“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:5-6

A key to knowing the LORD God and how He deals with man is contained in these verses of Scripture. The LORD God is a jealous God who punishes the sins of those who hate Him and rebel against Him and His commandments, even down to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. But He is also a merciful God who forgives the iniquities, transgressions and sins of those who, by His grace, repent and turn back to Him for mercy.

In Exodus 34, God describes Himself in these words: “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (v. 6-7).

In the history recorded for us in the Bible, we can see the truthfulness of these words. When the people of Israel rebelled against the LORD, went their own way, and disobeyed His commandments, even worshipping other gods, God’s judgments fell upon them; and children and grandchildren who continued on in their sinful ways suffered the consequences, not only of their own sins but also of the sins of their fathers, when the Assyrians and the Babylonians came and destroyed their land and carried them away into captivity. On the other hand, God showed great mercy to such men as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Jeremiah, Daniel and others. For the sake of the promised Messiah and Savior who was yet to come, God pardoned and forgave the sins and iniquities of those who looked to Him in faith for mercy and forgiveness.

The question for you and for me today is this: “Do we want God to deal with us in His mercy or in His wrath?”

If we continue on in rebelliousness and sin against God and His commandments, we will suffer His wrath, both here and forever in eternity! But if, by the gracious calling and mercy of God, we repent of our sinful and rebellious ways, turning to Him for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus in our stead, He will have mercy upon us, forgive our sins, and give us a place in His everlasting kingdom.

O LORD God, have mercy upon us and turn us from our evil thoughts, desires and ways to Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son and our Savior, for forgiveness and life eternal. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Though Christmas of 2019 is now history, church services and celebrations are over, gifts have been opened — some broken and others exchanged or packed away — and children are back in school and the rest of us back to full workweeks, the real reason for Christmas can bring us joy which lasts the whole year through.

Though Christmas celebrations pass quickly — sometimes even before our minds have accepted the fact that the season is upon us — the joy of the season doesn’t have to pass away or be packed away with the decorations, ornaments and gifts.

The reason for the season — which is often missed and forgotten — takes us back to ancient Bethlehem and the fields surrounding that little but, at the time, bustling city. In that city, now over 2,000 years ago, God kept the promises He had been repeating to mankind for 4,000 years. The Seed of the woman who would crush the head of Satan (Gen. 3), the Seed of Abraham who would bring blessing to all the nations of the world (Gen. 22), the Son of David and the Root of Jesse who would establish an eternal kingdom (2 Sam, 7 and Isa. 11), the Child born of the virgin who is God Himself with us (Isa. 7 and 9), the One who would suffer and die to make atonement for the sins of all people and rise again in triumph (Ps. 22, Ps. 130 and Isa. 53) and that Ruler who was to come from Bethlehem (Mic. 5) was born.

Perhaps the words of Gal. 4, summarize it best: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (v.4-5).

God fulfilled all those promises when Mary gave birth in Bethlehem and laid her child in a manger: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

To understand the true significance of this historic event and why it offers and gives unending joy and happiness, I urge you to hear again what God Himself says of this very real and historical event through His heavenly messenger, an angel. The words of the angel to the shepherds when Jesus was born still apply today. God still tells us what this humble birth in Bethlehem is all about: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Jesus’ birth and the angel’s message are, as he says, good news of great joy for all people, for on that very day in human history, in Bethlehem, was born a Savior who is the long-promised Messiah (the Christ) and also the Lord (Jehovah God Himself in human flesh) come into this world to save us from our sin and the just condemnation we all deserve on account of our sin and disobedience.

God provided a way for sinners like me and you to be spared the just punishment we so deserve and to receive forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Indeed, repentance and faith in Jesus is the only way (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12)!

Because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16), the shepherds were filled with joy and, after they had gone and seen the newborn Jesus, returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

You and I too can continue to glorify and praise God — even after the Christmas season is past — for all we have heard and seen through God’s Word of Scripture, for God so loved us, He stepped into history, sending His own Son to make atonement for our sins, that we might, by repenting of our sinful ways and looking in faith to Jesus and His cross, when our place in history is done, step into eternity with Him.

God grant you Christmas joy all year long through faith in Christ Jesus, God the Son come into this world to be your Savior!



“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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-2 (read verses 1-23)

Once again, through the recounting of the Scriptures, we have heard of the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem of Judea. God the Son was made true man, born of a virgin, and laid in a manger. An angel told the shepherds in the field nearby that this Child was none other than the Savior of the world, the Messiah and Jehovah God Himself!

Wise men (the Bible doesn’t tell us their names or how many) from a land or lands east of Judea learned of the Messiah’s birth through the appearance of a star (cf. Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 60:1ff.) and traveled a great distance to come and worship this newborn King and bring Him costly gifts.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, King Herod was troubled at their quest and inquired of the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah was to be born. They rightly understood the Scriptures and quoted from Micah 5:2, pointing out that Bethlehem was to be the place of Messiah’s birth.

But what happened after this? The wise men continued on their journey and were led by the star to Bethlehem and to the very house where Jesus was. There they worshiped Jesus and offered Him gifts.

Herod the king felt threatened by the birth of the Messiah and sought to kill Him and prevent Him from reigning upon the throne of David.

The chief priests and scribes knew the Scriptures and could tell Herod where the Messiah was to be born, but nowhere do we ever hear of their traveling to Bethlehem to worship their newborn Savior and King.

The question today is: “What about you?”

You have heard of His birth and know of His sufferings and death for your sins (and the sins of the world) and of His glorious resurrection. You have heard God’s offer of mercy and forgiveness to all who repent and look to Jesus in faith for pardon and life eternal. How do you respond?

• Do you reject Jesus and try to silence those who would speak to you of Him because Jesus is a threat to you and to your way of life?

• Do you know all the facts about Jesus and His redemptive work but still fail to come and bow before Him and give Him your praise and worship?

• Or, like the wise men of old, do you follow the star (hearing and believing what the Holy Scriptures say of the Christ Child) to find Messiah Jesus and worship your God and Savior, presenting Him with the costliest of gifts — even your very selves?

Dearest Jesus, You are the Almighty God and our Maker. We thank You for taking on flesh and blood and coming into this world to redeem us from sin and death. We praise You and give to you our treasures and our lives. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]



“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17

This commandment of the LORD teaches us that God requires not only outward holiness but inward holiness as well. Not only are our actions to be pure, but our thoughts and desires as well. Thus, we learn that we not only sin when we commit adultery or take our neighbor’s property or goods; we sin when we desire what belongs to our neighbor and is not rightfully ours.

Therefore, we are not to covet or desire our neighbor’s house, his wife, his servants or employees, his stock, or any of his property. Rather, we are to trust in the LORD God and be satisfied in Him and in that which He has given us.

The Bible teaches us: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

We may not realize it, but our hearts, as they are by nature, are filled with evil thoughts and desires. When we entertain these thoughts and desires, they grow and often even lead to sinful words and actions.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matt. 15:19-20; cf. Jer. 17:9).

This is why God warns against the sin of covetousness, for it is contrary to God’s will and desire for us and leads to acts of disobedience and rebellion. The Bible is filled with examples. David lusted after Bathsheba and took her, even committing murder to cover up his sin of adultery. King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard and committed murder to get it. Judas desired money and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Rather than coveting, which is idolatry and leads to death, the LORD God would have us trust in Him and be satisfied with what He gives us. The Bible tells us: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6; cf. Psalm 37:3-7; Col. 3:5).

From this commandment, we truly see that God commands and desires that we be holy as He is holy — in thoughts, desires, words, and deeds (cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48). Though we have miserably failed to keep God’s holy commandments, Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, has fulfilled them for us by living a holy life in thought, word and deed. He also went to the cross and bore there the full punishment for our sins that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness and life everlasting in heaven through faith in Him.

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my evil thoughts and desires as well as for my sinful words and actions. Cleanse my heart and give me a genuine desire to live for You. I ask this for the sake of your holy and precious blood, shed for me upon the cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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By Randy Moll

This child You trusted to my care.
This child I did in my arms bear.
To Baptism’s water this child I brought,
And faith in You Your Spirit wrought.

This child I told of Your dear Son
And what He by His death has done.
To this child I read Your Word,
And for this child my prayers were heard.

In Your house and on church pew,
I taught this child to worship You.
This child I guided in Your ways
That Yours this child might be always.

Oft I’ve sinned and failed to be
The kind of dad this child should see.
By Christ’s shed blood, You’ve cleansed my soul;
O keep this child from my sin’s toll!

This child You’ve given me on loan
Has gotten big and now is grown.
My hands, too frail this child to bear,
Can only fold and offer prayer
That this child of tender heart
Would ne’er from You or mercy part.

Watch o’er and keep this child of mine
that (s)he may be forever Thine.
To Thee, O Father, God above,
I entrust this child with all my love!
To Thee I bow, my knees do bend.
In Jesus’ name, I say, “Amen.”