"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Month: December 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

The Magi’s Worship

“… magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘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 2:1b-2)

One of my favorite Christmas carols ends with the exhortation: “Come and worship, Come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King!”  Notice, however, who it was that came to worship the newborn King.  It wasn’t the religious scholars of Israel (vv.4-6), it was pagan, Gentile astronomers.  Their worship of the Christ becomes a good model for ours.

The worship of the magi was passionate—pursuing Christ from as far as 1000 miles away (v.2).  They had only seen His star in the sky, but they were hungry for a peek at this new King.  What are you passionately pursuing this Christmas?  The magi were in passionate pursuit of the most compelling Person ever to live.  Are you?

The worship of the magi was also joyful—“when they say the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (v.10).  Because they were seeking Jesus with such intense desire, anything that would point them toward Him was an object of joy to them.  The phrase literally means “they rejoiced with a great joy exceedingly!”  These guys were beside themselves.  Can I ask you, what brings that kind of joy to your life?  Honestly, is it Christ?

The worship of the magi was also wholehearted—“they . . . saw the Child . . . and they fell down and worshiped Him” (v.11).  Literally its, “Falling down they worshiped.”  His majesty was such that they were thrown upon their faces before Him.  These men were religious leaders back home.  They carried political clout in their homeland.  They knew protocol in the presence of an earthly king, but what to do in the presence of the King of kings?  No posture was appropriate before this King but to be on one’s face.

I also notice that the worship of the magi was sacrificial—“and opening their treasuries they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (v.11b).  These were no doubt men of means, but these gifts cost them something.  Like David, they refused to offer to God worship that had cost them nothing (1 Chron. 21:24).

A few questions for reflection:

  1. How does the worship of the magi compare to the response of Herod and the Jewish religious leaders?
  2. Why were some moved to worship and others to rebellion?
  3. How and why is that true still today?

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Lo, star-led chieftans, Wise men, Christ adoring,

Offer Him gold and frankincense and myrrh;

We to the Christ-child Bring our hearts’ devotion.

O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Make some time to sing and pray this week, making sure to worship Christ for who He is.

Embracing Authority — Radio

Several years ago after my first book, Embracing Authority, was released I was asked to participate in a one hour, prime time, call-in radio program called Open Line heard nationwide on the Moody Broadcasting Network stations.  Wayne Shepherd (pictured here) was the host and interacted with me and the various callers on this vital issue of authority.

I am posting the audio files from that evening here.  I’ve broken the one hour program into four files for sake of size.  Enjoy!

Embracing Authority #1

Embracing Authority #2

Embracing Authority #3

Embracing Authority #4

Four Questions

Do you have trouble steering conversations toward the things of God?  Would you like a simple way to get to the root of spiritual issues at work in a person’s life?  I suggest these four questions as a helpful way to transition from the a person’s natural view of things to God’s view of things.

1. On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with your life? This begins where virtually every person is thinking — Am I happy?  People love to talk about themselves!

2. What would it take to make your life a perfect ten? This continues the conversation by inviting the person to share their dreams and hopes for life.  After they have shared their answer, transition by asking: Can I ask you the same two questions but with just one word changed?

3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy is God with your life? This transitions the person from their natural, self-oriented view of life to the reality that they are standing before a holy God, who knows all things and it is His pleasure that is paramount!

4. What would it take to make your life a perfect ten for God? This takes the conversation to the core of how such a God can ever be pleased with us.

People will offer one of two answers to the final question …

1. They will give some kind of a works-righteousness answer, naming something they must do to make God happier with them.

2. They will say, “God doesn’t expect me to be perfect.”

Every person needs to see that they lack perfect righteousness before a perfectly righteous God.

Share these verses with them …

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

“I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

We need to see that there is nothing WE CAN DO to make our life a perfect ten before a perfectly righteous God!

But what then is the answer?  The answer is that GOD DID SOMETHING for us …

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law [doing good things]; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin [only there do we see our own failures to keep God’s law perfectly]. 21 But now a righteousness from God [coming from God to us, not from us to God], apart from law [apart from doing good things to earn His favor], has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify [even the Old Testament tells us this]. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace [as a gift, not by our works] through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:20-24)

“But whatever was to my profit [all the Apostle Paul’s good works] I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [not by my doing good things], but that which is through faith in Christ– the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9)

“For it is by grace [as a gift] you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves [not by something you accomplish], it is the gift of God– 9 not by works [your religious efforts], so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus the perfectly righteous One died for us, taking our sins upon Himself and paying their penalty.  When we place our trust in Him, God the Father declares the righteousness of Christ to be placed on our account in heaven.  We are free, for the Father forever promises to see us through the righteousness of His Son!

Jesus took our sin.  The Father declares Jesus’ righteousness to be ours.

We rely completely on the substitutionary death of Christ and upon the righteousness of Christ (His perfect life) credited to our account by God!


Evangelism 101

What is the essence of evangelism?

When you have removed all the different methods of doing evangelism, what is left?

What common denominator can be found among all the different legitimate ways of doing evangelism?

Try this on for size:

Evangelism is the process of intentionally moving into relationship with those God has sovereignly placed around me for the purpose of showing and telling them the love of Christ in such a way that they will be compelled toward personal faith in Jesus Christ.

These then are the essential elements of evangelism:

1. Evangelism is both a process and an event.

2. Evangelism is intentional!

3. Evangelism is relational.

4. Evangelism involves looking at how God has sovereignly placed people in my life.

5. Evangelism’s purpose is to spread the love of Christ in word and deed.

6. Evangelism is inherently persuasive!

7. Evangelism is aimed at both the event of conversion and the life of discipleship.

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