Christmas Week – The Cast: Magi

I am considered wise

and knowledgeable

 

My life has been spent learning,

and handing out advice

 

I am one of many wise men

who traveled from the east

 

to see the One born

King of the Jews

 

We were compelled to see Him,

to worship Him

 

for a star rose in the sky

and we knew we must follow it

 

We traveled far,

the weightiness of our mission spurring us on

 

In time, we were intercepted

by a jealous king

 

Herod and his people

were afraid and disturbed because of the unkown

 

We, on the other hand, were filled with joy

and discovery curiosity

 

King Herod brought together

Jewish priests and teachers

 

and asked them where

this Messiah was to be born

 

Bethlehem of course

for that is prophecy’s place

 

for Messiah’s birth

 

Summoned then, by this jealous king,

we were asked when the star appeared in the sky

 

and he sent us on our way

to find this one-of-a-kind child

 

We did not believe Herod when he said

he wanted to also worship this Messiah

 

for we could see it in his eyes

that he did not believe in the child’s purpose

 

My joy grew as I saw the star once again in the sky

and we all knew to follow it

 

each step anticipating

Immanuel

 

And there He was in His home

with His mother Mary

 

I, and the other magi, lay prostrate

before the King of Kings so small

 

We worshiped Him

 

And we laid our treasures

at His feet

 

Gold

Frankincense

Myrrh

 

Earthly riches

Heavenly child

 

And we returned to our homes in the east

filled and satisfied

with having witnessed

 

the Son of God

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find Him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship Him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

– Matthew 2:1-12 (NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All In

 

All is His

and yet we grasp at it

 

He rules all

and yet we try to control

 

And when we don’t surrender

that which is already His

 

it only creates fear

and anger,

angst and worry

 

And it means that we aren’t all in

with Him

 

And once it is laid down

in love and obedience

 

He takes it and He blesses the sacrifice

done in worship

 

And there is peace in the soul of the one

who laid down the control

that was never his to begin with

 

– Susie Stewart

 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.

– Romans 12:1 (NLT)

 

If only you would prepare your heart
and lift up your hands to Him in prayer!

– Job 11:13 (NLT)

 

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

– Romans 6:12-14 (MSG)

 

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

– C.T. Studd

 

Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow You,” he said.

– Mark 10:28 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Worship with Abandon

Shout!

If you feel like it

 

Sing

If you feel like it

 

Whisper

If you feel like it

 

Bow

If you feel like it

 

Stand

If you feel like it

 

Dance!

If you feel like it…

 

Self,

Worship God with abandon!

 

Don’t just reserve your strong emotion

for things of this world

 

Nothing here should thrill you

like God!

 

May ALL that is within me

praise the Lord!

 

– Susie Stewart

 

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—
praise His holy name.

– Psalm 103:1 (VOICE)

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

– Psalm 103:1 (NKJV)

 

Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

– Psalm 146:1,2 (NLT)

 

I was privileged to hear Joni Eareckson Tada speak Saturday night at the Desiring God Conference.  Most of you know Joni, a quadriplegic, was paralyzed 38 years ago in a diving accident.  She gave a great and convicting message but as the time of worship began, I saw something that was more impressive than anything I heard.  I saw Joni dance.

Joni handles her wheelchair as deftly as any Nascar driver on a racetrack.  No sooner had the music begun than Joni began to “dance”.  As much as a quadriplegic can dance, she danced.  Joni has just enough movement and strength in her hands and shoulders to grip the controls on her chair and maneuver herself without the aid of others.  Suddenly the chair began to move with the music.  She thrust forward, then backward, then forward, then backward.  Smoothly, and yet with obvious passion, she turned to the right, then the left, then the right again.

Suddenly, the forward and backward and side to side movements gave way to spinning.  Well, as much as a paralyzed person can spin.  Joni began to turn her chair in circles, first clockwise, then back again.  If she ceased her movements, if was only so that she could lift her contorted hands as high as her paralysis would allow.  It wasn’t very high, but who’s measuring!

I had to ask myself why I often stand like a vertical cadaver.  I have the glorious gift and privilege of being able to celebrate God and honor Him with my body.  I can kneel, lift my hands to heaven, fall prostrate, clap, and yes, move to the right and left and dance.

I went home thinking about Joni and thinking about her God.  What kind of God is this who can inspire such freedom and joy in one who, from a human point of view, would appear to have very reason to hate Him?  What kind of God is this who has the qualities and characteristics and attributes and beauty and glory that He can be found worthy of the praise and gratitude and “dancing” of a woman who’s spent the last 38 years in a wheelchair?  Wow!  Now that’s some God!

– Dr. Sam Storms

 

I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!…

– 2 Samuel 6:21,22 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Worthship

Lord, I feel as if I’m learning

all the time

what worship of You

looks like

 

It is all-encompassing,

a life poured out and in awe of You

 

A wide awake observation

 

It is my everything

bowed to You

expecting and obedient

 

It is surrender

humility

recognition of You

as God of all

 

It is discipline

heart focus

clarity

Light

 

It is words

and listening

singing

speaking

quiet

 

Worship is open eyes

open heart

open mind

open, redeemed, learning soul

 

Worship is gratefulness and reverential wonder

 

You are the object of my worship

Yours is the grace that brings me here

 

– Susie Stewart

 

It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.

– John 4:23-24 (MSG)

 

In prayer we are occupied with our needs, in thanksgiving we are occupied with our blessings, but in worship we are totally occupied with God Himself.

– A.P. Gibbs

 

Worship is not a repetitious exercise of rituals and formulas. These create a veil that actually prevents us from enjoying the presence of the Lord. Worship is the heart poured out in gratitude and awe, expressing our appreciation of who He is and what He has done for us by His grace through Jesus Christ.

– Dave Hunt

 

Worship is the path to experiencing the presence of God, the way to face-to-face intimacy.

– Linda Dillow

 

Photo by Arik Stewart

 

 

Serve & Savor

Trying to work for God without worshipping God results in joyless legalism. Work minus worship magnifies your will power not God’s worth. If you try to do things for God without delighting in God you bring dishonor upon God. Serving God without savoring God is lifeless and unreal.

– John Piper

 

We don’t serve God to gain His acceptance; we are accepted so we serve God. We don’t follow Him in order to be loved; we are loved so we follow Him.

– Neil T. Anderson

 

Make this your one purpose: to revere Him and serve Him faithfully with complete devotion because He has done great things for you.

– 1 Samuel 12:24 (VOICE)

 

To serve God, to love God, to enjoy God, is the sweetest freedom in the world.

– Thomas Watson

 

And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

– 1 Chronicles 28:9 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

Worship

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination of His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose.

~ William Temple

 

It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.

~ C.S. Lewis

 

Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and He won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

~ Hebrews 12:28 (MSG)

 

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.

~ John 4:23 (NLT)

Photo taken by Susie Stewart