Matthew 2 part 1-A star is Born

The coming of Jesus was never intended to be a secret.  God told of his coming since the fall in the Garden.  He told of it through the prophets, he told of it in the very stars.  God wanted his people and the world to know he came to restore that which sin had taken away.  From the angels singing to shepherds and the magi bringing gifts, The birth of the savior was a big deal.  While many came to celebrate his life, there were those that wanted to see his end.  That is why God prevented the wise men from returning to Herod and the Chief Priests.
The enemy used the very men that should have been Christ’s entourage to seek his life. We forget in the Christmas story that Jesus was never really accepted among the religious men of his time.  From his entry on they knew he would change the way we look at God. Such a fight should draw our attention to the importance of Christ’s presence among us. Look closely at Jesus Life and what he held dear and then you will begin to understand God’s very nature.  Help me Lord to be like the angels, Shepherds and wise men and not the religious leaders that always seem to miss you because you do not fit their mold.
God Bless You
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

God Picked Joseph–Matthew 1 part 2

Very little is said about the amazing trust God had for Joseph.  Let’s be honest—we all speak about Mary and the virgin birth. But little is said about God trusting Joseph with the duty of being a father to God’s son.  The initial test went well, when Joseph was told he did not react harshly with Mary nor did he refuse to raise Jesus. Instead he married Mary and raised the Lord—he did a pretty good job, too.  God leaves nothing to chance—when we realize he picked Joseph as he did Mary we can know that he wanted for Jesus a picture of how to be a man.

God cares for us too. In Jesus, God gives us a picture of what it means to live a life God intended.  It is not who we are or what we have, It is whose we are and how he affects our perspective. We have to adopt the heart of Mary and of Joseph.  Simply trust and follow.

God Bless You

 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1–Jesus’ Heritage

God tried to show his love to a nation and by doing so use that nation to change the world.  After several attempts and a few brief periods of success, it became apparent that the only solution to show his love for the world was through his own sacrifice.

So, God became flesh and, by living as we were created to live, he gave us a vision of leadership through sacrifice and humility.  He never had a palace, he never wore finery.  He was not hailed as an emporer or King.  He came from noble heritage, albeight hrough some eye raising characters. Judah that fathered a child through his daughter in law, thinking her a prostitute.  Rahab– A prostitute in Jericho that helped the spies from Israel.  Ruth, the homeless woman that ate wheat scraps. Bottom Line–God did not show off.  A look at the Lord’s heritage should thrill us.  He chose to connect, he chose to be normal, he refused to make anything about his time on earth artificial.

As we study the Bible, we see consistently that–God allows the Good, the Bad and the ugly. He keeps it real.  As we seek him, he takes us as we are-human messes ready to be made into his heirs.

His desire was and is singular–He wants us to know that he truly loves us.  He wants us to finally experience freedom through following a sacrificial king. He wants us to turn loose of the many things that prevent us from grasping the truth of God’s love, authority and power.

As we embark on a journey through Matthew, pray that we can embrace his love and accept his leadership. He is truly noble-a line of kings in his heritage, but a series of frail human beings as well.  Just like us.

God Bless You

This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

4 Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David.

Esther 8–Empowered

Esther could not have asked for more. Haman was dead, Mordecai was promoted and as Queen she was given all the lands and property of Haman. But, one thing yet remained, what to do about the law that was passed to exterminate the Jews. Esther once again trusted God and approached her husband. Once again, provision was made—not just provision but God empowered the Jewish people to defend and take charge of their lives. Mordecai got to write the law, then he had the King’s seal to make it permanent. The King told him to do what he thought was right.
Only God could take a hopeless situation and turn it to the empowerment of his people. The end of the story so magnifies his control without mention of his handiwork. So much that happens in our lives reflects the issues faced by Esther. We are on a journey that changes often. We face insurmountable odds and untenable circumstances only to find that with God nothing is insurmountable or untenable. We continue to lean in to him and he not only meets our needs, but uses his power to make us and our circumstances more amazing than we could have dreamed. God is God—We are NOT. As Haman hung dead on the pole he built to destroy the Jews, Esther and Mordecai began crafting a law to protect and empower them, probably in his library. Never underestimate God’s power or the reward for our trust and submission—Both are incredible.
God Bless You
That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.
3 Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. 4 Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.
5 “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. 6 For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”
7 King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. 8 Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

Esther 7– Do Unto Others

In Matthew, Jesus tells us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  In a very real sense, Haman was living that command.  In his pride and selfishness,  he thought his personal desires and dislikes were more important than the lives of others.  God quickly and completely showed him the folly of his thought.  In a day he went from being a star to being an executed traitor.  Every thought and act he entertained was turned against him and used to sentence him. He honored Mordecai, he was captured for betraying the Jews, he was sentenced after seeking mercy from one he had condemned and he was ultimately impaled by his own torture tool.

God tells us to seek him and his righteousness.  All other things will ne added.  If we seek our own gratification and righteousness, we will never be satisfied and as it conflicts with God’s plan we will be disappointed and in Chaos.  It is simply better to seek him, follow him, honor him and care for his chosen.  Help me, Lord to follow your plan, honor your name and care for your people.

God Bless You

5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”  Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.

8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits[b] stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”

The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

What a Difference a Day Makes Esther 6 part 2

I bet Mordecai did not see that coming…He probably woke up grieving for his people, then the guards approached and with them Haman—ughhh! But, then instead of chains and whips the King’s robe and the King’s horse.  I am sure that Mordecai was shocked and amazed.  Meanwhile, Haman thought his day not get any worse.  He had defined this reward as a selfish gift.  He had planned to show the world he and Xerxes were BFFs.  Instead, he honored the very man for which he designed an impaling pole.  Afterward, he ran home and the family and friends basically said, “Dude your toast!” What a reversal of fortune.

Throughout his ministry Jesus said we will thrive if we remain humble, submitted and seek God and not our own desires.  He also said the opposite was true, the more intently we try to control our destiny, the more earnestly we seek to look out for ourselves, the more Chaos and disruption we will experience.  Matt 6:33 says, “Seek First the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

When we contrast the lives of Mordecai and Haman, I believe God showed himself to be a man of his word.  But, there is still more!

God Bless You

11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”  12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

God’s Plan Esther 6 part 1

What irony, God—the God of paradox, does wonderful things to clarify that he is God.  God was not surprised that Haman was a selfish, godless man. Nor was he surprised that Haman was intent on killing Mordecai and the Jewish people. But, as is always the case, God set in motion a plan that showed his greatness and allow him to protect Mordecai and his people.  In the complete way God began to set in motion the complete reversal of man’s attempt to destroy God’s people.

God’s ways are still different than ours.  We often look at our circumstances and think we are lost and hopeless, but in his time, God begins to work his plan and we see his glory appear in our lives. If we submit to his leadership, honor his plan and seek him—then, we can enjoy his work.  The trick is waiting on him and allowing him to do the work. Help me Lord, to submit to you, trust you and watch you work.

God Bless You

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.

5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”

“Bring him in,” the king ordered.

6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

The Face of Hate Esther 5 part 2

Hate-what-I-see-in-the-Mirror-severus-snape-24187348-896-666Haman, unlike the King had no capacity for love or grace. He loved only one—Haman. So while he was unable to model love for those around him, he was able to clearly demonstrate hatred and its effects. Haman hated Mordecai and all that he represented. It was so passionate of a hatred that seeing Mordecai actually changed his countenance. Haman was a man that had everything—but, was so enslaved by hate that he was inconsolable as long as the object of his hatred still lived. Hatred consistently enslaves, endangers and undermines the very source—Not the object.
When we hate—it brings out the selfish parts of our lives and attitudes. We cannot be happy for ourselves or others because what we hate is all that matters. Our joys are not joyful, our successes are not satisfying. All things lose their taste, aroma and beauty due to the overwhelming impact hate has on us. What is worse, we become so entrapped that it causes us to say and do things that are dangerous and perilous. We say and do things to others that fall outside the realm of decency and humanity. Those words and acts become the basis of life changing backlash and often end violently and tragically.
Finally Hate undermines the very purpose it is intended. People lose their identity and independence to prove to the object of their malice their true disdain. But, often the hater is the only one affected in any meaningful way. Those who are hated often have no idea and usually have no concern that someone is bitter. Oblivious, they continue to enjoy their lives while the Hater is destroyed. We can never allow ourselves to be controlled by hate. God says Love your enemies—then you will enjoy the same freedom that love always provides. If you are bitter, let it go!!!!!
God Bless You

9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.
Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits,[a] and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

Esther 5 part 1–The face of Love

Dove Wedding PhotographyThe face of Love is so different than the face of Hatred.  So many of these devotions have sang the praise of God our Father.  We have discussed through the years how a Father cannot help but love and hope for the opportunity to bless his children and his chosen.  Esther 5 begins with the beautiful picture of the face of love—but then rears the face of hate in its rawest and most wicked form.  But let’s discuss that tomorrow.  When Esther approached her Husband the king—she did so with humility and faith, not in the King but in God. Yet, as the King saw her, without hesitation, he welcomed her and offered her half of his kingdom.  The face of Love welcomes its object.  The heart of Love concerns itself with what it can give to please its focus, and the life of love gives no thought to selfish desire or ambition.  Xerxes simply wanted his queen close, cared for and secure in her safety and position in his life.

God is the same.  His arms always welcome us, his heart always longs to bless us, protect us and wow us with amazing creativity. His very being seeks only to raise us up and bring us home to spend eternity with him.  Stop and take inventory of those you love and associate your first thoughts to your first looks, thoughts and desires for them—then ask—if I can long for wonderful things for my loved ones HOW MUCH MORE does the father long to welcome, share and demonstrate his love for us.  Esther’s Husband was a kind and adoring man…but, Esther’s God was exponentially more loving to her, her people and those chosen ever since.  Thanks Lord for loving me and demonstrating each and every day that you are hopelessly and completely in love with a sinner such as me!

God Bless You

5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”

5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”

So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

7 Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

Esther 4 part 3 What do I Do Now…

Esther realized that she had been inserted into God’s plan.  Her Uncle had made clear the truth—God’s plan will be executed, our choice to be a part is a step of faith, but one that does have consequence. Esther knew what she had to do, she called upon God’s people to fast and pray.  She and her folks joined them in fasting and praying and at the end, she agreed to approach the King even if it meant her very life.

We have to have the right attitude about God’s plan, our submission and our faith. We have to believe God will do what he has set out to do. We then have to submit to prayer and obedience even fasting to prepare to hear from him and see his mighty work.  Then, finally, we have to step out in faith even at risk of life and livelihood to allow him to show his glory and protect and provide.  There are no short cuts to honoring God.  We simply have to follow him and trust his leadership.  When we choose to disobey, he still executes his plan through others, but we lose out on the opportunity to benefit from his plan.  Obey, seek him and watch him work in your life—that is how we are allowed to be a part of his amazing journey.

God Bless You

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.