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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It’s a Matter of the Heart -- Part 2

                     Part 1 can be seen at sandrakingministries.com if you are interested.

Jesus has taught in the temple, cleansed His Father’s House, resurrected Lazarus from the dead, healed the blind and the lame. Throughout all of this, some of the Jewish religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus to accuse Him of disobeying the Law and hence God. One of the Pharisees asked Jesus a question. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? Matthew 22:36 (see also Mark 12:28; Luke 10:27) If Jesus answered incorrectly, they would have accomplished their goal because every commandment of God is important, and the Israelites were required by God to obey all the Law. Perhaps these teachers of the law wanted Jesus to choose the law of the Sabbath, or circumcision, or of sacrifices so they could prove that Jesus is a fraud. All commandments in the Word were given by God and were to be obeyed.

Two Greatest Commandments – Dt.6:5; Mt.22:37;Mk.12:30;Lk.10:27

Jesus. who is the Word of God brought to life in the flesh and pure, perfect wisdom, chose correctly. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5-6, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. This is the great and foremost commandment.” It is a matter of the heart, not ritual. The heart maintains our physical life as well as our spiritual life. Why did Jesus call this scripture the most important? If we love God first with all our heart, we will obey the second great command, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 Jesus reduced the hundreds of laws in the Older Testament to these two and said, “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Godly love holds God’s people together, not ritual or works.
Love is how God reigns in the hearts of humans because God is love. Even our love originates from Him. Love is the root of all of God’s commandments. We love Jesus because He first loved us and gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Love fulfills the Law as Jesus did on the cross. His and the Father’s love saved us from eternal death.  James 2:8 and 10 says, “If you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well….for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  Love for God and others is the foundation of Godlike living. Everything rests upon this! What we do for others stems from our love for God. Without love for God we won’t love others as God would have us love. Jesus told us we even had to love our enemies. Jesus’ love is a royal love – a love that is higher than ours. Love is the royal law of Christ. Whoever loves another with the love of God is doing right.
Love, the favor of God and doing the will of God are linked. Jesus put it this way in John 14:21, 23-24, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him. V21 If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” V23-24 Understanding and obedience should be our goal. Jesus showed His love for His Father by obeying Him and His Word. Because of this, God said He was well-pleased with His Son. God is also pleased when we obey His Word and love others. God is also understanding of the weakness of our sinful flesh and is long-suffering, patient and kind to us and slow to anger.
            Loving God and others are a learning process. We begin by knowing God. As we learn more about God through the Anointed Word, Holy Spirit and life experiences, we should be loving Him more and thus able to love others more. Our love for others will stem from our love for God. Loving God and others would be impossible without the power of God – the Holy Spirit-- and His Word. As God helps us through our life’s experiences, our knowledge and understanding of God increases and helps God’s love grow and mature within us – in our heart, our actions, words and deeds. In Jeremiah 31:33, God told Jeremiah that He would give His people a “new heart” and a “new spirit.”  This new heart and spirit would reflect God’s heart and Spirit and please Him. True to His Word, God did this through His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
            When God, the Word/Jesus and the Spirit shaped and formed the original Man/Adam, they infused Adam with the Godhead’s love. Adam was perfect (holy) when he was created. Unfortunately, when the first Adam disobeyed God, sin entered the heart of every human because we descend from Adam and Eve. God wants to infuse His love into us once again and grow us in holiness. This takes a willing heart. Loving God is a process. As we know more about God, our love for Him should grow We were made for a deep love relationship with God – His heart to our heart.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Gentile Magi – Part 3 - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

     The gentile magi studied, sought Jesus and worshiped Him. They came to Jerusalem, but Jesus was in Bethlehem which means “house of bread.” The Divine “Bread of heaven” was born in Bethlehem, the “house of bread.” No Jews went with the magi even though the Jews knew according to scripture that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. (see Micah 5:2).  The Jewish shepherds were the first to meet the Savior. Jesus said that He came to the Jew first. The gentile magi came to the house of Jesus not the manger as the Jewish shepherds did. This shows us that Jesus is a toddler when the gentile magi came to Him.. 
            It was the custom in biblical times to bring gifts to a king out of the treasure of one’s wealth. So, the magi brought very valuable gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to King Jesus even though He was just a child.


     Gold is symbolic of the Divine and/or Kingship. It is symbolic of Christ as God’s Divine King.  In Revelation 14:14, “One like the Son of Man” (Jesus) has a golden crown on His head. Paul cautions us in Acts 17:29, that we are not to think that the “Divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.” God is far more than one part of His creation. He is supernatural and spiritual. God and Jesus used the things of nature to paint a spiritual picture and/or truth, but He created all of nature, therefore, He is in all things and all of nature gives a message from Him. The New Testament says of Jesus who is God, “all things consist (are upheld) in Him (Jesus).” Colossians 1:17 Why? All things were created through Him as the Word/voice of God (see Genesis 1:3). God’s ways don’t change. If Jesus was the Word of God at creation, He is the Word/voice of God forever. He is called the Word of God. Revelation 19:13
            In the Older Testament, the tabernacle and temple -- the temporary houses of God -- had furniture that was overlaid with pure gold or hammered out of pure gold – the Ark of the Covenant with the mercy seat, table of showbread, golden lampstand made of pure gold, and the golden altar of incense. These are a picture of Jesus. He is the Ark of God’s Covenant and the Mercy Seat as the propitiation of our sin. He is also the very presence of God (shekinah glory) on earth.  He is the table of showbread as the Divine Bread of heaven. He is the golden lampstand as the Light of the world and the golden altar as the Divine One through whom we pray and offer our lives as a sacrifice to Him. God gave Moses the instructions for the tabernacle from the inside out. Jesus will build His living temple in the hearts of His followers from the inside (heart) out. His ways will be reflected through our actions, words and deeds carried out from Jesus and the Holy Spirit inside our hearts.


     Frankincense is symbolic of Jesus as the Divine High Priest – the Anointed One. Jesus’ life in the flesh was a sweet fragrance to God because He was, is and will ever be holy. A believer who follows Jesus should live his or her life in pursuit of Christ’s righteousness. Holiness is a sweet fragrance to God. Jesus’ willingness to be sacrificed on the cross of suffering was also a sweet fragrance to God. It was the ultimate sacrifice that saves all who come to Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Revelation 5:8 shows us that frankincense also represents the intercessory prayers of God’s people offered up to the Lord. These too are a sweet fragrance to the Lord. Our prayers show God that we trust in Him and care for others and their needs.
          In the Older Testament, the incense that was burned on the golden altar was made of spices and pure frankincense. When made according to God’s direction, the incense was considered by God as salted, pure and holy. This holy incense was not to be replicated or used on any priest. It was holy/wholly for the Lord. Jesus’s death on the cross was holy, fragrant incense to the Lord. No one can replicate Him and His holiness no matter how hard a person tries. The Lord, however, wants us to strive to be like Him so we too are a sweet aroma to the Lord and others. All that we do in service to the Lord is a sweet fragrance to Him.
            Frankincense was also mixed with other spices, myrrh and oil as directed by God to anoint the High Priest and the priests and all the furniture in the tabernacle and temple. This oil was holy according to God because it was made exactly to His instruction. Moses poured the anointing oil over the first high priest’s head  (Aaron) in Leviticus 8:12. This oil represents the Holy Spirit who anoints all who believe in God’s one and only begotten Son Jesus. The Divine anointing that is upon Jesus flows down to His people. When Mary anointed Jesus’ head with her fragrant oil, it flowed down from His head to His body. ( John 11:2) These were a foreshadow of what Christ would do through His death, resurrection and ascension to the Father.


      The magi brought myrrh to Jesus as a child, and Mary poured her sweet fragrance made of myrrh and other spices and oil over Jesus’ head in preparation for His death. (see Matthew 26:7)  She gave her very best to Him, and Jesus gave His very best to His followers. Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit upon all who believe in Him after He died, was buried, resurrected and ascended to the Father. His anointing flows down to His people from heaven, just as Mary’s perfume flowed down from Jesus’ head to His body.
               In the Older Testament, myrrh mixed with other spices and oil was also a sweet fragrance to the Lord. In the Wedding Song of Psalm 45 in speaking of the holy King, it says, “All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia…” This Psalm is about an eternal kingdom led by a pure, royal King. It is a foreshadow of King Jesus and His Bride. In the Song of Solomon, the king’s bride says about her King, “My perfume gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh which lies all night between my breasts.” (SOS 1:12-13) Her king loved the sweet smell of her desire for Him. He is close to her heart.  When the soon-to-be bride of the King saw Him coming, she described Him as “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense…” (SOS 3:6) In the Song of Solomon 4:6, the King says, “I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.” In other words, she will be cleansed on the mount of myrrh and frankincense in preparation for her King. Even though she is not yet totally cleansed, in the very next verse (v7), her King says, “you are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you.”  Her King sees her as she will be when He completes her perfection when He comes again and restores us to His holiness and all of His perfection.
            Nicodemus, a Jewish rabbi and member of the Sanhedrin Council, brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Even Jesus’ dead body was wrapped in a swaddling cloth with a sweet fragrance. (see John 19:39)
            Jesus’ life in the flesh was a sweet fragrance to the Father because He remained holy. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was also a sweet fragrance to the Father because He died for the sin of the whole world to show each of us the Divine love of the Father. The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:2, “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.” When followers of Christ allow Him and the Holy Spirit to put our sins to death, we become a sweet fragrance to the Father. (see 2 Corinthians 2:14-15)
            Frankincense and myrrh represent suffering, cleansing and purity. When frankincense is burned, it turns white. When we allow the fire and power of the Holy Spirit to burn sin out of us, we become cleansed, purer and a sweet fragrance to the Lord. Jesus is not only our Savior, He is  to be our ruling King over our fleshly and spiritual lives.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Gentile Magi – Part 2

        Part 1 of this teaching on the Magi can be seen on my website: sandrakingministries.com. 

At the time of the magi’s journey, many Jews were coming to Jerusalem from all over to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. The magi had seen a heavenly light (star)that revealed to them that Messiah had been born. As the magi were descending the Mount of Olives, the star stopped above the temple in Jerusalem. When the Magi entered Jerusalem, they asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him?”  Matthew 2:2 Many of the Jews as well as the religious leaders (rabbis, priests, scribes, Sanhedrin Council, Pharisees and Sadducees) ignored the previous revelation of the Jewish shepherds regarding Messiah being born. The religious leaders thought that God would never bypass them and give revelation knowledge to lowly shepherds. Now they will reject the words of the gentile magi. The religious leaders wouldn’t even go to Bethlehem to see the prophesied Messiah. This was the beginning of their rejection of Jesus. Their pride had blinded them to the truth. God was opening the door of Light to these religious leaders, but they chose to remain in darkness. “He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” John 1:11 Jesus called them “blind leaders of the blind.” Matthew 15:14 


When the magi asked about the “King of the Jews,” king Herod was troubled and “all Jerusalem with him. In Herod’s mind, he was king of the Jews! Herod was not born a Jew. He was an Edomite, a descent of Esau, not Jacob’s seed through whom Messiah was to come. For political purposes, Herod had converted to Judaism but was not a true Jew. He loved power and riches. So much so that he was willing to kill hundreds of babies to preserve that power and wealth. The Jewish religious leaders also wanted to preserve their power, prestige and wealth.  
    Herod gathered all the chief priests and scribes to ask where the Messiah was to be born according to scripture. They quoted Micah 5:2. But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah…….Out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” Obviously, the magi were not familiar with Micah’s prophecy.    
            Herod then sought information from the magi about the exact time the star had appeared. Herod, who is being led by his fleshly desires and as such is a type and shadow of Satan, is plotting. Herod sought answers from both the Jews and the gentile magi. After getting his answer regarding the birth of Christ from the Jewish religious leaders, Herod sent the magi to Bethlehem in search of the Child. When they found Him, Herod wanted the magi to return to him and report where they had found Jesus “so I may come and worship Him.”  Herod did not want to worship Jesus. He was being deceitful in order to trick the magi into coming back and reporting Jesus’ location so Herod could destroy Him. This is the way the devil works -- through humans. Satan is the one who destroys, is cunning and evil. Jesus blesses and gives eternal life. Because Jesus and the devil are spiritual beings, they need fleshly bodies to work through on earth. The Bible says that our flesh is weak. (see Matthew 25:41) Satan will work through our fleshly ways to accomplish his goal. That’s why Jesus told us to “Watch and pray.” Herod had no interest in worshiping Jesus. He was threatened by Jesus and wants to destroy Jesus. God is unfolding His plan.  
The magi went on their way. The guiding light (star) had gone away but returned to guide these wise men “until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.” The shepherds were instructed to go to a manger in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, but the gentile magi were guided by a heavenly light to Jesus’ house indicating that He was now a toddler 
When the magi came to the house of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, they fell to the ground and worshiped Jesus. Followers of Christ are to make their hearts the dwelling place of Jesus. We must come to His House and worship Him. After bowing down to worship Jesus, the magi gave Jesus very valuable gifts fit for a King. It was not unusual for foreign royalty to come and give gifts to a king who was so great that kings and queens of other countries would come to give homage to him. An example of this in 2 Chronicles 9 when the Queen of Sheba took a long journey to meet king Solomon and bring him gifts. She came with 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices (frankincense) and precious stones. These were the most valuable things in biblical territory at the time. The Queen of Sheba had heard of Solomon’s fame, so she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Solomon answered all her questions about all she had on her mind. When she saw the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he built, the food on his table and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed. There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon, and the gold was the purest in the land. ( 2 Chronicles 9:1-9)  King Jesus is worthy of our best. To honor earthly kings in biblical times, earthly gifts were brought to honor them, but Jesus gives us spiritual gifts to use to bring others to Him and prepare them for His spiritual Kingdom.  
Solomon, the son of David, was the king of peace and wisdom. Solomon in Hebrew – shalom – means “peace.”  Solomon is a foreshadowing of Jesus, who is also called the son of David and is the King of peace that passes all understanding. He is wisdom personified. Jesus the Messiah is the promised son of David who would have a great spiritual kingdom without end (eternal).  Psalm 72 describes Jesus. “All kings will bow down to Him and all nations will serve Him …… May gold from Sheba be given him. May His name endure forever. All nations will be blessed through Him, and they will call him Blessed.”  From the image of the Queen of Sheba and other kings bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and precious jewels to king Solomon, we see a comparison of the magi bowing down to worship Jesus and bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

       (to be continued --- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh)