I decided to repost this...it was an article I wrote a few years ago with Katie Brazelton.
The Bible writer Matthew tells the Christmas story of the magi's journey to find the new baby King (Matthew 2: 1-12). We might classify the wise men as seekers, because they traveled many miles, perhaps three to 24 months, just following the star shining in the East. When they finally arrived at their destination, they were filled with joy as they bowed down to worship and give gifts to the child who was a King. But what possible relevance does this story hold for us today? We are definitely not magi with time on our hands and gifts of gold to give away! Well, I believe there are four things we can learn from these persistent fellows:
1) The magi had hearts filled with hope and expectancy. They believed that the star would lead them to the new King. Think of what it must have felt like for them with only a star to guide them They had no www.mapquest.com to Google directions. There was no GPS installed on their camels, and yet they expected that they would find the child they were seeking.
They remind me of my daughter, when she was a little girl. She would begin announcing her birthday two months in advance. She loved celebrating her special day and would plan the theme, guest list, etc. She never had a shadow of a doubt that her birthday would be anything but spectacular. Most children live life with an attitude of expectancy, and as adults we could learn from them and from the magi.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." An attitude of hope and expectancy draws us closer to God. The magi trusted that the star would lead them and it did. We need to trust God's Word. It will always lead us closer to him.
2) The wise men were willing to sacrifice their own lives, their time, and wealth in order to find the child. The Bible is filled with stories of people who were willing to take risks and make sacrifices. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac; Noah sacrificed year after year as he built the ark; and the Apostle Paul was stoned and put into prison. Are we willing to sacrifice all, just like these men of old?
A friend of mine once told me that she had always prayed that God would never ask her to make two huge sacrifices: "Please, God, never send me to Africa and never make me work with children. Well, God did ask her to sacrifice her comfort zone, he not only sent her to Africa he also had her working in a nursery ministering to babies and toddlers. She says now that her heart will never be the same, because she was willing to obey. Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV) tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."
3) Matthew 2: 11 states that when the wise men saw the child with his mother Mary, they bowed down and worshipped him. Many people think that worship is attendance at a local church service on Sunday morning, but then they complain if the service is too long, the songs aren't their personal favorites, or the message was not challenging enough.
Too often we forget that worship is not about us. Worship is paying homage to the King of Kings, not just on Sunday, but everyday. We are to worship the Lord of Lords with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.
4) The wise men gave their treasures to Jesus. They gave the gift of gold, acknowledging him as King; frankincense because he is a priest; and Myrrh, which is a burial spice signifying that he would die and be buried. These men gave Jesus their best. We need to give Jesus our time, our talents, our very lives in gratitude for all that he has done for us. Think about the words of the Christmas song, "Midwinter" by Christina Rossetti:
What shall I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd, I would give Him a lamb,
If I were a Wiseman, I would do my part.
What shall I give Him? I will give Him my heart.
There are many ways we can give God our hearts: when we reach out to a child who is struggling with the pain of his parent's divorce, when we knit a sweater for a child living in the Romanian gutters, when we are able to see Jesus in the face of a prisoner and encourage him. Jesus wants our treasure, He wants our hearts.
Because the wise men listened to God, they chose a different route home. Like the magi, listen to God this Christmas and choose a new way home. He is the only reliable route for seekers to find their way and for believers to learn to walk more closely with him. This Christmas take a shortcut straight to God through His Word and be obedient to the leading of his Spirit! He is closer than you may think! Live with hope, expectancy and self-sacrifice. Worship him and bring him the treasure of your heart.