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Be Like Wise Men, Not ‘Wise Guys’

12 Dec

3GuysFromTheEastSide_LOLwithGodI’m LOL-ing at this child’s version of the Wise Men visiting Jesus:

“When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager.”

This was probably the same child who said Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang the Magna Carta!

All I know is, I’d rather be a Wise Man from anywhere than a “Wise Guy” when it comes to the story of Christmas.

Some “Wise Guys” today are out and out scoffers; they mock the birth of Christ (as well as His “atoning” death and resurrection).

But other “Wise Guys” are believers who don’t want to be bothered with the Savior.

Both need to pay attention and learn from the biblical Wise Men!

While the “Wise Guys” (the religious “professionals” of Jesus’ day) wouldn’t even travel a few miles to greet their Messiah, the Wise Men traveled “from the east” (some say, several hundred miles!) to see Him. They were eager to get to Bethlehem and prepared to respond when they got there.

The Wise Men’s intention was to follow a strange “star” that caused them to rejoice—some Bible scholars describe this as God’s shekinah light—and to find and worship the newborn king (Matthew 2:2). Perhaps they’d read about Him in prophetic scriptures. These men were not Jews, but somehow they recognized the significance of Jesus’ birth.

The Wise Men prepared and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These treasures were practical and sweetly TheThreeWiseMen_pixabaygenerous for the family of a newborn, but biblical scholars today believe they were also highly symbolic.

Gold was a gift sometimes given to a family with a newborn baby to help with expenses. Valuable in biblical days as it is today, it is said to symbolize Jesus’ divinity. Our Savior was born as God in the flesh (John 1:1-4; John 14:9-10; Philippians 2:6-7; and see “Is Jesus God in the Flesh?”)

I wonder if, in offering the gold, the Wise Men were acknowledging Jesus’ right to rule—His sovereignty.

Frankincense, a white resin from Boswellia trees, was used for incense or perfumed oil, and in some cultures as a medicine. Used in worship offerings in ancient times (Exodus 30:34), it is said to symbolize Jesus’ holiness and righteousness. Some scholars believe this incense symbolizes the sacrifice Jesus would offer up to the Father and the blood that would flow to atone for our sins. *

I wonder. In offering frankincense, did the Wise Men point to Jesus’ sinless nature, making Him the only possible Savior?

Myrrh, considered a spice, is also a perfume. It was obtained by making cuts in the bark of a tree from the Arabian Commiphora family.  The cuts allowed a white resin to flow. Myrrh (or “gall”) was sometimes mingled with water to form a comforting drink, similar to what was offered to Jesus  (Mark 15:23; Matthew 27:34). It also used in embalming.  Myrrh is said to symbolize the bitterness and suffering of the cross. *

I wonder if the Wise Men knew Jesus would be “stricken, smitten by God … and afflicted … pierced … crushed” (Isaiah 53:3-5) so that we might be healed?

[Some people believe the Wise Men might have read that passage in Isaiah as well as Isaiah 60:3 and Daniel 9:24-27—where “an anointed one shall be cut off”—and other prophetic verses, giving them insight not only into who the Messiah might be, but that He would be killed. Perhaps this is why they brought the myrrh.]

But my point is this:

The “Wise Guys” (the Jewish leaders schooled in the scriptures), knew where the Messiah would be born (Matthew 2:3-5), but didn’t want to be bothered with checking out for themselves whether this was indeed their Messiah. They just didn’t have time for Jesus.

On the other hand, the Wise Men not only want to check the baby out for themselves, they responded correctly when they encountered Jesus in the manger (Matthew 2:11). They not only had time for the Christ Child, they heartily and reverently worshiped Him, offering their gifts. It’s been said the Wise Men’s gifts were prophetic—fit for a king (gold), a priest (frankincense) and a Savior (myrrh).

Later, understanding that to return to King Herod with their report might endanger the baby, they made the wise choice to disobey Herod (Matthew 2:12). Their decision indicated wisdom, and perhaps faith. The Spirit of God had likely moved in their hearts.

The Wise Men are examples for Christians today too.

And, Christians,  let’s be wise and do all we can to help today’s “Wise Guys” wise up and recognize who that baby in the manger really was! (Daniel 12:3)

Are you “wise” regarding Jesus? If not, here is how you can “wise up.”

References about gold, frankincense and myrrh: http://www.compellingtruth.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html; http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html

– Dawn

I Wonder …

12 Apr

I’ve always been a curious person — curious meaning “a desire to learn or know,” not curious meaning “strange” (although some might argue with that). My mind is always “wondering” about something.

Here are some things I wonder about:BabyOil_Really

  • If corn oil comes from corn … where does baby oil come from?
  • How do they get deer to cross at those yellow Deer crossing signs?
  • Why do kamikaze pilots bother to wear helmets?
  • Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
  • If you were going to shoot a mime, would you use a silencer?
  • And this one really gets me …..What do they use to ship Styrofoam? *

In recent months, I’ve wondered over things far more serious.

  • I wonder how God could love me.
  • I wonder that  Jesus chose to “empty” Himself and become a servant (Philippians 2:7-8).
  • I wonder that the Savior, ruler of all creation, chose to live within His creation to save us.
  • I wonder what the angels thought when they saw the Lord of Hosts on a cross (1 Peter 1:12).
  • I wonder that the Church is still alive and well—especially in third-world countries (Matthew 16:18).
  • I wonder that the Holy Spirit doesn’t get so sick of indwelling me (John 15:26), He doesn’t “pack up” and leave.
  • I wonder that all Creation points back to a Creator (Psalm 19:1Colossians 1:16) … and I wonder how man could miss that.
  • I wonder what our praises will sound like before the throne (Revelation 15:3-4).

God created us with the capacity to wonder over Him and His wonderful acts … wonder that leads to worship.

I love King David’s prayer-song, written for Asaph and his brothers to offer regularly before the Ark of the Covenant. And as my heart swells with wonder — love, reverence, awe, healthy fear, and worship before Him – I offer these words to you.

Linger over these words … allow your heart to swell with wonder too:

“…give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done … tell of all his WONDERful acts. Glory in his holy name … Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the WONDERS he has done, his miracles … great is the Lord and most worthy of praise… all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place … Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness … Praise be to the Lord …. “ [excerpts from 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, emphasis mine]

As David finished his prayer-song, “all the people said, ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the Lord.'”

Indeed. Amen! Praise the Lord!

What causes you to wonder and praise over our awesome, WONDERful God today?

– Dawn

* Humor,  some attributed to comedian Steven Wright

Graphics, original sources not clear

The Songs We Will Never Forget

3 Jul

I always feel bad for singers who botch the National Anthem.

AmericanFlagCloseUpIn May, 2013, folk and jazz singer Alexis Normand, a Canadian from Saskatoon, said she only had a few hours to learn America’s National Anthem before she sang at a hockey game. A headline dubbed her butchered rendition the “Star-Mangled Banner.”

But she’s Canadian. Easy to forgive. (The crowd even tried to help her, singing along.)

It’s a tough song to sing with its wide vocal range and potential for a squeaky “land of the fre-e-e-e-e-e-e” at the highest note.

Country musician Luke Bryan was criticized when he read the words to the anthem off his hand at a MLB All-Star game (July, 2012). But Superstar Michael Bolton also had crib notes.

National Anthem word blunders include Cyndi Lauper’s “…as our flag was still streaming;” Christiana Aguilera’s “What so proudly we hailed” (instead of “…we watched”); and Scotty McCreery’s “no Jose can you see.”

If some of these singers weren’t so young, I’d chalk it up to age. (A funny card describes aging as: “Remembering the words to every song from the ‘ 80s, but forgetting why you walked into the next room.”)

While heading in my car toward a lunch engagement, I decided to sing some old hymns of the faith.SingTheWondrousLoveOfJesus

It started well with “How Great Thou Art,” but then I forgot the lyrics of other songs.

The sweet “Fairest Lord Jesus” became “Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, O thou of God ….mmmmmmmmmmmm… Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor …mmmmmmmm.”

I tried another and destroyed those lyrics too: “Come thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…… mmmmmmmmmmm.” (I knew the words “melodious sonnet” and “I raise my Ebinezer” were somewhere in there. Distracted, I paused to ask, “What’s an Ebinezer?”)

Song after song, words escaped me.

What’s wrong with me? I asked in frustration. I can’t remember all these songs I loved. (The same thing is happening, by the way, with scripture verses I memorized. What we don’t use, we lose!)

Still driving, I started thinking about music in heaven. I knew that singing began in eternity past when the “morning stars” (angels) sang (Job 38:7); and the book of Revelation says there will be singing in heaven.

I wondered, will we all sing the songs of our generations for Jesus? Think about it …

Israel often worshiped God in song (the Songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15:1-21, the Song of Deborah and Barak in Judges 5). The Old Testament saints often sang from their Hebrew Hymnal, the psalms. Will they lead us in these songs? Revelation 15:1-4 tells us the saints of heaven will “sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”

What is the song of the Lamb? What did the New Testament church sing? Remember faithful Paul and Silas singing in prison (Acts 16:25)? The early Christians considered singing an integral part of their worship (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Will they teach us those songs from the infancy of the church?

I thought about the music of believers through many centuries. Are there songs from the years of persecution? How about the sturdy hymns of Reformation saints?

What about the songs I’ve sung all my life? Will I sing stirring revival hymns in heaven? Gospel tunes? “Bus songs”? Or are all these songs simply for a specific time and place?

As I contemplated the music of heaven, I remembered a scripture verse that begins …

“And they sang a new song….”

Later, I looked up that scripture. It’s part of the Revelation 5 account of the Lamb of God opening a scroll (an official document), acknowledging His Lordship over the entire earth – His right to judge and reign.

Verses 9-10 describe the scene: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

I’m not sure those are the actual words of the song we’ll sing in heaven. Maybe it’s more the reason for the song.

And what a song that will be! A song of redemption. A testimony of God’s grace. The context of heaven’s powerful songs is worship.

Heaven will resonate with God-centered praises.

God has designed each of us with the capacity to worship. We all worship something or someone.

As I reflect on the songs that most stir my heart to worship God, I long for more songs that are packed with biblical truth (such as the Gettys’ “In Christ Alone”).

David said God put a “new song” in his heart – a song reflecting God’s goodness and grace in rescuing him (see Psalm 40:1-3). Because of the song, he said, “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” As we lift up our praises to God – proclaiming what He has done for us in Christ, using the truth of scripture in our songs, and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 96:9a) – I believe the Spirit of God may draw people to Himself and prepare them to hear the Gospel.

As you meditate on these scriptures, understand that our “new song” of salvation blesses God and invites all of creation to join us in worship.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth” (Isaiah 42:10a).

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day” (1 Chronicles 16:23).

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day (Psalm 96:1-2).

“Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works” (Psalm 105:2).

These are the songs we love, and the songs we will never forget.

– Dawn

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