Last week at our church I preached about the part of the Christmas story that talks about “The Three Kings.” And I shared how they were’t actually kings and there were probably more than 3 of them. 🙂 (By the way if you want to hear that sermon please click HERE).
In the gospel of Matthew it says: …magi (wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “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.” Matthew 2:1a-2 (AMP)
Most Bible scholars believe this group of Wise Men were most likely pagan astrologers from Babylon. And if that’s the case, it means they traveled around 900 miles to get to Jerusalem, a journey that most likely took several months.
They rearranged their lives for the chance to see Jesus. And when they saw him they bowed down before Him. And they gave Him their treasure, gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
And here is the crazy thing . . . please don’t miss this.
The Wise Men did not even fully understood who Jesus was. After all, they were not Jewish. They were pagans. They knew of a prophesy about a “King of the Jews” being born and they saw His star in the heavens and that was enough for them to hop on camels and ride across a desert.
They did not know Jesus was God in the flesh. They didn’t know that one day this Child was going to grow up and proclaim that the Kingdom of God was at hand. They didn’t know that this King of the Jews was going to rule the world by love instead of by fear. They didn’t know that He was going to die on the Cross for their sins or that He was going to rise from the dead. They didn’t know this baby was going to make it possible for everyone to have a relationship with God that would extend into eternity.
They didn’t know ANY of that.
And yet they rearranged their lives for the chance to see Jesus.
Now here’s the challenge to you and to me.
In contrast to the Wise Men, every one of us reading this blog knows WHO He was and WHAT He did for us. So may we follow in their footsteps. May we worship God with our actions during Advent. And may we do so in a way that is disruptive to our lives.
Here are some ways you could do exactly that. To worship God in a way that causes us to rearrange our calendars, that impacts our “to do” list, that disrupts our plans. Read over this list. Pray over it. And see how the Holy Spirt leads you:
- Church. Treat the Christmas service at your church as the “main event” of that weekend. Rearrange your family get-together around going to church instead of the other way around. (And be sure to go to church on New Year’s Day as well!)
- Serve. Instead of spending all of your discretionary time at the mall, put your faith in action and “help those who need help” this holiday season. If you are reading this blog in Southeastern Michigan check out page 17 of my Experiencing Advent handout (click HERE for your free copy) for a list of organizations that would love an extra set of hands.
- Bible. Read your Bible during Advent every… single… day. I know we are all busy at this time of the year, but let me challenge you that if you are too busy to read the Bible every day, then you are too busy. Check out pages 12-14 of the Experiencing Advent handout for a couple Bible reading plans to consider, plans specifically designed for Advent.
- Give. Be radically generous in what you give to your home church as well as to other charities you believe in. Give in such a way that it affects how many presents are under your tree on Christmas morning.
- Fast. Fasting and Lent go hand in hand, but fasting during Advent may be even more important because of all that our culture throws at us during this season. Fast from food. Fast from social media. Do whatever it takes to keep your eyes on Jesus. (see page 7 of the handout for more info about fasting).
I’ve got some good news for you. We are 16 DAYS away from Christmas. Not 16 HOURS away. So maybe you started off the season of Advent spiritually strong. Maybe you have sputtered a bit the past few days.
Or maybe your spiritual journey got derailed a few days before Thanksgiving or maybe around the time 100.3FM started playing Christmas music. 🙂
The good news is you and I have a choice to make how we are going to live each of the next 16 days. May we live those 16 days as worshippers of God. And may we worship God in a way that is disruptive to our lives.
***This Sunday continues our series called “The Rest of the (Christmas) Story.” We are digging deep into passages that are part of the Christmas narrative in the Bible that contain profound theological truths, but never get preached on. My sermon is called The Nightmare Before Christmas. Here is a “sneak preview”: When you read Matthew 2:13-18, the main characters are obvious: King Herod, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. But there is someone else present in this passage who is working behind the scenes to influence Herod’s actions to kill baby Jesus. That character is Satan. And he is still working behind the scenes today… to steal, kill, and destroy. But God is also at work. And our God is greater! Please join us on December 11th at 10:30am at The Eastside Vineyard Church. More info at tevchurch.org***