Monday, January 8, 2024

January 7 2024 Sermon and Announcements



January 7, 2024


How Far Are We Willing to Go?

Matthew 2:1-12


It has been almost two weeks since the Christian world celebrated the birth of our Savior. Today we are going to look at the ones who were not there the night, the day Jesus was born. Some in the Christian world call January 6 the Feast of the Epiphany, which is the day some believe the wise men arrived to pay their respects to the newborn King of the Jews. As we read this morning, these Magi or wise men came from the east. They had seen what is stated to be a star that obviously was brighter and unlike any other star they had ever seen.


Last Sunday our Sunday School lesson talked in some detail about all the events concerning the star, the wise men and their coming to worship this king. It stated these wise men were probably advisors to the leaders of the land they lived in. That they were probably astrologers who referred to the stars for guidance in their recommendations to their leaders. When they saw this star in the sky, it was so amazing, so miraculous they had to see what it was about. Their profession compelled them to follow this star. Because it appears they came from some distance away, it is believed these wise men were almost certainly Gentiles. Whether they knew anything about the prophecies about a Messiah to the Jews or not, we do not know. It is quite possible there were some living in their land that knew the Jewish people were waiting for a Messiah. They also could see the star was in the direction of Israel so they may have believed maybe, just maybe the God of the Jews was about to do something miraculous. So off they went following this star that was there for everyone to see.


There are several amazing things about this story. Before we get into some of them, I want you to understand what I believe about this story, as well as others in the Bible. I believe every one of the stories in the Bible tell of actual events that really happened. While some of the events may have more than one meaning, I believe they are all about things that did happen in the lives of God’s people. That being said, let us look at some of the things that make this story so amazing. First, we see that men from a long way away came to see what the star really meant. Once again, most theologians believe the wise men were Gentiles that made this long journey. Whether they knew who they were going to see before they left their county or found out on the way they had become convinced they were going to find the King of the Jews. They brought with them expensive gifts fit for a king. So, the first amazing thing is that Gentile Magi would travel months or even years to find this king who wasn’t one they necessarily believed in.


The second amazing part is that it would seem none of the Jewish priests were in the least interested about what had happened in Bethlehem. There is no mention of anyone else from Israel realizing that the star was there for everyone to see had any special significance for Israel and the Jewish people. When Jesus was born, the shepherds came and saw what had happened and told everyone they saw about all the things that had happened to them. Since it seems none of the locals followed up on the shepherds’ story, does that mean they thought the shepherds were nuts? That they had been out with the sheep too long?


So as I considered what the Magi was willing to do and how far they had been willing to go, I wondered how far would I be willing to go? How far have we been willing to go for our Savior? We are not certain how far these men travelled to get to Jesus, but we know they did not hop in their car and in a day of two were there. They travelled for months, maybe even more than a year to see Jesus. They put their lives on hold to see what the God of Israel may have done for His people. How much have you and I given up to serve our King? I do not begin to claim to know what God has, is, calling each of you to do for the Lord. Maybe each one of you has done most all of the things the Lord has asked you to do. But as I have been compelled to look honestly at my life, I must ask myself, “Am I where the Lord wants me to be with my walk with the Lord?”


AS we consider the faithfulness of the Magi in making this long journey to worship the King and then their ability to listen to the Lord to not go back to Herod as they originally planned to tell him where Jesus was, I wonder, “Am I as committed and as connected to the Lord as these Gentiles were?”


What an amazing story of God using the most unlikely to be part of His story. Some may view you and me as unlikely parts of God’s story as well, but each and every one of us need to realize we are important to God. And we are important parts of God’s ongoing story. As with Mary and Joseph, as with the shepherds, as with the wise men, there is just one requirement when God says, “Will you?” That is for us to be willing to say, “Yes I will.” So how do we answer the question, “How far are we willing to go?” How far have we been willing to go or our Lord and Savior?

Pastor Larry



Sunday School 9:00

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study


Today after worship—special council meeting

          12:00-3:00 nativity display at Millikin Homestead

January 14 after worship—board meeting


--Time for Messenger renewals and/or new subscriptions. Pick up a form in the back if you want to subscribe via the church club--$14.50 for 1 year. If you are renewing and there are no changes, no need to fill out anything. Give new forms to Carol by January 14.

--2023 offering envelope summaries are complete and are in church mailboxes or mailed


Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

Donation Box for January: Utilities

First Sundays: Food Bank donations

Keep in Your Prayers

Ava; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Moracco; Israel and Hamas war

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Panther Creek congregation and the Youth/Young Adult Ministries office.



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