Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Wise Seek Faith in Jesus Christ – Part Two

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. [Matthew 2:12-16, NIV]

Scripture simply tells us that an unnumbered group of wise men came to see and worship Jesus in the house Mary and Joseph obtained in area of Bethlehem. No distinct timeline is given, but we can be certain the visit took place in the first two years of the life of Jesus, for Herod commanded all male children under the age of two be massacred. The wise men received guidance from God. He gave them a star to guide them.

No one knows exactly what these wise men saw, but there are at least two natural possibilities, not to mention the supernatural possibilities. We know Jesus was born between 8 and 4 B.C., for Herod died in 4 B.C. Therefore, we are looking for extraordinary or supernatural astronomical phenomenon that occurred during this short period of history, and there were two such events. In 7 B.C., there was a brilliant conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, and while some scholars believe this is a possibility, I consider it doubtful. In each of the years, 5, 4, 3, and 2 B.C. there is recorded an unusual astronomical phenomenon. In each of those years, on the first day of the Egyptian month, Mesori, Sirius, the Dog Star, rose at sunrise, and shone with extraordinary brilliance. The name “Mesori” means “birth of a prince,” and to the ancient astrologer, such a star would undoubtedly mean the birth of some great king. Whatever the star they saw, we can be sure that some heavenly brilliance spoke to them of the entrance of a king into the world.

This guidance that spoke to them must be considered. God will not withhold guidance from any who sincerely seek Christ. If a person wants to find Christ and sincerely seeks Christ, God will guide that person to him. Likewise, if you truly seek the will of Christ for your life, God will guide you. God wants every person to find Jesus and to know, that is to have an intimate relationship with, Jesus; God does everything he can to help all who seek Jesus to find Jesus, for without Jesus we would remain eternally lost.

If ordinary means are not sufficient, extraordinary means will be used to provide guidance. In the Scripture, we find a combination of the ordinary and the extraordinary. We have the extraordinary astronomical phenomenon, and we have the ordinary priest and scribes interpreting the extraordinary writings of the prophets. If you are seeking Jesus and his will for your life, and if God is unable to communicate effectively with you through ordinary means due to your blindness, he will use the extraordinary and miraculous in order that you receive the guidance you need. The powerful political leaders and religious leaders were not seeking Jesus. Even when they heard of him, they rejected him and wanted nothing to do with him. They did not want to give up their comfort and their power to seek the true Messiah. They knew what we sometimes forget. Two bodies cannot occupy the same place, if one comes in the other goes out. People know that if they seek Jesus and accept him, self and Satan can no longer occupy their life.

If we do not find Jesus and his will for our lives, it is certainly not for the like of the star. The star was available for all to see, but only a small handful of people saw and followed the star. God wants very much for us to find Jesus and Jesus sincerely wants to make his will known to us. If we seek the will of God, he will provide the guidance for his revelation.

Prayer: God, help me to recognize that you have the right to break into my life turning my plans and my dreams upside down, putting me on a course of your own choosing. Lord, you know my heart and my innermost thoughts. You know my fear of taking risks, I ask for faith to allow you to include my life in your larger plan. I ask for courage to walk in the way you designed for me. I ask for assurance that your will is my best choice and my greatest fulfillment. Amen.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Wise Seek Faith in Jesus Christ

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 when it rose and have come to worship him….” Then Herod … sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose 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, frankincense and myrrh. [Matthew 2:1-11, NIV]

In these verses, we find men with inquiring minds reaching out in search of the One who could bring peace and happiness to their lives. You might say these were early Gentile seminary students. These men started out on a long journey to find answers to the greatest subject in world history. This subject is just as great today, and those who seek the answer just as wise as these weary travelers from the east. Their wisdom was not in what they knew. The wisdom came through the search for this new King and the relationship they sought with him. Their search was for God Incarnate who came to earth to reveal to us how to relate to Jesus as God. These wise men asked the essential questions. Where is Christ? Who is Christ? How can I find Christ and have a relationship with him? Those who ask these questions and seek answers to these questions are wise, but true wisdom comes in the intimate relationship with Christ, placing no other before him.

While we find many truths in this passage, one truth worth noting is that these men were not Jews. They were not of God’s chosen race. They were gentiles, heathens from another land. Yet, they realized a great event had taken place. Prophecy was once again being fulfilled; for you see, from his birth, Jesus was rejected by his own culture. Scripture teaches us that Jesus came unto his own, but his own did not accept him. They did not receive him as their Savior and Lord.

These strangers recognized Jesus and desired to worship him. They traveled many long and difficult miles to bow down their weary bodies before this young toddler and humbly worship him. Great men of worldly wealth and knowledge, bowing before a toddler, what humility these men showed. They truly came to Jesus with childlike faith and worshiped him and the humblest of places.

Their faith reminds us of the faith the prophets of old had that one day God would send a Savior. It reminds us of the faith we must have in Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior if we are to have everlasting life. Without faith, we cannot please God. These wise men placed their faith in Jesus Christ, for a changed life and a new future. The Jewish scribes’ exampled apathy and they did not experience faith in Jesus, for they were too consumed in their own lives. Herod exampled self-centeredness and became obsessed with eradicating the world of Jesus, so that he would be remembered and worshiped. What does your life example?

Prayer: God, we recognize that you have the right to break into our lives, our plans and our dreams, and put us on a course of your own choosing. Lord, you know our hearts and our innermost thoughts. You know our fear of taking great risks with the only life you have given us. So, we ask for faith to allow you to include our lives in your larger plan. We ask for courage to walk in the way you design. We ask for assurance that your will is our best choice and our greatest fulfillment. In the name of our Savior, who gave his all on our behalf. Amen.