Peace, Love, & Joy | Our Treasure | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 11 of 27 | December 10, 2019

Regarding, the wise-men presenting gifts to Christ. We ought to understand two important points. One, these gifts were not presented as financial assistance. Because, God does not need anything from man. He is not served by human hands as if He needs anything. (Acts 17:25) Piper makes this clear, rather humorously, “It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care-packages.” (pg. 20) Second, these gifts were not meant to be bribes. Because, God takes no bribe. (Deu 10:17)

These gifts were (as discussed previously) – (a) meant to demonstrate their recognition of Jesus’ Kingship; and (b) meant to demonstrate their joy in finding Jesus. I’ll invest a few more words (here) on this second point.

Finding Jesus after much labour, and perhaps after much speculation, and doubt and fear on the wise-men’s part, was perhaps like finding wisdom. (Pro 2:4) The wise-men seem to demonstrate similar joy, as the one we find in the parable of hidden treasure. (Mat 13:44) The crux is this: their joy was not of earthly riches or favour – but that they could witness the birth of the Messiah, and that they could worship Him. They presented gifts as way of demonstrating, that finding Jesus was the treasure above all treasures. And so, they presented their best possession as a show of respect and reverence, and to show that they treasured that moment, and Him, more than the anything. Piper formulates it better. He writes, it was their way of telling “you are my treasure, not these things”. (pg. 21)

I find the wise-men’s endeavour awe-inspiring. But much more than that, I find, myself humbled as to how YHWH led these men against all odds – to being blessed. How amazing is our God? But by saying that, I don’t mean anyone to be mistaken. I am not talking about donating financially to the Church or other philanthropic exercises, as gifts to Christ this Christmas. If you do that, then that is good on you. Keep it up. But that’s not the point I want to make here. Because, we shouldn’t forget what the scriptures says about sacrifices and offerings. And I quote: “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.” (Hos 6:6, TLB) But how can we love someone without knowing them? Therefore, knowledge is preceded by obedience. Only when we being obeying Him by learning and keeping His Word (i.e. the Bible), we begin to love Him, and know Him. “But Samuel replied, what is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1Sa 15:22, NLT)

What is it that a man treasures the most in his life? It is his ‘self’ – his self-interest and all the vices that comes along with it. If you ought to gift anything to God. You begin by mortifying your self – your ­self-interest – your sins – your sinful habits – your sinful desires. For a person who continues to harbour his old sins cannot please God, let alone offer Him anything. “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mat 16:24, ESV) If you want to offer anything to God, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. Seek righteousness and holiness. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” (Rom 12:1, NIV) How profound it is that the scriptures note, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mat 6:21, ESV)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas (x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions

Peace, Love, & Joy | Two Kinds of Oppositions | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 10 of 27 | December 9, 2019

The (Jewish) Chief Priest and the Scribes were aware of Christ’s birth. But that was it. They only quoted the scripture to Herod the King, and went back to their old lives. They were completely indifferent to the situation at hand. They could have followed up, (why) the birth of Christ was being inquired. I mean, isn’t that the whole scripture was leading up to – the coming of Messiah? But when the time was ripe, and they had the opportunity to be a part of a historical moment – they didn’t care. They could have followed the wise-men from the East. But they didn’t. Herod the King, on the other hand was petrified. He felt threatened. He schemed much, and even got many murdered just to get rid of the new born King.

According to Piper (pg. 18), the narration of the birth of Christ, demonstrated two kinds of opposition that will always rise against Christ and His people. First, these are the indifferent. (Rom 1:22) Example: the priests and the scribes. These are people who know about Christ, but they don’t care about Him. Christ, to them is a non-entity. These are people comfortable in their sin. And they want nothing to do with who Christ is, or why they would need Him. Second, these are the hostile. (Rom 2:5-6) Example: Herod the King. These are people who enjoy a dominion over their own lives, and in the lives of people who love them or serve them. These are people who feel threatened that Christ will alter their dominion, by His new system of Righteousness and Holiness. These are people who are stubborn in their sin. Hence, the first lot of people create passive obstruction, thereby being an opposition to Christ and His people. While the second lot of people, create aggressive obstruction – trying their best that the Truth may never be established.

Now, I will not tell you – introspect and see whether you belong in any of these group. Because chances are, both you and I are most likely to be guilty of not one, but maybe of both indifference and stubbornness. It can be in-part, at a certain moment of our lives. It can be, a present condition. But whatever the case may be. To some extent, and to some measure, we are all guilty. Because no one is righteous. (Rom 3:10) But there is one thing I want to add, as I conclude this devotional, and that is – we don’t have to be that way. Christ came for sinners, to call them to repentance. (Lk 5:32) God is faithful, so let us seek Him. (1 Cor 10:13) Because it is the promise of the scriptures, that “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom 5:10, ESV)       


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas

Peace, Love, & Joy | Christ is central in Christmas | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 9 of 27 | December 8, 2019

In the account of the Apostle Luke, we find YHWH influencing the entire Roman Empire to situate Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. So that, the Old Testament prophesy could be fulfilled. In the account of the Apostle Matthew, we find YHWH influencing the entire solar system, to bring foreigners to Christ, so that they could worship Him. And in such narrations, it is easy to be lost among the questions of little significance – as to the ‘how, when, and where’ of these incidents. Piper therefore encourages, we ought to focus on the central subject of these narrations. We ought to focus on the Christ of Christmas, the central subject of the gospel. And message behind, i.e. “the holiness of God, the ugliness of sin, the helplessness of man, the death of Christ, justification by faith alone, the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the glory of Christ’s return and the final judgment.” (pg. 16)

The Samaritan Woman (Jn 4:4-26), also struggled due to similar reasons. Her focus was not on the centrality of the gospel. She was more preoccupied with custom, culture, rituals, place of worship et cetera. To which Jesus replied, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn 21-24, ESV) And only, then, when Jesus shift her focus from the less significant, to the One, who alone is significant – she could grasp who Christ was.

This Christmas, let us focus on the One who is significant. Yes. It is true, God moved the Roman Empire, and He moved the Solar System because that is His design. It is His will that the chosen ones from the whole mankind, of all nation to come and worship Him. So, if God is moving your environment, your situation, and the people around you – let that be. And let it not be the focus of your life. Let your focus solely be on Christ. Because such people, are the kind of worshipers that the Father seeks. (Jn 4:23)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all

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