Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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13 Christmas Prayers – Part 4

Matthew 2:7-12

7Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Wise men

Prayer should always affect the direction of our lives, when God reveals Himself we need to respond. One of the greatest Christmas responses is the account of the visit of the Wise Men from the East. This intriguing tale of strange men from some faraway land who brought Christmas presents to the baby Jesus is filled with mystery. Yet what we first see is that these men met God in the midst of their work as they were studying the heavens. Do you look for God to meet and communicate with you where you are?  There were probably others who noticed the star but they did not pay attention to it. For the wise men it wasn’t enough to see the star, they wanted to follow it to see the Savior. As God revealed Himself in the heavens it motivated them to make a treacherous journey across the desert. Christmas must always motivate us to go because when God has your attention you will followed His leading. They set off to worship the newborn king of the Jews, why, because following God’s leading leads to worship. What has your attention this Christmas, is it God? What are you following and where is it leading you? Is what you are following leading you to worship? At one point the star is no longer visible so the wise men stop and ask for directions. They are searching for a King so they stop to ask directions from a king. It’s interesting that the Magi had no trouble gaining an audience with King Herod, that fact alone shows us how important and distinguished they were. Herod wants to know why they were there and finds out that they have come to worship a new King.  He then wants to know where this threat to his throne was located because he was preoccupied with power, possessions, prestige, and with paranoia. Which begs the question whose kingdom are you concerned about? So he turns to the scribes and religious leaders for advice. He has only one question in verse 4: “Where is this child to be born? “The scribes don’t have to look it up. They already know the answer, 700 years earlier the prophet Micah in Micah 5:2 had predicted the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. That was common knowledge in Israel, even little children learned that in school, but Herod didn’t know. If you add what the scribes knew to what the Wise Men figured out, you can conclude that the signs of Jesus’ coming were clear enough for anyone to see, God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear. The Wise Men heard and did something; the religious scholars knew and did nothing. It’s not just about what you know it’s about how you will respond to what you know. As the Magi set out for Bethlehem, which was only five miles south of Jerusalem, the star they saw in the east suddenly reappears. Verse 9 is very specific, it says the star went on before them until it came and stood over the very home where the baby Jesus was. That doesn’t sound like a natural star. It sounds like God wants to guide and direct our lives.

Have you ever wondered why they weren’t disappointed when they finally found Jesus? Strange question I know, but He did not look like a king and His home did not look like a castle. He had no scepter in his hand, commanded no armies, gave no speeches, passed no laws. No royal decree came from his lips, there was nothing to make you think he was a King. To the outward eye, he was nothing but a peasant child born in dire poverty, yet to the Magi, he was a King. He possessed more royalty in a poor house than Herod had in a palace. They worshipped Him, that word literally means “to kiss toward,  to intensely adore.”  These educated and extremely intelligent men were not ashamed to fall on their faces before Him. What Herod craved, the child received. The first thing they gave was themselves in worship, before they gave what they had in their hands, they first gave their hearts to Jesus. They bowed down and worshipped and then they opened their treasures. God wants your life before He wants your gifts. Some of us are trying to give our gifts to God while we hold tightly to our lives.

Their journey didn’t conclude with the worship of Jesus because the worship of Jesus is the journey. When it was time to leave, look who they were following – God, He warned them and they listened to Him. Many of us make worship and prayer a destination when it’s really a journey. This journey forever changed their lives because they put commitment to their conviction, feet to their faith.  They didn’t just sit there staring out into the heavens, when they got their sign, they got going. Are you a seeker or a sitter?