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Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Theme: People who are truly wise still come to Jesus.
Date: 01/06/2018 File name: Wise_Men_Still_Come_to_Jesus.wpd
ID Number:
Some of you may be wondering, "Why in the world are the Christmas decorations still up in the sanctuary?
Christmas was two weeks ago.
It’s time to move on already!"
I asked that they be left up for a reason.
Most Christians assume that the day after Christmas ends the Christmas Season.
We assume this because everything 'Christmasee' all go on sale — lights, wrapping paper, tinsel, bows, Christmas cards, etc.
While some of you were taking advantage of the post-holiday bargains, you probably noticed that the department stores were quickly taking down their Christmas decorations to make way for the Valentines Day decorations.
We assume that the Christmas Season is over because the decorations in our homes have been boxed up and put in storage, and the Christmas tree has been disassembled.
We assume that the Christmas Season is over because the parties have ended, the company has gone home and you have started your post-holiday diet.
We assume that the Christmas Season is over because all the Bowl games have ended.
But, according to the traditional Christian calendar, the Christmas season really isn't over until the end of today.
January 6th is known as Epiphany and, according to church tradition, is the day the Wise Men showed up in Bethlehem to pay homage to Christ Child.
It signifies the extension of salvation to the Gentiles — for which most of us here this morning ought to be really glad that Christianity didn’t stay a “Jewish thing”.
Now, I know that as Baptists, we really don't much care for church tradition — especially ancient church tradition — and especially ancient church tradition that we think has anything remotely to do with Catholicism.
But, in my defense, let me quickly say, that: 1) some traditions are good in that they teach us important truth about our faith, and 2) a lot of church tradition predates Roman Catholicism.
According to tradition, the wise men found the new born king of the Jews, not on Christmas Day, but twelve days after his birth.
That's where the tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas that we sing about comes from.
The Sunday that follows the first 12 days after Christmas is called Epiphany.
I love that word — it's a word that means to show or to reveal.
Eastern Orthodox churches refer to it as Theophany Sunday, and Protestants have traditionally called it Three Kings Day.
Whatever you prefer to call today, it celebrates the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to the Christ child.
In doing so, they reveal Jesus to the world as Lord and King and teach us some important spiritual truths about our faith-walk as Christians.
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2:1, NIV)
1. what significance do we find in this verse?
2. if it is true that these Magi were Persian Astronomers (as most biblical historians believe they were), then they were men who had made a long, and arduous journey
a. the trip from Persia to Palestine is a distance of about 1,200 miles
That’s the distance from Linn, Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah.
b. in our day of modern travel, we think nothing of driving a several hundred miles in a day, or flying a few thousand miles in a couple of hours
1) we forget that their journey would have been by foot or perhaps camel
2) we forget that their journey would have been fraught with dangers and hardships
c. if they were lucky, they made 15 miles a day by Camel caravan making it three-month trip
3. lesser men may well have turned back, but these men had received the revelation that the King whose kingdom would never end had been born
a. they were determined to let nothing stand in their way of expressing their homage to this King
b. their determination teaches us an important lesson
1 determination means a resolute willingness to carry through with a commitment
2. let me be honest with you this morning; the church in America is currently raising its second generation of biblically illiterate, spiritually incompetent, narcissistically self-involved baby saints, who do not know what it means to be committed to the Lord, Jesus Christ
a. the typical attitude toward church today is "What's in it for me?
What do I get out of it if I go?" “What’s the payoff?”
Back in September, I got a phone call from a women who was searching for a ‘church home’.
I get one or two, perhaps three of those calls a year.
Usually it’s from someone whose family has just moved into the community.
She grilled me about our programs and ministries.
She ask about our style of worship — are we contemporary or traditional?
She asked about the general tenor of our theology — are we conservative or more moderate.
But mostly she wanted details about our children's and youth programs.
Secondary was what kind of programs and ministries we have for adults.
Bottom line — she was asking "What do you have for me and my family, if we come to your church?"
She was shopping for the best spiritual bargain in town.
Now, let me say — I think it's important that we establish programs to meet the spiritual and ministry needs of our people from preschoolers through senior adults.
But let me tell you of the phone call that Pastors day-dream about.
It would go something like this: "Hello.
My family and I have just moved into your community.
We're looking for a church home that will allow us to use our spiritual gifts and talents to minister to the church and community in a variety of ways.
My husband and I both like to sing in choirs.
Do you have a choir?
Oh, and we just love churches that have kept their piano and organ.
We will be there every time the doors are opened.
Oh, and by the way, we're tithers."
In 40 years of ministry, I've never had that conversation.
If I had, you’d be searching for a new pastor because I would have dropped dead of cardiac arrest.
3. 1st, a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ no matter what
Most of you know the story of Job in the Old Testament.
Job was a man who lost almost everything of earthly importance to him.
In a few catastrophic days, he lost his wealth, his community standing, his children, and his health.
His wife, whom I'm sure was in a state of shock and mourning herself, urged her husband to curse God, lay down and die.
Instead, Job retains his faith and confesses a great confession when he declares, “Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.
27 I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.” (Job 19:26–27, HCSB)
a. Job is confessing that even though he has no earthly reason for trusting in God, yet he will do so anyway
1) even if there is nothing tangible in it for him, he will still believe and worship
b. a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ no matter what
4. 2nd, a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ and to His Body — the Church — no matter what
a. after 40 years of ministry I’ve discovered one great truth about God’s people ... the vast majority of Christians are absolutely 100% committed to their church — as long as they've got nothing better to do
A couple of years ago, the following letter appeared in a Christian magazine.
Dear Pastor,
You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then.
I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons:
Christmas (either the Sunday before or after); New Year (either the Sunday before or after); Easter (that’s Spring Break and we need to get away to ski); July 4 (either the Sunday before or after); Labor Day (I work hard, and I need to get away); Memorial Day (I need to visit family in my hometown); End of School year (Kids need break); Beginning of School year (kids need one last fling); Family Reunions (Mine & wife's); Deaths in Family; Anniversary (Weekend getaway with the spouse); Sickness (One per family member); Business Trips (A must); Vacation (Three weeks); Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, clouds); Ball games (at least two); Unexpected Company (Can't walk out); Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back); Super Bowl.
Pastor, that leaves only two Sundays per year.
So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August unless providentially hindered.
Sincerely, A Faithful Member
b. a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ and to His Body — the Church — no matter what
5. 3rd, a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Christ, and to Christ's church, and to ministry no matter what
Many churches have a Beau Geste view of ministry.
Beau Geste is an adventure novel written by P.C. Wren in 1924.
It details the lives of three English brothers who enlist in the French Foreign Legion.
Their last name is Geste and the oldest brother is named Michael, but is know to everyone as Beau.
In the novel’s climactic battle that movie, the Arabs are attacking the Legionnaire fort where the Geste brothers are stationed.
After days of attack, only four Legionnaires were left alive.
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