January 2, 2022 Service
Why We Seek the Savior
      • Psalm 147:12–20GNB

  • Christmas is Over—or Is It?

    If I say January 6, what does that bring to mind? (Capitol riots/insurrection—right for US history but wrong for Church history.) January 6 is the day we celebrate the coming of the wise men to see Jesus in his house in Bethlehem. (No, the wise men did NOT come to see Jesus in the manger. That was the shepherds.)
    On the same liturgical calendar that tells us when Advent begins, and when Christmas Day arrives, today is the Second Sunday after Christmas. We don’t always get two Christmas Sundays. That’s because the Day of the Epiphany, the celebration of when the wise men see Jesus, ends the Christmas season, and we are in Epiphany until the first Sunday of Lent. The twelve days of Christmas start on December 25 and end on January 5. So, if Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, there is only one Sunday after Christmas.
    That also means that this year, since since our next Sunday is after January 6, we celebrated Christmas again with songs about the wise men
    Keep up your Christmas celebrations. according to the song, including today, you still have to account for 8 milking maids, 9 dancing ladies, 10 leaping Lords, 11 pipers and 12 drummers. So better get busy.
    But today, we are thinking about seeking the Savior. In the whole scheme of our celebration of Christmas, this is the one thing that will truly make a difference in our lives, for now and forever.
    >>>So, our story has its start. . .

    A Long Time Ago In A land Far, Far Away...

    No Star Wars music here, that was about Galaxies, not lands.
    Think for a minute about being an astrologer in an ancient land. Astrology has at its roots the timing of the seasons and taking care of planting and harvest for agricultural success.
    We discover early on in life that, for most of us who have not lived on or south of the equator, there is less sunshine in the winter and more heat in the summer. Depending on where you live, the rains for crops may come in early spring and again in the fall. You need to plant in ground that is about to get rain or that is not too wet to plant. And there needs to be enough time for the crop to ripen and be harvested
    These are the things that led humans to look to the stars. They discovered that just as the sun rises and sets every day, and the moon follows a 28-day movement as it goes from dark to full every four weeks, certain lights in the night move through the skies at different times of the year. So early astrologers were really more like weathermen, or almanac writers.
    Looking to the skies all the time, and paying attentions to were these small lights were, showed that there were groups of stars that move together and some regular lights that moved at different speeds, sometimes in the wrong direction. Today we call those the planets. But also, there were the occasional lights with tails, which are the comets. Some of these keep coming back. And then there is the amazing phenomena of a nova or supernova, when a star explodes, an event that shows an extra-bright light in the night. Both comets and novas can sometimes be bright enough to be seen in the daytime as well as night, A nova may last for minutes, hours, day or a week or more, but a comet can be visible for months.
    If you are an astrologer, you are looking for the positions of the groups of stars, the planet’s movements, an the cycles of the moon and the times when there will be a solar or lunar eclipse.
    But once in a while a nova or a comet appears. And these lights in the night must mean something.
    >>>So with that knowledge in our brains, we go to the story of the Magi, or the Wise Men, in the birth stories of Jesus. It’s in Matthew Chapter 2.
    Matthew 2:1–2 CSB
    1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.”
    Ah, this is how we know they were astrologers. They saw the star, the light in the night sky, or maybe even so bright you could see it in the daytime, and this meant something to them.
    The Bible names them Magi, which is a word from which we get magician, mostly because their science and knowledge was kind of a mystery to most. We call them wise men, because that is another way of thinking of them, for they were probably among the smarted and most studied people in the ancient world. And by the way, the Bible NEVER says there are 3 wise ment. We only know there were more than one, for the word is plural.

    Wise Men Were Seeking The King From the Heavens

    which from ancient books they had around they believed was for the Jewish people.
    Naturally they thought the palace in Jerusalem was the place to look, and the King of Judea should be able to answer their quest by pointing him out.
    But Herod, barely Jewish and placed in office not by roots in a royal dynasty but by the graces of Augustus Caesar had no clue who they were looking for. And this ruthless man who had murdered many of his own family so he would not have competition, surely didn’t think this was good news.
    >>>King Herod the Great builder of the temple and so many other monuments, wanted to know what was going on,
    Matthew 2:4 CSB
    4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.
    Now, this was not news to the students of the Bible that were among them. So with little delay, they were able to say,
    Matthew 2:5–6 CSB
    5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet: 6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: Because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.
    This was the information that the wise men needed to know. Where do we find the new-born King of the Jews. The answer was Bethlehem, just a few miles outside of Jerusalem.
    >>>Excited at the thought of finishing their quest, I’m sure they could barely contain themselves.
    >>>Even though Herod may have thought it was a stupid search, he told them to report back about the child. then, . . .
    Matthew 2:9–10 CSB
    9 After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy.
    They had spent many months, and much of their wealth to take this quest.
    >>>And in honor of the king they would find, they did not come empty handed.

    The Wise Men Came With Gifts for the King

    When they were at the house that somehow the star in the sky had picked out for them, they stopped at the door and asked if there was a child here, born with a special story.
    >>>And the answer was yes!
    Matthew 2:11 CSB
    11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
    They brought from their wealth to honor the King from the Heavens. This is why we still give gifts at Christmas time, and why we collect your special gifts as an offering in honor of Christ during this season.
    The gifts reflect the role of Jesus the Christ of God. Gold for a king, Frankincense for a priest, and myrrh for a burial.
    >>>Not only did these gifts point to the roles of Jesus, but they also bankrolled what would happen next for his family.
    Matthew 2:12 CSB
    12 And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.
    The excitement was over. The wise men had found Jesus the Christ then heard from God that night and left the country.
    That’s when we read,
    Matthew 2:13 CSB
    13 After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.”
    So this young family with small resources received all they needed to finance a trip to Egypt, find a home, and live and work until it was safe to come back. God is SO GOOD.
    Our real story today is not about Herod, or the Wise Men, but about why we need Jesus.
    >>>So lets now move away from Bethlehem and all the things there and think about . . .

    Why We Still Seek the Savior

    There were a couple people in Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth that were also looking for the Christ of God, their savior.
    Neither one of these were just youth. In fact, both had a lot of birthdays already. No doubt they were familiar with these passages about seeking God patiently from Psalm 27:7-8
    Psalm 27:7–8 CSB
    7 Lord, hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me and answer me. 8 My heart says this about you: “Seek his face.” Lord, I will seek your face.
    These two were seeking the Lord, wanting to be close enough to him to know his pleasure, close enough to feel his holiness.
    And I think they were faithfully sure that they would see what they were looking for, as Psalm 27:13-14 says:
    Psalm 27:13–14 CSB
    13 I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.
    For we read in Luke’s story about a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna.

    Two Seekers See the Savior

    It was time for the new-born Jesus to be brought to the temple with an offering.
    >>>For every first-born is to be dedicated to God:
    Luke 2:22 CSB
    22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
    And this is when some magic happened, first for Simeon, about whom the scripture says,
    Luke 2:25–26 CSB
    25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.
    Well guess what happened on this day? Most of you already know that the Bible says,
    Luke 2:27–28 CSB
    27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,
    Luke 2:29–32 CSB
    29 Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation. 31 You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel.
    Simeon’s quest had ended, God’s promise to him was answered, and he saw the Lord’s Salvation, for just for the Jews but for all people.
    >>>And shortly after that, we read. . .
    Luke 2:36–38 CSB
    36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
    Another seeker sees the Savior!
    And there was praise to God and telling the story of what God was doing through a small child from an other-wise unimportant family from the backwaters of Galilee.
    The important reason why we still seek the Savior is that

    Most of Us Haven’t Truly Seen the Savior

    which may sound a little harsh, but hear me out on this.
    Most of us grew up in Christian homes. We have been in church since we were little and can hardly even think about doing anything else on a Sunday morning but be here, in church, singing the songs and hearing the Bible stories about what God does for us.
    Some of us are Christians almost by default, for there is no other religion we can even consider.
    Some of us are Christians with defects because the truth is we have never gotten a real grasp on the nature of Jesus Christ, what he wants to work in our lives, and how he wants our lives to reflect his.
    That because most of us, or at least many of us, have yet to make it a habit of seeking the face of God by really seeing Jesus.
    Are you still seeking the savior?
    I didn’t ask if you are saved. You need that. You need to surrender your life and your will to the only one who can save your soul and keep your in his love for all eternity. You need forgiveness for sin, like I need forgiveness for sin, and we need to become more and more like the Savior we are seeking.
    >>> The scripture tells us our sight is defective,
    1 Corinthians 13:12 CSB
    12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.
    We don’t yet fully know our savior. We don’t fully know the love that sent the Son of God from the Heart of God to rebuild the People of God in us. Our quest for the savior should be new every morning and renewed every day.
    >>> For we have one goal in our true Christian life, and that is. . .

    To Be Just Like Jesus

    Are you saved? Then you are a child of God. Are you drawing closer to God? Then you are a friend of God. Are you becoming more holy all the time? Then you are a disciple of God.
    The Apostle John, after decades of serving Jesus, his Lord, the Son of God, Crucified and Risen Savior, wrote in his 1st Epistle, or letter, some tender but powerful words:
    1 John 3:2 CSB
    2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is.
    We don’t yet know, but when he appears we will know; and when we truly see him then, we will be truly like him because we will see him as he is.
    Why not get a good glimpse of Jesus today? Are you still seeking the face of God? Are you still seeking Jesus, to know him more, to love him more, to live for him more?
      • Matthew 2:1–2MESSAGE

      • Matthew 2:4MESSAGE

      • Matthew 2:5–6MESSAGE

      • Matthew 2:9–10MESSAGE

      • Matthew 2:11MESSAGE

      • Matthew 2:12MESSAGE

      • Matthew 2:13MESSAGE

      • Psalm 27:7–8MESSAGE

      • Psalm 27:13–14MESSAGE

      • Luke 2:22MESSAGE

      • Luke 2:25–26MESSAGE

      • Luke 2:27–28MESSAGE

      • Luke 2:29–32MESSAGE

      • Luke 2:36–38MESSAGE

      • 1 Corinthians 13:12MESSAGE

      • 1 John 3:2MESSAGE

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