The Door is Still Open!

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men[a] from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2 NLT

Back in my home city, many of us call January 6th, “Russian Christmas” because our precious Orthodox friends celebrate that as the day when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem. A closer reading of the Bible; however, leads us to believe, that it took close to two years for them to make their journey. Though it all began with a star which everyone could see, only a few followed it to come and worship Jesus. Are you looking for Jesus this Christmas? Then let’s check out three things that the wise men did.

“The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!!” my science teacher often said. Too often we try to appear smarter than everyone else by pretending that we know the answers. Maybe the one thing that made the men in today’s verse wise, is their sense of wonder and willingness to ask. Our search for Jesus, only begins, when we are willing to ask where to find Him and there is no better place to look for directions than the Bible. While at Christmas time it is customary to go looking among manger scenes and shepherds, the Bible says that the best place to find Jesus is at the cross. The wonder of Christmas is not about a sweet cuddly baby, but that God would send His only Son to die for people like you and me. In fact, the angel told Joseph that He was to be named Jesus, because He came to “Save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

But the wise men needed to do more than ask questions. There were many people who saw the star and asked about it, but only the wise men, packed their bags and began the long hard journey. They left behind their familiar, comfortable and safe homes, to search for a king. Faith means coming to Jesus, no matter the cost. Worshipping the baby born in the manger at Bethlehem was not a popular thing to do, in fact the wise men were warned by an angel that they needed to hurry home before King Herod had them arrested. But wise men are willing to keep going no matter the difficulty, because finding Jesus is more than worth anything we suffer along the way.

Last of all the wise men had to knock. When they finally came to Bethlehem, they wouldn’t have just burst into Joseph and Mary’s house. They had to stand outside knocking and waiting for someone to open the door. Can you picture the scene? There is Joseph meeting them outside on the porch, leaning on the doorpost and wondering at the caravan parked outside on the street. There are the wise men, dismounting from their camels, dressed in flowing ornate robes, begging to come in a see their son. Inside, Mary picks up Jesus in her arms as any proud mother would do and she turns with a smile to show them Jesus. One by one the wise men remove their sandals, wash their feet and then bow to the ground and worship. Will we be ready to do the same? Are we prepared to take off our shoes, kneel in His presence and offer our very best in worship? Of course, we cannot pay admission into God’s presence, but no one who truly finds Jesus comes empty handed. We eagerly offer all we have, knowing that He is worthy of so much more than everything we have to give Him. Come with the wise men this Christmas. The door is still standing open today!

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Working in God’s Vineyard

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
Matthew 20:13 ESV

We Are All Working For Jesus– Of course, we are not saved by works, but there is a work for the believer, that is to believe (John 6:29). When we come to work for Jesus, He tells us in advance what we will receive. The key word in today’s verse is friend. Jesus calls everyone who came to “work” in His vineyard His friend.

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Everyone’s Wage is the Same! Everyone who “works” for Jesus receives the same wage (salvation). At the day’s end, no one gets more saved and no one less. We each receive the silver coin, just as He promised when we answered His call. We are all saved by grace. No one will be impressed by how long we “worked” in His vineyard because we are all receiving infinitely more than we deserve!

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The Last Will be First – Being last in line, doesn’t mean that people who only believed for an hour are more important. They are first because when they receive their “wage” they are a greater show of God’s goodness. They come first because in them God is receiving even greater glory. “Are you envious because I am generous?” Matthew 20:14.

a) Instead of complaining hearts, let’s rejoice with God for the salvation of others

b) Instead of asking why we didn’t get more, let’s be amazed at the fact that we are all receiving infinitely more than we could ever deserve!

C) Instead of sour hearts, let’s rejoice that we got to work all day close to Jesus and at the end of the day He calls us friend!

Have a blessed Sunday everybody. I hope you will enjoy this wonderfully simple presentation by EMU music of the classic hymn, Hallelujah What a Savior!

The Desires of My Heart

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4 KJV

Often, I have taken this to simply mean that, if I make God my greatest desire, then He will give me anything else that I want. While this may be partly true, it misses the beauty which another translation reveals when it says, “Let your happiness be in the Lord”. In other words, when, the Lord is our greatest delight and happiness, then He makes a way for us to find Him!

Picture a young couple in love. One evening at a fancy restaurant, the man puts his plan into motion. After enjoying a delicious dinner and once the waiter has cleared the table, he falls to his knees, pulls a diamond ring from his pocket, and with tears streaming down his face he publicly proposes to the love of his life. At that moment, he has made her, his greatest delight. Now, hopefully, the lovely young lady responds with a joyful yes, and seeing that touching moment and the other diners erupt into applause. Yet our young friend has not yet reached his goal. Instead, plans are set in motion, invitations must be sent, a hall rented, and a date agreed upon by their parents, pastor and families. By faith, both of these people in our story are incredibly happy as they anticipate their wedding, But, when that day arrives, they will say their vows, exchange rings, kiss and walk out of the church for the first time as husband and wife.

Their joy is just a tiny picture of all that God has in store for us. For of course, Jesus is the groom in our story. He has publicly displayed His love, not at a 5-star restaurant, but on the cross. He has fallen to His knees, washed our feet and pledged all He is and all He has to us for all eternity. If we will say yes, then plans will be put into motion, guests invited, and a date set on which will be joined together forever. In our daily lives, we have a joy, because we trust that He is a good and loving God. He is our most valuable treasure and the ultimate love of our lives. Even better than this, we eagerly look forward to when all we have longed for will come to pass. Vows will be fulfilled, and a celebration like no other will happen on that day at His side when He will fully grant us the desires of our hearts!