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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
Winter scene in rural Michigan
Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)

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"Guide Us To Thy Perfect Light"

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (Matthew 2:10).

Contrary to traditional Christmas pageantry and artist's portrayals of the nativity setting, a careful consideration of the Scriptures reveals that the shepherds and wise men were not both present at the same time at the birth of Christ.

Today's Scripture text actually reveals that the wise men who followed the star in the east took arrived quite some time after Christ's birth. They had first seen the star while in the east and had traveled to Jerusalem to inquire regarding the exact place of Christ's birth.  Who these wise men were remains a mystery. They may have been among those from the Jewish line who stayed in the East following the Exile or perhaps were proselytes (converts to the Jewish faith) who may have known of the Messianic promise.  After receiving the information that Christ was born in Bethlehem they went there to worship Him. 

For some reason, after initially seeing the star while in the east, it was no longer seen for a period until after they had been to Jerusalem and were on their way to Bethlehem. (compare Matthew 2:2 and 2:9,10)

These men were earnest seekers.  The journey from the east to Jerusalem was likely long and hard.  But they were persistent.   It was the reappearance of the star on the way to Bethlehem that prompted the response described in the KJV when they "rejoiced with exceeding great joy."  The apparent redundancy in the English is an attempt to convey the richness of emotion that Matthew uses four Greek words to express.  The Amplified Bible says, "thrilled with ecstatic joy."

Why were they filled with such great joy?  After all, at this point they had not yet seen Jesus (read the text carefully).  It clearly was the reappearance of the star that prompted their joy and also their ability to continue the journey to find the Christ child.

But why?  I believe we have here an example of how God reveals Himself to the earnest seeker.  They had seen the star while in the East and then went to Jerusalem by faith. The reappearance of the star on their way to Bethlehem gave them an assurance that their seeking was not in vain!

At times the light of God's guidance is remarkably clear like the star seen by the wise men while in the east.  At other times God's leading is less clear, such as when the guiding star was no longer visible.  But like these wise men, as earnest seekers we walk by faith and obedience to God's Word.  Then we see again the clear, unmistakable light of God's guidance, as the wise men did when they saw the star a second time.  Truly this is a time of great rejoicing. 

Where are you today in your walk of faith?  For some the answer will surely be "I haven't seen the 'star' in a long time".  Keep seeking, believing, and following my friend. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  Help me to journey in faith  when the path is dimmed or obscured.  When I can only see through a glass darkly, help me to trust You for what is yet to come.  May I have a believing, obedient spirit even when I don't fully understand Your plan. For Your thoughts are not my thoughts nor are Your ways my ways.  They are higher and wiser and are of divine origin, so help me to be mindful that You always know what's best and will lead me according to Your will and Your timing.  Amen.

Personal update: As regular readers have observed we have been unable to prepare these messages as I have rather slowly been recovering from the abdominal hernia repair surgery I had last Monday afternoon. I am coming along fine but am very appreciative of the role my abdominal muscles have in everyday life, something I had taken for granted!  Last week Ester fell on some ice and hit her head on her way to work and has had a headache much of the time since. Brooksyne took her to the Doctor yesterday and today is following up.

Open house 12/27/09
Sunday evening we had an"Open House" time of informal fellowhip in our home and had friends in through the evening and throughout our home. Here is a group who are sharing around our dining room table.

Jim & Stacey Ailes 12/28/09
Yesterday Jim and Stacey Ailes stopped by to visit. When I served a church in Saint Marys Pennsylvania, Jim was the pastor at the CMA church and we developed a friendship and fellowship. They now live in the Pittsburg area but have a son who lives here in Mount Joy who they were visiting.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Lead Me Lord, I will Follow"  Video   Brooksyne suggests this song to reinforce today's message.  It is perfomed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

"We Three Kings"  Video  Of course for those familiar with Christmas hymns the title in our daily message is a phrase from this hymn.

Howard J. Blichfeldt

Today's photo of a rural winter scene in Michigan was taken by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard is a friend of this ministry who desires to honor the Lord through his photography.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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