Tag Archives: Christmas

Collateral Damage

Herod • Devotion #5: Collateral Damage
Tommy Youngquist| Children’s Pastor

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained form the wise men.  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18

Oh Snap!  Here we go with another prophecy in the Old Testament being fulfilled.  Imagine the scene.  Jesus had just been born.  You know, the King of Kings.  So naturally the king of those days (Herod) gets a little peanut butter and jealous.  Herod wants Jesus dead.  So, he sets up a plan to try and make it happen.  Herod tries to manipulate the “We three kings of Orient are, Bearing gifts we traverse afar” into finding Jesus and telling him where He is.  Plan fails! Herod gets super mad that his evil plot did not work so he makes a decree to kill all male babies under two.  Do you remember Moses and Pharaoh?  What is it with these crazy kings wanting to kill babies? Anyways, an angel of the Lord had told Joseph to go to Egypt before the decree came out so baby Jesus was safe.  Phew!

The first question I would like to pose to you is: How would you react if you were a parent of one of those “under two year olds” that was murdered by Herod’s decree?  What if your child was collateral damage in this scenario?  When Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled, the Bible tells us how Rachel reacted.  She wept for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

I am a parent now.  The love that I feel for my daughter is unexplainable.  I could not imagine being Rachel and losing her children, not child, children.  I believe she got very angry and bitter at God for what happened.  Look at everything from her point of view. Her children died because of a king that wanted Jesus dead.

The second question I would like to ask you is:  Do you blame God for the bad things that happen in your life?  God gave us free will.  Personally, I am very thankful for the right to choose.  Along with free will though, comes consequences for your choices.  Good consequences for good decisions and bad consequences for bad decisions.  In Genesis, one man made a bad decision and the consequence was this icky thing called sin that was passed to all of humanity.  But we need to get real, if it was not Adam it would have been someone else, and for sure me.

I hate sin!  I believe it is the reason bad things happen in this world.  It is not God’s fault for letting us choose.  How could we truly love someone that made us love Him.  We can choose God or not choose God.  What about you?  Are you going to blame sin and learn to hate it for the bad things that happen in this world? Are you going to choose God and trust that He is almighty, loving, and faithful?  Do you realize He has a plan for you even when bad things happen? God created a way for us to defeat sin when Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose for us.  Do not be sin’s collateral damage. 

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Herod • Devotion #4: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director

Lying is something that we can all say we have done before. Whether it was a small silly lie or a real serious one, we have all lied. Lying can have some real repercussions as well. Lying is never a good thing. We never really benefit from a lie. Eventually the truth will come out or you will burn inside from that lie. As we continue to talk about Herod, we need to look at this next Scripture.

Matthew 2:7-9 says, “Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’ After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.”

Most of us have heard about the wise men that went to see Jesus from the nativity story right? Did you know that King Herod sent some of those men to find Jesus? Herod had heard the story going around that a new king had been born, but he did not want to be overthrown as king or anything like that. So Herod had a secret plan to find this child and destroy him. Herod gathered the wise men and gave them a big fat lie. He told them to go find this child so that he could go and worship this child as well. He wanted the wise men to report back after they found him.

Herod had his pants on fire! But the wise men missed that Herod’s pants were on fire as he told them this lie until God revealed the truth to them down the road. Herod really did not want to go worship Jesus, he wanted to kill Him! We see later in chapter two that Herod went and killed all the male babies in this area. His lie turned into a huge mess. Herod went from wanting one child killed to having every male baby killed. That is a massive transition!

Lies never really have good intentions anyways. Lies do nothing but end up making the situation worse. Lying is the original sin as well. Sin never brings anything good into your life. Sin is what separates us from God. Why would we want to do that?

Proverbs 12:22 adds, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

Lying is an abomination to the Lord. We need to remember that lying is never from God. As followers of Christ, we need to constantly pursue the things of God. How do you need to work on lying in your life? It could be small lies you tell or some big ones. Maybe you even lie to yourself. Whatever it is, we need to be people filled with truth. Those who act faithfully are God’s delight. We need to want to delight in the Lord. Get rid of those lies in your life, you do not need them. They are not helping.

Drama King

Herod • Devotion #3: Drama King
James Clouse| Student Pastor

Growing up is hard. Being in student ministry and in and out of schools on a frequent basis, you see some of the struggles that students go through. One of the biggest struggles that students and adults alike experience on a regular basis is drama. Whether this drama is workplace drama or family drama, we have all experienced people in our lives that like to cause it. Herod was one of those people that liked drama.

Herod heard from the wise men that there was a new King of the Jews. This caused a stir with Herod as well as the corrupt religious and government leaders. Matthew 2:3 explains how Herod was feeling, “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

But Herod could not leave this news alone, he had to cause some drama within the religious leaders. He went on to assemble all the religious leaders and scribes of the time to see what was going on.

This mad man rushed around the city to find out as much as he could about who was threatening his precious kingdom. Verse 6 provides us with a look back to the prophet Micah and I want to focus on a part of this prophecy for a moment, “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Shepherds are leaders of their flock. They lead the flock in the direction that the shepherd intends. When there is strife, or drama, amongst the flock it is up to the shepherd to lead the flock in the right direction.

In life there will be people who want to cause drama and strife in your life and throw things into chaos. But if we realize that there is one True Shepherd of our lives then we will not let anyone else but our shepherd lead us. The religious leaders of the time let Herod cause un-needed drama that led to Herod trying to kill Jesus. It went so far that he even killed many innocent little boys. Do not let the un-needed drama of the workplace or family drama cause you to stumble in you following Christ.

My Kingdom

Herod • Devotion #2: My Kingdom
Brett Eberle | Production Director

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be king? Do you think about what it would be like to have everything that you ever wanted? Do you dream about what it would be like to know that your kids and their kids would be set up for life? Now, can you imagine what it would be like to have all of this ripped from your hands with nothing you could do to stop it? This is exactly what happened to King Herod when Jesus was born. Most people remember Herod for the terrible thing that he did surrounding the birth of Jesus; they do not remember what he had built, they remember a single choice to commit one of the greatest atrocities in the Bible. But have you ever taken a moment to try and understand why he would have done such a thing? It is helpful to take a minute and explore some of the things that could have driven King Herod to such an extreme.

The first thing that happened was when King Herod’s advisors came to him and told him that the baby from the prophecies had been born. Jesus had something that Herod could never have no matter how hard he tried; He had prophecies. There was no mistaking that Jesus was the One, by the end of His time on earth Jesus would fulfill more than three hundred prophecies!

The second thing that helped push Herod to murder was the betrayal from the wise men. Herod gave these wise men an order, an order that if disobeyed would almost certainly mean death, and they disobeyed him. King Herod would have known there was only one reason that he would have been disobeyed, which is whatever the wise men found was more important to them than their lives. This decision would have to confirm all of the suspicions that Herod was having about the legitimacy of the claims that Jesus was alive. He probably wondered, if this infant Jesus could turn the wise men, what would stop Him from turning every Jew once He gets older?

Both of these events add up to the true reason why King Herod committed the terrible atrocity as recorded in the Bible. That reason is the title of this devotion, My Kingdom. Herod saw the series of events that would eventually lead to the downfall of his kingdom. What Herod forgot is something that is very easy and honestly quite common for us to forget as well. He forgot that nothing we have is truly ours. Everything that we have in the world is given to us by God, and the moment that we forget, we are dangerously close to doing what Herod did. When we start to think that anything we have is because we earned it or because we deserve it, we start building our kingdom. As soon as our kingdom starts to appear instead of relying on God to get us through, we rely on ourselves and try to hold onto what we think is ours with everything in our power.

During this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in possessions, but remember no matter what you have or do not have, it is all God’s, and nothing that you can do or will do will change that.

Wise Men With Bad News

Herod • Devotion #1: Wise Men With Bad News
Mark O’Connor| Student Director

Imagine with me if you will for a moment. You are sitting at work one day, three guys you have never seen before walk up and ask for the new guy. I do not know what it is you do, but when you ask them who exactly they are looking for, they say it is the guy who is replacing you. How do you feel at that point? You are just going about your day when you find out you are done in your current position. Most of us would be a bit panicked, probably very uneasy. I would venture to say there would be a bit of anger there as well. This is what happened to a guy named Herod. He is sitting on his throne when this happens in Matthew 2:1-2,

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’”

It was pretty shocking news for Herod. I am sure it was the same feeling we get when there is some unexpected bad news. I feel like I have been punched in the gut and a weight comes over me that can sometimes cause me to react in quite an unreasonable manner. Thankfully that does not happen very much and I am much better equipped to handle it these days. But Herod did not, and we will examine later through this week how well he did not handle this terrible news.

But was it really that bad? Maybe for him. Certainly, not for us. In fact, Luke lays it out quite clearly in chapter 2 when a group of shepherds find out from an angel that Jesus had been born:

And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’”

A Savior is born. Yep, pretty great news for us. We celebrate this incredible event every year and rightly so. We often forget about this dark time that came as result of such a miraculous event. Some people have never even heard of this king named Herod. Take in the whole story and grow in your relationship with God and in your knowledge of His Word this Christmas season.

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