Kids love to hear the same story over and over. The familiar words seem comforting as each page is turned. They know what’s going to happen next and still get excited. Children often snuggle in someone’s lap and beg to be told again and again their favorite well-known tales.
I wonder if God wishes we felt the same way about His Word. Many times familiar passages draw an inward groan. “Oh, I’ve read that before…” we mumble to ourselves as we turn to certain well-known Bible verses. How do we change so much from when we were kids? Do we believe that God is real? Do we believe His Word is true? If so, then shouldn’t we read His Words with great interest, with excitement…like a child sitting on a Grandpa’s lap enjoying every page that’s turned?
That’s what I’m hoping for this Christmas. As I read the age-old verses in Matthew and Luke about the birth of Jesus, I’m praying that my heart will be stirred more than ever before. I’m asking for new insights and for it to come alive in my heart. It’s the story of the One who changed my life forever…I want to squeeze all I can out of it!
We began our Sunday School lessons for December this week and studied about the Wise Men. It’s the last part of the Nativity story but I felt compelled to do it first.
There are several theories on who the Wise Men were and where they were from. I won’t go into that. It wasn’t my main focus. (Feel free to dig into that yourself.) One point that stirred my heart was that they had been watching and waiting.
The Old Testament held prophecies of the coming Savior. Scriptures in Micah and Isaiah told of the Messiah’s birth. The Wise Men had been doing their homework! They had been waiting for a sign and soon as they got it, they moved. Could we say the same thing about us?
The Magi’s trip was uncomfortable. It was tiring, took time, and led them to places they’d never been. Are you willing to be uncomfortable, to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to following Christ? Is there something God is calling you to do that is new…different? What do you have to lose?
We hit the part about Herod (Matthew 2). Liar, liar, robe on fire. King Herod was only worried about himself. Often when we face “Herod’s”, it’s for the same reason.
We talked about where they found Jesus: in a house and not in the stable. Then it was time for gifts. The Life Application Study Bible says: “True worship is honoring Christ for who He is and being willing to give Him what is valuable to you.” Giving gifts to God…that’s a new thought.
A few years ago, my beloved said in a sermon, “They laid themselves down and THEN they laid their gifts down. Their intellect, social standing and self-will were laid down with their gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (I thought it was profound and wrote it in the margin in my Bible.)
The Wise Men went totally against what the norm is today. Most people want God to come looking for us, prove Himself and then give US gifts.
After presenting young Jesus with gold, myrrh, and frankincense, the Wise Men went home a different way. Finding Jesus may mean our lives need to go a different direction. We can’t “go” with Jesus and stay where we are!
I wonder what the Wise Men left with. They had traveled a long way, been misled by a vicious king and had to sneak home. Did they remember how tired they had been or the smell of camel? What were they thinking? What were they feeling? Had they received more than they had given? Were they different men because of their journey? Did they focus on the excitement of meeting Jesus more than the long, hard trip? Surely they talked about it the rest of their lives!
What gift will we give Jesus this Christmas and in the New Year? Time? Using our talents? Faithfulness? Forgiving someone? Loving unconditionally? We give gifts to family, kids, acquaintances, co-workers and so many others. What are we going to give the Birthday Boy?
Read the Christmas story over and over again this month. See if you can get excited over old familiar verses like you did when you were a kid!