Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

30. Christmas Courage – Part 3

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Matthew 2:1-12

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, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘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.’ ” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 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!” 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. 

The story of the Wise Men in not just about the journey but also:

  1. THE JOY Vs 10-11

It’s easy to get caught up in the junk instead of the joy, especially during the Christmas season when things are not going well and the world tells us that everything should be wonderful. But Luke 1:5 reminds us of the reality of that first Christmas, that it was in the days of Herod, which were horrible days not happy ones. Their nation was broken, ruled over by Rome and enslaved. Herod was a foreigner and a deputy of Rome. Today we too have a broken and divided nation. Right now many of you are living with major disappointment. Some of you are in the middle of a relational rupture, you have a rift in your relationship. Your marriage is a mess, or maybe you’re the parent of a prodigal, or the kid of a problem parent. Some of you are trying to digest some devastating health news. Some of you are trying to figure out how to financially afford Christmas. Some are dealing with depression, some are overwhelmed by sadness or hijacked by anger. While the song is telling us that it’s the best time of the year, the truth is we are living in the days of Herod and things are not always happy. We seem to forget that in many ways it was chaos for the first Christmas characters. Mary was pregnant through the Holy Spirit, Joseph was devastated and had decided to divorce her. The Priests were apathetic, Herod was angry, the Wise men had to leave everything that was familiar and step out in faith on a difficult and dangerous journey. The shepherds were scared and had to leave their flocks in the middle of the night. Then Mary and Joseph had to travel 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem while she was pregnant because of the census. They arrive only to find that there is no room and she has to give birth out back. God’s Son traded His throne for a feeding trough. The first Christmas wasn’t pretty or problem free, yet even though it was painful, from God’s perspective it was perfect because it provided us with a solution to our sin problem. The perfection was not in the circumstances it was in Christ. Today we are trying to find joy in the journey instead of in Jesus. So we have replaced the raw reality of Christmas with a romantic perfect Pinterest picture. We have reduced the story of redemption to a Disney fairytale, where everything is perfect and prince charming rushes us away to live happily ever after. And so we live our Christian lives trying to follow a fairytail, looking for the perfect spouse, so that we can have a magical marriage, chasing after the perfect church where we will be well fed and always feel good. But what do you find when you chase after a fairytail, disappointment. Christ’s coming was never about changing our circumstances it was about Him changing our hearts. In the midst of the mess God was on the move. So instead of focusing on the problems we need to focus on the His provision, peace with God. Our joy is not based on our circumstances it’s based on Christ. It’s here in Matthew 2:11 that we see the Wise men’s joy was not the result of their work but in who they worshipped. Joy will move us not just to worship the Savior but to:

  • Submit to the Savior Vs 11

The wise men submitted to the Savior, they bowed down in worship. But how ludicrous is this scene of submission, grown men bowing to a baby boy? We don’t like submission, from a worldly perspective it make no sense, so we fight bowing and serving the Savior. But notice they were seeking the one Born KING OF THE JEWS, when you view Christ as King, submission always makes sense. True worship will include an acknowledgement of God’s sovereign right of control over our life. Their first response to the Redeemer was to give themselves in worship. While Herod was preoccupied with power the Wise Men were preoccupied with praise. Before they gave what they had in their hands, first they 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. If we are not careful we will make Christmas about the gifts and miss God, it’s not about the presents its about His presence. While they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh the greatest gift they gave wasn’t their gold it was God’s grace, it wasn’t the Myrrh it was the message of the Messiah’s birth. Not only were they worshippers, but they were witnesses to a watching world. The world witnessed their journey of faith, what about your witness, what do others see? The greatest gift we can give is the gift of God’s grace. Submission to the Savior always results in:

  • Serving the Savior Vs 11

They came prepared to serve, they were intentional. We all have a gift to give, the problem is many of us are judging its worth based on what others have to give. Stop focusing on the talents and treasures chests of others because the worth wasn’t in the treasure it was in the worship. We get preoccupied with the contents of their treasure chests but it’s not about their gifts of gold, frankincense and Muhr. Its not about the money its about the Messiah.  The greatest worth they had to offer wasn’t their wealth it was their worship. They gave their gold to God and while we may be mesmerized by the money because we use it as both as our standard and security that wasn’t what brought the joy. The treasure was just a tool to be used to flee from Herod and survive in Egypt. To Mary and Joseph it might have been memorizing but to Jesus it was pretty meager. He had just stepped out of eternity into time, how do you think a couple of treasure chests of gold compares to the Glories of Heaven, a chest of gold yeh I have streets of gold. The truth is that we have become blinded by the bling, we compare ourselves based on coins, we judge our worth based on our wealth. Which leaves most of us feeling worthless and the rest struggling and striving to maintain. We have missed the point, it’s not about the gold it’s about God. It’s not about our salaries it’s about our souls. Your kids are not craving your wealth they want you, they want your love and your life. The truth is you are so much more than money you’re God’s masterpiece and He has placed within you His greatest gift. What if you stopped holding back and started giving back? So what about you are you living in the joy or in the junk? Are you caught up in the work of the journey or in the worship of Jesus?

 

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