Summary: The topic for this message is all about seeking God. The Magi, the shepherds and Simeon and Anna are used as examples of the different ways people found God. While certainly it fits during the Christmas season it could be preached anytime during the year.
INTRODUCTION: (“Seek” Video from sermonspice.com = 1:45)
You know, again and again in scripture we find that God reveals himself to those who seek after Him. In fact, God seems to say that there is joy and pleasure in the search for Him. Psalm 70:4: “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!” (NIV)
But we know there can be fun in seeking and finding, right? After all, who hasn’t played “hide and seek”? In that game, both parties find pleasure in seeking. If you are “it” it’s the excitement of the search and the fun of finding. If you’re the “hider” there’s the anticipation of how long it will take you to be found. But the whole point of the game is finding right? I mean if you’re the hider and you find this incredible spot, well, at first you feel great – but if minutes turn into hours the fun disappears. If it gets too long you’ll start sticking out a foot or rattling the bush because no one wants to hide and never be found. There is a joy in being found. There is excitement for both parties in the seeking, but the pleasure is in the finding.
The same is true of God. God knows there can be excitement in the search and pleasure in the finding. Paul said it this way: “God made the world and everything in it… He gives everyone life and breath and everything else. God did this so that people would seek him and find him.” Acts 17:24-25 & 27 NIV So, this morning as we continue in our series “Intentional Christmas,” we want to talk about an intentional pursuit, purposely seeking God.
Now, I want to be right up front with you as to the purpose of this message. It’s really for two different groups of people. First, maybe spiritually, you’re kind of on the fence. You’re not sold out to the whole Jesus thing and you’re not sure why being a part of the church is worth it. Well, if that’s you this morning, first of all we are glad you’re here, but secondly I’m praying that by the end of this message you will at least be willing to say, “I need to find out if this whole Jesus stuff is true. It’s too important to be passé about this.” C.S. Lewis once said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” So, this message hopefully will get you to seek seriously the truth of Jesus. But also… if you are a believer I want to challenge you today to ask yourself: “How authentic, honest and personal is my faith?” Do I believe because of my parent’s, because it’s expected or is it really mine?
And that brings us to our sermon in a sentence: You will find God when you seek Him with all your heart. That sermon in a sentence is actually a verse of scripture. In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) But the question is: How do we do that?
Well, I want us to look at three snapshots from that first Christmas, three groups of people who were intentional seekers. They did it differently, but they all found the Jeremiah principle to be true. And if you will seek God the way they did, you will have the greatest chance, like our video said, of finding love, peace, joy, and hope because you’ll find Him.
I. SEEK PASSIONATELY: Matthew 2:1-12The first snapshot is from Matthew the second chapter – it’s the Wise Men or Magi. They are great examples of those who seek passionately. Their story is one of intentionally putting in time and effort into their search. Now, we don’t know a lot about these men. Matthew 2:1 calls them “Magi,” where we get the word magician. But most scholars see them as wise scholars, possibly scientists, especially in the field of astrology.
But while we may not know exactly who these men were, we do know they studied. How do we know that? Because when they finally get to Jerusalem they say to Herod, “We saw his star when it rose…” (Matthew 2:2 NIV) How would they even know to ask about “his star”? Many scholars think they were from a land that had previously held Jewish people – like Daniel in Babylon – and so they would’ve had access to the writings of the OT prophets where they could glean this information. In fact there is a scripture referring to the Messiah or coming one of God in Numbers 24:17 that may have started their search: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel...” (Numbers 24:17 NIV) So, they were passionate about finding this “King” this One who would come out of Jacob or Israel. So, much so that they were willing to leave family & friends & travel a great distance.