Summary: Four ways of what we need to do to worship rightly
GETting READY FOR HEAVEN! Matthew 2:1-12
How are you doing in getting ready for Christmas? Is your card list longer this year? Do you think there are more presents to buy? Do you have all the decorations up? We get ready for Christmas in different ways. Do you find big crowds where you want to shop? Do you battle eating because of the Christmas parties and dinners? We may begin to wonder if we’re doing all that we should to get ready for Christmas. A little girl was feeling the pressure of Christmas preparation in her home. She became a bit grouchy one evening, and so her parents sent her to bed early. When she said her prayers that night she said, “And Lord forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us.”
One said “When Christmas is over; it’s all over except for the returns and exchanges. In our business, on the day after Christmas we remove every hint of Christmas from the store.” Is that our attitude that is just a ridiculous spirit of money-making? When it’s over, it’s over. The word “worship” occurs three times. “We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” “As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” “And they worshipped him.”
Herod was determined to do away with Jesus. The wise men were intent on worshiping Him. They worshiped the Lord with their circumstance, their consideration, their confidence and their Cash. They opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” These men were worshiping the Lord. What does means to worship Christ to us today? It has been said that Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. As we worship and serve the living Christ in this life, we are being prepared for Heaven and a place is being prepared for us.
1. WORSHIP THE LORD WITH YOUR circumstances.
We worship in our time in prayer and reflection of the word of God. It continues as we take time to give thanks to the revelation that God has given. That’s precisely what these men did. This was no pleasure trip for these men. They put considerable effort and time into their quest to find and worship the newborn King. It meant leaving their homes and families, taking a leave of absence of possibly nine months from their jobs. They did have a travel guide. They saw a star! God used the Star to make his Son Known and Worshiped. This is His Great Goal in all Things, that His Son be known and Worshiped. How did this "star" get the wise men from the east to Jerusalem? It does not say that it led them or went before them. It only says they saw a star in the east and came to Jerusalem. How did that star go before them in the little five-mile walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem as it did? How did a star stand "over the place where the Child was"? Concerning this matter it is the star that it is doing something that it cannot do on its own: it is guiding to the Son of God to worship him. There is only one Person in Biblical thinking that can be behind that intentionality in the stars, God himself. This is God’s design. He did it then. He is still doing it now. His aim is that all the nations worship his Son. At the beginning of Matthew we still have a "come-see" pattern. But at the end the pattern is "go-tell". The magi came and saw. We are to go and tell. If we really want to worship the Lord, we need to take the wise men as role models. When once we get that revelation from God, we have a choice. We can foolishly reject it or we can respond wisely, investing time and effort to respond to a revelation from God. It may mean revising your schedule, marking out specific time that you’re going to invest in worshiping and serving the Lord in response to the revelation you have received from His word. God is ready to meet you whatever your circumstances.
2. WORSHIP THE LORD WITH YOUR consideration
The wise men also worshiped by questioning His location and about His person. They were no different than King Herod, except that Herod had no thought of worshiping the newborn king. When Herod heard about it he called together the religious leaders and asked “where Christ was to be born?” Micah 5:2: In Bethlehem. Herod secretly talked with them “and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.” He then sent them to Bethlehem to find the child and report back to him so that he might “go and worship him.” It doesn’t say they obeyed the king; they simply listened to what he had to say. They took their lead from God’s guiding star. Not only did they take the time and make the effort, but they continued to ask questions about Christ. They evaluated the meaning of all that was happening so that they would have a clear sense of His Person. Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and should be honored as Such. "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?" It’s about a newborn child destined to be King of the Jews. Now, in itself that would not be a very great thing. Herod had been called "king of the Jews" by the Senate in Rome for almost 40 years. But no one called him Messiah. Messiah means the long-awaited God-anointed Ruler, who would overcome all other rule, and bring in the end of history, and establish the kingdom of God and never die or lose his reign. We don’t know how the wise men got their information that there was such a king coming. But it is clear that Herod got the message. They are searching for the final King, to end all kings. Worshiping Jesus Means Joyfully crediting Authority and Dignity to Christ with Sacrificial Gifts. There are four pieces to that definition of worship, and all four are grounded in this text. 1st, we see the authority of Christ by calling him "King of the Jews." 2nd, we see dignity to him by falling down before him. Falling to the ground is what you do to say to someone else: you are high and I am low. You have great dignity and I am lowly by comparison. 3rd, we rejoice in these attributes of authority and dignity. We cannot keep away from the feeling that true worship is not just recognition to the authority and dignity of Christ; we need to do it joyfully. 4th we give thanks with sacrificial gifts. God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything. So these gifts are not given by way of assistance or need-meeting. It would dishonor a ruler if distant visitors came with splendid care-packages. The gifts are a passionate desire for Christ himself. It is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I have not come to you for your things, but for yourself. This desire I now deepen and demonstrate by giving up things, in the hope of enjoying you more, not things. By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ’You are my treasure, not these things.’" If we intend to respond positively in our worship, we need to be serious about studying the word of God. You don’t know anything worth knowing about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit that isn’t proclaimed and described or explained in the Bible. Are you serious about worshiping God? Do you want to come closer to Him and get ready for Heaven? Invest time every day in the thoughtful study of His word. Emulate the wise men. Ask questions. Seek answers. He is worth your consideration. In JER 29:13, the Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God doesn’t reveal Himself to anyone who is simply lazy and indifferent. If you really want to know the Lord, you need to have a heart that is in pursuit of God.