What is “His Encouragement?”
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. Since I’m a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning to my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday. We are calling the series, “His Encouragement.”
It is my prayer that these words of encouragement inspired by scripture will help to carry you through the rest of your week My prayer is that this weekly series will be a much needed of reminder that God loves you.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him.
This Sunday is the Feast of Epiphany. Many people don’t realize this fun fact, but there are actually twelve days of Christmas. The first day of Christmas begins on December 25th and the last day of Christmas falls on January 6th, when we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany.
The Feast of Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the three Wise Men at the temporary home of baby Jesus and his family in Egypt. Another fun fact is that Jesus was probably around two years old when the Wise Men finally arrived. We often like to picture the Wise Men worshiping the baby Jesus by the side of the manger in Bethlehem, but it actually took them much longer to reach Jesus.
Matthew 2 tells us that was afraid. King Herod had heard that another King had been born. This frightened Herod because he was afraid that this new king would usurp his throne. Therefore, Herod made a decree that all boy children under the age of two years should be killed. We call this, “The Slaughter of the Innocents.”
Many of us know that the three wise men brought with them the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but did you know that these three gifts have very special symbolism?
Gold: Gold is one of the few physical objects that humans have always prized and believed to be valuable. Gold is an incredibly precious metal. It was a gift fit for a King in the time of Jesus and it remains a royal gift to this day.
Frankincense: Was a holy oil that was associated in the ancient world with divinity. It could be made into an oil and was often used to anoint priests. It could also be burned as an incense. People believed that the smoke from the incense carried the prayers to heaven.
Myrrh: Was used for embalming. Furthermore, “it was a custom of the Jews to give those who were condemned to death by crucifixion “wine mingled with myrrh” to produce insensibility. This drugged wine was probably partaken of by the two malefactors, but when the Roman soldiers pressed it upon Jesus “he received it not” ( Mark 15:23 ). (Source: Bible Study Tools)
The three Kings from the East brought incredibly wise gifts for the baby Jesus. The gifts that they brought displayed an inherent understanding of the Christ child’s kingship and divinity. The gift of myrrh also showed that they had some idea of the amazing sacrifice that Christ would someday make on behalf of all mankind.
One of my best friends from college is Latina. On January 6th, she and her family will celebrate “Three Kings Day,” by exchanging presents in honor of the gifts that the Magi brought to the young Jesus. The adults will also place straw underneath the beds of the children so that the donkeys of the Wise Men will have something to eat. It reminds me of my own childhood tradition when I used to throw deer food in the yard for Santa’s reindeer to eat.
At my own church, we will welcome several new church members into our congregation during our morning worship service. We will also celebrate Holy Communion. As we prepare for the Feast of Epiphany, I can’t help but ask myself the following questions:
-As I go into a New Year, what gift can I bring to Jesus?
-Do I use my spiritual gifts in the best way possible to honor Christ?
-How can I make my entire life a gift to God?
The Bible calls for us to make our entire lives a holy and living sacrifice pleasing unto God. I hope that you will join with me this New Year in recommitting your life to Christ. Christ does not ask for our physical gifts (although I’m certain he appreciated the generous and prophetic offerings of the three Kings). The only thing that Christ asks from us is our hearts- the very essence of ourselves. The greatest gift we can bring to Christ is our entire life.
Until Next Week-
Peace Be With You,
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!