Devotional - "christmas Characters – The Magi"

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2: 1-2 (NIV)

    Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? Oh come let us adore Him! Christmas has become so much about the world that the birth of Christ seemingly gets lost in the commercial shuffle. Jesus Christ is the gift beloved! He is the present from God to us. A present we did not deserve yet God in His infinite love and mercy for us has bestowed upon us anyway! We can never do anything to earn this gift – we just need to accept it. Continuing in our look at some of the characters of Christmas and what we can learn from them for our own walk, we come to the Magi. What can we learn from them, which we can incorporate in our own walk with God today?

    First of all, they were seekers and followers. Known for their prowess in astrology, they were studying the sky when the Star of Bethlehem appeared to them. After meeting with Herod, they followed this star until it settled over that manger in Bethlehem. They did not accidentally see the star. They were studying the sky and seeking. They then sought out this King of the Jews and followed their sign until they achieved their goal. God wants us to be seekers and followers as well. I have written a bit on the modern church’s latest obsession with leadership but it bears mentioning again. In our acceptance of secular leadership theories of church growth, we have accepted the notion that we need more and more leaders to fill the holes in ministry. The true leadership principle of God however is “follow me as I follow Christ.” The sad truth is the church needs more followers. We also however need more seekers:

    If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. – Jeremiah 29: 13 (NLT)

    There are too many Christians today who walk without the true power of Christ unleashed in their lives. They walk in defeat or under condemnation. They walk thinking that their eternal life is some far away distant prospect they get to enjoy after they have suffered enough on this mortal coil. Nothing is farther from the truth!

    The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10: 10 (NLT)

    Jesus is talking about our life now beloved! We are supposed to live a rich and satisfying life now. The truth is though that too many people live in spiritual poverty. That is because we are not the seekers Christ wants us to be. The Magi were seekers and their seeking was rewarded when they found the Christ. You may be saying to yourself that isn’t fair! They had a star to follow! So do we – it’s called the Bible. That is step one for seeking God – reading His Word. Step two is prayer and fasting. Step three is praise and worship. Step four is fellowship with believers. These are all seeking activities that draw us closer and closer to God. Maybe we do some of these well and others not so much. Maybe we do all them equal but sparingly. Whatever the case – seeking God is how you find Him! I know that sounds simplistic but I think sometimes there is just too much passive Christianity. The Bible says to seek Him in everything we do.

    Secondly, the Magi did not make excuses during the seeking process. Let’s face it; they had plenty of things they could have used for excuses. They had to travel a long way to find the manger. It wasn’t like they booked a plane or hopped a train either. This trip also cost them something. It was an expensive undertaking and not just because of the gifts. There was also danger for them when they garnered the attention of Herod, who was not exactly known for being a kind ruler. Yet despite the obstacles and all the reasons the world gave them to quit – they pressed on. The same needs to apply to us in our walk as well. The world will always offer us up reasons why we can’t seek the Lord as we need to. Our job will throw up obstacles, our family, or even our church. Remember that while both Martha (service to God) and Mary (walk with God) are important – Mary has chosen the better one. In fact, if you are not as supernaturally empowered by God as you could be then you are ill-prepared to provide service on His behalf! How can someone feed others if they themselves are starving?

    So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. – 1Corinthians 15: 58 (NLT)

    Next, the magi were worshippers. They understood who He was and what their place was. They did not come to hang out with Jesus. They did not come to be friends with Him. They came to worship Him. Where is He – for we have come to worship Him! I point this out because there seems to be some confusion generated by the latest church fads and even within what passes for praise music these days. There is a purposeful blurring of the lines between whom we are and who God is. We have pastors who once were well respected leaders who have jumped off the “love cliff” leading people astray from the full Gospel. When the Apostle Paul said goodbye to the leaders of the Ephesian Church he said he was clean of their blood because he did not hesitate to proclaim to them the whole Gospel. Does God desire to be friends with us? Absolutely but if our relationship is not rooted in Him being the Lord of our life than we never get to the friendship. God considered Abraham a friend because he obeyed Him. Realize that Abraham left everything he knew behind to obey God. He also was willing to take a knife to the throat of his child of promise. There is a reason why God called him friend. The poor theology of today implies that you are friends without any serious commitment. Without any serious obedience. Without any serious sacrifice. We were born to worship God not be His buddy.

    Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord – Psalm 150: 6 (NIV)

    I know some might balk at these notions but realize that there is a stark difference between worship and friendship. We take advice from our friends but the Lord of our life we will allow to direct us. Far too many people view God as an advisor. He is not in the advisement business. We already know that God sees all time and is working all things out for our good – why not follow what He wants?

    Next we see that the Magi presented Christ with their treasures. Gold, incense, and myrrh. They did not come expecting something from Him. They did not come empty handed. Their gifts cost them something. There are applications for us in this as well. We often come to God completely empty handed. We come expecting something from Him. Often times, we may not even approach God unless we want something. Situational Christians have a relationship dictated by their needs instead of their gratitude. We live in a world that encourages greed and immediate satisfaction of what we want. God’s ways and thoughts however are so much higher than ours. One of the schemes of the enemy is to show us something we do not have so we can covet. Take King David. He had everything he could have wanted when the devil showed him Bathsheba. David thought of himself instead of God and he fell for the trap. It would cost him his kingdom and the lives of two of his sons. I know it is not easy to combat the schemes of the devil and the desires of our flesh but how we approach God is the key to success. When we approach Him without a thankful heart for what He has already given us and for who He simply is then we become more susceptible. Consider Joseph in contrast to David. Here was the reaction of Joseph when he was being seduced by Potiphar’s wife:

    But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” – Genesis 39: 8-9 (NLT)

    Potiphar’s wife was a powerful woman and Joseph was but a 17 year old boy at the time. Yet despite these obstacles, Joseph thinks first of God and thus is in a better position to refuse the sin. David thought only of himself but Joseph thought of God. How do we approach God beloved? Are we like the Magi, filled with gifts for Him? The fragrant aroma of obedience? The sustaining power of true worship? A deeper understanding of His Word and will? What gifts are we bringing to the Lord? Being the hands and feet of Christ to a dying world? Sharing His glorious Gospel with the lost? Or are our prayer sessions more of a whine list, where we make petulant demands of Him or complain when the answer is “no.”

    What we offer to God should cost us something. The gifts the Magi brought were very expensive. There is a portion of Scripture in the Old Testament where David takes a census of the fighting men of Israel incurring the wrath of God. There was a plague that wiped out 70,000 Israelites because of it. David desperately wanted to make things right with God and sought to offer sacrifices unto Him. The threshing floor he was to use for the sacrifices however did not belong to him so he offered the man who owned it to buy it from him. Because David was king, the man offered to give it to him. Here was King David’s response:

    But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” So David gave Araunah 600 pieces of goldin payment for the threshing floor. – 1Chronicles 21: 24-25 (NLT)

    I will not make a sacrifice to the Lord that cost me nothing! Are we as accountable? I remember being raised Catholic and every lent picking something to “give up” that I could care less if I had for forty days or not. We see this even in fasting sometimes. If I were to fast broccoli, that is really not offering a sacrifice up to God! No beloved, when we go seeking the Lord, we should not go empty handed or with an offering that is empty and shallow. We should seek Him with a grateful heart, not a demanding Spirit.

    The final application for us today deals with the fact that the Magi had been instructed by Herod to return to him when they found the child. Instead however Scripture tells us this:

    When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. – Matthew 2: 12 (NLT)

    The Magi followed God only. Their loyalty was undivided. It did not matter if they incurred the rage of Herod. It did not matter if it would have been easier on them to simply do as they were instructed. It did not matter of their lives were in danger. The only thing that mattered is that God instructed them and Herod instructed them and they followed God. Now, you may be saying that you would do the same thing but I think we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that when we are given the exact same scenario in our lives and we do not always behave as obediently as the Magi did here. Think about it. We have the instructions from God in His Word. In the story of Christ’s birth we see God warned them to not return to Herod and in our lives He has warned us about so much in the Bible. Yet do we obey? Do we choose to go by another route to avoid being disobedient to the Lord? In fact, every day we are given instructions from the world that contradicts instructions we have already received from God in His Word and to which do we defer? Which wins out in the end? The more we follow God and avoid Herod, the deeper we will grow in our walk with the Lord. The more power we will develop in our lives. The less divided our mind will be:

    But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. – James 1: 6-8 (NLT)

    The Magi minds were undivided. They served God alone, not the world. Their story holds but 12 verses in the Bible yet contains so much power for us in our lives if we would apply the lessons. First the Lord is looking for seekers and followers. The more you seek and follow Him, the more effective you will be as a Christian leader anyway because it is not about the latest leadership conferences – it is always all about the Christ. Secondly, we need to ignore the opportunities to make excuses for why we do not seek and follow as much as we should. Admit where we err and move on. God always has another level for us to go to but we need to be seeking it without excuse or compromise. Thirdly, we need to be worshippers at heart. Avoid the new theologies that paint God as anything less than our Lord and King – to whom we turn over control of our life. Fourth, when we seek the Lord we should not do so empty handed. We should be coming to Him with a grateful heart and be willing to truly sacrifice something in our lives to reach out and touch but the hem of His garment. Lastly, we need to recognize the conflicting instructions from the world and always remember that it is only God that we serve. It is only God that we follow. It is only God that we seek. Oh beloved – come and adore Him this Christmas season. The free gift from God. Learn from the Magi and deepen your walk with your God today.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – December 21, 2012

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