Christmas, Missions and Lottie Moon (posted 12-10-03)

By D. B. Martin

“And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, His mother and fell down, and worshiped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:10-11).
 
Why did God reveal the birth of Jesus to Gentile wise men in the east? I think He was confirming the missionary intent of Christmas. It is all about missions. Jesus left His throne in Heaven to come into a lost world. His stated purpose was “…to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The wise men traveled far, at great cost, to give themselves and their treasures to Jesus.  The first connection of Christmas and Missions is shown as they received God’s gift of…
 
SALVATION! How did these wise men get this salvation? Following the star to Jesus in Bethlehem they “…fell down, and worshiped Him;…” (Vs.11), calling Him “King”(vs. 2). That was appropriate for “Christ” means “anointed one,” God’s anointed King for the whole world. The name “Jesus” means “Savior.” After finding their Savior and King, the wise men “…departed into their own country another way” (vs. 12). Being warned by an angel not to go back to King Herod, they took a different route home. This also suggests a new relationship with God through Jesus that changed their lives as well as their return route. The whole world needs this life changing salvation. Christmas is unfinished business. The wise men provide a second missionary lesson …
 
GIVING TO MISSIONS! “They presented unto Him gifts: gold,…” (Vs. 11). Consider the missionary use of this first gift of “gold”.  After the wise men left, an angel told Joseph to take Jesus and His mother to Egypt to escape King Herod’s efforts to kill Him. Earlier, when Jesus was presented at the temple, Mary & Joseph brought two turtledoves, the sacrifice of the poor (Lev. 12:8 & Luke 2:24). They evidently were very poor(2 Corinthians 8:9). The gold given by the wise men probably helped Joseph and Mary take Jesus to Egypt. Our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions helps our missionaries take Jesus to many other countries around the world. Our Lottie Moon theme this year is “That All People May Know Him.” Wise men still bring “gold” to Jesus, “That all people may know Him.” What will you give? Not all people can give equally but all can give the second gift these wise men brought…
 
PRAYING FOR MISSIONS. The second gift the wise men gave Jesus was “frankincense,” representing intercessory prayer. We know this because it was used in the temple altar of incense representing prayer (Luke 1:9-10). Our Southern Baptist International Mission Board has sent us Lottie Moon missionary prayer folders. They ask us to pray for people groups and missionaries in eight different countries, one for each day of our Lottie Moon Week of Prayer, November 30th through December 7th.  Will you give Jesus the frankincense of intercessory prayer for these missionaries and those people who have never heard? (2 Corinthians 2:15).
 
So let’s review what we have learned from the wise men so far. They found Jesus as their Savior, they gave “gold,” enabling Joseph and Mary to be the first missionaries taking Jesus to another country, and they gave “frankincense” representing intercessory prayer for a lost world. These wise men have one more missionary lesson for us…
 
GOING TO A LOST WORLD. The third gift the wise men gave Jesus was “myrrh” which I believe represents going to a lost world personally. Myrrh had two primary uses; one as a pain killer (Mark 15:33), and the other as an embalming perfume (John 19:39). Myrrh reminds us of the pain Jesus suffered when He came into the world and his death on the cross to save us.
 
Now it was time for the wise men to go. They had to go a different route, which may have involved great risk for their safety. I believe they told others along the way of their new King. No one knows if they got home safely. They may have suffered, even died for Jesus, their new king. 
 
Missionaries must be willing to suffer and even to die to share the message of Christmas with a lost world. God also calls us to go if we have the opportunity. Are you willing to go? Many churches have short-term missionary opportunities every year.
 
Wise men still bring Him gifts. What will you give Jesus for His birthday this year? Amen.
 
P.S. It is of special interest to me that the first prayer need in the Lottie Moon Prayer folder this year is for a people group in India. Many of you know I have had the privilege of short-term mission work in India in 2002 and this year. God has called a team of eight (so far) from our church (including Mark Brady, our music director and a music team) to go on a mission trip to India February 5-12, 2004.  I am also happy to announce we have a partner church joining us on this trip. Berean Bapitst Church of Magnolia, NJ was Dr. Sane's home church when he was in Bible College in America. They have long supported his ministry in India. Pastor Richard Vaughn will assist me in preaching the three day crusade and he also hopes to bring several members of his church to assist in our ministries to several  new churches planted in India this year. We need more than $2100 per team member for this upcoming India trip, plus we are trying to raise a separate $2,000 just for the local expenses of the three day crusade in a 2000 seat tent.
Not only can you present the above gifts to Jesus through the Lottie Moon Christmas emphasis this season but you can also give these gifts through our India mission, especially your prayers. Anyone desirning to help financially, make tax deductible checks to and send to Bethel Baptist Church, 1832 Elbow, Chesapeake, VA 23320. ("India Mission" on Memo line").

© 2003 D. B. Martin

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Note: “Maranatha” means, “Behold He Is Coming,” an early Christian greeting. “Alert,” reminds us to be ready. Blessings in Jesus! D.B.

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