22 Dec 2015
Matthew 2:1-11 O Come Let Us Adore Him Pastor Jason Lim 22 December 2015 Give your all to Christ, who gave His all for you!Christmas is about giving, and it includes how we are to give our all for Jesus. In this season where people look to enjoy themselves, will you give your all to Jesus in Worship? Slides Audio **Right Click to Do
Give your all to Christ, who gave His all for you!Christmas is about giving, and it includes how we are to give our all for Jesus.In this season where people look to enjoy themselves, will you give your all to Jesus in Worship? Slides Audio
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Christmas, is coming up really very soon, just about five days time, just round about the corner. And so I would like to, here in advance, wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas. Now what does Christmas mean for you? To many people it's the favourite season of the year, to some, Christmas is a time for you to feast to have great food and ham and turkey and so on, to some it's about parties about fun, about friends gathering. For some of us, it's about singing Christmas carols or reaching out to our friends, but this morning I'd like us to look at Christmas in a rather different light. So often we think Christmas is about happiness, about our joy, about our enjoyments. But maybe Christmas is something deeper and the meaning of Christmas should be something fuller than just a superficial enjoyment. Now don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with eating turkeys and hams and having fun with your friends, but there should be something more lasting than that, and I believe, Christmas is a time for us to worship. The text before us, reminds us Christmas ought to be a reminder for heartfelt worship of our God. In Matthew chapter 2 we read these words, the Bible says-
Now, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the King behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he who has been born King of the Jews for we saw His star when it rose, and have come to worship Him. When Herod the king heard this he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people he inquired of them, where the Christ was to be born. They told him, in Bethlehem of Judea, for it is written by the prophet and you ,O Bethlehem in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people, Israel. Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared and he sent them to Bethlehem saying, go and search diligently for the child and when you have found Him, bring me word that I too may come and worship Him. After listening to the king, they went on their way and behold, the star that they had seen when it arose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was and when they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy and going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts gold and frankincense and myrrh.
I think the central focus of this chapter or this segment of the Scriptures is about worship. You see many times they came to worship and they did worship. So Christmas I thought is a good time for us to remember, let us come and adore Him, that is Jesus Christ, words from a familiar Christmas carol. So, this morning we are going to learn about worship and we are going to learn what worship really is all about. We are going to see it from the example of these wise men from the East. I'd like to share with you some simple observations.
Number one, there is a particular focus in worship. You say, what's the focus? Well, the focus is not about the place, but about the person of Jesus Christ. I think in Gospel Light, we are very familiar with this reality, we have been moving. We were in a 360 Dunearn Rd. Then we shifted to Singapore Chinese Girls School, then SIM, then Grand Copthorne, then Novotel and now Furama, we have been moving from place to place. You see, we can do that because worship is not fixated on a particular place. Worship is always about the person, the person of God, the person of Jesus Christ, so that ought to be the focus of our worship. Now you all probably already know that. Worship is about Jesus. Worship is about God, but let me say this, worship is not just seeking Jesus, but worship is seeking Jesus for Jesus, there's the focus. So it's not just coming to Jesus, but it's to come to Jesus for Jesus. If I may put it this way, you come to Jesus to please Jesus and not to please yourself. So often, Christians, we come to worship services to please ourselves, we come to worship service if it is convenient, we come to worship service if it is easy, we come to worship service if it fits us, the songs fits us, the message fits us, the air con fits us; it must fit us.
Sometimes we lose that focus. Worship is coming to Jesus for Jesus, to please Him- not for ourselves. You see, religion works this way, major religions work this way. Why do you worship your deity, why do you offer a bak zham gai you know right? Worship you bring you bring sacrifices, you bring a chicken, you bring oranges, you bring apples, you offer, why? Because you're hoping and you're praying, maybe on Saturday you strike Toto, if you want the lucky number you better worship. If you want to have some peace and some healing in your family, you better go to your deity. You go to worship, you focus on the God but really, you did not go to God for God, you went to God for yourself. So it looks like worship, but actually it is self-worship and this may I say is not just in religions outside Christianity, Christian people do the same thing we've the same idea, sometimes, we come to God because we need God's blessings for this week ahead of us. We need God to heal our child, we need God to give us a promotion. So we are very zealous in coming to worship, hoping to gain favour with God in a sense to bribe Him. And maybe that's why you are scared of missing church. Aiya, if I don't come church this Sunday ah maybe this whole week, I'm going to be in trouble. I'm going to lose the deal, I'm going to get sick, God is going to strike me with an illness.
And you think that God treats you this way. So for you, worship is seeking God for yourself. Fundamentally, it's idolatry, the worship of self, but the wise men demonstrates to us, worship is the focus on Jesus. They came to Jesus, we all know that they worship Jesus not Mary, even Mary was around. They worship Him, but they came to Jesus for Jesus. They took this long journey. I do not know how long, it probably took them months or even a year or so, it took a long journey from the East, no limousines, no airplanes they just have to go very slowly but they came all the way not to get anything from Jesus, but they came to give to Jesus. They came to bow before Jesus. That's the word ‘proskuneo’ which means to lie prostrate before Jesus to honour Him to humble themselves before Him to show forth His worth, they came to give great gifts to Jesus. They came to seek Jesus for Jesus, not for themselves. Now that's why we as a church must honour God in our lives. Now worship is not just Sunday morning. Many times when I ask, when you ask people what is worship? They will say singing, songs, Sunday mornings. That's how people have minimised this wonderful teaching of worship in the Bible, we have limited it to Sunday morning, not just the one and a half hours but just the half hour of singing, we think singing is the sum total of worship. No, no, no worship is not just Sunday, worship is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, all the way, every day. Worship is not just in Furama when the church gathers. Worship is every day, everywhere in everything I do, because Paul teaches us, whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do you do all to the glory of God. That's worship. That's what it means to be a living sacrifice and we do all that not so that we can bribe God. We do all that, because we want to please God and love God, that's the difference.
That's why we will come early for worship, not because your pastor is standing at the door and he marks attendance late! Late! Late! What, what can I do to you ? I can't do anything to you it's not my thing to do anything to you but you want to come early because you love God and as a church we want to say, You are worthy. That's why I come with prepared hearts to sing unto You, That's why you sing. Not necessarily because you love the song so much. Not necessarily because that's the song you sing in your bath time as well. But you sing because this song brings out the worth of Jesus to you and to others around. He is worthy of your praise. Why do you hear God's Word? Because he's worthy He is worthy for you to hear what He has to say and He's worthy for you to then obey what He has to say. He's worthy that's why you will fight against sin, you fight against sin not so that you are not caught and you will not get into trouble, but you, you pursue a holy life because that's what pleases God.That's worship. You serve God, you give to His kingdom, because you want to please Him. The heart of worship is a focus on pleasing God, that's what it really means and that presumes you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
See if you do not know the Gospel of Jesus, you can never truly worship. You can't, because if you do not know how loved you are in Jesus, you will always be trying to grab more love. If you do not know Jesus' unconditional and eternal love for you, you will always try to earn favour, earn this love from God. That's why you do this and you do that, so you chalk up more points so that maybe God will love you enough. Oh no the Gospel of Jesus Christ frees you to really pleased God, you'd realise that? If you do not know the Gospel your whole life is about earning favour but if you know the love of God in Jesus, how He loves you with an everlasting love.
As what we have said in Ecclesiastes before, how He gives you love max that is how you can have life max to live a life that truly glorifies Him, it must be based on the secure love of the Gospel. And now you are truly free. Now, because you know you are deeply loved, you don't have to earn favour with God, you don't have to chalk up favour and and whatever you do, it is genuinely and sincerely to please your Father. So this Christmas, let it be a season of worship. What do you mean? It means, a season where you will say to yourself and you will decide before the Lord, may my life be one that pleases You in everything I do.
Now Christmas, it's proper to eat and drink and be merry that's proper. Nothing wrong with that, in its appropriate proportions, but there's something deeper about the giving of your life over to God, to please Him. It's only possible if you have known the love of Jesus Christ. So, the wise men teaches us about this beautiful heart of worship, not to grab, but to give honour to Jesus.
But secondly, I want to share with you a faith in worship that is absolutely necessary. They had a focus on the person of Jesus Christ and that faith and that focus is not misplaced because this child that is born is no ordinary child, and they know it, they believe it, they believe that this child born in a lowly place called Bethlehem is the King of the Jews. In fact, they believe He is God, that's why they will worship and that is amazing faith because they have never seen Jesus before, how do you know He is the one? I mean, He's not born with a crown on His head. He doesn't have a scepter by His side. He doesn't look like a king this is not even Jerusalem, this is Bethlehem, but they believe that faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Now the world today may laugh at Christians and why do you worship this, Jesus?
He is just a carpenter's son and is just an ordinary man. People who look at Scripture who believe the Scripture have faith that this man is no ordinary man. He is God man, Jesus Christ and the wise men had just had a kind of a faith, they actually believe more than just the fact that he is the King of the Jews, and we know that they knew more about Jesus because of the gifts they brought, they were very instructive. Now, if you were to buy a Christmas present, what would you buy, buy for a baby, what will you buy for a child one two years old child what, probably some Duplo some Play-Doh that kind of stuff. Someone said if it was not the wise man who came to Jesus, but wise women who came to Jesus, they would have brought diapers and milk powder and wet wipes, more practical stuff that you can use straight away, but the wise men didn't bring practical gifts, they bring symbolic gifts spiritual gifts and what a, what a weird combination of gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, if you're not careful, you will call it goal, Frankenstein and Smurf. It's gold, frankincense and myrrh, what are these very bizarre gifts gold, frankincense and myrrh. Strange things, I don't think anyone of us would buy when we go to Thompson Medical or when we want to visit someone who has just delivered. You wouldn't, why, because gold too expensive, so you probably won't give, not in this path. Frankincense is used for incense, worship, you wouldn't bring incense to a to a labour ward right. And certainly you won't bring bring myrrh, which is a kind of substance used to embalm the dead. Choi choi choi choi choi, your, your friend will probably scold you, why bring this thing. But that's exactly why they brought it. There's no other logical explanation for these three gifts. They deeply understood and believed who Jesus is, they believe he is the King of the Jews, royalty, therefore gold, they believe this is no ordinary child, this is God who came to be man, he is God the very God the divinity is represented in the frankincense. That this, God who became man will one day die for our sins, his mortality. They knew a lot, fascinating. How did they know so much? I mean today you will know because we have the Bible and churches are all around and but in those days, how in the world did they get to have the Bible the the Christian faith. The the Christian faith, the biblical teachings are not necessarily propagated so widely. They come from the East, far far away, months and years of travel, maybe. Well, we don't really know there are many speculations. People even speculate about the three exact names of these wise men by the way we don't even know if there are three or four, five, we just know they brought three gifts. But the most plausible, logical one, I feel is this, that centuries ago, six centuries earlier, there was a wonderful man who believed God and trusted God, who was sent all the way to the far east he went there together with his fellow countrymen, they had no choice, they were they were defeated by a kingdom called the Babylonians and they were captured, brought all the way there and they served in the kingdom, but this young man had remarkable faith in God. He kept believing in God. He rose the ranks and became the Prime Minister of two empires, imagine that. Two empires and he remained prime minister. In essence, this man was used by God to even lead the King Nebuchadnezzar to Jesus Christ, to God, to faith in God. I'm sure you know by now, we are talking about Daniel.
Daniel was was a wonderful light in the dark world of Babylon and Medo-Persia and maybe Daniel would have shared with them about what God has promised. The Jews knew clearly that God one day will send a prophet one day God will have a king born in David's family who will rule and reign forever. He will redeem Israel back. Daniel shared all this, probably with his colleagues, with his king. They were written down in Scriptures, they were written down in form somehow, and and for centuries it has been passed down till this day.
The wise men have studied those ancient texts and knew about a king, for the Jews, maybe they would have read about how Daniel would have shared Isaiah the prophet who had predicted and prophesied that one day a child will be born, a son will be given, not just an any ordinary child, but a child on whose shoulders will be the government and his name shall be called wonderful Counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace, of the increase of His government and of peace, there will be end on the throne of David and over his kingdom. This Davidic covenant, promised will be fulfilled to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth, and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. I suppose that's why the wise men came prepared. They knew, this is the King of the Jews.
He will be the mighty God, who would die for our sins. So, amazing faith and you realise the wise men tells us, teaches us real faith is not just here it's here. Hear that spurs them to action. You see that there are other people who knew a lot here. For example, King Herod. Herod knew that the Jews were expecting a coming King, but he didn't want to worship this King In fact, he wanted to kill this King. I mean he, he was really a cunning fox, he says oh you tell me where He is born huh so I go and worship Him. No, no, no he didn't want to worship Jesus. He wanted to find out where Jesus is born or where Jesus is so that he will go and kill Him. So Herod had knowledge in his head, but not knowledge in his heart to bow and to humble himself before the King of Kings. Another group of people knew about Jesus but did nothing about it, and that is the scribes and the chief priests and they knew a lot, by the way. How many of you have read Micah the book in the Bible. Okay, maybe you won't be so proud to raise a hand, how many of you would even be familiar with Micah well, the chief priests and scribes were familiar. When asked where is this King born they say, Scripture reveals Micah 5:2 says in Bethlehem they knew it they knew a lot, but you know something they wouldn't go to worship Jesus, they wouldn't. Huh, you say pastor, don't be like this maybe is very far, maybe that's why cannot make the journey they've arthritis and so on. Well, the distance between Jerusalem and Bethlehem is 5 to 6 miles. You could probably jog there. Seriously, some of you could probably jog there in half an hour, I don't know that's how far it was or rather how close it was. But as far as we know they didn't bother going there.
You know, real faith is in the heart and it is manifested by works, it's not just intellectual knowledge, it, it is the work of grace in our hearts that we know and we feel deeply and we move into action. Real faith is willing to go the distance, and that's what the wise men did but that's not what Herod nor the scribes were willing to do. Real faith goes the distance, faith without works is dead, not the real stuff. Real faith, sacrifices. Real faith goes the distance, real faith worships, lives his life to please God, even if it costs you.
I want to apply this to our church. Worship is about going the distance, I think we're going to we are called as a church, I believe, to move to Punggol in a year's time. Hopefully next Christmas, it will not be here, it will be at Punggol. And Punggol is distance, right for many of you. Some of you stay in Sengkang, no, no, not distant very good, but, but for a lot of you who are staying further, Punggol represents distance is very far, you stay in Jurong, you stay in Boon Lay and going to Punggol is very far, but for some of us it's not even about the physical distance it's about the spiritual distance, wah Punggol represents a step out of our comfort zone it's so comfortable with this same group of people every day. Every week the same, but go Punggol, we expect so many people to come it's going to disturb our worship experience. But that's exactly what worship is. The willingness to go the distance, physically or spiritually. Now sure, you could always look for a church nearer you, if you believe That's what God wants you to do. But if God calls you to be part of a body to serve a purpose, then I think real worship is willing to go the distance. Willing to give up some of the conveniences you are willing to get out of your comfort zones. You know I think the move to Furama here is a is a kind of a little test for us is our church a church? Are we a people who are so focused on our conveniences and entitlements that we've lost the spirit of worship and sacrifice. To my horror, I, I, I hear that there are people who after we shift to Furama, they are not willing to come and join us in worship anymore. You say why? It's so near what Furama and Novotel just five minutes away, yah, but here, no free parking already. I got to pay two dollars for parking and you know what they literally that's the reason I got. And it was not even a joke. I thought we have stepped up another test, no more food from now on I don't know whether you'll stay on or not, but yah, there will be no more finger food just coffee and maybe if one day we, we even have to cut the coffee would you come? Nah, too far too inconvenient, no lunch, I tell you what, it shows you where your focus has been all along, you just wanted a comfortable place for you to fulfil some religious ritual to soothe your conscience and maybe to buy some favour from God, maybe. But it's so scary because these little things can show us what is really on the inside. I don't think the wise men ask is there any McDonald's along the way or do you have a better kind of a transport. No, they came because Jesus is worthy. I ask you is God worthy of your worship?
And again, let me not just limit it to coming to a worship service, that's too minute, that's too small a scope to consider. The real scope of worship is, is God worthy of your life, your sacrifice. Maybe you have to give up some of your lucrative job offers, maybe you've to give up some of yourself, some of your conveniences but is God calling you to something greater than what you're willing to sacrifice. Then I say, the root of it all is a heart of faith to see Jesus for who He is to look at how He is that God man who is our King who came to die, to consider the incarnation, the amazing mystery of God becoming man, to think of that substitutionary atonement that He would take my place on the cross to suffer for my sins and I pray as you consider these things in Christmas time that God would do a work of grace in your heart, so that is not just here, but here. Real faith that will go the distance is what worship is all about.
But finally I want you to consider the fitting for worship, meaning, how God pieces all these things together, brings all men together to worship. It's not coincidental that you will worship God, it is intentional. The wise men were drawn to Jesus not by chance wah they are having a long walk one day go Botanics go Orchard Road eh, suddenly saw the baby and they worship. No, no, no it was never coincidental, it was intentional. This whole process, now people ask how did the star lead them, I don't know some say it's a comet, some say it's somewhat scientific phenomena, I have no idea what it is. But from the plain reading of Scripture it's clear, the star led them to Jesus very long time, by the way. Its super GPS system from heaven, and uh this is the original Star Trek not Star Wars but Star Trek that led them to Jesus Christ. I can't say this better than Piper, he he said, there is only one person in biblical thinking that can be behind that intentionality in the stars, God Himself. So the lesson is plain, God is guiding foreigners, Gentiles, to Christ, to worship Him and he's doing it by exerting global on this, in this world, and probably even universal in the star's influence and power to get it done. Like Luke shows God influencing the entire Roman Empire, so that the census comes at the exact time to get a virgin to Bethlehem to fulfil prophecy with the delivery. Matthew shows God influencing the stars in the sky to get foreign magi to Bethlehem so that they can worship Him, this is God's design. He did it then, He is still doing it now. His aim is that the nations, all the nations worship His Son. This is God's will for everybody in your office at work and in your neighbourhood and in your home as John 4:23 says, such the father seeks to worship Him. Evangelism today, exists because universal worship has not existed. We go out to reach souls today, and invite them to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, why, because not everyone today worships Jesus and so we go and we invite them to come, and to adore and to worship our King, to tell them of what Jesus has done on the cross how He is God who became man to die for our sins and as people hear this Good News, we pray God will work in their hearts that they will be humble, they will bow before the King, surrender to Him and worship Him.
That's what it is all about. Friends, you have been led by God to worship Jesus you are one of the blessed ones do you realise that? There are countless millions who have heard the Gospel, but their hearts remain unchanged. This season of Christmas appropriately is a time for worship, appropriately is a time for thanksgiving, that God in His mercy has shone his star in our hearts and led us to his side. I pray this season of Christmas is for you to be that star to lead others to Jesus Christ. Now, it's strange, no one would have expected any believers to come out from the far east, but there are hungry hearts, there are hungry hearts in your office today, in your neighbourhood today, if you only are willing to be used of God to bring them. So this Christmas is a reminder that how God is going to use you and I in in a most unusual places to point them to Jesus. So let us come and adore Him. Christmas oh yes, there are lots of fun and laughter and feasting, but Christmas is a time for worship, would you do that this season?
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. You know, Christmas is such a busy time, extremely busy. It's such a noisy time too, you hear the jingle bells you you you have images of Santa Claus in your minds, you have turkeys, hams arr I'm not surprise if all these images are flashing across your mind right now, but would you be still and by faith recognise Christmas is a reminder of God's amazing love. It may not be on 25th of December we don't really know that date, but this is a time for us to remember God's amazing love when we were yet sinners God sent His Son to be born in a lowly manger into a carpenter's family, to be a weak child and He did not come to be born to enjoy His life. He came to serve, He came to give his life a ransom for many. This is the joy of Christmas, that God would love us so. And if you are like one of the wise men. God has touched your heart, you have seen the Gospel, you have understood it, you have felt deeply the love of God, then today I say to you let Christmas be a time for worship, let Christmas be a call to worship, not just Sunday, but everyday. To come to Jesus for Jesus. That you gather in services, not for your own joys and not for your own conveniences, not for your own wants but supremely above all you want Jesus to be honoured and adored and magnified. This Christmas is a time where others will see the value and worth of your God. I tell you the paradox of it all if you want to enjoy Christmas without Jesus, you will, but it's just so superficial and so temporal. But if like the wise men, you follow the star, you pursue Christ and you bow before Him you will rejoice with exceeding joy as you remember who He is. Some of you are going through hardships and pains and illnesses and cancers, worship Jesus and all that He is. And so my friend? Is He worthy, is He worthy ? If He's not, forget about it, but if He is, live your life in worship showing forth His worth. I pray for you as well, all friends here for the first time and I want to say, this is the great news of the Bible. Christmas is great news. That God, the holy God would choose to give His Son so that you and I who are sinners may be reconciled not because you are good, not because you will be good, like I said, it is all because He is good, this is the supreme love of the Gospel and I pray that the Holy Spirit will take these words and work it deep into your hearts. You should pursue the star this morning you should follow the star so that you really come to Jesus not just intellectually like Herod not just intellectually like the scribes, but in reality, like the wise men and have that life transforming encounter with Jesus. Whatever the Lord is saying to you this Christmas, this day. I pray you will take this step forward in faith, maybe in repentance, maybe in surrender, maybe in sanctification, maybe for salvation today. May God have mercy. Father we thank You for this morning, I pray that Your Word will find good soil. Lord, let us not just hear and let the devil, as it were pluck that seed of the Word away but let us hear that we may do, that true faith would arise in our hearts. Prepare this church, dear Lord, for the mission ahead of us, use each one of us, for Your Supreme Name to be lifted up. This Christmas season, may we go out and be that light, be that star that will point people to Your Son. Again, we pray for friends here this morning, bless them with the joy of knowing Christ in their hearts . We thank You and ask all these things in Jesus name. Amen.
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