Sunday, December 15, 2019

Don't Miss Christmas: Be a Blessing

Don't Miss Christmas:  Be a Blessing

We are in our third week of our Don't Miss Christmas Series at Church.  We have learned how to not miss Christmas by focusing on Jesus and Simplicity.  Today we are learning how to not miss Christmas by learning to be a blessing.

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "Don't Miss Christmas:  Be a Blessing."

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Be a Blessing

Our scripture text for this Bible study is found in Matthew 2:1-23.
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. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Herod Slaughters Babies

Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: 

“He shall be called a Nazarene.” - Matthew 2:1-23
This part of the Christmas story is not a "warm fuzzy" part.  In fact, it's quiet horrible.  

Typical manger scenes have it all wrong.  Did you notice in the passage above that the wise men found Jesus in a HOUSE with His mother?  They didn't find him in a stable or in a manger.  They found him at home in a house with Mary, his mother.  The wise men were not there at the manger the night that Jesus was born.  We usually visualize three wise men because we know they brought three gifts.  However, we really do not know exactly how many wise men traveled to see Jesus.  There might have been many.  Remember when we said that in Biblical times, people traveled in caravans.  It is possible that many wise men traveled in caravans as they followed the star to find Jesus.

The wise men were likely a tribe of men who were highly educated.  They studied astronomy.  They were highly respected in their communities.  The Greeks called them Magi.

Who was Herod?  There were many Herods in Biblical times.  They were from the same family and they were paranoid about power.  The Herod mentioned here in Matthew 2 is Herod the Great.  He may have been in his 70s by the time Jesus was born or at least during Jesus' childhood.  Herod the Great was a bad dude.  He killed his wife, his mother, and other family members.  He was messed up!

Until I heard this sermon, I never thought about what Mary and Joseph must have thought about all the babies and children being slaughtered by Herod.  I always have a deep grieving pit in my stomach when I read this story but it never occurred to me that Mary and Joseph might have felt a sense of guilt as they carried their precious Jesus to safety as other children were being slaughtered in an attempt to kill their baby Jesus.   They must have grieved deeply over what was happening to all the babies and toddlers around them as they fled safely with Jesus.

This part of the Christmas story is hard.  As hard as it is, we need to realize that life is not like a Hallmark movie.  Real life is dealing with brokenness.  In real life, we are dealing with bills, broken relationships, loss of loved ones, financial issues, etc.  In all this chaos, we need to stop and worship Jesus.  

In the chaos of Christmas, worshiping Jesus always overflows in blessings. 

Herod had a chance to worship Jesus, but he chose to kill Him instead.

Don't miss your chance to worship Jesus.  Don't miss Christmas.  

You are where you are for a reason.  Be a blessing.

The wise men came to worship and they were generous with their gifts.  If we really want to worship, we should follow their example and be generous too.  Give to those in need.  When you give to them, you give to Him.  Give to the homeless.  Give to missionaries.  Give to local heroes.  Give to others. 

In the chaos of Christmas, worshiping Jesus always overflows with blessing. 

Don't Miss Christmas:  Be a Blessing
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