In Daniel 3, every but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bow down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. These three men refused to bow down, even though it came on penalty of death (though we know that the Lord delivered them from Nebuchadnezzar’s hand).
When we receive something from someone without seeing our need for it, we tend to be less grateful toward them. We don’t take the gift seriously, and it doesn’t affect our lives as much. A similar result can happen in our relationship with Jesus. He meets us where we are, but if we aren’t in a place where we recognize our need for Him, we can easily brush Him off.
Have you ever wondered what it means to be a Methodist, really? Or, maybe you’ve wondered if there is really a core of essential content to Methodism? Maybe it is just the church you go to if you get married and he’s Baptist and she’s Roman Catholic. You know, the compromise church. Or maybe some of you know recent Methodism too well and you see it not as the compromise church but as the compromised church.
I was asked to write this article on Epiphany by Chip, and in all honestly my first question was, “Chip… what is Epiphany?” You see, most of the great folks I work with have a Methodist or Anglican background. I, on the other hand, have a Baptist background, and we Baptists don’t celebrate Epiphany. When I asked Nicolet, “What is Epiphany?” she laughed and said, “Chip probably doesn’t remember you’re a Baptist.”
His arrival astonished our human expectations. Matthew describes it in this way: “‘They will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:23). God came to earth in Jesus Christ to be with us. We have the privilege of traveling through life with the greatest Teacher, Friend, and Savior we could ever know.
The new year is a great time to commit yourself to spiritual disciplines, and one of the most important disciplines of the Christian life is reading the Bible. We encounter the Bible when we go to church, and attending public worship is itself a key Christian discipline. Private reading, however, is edifying in its own way; and that’s what I want to talk about here.