sexta-feira, 6 de julho de 2012

The history of Eastern sages

Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Introduction: The story of the wise is a story that is shrouded in mystery. Tradition seems to know all the facts and details. But when we study Scripture we find that there are a lot of questions that we can not answer about the sages of the biblical text. For example:
How many were there? We do not know.
Where do they come? We do not know.
How long was the trip? We do not know.
They just mysteriously appear - and they were so mysteriously. But one thing I am certain is that the number of wise men and women increases with each generation people continue to seek Christ. Here are three facts that we learn from the story of the wise.
1. The journey of a wise man is a journey of faith.
"Where is he that is born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the East. "
What would possess someone to leave the comfort of your home to go on a dangerous journey? Romance? Yes Wealth? Most definitely. But faith? Yes - the faith. "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" What question survey - there is no doubt in his words that he was born - the question is "Where is He?" They had seen the star - the evidence was real - now where is he? They had faith that He was alive - that he existed - now all they needed to do was find him. His purpose was established - to find him. And so they were willing to risk everything to find him. They were willing to leave the safety of their homes - to risk a perilous journey in search of a king.
You can imagine the reaction of your neighbor? "You go to a trip?" "Yes." "Where are you going?" "We do not know for sure." "Is it far?" "Well, we do not know" How long will it take you? "Well, we're not sure about it"
But you know you should have said the same things to Abraham when he left his home to the Promised Land. They should have said the same things that Noah was building an ark - although he had never rained on the Earth's history, to what extent. They should have said the same sorts of things to Peter, Andrew, James and John, when they left their nets to become fishers of men. What are you crazy? Are you insane? You lost your mind? No, not crazy-insane not - not without judgment - men of faith.
Fact: "The trips always involve faith of God."
It is impossible to please God without faith. And why? For anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek it. Hebrews 11:6.
People of faith are willing to meet the challenges of the unknown again and again throughout history.
William Cary was a shoemaker when one day he heard a million people in India who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. He believed in the great commission "Go into all the world and preach the gospel" He believed that this verse was speaking directly to him. So he volunteered to go to India, but was told "Young man, sit down. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help" Cary went anyway - without financial aid. Worked for seven years without seeing a single person to convert - but by the end of his life, he saw hundreds of churches and thousands of converts. Today he is known as the "Father of Modern Missions." He was a man of faith.
The second point I want to note is:
2. The journey of a wise man is a day of worship.
When the wise men were on their journey was for the purpose of worship. They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts have a lot of symbolism associated with them. Gold represents wealth. It is an excellent gift for a king. (Jesus was the King of Kings) Frankincense is the sap of a tree that dries and hardens and used as incense to worship God. Thus, we see a gift to his divinity. (Jesus was the Son of God) Myrrh is an aromatic scent that was used to anoint the dead - to embalm and preserve them. (Jesus was the Sacrificial Lamb)
Fact: "Worship always involves sacrifice."
There was a price to pay for the worship of the wise men? You believe. Had been spent traveling. Travelling in those days was not very comfortable - in fact, could be really dangerous. The wise men had sacrificed their own comfort to meet the king and worship him. Listen to what David said about sacrifice:
"... why not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing "II Samuel 00:24
Romans says this: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service" Romans 12:01
Indeed worship requires sacrifice.
The greatest gift - the greatest sacrifice - you can give God is yourself. You say, but I did not give him anything today. I say yes, you did! Even today you gave something of himself. You have given Him your time to be here. Are you ready for a trip tonight to leave the comfort of your home to get dressed and ready to look for a king. You took your car - used petrol to come to church. Some of you when the offer came to gazofilaço delivered an offer to help pay the expenses of the kingdom and keep the church building - water, electricity, janitor, everyone has to be paid. When you put your offer in gazofilaço you helped to keep the kingdom of God. When you came you came today as a living sacrifice - even if you can not see it as - even though you may not have realized it. The efforts you made to worship God is his sacrifice for him. But here is a fact that I want you all to remember:
Fact: "What God wants, above all - above all, I"
He wants your heart - He wants your attention - the question to ask is: What am I willing to offer him? I am willing to give it my best? I am willing to go on a spiritual journey to worship Him? I'm willing to give up my comfort zone to follow Christ? The Magi were - and you?
The third point I want to note is:
3. The journey of a wise man is a journey of change.
Look at verse twelve: "Then, being divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way"
Is not it interesting that after they worshiped Jesus, they could not return the same way they had come? I think it's a fact today. Once you met God, you will never be the same. An encounter with God changes things - it changes you - is not it? It was ever thus.
Jacob wrestled with God and never walked the same way the rest of his life.
Isaiah came before God and "Woe is me, for I am lost! 'Cause I'm a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts" Isaiah 6:5. He was never the same.
Job questions God again and again about his suffering when God appears and says Job. "Behold I am vile, what shall I answer? Before I put my hand over her mouth. I have spoken once, and no answer or even twice, but not go on" Job 40:4-5
Job met God and became a changed man.
This is what happens when we walk in God's presence. We are transformed. That's what happened to the wise when they found Christ - they were changed. This is what happens when we encounter Christ - things become different.
Conclusion: It's Christmas time and heard the story of Eastern sages. They were wise because they had faith, they were wise because they worshiped and they were changed forever - all because of a child. And you? Are you looking for a change in your life? Is with Christ this Christmas and I can guarantee that you will be changed. Things will be different. A step of faith and look as wise men did.
Also check out the outline of a sermon that I published last year with the theme: LESSONS FROM EAST OF THE WISE, worth checking out.