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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Wise Men Still Seek Him

"Wise Men Still Seek Him"

Technical note: For about a week we have been having sporadic problems with the website. It was showing an error message. This also affected the photos on the email version. I called several times and got it resolved (I thought) but it kept happening and it was down again early yesterday morning about 5:00AM when I got up. After a long hold for tech support I never got help before I had to leave for a chaplaincy visit with the site down. I finally got through and at last it was fixed yesterday afternoon (I hope) and apparently was some type of firewall issue. Hopefully an enhanced security package will solve this problem. I am my own IT department and that's certainly not a field I was trained in, just self taught and tenacious. By the time it was resolved it was so late in the afternoon and I was weary so we did not post a message yesterday.

Message summary: During this season as we reflect on the Christmas story let us determine that, like the wise men, we too will worship the King.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying 'Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him'” (Matthew 2:1,2). "And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way" (Matthew 2:12).

Most of us probably have some travel stories. Creating memories that turn into stories we share with others is what makes travel memorable and fun. We still laugh when we consider the server at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, who after our meal asked us, "Are you ready for Deodorant?" She was just as surprised as we were when she heard the words that rolled off her tongue.

The hotel was extremely busy and the kitchen had run out of many food items which we ordered. She was quite weary and mistakenly said "deodorant" rather than dessert. Since that time some 25 years ago we still occasionally tease each other after we've eaten our main dish in a restaurant, "Are you ready for deodorant?" we ask and then we all have a good laugh.

Stephen and Brooksyne with pets and Datsun pickupWe also remember visiting PA the first year of our marriage in 1977, as we were considering a move from Missouri to plant a church in northern, PA.

The return trip to our home in Springfield is very memorable since the transmission went out on our little blue Datsun truck. That truck was rather worn-out and had been used in building the Alaskan pipeline. We had no reverse and only hi gear. When we stopped for gas we had to roll forward and clunk along in the high gear (standard transmission) till we got some speed.

Somehow we made it home, but it sure made the trip long (nearly 24 hours as opposed to the usual 17 hours or so) since we drove about 40 MPH! (The photo above shows us beside the truck with our parsonage in the background just outside of Springfield along with our dog, Enoch, and cat, Coon, who made the move with us to St. Marys three months later where we established a congregation. We have lived in the Northeast ever since.)

Can you recall some of your own colorful travel stories?

What about adventuresome travel stories in the Bible? Consider:
  • Abraham's trip from Haran (Genesis 12)
  • Daniel's trip from his homeland to Babylon as a captive (Daniel 1)
  • Jonah's cruise (Jonah 1)
  • Paul's missionary journeys (Acts)
Today let us consider the long trip made by the wise men from the east. Can you imagine the stories they had to tell family and friends upon their return!

The three wise menLittle 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 has been 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 (when Daniel was captured). Although many of these exiled Jews returned to the land of Judah following the Babylonian exile, some did not but rather settled in that area (present day Iraq and Iran) where some still live as a tiny, extremely oppressed remnant.

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 relatively recent years they had lived comparatively 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.

Wise men still seek HimThese wise men traveled 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 or seen the phrase "Wise Men Still Seek Him". We passed the sign on the right in rural Lebanon County yesterday morning.

The genuinely wise, like these wise men from the east, still seek Him. They always have and always will. This wisdom is altogether different than the wisdom of the world. The wise who seek Him now are mostly not among the elite and highly educated according to worldly standards (although some are). Some of the wisest people in this regard have little of the world's education. And bluntly speaking, so many of the most highly educated according to the world's standards are spiritually ignorant and unwise!

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.

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 most well-known 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 Christ's 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, whom 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 about 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).

Today as we continue to reflect on the Christmas story let us determine, like the wise men in the original Christmas story, that we too will seek after the Christ. We worship Him through our acceptance that He is Savior and Lord and by our obedience in how we live, not as unwise but as wise.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily 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 choose to walk as sensible, thoughtful people with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who are aloof or uncommitted regarding the meaning of life here and now 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.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"We Three Kings"  Video  Reawaken Hymns

God With Us (The Magi)  Video  Todd Agnew

Comment from reader regarding Monday's message: "Your story of Longfellow, and the story of King Herod supported everything I've been feeling and questioning - a terrible loss, a horrible slaughter, yet there is Christ, in the middle of it all. Not "choosing" to take away the horror or the unspeakable evil, but instead be right there in the midst of it. I hear the bells!"

Moonstone Manor
The Moonstone Manor, originally built in 1742, in Elizabethtown, PA is where many of the scenes from the movie "I Heard The Bells" that we wrote about Monday were set. In the movie this is the home of Longfellow though his actual home was in Boston. This photo was taken in 2007 as we often passed this property on the way home from an interim church I pastored near Harrisburg. Had no idea at that time it would be a movie set!

In this video you will see our friend Jesse Lapp being interviewed by an NBC Today Show host at his farm in Ronks, Pa. (make sure to tap to unmute if needed). The part about the farm is several minutes into the video. It was aired this morning and we thought you might enjoy seeing Jesse since we often talk about Old Windmill Farm and the Lapp family who are like family to us. This summer we had a family picnic on the farm with relatives from all over the country.

Special Year-end Financial Appeal

We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). Like most ministries, 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 you would like information about making a donation to our ministry see here.

In considering support we are so pleased when we hear from you, our readers, that our messages are a source of teaching and encouragement to you. We also urge you to consider the mission aspect of these daily teachings that are freely available and read by many all over the world.

 To donate directly online click here. (This will open to a page that designates the offering to: STEPHEN & BROOKSYNE WEBER - 700001-237376 SERVING IN SPECIALIZED CHAPLAINCY)
Make A DonationIf you desire you can also donate directly through PayPal using this link. This will open to a page that states "Brooksyne Weber". We keep this option available due to the familiarity, convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not need an official receipt. You can also set up for recurring donations.    
Thank you,

Stephen & Brooksyne

Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to you, your family or church during this Christmas season.

"In Remembrance of Me" pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling. Here's a great Communion Hymn for Christmas (Video)

"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"  pdf

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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