| ||Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
The wise men mentioned in Matthew 2 are the first Gentiles recorded in our Bibles to behold not only the King of the Jews, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the Savior of the Nations!
They came from the east to worship Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all because of a rather obscure prophecy found in the book of Numbers from a stubborn and rebellious prophet named Balaam that a special star would be seen in the sky when a King from the line of Jacob would be born who would eventually rule the world.
As we read in Numbers 24:17, "A Star will come from Jacob, a Scepter will rise from Israel; He will smash Moab's head and destroy all the sons of Sheth.
And through the witnesses of Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, Abednego, Mordecai, Esther and other wise men and wise women in Babylon and Persia the Magi were not only familiar with Balaam's prophecy of the Messianic star, they were also were also familiar with the Messianic prophecy found in Daniel chapter 9 that the "prince of Israel" would appear 483 years after King Darius had given the decree for the Jews to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, compelling them all the more to look for the appearance of a special star in the sky as the foretold date of the promised Messiah came nearer and nearer.
And thank God that wise men and wise women of the past have passed down to us the Good News of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! That God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to be was born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem to eventually suffer and die on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins in order that we behold him with eyes of faith and confess Him as our Lord and Savior, as we wait with eager expectancy and draw nearer and nearer to His coming again to take us to our heavenly home.
And so, we pray that we too might be wise men and wise women in passing down this same Good News that we have received to the next generation.
So that they too might be wise men and wise women in passing down the same Good News they receive to the next generation after them, if Jesus hasn't returned before then.
As Proverbs 11:30 tells us, "He who wins souls is wise"
The wise men came Jerusalem, assuming the King of the Jews would be found in the capital of the Jews.
But even though Herod had been given the title "King of the Jews" and lived in a palace in Jerusalem, the real King of the Jews could be found in a humble carpenter's home in the little town of Bethlehem.
As the prophet Micah 5:2 tells us, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Likewise, the King all nations can be found today in humble houses of God, like Messiah, wherever His Word is faithfully taught in all its truth and purity and the Sacraments are rightfully administered.
As Jesus promises in Matthew 18:20, "Where two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them."
And Hebrews 10:25 tells us who are living in these end times between Jesus' Ascension and 2nd Coming, "Let us not stay away from our worship services, as some are regularly doing, but let us encourage one another, all the more because you see the day coming nearer".
The meaning of Bethlehem is "House of Bread". So, Messiah is to be a house of Bread where your soul is to be fed on a regular basis.
And just as Jacob had a vision of a ladder ascending and descending up to heaven at Bethel, meaning "house of God", through the message of the cross at Messiah, so our Heavenly Father is able to meet with us and we in turn are able to meet with Him.
And yet, in churches like Messiah, you would never guess by the number of people in worship on a typical Sunday that our sanctuary is a place where God can be found and our souls can be fed so we hunger no more, as people make all kinds of excuses not to be in church.
The wise men traveled up to two years to worship the King of the Jews, making it their number one priority over all their other earthly priorities during that whole time.
Can we not make it a priority to drive a few minutes to worship in our heated and air-conditioned cars? To paraphrase Jesus' question to his disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane, "Could you no stay awake with me for just an hour on a Sunday?"
And as God's forgiven children, the Holy Spirit will work in us the will and the desire to continue to seek Him in all the right places throughout the week, by spending regular time in His Word and praying without ceasing.
As just as Enoch walked with God for 365 years, so we resolve to walk with God for 365 days throughout the year, as we open up our Bible and say along with Samuel, "Speak Lord, you're your servant is listening!", join Peter in confessing, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!", and pray with Solomon for God's Wisdom to make His Word a lamp to our feet and a light to our path throughout the day.
And allow the Holy Spirit to convict, counsel, and guide us through His inspired Word, even in our sleep! In the words of Psalm 16:7-8, "I will praise the Lord who counsels me…even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken".
As some people have written on the fly-leaf of their Bibles, "This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book!"
But in today's world that we find ourselves living in with so many distractions, worries and cares, we can easily find ourselves becoming more like Martha than Mary and forget the one thing needful: of seeking first God's King and His righteousness, and instead find ourselves seeking the lesser things, even though He promises that if we put him first in our lives all our daily concerns will be met.
As a result, we end up sinning in our thoughts, words and deeds by what we have done and by what we have left undone.
But the Good News for us prodigal wanderers is that whenever we find ourselves lost in our sins, God in His grace and mercy will seek after us!
And the Holy Spirit will convict us by asking us the same question Adam and Eve were asked after they had sinned in Eden, "Where are you?"
And what a great question to ask on a regular basis throughout the days of our lives, "Where are you in your walk with the Lord?" And in response, repent of any sin in our lives, receive God's forgiveness in Christ, and resolve with the help of the Holy Spirit to stop seeking God in all the wrong places, and make it a priority to seek Him all the right places, by being in regular worship, along with being a faithful student of His Word throughout the week, in order that we might "Go and sin no more!"
As most of you know, I had the Sunday after this past Christmas off, but I was still at home Chicago, taking care of personal matters, and could have easily slept in and gone to a virtual church online and not really be missed.
But, I'm reminded of one of the sayings of the black churches I used to serve, that "If you want God to show up in your life, then you got to show up in His house for worship!", as well as the voice of my sainted mom, who used to say, "When I go to church on Sunday, my whole week just goes better", let alone God's clear command about remembering the Sabbath Day by keeping it Holy.
At the same time, I also knew that my neighbors were watching me, and most everyone on my block knows I'm a pastor, so it might not have been the best witness for them to see my car parked in front on my house on a Sunday morning still covered with snow.
Besides, I'm in the habit of going to church on Sunday, anyway, and it just wouldn't seem right not to be in worship. And so I got up as usual (only I didn't wear a clergy shirt) brushed the snow off my car and attended Ascension Lutheran Church in Niles.
As Jesus said to his parents when they found him in the temple after searching him elsewhere, "Do you not know I have to be about my Father's Business?
And I realize that there may be a legitimate reason for you not to be in worship on a Sunday, and that it's more or less part of my job to lead worship at Messiah on Sunday mornings.
But, just think of the witness you are having to others when they can know that if they're looking for you on a typical Sunday morning, they can find you at Messiah in worship, being about your Heavenly Father's business!
Not just because you should be in church, but because you want to be in church, as you join King David in saying, "I rejoiced when they said let us go to the house of the Lord!" (Psalm 122:1), and seek God in all the right places by being in regular worship, as well as throughout the week by feeding your soul on the daily bread of His Word, by which He assures you of His indescribable love for you and your forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.
For wise men and wise women of Messiah will still seek Him!
See you in church this Sunday!
Your Servant in Christ,
Copyright © 2019 Messiah Lutheran Church All Rights Reserved