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  • Pete Ryder

The Wise Men & the J.C. Penney's Catalog

Growing up, there was no Google or Amazon to look on the internet at what toys I might want for Christmas, so it was a big day when the toy catalog came in the mail from J.C. Penney’s! That catalog gave my brother and me hours of wonder in the weeks leading up to the big day as we turned down the corners of pages, circled potential gifts, and dreamed about what might magically appear under the tree on Christmas morning. Christmas was all about what I was going to get.


As a husband and Dad, I’ve shifted over the years, and Christmas is much less about what I’m going to get and much more about what I’m going to give. But whichever way you’re looking at it, gifts are a huge part of our Christmas celebrations. Some think about it throughout the year, buying presents and setting them aside for their friends and loved ones. Others are at the mall on Christmas Eve day, buying those last-minute items and hurrying to get them wrapped in time for the big day. Many times we end up spending a little bit more than we had anticipated, because we want to give the perfect gifts.


We usually look to the Wise Men in the Christmas story as our example for giving gifts. And a lot of times we use them as a justification for giving extravagant gifts. I mean, their gifts were over the top – gold and expensive spices & perfume – for a baby! But there was a slight difference: They gave their gifts to Jesus… We give them to each other.


More than the gifts that we give, I think the biggest lessons we should learn from the Wise Men are about worship. It’s the entire reason they made their long trip – “We…have come to worship him.” (Matt. 2:2b) Specifically, there are 3 things I think we can learn about worship from those scholars from east…


1. We worship when we seek Him.

The Wise Men put a considerable amount of effort into finding Jesus so they could worship Him. Although there are many theories about where exactly they were from, virtually all scholars agree that they came quite a long distance. They probably traveled for at least a year, leaving their lives, and maybe even their families. They were not going to be deterred from finding this new King!


How much effort do you give in worship? Do you go out of your way to find and worship Jesus, the King? Are you really seeking Him, or do you worship just if it’s convenient? There was not anything convenient about the Wise Men’s worship. We worship when we seek him.


2. We worship when we humble ourselves.

Worship involves seeing God for who He is…and when we sense His holiness, we sense our lowliness. We are nothing…God is everything. That’s exactly what the Wise Men did. They were kings! Noblemen! Scholars! They were probably well along in years. And yet they bowed down before a young teenaged, peasant girl, an unemployed carpenter, & their baby. They humbled themselves before the King. They were in the presence of God, so they forgot everything and everyone, even their own status and achievements, and they focused all of their attention on Jesus. Nothing else mattered.


Do you worship like that? Jesus is with us always: at church, at home, at school, at work… He is always present. Does He get your attention? Humble yourself. Forget your plans, your pride, how you look to others, and submit your life to Jesus. We worship when we humble ourselves.


3. We worship when we give Jesus what we treasure.

“…They opened their treasures and presented him with gifts…” (Matthew 2:11b)


I’ve already mentioned the gifts… Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were pretty significant, precious, and extravagant gifts. These men gave what they treasured.


What do you treasure? Maybe it’s your money or what you possess. Or maybe it’s your family or other significant relationships. Or it could be that your time is precious to you. Whatever it is, are you in the habit of presenting what you treasure to God in worship? True worship costs us something. We worship when we Give Jesus what we treasure.


So let the Wise Men teach you about worship as we head into the week of Christmas. More than gifts or traditions or cookies or lights, take time to worship. Seek Him. Humble yourself. And give Him what you treasure.

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