Herod the Great, Day 4

 

BIBLE GATEWAY

Today’s reading is drawn from Matthew 2:1 and Matthew 2:13.

Herod the Great achieved power in Judea with Roman backing; he brutally suppressed all opposition. Herod was a friend of Marc Antony but, unfortunately, an enemy of Antony’s mistress Cleopatra. When Octavian (Augustus) Caesar defeated Antony and Cleopatra, Herod submitted to him. Noting that he had been a loyal friend to Antony until the end, Herod promised that he would now be no less loyal to Caesar, and Caesar accepted this promise. Herod named cities for Caesar and built temples in his honor.

Ethnically Herod was an Idumean (an Edomite); his ancestors had been forcibly converted to Judaism, and he built for Jerusalem’s God the ancient world’s largest and most magnificent temple. Politically astute, however, Herod also built temples honoring the divine emperor Augustus and made lavish contributions to Gentile cities in or near his territory. Among his other reported politically savvy acts was the execution of members of the old Sanhedrin who opposed him; he replaced those council members instead with his own political supporters. He did not usually tolerate dissent. When some young disciples of religious teachers took down the golden eagle that Herod had erected on the temple, he had them executed.

Most of our sources about Herod focus on his acts in Jerusalem, but the character of Herod that they reveal fits what Matthew says about him. So protective was Herod of his power and so jealous of potential rivals that his more popular brother-in-law, a very young high priest, had a drowning “accident”—in a pool that archaeology shows was very shallow. When his favorite wife Mariamne, a Maccabean princess, was falsely accused of adultery he had her strangled, though he later named a tower in his palace in her honor. He executed two of his sons who were falsely accused of plotting against him. Five days before he died he executed another son (the one who had falsely framed the other two). So much did Herod crave honor it is said that when he was on his deathbed he ordered many nobles arrested. He thought that if many people were executed on the day that he died, he could ensure that there would be mourning rather than celebration at the time of his death. When he died, however, the nobles were released and the people celebrated.

Transformation Garden: Where Every Woman Blooms

Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
CROSSWALK.COM

“For we also were once thoughtless and senseless, obstinate and disobedient, deluded and misled; we too were once slaves to all sorts of cravings and pleasures, wasting our days in malice and jealousy and envy, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour as man appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by the cleansing bath of the new birth and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Which He poured out so richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

Titus 3: 3-6

Amplified Bible

“Sometimes at that moment in despair a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you.’”

Paul Tillich

Today’s Study Text:

“When Jesus had spoken these things, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify, honor and magnify You.”

John 17: 1

Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION:

“Learning To Pray Like Jesus – Part 1

To Glorify Our Father”

“The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer.”

R.A. Torrey

In what ways can I bring glory to my heavenly Father?

How does the way I live bring glory to God?

“God created you so that you might spend eternity glorifying Him by enjoying Him forever.”

John Piper

(2001)

INSPIRATION:

“All of creation was created to glorify God. God intended that we would join the created world in reflecting the beauty and strength of His magnificent character. Pain and trouble are the graffiti that Satan scrawls across the face of God’s glory”

Joseph Stowell

(1985)

When Jesus’ disciples wanted to learn to pray, Dr. Luke records, “One of His disciples said unto Him, ‘Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’” (Luke 11: 1, K.J.V.). It was at this time when Jesus said to His closest associates, “When ye pray, say ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name’” (Luke 11: 2, K.J.V.).

Today when we hear these words, we immediately recognize them for they begin what we refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer.” Being so familiar with this prayer, found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, I was struck by an interesting observation by Pastor Dwight Moody who reflects that from his in-depth study of Scripture, while the prayer Jesus taught is called the “Lord’s Prayer,” he has come to the insightful perspective that the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ more properly, is the one in the seventeenth chapter of John.” He gives the following as the reasons he came to this conclusion — for he notes this prayer, “is the longest prayer on record that Jesus made.” Then he continues, “you can read it slowly and carefully in about four or five minutes.” But, it is also his opinion that this prayer contains lessons which are applicable to your prayer life and mine, which really caused me to think about Jesus’ words in John 17.

Here are some of the other enlightening perspectives which Pastor Moody shares about John 17, a prayer Jesus spoke just before His crucifixion and in the presence of His disciples:

“In the prayer of our Lord, in John17, we find that He made seven requests — one for Himself, four for His disciples around Him, and two for the disciples of succeeding ages. The world looked upon Him as an imposter; and He wanted them to know that He was heaven–sent. He speaks of the world nine times, and makes mention of His disciples and those who believe on Him fifty times.”

It was the fact that in this prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus chose to refer to those who love Him fifty times, that really got me to thinking. If in one prayer, Jesus cared enough to be concerned about you and me fifty times, there must be something very important contained in His words that you and I can learn from.

With a prayerful heart, I reread this “prayer” chapter in a variety of versions of the Bible and asked God to illuminate my study. As I got out my shovel to dig into God’s Word, I found ten specific lessons in John 17 that I feel will assist me in my own prayer life as I learn to pray like Jesus. I pray that these thoughts will encourage you, too, as you lift your voice in prayer in 2013.

 

There are many reasons why I want to learn to pray like Jesus. But I would like to identify three reasons for you.

First, Jesus’ life breathed prayer. Prayer came naturally for Him. It was as though He was in continual contact with His Father. Now let me be quick to point out, this didn’t make Jesus some type of social oddball who was so “heavenly-minded He was no earthly good.” On the contrary, children wanted to climb onto His lap. Mothers felt comfortable sharing their needs with Him. Rough, red-neck fishermen enjoyed His company. And yes, even the high-minded Nicodemus yearned for a private audience with Jesus. He could relax in the home of friends for a meal in Bethany and He had a heart that was touched by the grief of the death of a loved one. Whether it was teaching in the Temple or a party where His feet were wiped by a friend’s long hair, Jesus was embraced as a confidant, scholar, friend, and son. Yet, wherever He went, make no mistake, the atmosphere of heaven permeated His life. And the interesting thing was, it was only the religious leaders who thought they were so perfect, who found Jesus’ spiritual connection to His Father annoying. This fact certainly gives us something to think about.

The second reason I’d like to learn to pray like Jesus is that in His prayers, Jesus obviously understood what His Father was like. He talked with God as you would talk to a friend. I want this kind of relationship and connection with my heavenly Father, too.

And finally, another reason I want to learn to pray like Jesus is that change  happened when Jesus prayed. People were healed. Sinners were converted. But more importantly, those who spent time with Jesus found their lives were transformed and to me, this is what I’d like to see happen in my own life. I want to be in the sanctuary where my Father’s life infiltrates my being and I am infused with the “Person” my Father is.

This is why I am inviting you and those you love, to spend a few days at the beginning of 2013, studying John 17 with me as we uncover ten lessons which I believe will assist us in not only developing a prayer-life like Jesus, but also, enlightening our minds as we continue to study God’s Word throughout the coming year.

Today’s study text, which is the very first verse of John 17, tells us that Jesus looked heavenward. I find this to be an important point, also underscored by the first words of the “Lord’s Prayer” which state: “Our Father who art in heaven.” In both these prayers, we are encouraged, as we come to our Father, to look up to His abode — the heavens. What a beautiful way to begin a conversation with our Father who is heaven.

It is so easy to be distracted by earthly matters. But when our thoughts and our eyes are lifted above the “mish-mash” of every noisy electronic gadget clamoring for our attention, it helps us focus on our Father. I don’t know about you, but the idea of looking heavenward toward my Father’s throne has a way of transporting me into the realm of what is truly important, for isn’t heaven really the destination for you and me as we journey here on earth as sojourners and pilgrims.

However, Jesus, the disciple John tells us, didn’t just look heavenward. Jesus also said the time had come in His life when the purpose of His entire existence was to be fully manifested. For as Jesus clearly stated, “The reason I am here on earth is to glorify, honor and magnify you (my Father).”

If there is one phrase that is frequently repeated in the emails I receive each day, it is this: “I want to know what my purpose is here on earth.” This statement is often attached to a story about how someone is enduring a rather dull, unchallenging dead-end job. Believe me, I understand your frustration for I’ve engaged in more than my share of humdrum work endeavors. One of my first jobs was cleaning all the erasers in a local elementary school. Back in the day when there were chalkboards and erasers, my job at the school was to clean all the chalk off hundreds of erasers every morning before school began.  My parents didn’t have much money and my work helped buy my clothes. It was a boring job. All the rest of the work crew were boys. I was the only girl who worked from 7:00 in the morning until school started. But guess what? I learned more than how to use some little machine that sucked chalk powder out of a bushy eraser. I learned about doing your work diligently — a quality that has assisted me all through life. And what’s more, as I grew older, and spiritual values became more important to me, I learned that it doesn’t matter what menial task you may be doing, if you never forget that the purpose of your life has been assigned by your Kingly Father, whom you look heavenward to glorify then you are living a purposeful life, no doubt about it.

For all of you who may be hunting for a job and coming up short — look to heaven. Remind yourself that you are here on earth to glorify your Father. And as you apply repeatedly for job after job — just know that your Father rewards His children when they put Him first, when they live as Jesus prayed He was living — to glorify, honor and magnify His Father. Today, may our prayer be that of Teresa of Avila whose life was a living testament as she committed herself to glorifying her Father in heaven: “O Absolute Sovereign of the World! Thou art Supreme Omnipotence, Sovereign Goodness, Wisdom itself…Thy works are limitless…Thy intelligence supreme! Thou art a fathomless abyss of marvels…O great God, Thou art Strength itself. Would that I possessed at this moment all the combined eloquence…Then, in as far as it is possible here below, where knowledge is so limited, I could make known Thy innumerable perfection.”

“The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions.”

Thomas Watson

(1838)

AFFIRMATION:

“O splendor of God’s glory bright,

From light eternal bringing light;

O light of life, light’s living spring,

True day, all days illumining.

Dawn’s glory gilds the earth and skies;

Let Him, our perfect morn, arise;

The Father’s help His children claim,

And sing the Father’s glorious name.”

Ambrose of Milan

 

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus

 

P. S. Thank you so much for the gifts you send to Transformation Garden which continue to assist our ministry

visit transformationgarden.com.

 

Are You Going on With Jesus?

 

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You are those who have continued with Me in My trials.  Luke 22:28

It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).

The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now?

We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us?

Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow— but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest.

from Disciples Indeed