The Significance of the Wise Men. Sermon Outline from December 4th, 2016.

worship-the-newborn-king

 

The Wisest Search Ever Made

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 when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

  • Truth: God is making himself known to those who hunger for him.

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 49:6

 

The Old Testament Confirms the Story of Salvation

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Matthew 2:3-6

  • Truth: Scripture authoritatively communicates God’s plan.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:20-21

 

Those Who Found Christ Worshiped Him

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 
Matthew 2:10-11

  • Truth: To know Christ is to worship him.

προσεκύνησανfall prostrate, bow down, worship

The Gifts

  • Gold – A King’s Gift

  • Frankincense – A Priest’s Gift

  • Myrrh – A Gift for a Sacrifice

 

The Wise Men Left A Different Way

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 
Matthew 2:12

  • Truth: A person’s life hinges on their experience with Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 
1 Peter 2:9-10

 

Sermon Outline from First Baptist Nederland for the First Sunday in Advent.

incarnation-according-to-isaiah

 

The Prophesied Son of God

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14-15

New Testament Fulfilment

…the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
Luke 1:30-32

 

A King Is Born

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
Isaiah 9:6-7

New Testament Fulfillment

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:10-12

 

A Savior to Take Away Our Guilt

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5

New Testament Fulfillment

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:28-30

 

The Promise of Eternal Peace

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:6-9

New Testament Fulfillment

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and … ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:1-4



What if We Asked God for More Joy?

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Last week we started a little study in Prayer Meeting with this thought in mind: What does God want us to have MORE of?

Rather than telling God what we want more of in our prayers, we are seeking for what his word tells us he wants for us.  Look at this passage in Galatians:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 
Galatians 5:22-23

For the 9 things mentioned in this text, there is NO limit on how much of these God wants for us.  There is no law limiting how much of them we are intended to have!

We naturally started with Love last week.  Sorry if you missed out on that one.  Tonight we’re moving onto JOY.  As you pray for more JOY in your life, consider these teachings from Scripture.

7 Principles of Joy

  1. Joy is an Attribute of God

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11

  1. God is Our Source of Joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12

  1. Joy is Connected to Eternity.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness[1]!’”
Matthew 25:23

  1. Our Capacity for Joy Can Increase.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Philippians 2:1-2

  1. Seeking for more Joy never got anyone in trouble, whereas looking to make oneself happy has led to the downfall of many a person. 

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.
Proverbs 12:20

  1. We Encounter Joy when We are Living in God’s Will.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 2-4

  1. Joy is Contagious.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:8-10

 

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[1] Happiness here in translated from the Greek word chara which is translated Joy in other versions and throughout many other places in the New Testament.

Living Life Too Quickly to Appreciate God’s Wonders


We miss out on a lot of blessing when we rush through life focused only on the next appointment on our schedule or the next task on our to-do list. 

While reading the musing of a friend of mine, I was reminded of the importance of slowing down enough to appreciate the wonderful things God is doing. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Stephen Dollar’s book, Glimpses of Glory: Living His Grace, about two observations he made about the sunsets God sends to us day after day:

The first was that God in His sovereignty, grace, omnipotence and majesty has been doing sunsets ever since the dawn of creation. God is an expert sunset maker and creates lots of them. In fact, just hang around for twenty four hours and another one will come along. It is comforting to know that we as believers in Christ serve a God who can do such a creative wonder. 

 The second observation that was beamed into my spiritual memory is that a sunset becomes a personal blessing only when I slow down, shut down and bow down long enough to see it. Does God’s sun only set on the lake during vacation? It would seem that way by me! Yet, I can just as readily see a sunset at home, at work. in the nitty-gritty here and now. Oscar Hammerstein II said in his song: “A bell’s not a bell ’til you it, A song’s not a song until you sing it Likewise, a sunset isn’t a sunset until you “see it.” 

 “Lord, help me to learn to see Your glory and majesty in season and out of season. Lead me to slow down along the loumey and look up.”  

I hope you can slow down long enough to experience God and all of his wonders. 

Prayer, Not Voting, is the Hope of Our Nation

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Kristi and I went on a Civic Duty date today.  I was surprised at how many people were gathered at our local library to cast their ballots ahead of election day.  The voting booths were all taken and there was a line beginning to form as we left the polling place.

Personally, I’m tired of hearing “Make America Great Again” and “America is Great Because America is Good.”  We’ve all heard these slogans so many times that they have become empty language.

What I want to tell our candidates is this:  America doesn’t have hope without God.

If you haven’t done so already, go vote.  But don’t expect your vote to usher in a Golden Age.

If you want to do something even better than voting, PRAY.  Pray for our nation.  Pray for the people who will be elected.  Pray for those who are already in office.  Pray, trusting that God is in control regardless of who is in the White House.

My words fail to express what is in my heart relating to this subject, but I was reminded of the words a preacher shared a long time ago.  While going through a book of sermons by George W. Truett, I stumbled across this passage. It was a blessing to me, and I trust it will be a blessing to you as well.

Surely, it must be apparent to all discerning minds that irreligion is the world’s supreme peril, and that disobedience to God is the way of defeat and decay and death. Not the vastness of a country’s territory, nor the number of its people, nor the aggregate amount of its wealth, nor the strength of its army and navy, nor even the intelligence of its people can make a country great and safe. The unbroken lesson of history shows that the character of a people is a country’s vital asset. And such character cannot be strong and symmetrical, and the spirit of a people be preserved in wisdom and vigor, without the superhuman help of the Christian religion. Pungently was it declared by the late President Wilson: “Our civilization cannot survive materially, unless it be redeemed spiritually.” The disturbing idealism of Jesus must go on and on, turning and overturning, until the whole world bows before him as its Saviour and Lord.

From George W. Truett’s collection of sermons in Follow Thou Me.

Finding Joy by Leaning on God.

joy

I lose stuff all the time. I lose keys. I lose books. I lose papers, letters, and notes.  I lose my wife every time Kristi and I go into Wal-Mart and split the shopping list to save time.

Thankfully, most things that we lose show up again.  The keys are always right where I put them.  Papers and letters and notes are usually found in a stack of similar items.  My wife calls me from her cell phone and tells me which aisle to find her.

But there are times when a person loses their joy.  You can see it on their face and in their eyes. You can hear it in their voice.  You can sense it from their body language.

Pastor Randy Frazee talks about the source of Joy we have as Christians in his book Think, Act, Be Like Jesus. When we feel out of touch with the joy of being saved, we need to return to the source of our joy.  Consider Pastor Frazee’s words:

We all will have good and bad days. We will all experience life’s ups and downs. But has life robbed you of your joy, or are you growing in this virtue? What does your face reflect to others? What does your attitude communicate about your faith? Happiness will be all too fleeting, but the joy of Jesus is available to your soul right now. When trials arise, choose to lean on him, and you will find his joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12

The Things You Don’t Have to Pray About


There are some things, important things, that you don’t have to pray about. 

You don’t have to pray and ask God if you should be faithful to your wife. 

You don’t have to seek God’s answer in prayer about whether or not you should become a Christian. 

Praying about when to start reading your Bible seems a little silly, too. 

God’s wants all of these things, and so much more! He has told us already. There is nothing more to add. 

This is also true when it comes to serving. God wants us to serve. He puts us in churches to serve him, to serve one another, and to serve the world with the gifts he has given us. 

Consider this story by Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch. In Craig’s book, Confession of a Pastor, he tells about a man who knew the answer to serving was Yes, even before he was asked to serve. 

I love the story about the guy who waited patiently in line to greet his pastor one Sunday after the sermon. “Pastor,” this eager, sincere Christ follower said, “I have only one thing to tell you. My answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”  
The pastor looked at him, confused, and, smiling awkwardly, fell back upon the pastor’s safety net: “God bless you.” The pastor politely brushed the man off and turned to greet the next parishioner.  

The next week, the same guy waited in line and repeated the same words. “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now what’s the question?”  

The pastor pondered this enigma. Wanting to get to the bottom of it, he invited the young man to lunch. Over a midweek meal, the young man once again blurted out the intriguing mantra: “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now what’s the question?”  

Finally overcome with curiosity, the pastor asked, “Can you please tell me what you mean by that?”  

The young man smiled and, with passion, began, “Pastor, I was hooked on everything bad, about to lose my family, sliding down a slippery slope toward certain destruction. Then Jesus intervened.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “Because of what Jesus did for me, my answer to you is yes. You are my pastor, and I’ll do whatever you need.  

“If you want me to rock babies, I’ll rock babies. If you want me to usher, I’ll usher. If you want me to mow the churchyard, I’ll be there at 6 a.m. every Saturday. My answer to you will always be yes. Now, what’s the question?”  

When it comes to your church (assuming you have one), what’s your answer? Is it, I’ll pray about it, while you look for an escape? Or is it… 

Yes?

 

Why Church Matters

I get to be with people during some of darkest moments in their lives.  Funerals, tragedies, surgeries, terminations, divorce…everything from broken hearts to shattered dreams.  In such moments I hear people say, “I don’t know how people make it without a church family?”

Most of us acknowledge the value of having a church family, but there are times that stand out in a person’s life when being connected to a church family is absolultely crucial.  I stumbled across a reminder of this fact while reading an old book, Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybles.  The story Bill writes is too good to keep to myself:

I had just finished presenting my weekend message at Willow and I was standing in the bullpen, talking to people. A young married couple approached me, placed a blanketed bundle in my arms, and asked me to pray for their baby.

As I asked what the baby’s name was, the mother pulled back the blanket that had covered the infant’s face. I felt my knees begin to buckle. I thought I was going to faint. Had the father not steadied me I may well have keeled over. In my arms was the most horribly deformed baby I had ever seen. The whole center of her tiny face was caved in. How she kept breathing I will never know.  All I could say was, “Oh my . . . oh my . . . oh my.”

“Her name is Emily,” said the mother. “We’ve been told she has about six weeks to live,” added the father. “We would like you to pray that before she dies she will know and feel our love.”

Barely able to mouth the words, I whispered, “Let’s pray.” Together we prayed for Emily. Oh, did we pray.

As I handed her back to her parents I asked, “Is there anything we can do for you, any way that we as a church can serve you during this time?”

The father responded with words that still amaze me. He Said, “Bill, we’re okay. Really we are. We’ve been in a loving Small group for years. Our group members knew that this pregnancy had complications. They were at our house the night we learned the news, and they were at the hospital when Emily was delivered. They helped us absorb the reality of the whole thing. They even cleaned our house and fixed our meals when we brought her home. They pray for us constantly and call us several times every day. They are even helping us plan Emily’s funeral.”

Just then three other couples stepped forward and surrounded Emily and her parents. “We always attend church together as a group,” said one of the group members.

It was a picture I will carry to my grave, a tight—knit huddle of loving brothers and sisters doing their best to soften one of the cruelest blows life can throw. After a group prayer, they all walked up the side aisle toward our lobby.

Where, I wondered as they left, would that family be, where would they go, how would they handle this heartbreak, without the church?

There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.

Consequently, I received this book from two people who have been a crucial part of my extended church family for many years now…

Thanks William and Julie!
 

 

Contentment in Christ Leads to Great Joy.

eeyore-and-tigger

Remember Eeyore and Tigger in the Winnie-the Pooh books? For Eeyore, no matter what amazing circumstance came his way, doom and gloom remained the focus. For Tigger, bouncing through life without a care in the world, he never perceived anything to go wrong. In our daily lives, it is easy to have the attitude of Eeyore while wishing we could have the outlook of Tigger two quite extreme viewpoints of life. The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore, nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.

— From Randy Frazee, Think, Act, Believe Like Jesus

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

Forgiveness May Be The Most Difficult, And Most Necessary Thing We Can Do.

crucifixion-place-of-the-skull

Every now and then I stumble across a story about forgiveness that merits special attention.  Randy Frazee shares a story about radical forgiveness in his book Think, Act, Be Like Jesus.

The following story is an amazing display of God’s love and a strong example of how radically a life can be changed by Christ.

Chris Carrier of Coral Gables, Florida, was ten years old when a man became so angry with Chris’s father that he abducted Chris. The kidnapper burned him with cigarettes, stabbed him numerous times with an ice pick, shot him in the head, and then dumped him out to die in the Everglades. Miraculously, Chris survived and was found. His only lasting physical effect from the ordeal was losing sight in one eye. His attacker was never captured.

Carrier became a Christian and later served as a youth pastor at a church in Florida. One day, he received word that a man named David McAllister, a seventy-seven-year-old frail and blind ex-con living in a Miami Beach nursing home, had confessed to committing the crime all those years ago. So Carrier headed to Miami.

Did he take a gun? Did he plot revenge on the way there? After all, now the tables were turned. The old man was helpless, just as Chris had been when McAllister tortured and shot him, leaving him for dead.

No. Revenge wasn’t Chris’s motive, as it had been his captor’s. Carrier was going God’s direction toward forgiveness. And, amazingly, yes, even love.

Chris began visiting McAllister regularly and often read the Bible and prayed with him. Through these visits, Carrier eventually led McAllister to his Lord.

Carrier said, “While many people can’t understand how I could forgive David McAllister, from my point of view, I couldn’t not forgive him. If I’d chosen to hate him all these years, or spent my life looking for revenge, then I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the man my wife and children love, the man God has helped me to be.”

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:33-34