Tag Archives: salvation

Paralyzed! — Matthew 9:1-8

Paralyzed! — Matthew 9:1-8
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 18, 2019

We can become paralyzed by different things in life. Fear of the unknown, disease, not knowing how to act, or many other things can cause us to be paralyzed in life. But when it comes to sharing our faith about God we should never be paralyzed. Our duty is to share the love of God when we are given the opportunity by the Lord and never be fearful of the outcome.

Here in Matthew’s gospel we read about an incident that occurred when Jesus heads back across the Sea of Galilee and enters his own home town of Capernaum. Some men or perhaps some friends bring to Jesus a man who is paralyzed but we soon discover that the real paralytic were those who should have acted in compassion but were more concerned for their outward piety than for the man who needed forgiveness. Let’s discover what it means to be paralyzed…

READ: Matthew 9:1-8

We can become narrow-minded and forget God is always at work around us. And here in Matthew…

I. We learn that we should act out of faith not fear! (Vv. 1-4)

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?

  1. After healing a demon-possessed man Jesus isn’t done. He then “stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town”. Jesus returns to Capernaum which is now called his town because after leaving Nazareth, he made Capernaum his Galilean home. Matthew often is very straight forward in describing events while others are often more descriptive. It’s a matter of personal choice in their writing and nothing more. We learn that as Jesus is ministering from his home in Capernaum “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat.” The same incident is described by Mark in that “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. (Mark 2:4 NIV)” Matthew relates that “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’” Some have argued it was the friend’s faith Jesus saw but I believe it was the entire group’s faith. The four men’s willingness to help their friend and the paralyzed man’s yearning to be healed and allowing his friends to take him to Jesus! Some think that because of this incident that if we do acts of kindness God will respond, but this is not the case at all. Remember, Jesus “saw their faith” which meant their willingness to believe he was the Messiah and could heal their friend. And because of their faith Jesus tells the paralytic “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Now Jesus is not teaching that this man’s illness was caused by his sin, but rather Jesus knew and understood who was nearby because when Jesus forgives him “some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’” While the friends and the paralytic could see Jesus was the Messiah, the blind teachers of the law did not. “Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?’” These men should have been the ones who immediately saw Jesus for who he was, the promised Messiah, but they did not. Instead they were focused on their narrow vision of what constituted faith: ritualistic adherence to the Law of Moses. The four men overcame their fear and brought their friend, the paralytic overcame his fear and let them, but the teachers of the law could not overcome theirs. We learn that we should act out of faith not fear!

  EXAMPLE: Herbert Lugt writes that “I agree with the statement ‘Faith chases out fear, or fear chases out faith.’ But I also know that no believer is immune to panic or terror.” Recently I was nearly forced into oncoming traffic by another driver who turned into the wrong lane next to me. Being caught in a major earthquake can cause panic even to believers. Those who have survived intense bombing attacks say that anyone who claims he wasn’t afraid at the time is either a liar or a fool. Lugt notes that “It is not a sin to feel panic or terror in a life-threatening situation.” We need to remember:  “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalms 56:3 NIV)” We learn we should act out of faith not fear!

Holding one’s head up high whenever we feel afraid is okay but here in Matthew…

II. We discover that faith casts out fear! (Vv. 5-8)

Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

  1. The teachers of the law were so caught up in their traditions and following strict rituals they had forgotten who God was! We see this today with religions that place strict adherence on ritual, regulations, laws, or ceremonies on their people instead of teaching them about the love of God. There is comfort in ritual because it is a personal act one does in order to appease God and so one can mark off their list of duties that they have done so. So Jesus turns their strictness on them and asks, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Jesus knew it would have been impossible for them to forgive the paralytic’s sin and not just because they were not God but because they could not force themselves to overlook their strict adherence. They believed the man deserved his suffering because either his parent’s had sinned or he had; which of course was not true! And they did not have the power or the faith to give the paralytic back his ability to walk! They were quick to call Jesus a blasphemer but were helpless and unwilling to help the paralytic in any way possible either. They were afraid to step out of what they had practiced for personal piety for so long. Jesus bluntly responds to them, “‘so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…’ Then he said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’” Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the teachers of the law? Sucking sour persimmons would have produced better results! Like little old ladies stuck in their sowing circle of threading gossip and mischief these self-promoting pious men were caught with the pompous security down. And to their self-righteous horror “the man got up and went home”! Mark relates that “He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:12 NIV)” and Matthew tells us that “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” The crowd understood what had occurred. The paralytic and his friends understood what had occurred. But the teachers of the law were still blind in their faith and it is here we discover that faith casts out fear!

  EXAMPLE: There are a lot of people afraid to travel by air. Many know what the statistics say—that they are safer in an airplane than in the family car. But that doesn’t matter. Researchers say that a conscious fear of crashing is usually not the problem. The real root of their anxiety is the fear that they will lose control of their lives once they leave the ground. A similar crisis of faith may occur when a person puts himself in the care of God. He too is carried a long way from what the world considers ‘solid ground.’ Trusting an invisible Lord can be frightening, especially for a new Christian.” However, we discover that faith casts out fear!

Conclusion:

We learn that we should act out of faith not fear! We discover that faith casts out fear!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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A silk purse out of sow’s ear! — Matthew 8:28-34

A silk purse out of sow’s ear! — Matthew 8:28-34
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 11, 2019

The idiom “You can’t make a silk purse out of sow’s ear” means that one can’t make something good out of something inherently bad, however, with enough ingenuity it is possible to make a very passable “silk” purse out of a sow’s ear. In 1921 Massachusetts industrialist Arthur D. Little (who discovered acetate) obtained glue made from the skin and gristle of pig’s ears, and had it filtered and forced through a spinneret into a mixture of formaldehyde and acetone. The glue emerged as 16 fine, colorless streams that hardened and then combined to form a single composite fiber. Little soaked the fiber in dyed glycerin. Then he had the resulting thread woven into cloth on a handloom, and the cloth fashioned into an elegant purse.

There are certain individuals who are seen as unredeemable by society at large. And here in Matthew’s gospel we find several men who were considered such by their peers. The other synoptic gospels of Mark and Luke relate that it was only one man, but the number is unimportant because what happens to the unredeemable is far more interesting. In fact we discover Jesus making a “silk purse out of sow’s ear” spiritually so-to-speak. Let’s discover what happened…

READ: Matthew 8:28-34

I have always found it curious that silk is made from the web of a worm but then again we discover…

I. Silk can be found in the strangest places! (Vv. 28-29)

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

  1. The area is Gadarenes in Matthew, and Gerasenes in Mark and Luke. The simple explanation of this difference is that Gadarenes and Gerasenes are different names for the inhabitants of the same large district, so called from Gadara and Gerasa, two cities of that region; while Gergesenes is the name of the people of a smaller district within the other, and named from the city of Gergesa. It was an area that wasn’t often visited by pious Jews because of its inhabitants. Yet, “When [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him.” We find it difficult to come in contact with the mentally-ill or drug-addicted homeless person who is aggressive but Jesus comes face-to-face with two demon-possessed men! Again there are those who try to lessen this incident by proclaiming they did not know about the mentally ill and would refer to them as “possessed”. While this could be true, I am quite certain Jesus knew the difference being God and all and we discover that they were indeed possessed individuals. And in fact we find that “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.” These two men had a reputation and folks were probably unlikely to willingly go the way Jesus and his disciples did so as not to confront these men but isn’t interesting that Jesus does just that? He deliberately goes where these deranged demon-possessed men lived. We see why folks were reluctant to go by the tombs where these men were because they shout to Jesus “What do you want with us, Son of God?” Sin does not like to be exposed and often gets angry at those who live lives of godliness because their lives are seen for what they truly are in stark contrast. Plus these guys knew who Jesus was. They immediately go on the defensive and demand “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Isn’t it interesting that demons readily admit there will be a day of reckoning but we often can’t bring ourselves to admit that there will be such a day? An “appointed time” where both sinful mankind and those demonic forces are judged? Yet in all of their brash, harsh, and loudness Jesus sees them for who they truly are: men in need of a Savior. Silk can be found in the strangest places!

  EXAMPLE: Haddon Robinson asks, “When you think of the term evangelism, what picture flashes onto the wall of your mind? A large stadium filled with people? A small booklet with a set of diagrams? A Christian wearing a pin with the symbol of a fish? A zealous believer playing intellectual chess with a pagan opponent? A salesman convincing a reluctant person to ‘try Jesus’?” Evangelism isn’t about being a huckster who cons people into buying what they don’t need. It has nothing to do with grabbing people by the lapels and shoving faith down their unsuspecting throats. “Evangelism is simply sharing with others what we know about Jesus. No tricks. No deception. Speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth—in love. Then leave the results with God.” Why? Because if we share like Jesus did we will discover that silk can be found in the strangest places!

Isn’t it interesting that the web of an ugly worm is dyed and made into some of the most beautiful garments and it is all because…

II. Silk is woven best by the hands of a master! (Vv. 30-32)

Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

  1. Sometimes convenience, coincidence, or circumstance dictates how we respond. And perhaps this was the case here. But I think not. This region was inhabited by non-Jews, gentiles, who raised pigs. It just so happens that “Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.” I have wondered if sheep would have worked instead of pigs but the irony is found in it being pigs. In the Hebraic mind and in ours as well, demons deserve no better receptacle than a porcine repository. We discover that it’s as if they know what’s coming so “The demons begged Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’” If he drives them out, of course he will. The whole scenario is set up for this moment. Jesus was there in that area for these men so they could be freed from their imprisonment. The demons were going to find a different abode whether they liked their new found accommodations or not. So in this instance Jesus grants a demonic request and “He said to them, ‘Go!’” I have found it kind of humorous how often today’s theatrics enters into the made up power of God at the hands of those who claim to have it. Arms are waved, specific intonations are made, and catch phrases are used in order to gain the attention of the unsuspecting audience. In some incidences they are even provided a sound track and dramatic lighting. It’s all about the show. But here it was all about the men who needed rescuing. With a simple word from God (Jesus) the demons “came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.” They drowned. It was perhaps the first cured ham. I guess they were the pigs who couldn’t do anything but what God (Jesus) commanded. Herein is the truth of this situation: Jesus was in total control. From where he sailed, the storm that brought them to this shore and where he decided to walk that day. The men who ran out under the influence of demons were now face-to-face with the Son of God. They understood his power and Jesus was weaving a tapestry that would be told over and over of how these demon-possessed men were rescued by the Son of God! Silk is woven best by the hands of a master!

  EXAMPLE: An artist was once falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. Although allowed to take his brushes and paints with him, he had no way of obtaining a canvas. One day in desperation he asked a guard for something to paint on. The guard picked up a dirty old handkerchief and tossed it to him. He retorted, “There, see what you can do with that soiled rag!” The artist painted on it his concept of Jesus’ face. He thought he would show it first to the man who had given him the dirty rag. When the guard looked at the beautiful image he was moved and tears welled up in his eyes. The painting became famous. If one man could take an old, soiled rag and make it a masterpiece, just think what the Master Artist could do with your life. Silk is woven best by the hands of a master!

If you look at a silkworm under a magnifying glass they look terrifying and grotesque but here in Matthew’s gospel we discover that…

III. Sometimes silk frightens those who need it most! (Vv. 33-34)

Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

  1. You may think it strange but not everyone likes it when people are cured, and especially when they are saved. Those who have had drug-addicted or alcoholic spouses often become co-dependent emotionally and spiritually to their addicted spouse and have a hard time adjusting to what a normal life with them should be like. The same is true for a family member who turns to Jesus and is changed. It was true for my life. My family struggled with it until they realized that God had done something they could not explain and came to grips with the fact. And it is true here in this incident as well because we find that “Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.” You would think they would have been happy, excited, or even a bit curious at the sudden cure of the two men. However business can overcome curiosity and when a whole heard of pigs is lost to a community that depends upon the porcine productivity of the local farmers this was indeed frightening. Add to this that there were demons and drowning involved! We do find that “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus.” But it wasn’t to praise him or to thank him for what had occurred because instead “when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” Years ago I had a woman whose husband had come to Christ and was dramatically changed beg me to “change him back!” Of course I could not nor would I if I could. Just like we find with the Gadarene townspeople we find that sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

  EXAMPLE: “You can’t make me!” the youngster vehemently declared. She needed to take her medication but adamantly refused because she had choked on a pill before. All she could remember is the pill getting stuck in her throat and how it had made her gag. But the pill was necessary in order for her to get over her pneumonia. It can be quite disconcerting when your child refuses to do something that you know is ultimately good for them. Knowing that they will be okay is not comforting to the child in such circumstances because it can be quite frightening. Yet a good parent will persist because even though it may frighten the child, they need their medicine to get better. Here we learn that sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

Conclusion:

Silk can be found in the strangest places! Silk is woven best by the hands of a master! Sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Safe with Jesus! — Matthew 8:23-27

Safe with Jesus! — Matthew 8:23-27
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 4, 2019

Safety is foremost in the minds of many. Electronic and digital surveillance, digital safe guards, credit card, cell phone and computer virtual private networks, firewalls and virus controls are all selling well. But there is also a push for financial security, healthcare, and retirement safety. Keeping people safe at work, school, and in public places has become foremost in the minds of many. As alarmed as folks seem to be about their family’s safety and their own safety they disregard their spiritual security.

I have heard many sermons and talks that teach about Jesus calming the storms of life and they use this passage as a foundation to do so. There is nothing wrong with this but it is used so often that we may miss the spiritual meaning here that perhaps Matthew and others wanted us to discover. We find that three of the gospel writers included this incident because it had such an impact on the disciples’ lives. Let’s find out this morning why it is important to understand the truth that we are safe in Jesus…

READ: Matthew 8:23-27

We can think we are safe when in fact we are not and here we discover that…

I. In the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus! (Vv. 23-25)

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

  1. Smoke and CO2 detectors are now required systems for selling or building homes, yet what kind of security system do you implement during the chaos of life? When a loved one dies, a job is lost, healthcare costs become insurmountable or your finances are out of control, what do you do? What plan of action have you made for such situations? The disciples had no such backup plans. They were simply trying to live from day to day, and sadly that is the same for many of us in our day and age as well because we have made no concerted effort for a backup plan either. As the crowds grew increasingly larger and they became a bit more unruly the disciples put Jesus in a boat and sent him across the Sea of Galilee for his safety, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.” While they wanted to protect Jesus they were also ready to follow him wherever he went. And while we may think sometimes that Jesus needs our protection, he really does not. This is an important reminder for us this morning: We are to follow Jesus wherever he goes no matter what occurs around us! In following him Jesus did not promise us perfect life; we see that “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.” This was not and is not unusual for this inland lake. The cool ocean breezes meet the warmer air from the inland and the lake often gets rough and now their boat is about to be swamped! Yet in the midst of the storm “Jesus was sleeping.” While we may think that sometimes God is unaware of our trials or the chaos of our lives he most definitely is. Like the Psalmist we need to remind ourselves, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalms 121:2-4 NIV)” And even though Jesus was asleep, he was still the Lord of all creation, but in our fear we can forget that God is always in control no matter what our circumstances or our fears are! However in their fear we find that “The disciples went and woke him, saying ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’” But were they really going to drown? Of course not! God was not finished with his ministry yet and his disciples were not done with what he had planned for their lives either. Herein is the truth for our lives: In the midst of the chaos we may be going through and our boat of life feels swamped, God is still in control! In the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus!


  EXAMPLE: One of the most frightening things that I’ve ever experienced in my life was when at boot camp I was placed in an underground concrete bunker with a team of other men and they filled it with aviation fuel and lit it on fire. We had to depend on our gear, one another, our training, not be afraid — even though we all were – and to keep going to get the job done in putting out the fire we were literally in the midst of! It was chaotic, frightening, and totally out of my control. How wonderful therefore to realize that in the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus!

We beat ourselves up way too much when we falter in our faith and here we discover that…

II. When our faith is small we are safe with Jesus! (Vv. 26-27)

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

  1. What we are going through in life does not dictate how God responds nor does our momentary fear, hesitation, or even our doubt stop God from working in our lives! Never forget God knows us, he chose us, and he created each of us! Again, as the Psalmist reminds us, “The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalms 121:7-8 NIV)” Now dear child of God whatever you are going through does not matter with the Lord, what matters is what he desires to do with you! Paul in the midst of his doubting his faith was reminded by God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore Paul wrote that he would “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)” Wow! So when Jesus’ disciples display their human fear, Jesus replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Jesus does not call them names, doubters, rebuke or discipline them he just gently reminds them of their faith and to not be afraid. And dear child of God if you may be in uncertainty right now or in fear, Jesus is asking, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Don’t be because he is right there in the boat with you! He is not finished with you yet! Jesus then does what he knows he can do and “he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” What else would you expect from God? This is a wonderful reminder for us that in the midst of the chaos of life God is in control of our surroundings even when we think he is not! Even if our faith is not at its best, strongest, or where we think it should be. Jesus knows we are not him and that we are more than often frail in our faith. We spend far too much time beating up on ourselves, being ashamed, or frustrated rather than looking to God to clam the storms that surround us. And frankly I find it kind of humorous that “The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!” Well DUH! But again, isn’t this just like all of us? We are so surprised when God works in our lives in spite of our willy-nilly faith! “What kind of man is this?” Jesus isn’t just any “man” he is God in human flesh! This is just as true for us right now this morning as it was for Jesus’ fearful disciples way back then. And it is a beautiful reminder that when our faith is small we are safe with Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: We read throughout Scripture to “be strong in the Lord” but it is another thing when we are in the midst of a storm swamped boat! We forget that even the most heroic biblical figure, the greatest prophet of God, or the most tenacious apostle had moments of despair, fear, and weakness of faith. Yet in the midst of their fear they listened to his still quiet voice in the middle of the storm just as we should this morning. And listen to my words right now; that no matter how you feel about your faith, God sees you and knows what you are capable of and often it is far more than you realize. Just remember that when our faith is small we are safe with Jesus!

Conclusion:

In the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus! When our faith is small we are safe with Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Follow me! — Matthew 8:18-22

Follow me! — Matthew 8:18-22
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 28, 2019

Who or what you follow says a lot about what you believe in life. I’ve always found it humorous when folks tell me that they go to a “nondenominational” church because there is no such thing. If you have a pastor who preaches and is your church’s leader you follow a specific “denomination” or theology whether you want to admit to it or not. Pastors are trained by someone and that someone was trained or trains in a particular denominational bent.

When Jesus called his disciples he did not give them any false pretenses and in fact often went out of the way to teach them exactly who they followed and why. While some of the gospel writers do not necessarily focus on those who were outside of the inner circle of disciples they do touch on the fact that there were many who did indeed follow Jesus even if they were not part of the core group he specifically chose. And it is here that Matthew focuses us this morning as we take a look at those who wanted to “follow” Jesus. Let’s take a look at what it meant when Jesus said, “Follow me!”

READ: Matthew 8:18-22

In this section Matthew gave a couple of illustrations to demonstrate the right Jesus had to ask who he desired to follow him and to deny requests from those who were motivated improperly. In this first example we discover…

I. Following Jesus requires hardship! (Vv. 18-20)

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

  1. We find Jesus’ compassion often displayed by what he does or how he responds to certain situations. Evidently the crowds were becoming increasingly large and therefore probably more aggressive and perhaps even inconsiderate of Jesus’ time. Matthew writes that “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.” We had previously learned that “When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.” (v. 8:1) and so it had become increasingly difficult to go from one place to the next so Jesus decides to cross the lake, the Sea of Galilee, and preach there. In one instance John relates that the people wanted to forcefully make Jesus their king, but he would have none of it and used the lake as a means to get away. However, as Jesus evidently lands on the far shore “a teacher of the law came to him” declaring “Teacher I will follow you wherever you go.” Instead of Jesus choosing him this man had decided for himself and we discover his impulsiveness isn’t what Jesus was looking for. Jesus replies, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” God has created a place for every living thing he has created but in his ministry and mission to the world he would not have a place of his own and this young man had to realize that the hardship he was asking for might be more then he could bear. Jesus had no permanent home. Perhaps Jesus saw that this young man desired more than just following him to be his disciple. Some think he wanted fame and fortune but Jesus desired neither and in fact had already flatly turned them down when Satan tried to tempt him in his humanity with such enticements. Creation is not Satan’s to give and God has no need of such things. In fact when “large crowds” were following Jesus, he turned to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27 NIV)” The road of being a disciple of Jesus is not an easy well paved path like that broad way the world offers. Following Jesus requires hardship!

  EXAMPLE: Many families that started out on the Oregon Trail did not finish it intact; disease, accidents, starvation, wild animals, and attacks placed a huge hardship on early pioneers. We have no idea the dangers they faced and yet they did in order to find a new life in a new land. One of their favorite hymns they sang around campfires was On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand and yet nowadays many refuse to come to the land that is fairer than day and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Hardship for us is misplacing our cell phone, not having free Wi-Fi or a fast food restaurant every 25 feet. Here in Matthew we discover that following Jesus requires hardship!

In our lives we can begin to place the improper focus on things that may not matter as far as eternity is concerned. Friends, jobs, school, finances, or even family can blur our vision as to what truly matters in life especially where it concerns following Jesus. In the second example we discover…

II. Following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life! (Vv. 21-22)

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

  1. At first glance we might think Jesus was uncaring in his next response to the second man but he was not. The wording in the original language teaches us what is happening here. We often get so caught up in this life we forget there is another one waiting for us. Our world has become so cynical that there are those who try to ignore life after death. Jesus made no illusions to the fact that once you pass from this existence you will either be in the presence of God or separated from him for eternity. Jesus absolutely knew what he was talking about because he is God! Matthew related that “Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’” Luke tells us it was just “another man” and not one of the inner twelve so here disciple is used for a close follower. And like I said before we tend to forget that there is more to life than just this life! When Peter complained that he and his fellow disciples had “left everything” to follow Jesus, he told Peter, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” However this promise of a wonderful future was not just reserved for the inner twelve disciples! Jesus continued by relating, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Now Jesus is not teaching some name-it-and-claim-it heresy but rather that there is more to living for him than we know. If we follow him we will be wonderfully rewarded. In fact Paul would write, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him! (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)” Matthew related therefore, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus wasn’t uncaring but the man wanted to go back home and wait until his father got older, he buried him, and then he would follow Jesus! Jesus desires you make the decision to follow him today, not later. Paul would state that “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)” Make no mistake that following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life!

  EXAMPLE: What we consider vital in life is far different than what was considered essential when I was a child. Children can live without cell phones, video games, or the latest clothing fad. In Walt Disney’s classic The Jungle Book based on Kipling’s book of the same title the bear Baloo sings a song called The Bare Necessities in which he encourages his young protégée to go after the simple bare necessities of life. Baloo finds everything he needs from the forest around him. We live in a time when even the poorest among us has more than most of the rest of the world. Following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life!

Conclusion:

Following Jesus requires hardship! Following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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In the Wild! – John 20:30-31

In the Wild! – John 20:30-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 21, 2019

Life is filled with incredible encounters. As we go through childhood, we are constantly discovering everything about the world around us. When we make friends, discover the beauty of nature, and become more aware of everything around us, we begin to realize the world’s vastness. We also begin to grasp that an entire globe of opportunities awaits each of us!

God made us to encounter his love and to enjoy a personal relationship with him that lasts not just for a lifetime, but for eternity. All through his Word, God introduces himself in incredible ways, showing himself to be perfectly faithful, true, compassionate, and merciful. Even though people aren’t perfect, God has a plan to forgive us of our sin and bless us with a relationship with him. As Jesus’ earthly ministry began, he made it clear that his purpose was to make a way for every person to have an opportunity to receive his forgiveness and to enjoy eternal life with God. Jesus wants each of us to encounter his love and to be born again. When we truly meet him, we are never the same! Let’s discover what God has for us in the wild…

READ: John 20:30-31

The world is a wild and wonderful place that is filled both good and bad things. Our journey through life places us squarely within this wonderful but wild world. Wild animals are not the only thing the world is filled with but also with ungodliness as well. We discover that…

I. God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us! (v. 30)

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

  1. The gospel writers wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit about some of the things Jesus did from healing lepers, the blind, the lame, and even bringing back the dead but the most important thing they shared was how “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)” Therefore, Jesus, God in human flesh, willingly entered into a world full of sin, violence, and hatred to bring and show us the love of God. In fact the wording here literally comes from the notion that God deliberately entered our realm and pitched his tent with us! I love to go camping in public campgrounds and sometimes my camp neighbors are fun to get to know, friendly, and enjoyable but there have been times when those next to me should have stayed home and I wished they had pitched their tent somewhere else! But I am so glad Jesus willingly came and pitched his tent with us! Paul expresses Jesus’ coming into the wild of the world to rescue us when he wrote that Jesus Christ “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7 NIV)” Jesus deliberately set aside his deity and came and pitched his tent among us because God’s desire was to change people forever! And he wanted people to experience this wonderful life change for their own selves. It is like when Jesus went to the Samaritans “And because of his words (and the testimony of a Samaritan woman) many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’ (John 4:41-42 NIV)” and as Jesus testified, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10 NIV)” This is what Vacation Bible School is all about; to share the love of God with children about the coming of Jesus into the wilderness of this world to rescue us from our sins! God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us!

  EXAMPLE: Years ago when my brother-in-law and I were finishing a weekend camping and hiking trip when we encountered three younger teens who were not prepared for hiking in the wilderness. And sadly later on we met two of them who were out of breath because of trying to run for help for their friend who had fallen off a 30 foot water fall. They had been pushing logs over the edge and he had been caught in one and taken over the falls. I ran down the trail while Dale went back to meet the rescue team. I hiked with the team up the creek bed to try and rescue the young boy but it was too late. I am so glad that God came as Jesus at just the right time into the wild to rescue us!

As we journey through the wild here in this world we can chose to have an encounter with Jesus or not. Amazingly we discover that…

II. Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him! (v. 31)

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  1. John was so impacted and astonished at who Jesus was and what he did he never lost the utter amazement of what had occurred. In fact he would finish his gospel by writing: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25 NIV)” We must never forget that Jesus did not come so we could have a good worship experience on Sundays, an answer for all our emotional, personal, or physical problems; Jesus made it plain: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)” There are those who falsely think this fullness includes all of the things I listed before but in reality Jesus was not referring to this at all! He was teaching about that he came to give his listeners eternal life with God! Jesus’ detractors have always wanted to relegate him to something less than what he is or to rewrite why he came. But Jesus was never deterred. He would bluntly tell them, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 NIV)” Jesus is God. And his entire purpose was that we would have a wild encounter with him! In a world that has become a wilderness full of those who would purposefully confuse who Jesus is and why he came we have the real truth! The wilderness of the world is full of confusion as to what constitutes sin, God, and has redefined morality. The ungodly world loves to hide in the wilderness and darkness of their sin. Isaiah the prophet declared thousands of years ago the truth that there would be those who would want to confuse you and that they would ultimately be condemned: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NIV)” However Jesus related, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12 NIV)” Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

  EXAMPLE: This is why I love Vacation Bible School because it simply and plainly teaches the truth of Jesus and why he came into the wilderness of creation to rescue us. And children see the truth, they know the truth, and they are not confused by the truth. In the week to come children will learn about being in the wild and they will learn about the truth of Jesus! I am so glad that Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

Conclusion:

God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us! Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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You produce what you grow! – Matthew 7:15-20

You produce what you grow! – Matthew 7:15-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 9, 2019

We have a garden that I plant every spring. We usually grow tomatoes and green beans. We keep it pretty simple. One year I planted a variety of tomato that we really liked but a different one grew instead. I went back to the place where I had bought the plant and the clerk said that we were not the first to complain but what evidently had happened was kids had switched the tags on the young plants thinking that it was funny. Needless to say, that although the tomatoes were okay, they were not what we expected.

People during Jesus’ day were dependent upon what they planted and there were a lot of factors that could be beneficial or detrimental to their future harvest. Weather, water, animals, and other things could influence the harvest. Jesus now uses familiar language about planting so that his listeners would fully understand what he meant about their spiritual growth as well. Let’s discover what Jesus taught concerning you produce what you grow…

READ: Matthew 7:15-20

God is in the business of growing things from plants to people. For people he grows us in him. Jesus related that in life you produce what you grow and in doing so…

I. Believers need to be aware of false prophets! (Vv. 15-16)

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

  1. I have found it interesting but as soon as God began to interact with his people there were those who immediately tried to horn in so-to-speak. A biblical prophet was God’s messenger and spokesperson, a representative of God before his people. The prophet delivered and interpreted God’s messages and on occasion, also interceded with God on behalf of the people. False prophets living in the surrounding nations performed similar roles, although with non-existent gods. The Israelites were warned time and time again not to intermingle with pagan nations and thus imitate or participate in their religious rituals. We also find numerous accounts in Scripture of false prophets originating from among God’s chosen people. Jesus knew therefore that after he had resurrected and gone back to heaven this would occur and so later on he tells his disciples, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5 NIV)” In fact Jesus knew that there would be many false prophets who would come claiming to be the Messiah, but none of them were or are! So here we find Jesus telling the crowd, “Watch out for false prophets.” He knew there were those like the Pharisees, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law who were already trying to incite others into thinking that Jesus was false. So he goes on to tell them, “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Jesus was purposely relating to the fact that he had already publicly been called “The Lamb of God” by John the Baptist and many in the crowd would have known that. He confronted the false teaching that those who claimed to be the Messiah were not and those who claimed he was a false prophet were wrong! They could discover the truth for themselves because “By their fruit you will recognize them.” False prophets proclaim themselves as such in order to aggrandize themselves! The focus is not on the Lord but them! Anyone who would be willing to look closely at who Jesus was and what he did and why he did it would immediately recognize his authenticity! Jesus asks, “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” And the answer is: “Of course not!” Therefore believers need to be aware of false prophets and not be fooled by those who claim to be the Messiah!

  EXAMPLE: False prophets or false beliefs always try to deceive their adherents into thinking they made a mistake to trust Jesus alone. I often call them the “yeah but” religions. They usually teach something like: “Yeah Jesus was a good man but he also taught….” It is faith alone in Jesus alone or it is meaningless! Jesus taught that he was God and if you followed him you followed God: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 3:36 NIV)” Believers need to be aware of false prophets!

In growing good things whether people or plants you have to have good stock. And Jesus continued to teach his listeners that you produce what you grow and so…

II. Believers need to know good fruit from bad! (Vv. 17-20)

Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

  1. I have a nice apple tree in my backyard that looks beautiful when it blooms but produces some of the worst worm-filled apples ever. This year I’m trying something different to see if I can get some good apples from it. If I owned an apple orchard I would not waste my time on it and would have cut it down a long time ago. Jesus knew that just like fruit trees there are those who claim one thing about being God’s spokesmen but only produced poor results. So he goes to say, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” If their spiritual leaders continually produced poor results aren’t they poor spiritual leaders? The same could be said for many of our politicians today! They make all kinds of promises but few deliver and when one comes along and finally does do what he promised today’s media and those who want to remain in power vilify him just like the Pharisees did with Jesus! People who try to fool others are soon discovered for what they truly are but sadly far too often those they have influenced either become disillusioned or remain deceived! What’s the answer? Jesus teaches that just like a good farmer who sees that his tree is bearing bad fruit there might be only one answer: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” God will not remain being mocked by people’s false lies and teaching. There will come a day of recompense. And next week we will discuss this even further. John would write, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:21-24 NIV)” False teachers and false prophets are rotten fly-infested fruit that live only to please themselves and fool the unsuspecting! Jesus taught that you produce what you grow and that believers need to know good fruit from bad!

  EXAMPLE: While we do not know who is saved or not we can however be fruit inspectors of those who claim to know Jesus. Recently I had someone who claimed to be a Christian say he believed there were “many ways to God”. I asked him if he truly believed what he just said because it was completely contradictory to what Jesus taught about being the only way, the only truth, and the only life and no one comes to God but by Jesus alone. He looked kind of confused so I patently explained to him that many are deceived into thinking that they are being “nice” about God by thinking that he allows many ways to him but he does not. Christians need to know good fruit from bad!

Conclusion:

Believers need to be aware of false prophets! Believers need to know good fruit from bad!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The visitors of Jesus – Matthew 2:1-12

The visitors of Jesus – Matthew 2:1-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 6, 2019

A lot of folks were on the road, in the air, or taking trains and buses to go and be with family or friends during the holidays. Wherever they went they became visitors. Benjamin Franklin wrote in his Poor Richard’s Almanac that “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Franklin was usually only enamored with his self and found the company of others, unless they were female, dreary.

However, here we discover several wise visitors, a mad king, and a small child. It is interesting how all of these folks came together several thousand years ago and how we are talking about them in our day and age. These visitors of Jesus made an impact on his family; Mary probably pondered their visitation like she did over the other events that occurred around the birth of her baby boy Jesus. Let’s take a look at what the visitors of Jesus meant and how they affect our lives today…

READ: Matthew 2:1-12

Some visitors are more welcome than others. We like it when folks bring gifts when they visit but we hate the late night visitation of raccoons going through our trash or mice running across our kitchen! Here we discover that…

I. These visitors of Jesus were willing to follow God wherever he led them! (Vv. 1-2)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

  1. Not everyone agrees with the timing of the visit of the Wisemen from the east in visiting Jesus. However “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem”. There are a lot of misconceptions and legends about these “Magi”. They were not kings, but simply wise men which suggest they were astronomers. There were not only three, but more than likely a great company and some suggest there were several dozen men! They seem to have not come on the birth night but many days (or even months) later. Some have named them but in fact it was only in the sixth century that their names (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar) started to be specified as some now accept them. Before that they had other and varied names. Why did the later names Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar stick? Because in the sixth century the Emperor Justinian created the famous mosaics in various churches and in the church of Saint Apollinaire the mosaics of the wise men have their names beneath them in the form we now accept. These men came with a specific task in mind and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” Perhaps the signs, writings, and legends of the time had led these men to this town in Israel. All of the things they studied pointed to a king being born: “We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” They followed a star. Some suggest that since it moved that perhaps God used angelic beings or even his own Shekinah glory to direct these men to Jesus. When we look at God closely he always leads us to himself! These visitors of Jesus were willing to follow God wherever he led them!

  EXAMPLE: When I first became a Christian I was told by my mentor to “read the Bible”. When I first became a seminary student I was told by my professors over and over to “read the Bible”. We often learn in Sunday school and Worship to “read the Bible”. There is a reason for this; while Christian books, commentaries, and study helps are good for some insight the best and most important thing a believer can do is to read the Bible! It is there when we follow the words and instructions of God we discover who he truly is! These visitors of Jesus were willing to follow God wherever he led them! Are you willing to follow the Lord wherever he leads you?

Some visitors can be disturbing. When we are sitting down to eat, watching a favorite TV show, or just enjoying a good nap, a knock on the door can be disruptive. Here in the following verses of Matthew we discover that…

II. These visitors of Jesus were disturbing to others! (Vv. 3-8)

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

  1. Like I said before, not all visitors are welcome by those they are visiting. We learn that “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Herod was not a Jew at all, but an Edomite and Rome recognized him as a vassal king over Judea. The Jews tempered their great hatred of him with admiration for his building projects, such as the magnificent improvements made to the second temple. He also built Masada and the Roman port of Caesarea. Motivated by his great paranoia and cruelty, he murdered the members of the Sanhedrin, his wife, his mother in-law, and his three sons. Herod was “disturbed and all Jerusalem” besides! Herod was known for his rages and so when these esteem men show up looking for a king, they are concerned as to what Herod would do. Herod therefore gets his own wise guys (chief priests and teachers of the law) together and “he asked them where the (Messiah) Christ was to be born”. Having studied the Scriptures themselves and having debated this topic often they knew full well what the answer was: “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” The prophecy was the answer of God to King David long ago. Herod was as crafty as he was insane and we read: “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’”  Not wanting any of his detractors to learn of the real reason the Magi had come and not wanting to give anyone a platform to usurp his power Herod had a secret meeting with them. I believe Herod had already determined to murder any child who would be seen as Israel’s true and rightful king. These visitors of Jesus were disturbing to others!

  EXAMPLE: There are folks and groups today that do not like it when others begin to consider who Jesus is. Groups like Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Islam all fear the truth of who Jesus is and what he came to do. Socialism and communistic regimes try to suppress the truth of Jesus as well. Atheists try to dispel Jesus as just a myth or fantasy. It shakes these groups to the core because if Jesus is truly who he said he was and what history testifies to then they are false and lost. Herod misunderstood who Jesus was and he was disturbed by the coming Wisemen. These visitors of Jesus were disturbing to others! Is your faith disturbing to others?

Sometimes we have visitors that are unexpected but their coming and going do not affect us that much at the time while the news they carry or the particular job they do could. The mailman, package delivery person, or the water meter readers are some of these kinds of visitors. Lastly we learn that…

III. These visitors of Jesus sought someone more valuable than the treasures they brought! (Vv. 9-12)

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  1. These Wisemen were far smarter than king Herod could ever have imagined. The king they sought did not have an earthly kingdom or a throne built by human hands. After being wined and dined by Israel’s ruler and “After they had heard the king, they went on their way”. However their journey is not finished “and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” This is good evidence that the star was far more than just an astronomical phenomenon. It moved and “stopped over the place where the child was”. Some think the star could have been a comet, a planetary convergence, or super nova but whatever the “star’ was it is certain it was a means by God to lead these visitors on their journey! Better than Google Earth or Maps! “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed” because it lead them right to the final place they needed to go and to the person they sought! We also learn that the individual they journeyed to find was someone special because “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” You do not humble yourself to worship just any ordinary kid, believe me, even though some parents do! This child was truly special. This child was important. This child was the Messiah, God in human flesh! Add to this the fact that after worshipping him “they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” Over field and fountain, moor and mountain, they had carried their offerings. Treasures to place at the feet of the one they worshiped, the one they had sought for so long! Some think God gave these men the gifts ideas to being Jesus: gold to signify his kingship, incense to recognize him as the high priest, and myrrh to show his death for mankind’s sin. We find that God watches over those he sends because “having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” These visitors of Jesus sought someone more valuable than the treasures they brought!

  EXAMPLE: Have you ever done something extremely nice for someone only to have them not say “thank you”? Perhaps you gave a gift to someone but got little in return? I have learned that it is our choice on whether or not we give a gift or do something nice for another and we should never expect anything in response. Little did these Wisemen know but their travel, their interaction with Herod, and their worship of a young boy would be remembered for thousands of years! Why? The reason is not just found in what they did but rather it is found in the focus of who they sought – the Messiah Jesus! These visitors of Jesus sought someone more valuable than the treasures they brought! What treasure do you seek in life?

Conclusion:

These visitors of Jesus were willing to follow God wherever he led them! These visitors of Jesus were disturbing to others! These visitors of Jesus sought someone more valuable than the treasures they brought!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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