Satan’s Failed Attempt on Baby Jesus

God’s mightiness is hard to fathom. In Matthew’s Gospel, he gives insight into the Lord’s undeniable strength. Our Father’s enemy (Satan) understood Christ’s Kingship meant the end of his reign and tried using King Herod to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13).

God knew everything and protected Christ from the wickedness of Herod. Nothing gets pass God (Jeremiah 16:17). Satan knows Christ’s Kingship is God’s final plan for humanity and tried to eliminate Him as a child. Since God is Almighty (Revelation 1:8), the devil didn’t exterminate the King of the Jews!

When you look at Matthew’s second chapter, a glimpse into God’s undeniable plan of salvation emerges. Last week we discussed http://wp.me/p74gem-c2 God’s announcement of His promised Messiah(Matthew 2:2). And the rest of this chapter shows us God’s indisputable faithfulness. Our Father let none human or the devil defeat His King making sure our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:11) stayed intact.

The devil uses many wicked ways to destroy God’s kingdom. When Herod unleashed his rage on the Jewish people (Matthew 2:16), we see Satan’s hatred.

Throughout the Old Testament, the terror caused by Lucifer is real. In Noah’s generation, God stepped in and annihilated Satan’s evil grip on the human heart (Genesis 6:17).

No one past or present can change the evil facts of the devil, and Matthew saw this by watching Herod murder innocent boys (Matthew 2:16). Even today we see this happening around the world, but God in His Glory secured a way out of spiritual death. The Lord wants to save everyone and guaranteed Christ birth by protecting Him from the devil (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We are fortunate to experience God’s grace and proclaim the good news of Christ!

 

In fact, God used the Prophet Jeremiah to make known the future suffering Christ birth caused at the time it took place (Jeremiah 31:15). You may wonder why God doesn’t intervene and eradicate evilness. That’s a great question, and it’s hard to grasp the way God works. But a saving faith understands the Lord gives everyone a chance to know Him.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

God keeps His word and led Joseph into Egypt fulfilling Hosea prophecy (Hosea 11:1). Our Father never changes, and His Word without exception is pure. Everything God does is in the Bible, and He used Matthew to highlight the prophecies from the Old Testament.

Matthew closes his second chapter by giving us the reason Christ lived in Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23). Again we come in contact with Satan’s constant attempts on killing baby Jesus. This is the third time God sent an angel to direct Joseph actions in protecting His Son.

 

 

When I pause and ponder over Matthew’s second chapter, it strengthens my trust in God’s eternal plan. This recorded Biblical history gives me the opportunity to test my faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). And for me, God’s words are more than metaphors they are the actions I need to take to live in Christ.

What’s your outlook on Matthew’s second chapter?

 

Open Eyed Running

 

 

 

The first time I went for a trail run, it was like I had been placed on a whole new planet and I really, really liked it.  But probably not for the same reasons that many others before me have liked it.  See, I fell in love with trail running not just for the beauty of the wilderness and the challenge of the constantly changing footstep, all of which are incredibly awesome, but because of what there wasn’t.

As a hard of hearing person (not deaf, there are days where I wish I was deaf because then at least I would have an excuse for not understanding what people are saying) running on streets is extremely difficult because of what you can hear.  You can hear the sound of a car, the sound of traffic, the sounds of ambulances and even sometimes the sound of a biker or runner coming up behind you.  The problem is twofold, though.

First, you have no idea where that sound is coming from.  It could be right beside you, on the street over or two blocks in front of you.  As a hard of hearing person running on the streets, the sounds get all mixed up and actually at times even get irritating at worse and distracting at best.

You can try wearing headphones and listening to music but in a way that is even worse because now you can’t stay in tune with the sounds your body makes (for me I know when I am off stride because I feel it in my feet and sometimes hear it as a slap on the pavement instead of a stride on the pavement) or how you are breathing (sometimes I get out of sync and am mouth breathing instead of sucking in oxygen through my nose) and then you never really get into that beautiful rhythm of running.

The second thing that is difficult for hard of hearing runners running the streets of your town or city is the mental exhaustion that happens because you literally have to work twice as hard as somebody else to define what that sound is and where it is coming from and whether it is a danger or normal.  I never ran as a normal hearing person, so I don’t really know what it is, but I do know as a hard of hearing person often times the hardest part of the run is all these sounds mixing in my head and constantly trying to figure out what they mean and whether I need to be aware.

I also cannot tell you how many times I have been on a sidewalk and thought I heard a car right on me and then tripped over the crack in the sidewalk because I’m swiveling my head to try and figure out if a car is backing out of a driveway, will he see me and then blammo there I am laying on the grass with my feeling severely embarrassed.

So imagine my first time out on a trail, there is no sound but the sights, and the feelings were just phenomenal.  It was like a new world opening up that I had never experienced before.  It was almost like my eyes being opened for the very first time, and I was seeing things that I know I probably had seen my whole life, especially having grown up in the mountains but here I am running a trail in the Big Horn Mountains outside Sheridan, WY and I literally felt like I was alive for the very first time.  What I really began to experience can only be described as Open Eyed Running.

This is where your eyes are continually opened to the possibilities and beauty around you, where you fall in love with your world and dream of the days that were simpler.  The only time in my life that can even compare is the day I realized that God was real and that He wanted to be part of my life, not just part of a religious ceremony on Sunday mornings.  Living becomes different because you are seeing everything in a different light and from a different perspective.  That is how it is with trail running.  I can run the same trail three weekends in a row, and it never gets boring, it’s never the same trail twice in a row.  And that is so similar to life also.

I cannot even begin to imagine what I would do if life were vanilla and the same all the time.  It would be so frustrating to me, and that is what running has become to me also.  Every trail run opens up new possibilities and most of my runs I am not even aware of what is going on around me (that is why my wife makes me wear a bell on my pack) or what time it is (only once have I come back to a trailhead in the dark but that was more because I stink at reading maps than anything else, all for a different story) and I find myself on the trail thinking about ways to challenge myself to dig deeper and to reach for more.

And what I see!!!!!  I cannot even begin to describe the beauty that surrounds me out in the wilderness.  I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times I have literally had to stop in my tracks to look at the beauty stretching before me.

Like this time there was this dead tree that I could see as I ran up a hill, but it sort of looked like a twig until I got up next to it and then the crooked beauty, the way it just stood there through time slightly moving in the breeze reminded me that the spiritual part of my journey often reminds me of that dead tree.  Sometimes I feel as if my faith is dead but then I can look down and see that it’s not dead,  it’s still firmly planted in the soil and that over the next hill or through the bog I find myself in I’m going to find a flourishing tree, full of life and vigor.  Not having to strain to identify sounds has done all these things for me.

 

Now when I am out running a trail, my route may be wet, snowy, muddy, dry or any other adjective you can possibly imagine but I always can find the proper place to plant my foot because I am not having to figure out the sounds around me, I’m just running and enjoying life going on around me, feeling the soft breeze, the warm sun or the whipping, chilly wind trying to push through my layers of clothing.  I can hear my breathing, feel my muscles and even when in the middle of the forest running in snow I can hear the crunch of the snow and the slide of the little ice balls running under the sole of my foot.

I guess this is what I love about running trails the most, the open eyed running and awareness of all the beauty that surrounds me, even when I’m stressed out about work and wondering if I’m being a good enough husband the trail keeps me grounded because running them alleviates a stress point in my life which allows me to be more than I could be running the streets around me.

So the next time you say something to a runner, and he/she doesn’t say something back consider that just maybe they’re hearing challenged and every sense is working so hard that they can’t even acknowledge that you are around.

The Three Wise Men Unwavering Trust

In Matthew’s Gospel, he shares the journey of the three wise men from the east. In this story, two relevant circumstances arose from their arrival in Jerusalem.

First, they asked where to find Christ’s birthplace. They didn’t hesitate telling others their mission is worshiping the King of the Jews.

And as the result of their inquiry it caused trouble amongst the citizens.

Their message disturbed Herod, the king. Because God used strangers to announce the news of his King’s birth. This threatened Herod’s throne. So the king of Judea gathered the Jewish spiritual leaders asking them where this remarkable event took place. They answered Herod by sharing Bethlehem (Matthew 2:6) as God’s chosen town.

Even the residents of Jerusalem became terrified. Imagine living under Herod’s hard rule knowing he wouldn’t tolerate another king to invade his territory. And when those wise men disobeyed Herod, he took his rage out on the Jews by murdering their first-born boy’s ages two years and younger (Matthew 2:16).

The real revelation in Matthew’s three wise men story is how the Jews didn’t receive God’s word. On Christ’s birthday, God’s chosen people became numb to His presence. They forgot God’s prophesies because their spiritual leaders (the Pharisees) didn’t teach them God’s truth.

The Pharisees held Moses as the ultimate authority in sharing God’s word. They relied on his teachings and added unique traditions for their followers. But when those wise men came to worship the King of the Jews it fell on deaf ears. None of them remembered Moses’ words on God’s truth on the birth of Christ (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

The time of Christ’s birth isn’t an accident. God knew the way His children believed needed to change. They became confused over the truth of God’s word because their spiritual leaders misled them. So the Lord used Gentiles to announce Christ the King.

God commanded those men to worship baby Jesus. So they traveled to a foreign land leaving behind the comfort of home and humbled them themselves to Christ the King (Matthew 2:11). Guided by God (star) these Gentiles glorified God by offering young Christ gifts.

I wonder if my faith is strong enough to do the same. Could I leave my familiar place and have the spiritual confidence to share with total strangers God’s message of salvation? Do I have trust in Christ to pick up my cross regardless of its burden and live in God’s will?

The three wise men are excellent examples of a faith in action anchored in an unwavering trust in God. Matthew allowed us to witness their unshakable reliance on the Lord and when we follow Christ with the same actions, our lives become spiritually whole.

How do you relate to the three wise men story?

Christ’s Birth a Miraculous Gift From God

The birth of Christ is an incredible part of history. God’s unique plan to use the Holy Spirit as the way to make Jesus human is astonishing. This remarkable set of circumstance stands alone and has yet to re-occur.

It’s not by accident God used His Spirit to allow the Virgin Mary to conceive His Son. Our Father told His Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) of this extraordinary future event.

Matthew’s recording of the virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-25) gives insight to the dangers Mary faced. In our modern times, it’s normal for women to bear a child out of wedlock. But not so for Mary. She and the child’s life became endangered. The penalty for this infraction of adultery ended in death.

Mary found favor with God (Luke 1:30), and He chose her to bear His Son. This honor God granted her isn’t by chance, but her obedience and faithfulness. Remember, in Mary’s time, God’s people had trouble staying in good standing with Him. Her devotion didn’t go unnoticed because God rewarded her faith with giving birth to His Son. She became privileged giving testimony to God’s undeniable love for His faithful followers.

When I ponder over Christ’s miraculous birth, it makes me joyful. Many people try to discount God’s mightiness. They convince themselves conceiving a child without biological partners is absurd. Thinking these thoughts isn’t one of faith. Believers know faith is understanding with God everything is possible (Luke 1:37) and not by sight alone (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Remember, God always keeps His promises (2 Peter 3:9). And throughout the Old Testament, the Lord showed His plan for a saving King. So, Matthew’s commentary of Christ’s birth proves God’s loyalty. Our Father never leaves us guessing. God’s grace is an incredible blessing.

Christ’s arrival on earth paved the way to our rebirth. On Jesus’s birthday, God’s transformation from the old way of believing into His new one became a reality. In that town of Bethlehem laying in the manger, our Father showed the world His gift of salvation. But it’s up to God who receives this eternal blessing.

I’m grateful for Christ’s birth. Are you?

God Establishes Christ’s Kingship

God is fascinating in the way He delivered Christ into the world. Matthew a Disciple and author of a Gospel shows how God establishes Jesus as King.

In Matthew’s opening chapter he records the genealogy of our Messiah. Here, God placed Christ as the Son of David who was king of Israel (Matthew 1:1). This testimony proves Christ as royalty by highlighting a direct link to other kings of Israel.

God wanted to show humanity real Kingship. In the Old Testament times, God helped the leaders of Israel choose a king. When the Israelites needed to anoint kings their trusted servants used prayer to find God’s chosen one. And when the Lord answered their prayer they followed His command.

Many Prophets shared with God’s people the news of a future leader, unlike any other one. Isaiah foretold the significance this ruler’s role takes in God’s kingdom (Isaiah 9:6). In God’s sovereignty, Christ holds the highest esteem.

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Man’s outlook on kingship is one of prestige, elegance, and power. God’s King brings salvation with infinite spiritual life. In Matthew’s Gospel, the three wise men from the east came and worshiped the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-12).

When new Kings claim their thrones, it’s normal to send a messenger announcing his arrival. Matthew did the same by writing on John the Baptist’s message of Christ’s kingship (Matthew 3:1-12).

John’s news reached a multitude of people, and many flocked to their baptism. John’s ministry prepared the way for Jesus’ arrival, and he shared repentance as the way of receiving God’s New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

In the Book of Revelation Christ is King (Revelation 17:14), supporting Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’s kingship. Another declaration  referring to Christ the King is in the Gospel of John (John 12:15).

Jesus came to earth as King and in the second coming (Revelation 1:7) returns as King (Revelation 19:16). And God’s faithful believers will join Him.

Have you found God’s King?

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