Come to the Manger: A Heart of Worship

Matthew 2:1-2

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “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.”

Come to the manger. Make sure that in this Christmas season you meet Jesus. I am ashamed to say that many Christmases have passed me by in the past in which I have totally missed the Christ. The stresses of the season, the financial strain of gift-giving, the hectic pace of party after party, and the commercialism of the holidays had squeezed Jesus into unnoticed corners in my life. For a number of years, I dreaded Christmas. I was caught up in all the things we have made it and totally missed what God had made it. Yes—I even preached the sermons, offered nice pious-sounding sound-bites, attended worship services and Christmas programs, read Luke 2 and prayed my prayers. Yet there was something amiss in my soul. Calluses maybe? Inoculation? A rut I couldn’t get out of? I’m not even sure, but there was an orientation in my life that left Jesus out of the equation. What a pity!

Consider the magi. Pretty incredible! They were thousands of miles from Bethlehem. Most likely, they had never read an Old Testament scroll. Their devotion to the Creator God was real, but very different from anything the Middle East had ever seen. Yet, here they are on that first Christmas making the long trek to Bethlehem! They traveled so far, sacrificed so much, embraced risk, overlooked personal reputation, all to search for the King of the Jews. He was not even of their race or culture! His coming was made apparent by a star in the night sky!

These magi were astronomers. I find it fascinating that God spoke to them “in their language”. He knew their hearts and communicated in a way they could understand. Bottom line—these God seekers were sensitive, receptive, and bold. When they saw the message from God, they packed up and headed out.

Notice what they traveled that long distance for? To worship the Savior! I’m guessing that when they finally arrived at the place where Jesus was, they bowed in holy awe of the Gift and worshiped like never before. They had invested so much to come to where Jesus was.

There is a great principle here. Real worship often exacts a high price. We sometimes think that worship is a casual experience…something where we’re supposed to get something from God. Wrong! Worship is all about giving something to God. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were not even the greatest gifts they gave to Jesus. The fact that they had given so much of themselves is what mattered most. Oh! How they honored Jesus by coming so far with the pure motives of worship in their hearts!

In contrast, we sometimes pull ourselves out of bed on Sunday morning thinking it would be nice to stay home and attend Cover Covenant with Pastor Pillow. Or we dutifully attend our church service thinking “they better not have this song or that…or I sure hope the pastor has a message worth listening to today.” When worship becomes casual, self-centered, and non-sacrificial we have moved into the wilderness of despair. We will never enter the presence of God with a mind and heart-set like that. The magi present a tremendous model. Do whatever it takes to find Jesus. Go to whatever lengths it takes to offer something to God. Give something up to offer authentic praise to the Giver of all good gifts. Real worship often exacts a high price.

Don’t even think of coming to the manger if your intention is not worship. You cannot come to Jesus to get something, but rather, to offer something there. And yes, it is in giving that we receive. You will always get more than you give if you come to truly give rather than receive.

Want to come to the manger? Would you like to look into the face of God? Do you desire a holy moment of awe and wonder this season? Would you like to be changed forever? Come to the manger…

ACTION: Look over your written prayers and action points over this past week. Pick out one or two that you know will make all the difference for you. Write them down here…and then offer a written commitment to God about what you will do with these in order to come to the manger this Christmas.

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