The Wise Men Visit Jesus
December 5th, 2021

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea

The wise men did not arrive until after the birth of Jesus.  But, just how soon after Jesus’ birth their visit occurred is a matter of ______________.  (see Leviticus 12:1-4).  It took a full forty days before her purification would have been completed.  And on the forty-first day, Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus from Bethlehem to the Temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.  Putting this together with Luke’s description of what happened after they were finished at the Temple 2:39, 39 And when His parents had completed everything in accordance with the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.  Then this suggests that they moved back to Nazareth as _________ as they could after presenting Jesus at the Temple and offering the sacrifice according to the Law of Moses.  The wise men found them in Bethlehem in a house. 

in the days of Herod the king

The Herod here is Herod the Great, who ruled as king from 37 to 4 B.C. Although he professed Judaism and is responsible for expanding the rebuilt temple on a grand scale, along with a lot of other building projects, he also erected many _________ temples.  And his reign was _________ a peaceful one. 

behold, [a]magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 

The Magi were part of the Medo-Persian empire that had defeated Babylon and took over their kingdom.  The ancient Magi were a hereditary __________________ of the Medes.  The Magi mostly served as court advisors, making forecasts and predictions for their royal patrons based on their study of the stars, about which they were quite knowledgeable. In Matthew’s gospel the Magi attending Jesus’ birth testifies to the validation of Jesus’ kingship.  They represent a foreshadowing of Jesus’ _______________ by the gentile world. 

For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 

The Magi must have had an unmistakably clear astronomical/astrological message to urge them on such a long, dangerous journey. They saw something in the night sky that was so significant it convinced them to make the trip of over a ________________ miles to Jerusalem to look for this new king.  How could seeing “signs in the sky” inform the Magi that a King of the Jews had been born?  During the Babylonian exile. King Nebuchadnezzar assigned the prophet ______________ to the high office of “chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners” (Daniel 5:11). In other words, Daniel was appointed Chief of the Magi.  The Magi of the first century would have most certainly studied the writing of Daniel.

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  

A visit by these powerful and important officials to pay homage to a newborn king would have fit the Magi’s usual job description perfectly to the original readers of Matthew’s gospel, but it would also signal big trouble.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  When Herod was troubled, all Jerusalem was troubled, because he tended to fly off the handle like a megalomaniac and go slaughtering people. 

 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:  ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For from you will come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

The term Chief priests is used to signal that the upper echelon of the priestly order. They should have been the ones _____________ for Jesus, since they were the ones supposedly following God.  But instead, they served _____________ masters instead of God.  Bethlehem means house of __________ and so it was a fitting place for the bread of life to be born.  Bethlehem is where the Passover lambs were born, and so it was a ____________ place for Christ, our Passover to be born.  And it was the birthplace of King __________, to whom God gave the Davidic covenant that one of his descendants would rule forever on his throne.

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 

Herod was no stranger to doing things secretly.  You don’t assassinate political rivals, including family members, successfully by sky-writing it or passing out flyers before you do it.  He had no intention of worshiping the Messiah, but wanted to _______ baby Jesus. 

After hearing the king, they went on their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on ahead of them until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was to be found.

When they got to Jerusalem, since they probably felt that they’d reached the capital, and that’s where kings lived, so their journey was over. But now they realized that they had still some distance to go, and once again they saw the _________.

 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

When the Magi “caught sight of the star,” they were more than a little joyful. God made sure that when they needed to be sure, they again saw the star that had brought them to the land of Judea

 11 And after they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary; and they fell down and [f]worshiped Him.

The star appeared and went before them; it could be assumed that they followed it. Their intention was to fall down and pay homage to Him. προσκυνεῖν (proskynēsai)is used of the Magi’s intentions when they find the one to be king of the Jews. It is used repeatedly of Jesus from infancy onwards in a manner which seems to include both _________________ respect and religious worship. The Magi fell down and worshipped Him or knelt down and worshipped him. 

Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

They proceeded to open their treasure chests and offer gifts.

Gold in the OT, is symbolic of the highest degree of _____________.  King Solomon had an ivory throne overlaid with the ________ gold (1 Kings 10:18).  The furniture of the Tabernacle features gold; ,symbolically pointing to Christ and His deity.  The Ark of the Covenant was constructed of acacia wood and overlaid with ________.  The mercy seat and two cherubim were made of pure gold (Exodus 25:10-21).  Because gold is a __________ and valuable metal that does not corrode or tarnish with time, it symbolizes Jesus’ eternal Kingship.  It is also associated with God’s precepts, principles, and promises—all of which are perfect and pure. 

Frankincense was a luxury import, the aromatic, clear resin obtained from trees in northern India and Arabia (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20).  It is used in incense and perfumes, and was treasured for its aroma and _____________ properties.  Frankincense was an ingredient used in the sanctuary of the Lord (Exodus 30:34) as part of the meat offering (Leviticus 2:1, 16; 6:15; 24:7) and as a sweet savor (incense).  Frankincense is also a symbol of prayer (Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10; Revelation 5:8).  Because of the use in the Temple, frankincense is considered to be _______________ of Jesus’ office as a Priest of God (Exodus 30:34-37).  Jesus is our Great High Priest, interceding on our behalf before our Holy God, approaching Him on our behalf.  He is the One and only mediator between God and man, and since he has already died and rose again, he has this role forever. (Heb 4:14-16).  

Myrrh, similarly, was the rosin of a bushy tree which grew in Arabia and Ethiopia. These rosins were spices used for medicine, cosmetics, and anointing oil.  It was mixed into the oil that was used to anoint prophets for the divinely appointed work of revealing God and communicating His will and words to His people.  Jesus came to the nation of Israel (Matthew 15:24) and He came as a Prophet in fulfillment of a prophecy of Moses:  Deuteronomy 18:15  The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet [Jesus] from the midst of thee [Israel], of thy brethren, like unto me [Moses]; unto Him ye shall hearken.  Jesus Himself confirmed His office as a Prophet to Israel.  He attributed the office of Prophet to Himself with His words:  Luke 13:33  Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.  The gift of myrrh also takes on another representation. In addition to anointing prophets, oil was used in the ________________ of the dead.  Myrrh was presented to Jesus at His birth pointing to His life as a Prophet and it was used at His death to anoint His body for the grave.  John 19:39  And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 

12 And after being warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

Warned is a verb used often to indicate a divine ________________, a revelation; here this divine command is given in a dream, as on a number of occasions in Matthew

As we look at this account of the 3 wise men, I think that there are some lessons for our own lives. 

  1. Allow God to Direct Your Path
  2. Listen to God and Obey Him
  3. Approach Jesus just as Wise Men should—with wonder and reverence.
  4. Give Jesus what He wants most—for you to love God with all your heart, soul mind and strength.




The Hope of Christmas
November 28th, 2021

1 Peter 1:10-12 speaks of God revealing the circumstances of the birth of the Messiah to His _______________. 

As Christians, followers of Christ, we are __________________ of all the prophets hoped and prayed for.  It is this hope of the ages, the ____________ of the Messiah, which we celebrate at Christmas. 

Prophecy

Prophecy isn’t predicting the future, it’s simply telling the __________ exactly as God has revealed it.   The purpose of prophecy is so that when the prophecy comes to pass and is fulfilled exactly as God said, we ___________that God planned out these events.  

Through a specific family

Jesus was being offered as a gift of God.  Isaiah 9:6  told them For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

This was not a new promise to Isaiah.  Back in  Genesis 22:18 God had promised Abraham 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”  This happened about 2,000 BC, so they knew that the scriptures said that the Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham.  They also knew that He had to be descended from Isaac, Jacob, Judah and King David because, In 1Chronicles 17:11-15 God says to David through the prophet Nathan:11 When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your [c]descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.   Again in Jeremiah 23:5:  “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”  Matthew starts out with this genealogy of Jesus, precisely to prove that Jesus was a descendant of David, and had the right of Kingship. 

In a specific place

And of course, the Messiah had to be born in a specific place; in Bethlehem of Ephraim near Jerusalem:

Micah 5:2 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Prophecy written: This prophecy eliminates all other cities and towns throughout the world as a place in which the Messiah could be born. Bethlehem means house of ___________.  Bethlehem is where the _________________ lambs were born.  Bethlehem was full of livestock, and was a smelly place.  The ______________ was a feeding trough for animals.

At just the right time

Gal 4:4-5 tells us  But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons and daughters.  In other words, it was just at the right __________ according to God’s plan that Jesus came to complete redemption for us, and allow us to be adopted sons and daughters of God. 

Hope

Hope is an expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something desired. Present hurts and uncertainty over what the _____________ holds create the need for hope. The patriarch Abraham is a model of faith and _________. In spite of the fact that it was physically ___________________ for him to have a son with Sarah his wife, Rom 4:20-21 tells us 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.  Our faith and hope, like Abraham’s, are based on the ____________________ of God. That is why we remember how God has ____________________ His promises through His prophets in the past—so that we will have faith in God that He will faithfully complete those ___________________ yet to be fulfilled.  And it is by remembering God’s faithfulness during the trials of our own life that we _______________ ourselves that God can be trusted to get us through whatever He allows to come our way (1 Cor 1:9-10).

Christian hope is a living hope

At the heart of Christian hope is the ___________________ of Jesus. Paul discussed the nature, certainty, and importance of the resurrection in 1 Cor 15: 17-19, 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:19). The significance of Christ’s resurrection is not only that it points to Christ’s victory over death, but that it also ______________ that victory to those who are his (see 1 Cor 20-23).  Peter echoes this in 1 Peter 1 3: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Peter lets us know that our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus.

Christian hope is a Hope for the Future

Peter points to God’s future blessing upon those who belong to Christ (see 1 Peter 1:4-9).  That future hope _________________ the Christian to live without despair through the struggle and suffering of the present Rom 8:18 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. We fix our ______________ on Jesus, trusting in Him.  1 Cor 4:16-18  16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Our hope in Christ is what gets us through.  Paul said in Rom 12:9-12 Showing the relevance of hope to ministry he wrote, 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Jesus’ finished work of Salvation on the Cross _____________ us hope.  The Holy Spirit’s continuing work in our hearts of salvation working itself out in our sanctification gives us hope.  And our future hope of Jesus’ return and our eternity with God gives us hope.  And this __________________ of our hearts in love is only possible because of the love that Jesus showed on the cross, and our faith in what He has done.

Prayer

Rom 15:13  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.





Matthew 6:24 pt. 2–You cannot serve God and Wealth.
November 21st, 2021

Our King _______________ division of our loyalties.  WE have ________ soul, and we cannot have two master passions of our life.  The interests of God and the other master passion would soon come into ____________, and as Exodus 34:14 says 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.  We must choose God as the master passion of our life. God and the world will _________ agree, they are at enmity, at war with each other, and by attempting to reconcile them on our terms, we put ourselves in ____________. 

In trying to gain money, or in the pursuit of any other idol, we glorify whatever we are passionately pursuing all out of _________________ to it’s importance, and allow it to gain the mastery of our mind. Our God’s jealousy is for our _________ good, He wants to save us from ourselves, and He will not tolerate ____________ devotion and half-hearted love because it will leave us in ______________, caught between two worlds, as it were, and ruin our effectiveness for the Kingdom. 

Marks of Serving God and Wealth

It’s not ____________to own a nice house, but it’s wrong if your house owns you.  You can enjoy it as long as you understand that ______________ you have belongs to God, and the things you have are only ___________________ loaned to you by the Lord. How do you know when something “owns” you?  (List from Ray Pritchard).

  1. When you need that “thing” as a major source of happiness or fulfillment in your life.
  2. When you can’t imagine living without it.
  3. When you get angry at the thought of losing it.
  4. When that possession is the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing at night.
  5. When you find yourself thinking about it in every spare moment.
  6. When you are gripped with fear at the thought of losing it.
  7. When you find yourself bringing it up in almost every conversation.
  8. When you get upset if someone else touches it or comes near it.
  9. When you plan your schedule around it.
  10. When you enjoy that “thing” more than being with family and friends.
  11. When others warn you about your attachment to your possessions.
  12. When worries and concerns about your possessions crowd out the joy in your life.

So, what do we do if something is starting to own us?  give it _______ Find someone who needs it and give it to them. You will be free, and someone else will be blessed. This is what Jesus was getting at when he addressed the Rich Young Ruler in Matt 19:16-22.  When we have a lot of wealth, or a lot of possessions, then these can be a ___________ block for our feet.  It puts us in danger of letting those possessions get ahold of our _________.  If Jesus tells you to give your idols away, then do it & keep following Jesus!

Serving other gods will make you an enemy of God and Serving God makes you an enemy of the world

When Stephen addressed the Sanhedrin in Acts 7, at first it was willing to hear Stephen, but the minute that he drew a clear line in declaring man’s ______________ and Jesus as his only hope then they stoned him to death. When we draw a clear line in the sand that declares absolute ____________ to Christ, then the world reacts vehemently and violently.
Jesus ______________ the middle ground.  He does not give ___________for dabbling in Christianity. A scribe came and said to Jesus in Matthew 8:19-22, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You will go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead” This scribe is saying—I’ll follow you, but only after my dad dies, so that I won’t have to tell my Jewish father that I’m following Jesus now.  That’s not ________________; that’s respecting what his dad thought more than what God thinks.  Setting conditions and timing of our discipleship and turns our relationship with Jesus upside down, and makes us the Master—it’s not discipleship.  Jesus makes His position very clear in Matthew 10:37 37 “The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. No other relationship in our life is on a par with our relationship with Christ!  And certainly no relationship with material goods is to be elevated in our minds to take 1st place, God’s place as the master ___________ of our lives.

“Wealth” is a competing master-passion of life. The transliteration used in the King James Version, “Mammon,” was an Aramaic term that personified material things as objects of worship. There is probably no greater _________________ to knowing Christ as Lord than loving things and trying to use Christ to further our own ___________. Instead of our possessions being instruments and tools for ____________ as Christians, we find ourselves embracing and cherishing them as the love of our lives.

You don’t have enough time and energy for both.

Jesus describes this problem in the parable of the soils (Matt 13:18-23). In the seed that fell among the thorns, the person ________________to be a follower of Christ – and by the immediate evidence it seems that he is serious. But Jesus says that  that “the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” For a while the person tries to walk the road of two masters but soon discovers that these roads are distinctly ______________ paths so that he is devoted to one and despises the other.  And nearly always, the one that a person like this ends up making the god of their life is Not the god of the Bible, it is Mammon.  And they loose out on the joy and peace of God, and may even lose their soul, finding out that they only ever had an intellectual belief in God and never really _____________ Him for their salvation. 

Trying to Serve two brings judgement

In Revelation 2:14, the church of Pergamum is scolded for tolerating the “teaching of Balaam,”.  Balaam, who tried unsuccessfully to prophesy against the people of Israel (Numbers 22). He eventually advised King Balak of Moab, the enemy of Israel, to pursue a campaign of seduction against them (Numbers 31:8). Balaam, a prophet from Mesopotamia, had divided loyalties.  Even though he knew Balak was God’s enemy, he tried to sell his prophetic gifts to enrich himself.  According to 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam’s “way” is a choice to promote falsehood for financial reasons. According to Jude 1:11, Balaam’s “error” was his willingness to accommodate pagan beliefs out of greed. Jude 1:4 also refers to the sin of those “who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”  We cannot be fully __________________ with the world and still serve God. The doctrine of Balaam teaches compromise, wanting Christians to forget they are called to be separate and holy (Leviticus 20:26; 1 Peter 1:2); the doctrine of Balaam makes believers indistinguishable from the unbelieving world (Matthew 5:13) and ______________________ as witnesses. 

The solution to double-mindedness–How do we keep those things from becoming master over us?

First, we must find our ____________ in Christ; diving deeply into His word, so that we truly understand the love that He has for us, as demonstrated through His finished work for us on the cross.  As we understand how much God loves us, then we will automatically want to obey that desire for Him that He has put into all mankind. 

Second, we must find ____________________ with the world, possessions, selfish ambition, and worldly honor by seeing devotion to them as a contradiction to loyal love for Christ. Possessions are only means to ____________ Christ.

Third, we must strive to continue to allow our Master, the light of the world to direct our lives.  Be Holy as He is Holy.  Refuse to compromise with the world and live the way that it tells us to. 
Lastly, we must keep the order of our priorities of our lives to give first-love to Christ. This has to do with our sanctification and ___________________________ as Christians. Priorities reflect our affections. Thanksgiving week includes two Holidays, one official, one unofficial-Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  This week in particular presents a choice in terms of priorities.  Are we going to spend our week surfing the sales ads, or are we going to spend our week in our Bibles and drawing close to God in prayer and being Thankful for all He has given us?