Christmas Surprises: Matthew 2:3

christmas devotional thought

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:3)
What has caught you off guard this holiday season? There’s certainly enough going on in world events to distract us from the real center of attention, isn’t there? Here are a couple of things that may surprise you about how Jesus’ birth affected some people around him.
Herod was a king, and a terrible one at that. He ruled with power and might and exerted his power often to ensure his rule would continue. He had some of his very own family killed in order to protect his role as king. He was ruthless and without remorse when it came to securing his kingdom. It’s no wonder the verse above reads that when Herod was troubled so was all of Jerusalem. They knew of his ways and feared for their own lives. They were right in doing so as Herod resorted to the killing of many children in order to protect his kingdom. But what can we learn from this? How does this speak to us?

Herod heard people had come to worship…but just not to worship him.  

He was incensed and infuriated that someone else would be worshipped and adored. He wanted to be the only one that received honor and glory and the attention of people’s minds and lives. Yet Christ is the only one truly worthy of such adoration. We may not “kill” people but we often go to great lengths to protect our “kingdom”. We may not “kill” children but we use words, authority and power to put people “in their place”. Herod was never interested in worshipping Jesus, he just “seemed” that way trying to gather information in order to put an end to the possibility of another taking his throne. This Christmas, how have you been less than honest in your worship of the Christ Child? How have you “killed” other people’s joy, tried to protect your own “kingdom” or sought to be the center of attention?

The Pharisees and Scribes were right about a lot… but just not worship.

4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

The scribes and Pharisees were gathered together by Herod as he was enquiring about the strange event surrounding the wise men and star. Yet none of these spiritual leaders seemed to have any spiritual sense. They were up-to-date on the latest fads, traditions and scandals but had little room or interest in worshipping Christ. They knew the scripture and even the signs but they failed to move or be moved by what God was doing around them. None of them joined the wise men to seek out the Truth or worship the Christ Child. It is evident in their lack of action that they were more interested in worshipping their law, traditions and ways more than acknowledging God.
How has this season been more about you being “right” than “loving”? More about “truth” than “grace”? Are you moving toward Christ or content with what you know about Him? How has the birth of Christ changed you? Are you filled with wonder and awe or just knowledge and facts? Is worship how you live or just something you do on occasion?

The Wise Men are called “wise” because of their “worship”.

Coming from “afar”, seeking Christ, following His star, the Wise Men are the epitome of worship. They made sacrifices of their time, finances, even reputations. They humbled themselves before the baby. They gave gifts and adoration and affection toward the Christ Child. They worshipped Him. They sought Christ. They didn’t get wrapped up in all the signs, wonders and miracles. Instead they were wrapped up in Him! Unlike their counterparts, the wise men lived up to their title showing that “wise” people pay attention to what really matters. It’s not about all the surrounding, peripheral  things. It’s not about the prophecies, Law, and times. It’s about Jesus!
I have found that when I worship Christ and simply lift Him up, He draws people to Himself…isn’t that scriptural? Perhaps this Christmas, we need to simply focus our attention on loving and adoring Christ and letting Him get the glory and adoration He deserves? Are you being wise this Christmas? How have you been giving time, finances and love to Christ this season?

Character of Christmas: Wise Men

character of Christmas square

Even though they are associated with the Nativity scene in modern times, the “Wise men” or magi or kings,  who came to worship Jesus were not actually at the birth scene. They came later to his house and worshipped him. Read the passage below to get the full picture.

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact timethe star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

The character trait that I would like to highlight by these “kings” is wisdom. If there’s a trait to be found here it’s wisdom in making decisions. Take a look at the magi for a moment.

Wisdom to seek the Messiah.

Not only had these wise man travelled to see Jesus, they traveled a far distance. They made a determination weeks and maybe even months ahead to seek the Messiah. There is much wisdom to be found in making plans. They understood the journey would be long, time consuming and perhaps even dangerous. Yet, they left their kingdoms, homes, and comforts to seek out the TRUE King. This wisdom of planning a trip also meant exercising wisdom in reading signing along the way. God gives us signs to direct us in life but not to only give direction through life but to life Himself. The star’s light and even the providential protection they got in favor of Herod to continue the search was nothing short of God’s intervention in their lives because they were seeking His Son. God will bless us as we exercise wisdom in reading the signs He has given us in seeking the promised one.

Wisdom to worship the Messiah.

These men had come a long way not to just seek the Messiah, take a few pictures and be on their way home. no. They came to worship. They brought gifts. They offered something of value and meaning to the young baby King. Bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh was not only symbolic of who and all that Jesus represents but a perfect picture of showering love and affection on the God-man. It may be natural to bring gifts to a baby shower but these were no simple shades of blue to celebrate the birth of a baby boy. These were gifts to celebrate the God-man. These were gifts of worship. Wise people today still offer gifts of worship to the King to celebrate His coming, identity and authority in their lives.

Wisdom to obey God.

The wise men had been warned in a dream to not return to Herod but to find a different way back to their respective countries. They wisely heeded that instruction. Because of their obedience, Herod did not find or kill the baby Jesus, even though he slaughtered many babies in search of him. It is important to remember that God is worthy of our obedience. Earthly kings and authorities should obviously be respected however, when God speaks directly to us about a matter, obedience to God should always triumph. Wise people not only seek and worship God but they obey him in all things.

Thoughts to consider:

How are you seeking Christ after Christmas? What plans are you making for your future seeking of Christ next year?

What gifts are you bringing to Christ in worship?

What do these gifts symbolize to you and to God?

How is God demanding obedience in your life?

How does your obedience or disobedience affect the advancement of God’s kingdom?

Worship Like A WiseGuy: Presents


worship like a wiseguy

Watch this clip and think about how you view Jesus.

Is He still the “baby” Jesus to you? Or has the son of God truly been raised up in you? How often do you treat Jesus as though he were a little baby still laying in a manger? How often do you view Jesus as Lord of all creation? How can your view of Jesus shift this Christmas?

What’s in a name? There’s a lot to be sure! From being made fun of for your name to being identified by your name, names not only have value and meaning but they shape and form us into the people we are.  If you take a look at Isaiah 9:6 there are a few names given to Christ in this passage. As you view them, consider how Christ has been your Wonderful Counselor this year. How has He been the Mighty God or the Prince of Peace or the Everlasting Father this year? Make some notes and give glory to God in the highest!

Watch through this video and let the many names of Jesus associated with just his birth wash over you! Be overwhelmed by WHO this Jesus is!
As a mother, one can only image all the thoughts racing through Mary’s mind as the Son of God was born to her. Prayers in her soul made way to her lips and to the child in her arms. The one she was praying to was right there. The one she was praying about was right there! What would you say in this kind of situation?
There is no doubt Mary had all sorts of prayers for her child. If you are a parent or deal with children or students, you too have whispered or shouted prayers to heave for your kids. Why not take some time after watching this video and pray for your family? Name your kids, call them out by name to our Father. And don’t forget to receive a blessing from the Lord yourself as you are His beloved child!
Why exactly did Jesus come? He came to not simply prove His love for us but to do so in a certain, undeniable way. He came to die on a cross for us. Even though Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the cross is always present in the picture of his birth. From the wooden manger on his back at birth, being wrapped in swaddling cloths to the gift of myrrh being brought by a wise man, the birth of Christ points to his death. Watch the He came video and consider exactly why he came!
To worship like a wise guy one has to answer a few pointed questions:
How far are you willing to go? The wise men traveled far to get to the Christ child. This year, millions of us will travel great distances to be with and near loved ones to celebrate the great holiday that is Christmas. Why not make this a Holy Day too? Why not travel the short distance to the cross of Jesus and give yourself to Christ? Why not transcend space and time right now in a personal union with Jesus Christ and make an eternal decision that would change your life forever? That’s what Wise Guys do! They travel to meet with Jesus.
How far is too far for you? Is there anything that would prevent you from worshipping Jesus? Is there any place you would not go for and with Him?
How badly do you want to know? There isn’t  a kid among us who if they saw a package with their name on it all wrapped up under a tree who wold not go over and pick it up, shake it and want to open it right then and there! They want to know! They want to have it NOW!
The wise men traveled far because they wanted to know more about Christ. They had inquired of others before they left on their journey but once they got close they were still not exactly sure. They inquired of Herod and got more information and then made their way. These were not your typical men because they did stop for directions! But that’s the point: they wanted to know! How badly do you want to know? don’t be afraid to ask questions, to wonder, to be lost in the mystery! This is what Christmas is all about; wonder, mystery, discovery! ASK NOW!
How much do you owe? The wise men once finding Jesus brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Before they made those presentations though, they bowed in reverence and humility. They owed this “baby”, this “king” their reverence and their obedience. As they left, they did not heed Herod, they listened to the angel who warned them to go back another way. They were wise in that they paid attention to the right people and took the right advice. Because they listened their lives were spared, they owed Jesus and his angels their lives!
Worshipping like a wise guy means that we heed the Word of the Lord. We don’t just come and give a gift to pay homage and then go live how we want. No! We owe Him everything: our allegiance,  our reverence and our obedience.
This Christmas may I persuade you to look at “presents” three unique ways?

1) Present Yourself.

Make yourself an offering to Jesus this Christmas. Romans 12:1-2 Are you simply trying to wrap yourself up in pretty wrapping paper? Be real with God. Don’t try to hide it in box…unwrap yourself before him. Let Him wrap you up in His love!

2) Present.

Be present with God and with others this Christmas. The great thing about the name Emmanuel is that God is now with us! He wants us to be aware of his “presence”. Commune with Him this Holy Day Season.

3) Presence.

God still wants to give you Himself this Christmas. As you give yourself to Him, He will give Himself to you in new and deeper ways. This Christmas, worship like a wise guy and let God inform and reform you as to Who He really is. Practice the “presents” of Christmas and give yourself away! You’ll be surprised by what all you get back!