December 9, 2019
The Christmas season is notorious for traffic and travel. Over the course of the next three weeks, many people will travel great distances to celebrate with loved ones. The highways will be clogged with travelers, some of whom will not be exhibiting the joy of the season. Hopefully for you, all of the going will be worthwhile as it results in great times with your loved ones. I know that will be the case for us. The first Christmas was noted for its travelers as well. Mary and Joseph traveled about eighty miles in a journey that probably took them anywhere from a week to ten days; a journey made even more complicated by a pregnant young woman riding on a donkey. “Wise men” traveled from the East, probably somewhere in the Persian Empire, to pay homage to a newborn King. Shepherds left their flocks and traveled into nearby Bethlehem to confirm the news delivered to them by angels who had traveled from heaven.
I’m sure most of us have read or quoted the words of the Christmas story found in the scriptures many times. The story, though familiar, has so much meaning that we can apply to our lives these many years later. Part of the Christmas story is in Matthew, where the words written about the “wise men” or the “kings” who came from the east are found. Matthew 2:1-2, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” These men had the Old Testament scripture, their faith in God, and eventually a shining star to guide them to Jesus. Doesn’t it seem odd that if all of the Hebrew scholars of the day knew what the wise men knew, why they wouldn’t have come to worship him too? Maybe, even though they knew the same things, they were caught up in the desire to have a political or military Messiah who would lead their nation to greatness in the world. But the truth was always there, they just seemed to miss it. The wise men on the other had embarked on a journey of faith. They left their homeland in the east when they saw the star, they made the connection between the star and the appearance of a new king who deserved their worship, they traveled a long way for a long time, they had to consult with local experts and deal with local politicians, and they followed the star which appeared again for the final destination.
May I suggest that each of us is on a journey of faith as well as we come to the conclusion of 2019. As believers, we are on a journey directed by God, just like the wise men. But sometimes we can feel like His guidance fades away before we reach our destination. May we learn from the wise men what it takes to keep pushing on in our spiritual journey as we begin a new year. May we be encouraged that like the wise men learned, the journey takes time, and we need to be patient. May we also be reminded that the destination is worth the effort and that God gives direction when we need it. Most of all may we learn and be reminded that we must be willing to ask for direction and not just forge ahead blindly in our spiritual journey. We must know that God’s direction is found in His Word. We also realize that the “scholars” of our day also know the same scripture that we find so familiar, and like their counterparts of old, choose to deny or ignore the truth of Jesus.
When the wise men found Jesus the Bible says that they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9-12, “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” Their response to Jesus is a model for us, even so many years later. Our worship today should be a joyful expression, not drudgery or an expectation. The focus of our worship should be on Jesus, not on us, or a pastor, or a worship style. We need to bow down, just like the wise men did, and demonstrate that we are submitted to the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ. May our lives in the New Year prove, that God deserves, and will receive our treasures not our leftovers, and by doing so lead many to come and kneel before Him as well, acknowledging Him as their Lord.
Katie and I would like to express our love and appreciation for each of you. We thank you for the encouraging words and support we receive from our FCS family. Our prayer is that each of you will have a wonderful Christmas and a joyful New Year.