Who or What are you seeking for this Christmas, and the New Year?
I am sure you have heard the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus umpteen times, and you are well aquanted with all the characters surrounding the birth of Jesus, called the Nativity, with the shepherds, the saliva-dripping manger, those wise men, or were they “We three kings of Orient I?” And of course, don’t forget a few fouls, or is it foul smelling animals who are always leaning over to get a good look of the sight of the beautiful babe before he is whisked “Away in a Manger.” It strikes me how that cow or bull, and that horse, or is it a donkey, all seem to know that this baby is someone special, even the Son of the living God, for their eyes reveal them saying, “This is the best thing that’s happened in our barn!”
And I’m sure you remember those three gifts which those three kings or wise men, or were they three astrologers from the east brought to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Depending on which song you sing, they were any of these three alternatives, but at least we have Matthew’s account in his Gospel of Matthew to clear up any confusion (Matthew 2:1-5)
I’m sure you also remember the unsavoury character of king Herod who heard that there was some cosmic activity going on in the sky of that moving, “Twinkle, twinkle little Star.” Herod had heard about those three men who had come from the east who were called Magi. Herod, one day had a visit of three astrologers, who in biblical tradition the Bible calls them, “wise men.”
In the Bible, (The New American Standard Bible) it says, 1 “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.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the Prophet. (Matthew 2:1-5, prophesied by Micah the prophet in Micah 5:2)
Herod who, was king in Judea, had summoned the chief priests of the Jews and the lawyers of Moses’ law and asked them where, according to the Holy Scriptures, is the Christ (meaning “anointed”) to be born.
Their answer, “In Bethlehem, in Judea” was what had been amazingly predicted by the prophet, Micah 700 years before Jesus’ first coming.
Of course, Herod felt exceedingly troubled by all these events – Herod had been crowned king of the Jews in Judea so this “little upstart,” Jesus (meaning “Saviour”) was a direct threat to his crown.
The Jews had been waiting for at least 700 hundred years for a Saviour to save them, but their expectation was of a political saviour to save them from their enemies of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece and now Rome. They didn’t know that this saviour was predicted by their prophet Isaiah as the Saviour of the entire world.(Isaiah 9:6) Amazingly Isaiah had prophesied around 700 years before Jesus’ first coming and predicted his birth. “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. And of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”(Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV)
The Jews were waiting for a new king to be installed but if they had read their writings of their prophet Zechariah in the Bible they would have realized that their Saviour King was first to arrive as a lowly and humble babe who is so meek, as a man he would ride into Jerusalem on a humble donkey; this was amazingly prophesied by Zechariah in his ninth chapter, around 700 years before Jesus’ first coming upon the earth. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Of course, the Jews could not conceive of their political king riding into their Capital on the back of a colt (donkey) but on a horse, (and that is one reason they rejected him)as all kings used; but Jesus was riding into Jerusalem to offer himself as “a pure and spotless lamb”,to save every person from their personal shortcomings (just a modern name for “sin).” As it says in the Bible book of Colossians, Chapter 2, that when this Jesus died, he nailed everything negative in your life and my life to the cross: “He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations,(the Law of Moses) that was
against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
But when this Jesus was just a babe, Herod felt threatened and probably jeolous of a king who he would have to submit to; so much so that he secretly met with those three wise men who were astrologers, and said to them, words like,
“Astrologers, I heard from my grape vine that you are oriental and have been following a star which predicts that the king of the Jews will be born soon in my country and vicinity of Judea?According to your charts, when was the exact time the star appeared?”
They probably told him that they had seen it burning brightly in the east from whence they had come, and that it was heading towards Jerusalem; but they didn’t know it was going to halt its trajectory over, “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem” which is just three miles outside Jerusalem. Only the Jews and those who read the Old Testament writings knew that the Saviour of Israel would be from the line of king David, from Bethlehem, David’s town, where the tribe of Judah came from, which was so small, it had to be combined with another tribe of Levi. The Jews knew that their new king would come from Bethlehem because this was predicted by their prophet, Micah, in his book, Micah 5:2.
Then king Herod lied to the Magi and ordered them, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him.”
Of course, we know he had no intention of worshipping him but killing him, instead.
But what about you
I have a question for you: Do you only invite this King of kings at Christmas, like a once in a year visiting dignitory from overseas or have you invited him to truly be Lord of your life, every day, every hour? For if he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all; if he is not Lord of your life and decisions, then you have not surrendered to his Lordship.
Or are you like Herod, who has fake intentions or split allegiances. Even you may have more menacing intentions – for example, some secretly use Christmas to further their influence and power. For example, there are some who can’t wait for the annual Christmas party, when they can take advantage of somebody they have been drooling over throughout the year.
There are millions of people on this planet who are planning to celebrate Christmas 2017, but their thoughts are as far removed from Jesus Christ as the east is from the west. They plan to celebrate the Christmas season, but not celebrate the real Christ in Mass (Mass means worship Service, as in mass of people = Christ mass). Like Herod, they may give mere lip service to the King of kings, but he is not really king because they have not received Jesus as their King in their heart, personally, as the one to save them from all the worries and pain of life that beset the human being.
Are you like king Herod who talked about worshipping Jesus and planned to celebrate Jesus this coming week, but on false pretenses – are you one of the millions of housewives or househusbands who spend their time, money and stressed-out emotions running around, caught in the trap of the busyness of the Christmas festivities, buying the christmas tree, the multiple presents and trimmings, burdened down with writing the one hundred christmas cards, desperately trying to cut your Christmas name list down and see who wasn’t kind enough to you, or who lost your favour this year, to cut out, which would give you enourmous joy? Do you find yourself caught up with the Christmas frenzy. Of thinking how to decorate your Christmas tree when forgetting that the real Christmas tree was the cross of Calvary; thinking that Christmas is about the gifts under tree, rather than God’s gift of Jesus nailed to a tree – the cross.
Are you sweating over the turkey, which is also sweating over its fate but only more so!?
Are you one of the millions of housewives who spend more time thinking about how to get the decorations just right in your home than thinking about what Jesus wants to do in your hearts – you think more about the designs of the christmas decorations in your garden than the designs Jesus has on your heart, to mold it and clean it and break your pride down, then transform your little shack of a heart, into a palace fit for the King of kings, to live and reign thoughout your year with his true peace and joy over all your worries and fears, and problems that usually beset you because you don’t pray to him who alone can give you the deepest peace you are seeking?
Do you think more about drinking wine this christmas, rather than the best wine,which the greatest joy-giver and Comforter wants to give you, who is the Holy Spirit of Jesus?
How to break the deadly forces that wish to entangle us
The difference between what God wants for us and what we ultimately become, rests on how we break the thrall of those appetites that chain us to selfish lifestyles and life goals. The steps to freedom are simple but always demanding.
First our focus needs to be hungering after what God wants rather than merely trying to want what he doesn’t want. Our Christian lives are either defined by a brake attitude or a steering wheel attitude, or both. The Holy Spirit is like a brake for our lives. He gives us the power to overcome sin, to resist temptation, as well as the steering wheel for our lives, the power to be led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the steering wheel and the brake, not just the brake. Few Christians realize this.
Oswald Chambers, the Christian writer, felt that most of us do not intentionally renounce God’s vision for our lives. We lose sight of our significance in Christ when we begin to live as though it cannot be obtained. Through the Holy Spirit, as both the brake and steering wheel are applied, we can know our significance in Christ.
How to Commune with God
None who wish to commune with God can ever see him while they insist that they tell God exactly where they want their lives to go. Just like every relationship, there is a time to speak and a time to listen to God. If we are ever to be great before God, we need to hunger after relationship with Christ. The basis of real praying is longing after relationship. We need to have as our motive, to grow in our relationship with God, not in what we can get out of him. We must always be seeking the Giver, not the gift, first. If we truly want a deep relationship whereby our communion with God is constant, then as Christians, at the depths of prayer lies a hush or silence. There is a silence when we are aching by faith to hear God our Father’s voice. We need to practice hearing and straining to hear God’s voice; it does not come instantly, it must be cultivated. We need to just sit in silence and learn to recognise his voice; his voice is gentle, kind and calm, and above all, full of love, and when you learn to recognise his still, small voice, above the clamouring voices screaming for your attention, his voice will gradually become more aquanted to you. And it never screams but as the Bible describes it, “still small voice.” It is often one word or a few words (a sentence), a message spoken by God the Holy Spirit, an instruction, an exaltation, or exhortation, but always listen, and most importantly, obey if it is a command; but before youyou hear or learn to listen and recognise his voice; God will probably take you through a season of waiting and silence, where he is testing our faith and motivation. He wants to see our depth of desperation and longing to hear his voice;he waits until we are in that place where we want nothing eksethan to hear his personal, spoken word for me; this calls for patiently waiting at the feet of Jesus, cultivating and pressing in; the kind of prayer like the Psalmist wrote, “As the deer pants or streams of water, so my soul pants for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2) At another time he wrote, David, “You are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart. (Psalm 119:57)
How many of us have really sought the Lord’s face with all our hearts? Throughout Scripture, God promises to show himself to those who seek him with all their heart.