Matthew 4:12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Working Together to Fish for People

Hello boys and girls!

How many of your have ever gone fishing? What do you have to take with you when you go fishing? Suppose you forgot to take one of these things with you? Would you be able to catch any fish? Everything you need to go fishing works together to help you catch fish.

Jesus wants to take us fishing, but we’re going to catch something other than fish. When we go fishing with Jesus, we fish for people. Jesus wants us to tell others about what he has done for us and what he wants to do for them.

When we go fishing with Jesus, the job is much easier when we work with other people and when we have all of the equipment we need. Sometimes that’s not easy to do, because sometimes we can’t get along with other people. For example, have any of you ever had arguments with your brothers and sisters? Well, sometimes Christians fight with each other. The apostle Paul tells us that we have to work together and be united in our faith in Christ. When we work together to fish for people, we can do great things.

Let us pray. Dear God, thank you for helping us to fish for people. Help us to work together to tell people about you and lead other people to faith in you. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

Matthew 4:12-23 Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It…

The season of Epiphany emphasizes mission and ministry, and the passage from Matthew 4:12-23 is especially appropriate for today. Jesus has called all of us to serve others as he did, to follow him, to sacrifice comforts, to bless the lives of others, to minister to the sick, and to proclaim the good news of the kingdom.

Jesus walks by all of us, observing our efforts on the job and in our communities, and he calls us. He calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things. He asks all of us to love him above all else and fully commit to obey him. When we do, he will accomplish more through us than we could even imagine. Through him, we can make something of our lives.

The kingdom of heaven is the place where God rules. If God rules in our hearts, then the kingdom of God is in our hearts. For example an orchestra was giving a concert in a large church hall in England. The place was packed. Afterwards a casual member of the church very flippantly asked the pastor of the church when the hall would ever be filled like that for Sunday morning worship. The pastor answered solemnly, “It will be filled when like that conductor I have eighty well-trained, committed and disciplined men and women to work with me.” Oh, how the church needs that today!

When we answer his call, we show that we are willing to leave everything to follow the way, the truth and the life, just like the first disciples left everything to follow him. Jesus invites us to reform and reshape our lives and look at things through the gospel lens.

A minister was delivering a series of sermons in another pastor’s church. While there, a young boy took a special interest in him and sat beside him every evening. If the minister was on the platform, that’s where the little boy sat. If the minister was in a pew, the little boy sat with him in the pew. The minister said later that the little boy was not a bother—he just wanted to sit where the minister sat. Later, the minister found out that the boy’s parents did not attend church.

One evening, when the minister was sitting in the first pew, the boy came and snuggled up very close to him. The boy looked up and asked the minister, “Why are you a preacher?” The minister replied, “Because that is what God told me he wanted me to be.” The boy paused for a moment and said, “God told me just to be a kid”. The minister later wrote, “His response stuck me. I wonder how many of God’s people really know just what God wants them to be.”

In 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush hosted the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast. During this interfaith event, Christians, Jews and Muslims are included and given time to make a few remarks. The guest speaker that year was the rock star known as Bono, leader of the group U2.  During the breakfast, he said, “A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord’s blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it…I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea…and this wise man said: stop. He said; stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing, because it is already blessed”.

Bono believes God is calling him to be an advocate for the poor. He said to the National Prayer Breakfast, “Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what he is calling us to do”. All Christians should be committed to helping the poor, but it might not be our chief emphasis. Not everyone receives the same call from God.

Some of you might remember a TV series from the 1960s called “Mission: Impossible”. If not, some of you might have seen the “Mission: Impossible” movies starring Tom Cruise. In either case, there is a point near the beginning of each episode or movie where the main character receives a message from his superiors telling him what his mission is going to be, and the message always includes the words, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”.

Jesus gives us a similar message. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to proclaim the good news of the kingdom to our world today. That does not mean that we have to seek an active role in ministry. We are all given gifts from God to use in our mission. Some of us are called to leadership roles in our church and parish councils. Still others are called to ministry in the community as lawyers, doctors, accountants, fishermen, mechanics or plumbers. While at first glance these roles in the community might not seem to be a call from God, it is how the people in these jobs perform their daily duties that shows God’s ministry, especially if these tasks are done in an honest, caring and compassionate manner.

Many of you have probably heard the old saying, “No man is an island”, and nowhere is that more applicable than in Jesus’ call to mission. He calls us to do his work as members of the body of Christ and not just as individuals. Lay people and ordained people share the same discipleship or call to ministry, and we are called to complete this mission as a team. We are not always singled out as individuals. In fact, with the exception of Peter (who was often singled out by his failures that were caused by human weaknesses), Jesus rarely singled out any one of his disciples for a special role or function.

Jesus has called us today to be part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise: to bring light into the darkness, joy to those in distress. We are the ones called to smash “the yoke that has burdened them”. Perhaps someone we know who is: going through a harsh divorce; lost a loved one; is looking for work; being put out of their homes; has a runaway child; is in jail; homebound; losing a struggle with a terminal illness, etc. Can we hear Jesus’ personal invitation, “Come after me…”? How should we respond? Where can we strike a light of hope for someone “dwelling in a land overshadowed by death”?

Epiphany is a season about proclamation and the power of God at work in God’s people, to be sure; but it is also a season when the church examines its life and witness and how it understands itself to be the incarnated Christ planted in a local community. Our job is to look outward, to see the opportunities for mission, and engage in them. That is how we proclaim the Good News to a community, and that is how we avoid pettiness and conflict. That is an example that each and every one of us should try to follow in our Christian lives.

Bibliography

  1. Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. Part of Wordsearch Bible software package.
  2. Lead like Jesus Daily Devotional, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011 Devotional. Retrieved from www.messagingstudio.com
  3. Exegesis for Matthew 4:12-23. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com
  4. LWF Daily Devotional. Retrieved from www.lwf.org
  5. Stan Mitchell, “A Calling”. Retrieved from www.forthright.net
  6. Dr. Charles F. Stanley, “An Ordinary Person”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
  7. Joe Stowell, “Making the Cut”. Retrieved from www.rbc.org
  8. Kelly McFadden, “’B’ Team”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
  9. Jude Siciliano, “First Impressions, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A”. Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
  10. King Duncan, “Called to be Disciples”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  11. King Duncan, “A New Calling”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  12. William B. Kincaid III, “Essential Personnel”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  13. Charles l. Aaron, Jr., “Letting Go of Our Nets”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  14. Joe E. Pennell, “The Called Ones”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com
  15. Thomas A. Pilgrim, “The Man from Galilee II: The Transformation of His Call”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com

16. John Shearman’s Lectionary Resource, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany. Retrieved from www.seemslikegod.org/lectionary/archives/thrid-sunday-after-epiphany-%e2%80%93-jan

John 1:29-42 What's in a Name?

You have probably heard the phrase “What’s in a name?” from time to time. Names mean different things to different people. In John 1:29-42, we hear some of the names given to Jesus and given by Jesus.

We heard the name John the Baptist gave to Jesus- “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Deliverance from sin through the blood of a lamb, which was a picture of Old Testament sacrifices, prefigured the coming of Jesus as the Lamb of God. This lamb achieved the final salvation for God’s people through Jesus’ death and resurrection. His death redeemed us from sin, death and Satan. His death also satisfied God’s wrath by making up for our sins.

John’s Jewish audience understood the title “Lamb of God” because they had sacrificed many lambs. This Lamb would be the final, ultimate sacrifice who would take away the sin of the world. As the Messiah, Jesus gathered up all of the Old Testament expectations about an anointed one who would lead and save His people.

Another name that was given to Jesus is “Messiah.” People had high expectations for a rising leader. John the Baptist thought that Jesus was the One…the Coming One…the Lamb of God…The Son of God…The Messiah. But a year or so later, John the Baptist had doubts when the Messiah didn’t act like John thought Messiahs were supposed to act. From prison, John sent his disciples to Jesus with questions: “Hey, I thought you were the Son of God. Why aren’t you Son-of-Godding? Why aren’t you thumping our enemies? Why am I still in jail?”

Another name we heard was “snakes.” John the Baptist could look into people’s souls and see who they really were. That’s why he called the Pharisees and Sadducees “a brood of vipers.” He knew they didn’t want to repent. He also looked at Jesus and knew that Jesus was the Lamb of God. He knew that Jesus had the power to make things new. He knew that Jesus had power over sin and death.

John used his influence to point others toward Christ, just as believers today are called on to do. John’s message was clear: Behold! John the Baptist was the vessel chosen by God to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. God used John to open truths to his people that they can’t understand on their own. Once we have been introduced to these truths, our teachers must hand us over to Jesus so that he can disciple us.

We also heard the name “teacher.” The role of a teacher of the Bible is to bring people to Christ. That’s what Andrew did when he brought his brother Cephas to Jesus. Andrew is a good example for us to follow. Fellowship with Jesus doesn’t end when worship ends. Fellowship should encourage us to share the joy we have with other people. Jesus called Andrew to catch men instead of fish, and that’s the same call he has for us today.

Sinners who look to Jesus will find a great hope. They will find strength and encouragement. One day our struggles will be over. We will see Him and praise Him as the worthy Lamb. Before we can do that, we have to remove everything in our lives that is hurtful and sinful.

God frequently changed people’s names to indicate their special calling. Jesus knows our hearts thoroughly. He sees into them and changes a person into what He wants him/her to become. For example, he changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and he changed Jacob’s name to Israel. That’s why Jesus changed Cephas’ name to Peter. Cephas is an Aramaic word meaning “rock”. By changing Cephas’ name to Peter, Jesus called on him to be the rock on which the church would be built. (In fact, the Roman Catholic Church believes that Peter was the first Pope.)

When Jesus gave Peter a new name, Peter was not yet a rock or a firm foundation. He would later live up to his new name. Like Peter, we have two names. One is the name we were given by our parents. The other one is one we have made, such as “broken heart,” “running scared,” “loved one,” or “a lonely heart.” This is who we are right now, but we can and will be someone else. Jesus looks into our souls, see who we will be, and renames us. If we are faithful, we will be called, “child of God.” He invites us to belong to him. Will we accept this invitation? Will we be witnesses for Jesus like John the Baptist and Andrew?

The name Jesus gives us is “followers.” John the Baptist told even his own disciples to follow Jesus. Jesus’ penetrating question- “What do you seek?” -is for those who truly want to know Him. Genuine followers of Christ are willing to submit themselves to Him. When the disciples answered Jesus’ question with one of their own, they were not asking him where his tent was or the address of the house he was visiting. They wanted to know about the eternal, undying dwelling place of the Lamb of God. They were asking where they could go to be in the very presence of God.

On our faith journey there will be times when we will have questions for Jesus. He loves to hear our questions, but that doesn’t mean that he will always answer them directly. He wants us to follow Him and learn from Him. He invites us into a relationship that will change us forever. As we are changed, we will be encouraged to do Christ’s work in our world. Jesus takes us-ordinary people that we are-and uses us in extraordinary ways. In return, we are to take up our cross, follow him, love him and offer his invitation to others.

In conclusion, names mean different things to different people as I mentioned earlier. The one thing most of the names mentioned in the passage from John have in common is that they describe the different roles Jesus had and the roles we as Christians have to play. Jesus fulfilled all of his roles. Have we fulfilled all of our roles?

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1442-1443)
  2. ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
  3. Fredrikson, R.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 27: John (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  4. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  5. Dr. Charles Stanley, “Bringing Others to Jesus.” Retrieved from www.intouch.org
  6. Ed Young, “Still Counting-Subtraction.” Retrieved form www.edyoung.com
  7. Dr. Ralph Wilson, “John’s Gospel.” Retrieved from www.jesuswalk.org
  8. Exegesis for John 1:29-42. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
  9. Sarah Dylan Breuer, “Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A. “Retrieved from www.sarahlaughed.net
  10. Audrey West, “Commentary on John 1:29-42.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
  11. Pastor Edward Markquart, “Two Witnesses: John the Baptist and Andrew.” Retrieved from www.sermonsfromseattle.com

Mark 1:40-45 Reach Out and Touch Someone, Regardless of the Cost

During the time when Jesus lived on the earth, leprosy was wide-spread. It was a dreaded disease. The word “leper” can refer to a person suffering from any of several different skin diseases. When someone had leprosy, they were covered with sores all over their bodies. Unlike chicken pox, these sores did not go away. When someone had leprosy, their situation was hopeless because there was no cure. To make matters worse, other people considered them to be unclean and were not allowed to touch them. Many people believed that people who had leprosy got the disease because of some terrible sin they had committed.

The law required all such infected individuals to stay away from healthy men and women, but in the passage we heard from Mark’s Gospel, the man approached Jesus. The man clearly believed that Jesus had the power to heal him; he simply did not know if the Lord desired to do so. 

Some ancient manuscripts have the term “being angered” rather than the term “moved with compassion.” If the former reading is correct, then Jesus was probably angry that the work of the devil had enslaved and injured the affected man. That Jesus touched this leper-and theoretically making Himself ritually unclean and exposing Himself to the disease-stood in stark contrast to the rabbis’ treatment of lepers. Jesus was on a collision course with legalistic religion throughout His ministry. The Good News challenges the drudgery of the Old Testament Law. Jesus’ authority challenged the scribes and the Pharisees. His concern for human needs was opposed by the traditions of the church.

Jesus met all sorts of physical needs during His ministry, but leprosy was a symbol of hopelessness. Jesus matches the most difficult of human needs with the deepest of human feelings. He knew the full range of human emotions because He was human. He responded to His feelings by touching the leper. Jesus let the leper and us know that He will take our place-not only in the risk of physical contamination, but in social contamination as well. By doing this, Jesus shows us what true compassion really means.

Jesus’ compassion had a cost. He had to give up His ministry in the city because the leper told people how he was healed. People had to come to Jesus in the desert, just like Jesus comes to us in the deserts of our lives.

The man disobeyed Jesus’ instructions not to tell anyone about his healing. He was affected emotionally and rejoiced. He followed his own feelings instead of following Jesus’ commands.  Why did Jesus strictly warn the man not to broadcast what He had done? First, Jesus wanted more time to define His messiahship on His terms before people could misinterpret it on their own terms. Second, if the Romans learned that He was the Messiah, it would prematurely end His ministry, and He had much more to do before His time on earth was done.

Just like Jesus took the man’s leprosy, He can take our sin. Sin makes us feel alone. We don’t feel like going to church and hanging out with fellow Christians who can encourage us. As we mature in our Christian faith we realize that is when we need Christ and Christian fellowship the most.

Sometimes we may find ourselves in a situation where we are uncomfortable, like when we had the chicken pox. But there may come a time in our lives when we find ourselves in a situation that is truly hopeless. When that happens, where can we turn? How do we find hope in a hopeless situation? We can turn to Jesus. When the situation is hopeless, Jesus is our only hope.

As God gives us opportunities, we can extend grace and show compassion with a gentle touch that conveys dignity and value. The simple, healing power of human touch goes a long way to remind hurting people of our care and concern. More important is the fact that they are reminded of Christ’s care, concern and love for them.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New Kings James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1345)
  2. “Hope for the Hopeless.” Retrieved from www.Sermons4KIds.com
  3. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
  4. McKenna, D.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 25: Mark (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 52-56)
  5. Pastor David McGee, “A Leper No More.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  6. Lisa Samru, “Power of Touch.” Retrieved form donotreply@email.rbc.org
  7. “A Healing Touch.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com

Matthew 3:13-17 Baptism-God’s Call to Us

Today we read about Jesus’ baptism, which was the start of his ministry on earth. Since baptism represents the washing away of sins, and Jesus was sinless, why did he need to be baptized? It was because his baptism fulfilled God’s saving activity as foretold in the Old Testament and culminating in his death on the cross. In other words, Jesus came to bring salvation to everyone. Jesus was willing to set a good example by doing God’s will, and it was God’s will that everyone who believed in him be baptized.

John the Baptist’s baptism emphasized repentance or turning away from our sins. Baptism represents the turning away from the old to the new, from our old ways of life to the kingdom of God. The baptism of Jesus (along with the descent of the Spirit, the proclamation of God and the witness of John) was a sign to both the people of his day and to us of something extraordinary. It was a sign that God wanted to become one with us and yet be different from us at the same time. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension gave baptism an entirely new meaning. Jesus’ baptism was a complete indication of his identification with the kingdom he was announcing.

Jesus’ baptism shows the glory of God’s plan and how all the details are important to God. Jesus heard the Holy Spirit call him to speak the truth and live with grace. Christ came to identify with sinners and give them his righteousness. His baptism was a part of that righteousness, and it was also a key part of Matthew’s plan to show his Jewish audience that Jesus is “God with us”. Jesus entered the same waters that his Jewish brothers and sisters entered, and by doing so they trusted that the God of Israel was still with them and could deliver them from the forces of evil. Jesus had to join with them to show them how far God would go to be a part of their lives so they could be a part of God’s life.

Jesus shows us the same thing. He shows us how far God would go to be a part of our lives so that we can be a part of God’s life. When he insisted that John should baptize him, Jesus wanted to melt into the crowd of the marginalized and rejects of society. By being with them, Jesus would raise them up, meet them in their despair, give them hope, be with them in their pain, comfort and cure them, accept them in their shame and bring forgiveness to them. Since Jesus also wants us to have right relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters, he went out and preached, healed and reached out to those who asked for forgiveness, who needed healing and who wanted to hear God’s Word.

Jesus was baptized so he could be one with us. Are we bold enough to be one with him? Can we, like Jesus, go into the dark lives of people to open their eyes and free them from sin? This can be hard to do if we are not washed of our cowardice, but when we are washed in the faith, Jesus will give us the strength we need.

Jesus’ baptism was for everyone, including the Gentiles. Acts 10:34-43 marks the acceptance of the Gentiles into the Christian community. The Gentiles did not have to show any prior observances. God is for everyone. He has no barriers to his love, and we must not put up any barriers to anyone who wants to come to God in faith.

John the Baptist did not want to baptize Jesus because John was faced with the real authority of the Son of God. John did not know what to do. John had to be faithful to his calling-preaching and baptizing in repentance-so that Jesus could be faithful in his calling. We also have to be faithful to the calling to which we have been called-preaching, singing in the choir, printing bulletins, cleaning the church or some other task. God’s way is through humble service to others, and Jesus is a good example. We have a choice-follow the wide gate to an earthly life that will lead to death and destruction, or follow the narrow gate to eternal life. By submitting to baptism, Jesus showed that God cares about us. Jesus came to a place where he did not belong so we could go to a place where we could not go otherwise.

Jesus’ submission to baptism was no simple act of personal piety. Jesus saw John’s baptism and fiery preaching as a declaration that there would be a new world order where God will set right what the evil world did wrong. By submitting to John’s baptism, Jesus declared that he was ready for this new world order-a new world order he starts with his ministry.

We as Christians are called to live out our baptism. We can’t afford to make ourselves comfortable or do only what will be appreciated or be satisfied with the way things are. We have to struggle with what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s important and what’s not important. Baptism changes us. It is a celebration of grace and an enactment of the Word of God.

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus’ baptism was the start of his earthly ministry. He had to have a clear sense of God’s support and identity before he could begin his mission. Our mission is the same as his mission, and before we can start our mission, we need to have the support and identity that only our faith in Jesus can provide. That identity is as a child of God.

Baptism calls us to service. God had a purpose for Jesus, and he has a purpose for each and every one of us. This purpose is to identify God with us in Jesus by serving justice in the world until God establishes justice on the earth.  This purpose will be made clear to us at a time and place of God’s choosing. We can’t change God’s timetable. He does things in His own time and in His own way. He gives us a vision. He reveals to us why we do what we do. He gives us a purpose even in our pain. If we are faithful, great things will happen. They might happen immediately, or they might not happen for two or three generations. They might happen in our lifetime, or they might happen after we die, but if we are faithful to God’s calling, great things will happen.

Doing what God requires is difficult. For some, it means becoming more humble, because they have gotten too proud. For others, it means becoming more forceful, because they are too meek.  For others, it means going out and helping the needy. We must also remember that what we think is the right thing to do may not be what God considers to be right. For example, Joseph thought he was doing the right thing when he planned to divorce Mary after she became pregnant, but it wasn’t what God wanted.

We must listen for our calling. We must not be afraid if God calls us to do something great. We must not be ashamed if God calls us to do something small. We must be faithful and prepare ourselves to see the heavens open and hear God’s voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Bibliography

  1. ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible Software package.
  2. Augsburger, M.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 24: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
  3. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.;2006)
  4. Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, The Baptism of Our Lord (A)”. Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
  5. Exegesis for Matthew 3:13-17. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
  6. Richard Mansel, “Living the Truth”. Retrieved from www.forthright.net
  7. Roland McGregor, “Epiphany 1-January 9, 2011”. Retrieved from mcgregorpage@intenex.net
  8. Brett Younger, “The First Step”. Retrieved from goodsermons@goodpreacher.com
  9. The Rev. Dr. Bill Leonard, “The River”. Retrieved from www.day1.org
  10. David Lose, “The Power of a Good Name”. Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
  11. Brad Ronnell Braxton, “Ready for Revolution”. Retrieved from www.religiononline.org
  12. Dave Risendal, “Salvation is proclaimed”. Retrieved from http://onelittleword.org
  13. Peter Clarke, O.P., “Baptizing Jesus”. Retrieved from www.torch.op.org
  14. The Rev. Ben E. Helmer, “Baptism of our Lord, 1 Epiphany (A)”. Retrieved from http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com

Colossians 1:1-14 Being Christ-Like

“What are these clothes for?” asked Addy. She was at her friend Kara Johnson’s house, and Mrs. Johnson had the dining room covered with dresses, pants and some items of clothing Addy didn’t even recognize.

Kara laughed. “Mom helps the drama department over at the high school with costumes for their plays. She’s going through some old costumes to see which ones can be used again.” Kara picked up a red dress. “Hey, Addy,” she said, “You want to try some on? Mom will let us, won’t you, Mom?”

“If you girls are careful,” said Mrs. Johnson.

For the next hour or so, the girls went from being ladies of the 1700s to aliens from outer space. Their favourites were the animal costumes. Addy was a zebra and Kara was a lion. The costumes completely covered them except for air holes and a slit for their eyes. “Mrs. Johnson, my dad is out mowing the lawn. Can we walk past my house in our costumes? He’ll never know who we are, and I can’t wait to see the look on his face!”

Mrs. Johnson laughed. “Sure,” she said.

The girls giggled as they went quietly out the back door and then behind some trees to the sidewalk. They didn’t want Addy’s dad to see them coming from the Johnson house. They waited until he turned the mower toward the sidewalk, then they hurriedly walked past him.

Addy’s dad turned off the mower. “Oh no! My daughter has turned into a zebra and her friend is a lion! What shall I do?”

Addy removed the zebra head. “Da-a-d! How did you know it was us?

He laughed. “Your walk, Addy. I knew who you were by the way you were walking.”

The family had a good laugh about Addy’s costume over supper that night. Then Addy had a thought. “This is kind of like what we were talking about last week, Dad, when I was having problems with some friends at school. You said people should know I’m a Christian by the way I live my life-that I needed to walk the Christian walk.”

“Exactly right,” said Dad. “The Bible tells us that others should know we belong to God by the way we walk. Every step we take should honour Him.”

In the opening verses of his letter to the Colossians, Paul offers thanksgiving and acknowledges all three Persons of the Trinity. This divine ministry is the foundation of our Christian life and worship. Paul’s reference to Jesus as Lord foreshadows a key theme in this letter: the supremacy of Christ.

The triad of faith, hope and love is found throughout the writings of the early church. The hope that grounds the faith and love of the redeemed carries a certain expectation; it is rooted in the promises of the faithful God, thus the truth of the gospel changes lives and offers the certainty of heaven. The heart of the Gospel is the transcendent grace of God.

When Paul compares the work of the Gospel in Colossae with that in all the world, it is not hyperbole. Although the gospel message was young at the time Paul wrote the Letter to the Colossians, it had already spread from Jerusalem to Syria, Greece, Israel, Egypt and beyond. The Greek literally reads that the gospel, “in all the world has been bearing fruit and growing as it is among you.” This reminds us of the fruitfulness commanded by God in Genesis 1:28 and John 15:6. The true gospel message will prevail over competing voices, no matter how attractive they may seem.

Paul prayed that the Colossians would “be filled with the knowledge of His will.” The rest of the Letter to the Colossians describes the result of this prayer in the believer’s life. Knowledge alone is never enough. God’s Word must change one’s life and way of thinking, literally filling the believer’s life and motivating every area of his or her being. Sometimes Christians fail to live by the will and Word of God because they fall prey to false teaching; others fail through neglect, neither reading the Word nor applying it.

Paul believed that when there is faith and love, there is a well-founded hope of heaven. That hope comes when we hear the gospel and it produces abundant fruit in our lives. This fruit is produced when we let God’s love into our hearts.

God’s love allows us to understand what He does, what He wants, what His purposes are for our lives, and what He wants us to do for Him. The world He has made is so beautiful that it invites us to study His works and understand His perfections.

The will of God and the wisdom of God are inseparably linked with saturation in the Word of God. Godly wisdom is gained by studying His Word; spiritual understanding is how His children discern His will. Both wisdom and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit. They do not come from an unspiritual or fleshly mind. Such spiritual knowledge provides insight into God’s will; however, no one can anticipate the will of a stranger. Christians who long to discern God’s will discover it in their growing knowledge of who God is and what He wants.

When believers please the Lord constantly, that is their Christian walk. When they produce fruit consistently, that is their Christian work. When they progress in knowledge continually, that is their Christian wisdom. When they persevere in stress cheerfully, that is their Christian welfare. When they praise God correctly, that is their Christian worship.

The better a person knows God and His Word, the better he or she knows what is pleasing to God-a knowledge that becomes second nature, producing confidence by discerning God’s will rather than fear. This knowledge produces fruitful character, conduct, conversation and contributions (giving of resources). It also increases, becoming a part of who they are. They no longer rely solely on experience; they progress in their understanding of God as they progress in their understanding of His Word. People who take God’s Word seriously don’t just read it to see what it says; they make it a map for life so they can learn what to do…and then they do it.

Those who immerse themselves in God’s wisdom know how to persevere for the long haul and in the daily grind not just in the moments of crisis. Followers of Christ do not simply endure difficulties as the world does; they triumph in them in joy because they see spiritual realities beyond their circumstances. Joyful living in the midst of difficulty is the litmus test for Christians, because its only source is God. 

There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It is a gift that Jesus paid for with His life. All we have to do is accept it in faith. When we do, we will be fit for heaven-a community where there are different laws and where we will be changed.

Paul knew he was Christ’s ambassador, and he offered proof with healings, conversions and the establishment of churches. We are Christians are also ambassadors for Christ. We have been called, and we are to be faithful to that call. We are Christ’s brothers and sisters.

Christ gives us direction. We see things are they are and we see where we are going. Our greatest need is the direction Christ gives us. That direction includes the freedom He gives us. That freedom includes freedom from Satan’s power. Satan’s power can only control us if we let it. If we say “no” to evil and “yes” to Christ, evil won’t have any control over our lives.

God is pleased when we depend on the Holy Spirit to do good works. He is also pleased when we spend time studying His Word and learning more about Him. He will give us spiritual understanding. Spiritual growth can’t happen unless we know God. We will know when spiritual growth happens when we have a deeper love for God’s Word, a more perfect obedience, a strong foundation in doctrine, and expanding faith and a greater love for others.

Do others know you’re a Christian by the way you walk? That doesn’t mean that you tiptoe or march, but how you live your life. Could someone tell you’re a Christian by your kindness, patience and joy? Or do you walk the same as everyone else? Ask God to give you the wisdom to walk in a way that honours Him.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New Kings James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1670)
  2. “Watch your Walk.” Retrieved from www.keysforkids.com
  3. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
  4. Dunnam, M.D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 31: Galatians/Ephesians/Philippians/Colossians/Philemon Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 327-340)
  5. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles bible: New Kings James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
  6. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)

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Matthew 2:1-12 Christ Came for All of Us

The Feast of the Epiphany is the day when we remember the visit of the three wise men, but we also remember that Jesus came into the world for everyone-Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, upper class people and lower-class people, humble shepherds and wise men and so on.

It is also a happy time or a sad time depending on how you look at it. It marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and the end of the holiday season. For most of us, the decorations have been put away for another year, the parties and celebrations are over, visitors have returned home, and we are settling back into our daily routines after the Christmas season. We, like the Magi, need to break away from our daily routines and busyness to take time to look for the Christ Child. It might mean stopping in the midst of our daily lives to pray that God will help us center our thoughts on Jesus more than our daily lives. It might mean that we have to put down our to-do list to pick up our Bibles to read and absorb God’s Word.

The wise men endured a long, difficult journey. They endured dangers, hardships and scorn to find Christ, and so should we. When they found him, they worshipped him, and so should we. They set an example for us as Christians to follow. The Magi were on a quest, looking for more in their lives. They were not satisfied with the way things were. Otherwise, they would have stayed put. Change started for them when God made the first move and showed them a light in their darkness. They didn’t have to follow that light, but they picked up and began a journey that took them to Christ. They left their daily routines to find Jesus.

The star the Magi followed was not a natural phenomenon. It is a reminder that we need divine intervention to find out where Christ is in our lives. The busyness of our everyday lives can distract us from seeing the Messiah. When the light of Christ dwells in us, it guides us and blocks out the light from outside, worldly distractions. The light of Christ gives us the strength we need to make the name of Jesus known throughout the world.

The wise men studied the stars and believed in astrology. They believed that a person’s destiny was influenced by the star they were born under. They believed that if something strange happened in the sky, it was because God was breaking into the natural order to announce some special event. That is why they noticed and followed the star of Bethlehem. They had a limited sign and came to the Messiah, but those who knew the truth about God, his words and actions failed to take the Messiah’s birth seriously when they found out about it. In fact, they, like Herod, saw it as a threat to their positions and their way of life. Herod even saw it as a threat to his rule.

The Magi could not return to their old way of living after they met the Messiah, and we can’t return to our old way of living after we meet the Messiah. Jesus’ presence changes everything. There is more to life than our routines and careers. Life has more meaning now because the light of God’s presence is among us.

Those who refused to take the Messiah’s birth seriously were wrong. Jesus was a threat to their positions and their way of life because he challenged their way of doing things. He challenged them to change their ways, accept God in faith and follow his ways and teachings. He was ignored and despised not only because he challenged the established way of doing things, but also because he was not the type of Messiah people were looking for. They were looking for a Messiah who would come from the established ruling class and drive out the Romans. Instead, they got a humble servant who came from earthly parents who belonged to the lower classes of society. This fit in with one part of God’s plan for salvation-concern for the poor and disadvantaged members of society.

Epiphany is more than the inclusion of the Gentiles as part of God’s Kingdom. It is about breaking down the barriers that divide people. It challenges us to reconsider how we look at people whom we see as being outside the boundaries of God’s love. We must remember that God’s love knows no boundaries. We must take off our spiritual blinders and welcome those whom we don’t want to love.

The wise men represent us in God’s plan. They represent everyone who sets out in search of a king and finds the son of God. They gave Jesus the most precious material gifts they had, but each and every one of us can give him something even better-ourselves. Those who, like Herod and the chief priests and scribes, try to derail God’s plan for salvation will fail. They are no match for God or God’s people. God loves everyone, and Jesus came to save everyone.

The Magi were foreigners in the eyes of the ruling class, but Jesus was of keen interest to them. They went out of their way to find him and set treasures before him. The gifts the Magi brought were symbolic. Gold was a gift fit for a king, and Matthew’s Gospel introduced his Jewish audience to a king who would rule with love instead of hate, peace instead of violence. Frankincense is a gift for a priest. Jesus ministers to God on behalf of men. Myrrh is a gift for someone who is about to die. Jesus came to die for us on the cross. As we end another Christmas season, one of the best things we can do is to think about what gifts we can bring to him.

Bibliography

  1. Billy Graham, “Who Were the Wise Men?” Retrieved from www.arcamax.com
  2. Augsberger, M.S. and Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 24: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
  3. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NASB (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2009)
  4. Jim Liebelt, “The First Christmas Gifts”. Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  5. Mel Lawrenz, “” Magi”. Retrieved from thebrookletter@me.com
  6. Exegesis for Matthew 2:1-12. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
  7. Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, Epiphany of the Lord (A)”. Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
  8. Karen Ehman, “Search Carefully”. Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  9. Fr. John Boll, O.P., “Volume 2, Feast of the Epiphany (A)” Retrieved from Volume2@preacherexchange.org

Ephesians 3:1-12 The Greatest Gift of All is for Everyone

Well, Christmas is almost over for another year. For most of us the holidays are over, and our lives get back to normal. Children will be going back to school, people will be going back to work, family and friends will be going home (if they haven’t gone home already), and we will be settling back into our normal routines.

There is one more part of Christmas to come, and that’s why I said that Christmas is almost over. There is one more gift for all of us, and on the Feast of the Epiphany we receive that gift. That gift is the fact that Jesus came for all of us-both Jews and Gentiles. This concept is represented in the visit of the Magi, but it is also represented in the legendary story of the fourth wise man-a man named Artaban.

As he journeyed with his friends, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, he became separated from them. He never made it to Bethlehem. For many years he sought the Christ Child and in the process had many adventures and assisted many people, including dying beggars and frightened mothers, to whom he gave two of the three great jewels he had originally planned to give to Jesus. He even traveled to Egypt, hearing that Jesus and his parents had gone there, but was again frustrated in his quest. Now, after 33 years of searching he arrived in Jerusalem, hoping at last that he might find the child.

 At Passover time, Artaban, now an old man, noted an unusual commotion and inquired about its cause. People answered him, “We are going to the place called Golgotha, just outside the walls of the city, to see two robbers and a man named Jesus of Nazareth, who are being crucified on crosses. The man Jesus calls himself the Son of God, and Pontius Pilate has sent him to be crucified because he claims to be the king of the Jews.”

 Artaban knew instinctively that this is the king he had been searching for his whole life. Thus, he rushed to the scene. On the way he encountered a young girl being sold into slavery. She saw his royal robes and fell at his feet pleading with him to rescue her. His heart was moved and he gave away the last jewel for her ransom. Just then, darkness fell over the land and the earth shook, and great stones fell into the streets. One of them fell upon Artaban, crushing his head.

As he lay dying in the arms of the girl he had just ransomed, he cried out in a weak voice, “Three and thirty years I looked for thee, Lord, but I have never seen thy face nor ministered to thee!” Then a voice came from heaven, strong and kind, which said, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brothers or sisters, you did it to me.” Artaban’s face grew calm and peaceful. His long journey was ended. He had found his king!

This popular story powerfully presents the Epiphany message. The three magi of whom Saint Matthew speaks in his gospel brought their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, recognizing Jesus as priest, prophet, and king. Additionally, their presence in Bethlehem demonstrated how Christ was manifest to the nations. In a similar way, Artaban’s adventure showed that Christ calls us to manifest his glory to all nations. Artaban’s goodness and openness to all, even those he did not know, brought the face of Christ, namely the one he sought, to him. Additionally, those to whom he came, the poor and destitute, became Christ to him. Without realizing it, all his life he had been achieving his goal, to see the Christ Child. We, in turn, are challenged to be Christ to others; we must be ambassadors of the Lord.

God came to us in the form of Jesus so that we could come back to him. When we come to Christ, we are adopted into his family. We are also freed from the bondage of sin. That freedom has a purpose, which is being part of God’s plan for our lives. Our lives and the paths we take in life matter to God. We are to remember this when our lives seem aimless and without direction.

The church was unknown in the Old Testament and the Gospels. It wasn’t fully revealed until the events in Acts 2 occurred, especially the events that happened on the Day of Pentecost. It was not fully explained until Paul began his mission. The heart and soul of the mystery of the church is that Jews and Gentiles are joined into one body. The Gentiles are fellow heirs with the Jews, fellow members of God’s household, and fellow partakers of the promise of salvation for everyone. This process started with the visit of the Magi, but it was not fully realized until Peter preached to and baptized the Roman centurion Cornelius and his family.

Paul was the apostle, teacher and preacher to the Gentiles. The sufferings he experienced during his ministry were on their behalf, just like Jesus’ suffering and death were for everyone-both Jews and Gentiles. There are times when we as Christians will suffer for our faith like Paul, Christ and the disciples did. When we praise God, especially when we suffer, it forces us to keep our eyes on him and lifts us out of the pain of our suffering. It allows us to see clearly how God works in and through all believers to change something that is evil into something that is good. That does not mean that God causes pain and suffering. It means that God is with us and that he can use our suffering for his purposes.

Paul’s calling to preach to the Gentiles was the disposition of God’s grace. God not only appointed Paul a minister of the Gospel to the Gentiles through grace, He also anointed Paul with power. This verified Paul’s apostleship-an amazing thing considering that Paul so violently persecuted the church previously.

Christ came to unite Jews and Gentiles into one body of believers through the Gospel. Christ revealed the mystery to Paul on the road to Damascus and at other times during his ministry. The purpose of his ministry was of interest to angels, especially since they rejoice when a sinner repents.

The mystery is made known to us through both God’s direct intervention in our lives and through Scripture. This revelation is a gift for everyone, whereas until Christ was born it was seen only as a gift to the people of Israel. We are to share the promise with everyone.

If we enlarge our horizons, our theology will not be restricted to a denominational understanding but will affirm the ecumenical affirmations of the Christian faith centered in Jesus Christ. To be sure, we ought to preserve the best in our own theological tradition, but admittedly we do not possess the whole truth. We can learn from one another, and as we dialogue we sharpen our basic convictions.

In order to share the gift, we have to use the gifts God has given us. Some of us have the gift of preaching and teaching. Some of us have the gift of singing. Others have the gift of leadership, and still others have the gift of just being able to talk to other people and share what God has done for them in their lives. We know what our gifts are, but we also know our limitations. We don’t have to worry, because God will make up for our limitations.

God created the church to be a public testimony to his grace-a place where anyone (both Jews and Gentiles) can go to receive a constant flow of mercy, and a place to hear the message of the Gospel. Yet the church not only declares the truth to humanity; God also designed the church to display the truth to angels.

The church is called to be a house of prayer. God’s people don’t need a priest to be a mediator to approach him, as was required in the Old Testament. Jews and Gentiles both have full access to God through Jesus.

Within the church there are to be no divisions due to race, spiritual or social reasons. Faith gives us free and unlimited access to God. When we place our trust in God, it opens the way for us to communicate with and have fellowship with him at any time and in any place. Anyone and everyone can come to him. We can do so because of God’s grace.

God wants everyone to see and share his wisdom. It’s up to us to make certain that this happens. Sometimes we can’t see that Christ came for everyone and can use everyone. We need to share our gifts and burdens just like Christ shared himself with everyone-both Jews and Gentiles. We are to spread the Good News to a world that desperately needs to hear it. When we spread the Good News, we are to share it with everyone, because Christ came for everyone-and that is the greatest gift that everyone can give and receive.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 1642-1643)
  2. Preaching Magazine, November/December 2015 (Nashville, TN: Salem Publishing Inc.; p. 65)
  3. ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
  4. Dunnam, M.D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 31: Galatians/Ephesians/Philippians/Colossians/Philemon (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pgs. 175-182)
  5. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
  6. Don Ruhl, “Our Job: Make People See the Manifold Wisdom of God.” Retrieved from comment-reply@wordpress.com
  7. Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Moments of Weakness.” Retrieved from mydevotional@leadingtheway.org
  8. Joni Eareckson Tada, “Let Me Not Shrink.” Retrieved from communications@joniandfriends.org
  9. Dr. R.C. Sproul, “Answering the Ultimate Question.” Retrieved from Corsswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  10. Pastor Bob Coy, “Access-able.” Retrieved from www.activeword.org
  11. Don Ruhl, “The Privilege of Sharing the Preaching of Christ.” Retrieved from comment-reply@wordpress.com
  12. Richard Hasler, “Enlarge Your Horizons.” Retrieved from http://sermons.com/sermon/enlarge-your-horizons/14228
  13. Richard Gribble, “Ambassadors of the Lord.” Retrieved from http://sermons.com/sermons/ambassadors-of-the-lord/1467337

John 1:1-18 Let the Light Shine upon Us

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God”. This is John’s version of the nativity story. It doesn’t begin with shepherds and angels and a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. John’s nativity story takes us back to the beginning of creation and time, and it echoes the creation story in Genesis. In John’s Gospel, the very God who created the heavens and the earth and who breathed life into Adam was the same God who became flesh and lived among us. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature because he is God himself. This fulfills the purpose of John’s Gospel; namely, to prove that Jesus and God are one and the same.

Prior to Christ’s birth, there had been 400 years of silence since God spoke through the prophet Malachi. During this period of silence, the people were straining to hear a word from God, so God sent the Word. But first, he readied the world for the gospel. Because of the influence of Alexander the Great, the spreading of the Greek language made communication much easier. Also, because of the roads and general peace of the Roman Empire, missionaries could travel everywhere with less difficulty. Finally, with all of the Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire, evangelists had many synagogues from which to preach the Good News throughout the known world.

The first Christians were Jewish, but the Gospel spread quickly to the Greeks, who knew nothing of the messiah or the fulfillment of prophecy. John had to translate these concepts into language that the Greeks could understand and appreciate. The Greek idea of “word” was “the mind of God”, or reasoning. In their minds, everything that exists was made by God. John is saying to the Greek world, “Jesus is the mind of God in human form”.

It is a concept that is so big our finite minds have difficulty understanding it. Jesus was in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but he came down to earth in the form of a human being. He walked among us and subjected himself to our human weaknesses even though he was God in human form. He walked on the earth for 33 years, but most people never even recognized him. They thought of him as being the carpenter’s son.

Whatever Jesus does, he does with grace. Whatever Jesus says, he says in truth. If we want to understand what God is like, all we have to do is look to Jesus. God came to us in Christ. When hostility and enmity exist, we can break the silence because of Christ and offer what God has offered us-a word of Grace. The true light came on the first Christmas-the light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it. This does not mean that darkness won’t attempt to overcome the light; however, its efforts will be unsuccessful because the light of God always prevails, even in the darkest hours of history.

Light equals life. The Light of Christ has come into our lives. Do we see it as a disturbance, or do we see it as the Light of life, like the shepherds did? This light brings peace, comfort, reconciliation and joy into our lives. The light came into the world where he could be seen and enlighten human understanding, but in spite of all that, the world failed to recognize him-did not understand him-rejected him-crucified him.

There is a story about two brothers, named Tom and John, whose father had died. He had willed the farm to the two of them to keep his sons together. It had not worked that way. John had married and lived in a small town with his family. Tom, who remained single, lived alone in the old farmhouse. “John is always preoccupied with his family,” Tom thought. “I do more than my share of the work.” He began to resent his brother. “Tom is always so grouchy,” thought John. “He is jealous of my wife and children.”

A wall of resentment built up between them. They would hardly speak to each other. They attended the same little church in town and sat on opposite sides of the nave during the Christmas Eve service. John was troubled because they had hardly acknowledged each other’s presence as they sat in church. On the way home John said to his wife, “Tom is alone and has no one to share Christmas. I know he won’t come here. Maybe we can take a warm dinner to him.” His wife prepared a delicious meal and John put it into a sleigh and started from the small town to the farmhouse in the country. Meanwhile, Tom, sitting alone, said to himself: “Life is too short for this. John is my only brother and he has it hard with his wife and family. I will load my wagon with wood for the fire and gifts for the children.” So he loaded his wagon and drove toward town.

Down in the valley between the farm and the town they met. They were silent for a moment and then they embraced with shouts of “Merry Christmas!!!!” Reconciliation took place at that moment, and the true light of Christmas was bright with a glow that could be seen for miles around.

In the Anglican Church, we do not have altar calls, spelled “A-L-T-A-R”, but Jesus always issues an altar call, spelled “A-L-T-E-R”. He calls on us to change our lives for a better fit. He calls on us to change habits that drag us down. He calls on us to read our Bibles and pray daily. He calls on us to help the less fortunate. By doing these things, we will shine the light of Christ and the light of this Christmas season on all of humanity throughout the year and draw others to him.

Bibliography

  1. The Rev. Wm. McCord Thigpen, “Christmastide: A Reminder Where Our Hearts Belong”. Retrieved from www.day1.org
  2. John Munro, “The Mystery and Mission of Christians”, Decision Magazine, Dec. 2010, pp. 30-33.
  3. Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NASV
  4. Exegesis for John 1:1-18. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.org.
  5. Pastor Steve Molin, “Do You Like Beginnings?” Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.org
  6. Pastor Steve Molin, “Alter Call” Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.org
  7. Pastor Vince Gerhardy, “God Has a Word for You”. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.org
  8. Dr. Harold Sala, “The Incarnation”. Retrieved from www.guidelines.org
  9. Jill Carattini, “To the World as We Know It”. Retrieved from www.rzim.org/Slice
  10. Arthur J. Schoonveld, “Christmas Response”. Retrieved from www.thisistoday.net
  11. Notes from Peter Anthony’s Bible Study on the Book of John, 2010-2011
  12. Pastor Jim Collins, “Success Scripture of the Week: Dec. 20, 2009”. Retrieved from www.beyondpositivethinking.org
  13. Anne Graham Lotz, “The Revelation of God”. Retrieved from www.angelministries.org
  14. Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. Part of Wordsearch Bible software package
  15. ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch Bible software package

Matthew 2:1-12 The Star That Leads the Way

Good morning boys and girls!

Did you have a good Christmas? Did you get lots of gifts?

Did any of you go on a trip over Christmas?  How did you get there? Did you have to get directions? How did you get them? Did you ask someone? Did you go online and get directions? Did your parents use a GPS system or a map?

A long time ago there were some people who went on a journey. Can anyone guess who they were? They were the Three Wise Men. Let me tell you the story.

After Jesus was born, some wise men, also called Magi, saw a star in the sky which they believed announced the birth of a king. They traveled to Jerusalem and began to ask, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”   Herod heard about the Magi and their search for a king and he was deeply disturbed. He called a meeting of the priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” The priests told Herod that the prophet Micah had written that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod called a private meeting with the wise men and said to them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

The Wise Men didn’t have a map or the Internet or a GPS system. They had something even better to guide them. They had a star.

So the wise men followed information that the priests had given to Herod and the star that God had given to guide them and it led them right to Jesus. When they found him, they gave him gifts and bowed down and worshiped him.  

Wise men, women, boys, and girls are still searching for Jesus. There are people who want to help — people like pastors and Sunday School teachers. There is no map to help us find Jesus and there is no star to follow, but we do have the Bible. We can find the way to Jesus by reading God’s Holy Word! The Bible is the map and star that will lead to Jesus. All of us should read it every day to make sure we are headed in the right direction!  

Let’s close our eyes and bow out heads for a moment of prayer. Dear Jesus, we seek you today because we want to worship you and crown you as our King. We are thankful for pastors and Sunday School teachers who want to help us, and we are thankful for the Bible which we have been given to lead us to you. Amen.

Bibliography

  1. “Seeking the Saviour.” Retrieved from www.sermons4kids.com