Isaiah 60:1-6  Psalm 72        Ephesians 3:1-12      Matthew 2:1-12

January 5, 2014

How did we come to worship the Lord?  Some reason brought you here.  Was it because of your parents faithfully taking you to church when you were younger?  Was it because you passed by the church and wondered what goes on here?  Or did someone invite you to hear about Jesus Christ and you decided it was time to check out this Jesus guy?

However you have come to worship the Lord, you realize that we have a pattern of worship that we follow.  We have four parts of worship.  As we see in the bulletin, these parts are: “Let us praise God”(GV)/”Entrance”(MO); “Let us Affirm our oneness in Christ” (GV)/”Praises and Prayer” (MO); “Let Us Hear God’s Word” (GV)/”Proclamation and Response” (MO); and “Let Us Give Ourselves to God Anew” (GV)/”Sending Forth” (MO).  Over the next month we will be looking at these parts of worship, what they mean and ways in which we live these weekly.  This week, we realize that when we gather together, praise is part of worship.

Why are we looking at how we worship?  This 1st Sunday in 2014 is the day we celebrate the”Epiphany” of the Lord.  That is we realize that Jesus Christ appeared in this world not just for the Jews, but for Gentiles as well.  In other words, Jesus Christ came here for all of us to know God.  “Epiphany” means “appearing.”  Let’s find out how Jesus appeared to the wise men/magi.

 

  1. Your light has come! (Isaiah 60:1-6)
    1. Life gets us down – either our own choices or someone else’s choices
    2. We feel separated from anything holy – separated from God
    3. Yet, God is gathering people here!
    4. We see & are radiant! – we can praise God for bringing us here
    5. People from all over bring wealth to praise God!
    6. In Tilden Edwards’ book, Sabbath Time, he calls this time when we gather to worship a “graced surrender.”[1]  That is our senses are bowing to God so that he may live in us.  It is by God’s grace that we are here in this sanctuary.  We express our appreciation for God’s grace by praising him for bringing us here.  And, yes, that does mean we surrender our wealth to God as we praise him.  We praise God by celebrating that God is bringing new people to church.  As disciples, we praise God for bringing us through whatever dark times we have been through.  The wise men give us an example of how God guides us to Jesus Christ and the church.

 

  1. They were guided to Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12)
    1. At a particular time & place Jesus was born and lived
    2. Wise men came to pay homage to the child who was born king of the Jews
      1. Wise Men – an unknown number of men who studied various ways of life (astrology, magic, sorcery, interpretation of dreams); from present-day area of Iraq/Iran
      2. Homage – an act of respect, to kneel/fall down before, do obeisance, be reverent to

–          Saxon word – “worth-ship”

–          Worship – reverence

  1. King of the Jews – legend/myth says at various times stars have indicated the birth of a king (Alexander, etc.)
  2. Herod did not like this idea – he did not want competition for his hard-fought throne
  3. The wise men do get to worship Jesus (& give gifts to him!)
  4. That is amazing.  People, who have been involved in a lifestyle that is so contradictory to God, are led by God to see Jesus!  It makes you wonder if today there are people who are involved lifestyles so contradictory to God that he is leading them to see Jesus!  Well, you are here, aren’t you?  God expects lives to change in worship.[2]  After the wise men saw Jesus, God told them to go home a different way.  After you have met Jesus in worship, God is most likely telling you to go a different way in your life.  As you become a disciple of Jesus Christ, you realize all kinds of people become members of the Body of Christ.

 

  1. It is not a mystery what we are about (Ephesians 3:1-12)
    1. Paul worked so the Gentiles could know Jesus Christ
    2. God’s Spirit directs us to church so we become part of the body of Christ
    3. We can work to let people around us know about Jesus and the church
    4. Preparing for worship
      1. Private devotions reinforce common worship (Schnase, p. 49)
      2. How do you prepare for worship? (Schnase, p. 55)
      3. What attitude and eagerness do you bring to worship? (Schnase, p. 56)
  2. God is doing great tasks around us.  People around us are being directed by God to worship him and to become part of the body of Christ.  We are part of the work that God is doing.  It took about two years for the wise men to find Jesus.  Some of us may take longer to find Jesus.  It is in worship that we expect to find Jesus.

How did we come to worship the Lord?  God brought you here today.  There is much darkness in this world, but God gets to us through the darkness.  Whatever our aggravations, problems, or concerns, the Lord’s glory appears over us.  So, we can worship the Lord.

Have you found Jesus in worship?  Are you expecting to find him?  God has used his grace to get you here in worship.  God is working for you to know him.  As you find Jesus, you can praise God.  Yes, part of praising God is giving yourself and your wealth to God.  I hope next week you come to worship with the expectation of finding Jesus Christ.


[1] Tilden Edwards, Sabbath Time, (Upper Room Books, Nashville; 1992), p. 75-76

[2] Robert Schnase, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, (Abingdon Press, Nashville; 2007), p. 35

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