Explaining the Christmas Star

Even the major news networks are explaining the “Christmas Star,” the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that many were able to see on December 21. The planets got closer together than they had been in 800 years. I find it interesting that people who go to such lengths to discredit the Bible try to explain what the special star in the biblical text might have been.

The Christmas Star has been explained away throughout the decades. Perhaps it was a comet—and that is why it appeared to move.

Maybe it was a meteor zooming by.

This year, it could have been the “Great Conjunction.”

The Bible prophesies Jesus’ coming: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel (Numbers 24:17a). The star actually seems to be a metaphor for Jesus.

When the star indeed appeared, the wise men recognized it as the star that represented the birth of the Messiah. They said to Herod, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:2).

As we know, Herod believed the wise men. He asked when the star appeared and plotted to kill all the baby boys, so that his kingdom would not be threatened.

The wise men left the palace, and something amazing happened: lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy (Matthew 2:9-10).

They recognized the re-appearance of this special star, and it moved, guiding them to the house where Jesus lived. It moved and then hovered over that specific house. It must have appeared just above that house, because it doesn’t make sense otherwise.

All the explanations of conjunctions, bright stars, comets, meteors, and all the rest do not match what actually happened.

The wise men:

  • actually saw a star and knew its meaning.
  • went for a time not seeing the star.
  • saw the star again when they exited Herod’s palace.
  • followed the star, which led them to the place where Jesus was.
  • prostrated themselves, worshipped the Child, and offered Him gifts. (Matthew 2:11)

What does the star mean for us, today?

I find several spiritual lessons in this story:

  • People who know the Scriptures recognize miracles when they see them.
  • Real wisdom requires action. These men left and acted upon what they knew. They sacrificed time, energy, and treasure to seek Jesus.
  • God will lead those who seek Him. But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deuteronomy 4:29).
  • Jesus deserves our worship. When historical people saw Jesus, they prostrated themselves (the wise men, Abraham, Isaiah, lepers, the healed lady, and even demon-possessed people). In the Book of Revelation, when the Lamb (Jesus) takes the book, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him.
  • We owe Him our effort and service. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24).
  • Giving as unto the Lord actually stores up treasure in heaven. Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
  • Meeting King Jesus is humbling.

The planets aligning themselves were not the Star of Bethlehem. That special star has never been repeated. Besides, God calls it a star. Planets together are not stars. God is the Creator of the universe, and we can trust Him to label His handiwork correctly. God produced a miracle for the purpose of guiding people to Jesus, just as He did with the shepherds a year or two before. Remember the angelic announcer and the multitude of angels and great light?

Jesus, the Light of the World, was announced to the world with shining light. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:11).

Scary enough?

Has 2020 been scary enough for you?

Someone even suggested canceling Halloween, since the horror is so real. They have a point.

Covid, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, landslides, flooding … it’s been one of those years. Nobody wants more horrors.

The mainstream media tries to keep us in fear. I have no idea what is true and what isn’t. Is anyone telling the truth? Who knows?

It has been a difficult year. In January, we were looking forward to blessings. Instead, we got shut down at the beginning of March.

That’s one way to look at it.

Thankfully, there’s another way to see 2020 (the pun just happened).

  • God never changes. For I am the LORD, I change not (Malachi 3:6a).
  • He is faithful. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9a).
  • The Lord is active in the affairs of His people. The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men (Psalm 11:4).
  • God rules the world. He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah (Psalm 66:7).

This doesn’t mean that Christians won’t go through some lean years. These have always happened, and they always will—until the milennium, which will be amazing. (See Revelation 20:2-6.)

Until then, Christians need to trust the Lord. I am preaching to myself, too.

Our family has seen so many answers to prayer since this all started that it’s impossible to ignore the Lord’s hand in our lives. We praise Him.

A friend shared this verse, which seems especially appropriate in this scary year, 2020: In the fear of (respect for) the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26).

Are you God’s child? But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

If you have received Jesus as your personal Savior from sin, you have this place of refuge. Be encouraged today.

If you would like to read more about the good news of salvation, you might enjoy this post.

“The sky is falling!” The Chicken Little syndrome

The story of “Chicken Little” is, sadly, the story of many Christians today.

To refresh your memory—or in case you are too young to have heard of Chicken Little—here’s the story in a nutshell (pun absolutely intended): Chicken Little is walking around and an acorn falls on his head. He looks up, doesn’t see anything amiss, and he panics. “The sky is falling!” He runs down the road, and gathers others to go tell the king that the sky is falling.

Christians do the same thing.

They see:

  • violence
  • microchips
  • vaccines
  • earthquakes
  • political parties
  • persecution
  • corruption
  • evil influences

And they run down the road crying, “it’s the end times!” “It’s the mark of the beast!” “They’ll never vaccinate me!”

Are we in the end times? Possibly. I honestly even hope so. Personally, I would love to be part of the gathering that doesn’t experience death and goes zooming up to meet Jesus in the Rapture.

It is interesting that the apostles of the New Testament thought Jesus’ second coming was imminent. Let’s read 2 Peter 3:3-14. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (verses 3-4). Sounds like today, doesn’t it? Scoffers? Lots of them. People looking for pleasures? By the boatloads.

Let’s read further. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished (verses 5-6). This obviously reminds them of Noah’s flood.

Now for some prophecy: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (verse 7). God will destroy this earth with fire, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (verses 8-9). God’s timetable isn’t ours, and He isn’t limited by time at all. I love that last verse! The Lord mercifully gives the world more time to turn to Him.

This is interesting to everyone, Christians and non-believers: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (verse 10). This obviously is speaking about the ending judgment.

In light of that, what should Christians be doing? Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (verses 11-14). We’re supposed to be godly, have good reputations, and be peacemakers. Now, that’s practical!

The Rapture of the church is described in another passage. Let’s read it together. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (go before) them which are asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15). This is good news! Those who have died in Christ will go first. We have hope of this resurrection.

What will happen? It’s dramatic: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

I love this last verse: Wherefore comfort one another with these words (18).  Christians are supposed to be calm and share this peace with each other.

Paul, Peter, Jude, and the author of Hebrews instructed believers to be watching and waiting for Jesus’ coming (1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:13; and Jude 21).* The clear teaching of Scripture indicates that Jesus’ coming in the clouds for believers could happen at any time. The disciples believed that back in their day, and we believe it today.

So, is the sky falling? Chicken Little and his gang are running to warn the king. (Watch out for falling acorns!)

Should Christians panic? No, not at all.

But, we should definitely look up. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).

* Thomas D. Ice, Liberty University

Be honest. What are you selling?

People are trying to sell me something. I want them to be honest. What exactly are they selling?

I don’t know.

Instead, they say:

  • “My hair has never been thicker.”
  • “Come to my party.”
  • “These drops! I have lost X number of pounds already.”
  • “This lipstick doesn’t rub off. You can kiss your kids and husband as often as you like, and it’s still fresh.”
  • “Just drink this every day, and all your gut problems will be solved.”
  • “My lashes didn’t even show up, but just look at these results.”
  • “I used to be sick, but now I have boundless energy.”

I often see wonderful before and after pictures. They make me sincerely happy for those people. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like that after two to four months?

But, my problem is that I have no idea before what or after what.

I get it. The seller wants me to click on their page, follow them, etc., and sooner or later—most likely later—they will actually tell me what they are selling and—drum roll—after that, tell me the price.

Sellers, I admire you. I might even like your product, were I to try it. But, let me tell you a secret. I appreciate honesty. Don’t be sneaky. I actually have gotten sales pitches from some people for years–and I still have no idea what they are selling. I know it has something to do with lifestyle and weight loss, but I am not sure if it’s supplements, exercise routines, or what. A shame!

Be up-front, in-your-face honest.  Say, Here is my product. It is called this name. It is marvellous. It will make you healthy, look like a million dollars, help you lose weight naturally, or it’s a great buy.”

Tell me the price. Don’t make me faint dead away when I finally see it. Tell me up front that your product will be this price each month for the rest of my life—or that it will cost me X dollars right now. I am fine with knowing, and I might not even faint if you tell me at the beginning. (No guarantees, though.)

I don’t sell anything.

But, I have a wonderful product. It’s called salvation from sin. Everyone needs it, because all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

It’s already paid for, but it cost God everything. He gave His only Son on the cross, bearing our sins, because He loved us that much. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

He offers it to everyone. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b).

Those who receive His gift can be saved. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

They can go to heaven. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

I’m not selling anything, and I’m being honest. This is the truest truth there is.

There is no other way of salvation. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus provided salvation. He offers it as a gift, when we repent of our sins and accept what He did in our place. Now, it’s entirely our decision. A precious gift.

What are you selling? Be honest, and tell me.

Crushing hard on …

Back when I was a child, people had crushes on other people. These were goofy pre-adolescent ideas about someone—usually only shared with our giggling girlfriends.

Some years pass, and I heard “Crushed it,” to mean, “You did it very well.” Okay….

Now, I see “Crushing hard on __________.” What goes in the blank? A thing, room, or an object. I’m surmising that this saying is close to “woot” (want one of those) from a couple of years back. Correct me if I’m wrong.

So, people are “crushing on” pocketbooks, clothing, home furnishings, and even cars. Does this mean the new objects of our emotional, adolescent-like loves are mere things? Wasn’t it bad enough when we crushed on our teachers and other older, unattainable, handsome men? (Yes, I did, and yes, I’m not exactly proud to admit it. Thankfully, if the objects of my crushes ever noticed, they never let on. They were far out of my teenybopper league, anyhow. You may giggle, if you want.)

But, things?

Crushing hard on things?

Maybe it’s only a figure of speech, but it’s concerning. Our affections should be twofold—on God first and others after Him. They shouldn’t be on things.

We’re not supposed to love things.

  • Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
  • Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
  • Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).

Now, I enjoy beautiful things. I have some pretty objects, mostly that I received as gifts from my family or from other thoughtful people. Some were wedding gifts. I believe that God gives good gifts to His children, and he lets us enjoy beauty here on the earth.

I have known several people who have suffered fires in their homes and lost literally everything. Some of my acquaintances have had their homes broken into and been robbed of their valuable items. Do you know what each one of these people said? “At least we were not home when it happened, and we have our family.” Or, “Thankful that our family wasn’t harmed, though this shook us up considerably.” What was most important? People.

It wasn’t easy to lose everything, and it wasn’t pleasant to be robbed. But, people are more important than things.

I personally don’t think anyone needs to crush on anything. That’s twelve-year-old, silly behavior.

Our love, though, needs to go primarily in two directions. Jesus said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).

The next time you’re tempted to “crush on” a thing, remember the most important things: God and people.

That’s where our affections belong.