Jesus’ resolution is, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” (John 15:8) The Bible gives clear instructions on how to live a life that is surrendered to the enabling of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)
Here are God’s instructions for Christians as they live in a sin cursed world, these are to be lived out by the enabling of the Holy Spirit of Christ while He indwells them through faith in Jesus. All the instructions above given through the writer of the Book of Romans, are to be sought and all lived out in spiritual fervor. The world should see a zeal in the lives of Christians as they endeavor to minister to the Lord, to their families and their friends. They are to be joyful, patient, prayerful, rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn, humble, able to overcome evil with goodness, letting God deal with their enemies and strive, as long as it is up to them, live in harmony.
The heart of the Psalmist is the guide for seeking God’s ways, praying, “Teach me knowledge and good judgment…” Saying, “I will keep your precepts, with all my heart… I delight in your [word].” “Blessed are those who keep His statutes..” Acknowledging, “You have laid down precepts which are to fully obeyed, [so] I will not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.” (Psalm 119: 66;69;2;6)
The Lord’s Resolutions are to be taken seriously, applied in contrast from those who live in this world, forsaking their New Year Resolutions before years end. Live out the instructions given by the Lord, as you live in a sin cursed world! There is no better guide to live by, than God’s instructions.
The Prophet Jeremiah had a full understanding of the condition of the human heart. As we approach the New Year, God’s message to us through his prophet, “The heart is deceitful above all things, …who can understand it? I the Lord searches the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17: 9-10) God knows the inner most thoughts and motives that an individual might have. He knows what is being done in secret, what is being flirted with and what is secretly being entertained and planned. God is also able to find what is good in our heart, mold it, mature it and make it right for Him. He can make our heart tender to Him and to those whom He loves. He can make our hearts steadfast, pure and loyal. He is the one Who hands out correction, punishments, and eternal judgment. He is the one who opens the doors of opportunity and determines the results of our labors. He knows whether or not to appoint us to a task, what task to appoint us to and give us the proper authority in His name to accomplish His will. (Jeremiah 1:5) You see, it is the matter of the heart!
Our spiritual heart condition determines our ability to respond to God’s promptings. It is possible to start a work with the Lord with our motives being wrong – (Number 22: 21-41) We see this truth in the Biblical account of the Prophet Balaam, a prophet who had such a reputation, the king of Moab said, “For I know that whoever you bless is bless and whoever you curse is cursed.” (Numbers 22: 6)
This notoriety opened the door of invitation from King Balak to the Prophet Balaam, offering to pay him to put a curse on God’s people. (Number 22:11) Catch this truth, God gives Balaam permission to go to King Balak, however, Balaam could only speak what God told him to proclaim. However something in Balaam’s heart awakened God’s Anger. The Bible says, “God was very angry as [Balaam] was on his way. (Number 22: 22) The Bible says, “The angle of the Lord told [Balaam] the path he was on was reckless.” (Numbers 22:32) God told Balaam, if it were not for the donkey he was riding, the Lord would have killed him.
What was in Balaam’s heart that angered God? In Numbers 22: 1-20, we read that Balaam was able to get revelation from the Lord, be aware of the Lord’s presence and determine what God had for him. However, as we read on, not only did God intended to kill Balaam, his spiritual eyes were blinded to God’s presence and purpose. (Numbers 22:31) The Apostle Peter gives insight to what was in Balaam’s heart, he writes, [He] left the straight way and wandered off to the wages of wickedness.” (2 Peter 2:15) As we read on in the book of Numbers, we see God gave Balaam a Heart Understanding about himself.
Like Balaam, Christians need a heart understanding. During a season of life they are walking in God’s will, hearing and seeing Him in their lives. As soon as they feel they can beat the flesh, a world view, and Satan on their own. They no longer have the ability to discern when the wickedness of their own heart has deceived them. Like Balaam, they can find themselves being labeled as God’s enemy.
Christian’s who truly want to live the new year for Jesus, will say like the Psalmist who wrote, “Search my heart, O God… lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24)
The Significance of the Gifts / Ingredients For Christmas Worship
Matthew 2:8-11 says, “He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search 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 in the east 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 and of incense and of myrrh.”
The Old and New Testament Scriptures hold truths about the birth of Jesus Christ. The truths regarding the gifts offered by the Magi are worthy of consideration if we desire to give Christ the honor He deserves. God has often used symbolism to breath truth into the hearts of God fearing people. There are symbolic meanings found in Scripture which should have an influence on how we honor the King of kings.
First, the Bible says “they opened their treasures and presented Him with Gold.” Gold (χρυσός chrusós) is often seen as symbolic for a gift worthy of a king, a precious metal prized for it’s beauty and value, an appropriate gift for royalty. Seneca tells us that in Parthia it was the custom, no one could ever approach the king without a gift. Gold at the time of the birth of Christ was and is now a precious metal, a gift for the King of men. Jesus is the God man Whom can reign and rule over men’s hearts. In the hearts of Christians there is submission to Jesus, the Devine person of Whom the gift of gold can be symbolic of us giving our best to Him.
Second, “They presented Him with the treasure… of incense.” “Frankincense” (λίβανος líbanos) often referred in Scripture as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. It is a fragrance which is offered in direct adoration to the Lord. This incense reflected His deity and was sprinkled on many of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Frankincense is a gift for a priest. The Latin word for priest is ponitfex, which means a bridge-builder. It is not out of line to see the gift of Frankincense being offered to the One Whom is our “high priest who is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16) The Christ’s born in Bethlehem is the bridge-builder over the gulf of sin that once separated us from God.
Third, “They presented Him with the treasure… [of] myrrh.” Myrrh (σμύρνα smúrna) an expensive spice used for making perfume, incense, medicine, for anointing and embalming the dead. During Biblical times, myrrh was an important trade item. Myrrh is a aromatic fragrant which radiates spontaneously and is highly favored for preserving a corpse. (ThoughtCo; Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 77). New York: United Bible Societies; Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The Gospel of Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 32–33). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.) We know that Nicodemus mixed myrrh and aloes together, seventy-five pounds of it. He and Joseph of Arimathea, took the spices put it on Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen strips, in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-42) It is interesting to read in Exodus, myrrh is the first mentioned principal ingredient in the holy anointing oil. (Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers; Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 423). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.) Oil is frequently mentioned in Scripture as an emblem of sanctification and anointing with it is a means of designating objects as well as persons to the service of God. In Exodus 30:23 we read the oil was prescribed by God’s authority. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 68). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) Jesus’ birth was ordained by God. It has been well said, “Christ’s was born to die, to give His life in obedience for the sins of the world.”
Note: The heartbeat of the Magi, the wise men gave a gift to Jesus worthy for the King of kings, a gift for the one Whom is the final High Priest, a gift for the One Who was the only pure sacrifice for the sins of the world. It should also be noted, although the gifts presented truths about who Jesus Christ was for all of mankind, the gifts also provided for the needs of Jesus and His family when they fled for Egypt. Are you giving Christ your best? Are you allowing Him to be the priest, the bridge-builder over the gulf of sin that can keep you from a relationship with God? Lastly, are you like the Apostle Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Those are the ingredients for Christmas worship which is a pleasing aroma to the Lord.