Sunday, December 15, 2013

Be a wiseman, not a religious leader.

Matthew 2:3-7
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 so 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.

I just re-read the Christmas story. It's amazing to watch how God worked through so many people. He worked out circumstances that, individually seem bizarre and random, but working together show His plan in such a unique way. Honestly, no one could create a story with so many plot twists that works out so perfectly in the end. There are many characters that all work together to give us the story that involve our Saviours advent into the world. God didn't need to use any of the people in the story, but He chose to. Most of the people are good examples to us of many different things. For instance, Think of Joseph. he is an example to us of whawt it means to completely trust and follow God even when you don't understand. The shepherds joyfully told everyone they met that the Christ had been born. The wise men went to great expense to worship the Child.
however, of all the people in the Christmas story, there is one group that comes to mind that reawlly messed up. One group who's example we should not follow. I'm thinking of the religious leaders that Herod called when the wisemen came to him. I put the passage from Matthew above. 
Of all the people who showed up to worship Jesus, shouldn't the religious leaders have been there first? They had the scripture, they knew the prophecies. As soon as Herod said, "Hey, what's up with the news about a new ruler of the Jews?", they knew exactly what was going on. 
"Oh yeah. It's the Messiah, He's going to save us, and He was born in Bethlehem. The star is a sign that He has been born"


They knew it all, yet they didn't make any effort to go and worship the King? They had front row access to Him. They knew who He was. But they didn't seem to care. 

Don't we do the same thing?

We have access to go God at all times. Sure, we can't go and worship Him at a manger, but we can go worship Him at His house (just like the wisemen did). We can spend every day looking for ways to serve Him. We don't need to just hear/read about Him. We can have a relationship with Him. It can be personal.

How much are you like the religious leaders? If I were to suggest a Bible Verse competition, we could all take part. You know, take turns posting verses from memory in the comment section, see who can post the most, etc. the comments would probably be in the hundreds. We know the verses. But how is your relationship with God. If you had the chance to go and personally SEE Him, like physically see Him, would you take it? Or would you say, "that's kind of a long trip. I know about God. I don't actually need to see Him, do I? What's the big deal anyway?"

I was in a recent dorm leadership meeting thing. We were talking about the means of Grace (prayer, Bible reading, going to church). Honestly, staying faithful in your relationship with God, your devotions, your prayer life, etc., can be really hard when your in college. Almost harder when you're in a Christian college. We go to college, have Bible classes, and assigned Bible reading. Doing personal prayer and Bible study can be hard to fit in, especially when you're so busy. 

The we get Christmas break. Don't fall into the mindset of "I deserve a break. I've been busy. I can skip a few days." 

You never should take a break from God. In fact, I would challenge you to set spiritual goals this Christmas break. Work to make sure you have time with God every single day this break.

Here are some ideas we were given at our meeting.

Bible study
1. Have a plan. Find something to study
2. Write down something you've learned every day. Date it. You will be more focused as you study and you can look back and see what God has taught you.
3. Have a specific time every day that is your devotionsu time. Depending on a work schedule and your personal brain functioning capabilities, this may be morning, night, or sometime in between. Guard that time. 
4. Make personal application. Look in every passage for what God wants you to know. Work to apply that to your life.
5. Meditation.  (OK, this isn't from the meeting--this is just something God has shown me recently). Find something you can thinkm about all day. Every day. It doesn't have to be much. But something you can go back to over and over when soemthing comes up (a temptation, difficult situation, annoying person, whatevber).
6. Scripture memory. Memorize a passage of Scripture this Christmas break. Have you memorized Luke 2? Why not give it a shot. Phillipians 2 is a great passage that goes along with Christmas really well. Memorize because you want a stronger relationship with God, not because you want a good grade on a test.

1. Set a timer. Resolve to pray at least ____ minutes every day,. Keep praying until the timer goes off.
2. Make a prayer list. You know a lot of things you want/need to pray for, you set the timer, and your mind goes blank. Make categories (family, friends, pastors and church leaders, missionaries, teachers, sick people, other needs, personal stuff, etc.) and start listing. Suddenly you should run out of time before you run out of things to pray for.
3. Praise. Give thanks for what God has done for you. Make a list. Go through the names of God or His attributes.
4. Pray through a psalm. David cries out to God in many Psalms.
5. Go through Christ's prayers. Follow His example.
6. Make a list of specific things you prayed for and record when and how God answers. 
7. Try different things it keep you focused. Pray out loud. Write down your prayers. Tie your requests to scripture.

1. For both prayer and Bible reading, have an accountability partner. Choose someone who takes their relationship with God as seriously as you do. Also make sure they are someone who is focused and that will encourage you.
2. talk about all of life, not just your devotions. Don't compartmentalize. 
3. Don't set a specific time each week when you'll talk (if you are communicating through technology). I have a friend who has an accountability partner who will message her randomly through the week. She loves this because it encourages her to read her Bible every day because she never knows when her partner will email her asking what she's read. She always has to find something because she never knows when her partner will ask.
4. Be specific. Don't say "How are you doing in your walk with God?" The obvious answer is "fine". Say "What has God been teaching you?" "How can I pray for you this week?" "What did you read in your devotions today?". Specific questions lead to specific answers. Honest answers.
5. Have a plan for what you will do when you face a certain situation or temptation. Will you call your accountability partner? What's your plan? Don't wait until the situation comes up to figure out your plan. 

This Christmas, set goals. Make a plan to get to know God better. What are you going to do?

Are you going to like the religious leaders or the wisemen???