The sermon for January 7th 2018 is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on Matthew 2:1-12, I talk about the ways in which God spoke in Jesus’ time and in our time.
About that time, some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
Jesus is born in Bethlehem. Some time later some wise men from the east arrive in Jerusalem to seek the king of the Jews.
King Herod is deeply disturbed by this, so he consults with the priests and religious teachers. They tell him that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem.
Herod calls in the wise men and tells them that the child is to be born in Bethlehem. He instructs them to come and tell him about the king so he can go and worship him also.
The wise men are led by the star to the house of Mary and Joseph. They present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and worship the baby.
The men return home but they go a different route for God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
Wise men from the east recognise the star as God’s message to them about the birth of Jesus. Astrology is not a recommended way to seek God’s direction- in fact Scripture condemns this. But God uses whatever means that He can in order to communicate with people.
Following the sign, the wise men take decisive action. They travel a long distance to worship this king that has been revealed to them.
The way of wisdom is to act on what God shows us to do. Sometimes it is not the right time and we need to wait, but usually when God shows us something He wants us to act.
We don’t all get signs in the sky, but we do get words of Scripture or a conviction from the Holy Spirit and then we should do what God is telling us.
Holy Spirit, please help me to hear you and to do the things you tell me to do. May I always be confident in you when I step out in faith. Amen.
“Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who haven’t got anything.”
A very rich man goes away and leaves three servants in charge of his wealth. He gives 5000 coins to one servant, 2000 to another and 1000 to the third. The first two servants invest wisely and double the funds in their care, but the third takes the money and buries it.
When the master returns, the two who increased their master’s wealth are rewarded with a promotion and more responsibility. The third gives excuses about how the master is a hard man, and so he was afraid. This servant is thrown out of the household because he is worthless.
The sums of money referred to here are huge- equivalent to millions of dollars in today’s currency
The master knows the servants and he gives them responsibility in proportion to their ability.
The Lord gives us resources and responsibility to steward and to invest in His kingdom. Each one of us should rejoice in this opportunity to serve our king.
Responsibility requires accountability. We must find out what God’s call is for us. What assignments or duties has He placed on my life? How can I fulfil that role that He has given me?
The servants knew their master, but one of them focused on what he saw as negative qualities and became paralysed by fear. Out of fear, he buried what he had been given to multiply.
Fear negates faith. When I am afraid of failure, I am saying that God cannot enable my success in His kingdom.
Lord, please help me to rejoice in the task you have called me to and to trust you to guide me to success. Set me free from the fear of failing you. Amen.
No one was able to give Jesus an answer, and from that day on, no one dared to ask him any questions.
The Pharisees get together to try to trick Jesus, One of them asks Jesus, “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus replies that the whole of the Lawcan be summarised in “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind” and “Love your neighbour as you love yourself. ”
Jesus then turns the tables on the Pharisees by asking them some questoins. They are unable to answer Him, and from that time on they do not ask Him any more questions for fear of looking stupid.
Right across New South Wales at the moment, thousands of students are sitting their Higher School Certificate examinations. Thousands of people are answering thousands of questions to determine their level of knowledge in various subject areas.
People challenged Jesus then, and now, not to determine His understanding but to trick Him into some political or theological error. He seemed quite accomplished in seeing through the questions to the true motive of the questioner.
It remains right to ask Jesus questions when our hearts are soft towards Him.
He will give helpful answers to everyone who comes to Him with questions that genuinely seek knowledge, but He will rebuff those who merely want to show how clever they are.
Those who seek Him will find Him.
Those who seek truth will find it in Him.
But those who come to God with arrogant hearts will be rejected. It is only when we recognise that we have no answers, no knowledge and no wisdom from our own thinking that we can begin to know Him.
Lord, cleanse my heart from all vain thinking. Let me see you as you really are. Amen.
Jesus told them, “give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.”
The Pharisees start to plan how they can trick Jesus into saying something to offend either the Romans or the people. They try to butter Him up with flattery before unloading their question- is it right to pay taxes to the Emperor?
The Pharisees think they have in in a trap, but Jesus sees through their plan. If He says it is not right to pay taxes to Rome, they can have Him charged with treason. If He says it is right to pay taxes, then the people will lose faith in Him.
Jesus responds by getting a coin and saying it is right to the Emperor the coin with his name and image on it, but we must give to God what belongs to God.
Some Christians rile against paying taxes to Governments that they see as ungodly. But other parts of Scripture encourage us to submit to the powers that are over us because the authorities are God’s gift to us, even when they fail to exercise their power justly.
Here Jesus says that the Emperor’s name and image are on the coin so really he owns it all anyway. It is right to pay taxes even if we find them unfair.
On the other hand, the name and image of God are on our souls, so we should give all that we are back to God. Caesar can have his money, but let God have the one thing that truly matters, and that is your whole being.
It is easy to get obsessed with money even to the exclusion of worshipping the Lord. My life is to be totally dedicated to Him. I want to be found honouring God, not worshipping mammon.
When I die, money and taxes will end, but my love for God will last for eternity.
Today Lord I recognise that it is your image that is stamped on my soul. I will give myself to you in every way. Amen.