Monday, July 25, 2005

VBS 2005...The Lord Bless us

The Vacation Bible School for 2005 got off to a wonderful start for GTS. The Youth Room was packed pretty solid when the Holy Spirit began to move in response to our worship.

In case you missed the lesson, here's part of what we talked about:

One of the greatest gifts God gives to students is the
ability and the opportunity to worship Him.
However, many students are confused about what
worship really means. They often think worship is
based on certain styles of music or church-related
experiences, or that it can only occur on Sunday
mornings or Wednesday nights.

Youth sometimesthink that because they liked the songs and enjoyed
the feelings and emotions of a particular service, then they have truly worshiped. Students need to understand that real worship involves their whole
lives. It’s much more than singing songs on Sunday morning; it’s living out their lives to please God.

During this session, students will observe the
various ways the wise men worshiped Jesus. By
examining elements of the wise men’s worship,
students will discover that they have the
opportunity to worship God in every moment of
every day. Students will learn what it means to
truly worship Christ and will also be challenged to
commit to a life of authentic worship.

These men whom Matthew referred to as “wise
men” probably came from far eastern Babylon,
since the study of astronomy and astrology had
been a part of that culture from ancient times.
Perhaps they were willing to make the long journey
because they had discovered the hope of a coming
Messiah through the influence of the Jews who had
lived in Babylon as captives of King
Nebuchadnezzar. Six hundred years before this
time, we read that “the king promoted Daniel and
gave him many generous gifts. He made him ruler
over the entire province of Babylon and chief
governor over all the wise men of Babylon.”
(Dan. 2:48). Daniel, a godly Jew, no doubt shared
his faith with the Gentile Babylonians, including the
hope of a coming Messiah.

We do not know how many men were in this
party. We traditionally think of three wise men, a
number probably prompted by the number of gifts
mentioned. It is also unlikely that they were kings,
because they paid homage to King Herod as soon
as they arrived in Jerusalem. The wise men
confirmed that they were Gentiles when they called
Jesus “the King of the Jews.” They referred to the
star as “His star,” which was proof to them that He
had already been born. This was not a normal star,
for it appeared and moved ahead of the men as
they traveled, finally remaining stationary over the
house in Bethlehem where Mary, Joseph, and the
Baby Jesus were living. In a miraculous way, God
revealed to these men that His Son had been born
and called them to come and worship Him.

By this time, Herod was old and in bad health. To
make matters worse, he was constantly afraid of
losing his position as King over the Jews. When the
men from the east told him they had come to
worship the One born to be “king of the Jews,” he
was deeply troubled. His reaction caused “all
Jerusalem” (v. 3) to be troubled, also. They weren’t
upset at the possibility that Herod would be
deposed or frightened of the possible coming of
the Messiah. They feared this news would cause
Herod to resort to unreasonable violence. His
suspicious nature had already caused him to kill
his favorite wife and several of his sons.

Herod quickly called in the chief priests and
scribes and asked them where the Jews’ Messiah
was to be born. They reported to him that the
Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, quoting the
prophecy from Micah 5:2. Herod then secretly
called the wise men to meet with him. He told them
to proceed to Bethlehem to find the young child.
He instructed them to then return to Jerusalem and
tell him where the child was under the guise that
he could also go and worship Him. Herod was so
cunning and deceitful that he would have made the
wise men, who were sincere worshipers, serve as
his tools in carrying out his devious plan.

The movement of the star that guided the wise men
from the beginning of their journey once again
became a major part of this drama. Apparently the
star had not been visible during their detour to
Jerusalem. However, as they began the short
journey to Bethlehem, “there it was—the star they
had seen in the east!” (v. 9). As they glimpsed the
moving star, “they were overjoyed beyond measure”
(v. 10) because they knew God again was directing
them. They understood they would soon reach their
destination and worship the King. The rays of this
miraculous star lighted the particular house in
Bethlehem where Mary and the Baby Jesus were
located. When the men entered the house, they fell
down and worshiped Jesus and presented gifts to
Him—gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

These men had just come from the majestic
splendor of Herod’s palace where the king no
doubt had been dressed in his royal robes. In
Bethlehem, they bowed before Jesus in a house
that was probably humble and plain. True worship
of God can be experienced in a fabulous cathedral,
in a humble hut, or alone in a desert!

From Mary’s conception of Jesus to instructions
concerning the escape from Bethlehem to Egypt,
God used miraculous ways to communicate with
Jesus’ family. He had spoken to Mary through the
appearance of the angel Gabriel and to Joseph in a
dream. Then, He had appeared to the shepherds by
way of a messenger angel supported by a host of
heavenly beings. A miraculous star had led the
wise men from the east to Bethlehem, and a dream
had disrupted the wise men’s plans and instructed
them to return home by another route.

Once again an angel appeared to Joseph in a
dream. The angel told him to immediately remove
Mary and Jesus from Bethlehem and go to Egypt to
escape Herod’s wrath. They were to remain in
Egypt until Herod’s death. Matthew added that this
flight to Egypt would be a further fulfillment of
Scripture (Hos. 11:1).

The shepherds first worshiped Jesus in the
manger, then they shared the good news
everywhere they went. The wise men first
worshiped Jesus in the house in Bethlehem, and
we can rightly imagine that all the way home they
told what they had experienced. True worship not
only strengthens our individual faith, but it also
motivates us to share Christ with others.