What do wise men do that we all can do?
What happens when you follow a star and find a stable?
Disappointment is the gap between expectation and reality. The thing we have in common with the wise men: we all have “stables” in our life (times when our expectation was high and instead we found a cowshed).
Key Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Think of the surprise of the men who took this journey when they found that the King of the Jews wasn’t born in a palace. Imagine when they arrived at the stable, there had to be some conversation about something not being right about that scene: a king wouldn’t be born in a stable!
These wise men had such great hopes and they came and found a stable. The difference between wise men and most of us is they take disappointments and turn them into divine appointments.
They take something disappointing and turn it into something enlightening.
Everyone has a “Stable Story”
Everyone has an opportunity that has vanished.
3 Things Wise Men Do that All of Us Can Do
Wise men do three things that all of us can do:
- Look for God
- Offer their best to God
- Change direction in their life
Let’s break down each of the things that wise men do.
1. Wise Men Look for God in the Stable
God-perspective is what we as Christ-followers should have: it’s the ability to see God in every situation. If I look for him in every situation, I find him there.
We see what we’re looking for.
There’s a difference between looking “at” something and looking “for” something. When you’re looking AT you can be causal; when you’re looking FOR, you’re very intentional.
How we view things is how we do things. We see things not how they are, but how we are.
Biblical Examples of this principle:
- Joseph looked at how his brothers mistreated him and instead saw the dream God had given him.
- Job looked at his losses but looked for God to give him his strength
- David living in a dark cave and writing Psalms
- Paul looking at prison bars but writing letters to the saints
When we are looking at our circumstance (our stable), but we’re not looking for God in the stable, we have a challenge. When we look at our difficult experiences, we have to say, “I’m looking for God in the stable.”
When you come up to your stable experience, don’t walk away from it. Don’t let your disappointments cause you to lose the treasure in the stable. When you see your stable, don’t walk around it. And don’t wait on it. You’re missing it!
Walk in it: God’s inside.
What separates us and helps us to be wise is that instead of being disappointed, we look for God in the stable. Put God before you and the stable behind you.
Immature Christians only see God when things are good. Mature Christians see God in the bad as well; they see the big picture. Nothing is more limiting than when we try to fit God into our expectations.
In life, we can connect the dots looking backward, but we cannot connect them looking forward. Don’t try to make sense of the stable. Embrace the stable in your heart. We were born for stables.
2. Wise Men Offer Their Best to God
Matthew 2:11 – On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
They gave treasures; they gave their best.
The temptation: when we come to a stable in our life, the tendency is for us not to give our best. The wise men were so overcome that they gave God their very best.
“Little Places” Poem
You can’t moan and lead at the same time. Sometimes we need to serve in private.
3. Wise Men Change Direction in Their Life
Matthew 2:12 – And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
This experience changed the direction of their life. The stable experiences in your life are good for all of us.
Genesis 15 opens up with God coming to Abram in a vision. He shows him what he will become, not just what he’s done.
What happens when you follow a star and find a stable? We cannot connect the stables looking forward. We can only connect the dots looking backward. We need to see God in every stable.
“When I can’t trace God’s hand, I can always trust his heart.”
This message was originally preached by Dr. John Maxwell at Christ Fellowship church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on November 27, 2022.
Looking for more habits of a wise person? Check out my other sermon note recaps.