Today is Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
Peace be with you.
Today is Epiphany, the day on which we acknowledge the visitation of the wise men, or magi, to Jesus.
Epiphany: “a moment of piercing awareness, the sudden jolt of understanding. Imagine, then, that moment stretched out over a period of time. This is the season of Epiphany, a season celebrating the revelation of the Savior, the light of the world.” (Seeking God’s Face, by Philip F Reinders)
This devotional book recognizes an entire “season” of Epiphany, rather than just a single day. In the season of Epiphany, it will take a look at the magi visit, Jesus’s baptism, and the wedding feast at Cana. It will focus on “the ministry of Jesus, the calling of the disciples, the teachings of Christ, his miracles, and finally his transfiguration.”
The season of Epiphany will last until the beginning of Lent.
I would like to recommend a couple of apps. I don’t normally do that, here, but I have found both of these to be useful.
First, the Abide app for meditation and sleep. This is a wonderful meditation app, full of Scripture meditations for just about any reason you can think of. For me, the best use for it is falling asleep at night, having a soothing voice reading Scripture to me.
Second, an app called Three Good Things. Very simply, all you do is type in three things that you feel were positive in your day. I have the app set to notify me at 9:00 PM each night. I haven’t been as consistent as I like in using it, but it is a good way to reflect on your day and find the positive in it.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
He Himself is my contemplation; He is my delight. Him for His own sake I seek above me; from Him Himself I feed within me. He is the field in which I labour. He is the fruit for which I labour. He is my cause; He is my effect. He is my beginning; He is my end without end. He is, for me, eternity. (Isaac of Stella)
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
EPIPHANY – DAY 1
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. . . . The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Titus 2:11, 13 NIV)
BIBLE SONG: PSALM 72:1-2, 8-11
Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.
May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May the desert tribes bow before him and his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts.
May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 2:1-5, 7-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied.
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
There are a number of things that could stand out in this passage, but one speaks to me, on this day, at this time.
We have no idea where, exactly, these Magi came from. It simply says, “from the east.” Side note: we also have no idea how many of them there were. Nowhere does it say that there were three.
They came from far enough away, though, for it to take them a long, long time to get there. Most scholars estimate that it was at least two years, because of the age of children Herod demands to be slaughtered, in order to eliminate this “threat.” I think it is safe to say that these Magi were Gentiles.
We are also not told how they knew what to do. Why were they following this star?
This morning, though, what really hits me, is that, when they arrived at the house where Jesus and his parents were staying, they worshiped Jesus! This influential, important men (perhaps they were even kings), got on their knees and worshiped a child who was somewhere around two years old! However they knew what they knew, they knew enough to do that!
But note that the word “worship” is also used deceptively in this passage. Herod lied to the Magi, telling them to let him know where and when they found the child, so that he could also go and “worship” him. Fortunately, God had other plans and warned the Magi not to do this, so they went back home a different way.
Not all “worship” is true, authentic worship. I don’t have the time to delve into the many definitions of worship, this morning. And I’m not going to critique each church’s way of worship. All I will say is that our modern culture’s consumer-based philosophy of “worship” is probably way off base. However, I will also say this. At least there is some kind of purposeful, intentional worship going on, even if it may not be quite right. After all, none of us really “gets it right,” you know? We do the best we can, hopefully, with what we are given. And maybe that is the best definition of “worship.” Give God back what He gives you, in the best way that you can.
Just know that, if a group of Gentile VIPs from somewhere far east of Israel knew enough to travel for many, many miles to worship a child and give Him gifts of royalty, perhaps we should worship that child, as well.
Father, thank You for leading me to Jesus, and giving me a heart to worship Him. However, I confess that my “worship” is imperfect. It is not, many times, authentic. Sometimes (most of the time?) it is distracted and rushed, especially during these morning times. Help me to focus better when I am worshiping. And help me to worship more consistently, throughout the day. While “worship” might happen at prescribed times, daily and weekly, it can also happen spontaneously, at any given moment. Open my eyes that I may find more of those spontaneous moments!
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
"Stellar Lord, drawing the Magi to worship Jesus pictures for us your wide mercy. Now we see how in Jesus you have gone public with your generous promises for all people. Forgive our easily narrowed hearts and equip us with widened imaginations to promiscuously proclaim the promise of the gospel to every culture, nation, and people. Amen." (Canons of Dort 2.5)
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV)
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
She: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;
your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
Others: We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.
(Song of Solomon 1:1-4 ESV)
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
(Ephesians 5:28-32 ESV)
“We were each created to be the bride. that’s why we can never be complete in ourselves. That’s why, deep down, in the center of our being, in the deepest part of our heart, we seek to be filled. For the bride is made to be married. So we can never find our completion until we are joined to Him who is beyond us. And that is why we go through our lives trying to join ourselves . . .
“To that which we think will fill the long of our hearts – to people, success, possessions, achievements, money, comfort, acceptance, beauty, romance, family, power, a movement, a goal, and any multitude of things. For the bride was created to be married, and she can never rest until she is.”
“The Mission: Put away anything that substitutes for His presence, and join all that you are, your deepest parts, to your Bridegroom.”
Lord, may Your Spirit lead me today to put away anything that might stand between me and the deepest devotion of my heart and my deepest soul to You!
I pray, Father, that more people would have hope and joy in the resurrection, both of Jesus, and in the hope of our own eventual resurrection. I also pray for opportunities and courage to share the Gospel with those who are near me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 9:1 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
- The season of Epiphany and what it reveals to us
- For the Magi who worshiped the child, Jesus
- For the mystery of the Bride and the Bridegroom
- For Your presence around me, in me, and through me
- That the things of the earth are growing strangely dim, in the light of Your glory and grace
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.