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Summary: “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Isaiah 1:1.

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Matt. 2:1-12 Theme: The Universalism of the Lord

Text: Is. 60:1-6; Eph. 3:1-12; Matt. 2:1-12

Today is the first Sunday of the year 2008. What we do at the beginning of the year often determines what happens during the year. There is a custom most of us observe. This custom is that the first salary we earn does not belong to us but is to be distributed among members of the family. We do this to show our appreciation for their help in getting us to the stage where we can earn a salary. They do not need the money but when they receive it the result is a blessing from them. If we find nothing wrong with giving the family the first of our salary then it must be normal to give the first fruits of the year to the Lord who gave it to us in the first place. This offering always ensures a blessing from the Lord as it is an indication that He comes first in our lives. Today also marks the beginning of the season known as Epiphany. An “epiphany” is when something reveals itself or shows itself. In the church, Epiphany refers to the time the Son of God revealed His glory for everyone to see. During this season we celebrate our Lord bringing His people out of darkness into light. But just as many people failed to recognise the Lord at His birth so many fail to recognise Him today. Many people are even ashamed to be identified with Him and end up treating Him with disrespect. The way we treat Christ does not change the truth about who He is since truth is not subject to the opinions of men. The truth remains the truth no matter how we view it. We cannot change the truth that Christ came into the world to be the Saviour of the whole world and as such deserves our worship. The wise men came from afar to worship Him recognising the universalism of the Lord and they challenge us today to do the same.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world. He is the only light that can deal with the darkness of sin upon the earth and its people. We can still see the evidence of spiritual darkness just by looking around us. Here in our nation spiritual darkness is the reason behind the shedding of innocent blood through such practices as mob justice and ritual killings. Spiritual darkness is behind all manner of evil such as armed robbery, rape, murder and torture. Spiritual darkness is the reason why terrorists are killing innocent people through suicide bombings and only a few days ago 30 people in Kenya who had sought refuge in a Church were burnt alive. Spiritual darkness is the reason behind drug abuse and the break up of many family relationships. The world had been living in darkness waiting for the light of the world to rise and shine. When the Light came the world did not recognise Him but because of that light we today can arise and shine, for our light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us. Jesus Christ, the light of the world has dispelled the darkness of evil and made it possible for all people to come from the darkness into His light. All these things were revealed in the Scriptures and fulfilled in Christ.

The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is described in the Bible as the rising of the sun in a very dark place. With the rising of the sun the darkness immediately disappears. In the same way with the rising of Jesus Christ in our lives the darkness of sin and guilt also disappears. The feeling of guilt and the committing of sin after sin and trying to make things right with God points us to the darkness that is still around us. Jesus Christ came to do what we could not do. He came to bring us out of darkness into the light and to make everything right between us and God. Are we convinced that our sins have been forgiven and that we are guiltless because Christ has died for our sins? It would be interesting to know what we would do if Jesus Christ were to come in person to spend some time with us. Would we continue doing the same things we always do? Would we continue saying the things we always say? Would we take Him with us everywhere we had planned to go? Or, would we, perhaps, change our plans for just a day or so? Would we be glad to have Him meet our closest friends? Or would we hope they would stay away until His visit ends? Would we be glad to have Him stay on forever? Or would we rejoice when He leaves? Many of us take a lot of things about Jesus for granted. We say He is our Saviour and Lord but we do not treat Him as such. We often want our Saviour and Lord to do what we want rather than us doing what He wants.

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