December 28, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Part IV The Wise Men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”…After coming to the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 1:1-2 & 11(NASB)

Three Wise Women. . . would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stables, made a casserole, brought practical gifts. . . and there would be Peace on Earth!

The saying above is embroidered on a hand towel that resides, during this season, in my guest bathroom. Obviously it is meant to provoke a giggle or two out of the reader. But it is interesting that I would put it out considering my Christmas decision regarding the Nativity.

This year, I left the Wise Men out of the manager. Why? Because they were never there to begin with! Not that I have a problem with the wise men at all. I just got a bit literal this year. However, despite the fact these divinely inspired travelers didn’t arrive until “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem,” they still play a large part in our Christmas celebration and in God’s plan for the family of the Child Jesus. There is much to be learned from the sparse references allocated to them in Scripture. Notice with me the following items.

The first thing is that they were wise. Not only were they wise, they acted upon that wisdom. Boy, if there ever a New Years Resolution to be made, here it is! God grant me wisdom from you and obedience to act upon it. I doubt anything else needs to be said.

Second, their objective was to worship. Again, they were obedient to their objective. This begs the question – it is ever our objective to worship? I certainly hope so, but face it, we are not perfect. On Sunday, is your goal to worship replaced by just trying to make it to church on time? Making sure the preacher is done by noon so you can get out to eat before the other churches let loose? Rats, I forgot to bring mints! Hmmm. Just asking.

I find when I replace the attitude of “what is the preacher going to say today and am I gonna like it?” with “I am here to worship” worship actually happens. I must admit that sometimes worship just spontaneously combusts! But more often, I need to make a point to put myself in that position by pushing aside all distractions and petty thoughts so worship has room to occur. Then when it does – nothing else matters! It’s just God and me, everything is perfect. The wise men were bound and determined to worship – no long journey without GPS hindered their desire.

Third, they presented Christ with their treasures. It’s interesting to note that the presenting of gifts occurred only after worship had taken place. Their worship was true, genuine and immediate. The gifts were not presented first as a bribe. Not sure why I just thought to write that, oh well.

Now, back to their treasures. It was their treasures that were offered to the toddler King. They gave of themselves. They brought their best. I don’t believe one brought the gifts and the other just signed the card. The Word says it was their very own possessions they brought and they offered. Where does that leave us? What do I have? What do you have? Let me remind all of us with Romans 12:1 – bring Him yourself.

Even though the wise men were not present at the actual birth of Christ our Lord, the part they play in our Advent is no less amazing. They bring much to the table for spiritual consideration. I had to smile as several weeks ago Brother William preached from this passage in Matthew and he spoke at great length on godly wisdom in our lives. Knowing then what I felt ready to write for this particular week after Christmas, well, it made me feel I was on the right track. Lord, help me to stay there!

I’ve heard said, “Wise men still seek Him.” Wise women too! Let our objective in 2011 be to gain in His wisdom, lavish Him in worship, present to Him our treasures and live in obedience to Christ alone.

May the peace, grace and wisdom of our Lord be with you in this New Year,

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