead of fearing David, Saul should have feared God. God’s people saw David’s courage and that God was with him.  David quickly became popular both among the people and among the leaders (Saul’s servants). David had military valor and victory. The women rejoiced and celebrated and gave David more honor than Saul. This caused anger and jealousy to rise up in Saul. He feared David because God was with him.18:12  Saul also saw his own inadequacy next to David.
The celebration of David’s victory was not because David was a yes-man or people-pleaser. David did not seek this popularity and did not depend on popularity and adoration to get Saul’s appointment of a high rank in the army. David became popular because he was a man after God’s own heart” and people could see the courage, love, wisdom and peace of God in him.