But Not Jesus

At this time of year, I have always enjoyed refreshing my memory of the birth story of Jesus.  One passage that started me thinking today about the humility of Jesus is Matt. 2:1-6 which says,

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

  “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler

who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

After reading this, I was struck by what Benjamin Forman noted about this passage,

“The Messiah was not born in the ancient capital of the kingdom of Judah, the native residence of 19 Judahite kings, and the center of Israel’s religious worship. Instead, he was born in a small village five miles to the south.”

The choice of Jesus to be born in Bethlehem instead of Jerusalem is evidence that his whole life displayed humility instead of pride.

Seven observations about the life of our humble King:

Observation 1 – the location of the birth of our King was unassuming.  It indeed was predicted in the Old Testament (Mic. 5:2), but it was not the location for the birth of royalty from a human perspective.  If we were Jesus, we would have probably selected Jerusalem as our place of birth since all the famous kings ruled from there– but not Jesus.

Observation 2 – He was born to a poor family (Lk. 2:24). His family could not afford a lamb for their offering and gave a pair of turtledoves or pigeons indicating their lack of wealth.  We not only would have selected Jerusalem as our place of birth but yes, we would have chosen a family of great wealth– but not Jesus.

Observation 3 – He was born in a place where animals lodged (Lk. 2:7)!  This certainly does not seem fitting for a king! We would have selected plush accommodations appropriate for royalty– but, not Jesus.

Observation 4 – Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a place not known for anything good coming from it (Jn. 1:46).  Where would we have picked to grow up? Certainly somewhere known for its elites– but not Jesus.

Observation 5 – How should a king interact with others?  We assume that such a person of royalty should be treated in a special way– but not Jesus.  He came to serve, not to be served (Mt. 20:28).

Observation 6 – We assume a great king should have a view of himself that displays his position but, not Jesus.  He was not full of pride but humble (Zech. 9:9; Phil. 2:4-8).

Observation 7 – A king often rules with power at the expense of others — but not Jesus.  He suffered for you and me so that we might be saved (Is. 53).

In summary, our King is humble.  He thinks and acts so differently than the way we do!  What an amazing King!  He truly is worthy of our praise and worship!

Father, thank you for who you are.  You are humble and not caught up with what so often captures our thoughts, desires, and attention.  Help me to live with your perspective on life and live humbly as modeled by Jesus.  Thank you for sending your Son to live and die for me.

“O LORD, our Lord”

Psalm 8 is an amazing Psalm.  Notice what David says in verse one,

“O LORD, our Lordhow majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”

As we briefly look at this verse, the first thing to notice is the use of the words “LORD” and “Lord.”  These are two different words in Hebrew.  The first, in all caps, is the word YHWH.  It is the word that reveals that God is a personal Being.  In fact, it is the word God chose to reveal Himself to Moses in the burning bush and is translated Yahweh or Jehovah.

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (Ex. 3:14-15)

The significance of this name YHWH is explained by Nelson Bible Dictionary, “’I am’ expresses the fact that He is the infinite and original personal God who is behind everything and to whom everything must finally be traced.'”  The “I AM” God is Yahweh!

David is praising God for being a personal God with whom he can have a relationship.  God is not some energy or mystical force.  His very name shows that He is a Person we can know.

The second name for God, “Lord” is the name “Adonai.”  It stresses that this personal God who is eternal, is also in sovereign control of all things.

In a sense then, David begins this Psalm by recalling that God is the eternal, personal God with whom he had a relationship and who was in control of all things. This is a great way to regain your perspective as you talk to God!

He concludes the verse by stating that God’s handiwork is shown in the heavens.  God is personal, sovereign and “majestic.”  This means that He inspires “awe or reverence in the beholder; (this reverence) can be related to size, strength, power, or authority” (Logos).  We should be in awe of God because the heavens declare his power, wisdom and greatness.

Father, this Psalm crafted by David, beautifully describes who you are.  I am so thankful that you are a personal God!  We can have a relationship with you!  Amazing!  In addition, you are the Sovereign One. You are in control of all things and your greatness is displayed in the heavens for all to see.  Creation declares your glory and perfection. My response to your demonstration of power should be awe.  Help me to live in constant awe of you and not take the demonstration of your power for granted.

Testing Can Make Me Better

Have you ever felt the heat of trial?  I am sure you have.  For me, it can show up in the pressure of an anxious heart when things are not going as I expected.  I tend to respond to trial by wrestling with them internally. I think about them, get frustrated with them and try to force them to fit my will.  Instead, I need to remember that God can use them to reveal my imperfections.  When I see my lack of faith, lack of trust or worry, I need to confess that to God so He can remove it from me and make me better.  That is why Proverbs 17:3 hit me today. It says,

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart.”

As intense heat is used to surface imperfection in metal so that it can be removed, so too the heart.  Trials are not there to make us miserable but to show us what is within us.  When imperfections are brought to the surface, God can remove then as I confess my sin to Him. Tests have a purpose–to make me better!

Notice what the NET Bible says about this verse,

“When the LORD ‘tests’ human hearts, the test, whatever form it takes, is designed to improve the value of the one being tested.”  

As a result, testing can improve us, purify us and mature us if we respond correctly.  Tremper Longman notes,

“Since the crucible does not only expose but also gets rid of dross, the implication may be that he not only evaluates hearts in this way but also helps people get rid of their sin.”

Father, thank you for the reminder the trials and difficulties can be welcomed since they surface my imperfections and because you can remove them from me as I ask you to do so.  Instead of fighting them and complaining, I must remember that you use them to show me where I still do not trust you and try to handle things myself. Instead, I should discuss my anxious heart with you.  I need to believe in you and your promises instead of trying to fix everything myself.  Use the trials in my life to purify me. Through them, make me more like Jesus and more usable for your Kingdom.