🌲 #312, 8th December 2016
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Hi, Friend,

Before the mad material rush of the Western way of celebrating Christmas becomes prominent, we wanted to make contact with you again and thank you for requesting these emails during the year. You are so gracious to allow us into your Inbox, and we trust that our words have been an inspiration to you as you too enjoy the Bible!
Mike & Pam Sommer
Peter & Vivien Wade

The Wisdom of the Stargazers

As always in cases where historical facts are wanting, men formulate legends to supply the answers. There are many legends about the Wise Men in the familiar Christmas story. We have been told that they were three Magi. We are informed by another legend that they were three kings. But the important point about them that we can discern from the Scripture itself -- without the help or need of legend -- is that these Wise Men were stargazers. They found the King of kings because they set their course by a heavenly light -- a star!

Let's transport ourselves in thought to that time almost two thousand years ago. Let's walk right into the Scripture! Matthew's account, found in chapter two reads: "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.' When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him..." (ESV).

"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. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way."
The words are beautiful, mostly, I guess, because they are so familiar. Actually, though, Matthew was more of a reporter than a mystic, and we have to look through his words to the heart of the experience. It is night. The heavens are inky black and dotted with stars. We city dwellers may not know what it is to see the heavens at night. Have you ever camped out at night under the stars? What a feeling of awe and peace! The heavens at night, overwhelming us with a silent power, sprinkled with points of light, become a living metaphor for God's love, protection, peace, and guidance. Is it any wonder that the three Wise Men were stargazers in a land without city lights? They looked into the night sky often.
We might think of a stargazer as a God gazer. Those who look into the face of nature often -- by day or night -- are those, whether they know it or not, who look upon God's second Bible. So the first lesson that the Wise Men teach us is the wisdom of looking often to God.

Finding Your Star
The truth is that when you look often to God, you will begin to see the first glimmer of light that signals the answer to your heart's desire. You will find your star. It might be dim at first, but you will have faith in it. Somehow you know that it will lead to a greater event of good tidings if you will follow it. Take the time to relax and gaze into the diamond-studded night sky and just enjoy them, experiencing the overwhelming reality of a power greater than yourselves.

Some people are too busy to look up at the stars, and some people are too busy to pray, to meditate, to think about God's spirit within them. Some people think stargazing is foolish and have invented the word "starry-eyed" to denote someone who isn't realistic about life. And some people think prayer is foolishness -- alright for those of us with nothing else to do, or for children at bedtime -- but a very unrealistic way of coping with the hard facts of life.

But the Wise Men teach us that prayer is infinitely practical. They teach us to gaze into the heavens within and in the stillness, to watch for our star, our light, our inspiration and faith. Nothing of great import -- success, health, or happiness -- has ever been achieved without such a "starry-eyed" vision.

Following Guidance Without Proof
When the Wise Men first started out to follow the star, they had no outer proof that a king was to be born; no outer proof that anything at all would occur. But something inside drew them and they followed.

Did you ever get a "leading" that a certain course of action was right, or that a certain idea was workable and right? Nothing in the visible world seemed to warrant the certainty of this, yet you felt almost a compulsion to follow the idea or course of action. It took faith to follow your leading star, and it took faith for the Wise Men to follow their star. But their faith brought them success. They found their King, and they gave Him their gifts.

The next time you close your eyes in prayer, think of the Wise Men lifting their eyes to that light in the midst of darkness. Across the centuries you will have joined them in the true significance of a journey made by us all.
Abridged and adapted from an article by Charles Roth.
Completely Satisfied in Christ

This is a book purposely designed so you can open it at will and read an inspirational truth related to God’s positive Word. The subject matter for these 72 short inspirational writings is often inspired by a verse I have read, or a book or review I have read, or a song or hymn from my years in church life. Some come from my years as a pastor, and others from observing fellow Christians. All contain one or several biblical quotations, and the sum of them reflect my faith and its foundation: the Bible, the Word of God. May you too be inspired by these 72 pieces. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 Weymouth).
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My Shepherd

by Irene Baroni

The Lord is my shepherd, and I did not lack,
With all I required in the pack on my back.
As I hiked through my life, so resolved to succeed,
I had His words with me. That's all I would need.

His promises moved me like eagles in flight.
The journey so tranquil; the burden was light.
I sipped living waters, tasted of the divine;
I planned to move mountains with this faith of mine.

When no mountain budged, and my eagles were quitting,
I came to the valley and there I was sitting.
"The shadow of death!" were the words I did hear.
"There's no one to help you and evil is near!"

Am I really alone just as evil is nearing?
Alone, yes, alone, was the word I was fearing.
I tried to recall what my Father had said,
But all I could feel was the fear and the dread.

Where were the green pastures, the waters so still?
Just one drop of oil, or a cup He could fill?
And where was His comfort, His rod and His staff?
Then all of a sudden, I started to laugh.

What a fool I have been! What an impudent child,
To ignore who I am because I was beguiled!
I'm filled with God's fullness; He's here by my side!
He's my Father the Shepherd, in Him I abide.
Copyright © 2016 Irene Baroni
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