You know who is most excited about Christmas? The most excited about Christmas is God, not because it’s Jesus’ birthday, but because Christmas is a time when people come to Jesus. Christmas is a time when for some reason or cultural, whatever it might be, if it’s in the air, people are open to what God might be doing, what God might be saying. Questions are coming up. I don’t know if it’s in response to stress. I don’t know. You know what might be going on, but I do know that God speaks out into our neighborhood, into people who we would think would be far from God, little interest in God. I know God is speaking to them and God is excited because God is inviting them to him. They ask, is there a solution to my life? Will I always be addicted to this while I always be depressed?
Well, I always feel like a fraud. Well, I always will. I always, and God is answering their prayers saying no in me. There is freedom. You will be free from that and he is inviting them to him and there we go. Out into the world. There we go out into our job places. There we go out into our families and God is inviting these people to him and God has us there for a specific reason. We are there to say the obvious thing. God will put it on our heart and say, invite them to church. Invite them to your house. Invite them somewhere where they can connect with me, where I can speak to them, invite them. And in those moments, that’s when you want to have this little card, handy little card you have in there. Many times God will put it on your heart.
Hey, this is somebody that I’m inviting. This is somebody that are making it obvious and you’re sitting there with this card. You pull this thing. I say, this is why I have this. Okay. Hey, here’s a church. I like to invite you to this church to come with me and invite them. If this is a big card and this doesn’t fit in your pocket, out in the lobby, you can pick up a three by three card, which is a promoting, uh, the our Christmas service for them. So that’s a much more convenient, take a stack of them. We have a lot of them. We’re not going to run out. Take as many as you want. One for every person at your work, but be there. Be ready when God puts that on your heart because God is working out ahead of us and that very sense.
Nothing starts without an invitation. Nothing. Everything begins with an invitation. I cannot drive by Matilda and El Camino and not thank God for that Starbucks, that Starbucks is where I first invited army. I invited army to meet me there. She didn’t want to go. She knew what it was all about. She’s not dumb, but she went and I’m so grateful if I not invited her, I might not have married her. It had to start with an invitation I didn’t want to invite or I was embarrassed. I thought, this is horrible. How can a pastor invite? At that time she was leading the worship at the church. How could a pastor, but that’s just creepy. I can’t do that.
Well, I had some motivation. I had gotten some terrible news about a month earlier that she had broken up with her fiance. Oh God, how can I stay? I do help me with stand the terrible tragedy of what had gone on in her life. Oh, the pain. Thank you Jesus. And I, um, and I wasn’t going to invite her and I had a dream. I literal dream just like people do in the Bible. I dreamed that people at her work, guys that are work were inviting her out, asking her out. That scared me to death. I woke up in a cold sweat and I said, I’ve got to invite this girl before those little guys get her. I’m less creepy than they are. And so, uh, that’s what I did. It all starts with an invitation. None of us are here today because we just decided to go find God.
That’s not in us. That’s not naturally there. That’s not who we are as human beings. Each and every one of us were awakened by the presence of God in our lives when we were far from God and God calling us to himself. Everybody has a story about how God invited them to him. That’s how God does it. Looking back over our lives, or maybe it’s the first thing you think of. You realize this is how God planned his invitation. This is how it developed in my life. This is how I received it. And today we’re going to look at a story about three aristocrats, three guys who never worked a day in their lives, hard. They worked with their minds. A very rare, a small group of people that got to do that and that time. But these are the three guys that did far, far away.
We’re going to talk about how God invited them. Then we’re gonna talk about, wait, who are these guys? Where do they come from? And then we’re going to learn three things about their lives that can give us principles for living life. Well, living, a life of success, things that we can put into practice right now. And then we’re going to conclude on how we, we are greatly advantaged when we take the road to where we’re going. A new road to where we’re going. We’re going to a new place, a new place rewires a new road, a new Ray to get there. So that’s what we’re going. How are we going to talk about that? And so these, we call them these guys, the Wiseman, if you have your Bibles and you have your cell phones, look there in Matthew chapter two, um, the, the version of the translation I use as the NIV here in church.
And so that’s what I’ll be following. That’s of interest. And this is a story about how guys far, far, far from Jesus, these were not Jews. These were kind of antisemitic kind of people. These were not friends of Jesus, so to speak. These were guys that had trouble with Jesus, would have had trouble with the Jews, would have had trouble with the political system and there they were not too far probably out of a would it be modern day Baghdad. A little town in their time was one of the most beautiful capitols in the world. Uh, Babylon and these were the Persians or the Parthenium. And these guys began from a position of research and of studying and being aware of the arts. And there was quite a collection of these guys and this is something that, that the Babylonians appreciated and they developed it. And they would bring in captives from all over the world of, of places they had conquered and they would bring in the intellectuals.
And so this place had a, a magnificent library and amazing resources. 500 years before Jesus was born. The Babylonians had come in and completely decimated a Jerusalem, Israel and had taken a lot of the capitalism in a couple of steps there and brought him back. And that’s where we get the story of Daniel. And she’d had racked me, Shaq, Abednego, old Testament stories, all this going on in Babylon, all this going on under the King back then, never condenser. And when the Jews went there as slaves and the balance discovered the intellectual capacity and how productive these guys were in administration and in government, they put these guys to work. But what they also added where their scriptures and the Babylonians continued to value those along with many others. But they became aware they would study. Isn’t that amazing? Far, far, far away from Jerusalem, far away from every week where we think is the center of Judaism in a distant capital on a foreign Capitol there resort Astorians still today they were following that religion but still they had an interest in this and they were studying it and far away they began to see that a day was approaching and I don’t know exactly cause the Bible doesn’t go into details.
One of the things that I’m excited about getting to heaven and asking these guys, how did all of these dots connect? But whatever it was, these guys, these are wrister Kratz knew it was now time to go to Jerusalem for the festivities. They didn’t have the advantage of of event E Vite they didn’t have the uh, the advantage of watching the history channel or the travel channel and knowing that amazing festivities are going on in Jerusalem announcing their new King, the birth of the new King. But they expected that. They thought this is what’s going to happen because here this is their prophecy and this is what’s coming true. This is what’s happening and see these aristocrats and we don’t know how many of their word. It could have been a few. That could have been a ton of them. Regardless, these guys all got everything together to not be embarrassed when they got to the birthplace of the new King of the world, and so they’ve got their presence together and they mapped out their journey and off they go.
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Our pictures show these guys traveling across the desert with three camels and a very lonely landscape. There is no way that the bowel lawyers are going to be traveling by themselves across this desert landscape. During the Roman empire times, these guys had been conquered by Herod himself. Herod himself, he, when he was in Jerusalem, this is the King at the time of Jesus’ birth, a horrible, horrible, horrible King. You guys think poll pod was bad. You guys think mouth that was bad. Most of you, you guys think that a stallion was bad. Oh boy. Harris right in there with them. Vicious, vicious beyond belief. And so Herod gets into into this picture here and he had connived with Mark Anthony. Yes, the very famous Mark, Anthony and Cleopatra, he had connived with him that if you give me enough Roman soldiers, I will go into this territory that is controlled right now by the Persians or the the Athenians at which are the same thing and I will expel them and I will give this territory to Rome if you let me be the King.
But we’d be the ruler over it and they said, you know if you can do that, we’ve been trying to get him out of there for a hundred years. You go in there and you do it, and Harold got in there and did it. He got ’em out and expelled them, moved them back. At this point, there is a a a a Parthian King named Freddy’s the fifth and this is just four years during Jesus’s birth in that era, that short period of time where there was a peace between the Persians and the Romans, most of the time it was just there at each other’s throat. A short time of peace, which would have allowed these wise men, these aristocrats to travel to Jerusalem, but they weren’t coming as subjects. They would not have been coming to to be submissive. They would have been coming to show everybody how strong and powerful we are and you better keep an eye on us because someday we’re taking our land back.
Now, I know it’s hard for us today to think that at one point the Iranians used to want the Jews to be thrown into the sea. I know it hasn’t been like that for a long, long time. How things change, right? Nothing changes. It’s still that way today, isn’t it? It’s still that animosity is still that desire. This is my land. Same thing in Jesus’ day and income, these aristocrats, they would have not come on camels themselves. They would have been riding the horses that they were so famous for that the Romans, I couldn’t get enough of envied with all of their heart, their Arabian stallions. They would have written in with a small army without a doubt who would written in with servants and they wrote into the city with gifts for the new King and they said, you know what? Any new King that’s going to overthrow Herod, any new kingdom might overthrow the Romans were behind this thing.
That’s probably how these guys are thinking. And they arrive in Jerusalem looking for the party and there’s no party. Well, what’s wrong with these people? We came from so far away and here we are and you guys aren’t ready for the party. We’ve been ready. We’re here, we’ve got our presence, we’re all dressed up. Where’s the party? There’s nothing going on. They go, let’s go. See. Herod was trawling Herod. So they’d go over and they find heroin. The heroin shot a new cane, a new King. You say really? Well that doesn’t sound real good. What’s going on with that? And so before I keep going and completely forget, let’s read here in Matthew chapter two the story of the maj I or the aristocrats or the wise man and however all kinds of words we have to describe these guys. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the time of King Herod, Madge I 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. 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 the least among the rulers of Judah. For out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Then Herod called the maj. I secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, go and search carefully for this child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him. After they had heard the King, they went on their way and the star they had seen when it Rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 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, and having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
This is the place where you and I come to in our own lives. Maybe you have received the invitation from God, but you’re looking at God’s people and you’re saying, I’m not at all like those people. They, they belong to a different ethnicity than I do. These kinds of people belong to a different political system than I do. These people, they, their numbers are in places that, that aren’t like my home. My home is very, very far away from all of this. Maybe you’re somebody that’s receiving a severity strange invitation and God is saying, Hey, I’m calling you to me and you’re hesitant. You’re saying, I don’t know. I’ve got my own religion. I’ve got my own people. I’ve got my own way. I’m not sure that this is an invitation I should answer these wise men, they transcended. They broke through all of those barriers.
They crossed the political barriers. They crossed the uh, the, uh, ethnic barriers. They crossed the language barriers. They crossed the geographic barriers. They went right through because they weren’t looking for a religion. They were looking for a King and that’s what brought them. That’s what brought them to Jesus. It’s not about what everybody else looks like. It’s not about what everybody else, however else behaves. That’s going to be very disappointing. It’s about Jesus. It’s about coming to who Jesus is, the Jesus. As we sang in Hosanna in the highest, that’s the Jesus. That’s above all that all that is created order. Jesus is the creator and that’s who is calling you. That is who don’t get these things. Let these, these different things, cultural things be a distraction to you. Keep your focus on who is calling your heart, who is speaking to you, who it is, and it’s Jesus and that’s where these wise men, they walk in to Jerusalem looking for Jesus and they get there.
And this is the first application I want to make for you. So close. Yet so far these guys came from a long, long ways away. They’re already for the party. They’re ready, they’re far. And yet Herod didn’t have a clue. Even the people around him were scared to death. Maybe somebody did know or something and had a woken them up, but everybody was scared to death of Herod. Nobody was paying attention to what God was doing. They’re all fear of him. Why? Because Herod would kill anybody that did any kind of wiggle that made him look like they might want some of Herod’s authority. Herod killed his wife. He killed his son. He was devastating. Killed people just for all kinds of strange reasons, just to prevent anybody from getting any idea that any authority might be taken away from him. And here are all of these Jews are right there, right there, and so far away, so much further away than the maj I were then.
Their wrister craps were, they might’ve been a long ways away geographically, but their hearts were right. And yet the people who are right there were so far away. Have you ever felt that? You’re right there, but you also are so far away. I was talking to somebody who talked about a coworker who supposedly was a Christian, but by their behavior acted in very disappointing ways. Boy, isn’t that a diamond, doesn’t it? Doesn’t that happen all the time? Oh, and you’re a Christian and you treat us like that and these are the things you do and you steal and blah, blah, blah. So close, so close. We could just go to church anywhere. We all have friends, the Bibles, some of us have more than one Bible. We all have Bibles on our cell phones so far away, so far away, and that’s kind of the plague that we all live in.
In a sense, we’re so close to God, yet we don’t see him. We don’t look and God is right there, right there. All we gotta do is turn around and see him. I don’t see him. I don’t say where is he? Because we’re not looking. We’re not open. We’re not asking God to reveal himself to us, to show himself to us. When you live looking for God, when you live wondering where God is and how he’s going to show up, you’ll begin to see God in everything and everywhere. You’ll begin to see God in the eyes of people. You begin to meet, you begin to see God and in news that you hear, you begin to see God. Even in beautiful nature, you begin to see his creation. Everything testifies and points to the reality and the presence of God in our lives, but sometimes the greatest blinders are all in our head as they’re focused in on us.
We can be so close yet so far that’s the first thing that we want to remember that we learned from these magic. You don’t have to come from a long ways away. Sometimes all you have to do is turn around and see God right there. He’s right there asking for your attention. Sometimes it’s just stopping long enough to say, God, are you here and waiting for him to speak to you, opening up your Bible, going to him in prayer, being ready for God. He’s right there. The second thing I want to point out here is all of us have a little bit of Herod in us. All of us are a little tiny bit of heroin. What do I mean by that? Herod would kill very quickly a Niley. Anything that took any of his authority away from him, he was jealous of his authority to the extreme.
Some of us hold onto our authority and our kingship much like Herod did, and if anything would come and threaten that if God steps into our lives and says, why don’t you let me control that? Oh, those were the wrong words to use. Let me remind you who controls my life. There’s your little Herod. There’s your little hair just holding on everything you can. There’s a little Herod in all of us. You can’t share authority with God and yourself. You can’t share possessions, ownership of your possessions. I own mine, but God you, you can share them. You can have some of them and that doesn’t work. That’s not how God plays that game. Herod understood that. Heron understood. Either it’s me or nothing and that’s how God is. It’s either me or nothing and when God comes to us and he says, Hey, how about we handle this my way?
Our response is to say, God, I want to do what you think is best in my life. That’s where I want to go. When God comes and says, Hey, I’d like for you to be generous in this way. Okay, it’s all yours. You’re the one in charge. I’m going to be generous in that way because that’s what you’re putting on my heart to do. I’m putting this in your hands. That’s letting Jesus be the King of our lives. That’s not being a little Herod at all. That’s being, I’m given the authority that I want. So jealously guarded. I am giving it to God. I’m being submissive to God’s will and how God wants things to be. Many times God will check my heart. Inevitably I might grow frustrated with somebody or something and, and I’ll get all excited about it, a negative way and, and I’m kind of obsessed on it and thinking and then God just kind of taps me kinda hard.
And he says, Hey, what’s wrong with our relationship? And I’m like, well what do you mean what’s wrong? Our relationship, our relationships, fine, you and me are good. My problem is with this person over here, my problems with this, this, this issue over here. And God says, no, you don’t have a problem with anybody. You have a problem with me. And until our relationship is right, you’re still going to, you’re going to constantly find problems around you. Let’s get our relationship right. And then watch that problem. VAT vaporized. Does that problem go away? And then I got to remember, I got to come back to God and I realized that I was taking authority in myself and I wasn’t submitting to God’s authority of my own life. And when I did that, I realized, you know what? They can do whatever they want. I don’t ask her to them.
I’m not subjected to them. My life is not. My destiny is not in their hands. God has taken care of me. God is taken care of. And when I submit myself to God in everything and absolutely everything, then I am getting rid of that Herod in me. Then I am living the life with King Jesus at the center of my life. So that’s the second application that we walk away. The lesson that we learned from the I, and this is the third one, we’re going to a hole or going to a new place. You can’t get to a new place by taking the old road. You just can’t do that. And so what God is telling each and each one of us is, this is where I want you to go and this is the way I want you to get there. It’s up to you and to me to turn around and say, okay, God, I see where you’re leading.
I see what you’re doing and this is the way I’m going to go. One of the great heartbreaks in my life as I’ve had in ministry is to find people who are addicted to all kinds of things. Sometimes it’s, it’s a chemical, sometimes it’s pornography. I just, people are we, they’re just constantly, we just, we’re, we’re, our human nature is such that we depend on things to give us relief and when we find those reliefs outside of Jesus, then it just completely consumes our lives and destroys us. But I’ve found people and they, they’ve, they’ve gone through phases where they’ve said, okay, I’m done with this. I’m over this. I’m not going to go back to my old ways. And in a sense, the Lords we use are, are they, they’re clean, they’re sober, whatever it might be. But what happens when they’re clean and they’re sober, they keep thinking about the way they used to be and all of a sudden there might not be any material or physical reason to go back to the drugs or go back to the pro or whatever it is.
But they think we’re, we’re okay. We’re okay. And they way, and they go back home. They go back to the old place and next thing you know, they’re just the way they were before, just the way they were before. God says, that’s not how you get home. Your home is not in the old place. Your home is not in the past. Your home is out into the future. Your home is the home I am giving you. And to get to that home, you can’t get on the old road. You have to get on the new road. Isaiah called it the highway of holiness. Isaiah call it the highway of holiness. I don’t know what God calls it in your life, but there comes a time and every one of our lives where God just like he did with the magic, he wakes them up with the magic.
It was a dream maybe with you as somebody talking to you, maybe somebody be unreal with you. Maybe it was just a fear that came over. Whatever it was, something reminds us that the old road is going to kill us. The old road is not where the future is. The old road is what’s going to do us in. Nothing good comes from that old road. And what I need to do is get on the new road to get where God is taking me. I need to change my path. I need to change my way and I need to change just about everything about me to go where God is calling me to go. And that’s what the maj idea. I love this. I love this. Uh, this verse here at the end of where we see this, and having been warned in a dream, not to go back to Herod, where has God warned you not to go back to?
What has God warned you not to go back to? Has God warned you about the way you were going? Has God warned you about the laws that’s just in front of you? Has God warned you about the things that it could cost you? Whatever it might be, your job or your family or your integrity or your character or everything that you hold dear to you in your life? What is God warned you about? It said, don’t go back there. Those who will listen to God, those who will listen to God will go where God wants them to go. We’ll say, okay, God, I’m not going back, but I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t have a clue where I’m going. I, I’m, I love a story about a missionary, a great missionary. His name was E Stanley Jones is missionary in India. And he told a very interesting story about a missionary in Africa, in the North.
Uh, West part of Africa on the Congo or the very, very thick jungles. And there wasn’t a lot of communication between the people that live there. So there wasn’t a lot of ways to get around and a missionary had gotten way off the road, way off the road, completely lost in the jungle, thought he was wanting to die, very dangerous jungle. And he’d just walk and all of a sudden he comes into a small clearing and he finds a hut. So he goes to the hut and finds it. The guy speaks, understands his language, and he speaks to him and he says, can you take me out of this jungle? Can you get me back on the road? I, I’m completely lost. And the guy says, yeah, yeah, I can help you find the road again. That’s no problem. Follow me. And so they go right off into the jungle and the guy’s got his machetes just hacking away at the jungle, hacking away how can away and, and the missionaries following this guy.
But he starts to become a little bit worried because we’re not getting anywhere. Nothing’s happening and there’s no path. Then why are we just hacking weeds? What are we doing out here? And he asked, the guy says, says, are we getting, are we going into the ropes? I don’t see a path. And the guy looked back around at the missionary and said, Oh, in this jungle there is no path. I am the path. And you know what? In this jungle there is no path. Jesus is the path. Jesus is the way. What brought the magic? What brought their wrist or Kratz to Jerusalem and then ultimately to Bethlehem to find Jesus? It was a star. It was a star. I don’t know how that works and I don’t know what’s guiding you, but I do know that for most of us, stars have been replaced with GPS.
But there was a time when stars for thousands of years, most of human history were insanely important for navigation. And you know what? Jesus identified himself as the bright morning star, the bright morning star. It was a star that led the people to Jesus. And it’s a star that led people onto where Jesus was leading them. The star never goes away. And whoever gave you that invitation, meaning God, God brought you to him. He’s not letting up. The job’s not done. It’s not when they Madge I not when they’re risk has got to Jesus. No, it’s what happened as they left Jesus. It’s what happened when they went back to Babylon. That’s the new beginning that we’re talking about and for you and for me. Our question is, am I following the bright Morningstar? Am I following Jesus? Am I going where he is leading me there risks? Kratz knew that in following Jesus, it’s about worship. It’s about bowing down. It’s about submitting our ways. It’s about letting God have the authority in our lives
and let me ask you this morning, in what ways are you following Jesus in a way that shows your worship of him, that shows your submission to him, that shows you giving your authority to him laying it now because he is the King of Kings and the Lord of floors. In what ways in your life, right today are you not doing that? In what ways are you so close yet so far? In what ways is there still a little Herod telling you what to do? He telling you how you can have more than what you should be doing and how you should be destroying anybody that threatens your authority. In what ways have you gotten off the road to where God is taking you? I challenge you this morning to be open to how God is leading, how God has God and what God is saying to you and speaking to you even this morning.
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It doesn’t matter how distant and how far you might’ve come or how different things are in your life to where God is. If God is inviting you is because you are seen by God and known by God and loved by God and God wants you to influence it, to embrace you and bring you into his presence. Throughout this life and throughout all of eternity, let’s make sure that our hearts are writing and in in life that our mindset, we’re where God wants us to be and be the people that God’s called us to be. God, take our lives. Let me pray with you. Heavenly father.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. We’ve had to look at this small segment of this Christmas story, but so easily see our lives so easily. Recognize the invitation that you have given to us that began everything has started the church. Thank you father, for bringing us to Jesus, even if it’s today for the first time. And father, I pray that you would take us from this point forward into the future and to the place that you have prepared for us under the place that you have for us. Help us Lord, to give the future to you. Help us Lord, to give all authority to you. Help us Lord, to submit to your way and help us to find our joy and our peace by being on the road. Be it following the bright morning star, following Jesus being on the highway to holiness. Lord put us on the right path this morning for nine.
I’d like to pray for anybody here today who is not giving their heart to Jesus, is not given their lives to Jesus. Let this be the day. Let this be the day. So you go from this old way into the new way as a very simple prayer. It’s about the heart. It’s not about what you say, and I’m just going to lead you in that. I invite you to repeat after me. Lord Jesus, I see who you are and I hear what you’re calling me to do. So today I give you my life. I want to follow you the very best that I can. I have been on the wrong road.
I have gotten far away from you. Forgive me for everything that I have done to disappoint you, to live wrong. Forgive me for those sins. Thank you for dying on the cross that I might be able to have a relationship with you, that I might have vision to see your love, to see your acceptance and to see you living and guiding and walking with me through this jungle as I follow you in the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.