Under The Sun #3: Turn! Turn! Turn!

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #3 (Ecclesiastes): Turn! Turn! Turn! To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store.  Search The Gathering connect.

Turn! Turn! Turn! The Byrds and King Solomon                                                                     Turn! Turn! Turn! was a melody and nine words composed by Pete Seeger in the late 50’s and added to a poem written by King Solomon about 3,000 years earlier (in the end of his reign,    approximately 935 B.C ). and included in the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes.  The song was first  recorded in 1959 and released by the Limeliters in 1962, but it is the the second album by the folk rock band The Byrds (December 1965) that made the song climb the charts in America and created an indelible mark in rock history.

Interestingly enough, lead guitarist and singer of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn, became a Christian, along with his fourth wife Camilla, in 1978.  They have followed Jesus faithfully in their lives into this present day.  Roger says that  he and his wife prayed about doing only Christian music but felt strongly that the Lord had called them to continue to do secular (non-Christian) music and to share Christ with those they come into contact with on tour. Roger always does two or three songs of faith in every concert but he prefers not to preach to the crowd that gathers for his music.  Those that know the McGuinns personally see Christ plainly in their lives.  Roger and Camilla do daily Bible devotions   together every morning and pray for world leaders and unsaved friends.  They take their faith on the road with them and share personally with the people they meet in their    travels. Today Roger is 77 and still making music. He toured with Byrd’s band mate Chris Hillman along with Marty Stuart who are also Christian in the 2018 50th Anniversary “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” Tour.  Last year Roger did a solo tour and this year he is at it once again with great reviews.  You can book tickets to see him in California at the Forum Theater in Thousand Oaks on April 24, 2020.  You can be sure that The Byrd’s hits Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! will be among the songs he sings.

A Time For Everything Ecclesiastes 3:1-10, 1 John 4:7-21, Hebrews 2:1-4                                   I was checking out lyric interpretation sites on the song Turn! Turn! Turn! and was amused to see what people said about the meaning of the lyrics.  They ranged from “a montage of events that lead man ultimately to peace and harmony” to a “Commentary of history that cries out against war for peace.”  Finally, I came to one that shocked and delighted me. It said:  “The song was written by King Solomon 3000 years ago and not by Pete Seeger.  It’s in chapter three of Ecclesiastes of the Bible.  Read the whole book and you’ll know exactly what the writer was saying.”  The first reply under that post was: “why do you Christians have to make everything about the Bible and ruin everything?” 

The fact is the song came right out of the Bible so that is where we should go to             understand it.  All Pete Seeger added to the song was “Turn! Turn! Turn!”  and if you want to understand the song that is really what you should do.  Turn the pages of the Bible!  Seeger also added “I swear it’s not to late”. We must pay careful attention… (Hebrews 2:1-4)    

All that king Solomon is saying in this short poetic excerpt from the book is that “there is a time and season for everything that happens in this life.  It is not a commentary on the ethics of each thing mentioned, but only that they exist in this life as we live “under the sun”.  In verse nine “the teacher” reminds us that being responsible for these actions is a “burden” that God has laid upon the human race.  In other words living with the “free will” responsibilities and consequences of our decisions is difficult.  The tough question is asked: “What is gained from this ‘toil’ (constant work)?  Our creator considered that question long ago when he decided to make man a being with a free-will rather than a programmed robot.  God’s desire for mankind is that His creation would know His true love and live in it.  His dilemma? True love and its   embrace can only be realized by having a free-will; however, free-will undoubtedly results in a choice to rebel against God and to be self-centered, the consequences of which destroy love. God chose to give man a free-will to choose love or not and that is why we see the consequences of both decisions in our world today (“a time for everything”).  God, indeed,  has “laid this burden” (free-will and its consequences) upon the human race with hopes that each of us would choose love.  That we would each choose Him.  For God is love, and Christ our illustration, and only He can lead us in that love (1 John 4:7-21).

 “Everything Beautiful” Ecclesiastes 3:11-17, John 3:16-21, Isaiah 61:1-3                               Yes, “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity and choice  under the    heavens; and God has laid the burden of free-will on the human race, but He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has set eternity in the human heart; and no one can fathom what God has done… Who can understand such love that God would come down and die for a     people who had chosen to live in darkness and sin against Him (John 3:16–21). Yet, God chooses not condemn any who would believe in Him but to grant them eternal life in His forever love embrace? Turn! Turn! Turn! Repent and see plainly what God has done for us!  He is the remedy to the ashes we have made from His gift of love.  He makes “beauty from ashes” (Isaiah 61:1-3)…”everything beautiful in its time” when we give our time to Jesus.  What God does will last forever.  We should tremble in His presence because of His amazing grace on we who believe and because of His righteous judgment upon those who reject His redemption… Yes, “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity, a time to judge every deed”.  That burden of choice remains ours… Turn!

We are not Animals! Ecclesiastes 3:18-22, Genesis 1:26-28                                           Contrary to what Solomon journaled in his quest and some scientists say mankind is not like the animals (although the actions of some may say otherwise). We were created to rule (be master) over them (Genesis 1:26). We were created in God’s image. God allows testing in our lives, not to know that we are “like animals”, but to produce perseverance and maturity in our faith so that we will be responsible leaders of this great planet and ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Without such faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Animals, with all creation, are certainly affected by sin, but animals are not sinners. Sin is a transgression of God’s law that He gave to man. It is rebellion against God in thought, word, or deed (1 John 3:4). Animals did not rebel against God; man did.  God has given man the Bible so that He is without an excuse to live like an animal.  He has offered man redemption so that He will no longer live in sin.  The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about where animals go when they die but God makes it very clear to men.  We are to enjoy the “work” that God has given us to do and that work is to always glorify Him, judgment for that work is ours and not our pets!    Pay careful attention and don’t ignore such a great salvation (Hebrews 2:1-4).

 

Right To Life March (Proud of our President)

TrumpRightToLifeSpeech2020Pastor Barry’s comments on  Right To Life Presidential Speech: January 24, 2020

While a partisan congress spends their third day in the Senate spinning a web of innuendo and  assumptions to catch a “fly”, “the Eagle” swooped down to the Washington Mall where thousands of Americans gathered in opposition to our nation’s genocide on the unborn and became the first president in U.S. history to speak at the event since its inception 47 years ago.  The March for Life marks the 47th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Until this week, the highest-ranking White House official to attend March for Life was Vice President Mike Pence, who has gone every year since 2017. Other presidents have delivered remarks over the phone, but never attended in person. 

“Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” said President Trump to cheers from the crowd, pointing to two Supreme Court justices and dozens of federal judges that he has nominated in his three years in office. President Trump has in the past called himself “very pro-choice,” but since becoming president has identified as “pro-life” and pushed policies that support efforts to end abortion on demand in America. “From the appointment of pro-life judges and federal workers, to cutting taxpayer funding for abortions here and abroad, to calling for an end to late-term abortions, President Trump and his administration have been consistent champions for life and their support for the March for Life has been unwavering,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, in a statement announcing the president’s appearance.

Haters will say that the president only attended the event to take the public’s eyes off of the impeachment hearings; however, they choose to forget the fact that at last year’s March For Life he sent his vice president and a video-taped message of himself to address the crowd.  Haters will say that the president only addressed the crowd to stir up votes for him in the upcoming 2020 elections.  These same people should take a hard look at all that this president has done and continues to do fight against abortion in his first term.  Still, others will say “wasn’t the president once pro-choice?”  His own answer was “yes” in an interview in 2011; however, He said that one of the main reasons he changed his mind on the issue is because close personal friends chose to keep their child rather than have an abortion.

I can understand this change of mind and change of heart because I also use to be pro-choice until a “close personal friend” vehemently disagreed with me.  She presented me with information, facts and questions that I had never really considered before.  Among those questions I was asked: “When does one human being ever have the right to murder another for convenience?”  Today, like my president, I proudly call myself “pro-life.”  For more information facts and questions to consider regarding abortion go to nrlc.org

People do change their minds, even presidents and pastors.  I John 1:8-10 says:  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”  I thank God that our president has changed his mind about abortion and am proud that he is doing so much to change the laws regarding it in America.  I pray that the nation will change too and that one day “life” will be the right once again for all Americans, both born and unborn.

Under The Sun #2: “If It Feels Good…”

NewClothes2Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #2 (Ecclesiastes): “If It Feels Good…” To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store.  Search The Gathering Connect.

If It Feels Good Do It? Proverbs 14:12, Romans 6:23, Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 1 Kings 11:1-6

We’ve all heard the old saying that was coined in the 60’s counter culture movement: “If it feels good do it.”  Many people do just that.  The problem with living by such a credo is that many things that feel good lead to ruin and misery and not just for the doer but for those connected to him or her as well.  Think about it, can you recall any sin that you committed, or anyone else for that matter, that didn’t at first “feel good?”  Yet the Bible clearly states that there is a way that seems right to a man (pleasuring himself at all costs) but that way leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). In Fact Solomon wrote that!  The Apostle Paul expanded on that truth and said that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  Thank God for the second part of that verse that tells us that “death” is cancelled by “the gift of God” for those who receive Christ Jesus as Lord (John 1:12). 

In our text today “the teacher” (Solomon) tells of how he engaged in a life of pleasure, and unlike most of us, had unlimited resources to do so.  He makes a list of pleasurable things that he engaged in, some of them seemed harmless enough: building houses, planting trees… but others are not so harmless like buying slaves and making a harem for himself.  “He denied himself nothing his eyes desired; he refused his heart no pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:10a). We know from scripture that Solomon had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:1-6).  We also know that this displeased the Lord. 

In his writing Solomon presents us with an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which        contradictory terms appear in conjunction) when he says “I tried embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom.” Folly defined is a lack of good sense or foolishness.  Wisdom defined is good judgment.  You can only embrace one or the other, but when one embraces folly it always seems right…cause it feels so good!  That is why you do it… until the consequences set in of course.  Solomon himself wrote in the book of Proverbs The way of a fool seems right to him…  (Proverbs 12:15).  So why didn’t Solomon follow his own wise advice?  A better question would be do you? 

Be Free! Galatians 5:1, 13, 16-17, 24-25, Ecclesiastes 2:12-23

When a person lives like a fool wisdom goes right out the door, no matter what they write in a book, preach, or teach to others!  God’s word clearly instructs us to consider our steps and walk according to His commands ( John 14:15).  We are to think beyond      pleasuring ourselves and follow God’s way.  The Apostle Paul calls this being “set free!” (Galatians 5:1) He encourages believers in Christ not to be burdened again by slavery to sin.  This is obviously what we see Solomon bound to as we read on in our text (Ecclesiastes 11:12-23). When we live only to pleasure ourselves we become slaves to sin.  Solomon saw his behavior as “madness” and “walking in darkness” yet he said: “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.”  What reasoning does he give for this conclusion?     Solomon concludes: “Like the fool, the wise too must die”.  The very next line Solomon writes after his conclusion to remain in his sin is to write how much he hates life!  He is also miserable with the thought that someday someone else will pleasure themselves with what he worked so hard to pleasure himself with.  Even at night his mind does not rest. “Meaningless” he quips! 

Living only to please self is meaningless.  We were called by Jesus to be free from the selfishness of sin and to serve others in love (Galatians 5:13).  If we walk in God’s Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Jesus does not want us to do “whatever we want”, He wants us to follow His example (Galatians 5:16-17). He did not come to pleasure himself.  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He came not to accomplish His will, but His Fathers (John 6:38).  Our grand purpose on this earth is to partner with Jesus to make His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). We are to crucify our flesh like He allowed Himself to be crucified for the mission to save the lost and reconcile others to Him.  When we live with this intent in mind and heart our life has great meaning and purpose (Galatians 5:24-25).  

We Reap What We Sow Galatians 6:7-9 

We are clearly warned in scriptures not to live for our own pleasures, but to sow things in our life to please the Spirit and to not to grow weary in doing the good that God desires. As believers, we are God’s children and should seek to live for things that eternal and not temporal.  Solomon was unsatisfied as long as he tried to fill himself up with pleasure.  Only Jesus can fill us up with an abundant life of meaning (John 10:10).  

New Clothes Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, 2 Corinthians 4:18, 5:9-10, Isaiah 61:10

Solomon concludes this chapter with advice to find satisfaction in our own toil (work) and to please God. God has made it clear how we are to please Him and what work we are to do.  Living selfishly to pleasure ourselves is not the recipe for anything except folly. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unwise or stupid – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making the foolish king and everyone else believe that the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”  Suddenly, the crowd erupts in laughter and the king is revealed for the fool that he is. 

What is the “weaver” (the Devil) convincing you to put on in this life?  Who do you want to impress?  How much will you spend?  How much will you toil?  How much of your life will you spend on your own pleasure only to find that you were chasing after wind?  Like the Emperor, each of us will one day parade before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).  What will you be wearing—wisdom or folly?  Let us fix our eyes on eternal things— clothed in garments of His salvation (Isaiah 61:10).  Let us make it our goal to please Him!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under The Sun #1: Dust In The Wind

DustInTheWindPhoto by Oliver Valsecchi

Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #1 (Ecclesiastes): Dust In The Wind  To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store.  Search The Gathering Connect.

Dust In The Wind (The song and its writer) 

“Dust in the Wind” is a song by the rock band Kansas, written by band member Kerry     Livgren and released on their 1977 album “Point of Know Return.” This was the first      acoustic Kansas song and one that Livgren actually fought with the band over not to include on their album. Of the song he said: “people seemed to identify with what I said in that song – and that really surprised me. Cause in a way, that’s kind of a dismal song, you know?” 

Originally Livgren created the melody of the song as a practice scale for finger picking but his wife insisted that she liked the sound and he should use it in a song.  One day Livgren was reading a book on American Indian poetry when he came across the line ”for all we are is dust in the wind” and that line made him think.  Regardless of everything—one day he would die.  In a 1992 interview Livgren said of the song: “well, you know, that’s really true. Here I got all this success – I’ve got material possessions – I’ve got a goal in my life that had been accomplished at that point, but I’m going back into the ground – and what does this really mean in light of that? This is the message of that song, but the amazing thing was that so many people identified with that”. 

The song identified with so many people that it became the band’s biggest hit ever and crossed over to a  variety of radio stations that played rock, country, and adult contemporary music.  It remains one of the most famous acoustic rock songs ever recorded.

Kerry Livgren would go on to write songs that searched out life’s meaning which eventually led him to Christ in 1979, to create a solo album of his faith in 1980 (Seeds Of Change”) and to leave the band Kansas in 1983 to began a band called A.D. (83-88) that better expressed his faith. From 1989-2000 Livgren did solo projects and then began another band called Proto-ka in 2003. Livgren has lived a life of faith with his wife Vicci (1975-present), fathered two children, runs a farm in Kansas, teaches Bible study at his church, runs a studio and   record label , makes music with his band and shares Christ, but he is no stranger to heartache and pain. His wife suffered a head injury in 1998 and he suffered a massive stroke in 2009 which wiped out his ability to play the guitar and keyboards or even remember concepts of his faith.  Weeks after Livgren’s stroke Vicci fell and broke her back.  Years later she was diagnosed with cancer.  In 2018 Vicci survived cancer and in November of last year Livgren announced that he was putting the finishing touches on his soon to be released   album Cantata (The Resurrection Of Lazarus).  It is an album of faith that includes many    different artists and has been over 20 years in the making.  Pray that Kerry will finish it soon and tell the world his story of faith once again through music and song.  His legacy is truly more than “dust in the wind”.  He has prepared many for an eternity with Christ. 

Ecclesiastes (The song and its writer)  1 Kings 3:5-15a, Matthew 7:13-14 

The line “for all we are is dust in the wind” could have just as well come from the Bible out of  king Solomon’s writings in the book of Ecclesiastes.  In fact this is the key reflection of Solomon throughout the book that we will be studying in the weeks ahead.  

Solomon was the third and last king of the united kingdom of Israel, following King Saul and King David. He was the son of David and Bathsheba, the former wife of Uriah the  Hittite whom David had killed to hide his adultery with Bathsheba while her husband was on the battle front. Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon, the book of Ecclesiastes, and much of the book of Proverbs. When Solomon ascended to the throne, he sought after God, and God gave him opportunity to ask for whatever he wanted. Solomon humbly  acknowledged his inability to rule well and unselfishly asked God for the wisdom he would need to rule God’s people justly. God gave him wisdom and wealth besides (1 Kings 3:4–1510:27). In fact, “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” (1 Kings 10:23). God also gave Solomon peace on all sides during most of his reign (1 Kings 4:20–25). Solomon wrote many proverbs and songs (1 Kings 4:32) and completed many building projects (1 Kings 7:1–129:15–23). Solomon also built a fleet of ships and acquired tons of gold from Ophir with Hiram, king of Tyre, as a partner (1 Kings 9:26–2810:1122). Solomon’s most important building project was completing the    Jewish temple with the instructions and provisions of his father, David (1 Kings 61 Chronicles 22).  

In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon introduces himself as “the Teacher”.  He does this with hopes to impart wisdom to those in the future who read the lessons in this book.  His lessons are compiled from his own life experiences and reflections.  For being such a “wise and discerning king” Solomon sure made a lot of mistakes. It must be noted that all of the life experiences and conclusions he shares in the book are not necessarily godly or wise; however, Solomon’s final conclusion in the book is.  We will learn more about Solomon and his life choices as we progress through this study, but it will suffice for now to say that Kerry Livgren did better than Solomon with the epiphanies provided them.  We can constantly look, as Solomon did, to find “something new under the sun” (in search for that “missing piece”) or find meaning in life by following Christ.  In this poetic book, written long ago by Solomon, we will look at both the broad way and the narrow way of life (Matthew 7:13-14)  and come to a conclusion on the matter. 

Meaningless Ecclesiastes 1:1-18, 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Peter 1:18-25, John 1:10-13 

As Solomon begins his poetic book he notices that just as water continually flows into the sea, which is never full, so are people never full of all they pour into their lives.  There is “nothing new under the sun”. What appears new today has only been re-branded from the past (Hold onto those old clothes and shoes. Fashions will return!). Solomon also points out that no one remembers former generations (note how we repeat mistakes throughout history for sake of forgetting the past).  He also points out that the wiser you are the more sorrow you will haveWhy?  Because…most people are stupid and do stupid things and that is disheartening to say the least.  No wonder Jesus calls us his “sheep”. John 10:27-28

Is all of this true? Of course it is.  If you are looking for life’s meaning in worldly things you will be left wanting every time (you will never be full).  The world and its desires are     passing away (1 John 2:17), but God’s word lasts forever and this is the word that was preached to us (1 Peter 1:25) by Jesus.  He came so that any who would receive would become eternal “children of God” and no longer only “dust in the wind”.

 

   

 

Epiphany: A Word To The Wise

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Epiphany: A Word To The Wise                                       To hear this message and others download our free app @ the App Store.  Search The Gathering Connect.

Epiphany (What does the word mean?)

1 capitalized : January 6 traditionally observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi. 2 : an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being   3: an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure (a revealing scene or moment).

The Gathering enjoys celebrating Epiphany on the Sunday closest to January 6 to both remember the significance of the Magi coming to worship Christ and to recognize, in each new year, that God desires to direct our lives supernaturally should we choose to listen.   

Listening  Matthew 2:9-23, Matthew 7:7-8, James 1:5-8, John 14:6, Revelation 3:20

In our last lesson we learned that the Magi followed what they called “his star” from the East all the way to Judea to seek out “the one who had been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-8).  They inquired with king Herod, consulted with the Chief Priests and teachers of the law and the ancient writings of prophets (Micah 5:2-4). The Magi were accustomed to obtaining all of their knowledge from the patterns of the stars, from ancient scrolls, the advice of the great minds of the day and from earthly religious people and governments.  These men were not Jews who believed in God and longed for their Messiah.  They were pagans from the East.  Astrologers (magicians) who studied the stars and practiced divination, but God choose to lead them to Himself because the Magi sought truth, looked for direction and desired to honor and worship such a King who prophets and nature itself proclaimed. 

We continue the story of the Magi in Matthew 2:9 after they met with King Herod.  They were astonished and delighted to see the star rise up ahead of them and stop over “the house” where the child was.  Can you imagine the anticipation that they must have felt as they knocked on the door?  Can you imagine the looks on the neighbor’s faces…on Mary’s face as she opened the door to them?  Upon seeing Jesus they bowed down in worship and then gave Mary their gifts.

Note:  It is most likely that Mary and Joseph used  the three gifts that the Magi gave to travel to and live in the land of Egypt until Herod’s death.  The symbols of the gifts are also evident:  Gold: A gift for a king. Frankincense: A priestly incense which represents prayer. Myrrh: A fragrant perfume, used for embalming bodies. The three gifts together also  underline the Messiah as being our prophetic Savior, priest and king.

Notice the order of action by the Magi.  1.) They sought out Christ, 2.) they saw Christ, 3.) they worshiped Christ, 4.) they gave gifts to Christ and then 5.) they received direction from God. “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country.” – (Matthew 2:12). Jesus said to ask for direction and it will be given, Jesus told us to seek truth and we will find it in Him.  He said to knock on His door and He will open it (or in the case of the Magi Mary opened it for Him) Matthew 7:7-8.  See also direction: James 1:5-8, Truth: John 14:6, opened door: Revelation 3:20. 

 When we listen to God in the way the Magi did He brings us into His plan and purpose.   Are you listening to God so that He will supernaturally direct (or redirect) your life? 

Worship & Giving Matthew 4:4-8-10, Matthew 16:21-23

The Magi became an active part of God’s plan once they worshiped Him.  Their           obedience resulted in a domino effect of fulfilled prophecy (Matthew 2:13-23 : a.) Out of Egypt I called my Son Hosea 11:1, b.) Rachel (matriarchal representation of Israel) weeping for her children Jeremiah 31:15, c.) Jesus a “Nazarene”: from the “despised city” Matthew 2:23, John 1:46, Isaiah 53:3).

When a man or a woman engages in wholehearted worship and gives something of value to the King of Kings (to His work) it becomes easier to hear the voice of God! Prior to this incredible event, the Magi had to depend on earthly directions and man’s best judgment. After meeting Jesus, worshiping Him and giving to Him that which was of value, the   guidance of God became easy to discern. Worship and giving (also service) in a believer’s life, always turns up the volume of heaven!   Like the Magi, then, not only do we hear His voice … we obey His voice!  The Magi were changed and so was their direction.  Has your direction changed from worship and serving of self to the worship and serving of God? 

Jesus made it clear that worship and service (giving) belongs to God alone.  He made this point to the Devil at the onset of His ministry when Satan attempted to try and get Jesus to bow down to him by serving Himself (Matthew 4:8-10).  Jesus also made this same point near the conclusion of His ministry when His friend, Peter, tried to dissuade Him from  offering up Himself as a sacrifice for our sin.  “Get behind me Satan” is what Jesus said to Peter (Matthew 16:21-23).  Jesus clearly saw that the Devil was attempting once again to thwart the worship and service that belonged to God alone through the ministry that Christ had come to do.   We must remember too, that worship and service to God is the hallmark (stamp of purity and genuineness) of our faith.   

How is it that we can even  consider the worship of God without bringing that which is of great value to Him as our gifts? Our time, treasures and talents should bring Him worship and not just our “big mouths”.  What can you bring as gifts to God?  Does the product of your worship glorify you or the God you say that you adore? 

How Far will you go? Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Corinthians 4:18

We have no idea what trials the Magi encountered on their long journey, but we can be sure they had them.  The scripture even indicates that the star wasn’t always in view. Why else would they have asked for directions?  Will you trust and follow Christ even when the “star” is not shining?  Will you carry your gifts for Him  even across the desert?  How far will you go? Keep following on faith friends even into that dark night— for what is seen is temporal and the unseen is eternal.  Never forget that Wise men still seek Him.