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When the wise men come to Jesus, they bring three gifts: Gold, which is the gift for royalty, a gift for a king. Incense, which was for divinity, a gift you give a God. And myrrh, which is a funeral gift, a gift used for burial. Their gifts show amazing insight.
At first hearing, you might think these gifts were a lucky coincidence. Theyíre not. God set up the events of Christmas in such a way that you would know that He was carefully orchestrating each element of it, years in advance. Nine months before Christmas, God sent an angel to tell Joseph and Mary about the birth of His Son. Christmas night, God sent angels to communicate with shepherds about the birth of His Son. Hundreds of years before Christmas, God sent a holy man Ė Daniel Ė to the eastern peoples to prepare their highest caste, their wise men, (court advisors to the king) to respond to the birth of His Son. God communicated to the wise men that the Messiah would be king and God, and that He would come to die. Through a combination of Danielís leadership, Hebrew Scripture, and the tailor-made revelation of a star, these wise men knew as much or more about the nature of the Messiah as the Jewish people.
BRAVEHEART: "I DON'T WANT TO LOSE HEART"
Braveheart (2:12:34 - 2:14:30) is the story of Scotlandís pursuit of freedom from the tyranny of the English under the leadership of William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson. Leading up to this scene was a battle where Wallace and his men were fighting the English. Wallace thought he had the backing of the Scottish nobles, but they had been bought off by the King and betrayed him on the battlefield, leaving Wallace and his men to be routed by the English. Weíll see the leader of the nobles, Robert the Bruce, takes his act of betrayal particularly hard. Pay attention to how he owns his betrayal but doesnít let it define him, and notice his resolve to fight for a purpose that is above himself:
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Iím the one whoís rotting, but I think your face looks graver than mine. Son, we must have alliance with England to prevail here. You achieved that. You saved your family, increased your land. In time, you will have all the power in Scotland.
Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power... nothing.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Nothing?
Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk fought for William Wallace. He fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield, and itís tearing me apart.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: All men betray. All lose heart.
Robert the Bruce: I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART!!! I want to believe as he does. I will never be on the wrong side again.
Maybe thatís the cry of your heart this morning. Youíve chased after everything you thought would satisfy your soul, and itís left you empty--nothing. And maybe you even betrayed your savior to do it. You and I have been idolaters. Weíve built our own cisterns and they donít hold water. They leave us empty-hearted.
Maybe you're even saying to yourself, "I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART. I want to BELIEVE. I will never be on the wrong side again."
GIVING BEGETS GIVING
Leadership Magazine carried a story about four young men, Bible College students, who were renting a house together. One Saturday morning someone knocked on their door. And when they opened it, there stood this bedraggled-looking old man. His eyes were kind of marble-ized, and he had a silvery stub of whiskers on his face. His clothes were ragged and torn. His shoes didnít match. In fact, they were both for the same foot. And he carried a wicker basket full of unappealing vegetables that he was trying to sell.
The boys felt sorry for him and bought some of his vegetables just to help him out. Then he went on his way. But from that time on, every Saturday he appeared at their door with his basket of vegetables. As the boys got to know him a little bit better, they began inviting him in to visit a while before continuing on his rounds.
They soon discovered that his eyes looked marble-ized not because of drugs or alcohol, but because of cataracts. They learned that he lived just down the street in an old shack. They also found out that he could play the harmonica, that he loved to play Christian hymns, and that he really loved God. So every Saturday they would invite him in, and he would play his harmonica and they would sing Christian hymns together.
They became good friends, and the boys began trying to figure out ways to help him. They finally collected a bunch of clothes and secretly left it all on his doorstep, no note attached or anything. The following Saturday morning, the story says, right in the middle of all their singing and praising, he suddenly said to them, "God is so good!" And they all agreed, "Yes, God is so good."
He went on, "You know why he is so good?" They said, "Why?"
He said, "Because yesterday, when I got up and opened my door, there were boxes full of clothes and shoes and coats and gloves. Yes, God is so good!" And the boys smiled at each other and chimed in, "Yes, God is so good."
He went on, "You know why He is so good?" They answered, "You already told us why. What more?" He said, "Because I found a family who could use those things and I gave them all away."
LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS
S. I. McMillen, in his book "None of These Diseases," tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst.
To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms ...
Sermon Central Staff
BUILD CHARACTER INTO YOUR CHILDREN
David Kraft was a big, strong man -- all muscle. At the age of 32, he was six feet, two inches tall and weighed 200 pounds. He had been to seminary and ended up working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, because of his athletic background.
Then he was diagnosed with cancer. It wracked his body, and over a period of time, he dropped from 200 pounds to 80 pounds.
When he was about ready to pass from this life into eternity, he asked his father to come into his hospital room. Lying there in bed, he looked up and said, "Dad, do you remember when I was a little boy, how you used to hold me in your arm close to your chest?"
David's father nodded. Then David said, "Do you think, Dad, you could do that one more time? One last time?"
Again his father nodded. He bent down to pick up his 32-year-old, six-foot, two-inch, 80 pound son, and held him close to his chest, so that the son's face was right next to the father's face. They were eyeball to eyeball. Tears were streaming down both faces, and the son said to his father, "Thank you for building the kind of character into my life that can enable me to face even a moment like this." (Ron Lee Davis, "Introducing Christ to Your Child," Preaching Today, Tape No.92)
Men, I dare you to be that kind of father (or grandfather) to your children. Dare to build into them the kind of character that will enable them to face anything in life. Then you will be a real leader, not only in your home, but among your peers, as well.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Loving Leadership, 6/17/2010)
Sermon Central Staff
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
Several years ago, Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Bob Patterson described one of his pitches, which the Cincinnati Redsí Barry Larkin hit for a game-winning home run: "It was a cross between a screwball and a change-up. It was a screw-up." (Wall Street Journal, 7/9/96; Leadership, Vol. 17, no.3)
That describes our lives sometimes, but what do we do when we screw-up? What do we do when we fail? What do we do when life doesnít go as we planned?
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Lessons from Failure, 6/22/2012)
THE TRUTH OF THE BOOK
John Ortberg states
"Itís a strange thing: the book has never been so accessible. According to Guinness Book of Records, L. Ron Hubbardís writings of scientology have been translated into 65 languages; the Koran is supposed to be read in Arabic so it hasnít been translated as much; the Book of Mormon is in about 100 languages. But 2,656 languages have all or some of the Bible. Some 65 million copies of the Bible are brought or distributed in the U.S. every year--nothing else is a close second. The average house has at least three. People cheer the Bible, buy the Bible, give the Bible, own the Bible-they just donít actually read the Bible. According to George Gallup: One Third of those surveyed know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Fewer than half can name the first book of the Bible; 80 percent of born-again Christians believe the phrase Go helps those who help themselves is in the Bible (itís Ben Franklin, if youíre curious). So Iím thinking a lot these days about how to help the people that God brings my way to know and love the book" (Article People of The Book, pages 37-40 from Leadership Edition Winter 2008).
In Bill Gatesí new book Business @ The Speed of Thought, he lays out 11 rules that students do not learn in high school or college, but should.
He argues that our feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality who are set up for failure in the real world.
RULE 1 - Life is not fair; get used to it.
RULE 2 - The world wonít care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
RULE 3 - You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You wonít be a vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both a high school and college degree.
RULE 4 - If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesnít have tenure.
RULE 5- Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping, they called it opportunity.
RULE 6 - If you mess up, itís not your parentsí fault, so donít whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
RULE 7 - Before you were born, your parents werenít as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills; cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parentsí generation, try "delousing"
the clothes in your own room.
RULE 8 - Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they wil...
BLACKABY: WHAT DOES A CALLING LOOK LIKE?
Henry Blackaby shares from his book "The Power of the Call" pages 10-14 a clear picture of what one looks like who is called by God into pastoral ministry:
1. The pastor is chosen
2. He is chosen by God
3. He is chosen by God to be His servant
4. He is chosen by God to shepherd His people
5. He recognizes that Godís people are His inheritance, that they are Godís ďspecial treasureĒ (Exodus 19:5-6).
6. He has integrity of heart.
7. He recognizes that his assignment will require ďskillfulness of his handsĒ (hard work, consistent with his heart).
8. God calls his servants to be stewards (Acts 20:28-31)
9. God calls his servants to be spiritual leaders
a. You cannot do Kingdom work with the worldís methods.
10. The people are your ministry not the means you use to fulfill your ministry.
GOD JUST NEEDS A VOICE
John Stott, a well-known British pastor and theologian, was invited to preach at the University of Sydney in Australia; but after he got there, he lost his voice. He describes his experience as follows:
"What can you do with a missionary who has no voice? We had come to the last night of the [evangelistic campaign]. The students had booked the big university hall. A group of students gathered around me, and I asked them to pray as Paul did, that this thorn in the flesh might be taken from me. But we went on to pray that if it pleased God to keep me in weakness, I would rejoice in my infirmities in order that the power of Christ might rest upon me.
"As it turned out, I had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak the gospel. I was unable to use any inflection of voice to express my personality. It was just a croak in a monotone, and all the time we were crying to God that his power would be demonstrated in human weakness. Well, I can honestly say that there was a far greater response that night than any other night. Iíve been back to Australia ten times now, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, "Do you remember that night when you lost your voice? I was converted that night."
God doesnít need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice, with a living, vital connection to Him in prayer.
I like the way Luci Swindoll once put it. She writes: "A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. [The Bible] says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We donít even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be íon.í"
(Source: Student Leadership, Spring 1993, p. 32. Luci Swindoll, "Heart to Heart," Todayís Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009)
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org