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Thursday, December 26, 2013
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"Still Sought By The Wise"
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2:1). “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15).
Today's text is from Matthew's account of the birth of Christ. Luke's focus is on the shepherds and generally contains more details regarding Christ's birth that we associate with the Christmas story such as the stable and manger. In Matthew's account the human witnesses were the wise men from the east.
Little is known about the identity of these wise men (or Magi), only that they were from the east. Even the customary "three" wise men is not specified but perhaps assumed since only three gifts were described.
Perhaps they were descendants of the Jews who had been captured and taken to Babylon about 600 years earlier. Although many of these exiled Jews returned to the land of Judah following the Babylonian exile, some did not and settled in that area (present day Iraq and Iran) where they still live as a tiny, extremely oppressed remnant. Just yesterday, on Christmas Day, Christian Iraqis were leaving a church in Bagdhad when a bomb exploded in a parked car, killing 26. Iraq is listed as number four on Open Doors 2013 list of the worst persecutors of Christians, behind North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
In fact throughout the world to this day there are small remnants of Jewish people in virtually every country, including the most inhospitable parts of the Middle East. Actually these Jews, as well as Christians, have lived in areas now dominated by Islam long before the Islam religion was even founded. Up until recent years they have lived relatively peaceful lives before the increasing dominance of hate-filled strains of Islam that now dominate the news. The existence of these small pockets of exiled (and later dispersed) Jews throughout the world who keep their identity and faith is a wonderful sign of God's promise.
These wise men came to Jerusalem to make inquiry about a special birth. They were seeking after "He who has been born king of the Jews" and had made the long trek to worship Him. Many of us have heard the phrase "Wise Men Still Seek Him".
I suppose I first heard the phrase as a young Christian in the seventies when bumper stickers were a popular way to express your faith. I recall seeing it along with two you rarely see anymore; "Honk If You Love Jesus" (a little dangerous in this age due to road rage) or the encryptic "Warning: In Case Of Rapture Driver Will Disappear" (I wonder what this meant to so many who had no knowledge of end-time phraseology).
The genuinely wise still seek Him as the wise men from the east did. They always have and always will. This wisdom is altogether different than the wisdom of the world. The wise who seek him now may be among the elite and highly educated according to worldy standards or they may not be. Some of the wisest people in this regard have little of the world's education. And bluntly some of the most spiritually ignorant are highly educated according to the world's standards!
1) The genuinely wise seek Christ to worship Him just as the original wise men did. Their purpose in coming was forthright: we "have come to worship Him.” In worship we declare our allegiance as we celebrate His supremacy and worth. In worship we recognize the Great One and our own neediness regardless of our position in life. He alone is ultimately wise: "To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen" (Romans 16:27). "Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name" (Hebrews 13:15).
2) The genuinely wise seek Christ to build their lives on the solid foundation of His teaching and the remainder of the Bible. In one of our Lord's teachings, the "Sermon on the Mount", He concludes with an illustration contrasting two builders. Those who built their house (life) on the rock of hearing and obeying His teaching He deemed wise. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock." The others, who He deems foolish, heard but did not obey. "And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand" (Matthew 7:26). The wise man seeks to learn what Jesus teaches and lives by that teaching.
3) The genuinely wise are very careful how they live. The apostle Paul speaks to those who seek Christ for wisdom, calling us to "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15). We should all memorize and recite this verse regularly. The Amplified version expands the thought, "Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)." The Phillips version renders the passage, "Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do."
Today as we continue to reflect on the Christmas story let us determine that like the wise men in the original Christmas story, we too seek after the Christ. We worship Him through our acceptance of His Lordship and through our adherence to His instruction.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have taught us to be very careful how we live, not as unwise but as wise followers of Jesus, the very essence of Truth. In today's society of noncommittal attitudes or "whatever rings your bell" way of thinking (or non-thinking) we choose to be committed, sober, and vigilant about the way we live our lives in accordance to what we believe. We walk as sensible, thinking people with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who don't know or care about the meaning of life here or the life yet to come. We care deeply about the temporal and eternal destiny of our lives and therefore we seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness above all. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation see this page for more information or you can donate directly online here. Thank you!
We had a rather quiet day together as a family on Christmas. Ester has a fun time with our pets as they begrudgingly put up with her dressing them up!
We didn't get snow on Christmas Day but as we prepare this message early Thursday morning we received a beautiful snowfall.
The birds especially seem to enjoy our bird feeders with black oil sunflower seeds in the snow! This was taken just before posting our message and the snow is melting.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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