Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, 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." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 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 OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.' " Then Herod secretly called 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." After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Matthew 2:1-10
Throughout the Christmas season we see various home décor, jewelry and t-shirts that say, “Wise men still seek Him.” The wisemen, or magi, from the east are often misrepresented in the story of the birth of Jesus in nativity scenes, on screen, and stages when they are portrayed showing up at the same time as the shepherds on that holy night. Scripture tells us they traveled from the east following a star and they inquired King Herod about the King of the Jews “who has been born.” Scholars will debate the amount of time that has passed since Jesus’ birth, how far they traveled, and how many magi came; we assume three only because there were three gifts named, but those are secondary facts that God chose not to reveal. These should not steal our focus on the fact that these magi had been wisely watching for “His star” and when it appeared they did not just sit in the east and celebrate or record Jesus’ birth in their journals or history notes, but they joyfully went west seeking Jesus earnestly to celebrate and worship the newborn King.
Scripture is filled with instruction for us to “Seek,” and over the next few weeks we will seek Him together as we prepare our hearts and homes to celebrate Him. The holidays can bring all sorts of emotions and stresses but that is not what God intended for us when He sent His one and only beloved Son as a sacrifice to save us. This is a sacred time to remember how blessed we are, not go on about how stressed we are. Every one of us has the power and authority to choose where we will focus our priorities and emotions each day – and especially on Holy days. It is a moment-by-moment choice we make in our heart as well as our mind.
Like the wisemen, we can spend every day watching for Jesus, recognizing where we see His hand and heart move in our lives and awaiting His certain return. We can choose to “rejoice exceedingly with great joy,” or be anxious about decorating, cooking, and finding the right toy. Satan wants to distract from celebrating Jesus, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy your joy focused and found in Jesus. We tend to do so many things in the name of “Christmas” that have absolutely nothing to do with Christ. Please allow me to encourage you today, at the beginning of December to plan moments of ministry and memories set around the birth of our Savior throughout this month. Enjoy new and old traditions that bring love, joy, and peace into all that you do as celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Will you please join me in prayer as we set our hearts on seeking Him?
Lord Jesus, You are the reason, not just for this season but for every second of our lives. You set the stars into motion “in the beginning” knowing that in the fullness of time those stars would line up perfectly to guide the magi to You and announce the birth of the King of Kings. Holy Spirit help us to keep the enemy out of our homes and hearts throughout our holidays and every day. Strengthen us as we choose to seek and keep Christ at the center of our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds. Keep the enemy far from our door as we seek You as the magi did, earnestly and with all our hearts. We cast aside our earthly expectations to embrace eternal fruitfulness that delights and glorifies You. In the beautiful and powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen!
Serving Him with gladness,
President, National Day of Prayer Task Force
P.S. Our 2023 co-host has been announced! Reverend Samuel Rodriguez joins as co-host of this year’s 72nd annual National Day of Prayer. CLICK HERE to read more!