Summary: As we look at the life of Jesus we see that same thing happening over & over again. So consistently does it happen that we begin to wonder, "What is God trying to tell us?" (Powerpoint available - # 115)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP # 115.)
A. This is the first Sunday, the first day of a brand new year. I think that an appropriate scripture this morning would be Isaiah 61:1 3. In many of your bibles it is sub titled, "The Year of the Lord’s Favor." And that comes right out of the text itself. Listen to these words that God caused the Prophet Isaiah to write:
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives & release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor & the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, & provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, & a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."
"The year of the Lord’s favor." What will 2012 be for you?
The apostle Paul wrote, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Will this year really be that for you? Oh, I pray that it will be!
B. Now let’s turn to another scripture, one that is more familiar to most of us. It is Matthew 2:1 11. Listen as I read those verses to you.
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem & asked,
‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east & have come to worship him.’
"When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, & all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests & teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’
"Then Herod called the Magi secretly & found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem & said, ‘Go & make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go & worship him.’
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way, & the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, & they bowed down & worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures & presented him with gifts of gold & of incense & of myrrh."
C. That is a familiar story to us. But there are two things that really jump out at me each time that I hear it again.
1. The first is a sense of amazement & awe as I realize again that God worked in a special way to lead these Magi, these wise men, over hundreds of miles & weeks of travel to find Jesus.
I am particularly amazed because these Wise Men seem to be completely out of place in the story of Jesus. They didn’t belong in Bethlehem. They weren’t of the right nationality. Jesus was born King of the Jews, & they weren’t Jews.
They didn’t have the right religious background. They didn’t even believe, perhaps, in the right God. And yet, led by God’s star, they made their way to the baby Jesus.
I imagine that the Wise Men expected to see banners waving, trumpets blowing, & dignitaries coming from around the world to bow before the new king. But nothing like that was happening in Bethlehem.
By the time they arrived, Bethlehem had returned to normal. The Roman census was over. The people had paid their taxes & most had gone back to their hometowns. The inn now had empty rooms, & the streets were quiet once again. No one seemed to be aware that a king was living among them there in Bethlehem.
But in spite of all that, God still led the Wise Men to Mary & Joseph & the baby Jesus. And even though no one else seemed to care, they bowed down & worshipped Him, presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh.