Back to the Best of Christmas
Part 4: Where Do We Go from Here?
Sermon by: Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 1, 2012
*We usually put three wise men in the manger scene, even though they don’t really belong there. The Scripture doesn’t tell us how many there were. And by the time they arrived on the scene in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary had moved into a house. Based on the information the Wise Men gave to Herod, Jesus may have been two years old when they finally saw Him.
*But the wise men were wise. And we can all learn something from them as we begin a brand new year. Let’s read their story in Matthew 2:1-12.
*Zig Ziglar tells about a young couple lost on a road, way out in the country. This was before the days of GPS and cell phones, but the couple spotted a farmer, so they stopped the car and asked him, “Sir, could you tell us where this road will take us?”
*Without a moment's hesitation the wise, old farmer replied, “Son, this road will take you anywhere in the world you want to go, -- if you are moving in the right direction.” (1)
*Well, here we are in 2012, the start of a brand new year, and the question is: “Where do we go from here?” We need to go in the right direction. And the wise men can help us find it.
1. First: Go forward with determination to find the Lord
*This is what the Wise Men did in vs. 1-2:
1. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
2. saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.''
*These men showed incredible determination to find the Lord. Pastor Victor Yap explained: “The wise men were wise because they made the move, acted in faith and sought the child. . . They not only saw the star, they sought the King.
*They decided that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. So they crossed deserts, braved storms and risked many dangers to see the sight.” (2)
*These men had been searching long and hard when they found the Lord. They had come 400, 500, maybe even 1,000 miles on camel or foot. Ronald Horgan said: “Imagine traveling that far on the back of a camel. (One hump or two?) It might not be that bad if you were on a two-humper. Maybe you could settle in between the humps and put it on auto-camel. But imagine being on top of a one-humper trying to keep your balance the whole way! And it was a long and difficult trip across the desert.” (3)
*All of that effort, why did they do it? -- From a worldly point of view, the wise men had everything they could have wanted: Education, wealth, power, prestige.
*They certainly had prestige, because all Jerusalem heard about their arrival, and eventually they were ushered in to see King Herod. The Wise Men also had money, because they were able to give great treasures to Jesus.
*They had everything the world could offer, but there was something missing in their lives. They had a spiritual hunger that drove them to the highest goal. They were seeking the King.
-Seeking to find Him.
-Seeking to know Him.
-Seeking to get close to Him.
-Seeking to worship Him.
-And this is the greatest goal we can ever have in life.
*But after all of that effort, they had still not found Him. It would have been so easy to give up. Two years on the road: “My feet hurt! -- I’m getting tired of this. Let’s go home!”
*But they didn’t give up! They kept on searching. And they found the King. So will we! -- God promised us in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” And in Matthew 7:7, Jesus said, “Seek, and you will find.”
*The Wise Men prove to us that this promise is true. They found the King! They found the King of Kings! But more than that, they found the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for them. And you can find Him too!
*If you seek the Lord, you will surely find Him. But how hard are you willing to seek the King? -- God wants us to go the distance. Seek the Lord with all your heart!
*Joseph Stowell served as President of the Moody Bible Institute from 1987-2005. During that time he told about a visit to a home for mentally handicapped children. Dr. Stowell said that when he was walking down the halls, he noticed that the windows were covered with tiny hand prints. He asked the director, what they were all about, and the director said, “The children here love Jesus, and they are so eager for Him to return, that they lean against the windows (looking up for the Lord in the sky).” (4)
*That’s the eager spirit we need in seeking the Lord. The wise men were determined to move forward in their spiritual life. And that’s the way God wants us to be in 2012.
-So in Galatians 5, He tells us to “walk in the Spirit.”
-In Hebrews 12, He tells us to “run the race that is set before us.”
-And in Phil 3, Paul says: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
*God wants you to be moving ahead in your faith. You may be in a spiritual traffic jam right now. But don’t stay stuck! -- God will help you to move ahead.
-Go forward with determination to find the Lord.
2. And go forward with declarations of your faith.
*Christians we need to make declarations like the wise men made in vs. 2. There they said: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
*That was a bold declaration of their faith! -- And we know so much more than the Wise Men knew 2,000 years ago.
-We know that Jesus Christ came into this world to save us from our sins!
-We know that He died on the cross for us.
-We know that He rose from the dead and went back to Heaven.
-We know that He sent His Holy Spirit to be in the world with us today.
-And we know He will come to live in your heart, if you will trust Jesus as Savior and Lord.
*We’ve got something to say! -- So make bold declarations of your faith. Even a small testimony can help change someone’s life forever.
*About 15 years ago, Jill Briscoe went to an international conference for Christian women. Many women came from countries where they were persecuted for their faith. And one young woman told how she became a Christian, in spite of growing up under Communist persecution.
*When no one else was around, this girl's grandmother used to whisper three little words in her ear, “God loves you.” Nothing else, just “God loves you.”
*Eventually the grandmother passed away, and the little girl grew up. But after the fall of Communism, missionaries and evangelists began preaching freely in this young woman's country. One day, she went up to a street preacher and asked, “Can you tell me about the God who loves me? Do you know who He is and where I can find him?”
*The preacher told this young woman about Jesus Christ. And she trusted in the Lord. But it was her grandmother who planted the seed. It was her grandmother who told her that God loved her. (5)
*God wants you to have an impact that lasts long after you leave this world.
-So change the way you talk.
-Learn to turn conversations toward spiritual truth.
-Go forward with declarations of your faith.
3. And go forward depending on God’s guidance.
*God gave great guidance to the wise men in this story. And you can trust Him to guide you too. Think about how God guided the wise men.
 First it was by a star. In vs. 1-2 we see them coming from the East, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
*What was this star? -- People have all kinds of opinions about it.
-Some say it was a stunning alignment of Jupiter and Saturn.
-Others say it was probably a super nova, or maybe even Halley's Comet.
*But I have no doubt that this star was a special miracle from God, because in vs. 9, the star moved and stopped right over the house where Jesus was staying. It was a miracle, sent to give guidance from God.
-God guided the wise men by a star.
 And He guided them through a difficult situation. King Herod was a selfish and ruthless tyrant. We get a glimpse of this in vs. 3-8, where the whole city got upset, because Herod was upset. And Herod cooked up a scheme to trick the wise men.
*History tells us that Herod murdered some of his own children, and the Bible tells us that he murdered all of the little children in Bethlehem. But God used even this wicked king to help the Wise Men find their way. And God will guide you through the difficult circumstances in life. Trust Him to do it.
-God guided the wise men through a difficult situation.
 And down in vs. 12, He guided them through a dream. There they were “divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod,” (so) “they departed for their own country another way.”
*It was supernatural guidance. And it reminds us that there is no limit to what God can do in leading you!
 But also notice that the Wise Men weren’t just guided by the star and the dream. I’m so glad that they were also guided by the Scripture.
*We can’t say for sure, but it almost seems like God turned off the star for a while, prompting the Wise Men’s question in vs. 2, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” Then, in vs. 4-6, Herod gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together to ask them where the Christ was to be born.
5. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6. ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
*Seven hundred years before Christ was born, God had told the prophet Micah that the Lord would be born in Bethlehem. His Word was absolutely dependable then. And it’s just as dependable today! -- The Word of God is our ever-ready source of guidance, always dependable, always available to us.
*We can be guided by the same Scripture that guided the Wise Men!
-In fact, your Bible is better, because you’ve got the whole thing, both Old Testament and New.
*The best guidance you will ever get is from the Word of God. It will guide you in every area of life. And best of all, it will guide you to the King.
*Let the Lord guide you in every area of your life.
-Are you trying to make a major life decision?
-Are you confused about a problem?
-Are you struggling in a relationship?
-Let the Lord guide you.
*Go forward depending on God’s guidance.
4. And go forward with great devotion to the Lord.
*This is the fourth way to move ahead. And we see it in vs. 10-11:
10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
11. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
 Notice here in vs. 10 that devotion takes us to the place of joy. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”
*Why were the Wise Men so filled with joy? -- Because they were getting close to the King! And God reminds us here that, all things being equal, the closer we get to Jesus Christ, the happier we will be. This doesn’t mean we will always get to live on “Easy Street.” We will surely face trials, disappointments and sorrows. But the closer we get to Jesus Christ, the happier we will be.
*Devotion takes us to the place of joy.
 And it takes us to the place of worship. The Wise Men had already given their time and energy to God. I am sure they had already given their hearts to God. Now in vs. 11, they gave Jesus their worship: “When they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.”
*Devotion takes us to the place of worship.
 And in vs. 11, it also takes us to the place of giving. In vs. 11: “When they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Strange gifts for a kid, -- but not for a King!
*Each of those gifts carries a special meaning. William Barclay tells us that “gold is the gift for a king. And we must remember that Jesus Christ is King of Kings. We can never meet Jesus on an equal (basis). We must always meet him with humble submission.”
*“Frankincense,” Barclay says “is the gift for a priest. It was in the Temple worship and at the Temple sacrifices that the sweet perfume of frankincense was used. The function of a priest is to open the way to God for men. The priest is the man who builds a bridge between men and God.”
*That is what Jesus did. He opened the way to God to God the Father. He is the Way. Jesus is the Bridge between man and God. He made it possible for men to enter into the very presence of God.
*“Myrrh is the gift for one who is to die. Myrrh was used to embalm the bodies of the dead. Jesus came into the world to die on the cross for us.” (6)
*And the wise men probably didn’t understand all of this. But God set it up to point us to the King and His cross. So the wise men’s gifts remind us of the gift they found: The greatest gift the world has ever seen, God’s only Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
*Do you think the Wise Men went away disappointed that day? -- Do you think they walked away thinking they gave more than they got? -- Not a chance.
*Max Lucado tells about the first church where he served down in Miami. They used to have these fantastic fellowship meals like the feasts we have around here. Well, Max was single and young, just a kid really, but he felt like he ought to take something to the supper.
-One time he took a half-empty jar of Planters peanuts.
-Another time he made a half-dozen jelly sandwiches.
*Of course, those kind ladies never complained. And Max said, “I came like a pauper and ate like a king!” (7)
*That’s the way it always is when we give to the Lord. We always get more than we give. You can’t out-give God!
*The wise men got much more than they gave that day. They got Jesus Christ: born to die on the cross for our sins, risen from the dead to give eternal life to all who will receive Him as Savior and King.
*Jesus is God’s greatest gift. And He is worthy of our greatest gifts. What should we give to the King?
-Give Him your heart.
-Give Him your time and energy.
-Give Him your worship.
-And give Him your treasure.
*Go forward with great devotion to the Lord.
*And remember this: If the wise men could find Jesus, then so can you. In fact it will be much easier for you, because by His Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is right here with us today. The best possible way you could start the new year is by opening your heart to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
-You can do that right now, as we go to God in prayer.
1. “See You at the Top: 25th Anniversary Edition” by Zig Ziglar - August 30, 2000, Pelican Publishing Company
2. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “I’m Dreaming of a Wise Christmas” by Victor Yap - Matt 2:1-18
3. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “After 2000 Years, Still Wise Men” by Ronald Horgan - Matt 2:1-12
4. SermonCentral sermon “In a Moment” by David Daniels - 1 Thess 4:13-18
5. Jill Briscoe - “HeartStrings” - Wheaton, IL - Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1997, p.214 (Source: email illustration from Sermons.com 012603
6. Adapted from “The Daily Study Bible Series” - Copyright 1975 by William Barclay - Matt 2:9-12 - GIFTS FOR CHRIST
7. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “’Tis the Season to Remember Christ” by Steve Shepherd - Matthew 2:9-12