Tag Archive | God

“We Three (gifts of the) Kings”

3Kings.moonMy favorite Christmas carol has always been We Three Kings, written by John H. Hopkins, but I know it’s not one of the most popular Christmas songs. I think everyone gets hung up on the “O-o-o, star of wonder” part, or maybe even the minor key in which it’s been written.

But the words! It’s the words that sell it for me.

The Bible does not say how many “kings” or “wise men”  or “Magi” came to worship Jesus. It only mentions the three gifts they brought; valuable tokens of their esteem, and very useful “cash” for Joseph & Mary to use as they fled with Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous madness.

Herod, as you recall, was very jealous to hear that a new King had been born, and so inquired of the visitors when they first saw the star. Using that time frame he ordered all boys – age two and under – to be killed. Killed! Innocent babies, precious sons, destroyed!

But by this decree we can be pretty sure the visitors from the East did not make an appearance at the stable, but came to a house in Bethlehem, “where the Christ child lay.”  That’s where they presented the gifts, on bent knees. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh.

And this is where THE WORDS to the carol, We Three Kings come in.  They explain what these3Kings.silohoet gifts represented; what they told of the life of Jesus, the Messiah.

  1. We three kings of Orient are; bearing GIFTS we traverse afar,  field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.

Refrain: O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect Light.

Okay, now let’s look at the GIFTS presented to the Christ child:

  1. Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, GOLD I bring to crown him again, KING forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.

GOLD to represent Jesus as King, the promised descendant of King David, one day to be hailed as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

  1. FRANKINCENSE to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh; prayer and praising, voices raising, worshiping GOD on high.

FRANKINCENSE was used in the worship of Almighty God, the Holy One of Israel. Not only is Jesus KING, He is also GOD

  1. MYRRH is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom;  sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

MYRRH was a very costly ointment used to mask the odor of a body when it is buried. When Mary Magdalene broke an alabaster jar of it and poured it over Jesus as an act of extreme love and devotion, Jesus said she had “anointed Him for burial.” Now look again at where verse four leaves Jesus: crucified and buried in a “stone-cold tomb.”

But hallelujah! Praise God!  See how verse five brings us to His resurrection!

  1. Glorious now behold him arise; KING and GOD and SACRIFICE, Alleluia, Alleluia, sounds through the earth and skies.

 We Three Kings is a carol of worship and praise. It’s why I love it. Jesus, my King, my God, my living Sacrifice for sin. The visitors traveled half way around the world to worship Jesus. Let US open our hearts and let our praises rise to the skies!



Oh, and don’t get hung up on the Star of Wonder – wondering perhaps (sorry for the pun) if it actually moved before the travelers, or if it was a juxtaposition of several stars that alerted them to the birth, or if it was maybe a comet, or a “shooting star.”

If it bothers you, just remember that Jesus is called the Morning Star in Revelation 22:16, the Day Star in 2 Peter 1:19, and the Light of the World in John 1:5-9 and 8:12. Could it have been Jesus who drew these “wise” men to Himself?  A thought.


The Saint Who Needed A Hug

gloomy forestI woke up very early this morning with the Four D’s (Depression-Doubt-Distress-Despair) weighing heavily on my mind and spirit. It’s not a good feeling at Christmas time, but it’s not uncommon, or so I’m told.

Busyness has kept me from my devotions: time in God’s word and prayer. I’ve been diving right into my “things to do” list, skimping and even skipping that precious time with God. As a consequence, my prayers have become perfunctory, barely reaching the ceiling, which then brought on a sense of unease and guilt, which always leads to despair.

Weariness and weakness (from a seemingly endless bowel condition which sends me visiting “John” 4-5 times per night) added to my distress. Then doubt and depression followed. “I am so sinful,” I thought. “I can’t pray or intercede. I can’t understand the truths from the word. What is wrong with me?”

And then came that list (emailed to my conscience from the devil). “I am selfish, self-concerned, self-righteous (no better than that Pharisee!). I’m lazy, lukewarm, a hypocrite. I lack the Spirit’s filling power or maybe even…. His regeneration! Am I really saved?”  What a pity party! But it was also a confession of sorts.

Where to turn but to my Heavenly Father. “Oh, help me by your Spirit! I need a spiritual HUG!! Do you DO that, Lord?”

I thought of the Apostle Paul who was “troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair.”  2 Corinthians 4:8  Oh, to be like Paul!

Then Romans 8 “came to my mind.” I turned to the passage and read that glorious first verse, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”

“Am I walking after the FLESH, or after the SPIRIT of God?”  My defeated, doubting spirit needed to know.

sunrays9I got out my journal and listed in two columns the things of the flesh and the things of the Spirit from the following verses in chapter 8. http://bit.ly/1ApHbXv  As I listed the evidences, I saw, that although some things of the flesh still clung to me, I was firmly in the camp of the Spirit, and my heart began to lift.

My eyes fell on verse 26, “the Spirit also helps our weaknesses…”

And on verse 28, “we know God causes all things work together for good to those who love Him…who are called according to His purpose.”

Verses 31-34 ask, If God be for me, who can be against me? Will GOD be against me, who loved me so much He spared not His Son for me?  No!

Will CHRIST condemn me, who died and was raised and is at the right hand of God interceding right now for me?  No!

And…. if MY HEART condemns me, God is greater than my heart and HE knows everything about me.  1 John 3:19-20  http://bit.ly/1GQKLfl

open-bibleThen in verses 35-39, Paul lists fourteen mighty things that CANNOT separate me from God’s love. http://bit.ly/16tD3Ni  And to those fourteen, I added “the Four D’s.”

Oh, thank You, Father. This is the spiritual HUG I needed!!  I do not deserve your love, but you give it to me freely because of Your Son. You are so good and compassionate! You know my “frame, that it is mere dust.” You are so faithful and true!

WHO can comprehend the LOVE of God?  The God who would reach down to His struggling daughter and give her a much-needed hug on a rainy day.

What’s NOT To Love?

Reading from 1 John 2:15-17

John  – Son of Zebedee, Son of Thunder, one of the three “inner circle” disciples of Jesus, brother to James, and the longest living  of The Twelve Disciples, referred to himself in humility, simply as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

One of the things John writes about in his first letter is LOVE – the love God has for us.

LOVE canstock5305971“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16

John also writes about the LOVE that believers (should) have.

LOVE Matthew_22-37We love Him (God) because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:21 (with John 15:12)

The Greatest Commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul & strength, and the second greatest  is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:38-39

Jesus even commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

So…. what does John say we are NOT TO LOVE?

“DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD OR THE “THINGS” OF THE WORLD. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world … is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with it’s desires. BUT, whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Just what ARE these worldly things we are to not love?

1. the Lust of the Flesh – This is the desire to INDULGE  – your “self”

2. the Lust of the Eyes – This is the desire to ACQUIRE  – more “stuff”

3. the Pride of Life – This is the desire to IMPRESS – other “people”


So then….what is “the will of the Father” (the desires or attitudes) that, in doing, results in life forever (in this context)?  It is the OPPOSITE of the above.

humility PUBLICANpppas00701. “DENY YOUR SELF, take up your cross (the cross symbolizes death; death to self), and follow me (Jesus).” (Matthew 16:24)

2. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures (“stuff”) on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but LAY UP FOR  YOURSELF TREASURES IN HEAVEN… (Matthew 6:19-21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(Matthew 6:21)

3. “HUMBLE YOURSELF before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10) “A broken and CONTRITE HEART, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

The Apostle Paul explains more…

“Put off your ‘old self’ which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

HUMILITY a-teenager-prays“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Let this mind be in you, that was in Christ Jesus, who … made himself nothing …. who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8-11

After reading the 1 John 2 passage (and connecting verses) I searched my heart to consider whom and what I love?  Am I putting off those “deceitful desires” John writes about?  Whose will am I seeking to do…. my own or God’s?

How about you?

“Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk IN LOVE, as Christ LOVED us and GAVE HIMSELF up for us, a fragrant offering and SACRIFICE to God.”

Paid in Full

My reading today was from John 19:23-42.



“After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they….”

   Wow, what a “ho-hum!”  Just another day’s work in the life of a Praetorian Roman soldier. 

“…They took His clothes and divided them among themselves, four ways, and gambled (cast lots) for his one-piece tunic.”

     Their eyes were down, intent on His things, greed in their hearts, lusting with their eyes, jovial in their competitiveness… all the while, the Son of God hung above them, bearing their sins and the wrath of God Almighty for their sake.   Unmindful were they of the pain and anguish and the drops of blood silently hitting the dust. It was His life in His blood shed for them, and they didn’t see or understand.

“But standing and watching with pain and sorrow in their hearts were His mother Mary, His aunt Salome, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene… and John, his beloved disciple. ”

Jesus gives the care of His mother (even on the cross, His obedience to the sixth commandment is seen) to John (the disciple who will live the longest; the disciple who will receive the Revelation).  And his disciple took responsibility for Mary for the rest of her life. (None of Jesus’ half-siblings believed him Him at this point.)

“Everything else done, Jesus requests liquid for his parched mouth. Sour wine (vinegar, to squeeze out the last bit of saliva from his glands) is given to Him. Then, with a clear loud voice and a last burst of strength, Jesus cries out, “IT IS FINISHED.”

The sin-debt for mankind is PAID IN FULL!  The reason for his birth as a man and the suffering He endured is fulfilled.  His mission is complete. He has glorified His Father (In three days, the Father will glorify the Son!). 

“And Jesus gave up his spirit.” (He handed it over at his own will. No one took it from Him. HE laid it down. John 10:17-18)

The Jews: “Break their legs so they’ll die quicker. All this must be cleaned up by Sabbath’s start.”

 Such insensitivity! Such cruelty!

The soldiers, done with their job and the haggle over Jesus’ clothes, picked up the mallets used to pound in the spikes (or perhaps the blunt side of their swords) and slammed them into the shins of the two thieves, shattering bone and causing them to put their full weight on their arms, which crushed their lungs and suffocated them to death. At Jesus’s cross they realized He was already dead. (Hadn’t they heard his last words or seen his body slump as He released His spirit?)

A Soldier:  “Let’s make sure. We don’t want to get in trouble for not doing our job.”  He thrust his sword up under Jesus’ rib cage and into his heart. Blood and water came out, proving the Creator of the universe, the perfect Son of God,  the Giver of all life… was already dead.

It was just as Scripture foretold, John explained.  Jesus was lifted up on a tree (crucified) and pierced (with thorns, nails, a sword); and dead by the foreknowledge and will of God. 

crux josephJoseph of Arimathea:  “Pilate, can I take Jesus’ body down and bury it?”

Pilate:  “What? He’s dead already?  Hey, Centurion, is this true?”

Centurion: “Yes, Sir, I pierced His heart  myself. He is dead.” (I saw Him die, felt the earthquake, saw the sun shrouded. Truly this was the Son of God!!)

Pilate:  “Well, okay then. Take the corpse and bury it.”

Joseph and Nicodemus carried Jesus’ dead body to Joseph’s nearby, never-used, garden tomb. They wrapped it in linen cloths, tucking in 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus had brought. Then rolled a stone across the entrance.

Dead and done.

“But He was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement (of God) for OUR peace, and with his stripes WE are healed. He has borne OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows. He was smitten of God, afflicted, stricken…  for OUR  transgressions. He was killed that WE might have eternal life. (from Isaiah 53)

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (just payment) for our sins.” John 4:6-10 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


Believe the truth – against all understanding – that the sinless Jesus bore your (my) sins on himself, and that the holy, righteous, just Almighty God crushed and killed him for those sins (instead of killing us), that the sacrifice Jesus made was ENOUGH punishment – once and for all time, for all who would believe.

“For God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to BE sin for us, that we might BECOME the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21