Archive for the ‘Matthew 2’ Category

LOST TWICE FOR THREE DAYS – CHRISTMAS
FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

 

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

It struck me as Pastor Brian Houston was speaking at the Christmas Eve Service that for 3 days Mary lost her Son when He was 12 and for 3 days she lost Him again when He was 33. Both times He was “about His Fathers business” (Luke 2:42-51 NLT). Mary was present for His birth and present at His death. We celebrate both Christmas and Easter so as not to miss the significance of His birth and His death.

At the Beginning of His life there was no room for Him at the Inn and He was laid in a borrowed manger. At the end of His life there was no room for Him so they laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Followers of Christ make room for Him in their lives.

At His birth lowly Shepherds came. At His death the great Shepherd was abandoned, yet He said “I am the Good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, … So I sacrifice My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NLT).

At the beginning innocent babies were killed. At the end of His life guilty thieves died with Him on the Cross. The Bible says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT).

Wise men followed God’s directions intentionally after He was born. Foolish men knew not what they were doing at His death. Yet in Luke 23:34 (NLT) Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.

He was visited by shepherds at His birth. Disciples abandoned Him at His death. It takes commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

Herod tried to put Him to death at His birth. Pilate tried to save Him from death at His trial, but ended up washing his hands of Him. All of us are given a choice concerning what we will do with Jesus.

Wise men acknowledged Him as King soon after He was born. At the end of His life foolish men put Him on a Cross with a sign they thought was mocking Him as King of the Jews. Yet Revelation 17:14 (NLT) calls Him “… Lord of all lords and King of all kings…” Followers of Christ acknowledge His rulership in their lives.

After His birth wise men gave generously to Jesus. At His death the religious rulers gave Judas “thirty pieces of silver” to betray Him (Matthew 26:15 NLT). Matthew 16:26 (NLT) says “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Wise men invested their wealth as they gave it to Jesus. At His crucifixion foolish soldiers “gambled for His clothes” at the Cross Luke 23:34 (NLT) concerned only with taking. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NLT).

A star shone at His birth. He was the light of the world at His death. God still directs us to Him.

Angels at His birth spoke of a Saviour. Angels at the tomb said He is risen. Romans 6:9 (NLT) says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”

Jesus was born into the family of Abraham, ancestor of King David. He died so that we could be born again into His family.

At His Conception the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. At the conception of the Church the Holy Spirit came upon 120 disciples in an upper room. Zacharias was speechless before Jesus was born. Peter preached a powerful message after Jesus rose again (Acts 2). With the help of the Holy Spirit we can share the message of Christ boldly.

At His birth He is called Immanuel “God with us”. After His death Hebrews 13:5 says God will “never leave You or forsake You”

He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the end. Saviour, Born that we may never die. He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. Born in a manger, died on a cross. Born that I might be born again. Immanuel, God with us. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, My Lord Jesus.

Pastor Ross

 

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THE 4 KINGS OF CHRISTMAS

4 KINGS. 4 cards. Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts. Each King represents a person in the Christmas Story. Three of these kings represent people today as well,… maybe you. Three of them missed Christmas altogether. The fourth invented it!

The first person who missed Christmas is represented by THE KING OF SPADES.

KING OF SPADES

KING OF SPADES

If you look at the KING OF SPADES you will see a King with a SWORD in his hand. In the Christmas Story this king is violent and cruel. History tells us he killed his wife and three of his own sons because he suspected they were trying to take his throne. Some people said it was safer to be his sow than his son, because Jews didn’t eat pigs but this king slaughtered his own sons. Like the gunman over in Newtown Connecticut recently, he also murdered children at Christmas time (Our hearts grieve for your loss). Bethlehem mourned that first Christmas also because of a king who had to WIN AT ALL COSTS.

SPADES is a good sign for him because if you tried to play games with this king, you would end up DIGGING YOUR OWN GRAVE.

Matthew 2:1-8 (NLT) tells us his name. It says “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.”

The wise men CALLED HIS BLUFF and found Jesus but returned to their home another way.

Herod was a WILD CARD. He was more than a few cards short of a deck. He certainly didn’t call a spade a spade. He said he wanted to worship Jesus but he really wanted to get rid of him. He was a negative, bitter, angry, revengeful leader. Like a lot of world leaders today who want to HOLD ALL THE CARDS, to have absolute rulership and power, Herod was willing to do anything to hold onto his kingdom.

HEROD MISSED CHRISTMAS

Today many people miss Christmas for the same reason. Afraid that Jesus might cramp their lifestyles, or their ambitions, they are self-sufficient and don’t see their need of a Saviour. They play games with God and are not willing to lay all their cards on the table with Him. People miss Jesus because they don’t want Him to be LORD AND KING of their lives. What about you?

But there was ANOTHER KING in our Christmas Story. I have represented him by THE KING OF CLUBS.

KING OF CLUBS

KING OF CLUBS

Also holding a sword, he is a dangerous leader. I have chosen the KING OF CLUBS because he headed up a group of leaders, a CLUB of people who missed Christmas.

Self-centred, suspicious and always getting offended, they were a very negative club. They always saw problems and were always looking for an argument. They were perfectionists, trying to keep all kinds of laws, and systems of their own making, and always critical of others. Wallowing in gloom and doom, they considered that they had been dealt a bad hand in life. They harboured animosity and sought revenge. They were unforgiving and prejudiced and self-righteous.

But their religious system was really a HOUSE OF CARDS. Jesus layed His cards on the table with them. He had many confrontations with them and eventually they demanded His death. They were frauds, jokers in disguise. This religious Club was headed up by a leader called the high priest.

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS MISSED CHRISTMAS

Matthew 2:4 says, “(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.’”    These leaders (called the Sanhedrin) knew where Jesus was to be born but didn’t go there to find him. They MISSED CHRISTMAS! They had been waiting for the Messiah for years, yet this RELIGIOUS CLUB didn’t bother to walk 2-3 miles to see if this was Him. Why?

More interested in studying about the messiah than actually worshiping Him, they had RELIGION BUT NO REALITY. They considered themselves TOO HOLY. They were not willing to admit to their own sinfulness and therefore they didn’t think they needed the Saviour. Treacherous and secretive, they wanted to hold the cards close to their chest.

Many today ignore Christ because they don’t understand their need of a Saviour. They are religious but they don’t want a relationship with Christ. They don’t want to lay their cards on the table. What about you?

This Card is the KING OF DIAMONDS.

KING OF DIAMONDS

KING OF DIAMONDS

Diamonds speak of MONEY. It represents a man who wasn’t strictly a king, but certainly a man who loved making money. King of his own castle,he owned real estate, a lodging house. That Christmas he knew that if he played his cards right he could make a lot of money from all the people in town.

He doesn’t have a sword, but an AXE. Yet this man had no AXE TO GRIND with Mary and Joseph. When Joseph and Mary turned up he turned them away because there was no room in his Inn. He was already too busy. He had a Full House.Too many other people in Bethlehem that night

THE INNKEEPER MISSED CHRISTMAS

Luke 2:7 (NLT) says, “She (Mary) gave birth to her first child, a Son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” It was a good deal for the Innkeeper. He’s not actually mentioned in the Bible but he must have been there.

We can get so caught up in the busyness of Christmas we can miss it’s REAL WORTH!

King Herod. The Religious leaders. The Innkeeper. All of Jerusalem missed Christmas. All of Bethlehem missed Jesus. No room.

Only a few found Christ that Christmas. Wise men followed a diamond in the sky, and came up aces. Only a few still find Him today. What about you?

The last King is the KING OF HEARTS.

KING OF HEARTS

KING OF HEARTS

He represents the REASON FOR THE SEASON, THE TRUMP CARD. He was born in Bethlehem, laid in a manger, and is called the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. The heart indicates His LOVE for the world.

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” 

The Bible says that the cards are stacked against us without Christ. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death” (Spiritual Separation from God).

When it was on the cards that we would all fall short of God’s perfect standard, the Bible says that Jesus showed His cards, so to speak, and came up trumps. It says “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT).

But He will never FORCE YOUR HAND. He always gives us a choice. John 1:12 (NLT) simply says “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

Herod missed Christmas. The Religious Leaders missed Christmas. The Innkeeper missed Christmas. Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem missed Christmas.

Ignorant preoccupation. Negativity. Jealous fear. Prideful indifference. Religious ritual. Unbelief. What about you? Will you miss Christmas? Is your life a house of cards. What are you following? Someone said WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS.

On Christmas Day, many years ago, I believed in Christ. He changed my life. The invitation God gives at Christmas is to receive Christ and trust your life to Him today. He’s got the best hand. He’s a great Bridge partner. In fact He is the BRIDGE to life and Peace with God.

The Bible says God is not mocked and He can’t be bluffed. He is great with Patience. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “…He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. He wants to count us in,not so that we can play games with God, but so we can lay our cards on the table before Him and commit our lives to Him, so that we will enjoy the true significance of Christmas. What about you?

Pastor Ross

MATTHEW 2 – STILL THE GREATEST QUEST THIS CHRISTMAS

Following the Star

Following the Star

One Christmas when our kids were young, we decided to re-enact the Christmas story. I painted a background scene and we each played a part, dressing up as Shepherds one minute and Magi the next. We had towels on our head and the angels – Julie and her sister – were dressed in white sheets. We narrated the story and improvised. We had a big star that hung from the ceiling and a manger with a doll, instead of a Christmas tree, an old fence with paintings of animals hanging over the side. I also painted a picture of Mary and Joseph onto some cardboard and borrowed some old lamps. We split our sides laughing sometimes but at certain moments as Rachel our daughter held the Christ child (her doll) in her arms, we also felt the presence of God as the story found it’s way through the events of Jesus birth. Our re-created stable had a manger with gifts all around it (that year the Magi were particularly generous with more than 3 gifts). We opened the gifts that year with an acknowledgement that the greatest gift of all was found lying in a manger and ended with a birthday cake for Jesus. For me, that’s my greatest Christmas memory.

In the real Christmas story, Matthew 2 starts off with Magi searching for a king. Who are these guys? We don’t know if there were 2 or 40 of them. We do know they gave 3 gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, gifts for a king. Some people trace them back to Daniel 5:11 and I like to think that their journey to Bethlehem was because of the ancient writings of Daniel, which we no longer have. Perhaps he left a legacy that led them to Jesus. His Godly wisdom and insights from days gone by to Persian Magi, sent these men on a quest to find the Messiah.

What was the star that moved across the sky? Was it a comet or supernova? I like to think that it was the Shekinah glory that had once led the Israelites through the wilderness in the days of Moses that appeared in the sky as a sign of the Saviours birth, and led them to humblest of places – a humble house in Bethlehem. You wouldn’t expect to find a King in a place like Bethlehem. It has to be God impressing upon us that His rulership doesn’t depend upon the lavish palaces build by such kings as Herod.

Matthew cites an ancient prophecy in relation to Jesus birth.

“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah; are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Christ is pictured as a powerful ruler but also as a caring shepherd. He is all powerful and able to accomplish all He purposes for your life. He is a caring and loving shepherd who acts with grace in our lives. So different to king Herod, whose reputation for brutality was renowned.

Herod was a descendant of Esau, an Edomite, and he was a cruel and ruthless king. History tells us that he even murdered his own wife and 3 of his sons because he was suspicious of them taking over his kingdom. The man was insane! It was said that it was better to be Herod’s sow (pig) than Herod’s son, but you wouldn’t say that to his face. A pig would not be slaughtered because Jewish people saw pigs as unclean. But Herod’s own sons were slaughtered. Such merciless power is not unusual in the East, even in our own day. He said he wanted to go and worship the Messiah but his brutality in killing the infants in Bethlehem shows what measures he went to in order to maintain his authority over the Jews.

When an angel told Joseph to escape to Egypt, he and Mary probably used the gold, frankincense and myrrh as trade to Egyptian merchants. They would be worth a great deal of money in Egypt where they used these things for embalming the dead.

God bless you as you seek Jesus this Christmas and find Him in the most unexpected places and in the humblest of settings and as you celebrate His birth, bring Him the very best of your worship.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 2:1-23 – COLLATERAL DAMAGE AT CHRISTMAS

Collateral Damage at Christmas

Collateral Damage at Christmas

TWO YOUNG RADIO JOURNALISTS in Australia make a prank call to the King Edward VII Hospital where Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was being treated for acute morning sickness. They pretend to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth. A young nurse, Saldanha, takes the call and unknowingly passes the phone to another employee who provides personal information about Kate to the pranksters. Some days later Saldanha is found dead, having taken her own life due to the furor caused by this event. An aftermath of devastating proportion. Never intended!

A bomb explodes in Syria. The term “COLLATERAL DAMAGE” is used on the TV. It is a cold term and seems to seek to insulate those involved from any feelings of moral responsibility. The military authorities speak of wanting to minimize collateral damage of innocent civilians and speak of it in terms of PERCENTAGES, not lives lost. “UNINTENTIONAL” is a keyword. Collateral damage is damage that was NOT INTENDED but somehow expected as necessary to get the job done. One person’s collateral damage is another person’s son. A mother suffers the unbearable grief over the loss of her children. We see her on the news weeping and wailing.

When the wise men see King Herod they never intend to cause harm to innocent children. They couldn’t have foreseen that he would react to the birth of Jesus in such a violent, unpredictable way. After finding Christ, God warns them in a dream not to return to Herod and they return to their own country using another route.

An intelligence report from the Lord in a dream alerts Joseph of Herod’s intentions to kill Jesus. Joseph and Mary have to get their boy out of harm’s way, and the Lord gives them a contingency plan on the run. It is as if Jesus was trapped behind enemy lines, so God conducts a “rescue at any cost” operation for Jesus by getting Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt. He needs a quick recovery extraction by friendly elements.

On that first Christmas, we tend to skip over the collateral damage inflicted on Bethlehem by King Herod’s rage when Christ was born. He slaughtered all the male babies 2 years and under of Bethlehem in an effort to eliminate Christ’s birth causing a problem to his reign. Herod saw it as collateral damage! Necessary to achieve his objective! Necessary to get the job done! And Matthew 2:18 (NLT) speaks of “A cry heard in Ramah— weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead”

But Herod’s rage was the fruit of the ongoing collateral damage inflicted on the human race when Adam sinned by disobeying God way back in Genesis 3. But listen to Romans 5:8-10 (NLT). It says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from (the direct strike of) God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.”

Herod’s sin reaped its consequences. Our sin always reaps a harvest of unexpected, unintentional, collateral suffering and pain. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Spiritual death. No peace with God.

The innocent Son of God came into the world. 33 years later He died for the collateral damage produced by our sin. All of us have the opportunity to have peace with God and live under His promises and He is giving you that invitation today. All of us have the opportunity today to receive forgiveness, peace with God and the gift of eternal life this Christmas by believing in Christ. The Saviour was sent into enemy territory to extract us from the firestorm. The message of Christmas, endorsed by an army of angels to certain poor shepherds, is that the Saviour of the world has come, King of kings, Lord of Lords and Prince of peace. Collateral Healing and Hope!

Pastor Ross

See also this excellent article https://theriverwalk.org/2017/12/14/25-songs-of-christmas-14-o-little-town/