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  • Henry Rafferty

Seek & Serve

Old Testament Reading- Isaiah 56:6-7

New Testament Reading- Matthew 7:7-12

By Henry J. Rafferty CLP -January 8, 2023

God reveals Himself to us in different ways, but He never forces Himself on anyone. If you never look, you will never see, if you don’t listen, you will never hear, and if you do not seek for God, He will not pour Himself into your lap." ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty

The words of the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12.


After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.


"When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 'In Bethlehem in Judea,' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written:'

"'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,  are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”


"Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.'


"After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it

stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."


This last Friday was January 6th, the day that Christianity has traditionally celebrated the coming of the Magi, or wise men, to the baby Jesus and their presentation of kingly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We call this event the ‘Epiphany,’ but why? The word ‘Epiphany,’ is taken from the Greek, ‘epiphaneia,’ which means, ‘to manifest or appear.’ In English, it means, the manifestation or appearance of a divine being, a revealing scene or moment, or an illuminating discovery or realization. When Christians talk about the visit of the three kings to Christ, we mean that it is a recognition of God incarnate as Jesus and the physical manifestation to the Gentiles, truly an ‘Epiphany.’


This is our first glimpse of the Messiah being recognized by non-Jewish people, also known as, gentiles. This was very important, especially for us who are gentiles, because the Savior of the world is not coming for just one group of people, but to all people. Isaiah 56:6-7 says,


“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”


How interesting that God has revealed Himself to these Magi, to non-Jews from far away, when so many of the Jewish hierarchy that should have known Him did not recognize Him at all. God knows our hearts, He knows who is searching for Him and for truth, the truth that only God can provide. He knew then that these magi were seekers, and they were given the privilege of finding a young Jesus.


We do not know much more about these kings, or if they were even kings, or even if there was three, we assume three because of the gifts, but Scripture does not really give us much detail. We do know they were guided from somewhere in the east by an astronomical event that they had studied, hence the label of ‘Wise Men,’ they brought gifts fit for a king, and that they were searching for a prophesied king that had been recently born. We also know that they stopped in Jerusalem inquiring about this birth and they inadvertently tipped off King Herod the Great, who feigned a noble interest, but we know, that he was really a villain who wanted to kill the infant to avoid any type of threat to his throne. We know that the magi found the Christ child, delivered their gifts, and bowed down and worshiped Him. We also know that they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and they returned to their own country by another route.


We know these things about them because of Scripture. Tradition tells us about their number, possible names, and possibly where they were from but, we do not know these things as factual, and evidently Matthew did not think it important to record. What is important is they sought for Him and when they found Him, they worshiped Him as God. I don’t know, but I wonder, did they return to their own country and witness to others about this encounter with God in the flesh, a baby that they knew was named Jesus? Did they begin to spread the good news about God to others while Jesus was still an infant?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8,


“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Things People Seek in Life

Money

Love

Friendship

Knowledge

Place to Live

What can you add to this list?

There are many things in life worth seeking. Most of us do some amount of seeking for money, or to be more accurate, a way to produce it. We seek love, we seek friendship, we seek knowledge, and we seek a place to put down roots and live in our own home.


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)


The Magi studied hard before they rode out. They planned, waited, and watched for the

perfect time. Then, when the star that they had learned about appeared in the sky, they knew the time was right to put their plans into action. They headed west for possibly two years, watching the sky all the while and reading the signs it offered, until at last they had found the spot. They found the young boy with Mary and Joseph and offered Him their expensive gifts. All that planning, and for what, to find a toddler and offer Him presents? No, not just that, these were Magi, wise men, they did not come to seek money, or power, or knowledge, but they were wise enough to know that this boy was special, so special that the whole cosmos had arranged itself to tell of His coming. They knew that they were witness to the King of the world, and not just that, but they worshiped Him as God.


These men sought out the Kingdom of God, they were very wise men. As I said before, we seek for many things in life, but what we should seek first is for God, and then His wisdom and love will reveal to us all that we will ever need.


The wise men started by asking about the Lord and learning about the coming of His Messiah. Then they sought Him out, and when they found where they were going, they knocked on the door and was let in. We are no different, but if you notice there is action that must be taken to achieve it. God reveals Himself to us in different ways, but He never forces Himself on anyone. If you never look, you will never see, if you don’t listen, you will never hear, and if you do not seek for God, He will not pour Himself into your lap.


Everything that we really want in this life and that is worth finding is not going to just appear out of thin air. Yes, there are unexplainable things that happen in our lives that help us along the way, or that lead us in a direction where we can find even what we were not looking for, but once we see it, we must take action to go to the next level. If we want to graduate from high school, we must pass tests that tell others that we know what is required for that diploma. The same with college, we must first attend, then pass required courses, then and only then will we be given a diploma. We can’t just show up and expect to be given everything in life, there must be action on our parts.


When seeking God, it is no different. We can’t just say His name, then expect to know all things about Him, we must ask questions. Where is the best place to find out about God? What is God really like? Will God really love me unconditionally? Is heaven a real place? Did Jesus really have something to do with saving me? Once we have asked questions, our action changes to something more than questions, but by going out and seeking for the answers to our questions.


Where is the best place to find out about God? The answer, in the Bible, and a Bible will not magically show up in your midst, so you must go out and get one. Most Christian churches will give you one for free, or you can buy one in a store. Wherever you acquire it, you now have God’s Word and your best place to find the Almighty.


You have asked, and you have sought out God, now you need to knock on the door. Open the Bible and start to read it, no not in the middle, or at the end. Is that how you go about reading a book? Start at the beginning, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1), always a great place to start. This is how you knock on God’s door; this is how you show Him that you are serious about finding Him, and the Lord will bless you for it. Soon, the Almighty unclouds your vision and reveals to you things you never knew or noticed before, passages of the Bible that had been a mystery, now are seen clearly. As more of God’s Word is read you start to see His plan for this world and for its redemption and how a Messiah is prophesied.


In the New Testament you find out how Jesus of Nazareth fits the role of the Christ, and how He trains His followers to act differently from what the world teaches. You find out how Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah and that His resurrection and ascension to heaven breathes new life into those who believe in Him.


The more you read the Word of God, you find that all the things you once sought out are no longer as important to you. You find that happiness is not found in material things, but in the love of God and in the love of others. The acts of the disciples in Scripture have shown you that the Church is much more important than you ever thought and how it is important to next, knock on another door.


I am not telling you this because I am a pastor of a church. I do not need your money, your time, or your talents any more than God does, but I do want you to know the truth, it is vastly important once you know God that you serve Him. To serve God you must also serve others and the best place to be able to do this is with other believers, just like you.


"The more you read the Word of God, you find that all the things you once sought out are no longer as important to you." ~ Pastor Henry

A church is a place you go, but the Church is all of us, you, me, that man, that woman, that girl and boy, that set of grandparents, that single lady, that lone gentleman, all of us, believers in Jesus Christ the Son of God. Together we give what God has freely given to us, our time, our talents, and our wealth to pool together to do the work of God, the work of serving others and teaching them about what we so diligently sought out, the love of God.

Here we are over two thousand years later where wise men and women still seek for Him.


Jeremiah 29:11-14 says it best,


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.”


This you can be sure of, come, and together we shall serve God together to the glory of His name. Thanks be to God.

Amen!

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