In Part 3 of the series on what Jesus wants for Christmas, Pastor Neil challenges us accept Jesus’ offer of salvation– to give Him first place in our lives. Here are some excerpts:
When it comes to Jesus, Matthew’s account of the visit of the wise men shows there are at least three different ways you can respond to Him. You can be indifferent or apathetic like the Jewish religious leaders who had the prophecies of Scripture to inform and guide them, but who couldn’t be bothered to go and look for the promised Messiah. They weren’t even curious when the wise men came from a long distance and told them about the star. You can be indifferent, even happily indifferent to the greatest news of the most momentous event in the history of history. But it will not serve you or anyone well to be indifferent or willfully ignorant. If you miss out on it, or cause others to miss out on it, you will regret it.
You can also choose, as Herod did, to be hostile to Jesus. You can choose to hate Jesus. You can hate everything He stands for, and everyone and everything associated with Him – His teachings, His church, His followers, His kingdom. If you do, you will have lots of company. Millions of people today want to destroy Jesus’ church and rid the world of His influence.There are many things one might say in response to this. One is: This world is a troubled place, but can you imagine how much worse, how much more evil, how much more dark and despairing it would be if Jesus had never come? If the Word (God Himself) had not taken on our flesh and blood and “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, MSG)? If the Son of God had not come and willingly offered His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins? All who choose to be hostile to Jesus will one day see the error of their ways.
The third option is to do what the wise men did. Why did they make the long journey from the east to Jerusalem and Bethlehem? They came, they said, “to worship Him” (2:2). They came to worship God’s Messiah. They came to honor and pay tribute to the King of the Jews. When they came to the house and saw Jesus with His mother Mary, what did they do? “They bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and incense and myrrh” (2:11).
To worship Him – to acknowledge and declare and ascribe to him the worth-ship that is rightly His – is, as Paul says in Romans 12, our “reasonable service” (12:1, KJV). He says: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (12:1-2)….
…What Jesus wants (and deserves) is to have first place and first priority in your life and relationships. Jesus wants you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to Him. He wants you to give Him yourself as a way of thanking Him for giving Himself for you.
Have you done that? Will you do it? Will you do it this Christmas? Will you do it day after day, for as long as you live? In so doing, you will bring joy to the heart of Jesus.