Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

32 Joy to the World

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Matthew 2:1-11

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” 7 Then 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.

Many of the songs that the world sings at Christmas time herald harmony and happiness, songs like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” It’s tempting to think of Christmas as a trouble-free season, but let me ask you honestly, is harmony and happiness what you are experiencing? Probably not, for some personal problems are stealing your peace, for others family fighting and failure has left you furious and fatigued. Some tired of the expectations are on the edge emotionally, injured and isolated. Others are left feeling frazzled from trying to create the picture perfect Christmas. For many Christmas feels more like a crisis than a comfort, with more chaos than cheer. Maybe this season the world seems less like a winter wonderland and more just like winter. Instead of rejoicing you just feel run over and run down.  But did you know that disillusionment at Christmas is not an unusual thing. We get so hyped up with expectations about what Christmas is supposed to be that often the real thing just doesn’t measure up, leaving us disappointed, disillusioned and depressed. So what can you do this Christmas to avoid disillusionment? How can you discover the true delight and not the disappointment? The answer to this mystery is found in the story of the magi in Matthew 2 as we answering three questions:

  • What do you seek?

Your level of joy and satisfaction is directly related to what it is you seek. We need to ask ourselves some serious questions this Christmas: What is it that you want to get out of Christmas? What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? Snow? Finding the perfect present for that special someone? All the family home together and happy? Getting that great gift? The problem with all these desires is that they can leave us disappointed. Have you ever been disappointed by Christmas because it did not deliver what you desired? The problem wasn’t Christmas, it was your expectations. Many of us waste our time looking for the wrong things. In Matthew chapter two the magi show us how to experience joy at Christmas by looking for the right thing. What were they were looking for? Verse two tells us that they came to Jerusalem and said, “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.” They were looking for Jesus, He was the reason for their journey. Their joy was wrapped up in Jesus not the junk. For them Christmas was a call to worship the One who is worthy. Is Jesus the reason for your rejoicing? Is worship what you want? Are you excited about praising the Prince of Peace or the presents? What if worship was what we wished for, and a fresh glimpse of God was first on our list? What if our desire was for the Savior this season,  would we be dissatisfied? Do you desire a walk of worship, is Jesus what you are looking and longing for? When we worship the things of this world they leave us wanting, but when we worship the Savior we feel full and satisfied.

  • Where do you look?

Your level of joy is directly related to where you look. The magi teach us that there are wrong and right places to look for Christmas. They stopped at Herod the Great’s palace, where human reasoning said one should look. The star indicated the birth of a new king in Israel, so they went where kings should be born, to the capital city of Jerusalem. Human reasoning wants to look for a throne not a trough. What made sense was really a mistake for when Herod heard of the birth of a new king, he jealousy sought to destroy Jesus. How many have been tempted to listen to what society says and look for joy at Christmas in all the wrong places. We can easily get of course looking for happiness in our homes, or when it’s tied up under a tree, or when we try to find it in family or food.  The right place wasn’t found in a palace, it wasn’t in a building but the bible, God’s Word. Only when they looked to God did they get it. The priests pointed to the prophet Micah, who foretold that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Are you going to look to the Word or the world?

  • What do you give?

Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to what you give. The magi came bearing gifts, they were prepared, proactive in their praise. They gave appropriate gifts, gold a gift fitting for a king, acknowledging that Jesus was and is the King. They presented Him with frankincense, a gift fitting for a priest, acknowledging that Jesus was the priest, the One who would intercede and bring us back to God. They gave myrrh, a fragrant ointment used to anoint the body before burial. By giving a gift for the dead they acknowledged that Jesus had come to die for the sins of the world. What are you giving for Christmas this year? What if you like the magi gave an appropriate gift this Christmas? Not a material gift like money but one with more meaning. What if you gave yourself?  What if you gave your time to your family, or that gift of love to the lonely? The gift of help to those who are hurting, or the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt you. What if we would share the gift of salvation with a stranger?  Or cloth those who are cold with Christ’s compassion?  What if joy isn’t so much what we seek but what we share? What if this Christmas you gave your heart to Jesus? When we look for the right thing, look in the right places, and give the right gift we will discover the Messiah the true meaning of Christmas joy.

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