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Mystery of the Wise Men

A bumper sticker says, “Wise men still seek him”.  But why?

Am having a hard time recalling anyone  who claims to have relentlessly pursued the hopes and fears of all the years– until the equivalent of a guiding star finally settled over the sound of God crying in a manger.

Some of our personal stories sound more like CS Lewis who likened his rescue to being dragged, kicking, and screaming, into the kingdom. Others recall being led to a door, which opened as they approached. Still others say they didn’t see the light, and hear the angels singing, until after a heavy steel door clanked shut behind them, and locked them into cell that, at the time, felt like hell.

In any case, my guess is that most of us would say that, however we got to the place of seeing Christmas for what it is, we’ve stumbled onto the only manger that offers hope for the questions that are beyond our ability to answer.

Maybe the real question is not why some still seek him—and some don’t. Maybe the more important question is why those of us who think we’ve been to the manger in our hearts— have forgotten what we saw.

We didn’t find there the answer for whether we need strengthened gun laws (or any other public policy)—or not. We found there the evidence and mystery of a God who came low enough to offer himself—in ways we can’t explain, to those who cannot find hope and comfort in messed up, hurting mortals– like us.

PS Comments below give me an excuse to give a link to  Mary Did You Know?


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56 Responses to “Mystery of the Wise Men”

  1. His Sparrow says:

    I’m always excited and emotionally stirred up by Christmas music. Always takes me to the manger to the the “newborn King” spiritually. I sing them to myself all year, as well as the ‘not-in-season’ songs about my God. I suppose that’s just one way I seek Him still.

    Can’t identify a favorite; I really like ‘Little Drummer Boy’ who didn’t have a gift but gave by playing his drum…I don’t have gifts for my Lord Jesus other than my heart and I believe that’s all He wants.

    I don’t have a singing voice, sure would like one now…when I get to heaven I will and I will be singing all the time.

    I love y’all, neighbors and friends!
    His Sparrow

  2. His Sparrow says:

    Also enjoy the song, “Do you see what I see?” about a star in the night, tail as big as a kite…would be likened to the star that guided the men to Jesus story.
    How about your songs?

  3. swwagner says:

    Hmmm….I can’t think of anyone in recent history who has searched for God willingly like the wise men. I can think of many who have admirably followed their passions, dreams or talents relentlessly to reach goals…some that benefit others, but mostly to benefit themselves. And, I can think of many who hunger and thirst after God and do great things in service to Him, but it is after they became Christians.

    It is not clear to me why the wise men searched for God. Were they right in God’s eyes like Noah or Abraham…suddenly appearing in the unfolding drama of our planet and approved by God to be part of the story of the birth of Christ? Were they simply on a mission to be the first ones to prove a theory about something that had been studied for centuries…sort of like the men landing on the moon? Could they have believed with their heads and by following, they came to believe with their hearts?

    God calls all people to Himself. He is the All in All. He provides the way of salvation through Christ. He shows us our great need and prods our heart toward Himself with the Holy Spirit. Some people “see” and accept Him more easily than others and some are dragged, kicking and screaming, to their meeting with Him. However, all must personally step over that line of their own will and into His light.

  4. poohpity says:

    I can remember as far back as five the Lord calling me. I had one of those little white Bibles and would read Psalms 100 but really did not have anyone to teach me what was going on. God never gave up. Even going through confirmation classes and church on Sundays while I was young. Then on holidays such a Christmas and Easter. I still did not realize it was a one on one personal thing until the only place I had to look was up.

    I fully believe that we have a yearning in our souls that God placed there to desire Him if we are open to hearing. A hole that can only be filled by the Lord and if people do not understand that it is God calling they try and fill it with everything else but are never satisfied until they answer the call.

  5. poohpity says:

    My favorite Christmas song is “Mary Did You Know?”

  6. swwagner says:

    I completely agree Poohpity!

  7. pegramsdell says:

    Me too Deb, I just LOVE that song!!!!!

  8. poohpity says:

    ODB, today gave another perspective about the gift. Ms. Ackerman said quoting Pastor Jim , ” Jesus loved His Father and knew that what He wanted more than anything else was for us, His creation, to be reconciled to Him.” That seems to be in line with all the prophesies of the OT. Peter also said in 1 Peter 1:10-12 NIV, that like the wise men it was searched for.

    To think that although God knew after us finding out about what happened in the manger some may walk away without answering that heart tug still chose to lay down His Deity to lie in a straw bed and then those who answered that heart tug are satisfied with not searching for more of Him.

  9. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    I find two questions in your post, Mart:
    1) Why do wise men still seek the King of the Jews?
    2) Why have those of us who (think we) have been to the manger forgotten what we saw there?

    It seems to me the passage in Matthew’s gospel that tells about the long journey of the magi poses even more questions. Did they have the Jewish Bible – or the Greek translation of it? Did they read about the meaning of the star they observed in another source? When they found Jesus they bowed down and worshiped him and laid gifts at his feet. (Matthew 2:11) They traveled a long way to see the King. They had the means and the will to set out on the pilgrimage. The story of the magi is just enough info to make the reader wonder what the outcome might have been. Did the men remain faithful to Jesus? Did they worship him as the Son of the one true God? Did they have any part in the gospel years or the early church?

    It seems to me the answer to question no. 2 above varies for each one. For me, the retelling of the gospel stories in Luke and Matthew – and the traditions of Advent, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day keep alive the understanding and appreciation of who Jesus is. He is God made flesh sent to make the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It is wonderful to celebrate divine provision for the pregnant teen, Mary, and her fiancé Joseph. There are angels everywhere – and confusion among the enemies of Messiah.

    How wise our God is! He brought the King of the universe to birth in the most humble form possible! The truth of it is delicious and awesome and it does make us “merry” to remember it! God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlefolk! Let nothing you dismay! Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day. To save us all from Satan’s power when we have gone astray. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy — comfort and joy. Oh, tidings of comfort of joy!

    Blessings,
    Maru

  10. SFDBWV says:

    In truth those bumper stickers, billboards and illuminated signs out in front of some churches catch my eye and make me smile, but sometimes like a pun or sour joke they make me *groan*.

    The Magi were a ruling class religious group of peoples in Persia, the well documented story of Babylon taking hostage all of the upper crust of Israeli society and enslaving them into service of the empire is recorded in our Scripture as well as some historical documents.

    The Magi were astrologers and followed the ancient practice of looking to the stars for the *signs* and *seasons* of mankind. One of the principals God spelled out in Genesis 1: 14.

    The Magi were also students of all things, of learning all that they could assemble into their keeping and their knowledge.

    They were considered *wise* in all matters, that is *wise* to many things. Not necessarily an attribute given in reference to Biblical *wisdom*, yet in many instances could be.

    Today we still have people who hunger and thirst after knowledge, that journey can and will fill them with information that may seem wise to many among us, and if their philosophical nature has not been corrupted by the narrow mindedness of others, they will also seek out the matters of a more spiritual matter.

    Very ironic that the Persian Magi studied the ancient writing of the Hebrew Prophets and could ascertain exactly when and where the *King* would be born and the custodians of that same writing did not.

    It is recorded that the *beginning of wisdom* is the “fear of God”, yet I also see that the very beginning of wisdom is that instinctive yearning in all of us as well as the fear of the unknown and the search for understanding it and when that search brings one to the knowledge that there is a God, a Creator and an overseer of all things, it is a greater fear that brings us to our knees in humble submission to Him.

    Searching for Him throughout all of recorded history and ancient writings brings you to that same point in time and history as it did the Magi and to the manger in Bethlehem and to Jesus of Nazareth.

    That is for those among us who are wise enough to begin and conclude the search.

    So yes Mart wise men still seek Him, as in the search for all knowledge and truth will ultimately end with Him.

    My apologies to any if I have repeated anything they may have stated, as when subjects are presented as late as this one in the mornings I can only write in little bits and pieces between the duties of the day and hopefully get it finished even if not to my satisfaction.

    Steve

  11. poohpity says:

    Steve, I have always understood there was not enough info on the magi to come to a final conclusion about them. They could have been Jewish men who choose to remain in Babylon like Daniel while others returned to Israel. We are only given a glimpse of who they were. A verse that gives a little info was in Matthew 2:2 they would have had to be aware of the prophesies about Jesus which may have lead to determine they had read the ancient books of the OT.

  12. poohpity says:

    From Matthew 2:11 would lead us to believe that they showed up when Jesus was older than newborn and the gifts were even prophetic as to a commentary I read in my Bible. The gold is a gift fit for a King, the frankincense for the Deity and the myrrh for a mortal man going to die. I always thought that the gifts were also what Mary and Joseph needed for their travels to Egypt. It is all so wonderful to imagine when you really think about it.

  13. poohpity says:

    They had left the stable and then lived in a home when the magi appeared.

  14. BruceC says:

    poohpity,

    Your post of 10:19 am stated what I had in mind.
    And you are correct that Jesus was not in a manger or stable by the time they arrived.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  15. SFDBWV says:

    Pooh I am not sure I understand your point, are you saying you don’t accept what the scripture says about the *Wise Men*?

    When I look up the word wise in my King James Concordance it directly refers to the word *wise* being a term for the Magi. If you then look further into what the word Magi represents it is as I have stated above in my remarks.

    I read nothing in Matthew that gives rise to think that the Wise Men went anywhere other than ultimately Bethlehem following the Star to the manger and young baby with His mother; nothing gives me rise to think that Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem for two more years.

    I personally believe that 2,000 years of understanding this matter and the tradition surrounding it shows The Wise Men, the shepherds, Mary Joseph and the infant Jesus together there in Bethlehem at the birth place of Jesus. Matthew 2:1 clearly says that when Jesus was born the Wise Men came to Jerusalem looking for Him.

    Matthew 2: 9 clearly says that after they left King Herod they departed and followed the star until it came to a rest over where the young Child was.

    I still think *wise men* seek Him.

    Steve

  16. davids says:

    For me, the story of the Magi can help us see the events as part of God’s great plan.

    Magi are mentioned in Daniel as Babylonians that studied prophecy and omens. Daniel had been one of the most powerful men in the Eastern empire, who had prophesied the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the time of the Messiah’s coming.

    So the Magi didn’t just appear by magic. They had been looking for the omen of the birth of the King that Daniel had foretold, over 400 years earlier.

    It is highly doubtful that the Magi appeared at the cave where Jesus was born. Scripture says, “Now *after* Jesus was born…wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.” Even if they arrived twelve days later as tradition holds, it is not likely that the holy family remained that long in their emergency shelter, likely a grotto used for ewes giving birth.

    I believe that if we strip away the myths and traditions (like cows and donkeys) that we have laid upon this blessed event, and read the Bible in the context of ancient Palestine, we can get to the beauty of what happened.

    People do not seek God as the Magi did, because they are not following a prophecy. But that does not mean that He is not calling people today even as He did the first apostles.

  17. poohpity says:

    Steve, what? I think you may have misunderstood.

    Jesus was born in Bethlehem and may have remained there for less than 2 years which is why Herod had all children 2 years and younger killed then their trek to Egypt and from Egypt to Nazareth. The wise men came into the picture from what I understand anywhere well after birth up to 2 years old as they (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) remained in Bethlehem until the Angel told them to go. That is not contrary to what scripture says some has to be pieced together from other scripture. Like in Luke when they had to have Jesus circumcised (8 days old) they went north to Jerusalem and for Mary’s purification so they were still in the area. The city of David (Bethlehem) is south of Jerusalem.

    I said that who the wise men were is not clear from scripture there are only a few facts the rest is not real clear although through some investigation we can piece somethings together.

  18. bubbles says:

    I dislike all the hype around Christmas.

  19. s2inkzoo says:

    I can certainly agree with bubbles comment.

    Maybe the root of the reason for the hype is the second question Mart asked. Why do we, and so many forget what we saw at the manger? That brought two thoughts: 1) James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and He will Draw near to you.” and 2) James 1:22-25. The first is that we forget that we are not just to visit the baby, but draw near to Him each day. Like what was drawn out in the three previous posts on righteousness, it is from this relationship that reminds us of our constant need for Him. Without that, we wander away. I recently went through “Practicing the Presence of God” that really emphasizes this fact. The second reminds me that we need to allow the visit to the manager to not be just a viewing, but to change our lives . . . the way we act and what we do. It is a reminder to me to not focus on the giving of gifts, but the love that should spur the giving. Not to focus on the decoration and work to prepare for gatherings, but on the peace and joy that Jesus gives and represents.

    stu

  20. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Thanks for the link to “Mary Did You Know?” Mart! Beautiful. We can ponder in these — days (supply adjective). I was tested yesterday when I went to civil court with a 92 year-old woman. She was so frightened and confused because a pair of drifters moved into her home and began referring to her as “grandma.” My friend’s real granddaughter is here from out of state, hoping to get the house clear of strangers.

    The squatters are claiming that my elderly friend is grateful for someone to “take care” of her, and therefore they are contesting the restraining order. As you are making preparations for Christmas Eve — family and friends gathering — Candlelight Worship Services — please lift up my friend, Eleanor. She needs the justice and mercy only Jesus came to offer. I agree with you, Stu, once justice and mercy are established we can experience peace and joy!

    I am left to wonder how to share the meaning of the King of the universe lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes with these two people who have to find shelter elsewhere. We cannot permit them to take shelter in Eleanor’s house.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  21. BruceC says:

    Maru,

    My heart goes out to that 92 year old that you stood with in court. A friend of my wife’s family went through almost the same thing as that. Two people came in that had a lawyer “friend” and took over his birth home from his mentally handicapped brother and his physically handicapped alcoholic father. The father died and they tried to get the house. It finally worked out; but they left with his brother for points unknown and likely are sucking him dry of his inheritance and disability. He has no idea where he is and the legal system does not work well at times. He has not heard from him in several years; if he is even alive.

    I think Steve was on the right track about the wise men insofar as where they were from and their background.
    Although I still don’t believe they were at the “manger scene”, but came later. Anyway when the Jews were taken captive the Persians sought everyone’s knowledge and kept it. So there is good reason to believe that they may have been believers in the one true God also. But we can’t know 100%. I watched this discussed on the “Ask the Pastor” show on a Christian network just yesterday and it was very interesting.

    And I agree also with bubbles about the “hype” of Christmas. The spiritual celebration is wonderful and anything of the holiday that points to its reason. But the secular, commercial stuff completely turns me off. My wife and I exchange one gift between ourselves and that is it, other than church and charities. People go into unrealistic debt and pay for it later (first hand experience from years ago). Just the fact that so many stores have a “make it or break it” dependency on the holiday proves that something is way out of whack. I like “A Christmas Carol” because it shows a changed life and a Christmas celebration that was simple and not extravagant.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  22. Bill says:

    I believe Mart is hinting at a line of reasoning here that has less to do with Christmas than it does about how we live our Christian lives.

    The key to that is found in his last paragraph:

    “We didn’t find there the answer for whether we need strengthened gun laws (or any other public policy)—or not. We found there the evidence and mystery of a God who came low enough to offer himself—in ways we can’t explain, to those who cannot find hope and comfort in messed up, hurting mortals– like us.”

    More often than not, Mart’s posts are springboards to broader topics with deeper meanings than what appears at face value. He’s very subtle in that way, allowing us to draw our own conclusions about what he’s written.

    In this case, he is asking us to look deep within our hearts to see how we’re *applying* the mystery and magic of Christmas, *not* that we find mystery and magic *in* Christmas.

    What Mart is asking us to do is examine how we apply our faith — and, in a subtle way, he’s asking us if we’re applying it in the wrong way by seeking to affect public policies (among other things). In fact, in a broad sense, he’s asking us if applying our faith to anything other than humbling ourselves to serve as Jesus did is missing the message of the Bible.

    My answer to that is absolutely — we’ve missed the message of the Bible, and the reason why Jesus was born in a manger (or a cave or wherever he was actually born; the precise physical location doesn’t matter). We’ve missed the meaning of serving, of humbling, of loving, of accepting, of feeding, clothing, and healing. We’ve allowed our faith to become political, our lives to become polarized and rigid. We’ve turned the Bible into a magic talisman, and our lives into idols to a god we’ve created in our own minds.

    For me and my wife, Christmas is a time to humble ourselves to the point of feeling helpless before a God so loving that he became an infant, helpless before us. He showed us by becoming a baby what he wants us to become to others — vulnerable, devoted, loving, and needful.

    Today, many Christians act like they’re the latest military commercial: “An Army Of One.” They act like all they need is God, that they’re fine on their own, needing no one else — quick to dismiss all who disagree with them, quick to anger, quick to argue, quick to push away.

    That’s not God. That’s not the Story. God showed us that he needs others for companionship, for love, for fellowship. He had everything he could ever want — Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Himself…communing for all eternity — yet, he created us. And then become one of us. Why? What was the point?

    The point was he showed us that we, too, need others, that we are to love as a child loves, to believe as a child believes, to be as gentle as a child is, and as dear to the heart of another as a child is. Few can resist the charms of a wide-eyed, innocent baby. But most can resist the angry, fist-shaking, arguing Christian adult who demands his or her own way and thinks he/she is right. The world is sick to death of that image. It hasn’t seen enough of the wide-eyed, vulnerable, guileless baby image.

  23. oneg2dblu says:

    Hello All… what I do like about all “the hype” is that some of it rubs off on the world, who know matter how much they would like to hide all the facts for its existence, they can not!
    I’m hearing “Oh Holy Night” in my being lately as a predominant voice among many others, as I do cherish so many of the Christmas Carols that usher in with them a Spirit of Joy and Peace throughout the world.
    I would hope you all find that same spirit as overwhelming and against all other odds, and not let the things of this world direct your being in anything other than, the Peace and Joy that is found in Christ alone, brought into this world on that one and only, “Oh Holy Night!” Gary

  24. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All–

    It seems to me Mart’s blogs permit each reader to search their own hearts and express the impact of his comments and questions. Usually, the topic allows for many takes and tangents to be shared. All perspectives are welcomed.

    Yes, Bruce, I have been much in prayer for my elderly friend this past evening, night and morning. She was so frightened and anxious that she shook and became nauseated from the ordeal.

    While I do not believe I should stand on the courthouse lawn and expound on the injustice that has been perpetrated upon this woman by people with selfish motives, I also believe if we are standing in moral debris, we should at least clear a path by shoveling. It would be wrong for me to advocate for the people whom we suspect have been using and selling drugs, stealing from Eleanor and taking advantage of her by some degree of bullying.

    It seems to me we have discussed light being light and darkness being darkness and the deadly blurring of the distinction in the world. When “dark becomes light and light becomes dark,” we are called to speak up. Solomon wrote that “the waywardness of the naive shall kill them.” (Proverbs 1:32)

    Blessings,
    Maru

  25. poohpity says:

    Wise men, seek. We are given Words to seek God through. When we compare what we see, hear or think to what is written we have made good use of the tool. When we first were told one of the stories from that tool of the birth of God in human form for many reasons. Some may include being a High Priest Hebrews 2:17-18 NLT they would have never found out unless they had read the tool.

    After understanding that birth story we try and point people to the only One who cares for them more then He did for Himself. That little baby came to die. When people try and find comfort, hope and trust in us it is our duty to point them to the only One who will give them hope, comfort and love selflessly.

    Getting our knowledge of what happened that night by TV shows, songs, nativity scenes or anything else besides the tool we are given we may find we are lead astray. Let’s become wise men and seek. Let’s not forget what happened that night even though being so caught up in all the trimmings that little baby gets lost. He also gets lost in our everyday monotonous routines of everyday life unless we cling to the tool we are given and place Him above the days activities not just to be thought of during the Christmas season but everyday of life. Wise men, seek.

  26. poohpity says:

    Mart, I agree with your question, “Maybe the more important question is why those of us who think we’ve been to the manger in our hearts— have forgotten what we saw.”

  27. fadingman says:

    The old testament prophecies of the Messiah were that he would not only rule Israel, he would also rule the gentiles. Why did foreign wise men call Jesus the king of the Jews rather than the king of the world? Didn’t they recognize Jesus as their king also?

  28. kingdomkid7 says:

    Audio Adrenaline’s song, “God-Shaped Hole” talks about how we’re all seeking to fill the hole in us that God created to be filled by Him. He draws us by his Spirit. Some of us are led, as Mart says, kicking and screaming, while others go more willingly — “wisely’” I would say. But none can come lest He draw. Our amazing God puts the desire in us, and then shows us how to act upon it properly. He waits until we do, and he knows what it will take for each of us.

  29. poohpity says:

    fadingman, how do we know the wise men were not Jews by birth? Did they not ask, “where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”(Matthew 2:2) that seems more like a description than a declaration of who He is. I was thinking that just as Jesus dispelled that His kingdom was not of this world when speaking to Pilate in John 18:36-37 NLT the prophesies which seemed to talk about both His comings like in Jeremiah 23:5-6 NLT and Jeremiah 33:15-16 NLT if they did not also realize that although Jew by birth and from the line of King David, description, Jesus was the King of Kings. 1 Tim 6:15 NIV; Revelations 17:14 NIV. A far reaching and more accurate description than a earthly kingship as in linage.

  30. poohpity says:

    Revelation 17:14 NIV

  31. His Sparrow says:

    So right kingdomkid7!!!
    Love
    His Sparrow

    Mojave desert finally cooling off, 31 degrees F. right now, will drop to 21 by morning and then back into the 80s around 1 pm of the day!

  32. fadingman says:

    poohpity, the wise men were called ‘magi’ (in the greek), which is not a word the Jews would use to describe other godly Jews. Commentator John Gill says it was always used in a bad sense in the scriptures (i.e. Acts 13:8 translated ‘sorcerer’), being associated with magicians, wizards, etc. The magi were likely educated Persian astronomers.

    I live in the desert also (outside of Death Valley), and it’s definitely getting colder. Might even have a bit of a white Christmas!

  33. prayforme says:

    I get it, now I know I have to read through all of the Gospels from Luke, Matthew, John, James and etc. to understand more!

    So far I have been able to read the whole book of Johns and randomly reading many pages from the Bilble.

  34. SFDBWV says:

    Good morning all; I will catch you all up on life here first.

    We lost our internet as winter storm Draco first began to inch its way east, then after only about 24+ hours with no internet, Draco showed up, though we had a return to our bad habits of cable TV and internet service, the wind and snow screamed for our attention.

    Certainly during all of the extra anxieties Matt had a couple of rough days which are always #1 on my priorities here at home.

    This morning I got up to 22 degrees, 11 inches of snow with drifts a few feet high, so after getting squared away I began the winter task of shoveling out and plowing out.

    Only now am I able to set have some coffee and visit with all of you marvelous friends on BTA.

    It is very interesting to read how the thread of discussion goes, and stimulating as to which direction to contribute my thoughts toward, especially as to not seem as though I am negative, argumentative or unyielding in that most unpleasant of ways, always rather striving to enlighten, encourage and hopefully stimulate thinking in a good direction.

    I will return in a few minutes with some thoughts.

    No doubt about it, we here in Bayard, will have a white Christmas.

    Steve

  35. Bill says:

    @prayforme, that’s an excellent goal! Familiarize yourself with the stories and parables and lessons and the wonderful examples for us all found in the Gospels and book of John. Personally, I think John is one of the most sublime and eloquent books in the New Testament. Read when you can, where you can. Don’t put pressure on yourself, though. Absorb and ponder. There’s a lot there to soak up!

    @Steve, so sorry to hear about Draco. Was that storm named after Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter books? :)

    You wrote:

    “It is very interesting to read how the thread of discussion goes, and stimulating as to which direction to contribute my thoughts toward, especially as to not seem as though I am negative, argumentative or unyielding in that most unpleasant of ways, always rather striving to enlighten, encourage and hopefully stimulate thinking in a good direction.”

    If there’s one thing I think we can all be sure of it’s this: Your contributions are eloquent and enlightening.

    I agree regarding ebbs and flows of threads. I gain great insight into personalities, and often gain wisdom regarding spiritual truths. That’s one of the many benefits of Mart’s blog.

    I look forward to your contribution today.

    By the way, here there’s not even a light dusting of snow on the ground. Well, there was. But it already melted away. Our forecast calls for temperatures averaging around 32 degrees for the next week, mostly sunny. No snow. The only white Christmas we’ll have around here is if I pop the classic Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye movie into the DVD player.

  36. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… I must agree with what you have said about reading the tool. But, whenever we think we have figured out the absolute recipe or the specific tool, we also seem to limit the fact the God can use anything He wants to call us to himself.
    Many are saved through the hearing of a song, watching a TV in a motel room, listening to the radio while driving, or having a dream in the middle of the night.
    Even where there is no apparent specific tool, or book to read, God can still impress upon the empty, lonely, guilty, and afraid of death heart of man, by using any means He sees fit.
    Angel’s Voices, a donkey’s words, dreams and visions, the cross, or miracles, even the birth or loss of a child to usher in His plan of salvation for those He calls to himself.
    He picks the person, the place, the time, and the tool that will bring us out of ourselves, and into His Plan.
    It may be pain, despair, grief, anxiety, disease, and desperation, whatever. Whatever will work and bring us to open the gift that has gone too long ignored, always accused of falsehood and outright denied, even spit upon, beaten and crucified, or even burned by some. But, His gift will be opened even if not realized in time to save everyone, for every knee shall bow and every mouth shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. But, not all will be saved, according to the tool you mentioned.
    Personally, I never really got the written word into me to the point of breaking me, or penetrating me enough to really confess, but upon hearing one song was I convicted and broken to my core. Uncontrollably shaking and weeping, sitting in the midst of total strangers in a church I had never entered before, it was there I surrendered my hardened heart, my stiff neck, and even my worldly desires that kept me at bay for 47 years of my life, finally receiving the Spirit of a Living Saviour who called me to himself.
    To me, my journey to salvation came a very long way. Through my loving parents raising me in our family church, to my loving sister and her surprise gift of a little book she gave me for Christmas, called Our Daily Bread.
    Yes, that gift made me have to go out and buy a bible, which I had certainly ignored for many years, but which faithfully I was now drawn to and reading daily for but a few weeks as it softened my being, prepared the way of executing my heart of stone, and making the word come alive.
    So many times of both hearing and reading through the years of John 3:16, though never really capturing me, certainly never appeared to be penetrating me, and never outwardly breaking me.
    But, there was a tool that He prepared for me one specific day, where He so profoundly poured His Spirit into me. It was found in the hearing of an Angel’s song that was specifically designed and delivered for me.
    Oh, I did know only one person in that church he was the one who opened the door for me!
    To me, God uses anything and all things to bring us to himself.
    I too lived in a desert of sorts for 47 years of my life, walking in my own Death Valley if you will, then, when I was fully prepared, did I finally get to meet my Saviour!
    Gary

  37. Bill says:

    What a wonderful testimony, Gary! Thank you for sharing.

    You wrote:

    “But, whenever we think we have figured out the absolute recipe or the specific tool, we also seem to limit the fact the God can use anything He wants to call us to himself.”

    Amen!

    There are no limits on God — especially not our own understanding of Him and what He can or cannot do.

  38. SFDBWV says:

    Coming from both an analytical as well as a faith based mind, there is a *thing* that has been troubling me for some time and I have not been able to satisfactorily pin point or name it.

    This matter of disagreement with the Magi is dead on with what troubles me.

    For all of the lay people who read the Bible, we already have been made aware that the 3 Wise Men were called Magi, a plural form of their *title*.

    Reading from Matthew we understand that they followed a *star* that led them to Bethlehem and they were wise to Herod’s evil intent and that they brought gifts to present to the new born *King* of the Jews.

    These are the basics and add to the story of the Birth of Jesus as documented by the Gospels.

    For a multitude of reasons, not all good, this isn’t enough for some *scholars*. So they, using the only written record of the matter in Matthew, begin to speculate along an intellectual pursuit in an attempt to broaden this story solely from a speculative view.

    Whereas this may seem innocent enough, what it also does is *chip* away at what is said in Scripture and *alter* the view and understanding of the entire story; with a possible outcome of causing doubt among some readers of the Gospel.

    It is one of the reasons I stay with my old King James Bible, because it seems to me too much speculation goes into new translations as well as casting dispersion on established views of faith.

    I may enjoy reading the views of some scholars regarding Biblical themes, but if they present views that are off center of what the Scripture say’s then I stick to only what is given in verse from the Word of God and rely on the Holy Spirit for further enlightenment.

    This matter goes well beyond the story of the Wise Men and finds itself in most every page of the Bible. The heart of this matter is going to come to what you believe and why.

    Also who or what is behind the attempt to change what you read in Scripture.

    Remember that a half truth is still a lie and this is the specialty of the enemy of our faith, the subtleness of the serpent.

    He will convince you of what you already know to be true, to be in doubt, if you give in to him.

    His goal is to cause doubt about the whole of Scripture and to the conclusion of doubting Jesus to be the Messiah.

    Be very careful what you read about Scripture outside of Scripture.

    Steve

  39. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Mart, you wrote of the stable:
    “We found there the evidence and mystery of a God who came low enough to offer himself—“

    Of all the stories of the Gospels, the tale of the magi is one of the most mysterious. We cannot know what they expected to find in Israel – nor what they personally saw there in the house at Bethlehem. It seems to me the whole Gospel invites us to find what you name, Mart – a God-man born to become the sacrifice for all human sin – and whose blood can cleanse us from the effects of the sin-nature. The Spirit of God broke into flesh at the birth of Jesus. The blood of sheep and oxen became obsolete and unnecessary in religious practice.

    There is poetry at the stable – sheep, maybe an ox or two, Joseph’ faithful donkey – sundry angels standing guard! Here come the shepherds – and later the magi. It may be the whole point of the Advent Season is simply to quiet our hearts and make room for baby Jesus to be born into us again. We really have only two choices: welcome him and rejoice – or reject him and face eternity alone. The magi understood that a King had been born. That is far more than human eyes could see that night in Bethlehem. The Lord entrusted divine insight to pagans.

    Advent Blessings,
    Maru

  40. poohpity says:

    The star appeared at the birth of Jesus. Along with all the heavenly hosts that appeared to the shepherds. They keep guard of the sheep that were used for the sacrifices in the Temple but their hearts seemed ready to receive that wondrous sight.

    It is interesting too that although the wise men came from far away lands they had access to the scrolls that were taken from the Temple into captivity centuries before by studying them they knew what to look for while the religious leaders had no idea they were clueless yet they say they worshiped God. I find it so interesting the difference in the religious leaders and the openness of the Magi to search for the One prophesied about. It is a reflection of hearts today isn’t it? The one’s who searched the scrolls out of desire to see the Holy One and the one’s who thought they knew it all and wanted people to worship them (religious leaders).

  41. poohpity says:

    prayforme and Gary, may you be blessed in your journey through the Bible. I hope it will become part of your daily walk as you grow in knowledge and in knowledge, understanding and in understanding, intimacy and in intimacy, a growing love and dependence with our Lord. Then you will have a firm foundation that prevents being lead astray.

  42. davids says:

    I pray that the peace and joy and love of this season will be with all of you.

    Merry Christmas and Blessings of Christ in the next year!

  43. prayforme says:

    Thanks Bill its definitely quite a few pages there.

    Thanks pooh for the prayer!

  44. BruceC says:

    Just read Joe Stowell’s Daily Strength for 12/23 and it brought tears to my eyes. About the handicapped kids at Shepherd’s Ministries dirtying up the windows looking for Jesus’ return. May we all be “wise men” such as these children and look and live for His return.
    Out of the mouth of babes he has ordained praise.
    And sometimes we adults that don’t share these handicaps and struggles think we have it all together.
    God truly does work in mysterious ways.
    His Nmae Be Praised!!

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  45. SFDBWV says:

    The ancient peoples of history brought us the pyramids, both in the Americas as well as Egypt; it appears that the concept of living in walled rooms also is evidenced by the construction of Adobe dwellings in the Americas and all over the cradle of civilization found in the Mid East.

    The Greeks and the Romans stylized architecture to what we continue to copy today.

    Yet there has been no other influence like Christianity that has affected the arts. With very few exceptions most of the *master pieces* of art, literature and music center around Christ.

    It is written that Jesus draws men to Him. At His birth angels appeared to shepherd’s to announce His coming, and His star appeared and drew Wise Men to seek Him out.

    For millennia wise men looked forward to His coming, and when He appeared wise men recognized Him.

    If you have ever seen the ice reflect the prism of colors from sunlight shining on a frozen morning’s plants and trees, you can see what a real Christmas tree looks like.

    Wise men see a Christmas tree, others see ice.

    It is all about, not so much what, but who is in your heart as to what we see.

    18 degrees this morning and plenty of snow on the ground for all who like a *white Christmas* season.

    Steve

  46. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Thinking of those folks who traveled to various “power places” for December 21st. Why? What did they go to see? My heart goes out to those who long for a glimpse of transcendent being – who continue to deny the Christ – God’s own personal provision for each of us. Do we call wisdom foolishness and foolishness wisdom?

    Have to wonder whether this phenomenon is a sign – for it surely must be. Can it be that there is a famine in the land? Recall that under Jeroboam II, Israel had come to her full power, wealth and prestige. Then this country preacher out of Judah comes preaching ruin and judgment. He told them: “The time is surely coming, says the Lord God when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11, 12)

    The burden may be that those who have devoted themselves to the reading and study of the Old and New Testaments will be the only Bible any of these seekers is willing to read. Come Holy Spirit! May we tell of your love forever!

    Isaiah 55:1, 2, 3

    Blessings at Christmas!
    Maru

  47. Toml5169 says:

    I have no idea what led me to come back and read in this blog but I enjoyed all the talk about the wise men. For me it isn’t about who they were, even though I agree they were Persian and likely influenced by the writings of Daniel, when they arrived, even though I believe it was later than at His birth, or even how they managed to figure out they should follow the star, nor what that star actually was. No, for me the important thing is why they were there; to worship the King! Plain and simple, they thought it worth a long and dangerous journey to worship and did so by offering Him gifts, which I agree had significant symbolism attached to them. The wise men, shepherds and angels were all blessed to worship the King when few ever suspected who He was. May we do the same! Merry Christmas everyone! Be blessed and a blessing.

  48. Toml5169 says:

    One more thing, I also love the song Mary Did You Know. The first time I heard it was about 15 years or more at a Stattler Brothers concert and Kathy Mattea was the first act. She announced their group had done their first Christmas album and she wanted to share one song from it. After she finished you could have heard a pin drop; and then the place erupted in a standing ovation. The next day it took me going to 3 or 4 stores to find a copy of their Christmas album “Good News”. Everyone had plenty of Stattler Brothers but they were sold out of Kathy Mattea. Go figure, I went to a country concert and what impacted everyone was worship of the King.

  49. poohpity says:

    Hey Tom,
    How is the work going at the rescue mission? Glad to hear from you. Last night I watched the Country Music Christmas and they sure did not hold back from celebrating the birth of the Savior. I sure helped focus on worshiping the Lord unlike many other Christmas shows. My son was up there last summer and I never thought of telling him to stop in and see you. He went with only a backpack and ended up sleeping in a park very scared we were on the phone throughout the night. I know he would have very blessed to help serve there.

  50. poohpity says:

    I think sometimes we look for an in your face type of thing from the Lord and then He works in subtle quite ways like being born in a stable. To think He was only a short distance from the Temple in Jerusalem yet He was revealed to people miles away and to shepherds. Those who had been taught about the Messiah from their birth did not recognize Him when He arrived and walked among them. Those who had all the prophecies and boasted in their love of Him did not realize who He is or what He is all about. An old man and an old women in the temple recognized Him but those who served in the highest offices in the Temple did not. It is amazing isn’t it?

  51. BruceC says:

    God sure does work in mysterious ways. And I for one am glad that His ways are not our ways.

    In case Mart does not put up another topic before Christmas I just would like to say to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, enjoy the Christmas holiday. Pray for those that struggle to live in poverty we can’t even imagine and for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted or spend this time of year in prison for their faith in Him.
    And pray for them that truly don’t Him but yet “celebrate” a day they don’t understand or the reason for it. And also pray for those that really think they are “okay” with God by their own standards and just go through the motions.
    He is coming again and it will not be in a lowly manger as a Saviour, but will be in Glory as King and Judge.
    His Name Be Praised!

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  52. bec4jc says:

    Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

  53. Mart De Haan says:

    Will try to post within the hour.

  54. tbbenedict says:

    I find it interesting that you alluded to and/or correlated this post with the recent rationale to step up gun control. But, to your rhetoric: maybe the difficulty for some of us is that we could be numbered among the (sad) many who the Lord shall say “I never knew you”…?

  55. poohpity says:

    tbbenedict, how did you find any correlation with what Mart posted for a rationale to step up gun control. We must have been reading a different article. What he seemed to be alluding to was just what he said, “We DIDN’T find there the answer for whether we need strengthened gun laws (or any other public policy)—or not.” then he went on to say “We found there the evidence and mystery of a God who came low enough to offer himself—in ways we can’t explain, to those who cannot find hope and comfort in messed up, hurting mortals– like us.” Mart usually does not take political stances on anything but gives us things written in scripture to think on.

    Only you can answer if the Lord will say to you “I never knew you”…?

  56. tbbenedict says:

    Oh, so you are saying that he just randomly chose the recent gun issue as an example, and he had no deeper thoughts in mind as to why he mentioned that seemingly obvious incident? If it was random, then I apologize. I’d hoped there was a deeper meaning, the way Jesus did things.
    So often, we take certain things to an extreme, placing value and emphasis on them….Jesus tried to get us to shift our paradigms about what truly is important. It wasn’t the sword, but the heart and intent behind the sword which truly mattered, wasn’t it?

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