A week or so ago my wife and I made a trip to our local Super-Walmart with the intention of purchasing some new ornaments for our new tree. Although we already have a large beautiful tree and boxes of ornaments, I decided that it might be best this year to get a smaller tree and new ornaments since the large and heavy tree was boxed in our garage, which just happens to be on the other end of our apartment home community. Then I also considered that our ornaments that we have collected over the years are well hidden in the seemingly endless array of boxes currently stacked in our second bedroom!
On the way out to the Garden department where the Christmas merchandise is displayed my attention was diverted to the candle isle where they had an interesting display of Hurricane Oil Lamps. We have an old oil lamp that I inherited from my Grandparents that I proudly displayed in our home in California. Sadly though, I dropped and shattered the glass chimney while packing for our recent move. With that in mind I stopped at the display to see if they had replacement chimneys. As it turns out they didn’t have any, but they did have a smaller version of my Grandparent's antique so I went ahead and purchased it along with a camp style hurricane lamp that I knew that my wife would enjoy.
Not only are these lamps nice to look at but they also are practical for when the electricity goes off during winter storms! The thought of their light shining through the darkness got me to consider the bright star that led the three Wise Men from their country in the East to the young Jesus in Bethlehem. That light was their personal guide as they sought for the conclusion of their search. Have you ever followed the light such as that which illumines from a star, or the light that shines forth from someone’s countenance? Think on that as you read today’s Advent reading and consider the place your personal light may have on a searching soul around you…
Following the Star!
Tuesday, the third week of Advent
Today’s Readings: Matthew 2:1-12 / Matthew 5:6 / Matthew 8:11
Let’s take a slightly different perspective on the story of the Wise Men who came to visit Jesus as described in the beginning of Matthew chapter two. Experts say that these men arrived in Bethlehem anywhere between a few months to two years after Jesus was born. It would seem that these scholarly men were not kings as some have thought, but actually members of a priestly, upper class among the Persians and Medes similar to the order of men that Daniel was put in charge of. (See Daniel 2:48) They were learned individuals “who cultivated astrology and kindred sciences.” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary)
They were men that were hungry for truth. Their lives were devoted to watching the skies and studying the ancient writings as they searched for meaning in life. When the extraordinary star appeared they understood its meaning and followed it to the land of Judah where they found an extraordinary person, Jesus the foretold of King of the Jews. When they arrived in Jerusalem and began their inquiry, they like the shepherds before them, did not ask “if” such a king was actually born, they asked “where” the One called the King of the Jews was born!
I believe that these gentile Wise Men were like most men and women today who are searching for the truth in their lives. People all over the world are searching for the peace, love and security that we know only God, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, can offer. They may not realize exactly what it is they need or where to find it so they experiment with all kinds of substances, lifestyles, religions, jobs, and recreational pursuits to name a few.
The star that led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus brought them to the successful conclusion of their search. I think that our heavenly Father would liken His children to that star that showed up a few thousand years ago. Matthew 2:2 tells how the Wise Men related that “we saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (NKJV) This would infer that they first saw the star while they were in their home country in the Eastern lands, not that they observed the star in the eastern sky, for then they would have traveled east and not west to Jerusalem. They were going about their everyday lives when the star appeared. That bright shining celestial object caused them to hunger and thirst after something that they needed to inquire of and they traveled many hard miles to discover Him.
People all around us today are living their daily lives while hungering and thirsting for more meaning. They are searching for Him and we as His children can act as that bright shining star to lead them to His peace! John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states that “This star had a motion to it; kept pace with them, and was a guide unto them.” (Commentary on Matthew 2:9-10) This is the perfect example of how we should allow ourselves to become involved in the lives of the non-Christian’s with whom we rub elbows with on a regular basis. These being our neighbors, those we work with and even with the store employees that we interact with every time we go grocery shopping or to the Mall!
Get to know them. Learn what is important to them and then let the light of Christ just shine through you! Keep in step with them and show them that they are special to you, and that you accept them, whether you agree with their lifestyle choices or anything else that they pursue in life that is contrary to your belief system. In other words, be who you are, live what you believe and be their friend. Don’t preach it, live it!
I would encourage you to pray about it, choose the right individual(s) and then be someone’s star this holiday season that leads them to the King of kings! I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than the gift of Jesus! How about you? Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO DO for OTHERS today?”