(Cross-posted on YouVersion)
Message #2 of "Surprised by Christmas"
Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church; Federal Way, Wash.; www.oursaviorsbaptist.org
Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 (My notes from the 10:45 am service, I pray they will be helpful to you. Would love your prayers for me, our church and our pastoral staff)
"I finally found what I've been looking for."
What are you looking for? Peace? Happiness? Something different? Or perhaps truth?
--- Sincere Seekers ---
Matthew 2:1-12 - the magi - number unknown. Probably from Babylon (modern day Iraq), probably 600-800 miles from Jerusalem based on the route. These people studied the sky and God used a method designed for this group of people. God will provide directions to anyone who is honestly looking for Him. God doesn't believe in coincidence, He believes in appointments.
1. ...are guided by GOD TO GOD. (in a way that reaches out to them). Has there been a star shining in your life and you've been trying to close your eyes to it?
2. ...go; intending to RESPOND. If you're really looking, you should be anticipating a change in their life - not just to receive, to be satisfied, but to give. If everything was good as-is, why look for something else!
"We saw the star and came, intending to worship."
3. ... PERSIST in seeking. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Even when there are obstacles, keep on going. Even when there's more to go, keep going. Keep pursuing God. A lot of time passed between the time the magi left and the time they arrived (they arrived at a house and found a child - as nice as the arrival-the-night-of-birth story is nice, it's not true.).
4. ...become SINCERE WORSHIPPERS.
As great as the gold and incense from Frank was, the magi knelt down and worshipped, they gave their lives. It's hard to bow down in worship - it leaves you vulnerable. You are admitting that you are not the king of your own life and that can be tough.
Why hold back?
We go to church, not worship.
We have lots of other things we need to do.
Promise: You will find
Motive: Intend to respond
Result: You will become a worshipper
--- Suspect Seekers ---
There is a reality to sincere seekers that phonies can't imitate.
1. ...get IRRITATED BY SINCERE SEEKERS.
When King Herod heard, he was concerned.
2. ...let others do the SEEKING FOR THEM.
Herod consulted advisers and then sent the magi on, asking for a report back, saying he'd visit later. You can't rely on a church sermon or a TV preacher to do it for you. (Herod could see Bethlehem from Jerusalem.)
3. ...may CON SOME people, but can't CON GOD.
The magi didn't realize that Herod wasn't genuine in his interest (let alone dangerous). Don't bother being fake. If you do want to be genuine, ask God for help, be honest.
4. ...ultimately SHOW THEIR TRUE COLORS.
(Show true colors = nautical term - sail up to an enemy, flying that enemy's flag - but at the last minute, raise the actual flag and begin firing.) If you're not genuine, why bother.
--- So then ---
Calvin: "I feel bad that I called Susie names and made her feel bad."
Hobbes: "Perhaps you should apologize."
Calvin: "I keep hoping there is a less obvious solution."
1. This morning, DISCERN WHICH you are, and DECIDE WHICH YOU WILL BE.
2. This Christmas, seek JESUS CHRIST intending TO RESPOND TO HIM.
Stop seeing only the baby in the manger, see the king.