Finding Jesus at Christmas
The Denison Forum told of a touching story, of baby “Nathan Carter Solstad born in early December, 2015. The parents who adopted him brought him home one Friday. They hid him under the Christmas tree, then told his three sisters they had a gift to share. The girls were so overjoyed when they found him. One hopped up and down and said, “I’m going to wet my pants.” So, these three little girls will never forget the time they were given a child for Christmas. Each year around 172,000 babies are born on Christmas day. Each is a reminder of the central fact of Christmas: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6).”
After Thanksgiving, we put up our tree, my wife and daughter decorated it. In our neighborhood, Christmas lights started twinkling, Starbucks promoted it’s Christmas blend coffee and we found Christmas songs being played on the radio….and “I’ll be home for Christmas and Silent Night,” were on air as if on cue. On that note, I thought similarly, we can come to church and hear the familiar story of Mary and Joseph’s long Trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and the story of baby Jesus being born in a manger…then, sing some Christmas Carols. Then, bake a ham or roast a turkey on Christmas Day. So, we can think, when it’s all done, we can feel like we have done it all…experienced another year of Christmas. But, the reality is, that we can lose sight of Jesus, because of the familiarity of the season. And we can be like Nathan’s little sisters, and say “Oh my gosh, there is a baby under the tree?” I think you got my point (smile).
So, this Christmas, I want to help our church, to not lose touch, of what happened on that HOLY NIGHT, over 2,000 years ago. I felt led by God to preach a three- part series, on “Finding Jesus at Christmas.” I started this series, with the familiar story of the Magi (the Wise Men), searching for the Messiah, guided by a distant star to the hills of Bethlehem, to a little barn, in a little corner of the world.
And the question posed for us is, “What Happens when you have been following a star (anticipating a King’s court), but, find a stable instead?” So, the question then becomes, how is your conduct, affected by the outcome of your expectations?
So, the stable (for the purposes of this sermon), represents the place or a situation that wasn’t exactly what you were expecting. For example, we could have following the star of the perfect career, but, got overlooked and entered a stable instead, we may have followed the star of a promises made at the altar of matrimony, only to have become disappointed in a difficult marriage. You may have followed a star, expecting a destiny fulfilled in serving God, only to feel the stable of discouragement…..you were healthy one day, and now possibly sick and therefore, our conducts may have been affected because we expected something different. You may have followed a star, to then, find a stable.
John Maxwell writes, “Strong Christians see God in both good and the bad. The mature believer sees God not only in pleasures and palaces, but, also in the barnyards and stables of life.”
Here are a few lessons taught to us by the Magi in Matthew 2:1-12:
1. When Wise Men Find a Stable, they look for God (v.10)
Matthew Henry comments- “We may well think what a disappointment it was to them, when they found the cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother the only attendant he had. However, these wise men did not think themselves baffled; but having found the King they sought, they presented their gifts to him.”
Because, God is somewhere in the stables of life. We need to be patient and believe that God is somewhere in this place that I’m in. The Great Missionary, Paul is in a Roman prison, writing to the Philippians in Philippians 3:12-13- 12 “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.…”
So, when the WISE MEN found Jesus, they knew that their journey had not been in vain.
The bible says, “They REJOICED WITH EXCEEDING JOY!!” So, remember…Wise men and women, when they search for God, when they look for Jesus….even when the place seems remote/desolate, in the stables of life….can find Him and have Joy!
2. When wise men find a stable, they offer their very best (v.11)
The Wise men gave their best. They didn’t say, “Now…Why did we bring all these gifts?” “Hey, keep this on the camel, we’re only giving so much…..it’s a BARN!” BECAUSE, how many understand, that this isn’t our natural inclination. Especially, if we find a stable or a barn. What? I’m giving my best for this? In fact, our temptation is to HOLD BACK.
So, we can come to the stables of life, and be tempted not to offer the best we have.
This is why, Colossians 3:23– “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men..” IN OTHER WORDS, GIVE YOUR BEST VS. YOUR LEAST.
THE Wise “FELL DOWN AND WORSHIPPED HIM….AND THEY presented GIFTS TO Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” “Frankincense” was an aromatic powder used in sacrificial offerings; “Myrrh” was used in perfuming ointments. These, with the “Gold” which represented a gift of the highest caliber (a symbol of nobility and royalty), shows that the men were people of affluence, kings…that humbled themselves and WORSHIPPED THE KING OF KINGS.” SO, THIS WAS THEIR BEST, despite the basic setting of a stable!!
Because, when wise men or wise women find a stable, they offer their very best vs. their least.
3. Finally, when wise men find a stable, they change their direction in life (v.12)
Question: Have you ever had a “Stable-Like,” experience that changed your life? That changed the direction you were going? You went one path, but, now God has placed you on another.
Psalm 32:8– “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you”.
v.12- “Being Divinely Warned….not to return to Herod,”- Maybe they lodged in Bethlehem, and thought, in the morning, we will tell King Herod the “Good News,” of the birth of the Jesus! The Magi came in one way, and were warned not to go back to Herod (picture of the devil). Regarding Salvation- don’t go back to the devil, to the world, to sin!! Listen…Jesus changed your direction.
Also, not only was their physical direction changed, but, I believe, THEIR VERY COURSE OF LIFE and THEIR CONVICTIONS! God had showed Himself real and True! GOD HELPED THEM. So, here is the final example of God’s mercy and grace towards them! Fact is God preserved them from a probable death!
Stable experiences, can help you appreciate what you have taken for granted…..even possibly, misplaced due to familiarity. This Christmas, let’s continue to Find Jesus, even if need be….in the stables of life.
God Bless you, and Merry Christmas!!
Pastor Roland R. Perez