Volume. XXVIII, No. 26
Sunday, 29 December 2013


The Wise Men and The Birth of Jesus - Part 1


This edited message was delivered on Christmas Day 2013.

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Introduction

Christmas Day is an important day for people who believe in Jesus Christ!

 

In our Bible, only Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (2:1-20) gave a historical account of His birth.

 

The baby who was born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Day was a special one. He was not the product of a human father or human mother. He was not created at the point of conception. Although He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), He had a heavenly pre-existence (John 1:1-3). He was made flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14). This is the incarnation of our Lord Jesus. This is what Christmas is about. Jesus Christ is very God, and the Son of God (1 John 5:20). He is the Creator of the universe and everything therein (Philippians 2:5-11). By coming down to earth, born of the Virgin Mary, He humbly became Man.

 

Why did God do such a thing when he could have come appearing in majesty, glory, authority and power? Why did our God and Lord Jesus humble Himself to become a real human being and live among us when He knew before hand that He would be rejected by His own people and be put to death?

 

God did what He did because He loved us. It was a necessary act to save us from eternal damnation. Hence, it was necessary for Christ Jesus to come down, and to sacrifice Himself on the cross and to shed His blood for us. By this sacrifice, by the shedding of His blood, our Lord Jesus did the greatest thing for us. Without that sacrifice, without the shedding of His blood, without His death, we are all destined to hell. With that one (never to be repeated) sacrifice, all those who believed in Him are assured of heaven! There is NO other religion that gives believers eternity in heaven, a 100% guarantee to heaven.

 

How many in our country know the real reason of Christmas? The number of people who celebrate true Christmas, that is, the birth of Christ Jesus, or classified as Christians by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has declined from 96.1% in 1901, to an alarming 61.1% in 2011. Just 10 years before that, the figure was 68%. There is no doubt that the number of people in this country who are considered Christian continues to fall. Of the 68%, how many are true believers? Sad to say, a very low percentage!

 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics “Between 2001 and 2011, the number of people reporting a non-Christian faith increased considerably, from around 0.9 million to 1.5 million, accounting for 7.2% of the total population in 2011 (up from 4.9% in 2001). The most common non-Christian religions in 2011 were Buddhism (accounting for 2.5% of the population), Islam (2.2%) and Hinduism (1.3%). Of these, Hinduism had experienced the fastest growth since 2001, increasing by 189% to 275,500, followed by Islam (increased by 69% to 476,300) and Buddhism (increased by 48% to 529,000 people).”

 

This is a worrying trend. The number of believers of Christ Jesus is steadily declining. The reasons for Christmas celebration are also changing. The celebration of the birth of Jesus used to be the main reason for Christmas. Now, secular reasons are becoming more dominant, such as family get-together, exchanges of gifts, vacation, having a party, and binge drinking.

 

As believers we must not be distracted from the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. We must pass down these beliefs diligently down to our children. God has said in Psalm 33: 12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

 

If we don’t, and with declining number of true believers, this “lucky country” will face God’s judgements. This nation has faced many disasters, such as the devastating Queensland floods of December 2010 – January 2011, Victorian floods of January 2011, and again the floods in the Eastern states in January 2013. Many believe these disasters, including bush fires, longer heat waves, and stronger winds, are God’s warning to this nation. There is one thing this nation has never faced – foreign invasion and occupation! God had used a foreign nation to punish Israel when His Chosen people had turned away. This will happen to us if the people in this nation continue to disobey God. As parents, we have a duty to teach our children about God and our Lord Jesus. We must lead the way, by example, by getting ourselves to serve God and our Lord Jesus.

 

So then, what is Christmas to us?

 

Let us learn from Matthew what Christmas is all about.

 

There are five indisputable facts in Matthew 2: 1-12.

 

1. The Declaration by the Wise men that Jesus is the Messiah and King of the Jews.

2. The Worship of Jesus by both Jews and Gentiles.

3. The Decrees of God that Jesus is to be known and worshipped.

4. Jesus causes difficulty to those who do not want to worship Him.

5. Worshipping Jesus attributes authority and dignity to Him with sacrificial gifts.

……..to be continued next week.                                                                     

Elder Michael Lee


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Volunteer. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Raphael Ng.

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm. Good Bibles (English & Mandarin) available.

*Session wishes all worshippers a Blessed, Joyous and Spirit-filled New Year.

*Congratulations to Pr David & Sis Susan Weng on the birth of their third child, Caleb, last Lord’s Day.

*Next year’s church theme: “Waiting for God” - Isaiah 30:18.

*Deepest sympathy to Mrs Helen Jenkins & family on the home-going of Mrs Sylvia White on Sun, 22 Dec. Funeral day to be confirmed.

*Session thanks everyone who contributed food, desserts, drinks, & sweet fellowship on Christmas Day.

*Watchnight Service: please come early to share testimonies & encourage one another. 

*Next QTR’s Junior & Adult, Mandarin RPGs,  & Daily Manna are available on literature table. Please use these for your daily devotions. Donation: $1.

*Latest “Bible Witness” also available. Please take a copy.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Dns Joyce Gong (Per); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Sung & Sis Arum Mah & family (Marion Bay/Adl); Bro Paul Tay (Melb); Sis Xiao Hui Chye & family (Melb); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. God’s guidance & safe delivery of Caleb Weng; recovery of Sis Susan Weng.

3. Christmas Worship Service, visitors & Christmas fellowship lunch.

4. Recovery from surgery: Grandpa Ki & Sis Ruth Ngoma.

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos) & Elton Law; Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Ruth Ngoma, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Sylvia White & Sis Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Bro Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).

3. God’s comfort & strength: Sis Julie Tan & family, & relatives; Mrs Helen Jenkins & family.

4. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

5. Cambodia Missions - Khmer pastors & families.

6. New Life BPC (London) - God’s guidance.

7. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng. 

8. Journey mercies: Dns Joyce Gong; Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong; Bros Pirun Pech (Adl) & Paul Tay (S’pore); Mr Chen Ooi; Sisters Xiao Hui Chye & family, Sharon Tay (Adl) & Serene Wong (S’pore); & others travelling during this Christmas - New Year period.

9. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

10. Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Yashu Qin & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.

11. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Kerrie Lam & Monica Tan

12. Hopefuls away in different countries: safety, health & protection.

13. Godly Wisdom - those in authority in Government.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063