King Herod and Jerusalem were troubled to hear that the one true King had come. The devil does all that he can to hinder our worship. But God’s Light still shines and fills us with His Hope. (Matthew 2)
Speaker(s): Pastor John Love, Pastor Jason Moore
11:00 AM on 12/13/2020
P. Love –
Good morning. It’s good to see half your faces! No, I know you’re there! Amen! Praise God! As we sang those
songs this morning, just like Pastor Jason said, you can go throughout a neighborhood, a
community and you can sing these Christmas songs and just the power of the words alone can
touch people’s hearts. This year because of the pandemic we were not able – every year in
December, we go to New York City with our teenagers, maybe 60 or 70 or 80 of them.
Throughout the course of the weekend, we minister in different parts of the city. We go to
Rockefeller Center where the big tree is, and we set up there and start to sing our songs and we
worship. There’s a lot to distract people when they are there. The tree is there. The crowds are
there. The ice skating rink is there in front of Rockefeller Center but whenever we start to lift
our voices, we could not believe how many people would stop, listen and actually in some cases
start to sing with us.
Every once in a while, we would have people join our group to be part of
the choir. We weren’t that good. We were more like the “Moron Tabernacle Choir” than the
Mormon Tabernacle Choir! We weren’t great singers, but it was amazing. I could not believe
when we found ourselves, for instance, in Times Square – on a daily basis prior to the
pandemic, like 4 million people passed through Times Square on a daily basis. There we were
our big choir just lifting up our voices and worshipping God, singing songs like “No Wonder They
Call Him Savior.” And people stopping, listening. They’re touched by it. There’s something
about the message even in those songs that has the power to reach people’s lives. Think about
it, some of those hymns. “Born to raise the sons of earth; born to give them second birth.”
Right? Be born again. Powerful words. It’s amazing how our worship can actually bring people
to Christ. Then of course almost on every occasion when we finished our singing, we would
start to preach the Gospel and the crowd would thin out a little bit.
More people were interested in hearing those Christmas songs or Christmas carols than they were hearing the
Gospel. Some stayed and some even get saved. We give an invitation and they will raise their
hands in Times Square, Rockefeller Center and give their hearts to Jesus. That’s the power of
the Gospel, Amen. That’s the power of proclaiming Christ. (Prayer). Matthew 2, I was thinking of a
verse in 2 Chronicles that says this, “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole
world to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts worship him.” What a great
verse that is. What a promise that is. Imagine the eyes of God going to and fro throughout the
whole earth looking, seeking those that will worship him. What does he do for those that are
willing to worship him? He shows himself strong. He reveals his great nature. He strengthens
them. Of course, we know that worship is always opposed. That’s something you can almost
count on in this world that we are detained in that worship will always be opposed.
Where is it opposed from? From the god of this world, from the world system itself that is under the
control, the domain. Paul writes about it in 2 Corinthians 4. It says the god of this world has blinded the
minds of those that believe not lest this glorious light should shine into them, that they would
be able to see with their spiritual eyes who Jesus Christ is and what a difference he makes in
our lives. It wasn’t, and I’m sure it wasn’t the case with you, it wasn’t a star that brought me to
Christ as was the case with the wise men. But do you remember that maybe God used some
kind of sign to lead you to a place where you might consider accepting Christ as your Savior where God was involved in that pre-salvation process? Lots of things were happening to me
that brought me to a place where I was ready to receive Christ. I don’t know about your
experience, but my experience God thought the best thing that I needed to come to Christ was
a lot of trouble.
And I got it. Some of it was not necessarily – I think it was all ordained by God
but most of it I was able to generate myself. I had this unique ability to seek out trouble, to find
it and to place myself smack dab in the middle of it. Honestly. It was all those kinds of events
that were taking place in my life and God used all of those events to bring me to that place
where I was ready to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We shared a true story of after I became
a believer I would always take Gospel tracts with me because I knew I was going to run into
somebody in the course of the day or evening and be able to share the Gospel with them. On
one occasion, I was in the city where I grew up in on the west side of that city, and honesty I
didn’t see how it happened but there was an automobile accident that happened at a place
called the Four Corners. You can imagine how an automobile [accident] would happen at a
place like that. In any case, this small compact vehicle flipped over on its top. It was absolutely
The car wasn’t demolished and the gentlemen who was in the car – this was so
interesting because it looked like he actually parked his car that way. When he was hit that car
slid into a parking spot at the 7-Eleven. He’s upside down. He’s suspended in this car, and I had
Gospel tracts and I walked up to him and leaned down like this and said – I’m sure he was
expecting EMT’s and an ambulance but no, he got me. I said sir, could I give you something? He
wasn’t in a position to argue with me. He was like, sure. You can tell he was in shock. I don’t
think he wanted to unbuckle himself because I think he would have hit his head. I wasn’t there
to help him that way. I said, could I give you a Gospel tract?” He said, “yes.” Honestly, I’m not
lying. This is what the Gospel tract said on the front of it, “Why did this happen to me?” What a
perfect Gospel tract. Perfect for that situation. God really must want to save this guy. He
literally said after I gave it, “thank you!”
Read it and I know your world will be turned upside right! Good things will happen. Listen, the devil, his kingdom, darkness, the forces of darkness. One thing is for certain: they don’t want people to hear this Gospel message. They do not want people to come to Christ. The devil is working overtime to make sure that doesn’t happen. In
the case here, in the narrative that we read in Luke’s Gospel, vs. 1. Notice these words in
particular, “we are come to worship him.” That’s God’s great objective for every person’s life. In
John’s Gospel, chapter 4, Jesus is – he comes right out and says it. The Father is seeking
worshippers, isn’t he? Think about Moses when he approached Pharaoh in the Old Testament
in the book of Exodus. He kept confronting Pharaoh and he said God sent me, and he said you
need to let these people go so we can leave Egypt and worship him in the wilderness. And of
course, Pharaoh, he didn’t like that. He didn’t want that to happen. He didn’t want to lose all
that slave labor and he again baulked and opposed.
Why? Because whenever God’s intention is to deliver his people so they can worship him, they will be opposed. Some of us know from experience what that is like. Have you ever sensed opposition when you want to go to church? Have you ever sensed opposition when you want to go to the Bible study, when you want to
come together and be with God’s people? Sometimes there is opposition. You can be in a home
and the children are fine and everyone is doing well, and you say, alright everybody, let’s get ready to go to church. And the next thing you know all hell breaks loose. Why? Because all hell
wants to stop you and I from gathering together and assembling as believers and worshipping
God. It’s the objective of darkness. But God carefully lead these wise men to Jerusalem with
that star that we heard about on Wednesday night and last Sunday. When they arrived there,
we read that Herod was troubled when he heard this news, this Savior-King. Not only was
Herod troubled but all of Jerusalem was troubled as well.
It almost doesn’t make sense because our understanding of it, when you think of the ministry of John the Baptist, remember how successful that ministry was. Remember how the nation of Israel came out in great numbers to
be baptized by John. Why? Because something was happening. One scholar said at the time
that Christ came in his first advent, he said the anticipation you could cut it with a knife. It was
real. It was in the air. Something had to happen. Everything was leading up to the birth of Christ
in Bethlehem of Judea. It’s what Paul referred to in Galatians 4:4 as the fullness of time. It was the
right time. Doesn’t God do everything at the right time. We have all accused him, I know that I
have, of being, he’s not on time. He didn’t show up when I needed him, but in the end when we
look back and reflect on how God did come and when he came, it was always the right time. He
does everything beautiful in his time in Ecclesiastes 3:11. And it was the perfect time for Christ to come.
Why? Because there was a revival of this Messianic hope in Israel. There was a passionate
longing for it. They were expecting something.
The religious ceremonialism of that day left the people more empty than ever before. The philosophies of that day left people more empty than ever before looking for something else, longing for something more. It’s kind of like the
way you and I lived our lives before we came to Christ, before God opened our eyes. Weren’t
we going after more? Didn’t we anticipate that there had to be something more. We would go
to the parties but that wouldn’t satisfy us. We would look for a relationship with the hope that
the relationship would meet the deepest needs that we had but it didn’t work. Some of the
relationships that might have failed, we said to ourselves oh the right relationship with do it. It
will take marriage. Marriage will do it. What can we say? Marriage is a blessing. Marriage is
ordained by God, but we are not to worship the one we marry because the one we marry
doesn’t fulfill us. Those companions are called alongside in life to compliment our worship of
God. To encourage us in our worship of God.
But they’re not enough. Nothing in this world was meant to fulfill and satisfy. It’s almost as if God left every human being with this great big emptiness, with this great big God-shaped void so that nothing in this world would be able to
fulfill it except God himself. I love what the prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 10:23. He said, “O
Lord, I know it is not in man to direct his steps.” What was he saying? He was saying that the
most misdirected life on the planet is a self-directed life. We don’t have the ability to direct the
course of our lives, at least to direct them in the sense that we would move in a direction that
would fulfill or satisfy us or meet the deepest needs of our soul. There’s nothing in us that can
satisfy us. We’ve tried it. Our lives have all become the proverbial train wrecks. Right? For me, I
think the straw that broke the camel’s back was a as a young person, you know running from
God. I think that’s what we do best. That’s what we did best before we were saved.
I love this. I heard a preacher once. He was preaching to this congregation and he kept emphasizing have
you done your part? He kept saying over and over again to the congregation, have you done your part? God will do his part. Have you done your part? Finally one brother in the
congregation stood up and said, yes, I’ve done my part. I have ran away from God as fast as I
could, and God has done his part. He has found me, saved me and redeemed me. I thought I
love that! You know what my part is? I’m good at running away from God. God’s part, he’s
better at chasing us down, winning our hearts, saving us, redeeming us, cleansing us from our
sin and making us his own. Praise God! Yeah, it was the right time that Christ came. Of course,
Herod is troubled. Jerusalem is troubled. You would think they wouldn’t be troubled. On the
one hand, they are all anticipating that maybe Messiah is here.
After all, John the Baptist is baptizing. Some even mistook John the Baptist for the Messiah. They asked the question, the religious leaders of his day, are you the Messiah? Are you the one we are to be looking for? No,
he’s coming. So the anticipating was there. I think that is such a picture of the human condition.
When we might say, yes, I have a great need. Yes, I need something more than what this world
offers. Yes, I lack meaning and purpose in my life. Then God says, I’ll fulfill it. I’ll meet the need.
And once we see what God does, we say, that’s not what I want. God might say I know it’s not
what you want but it’s what you need. The people of Israel were saying we know we want
something, and God was saying this is what. No, we don’t want that. Ultimately they would
reject him. And Herod is troubled. Of course, Herod is troubled. He hears this new king is born.
Remember something: Herod shouldn’t have been on that throne to begin with. He was not
from the lineage of the house of David. He came from the line of Esau, not Jacob. He had no
right to be there.
I kind of think that he probably was thinking he knew this day would come. He
knew the day would come where there would be a rightful heir to the throne. Herod had some
reputation. He was known to have killed some of his own children and some of his own wives.
And of course we heard this before. They said that if you were alive at that time when Herod
reigned in Jerusalem, they said it would have been better to have been Herod’s sow than
Herod’s son. You’d have a better chance at living if you were his little pig. That’s how much
hatred, how much murder was in his heart. No wonder why he’s troubled. And then to hear this
from the wise men that there is a new king in town? Jealousy, envy, hatred. He’s agitated. He’s
stirred up. He’s at the boiling point. There is murder in his heart. After the scholars come and
Herod says to the scribes, where is he to be born? They tell him. It’s kind of, how ironic is it.
Who is asking? Herod, the Great. What does the prophecy say?
This one who is born will be born in the least of Bethlehem of Judea. Who is going to be the real king, the one called the Great or the one who is born in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem of Judea? We know the
answer. Herod was thinking there is only room enough in this town for one king. You know
what? When it was all said and done he was absolutely right, but it would not be him. He even
calls for them privately. After the scribes say where he is to be born, he points that out, Micah
5:2, fulfilled that prophecy of the birthplace of Christ. Then what did he say? He said, privately –
privately. He doesn’t want anyone else to know about his scheming, his deceiving, his murder.
Privately he says when you find him, you must come here. Again, still not even lifting a finger,
not even making a move to seek him out. Who is seeking him out? These Gentiles from the
East. These wise men from the East. The promises were not given to them. They were not the
coventant people of God but here they are searching for Christ.
You could tell just from the wise men alone that God’s plan of redemption was far greater than it would just be confined to the children of Israel. God’s intention has always been to save the whole world. Christ is the
propitiation not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world. God so loved the whole
world that he gave us his only begotten Son and whosoever will come. This is a message not
confined to us in the four walls of this chapel but it’s a message that must reach out to a world
because those are the ones that God loves. No one is prohibited from coming into his kingdom.
No one is so sinful or wrong or done too many things. People say it to us from time to time. I
couldn’t come to church. I couldn’t come to your church. Why? The roof would cave in. I say,
you should see the people that are already there. It hasn’t caved in yet. It’s probably not going
to cave in on you. Come on! Right?
There is no caving in the kingdom. There’s just saving. And Christ does it. He does it perfectly. The trouble. Yes, there was a remnant. There was a small group of survivors in Israel that were looking for redemption like Simeon, like Anna, like Zachariah and Elizabeth, like Joseph. Yes, always a remnant. I’m so grateful for the remnant
that God raises up in every generation. You know what I like to think? Of course I could be
wrong, but I don’t think so. I believe that our ministry is part of that remnant. I believe that
wholeheartedly. I believe it. That remnant that we read about in Rom. 11. When Elijah stood
against the prophets of Baal all by himself and afterwards he ran away because Jezebel said I’m
going to do to you what you have done to my prophets, because he had them all put to death
after that great confrontation in 1 Kings 18. And then Jezebel runs him and Elijah not realizing
what a good runner he was, he ran a marathon about 25 miles, 26 miles, collapses under a
juniper tree and says, ah, you might as well just kill me.
I’m all alone. I’m the only guy left. What did God say? You’re not the only one left. I have reserved a remnant. There are 7,000 men that have not bowed their knee to Baal. You’re not alone. Sometimes we feel alone. We’re not
alone. We have a body of believers that are with us. We’ve got saints all over the world
preaching Christ and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. There are
believers all over this planet and a lot of them are believers because our ministry went there
and preached the Gospel. I think we are a part of that remnant. Those people in that remnant,
what characterizes them? Grace, the finished work message of Christ, the desire to see Christ
above everything else exalted and lifted up. That’s a remnant. So Herod, of course he is
troubled. I think sometimes we need to guard our hearts against those things that trouble us.
We don’t want anything to trouble us to the point where we are distracted, where we are kept
from seeing him, understanding him and worshipping him.
I think the devil is behind Herod. There’s no question he was instigating him, filling his heart with that hatred, filling his heart with that murder drive. Again, he inquired of those wise men, tell me the time. Would you tell
me the time when you first saw that star? Why? Why was that important to Herod? He’s
calculating. He’s calculating the age of this king. He wants to make sure when he goes on his
murderous rampage that is detailed for us in the second chapter of Matthew and prophesied in
the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah, he wants to be sure that when he murders all of
those children, that Christ is among them. Of course it’s the plan of Satan. Why? Because
Satan’s plan has never changed. He must keep people from worshipping Christ. He must
keeping people from having a relationship with God. He will do everything and anything at his disposal to make sure that happens. And here is God on the other hand doing what? Actively
pursuing, seeking worshipers.
Why worship? Because worship again, it satisfies us. It fulfills us.
It energizes us. It gives us that meaning and purpose that we so long for in our hearts. A lot of
other things that we went after didn’t do it, right? I was thinking when I was a young person I
got a summer job at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire and my goal was to work and make
enough money to buy that new ten speed bicycle. I was able to do it. I was a dish washer at that
Italian restaurant, and I saved my money. It cost a lot of money and I loved that bike. Why?
That bike would carry me whenever I wanted to go. If I had a need, that bike would take me to
have it fulfilled. I took that bike everywhere. And guess what happened? Somebody stole that
bike! There you go. Right? It could be some of us. We have a beautiful car. We worship that car.
That car is cleaner than our children are and we’re going to keep it that way. We love that car.
We even clean the tires on that car. If there is a speck of dirt, we take it to the vacuum cleaner.
We love it. But then what happened?
That car is going to get in an accident. That car is going to get older. That car is eventually going to get dirty. We say to ourselves, I have been cleaning it for years and it gets dirty. Forget it. I want another one! But we can worship money, we can worship relationships, we can worship automobiles, we can worship success. We can worship –
we said earlier at the 9:00 service, we can worship retirement because we think that is going to
do it for us. We can worship our bodies because we think they are going to stay healthy forever.
They’re not! They’re not. You say, how do you know that for sure? For gosh sakes, just look.
We are all wearing masks this morning. Isn’t that evidence enough? We’re not going to keep
them forever .What are we going to keep forever? Our relationship with God, our eternal
inheritance forever. The fact that Christ lives in our hearts and we know that we move, and we
have our being because of God living inside of us. Those other things, they can’t do it. This is
why Satan, this is why Herod is so troubled. He knows that if these wise men get to Christ, they
will worship him.
They already said it to him. We’ve come to worship him. Herod’s probably
thinking why don’t people want to worship me? After all, my name is great. Honestly, at this
time in history, Herod was hated. The people disliked him. Obviously he had some relationship
issues, killing his own children and some of his wives. Again, you were better off being a sow
than one of his sons. That’s what they said. He knew that these wise men would be the first in a
long line of worshippers. It’s almost as if Satan knew, I got to take out this child now because
the day is coming when the Greater Grace World Outreach will have it’s chapel filled with
worshippers. And the churches overseas in Europe will have their chapels filled with
worshippers. And in South America, and in South east Asia and all across the world there will be
worshippers and worshippers and worshippers. It must stop. He did everything he could to try
and make it stop, but the great thing. And to me this is one of the reasons God did not just take
the wise men directly to Bethlehem. Bypass Jerusalem.
Bypass Herod. Bypass the murderous plan in his heart. Why didn’t he do that? Because I think God wanted to send us a message. You cannot stop the promise of God. You cannot stop the promises that God has made. You cannot
stop prophecy. It will be fulfilled. For you and I that means praise God for all of the prophecy
that has already been fulfilled but there is another prophecy and what is it? Christ is coming
back to get his church and to take us out of here before the real trouble begins. It’s like God’s message, you cannot stop prophecy. You cannot stop the promise. It’s going to come to pass.
We are to this day worshippers because the Father seeks such to worship him. I love the fact
that God is trolling so to speak, his eyes to and fro throughout the whole earth just looking. He
wants to show himself strong on behalf of those who hearts worship him. The devil will
continue and still does to this day employ hatred, jealousy, whatever means available to him
just so you and I will not get to the place where we will worship God. Some Christians say, oh, I
have a Bible.
Great. I possess a Bible. Great, but God wants something more. He wants the Bible
to possess us. He wants his words to go deep into our souls, so his promises are his first
thoughts that come to our mind when a crisis comes, when a problem confronts us, when a
difficulty arises. He wants his promises to be flowing freely within us. As Colossians 3:16 says letting
the Word of God dwell richly in us knowing no matter what happens to us, God’s promise will
come to pass. Not one of his promises will fall to the ground in 1 Kings 8:56. They are all yea and in
him they find their fulfillment, and we say amen. Thank you, Lord. Just as this promise was to
bring Christ into the world. Don’t let discouragement side track you. Don’t let fear side track
you and I mean from worship. We’re going to live in a world that has anxiety. There’s no
question about it. Right? You can’t deny the presence of it but thank God we don’t have to
become it’s prisoner. We can’t remove all of the distractions in life. We can’t change all of life’s
circumstances, but we can purpose in our hearts to remain worshippers.
Why? Because worship sets us free. Worship helps us to put our lives in perspective. Worship helps us to do
the most important thing we can do with our lives. What is that? To see Jesus. To get to Jesus.
That’s what matters. That’s all that matters. Financial setbacks don’t worry about them. God
will see us through them. You say, how is he going to do it? We worship him in the midst of
financial difficulty. We worship him in the midst of our discouragement. We can worship him
even in depression. Lift up our hearts. Lift up our voices. Lift up our minds. Life our hearts to
him. It makes a difference. Just coming together every time we do as believers makes such a
difference because we were made to worship. Nothing else will do for us what worship will do
for our hearts, our souls, for our lives, for our families, for the people we come in contact with.
Worshipping God is paramount. It’s everything. Is it any wonder why the devil tries to stop it. Is
it any wonder why the devil gets in the way of it.
Is it any wonder he stirs up hatred, persecution, anger, bitterness, resentment – all designed to stop one thing, the worship of our Savior. Praise God we can wear a mask, but we said earlier this morning, we will never wear a
muzzle. We will continue to preach Christ. We will continue to proclaim this message. You can
cover our faces, but our ears are always open to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to the
church. Why would he come as he did? Why would he come into our world the way he did?
Because of his love for us. I read this. I read it a couple of years ago and kind of came across it
again. I want to close with this. A story of a plastic surgeon. His name was Dr. Maxwell Multz.
He tells this story. It’s about a man that was injured in a fire while attempting to save his
parents from a burning house. My father told me this story when he was young that their house
caught fire. I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but I’ve driven by the house because years
ago it was still standing. It wasn’t in such good condition, but it was the house they lived in
when he was a child. I said how did everybody get out?
He said my father took us and threw us out he second story window int the snow. That’s how we survived. I said, wow! My grandfather is a hero. He said every time I drive by where that house once stood I just think that’s
incredible. This man’s story was a little different. He ran into that house attempting to save his
parents from that burning house, but he couldn’t get to them. They perished. His face in the
process was burned, disfigured, and he mistakenly interpreted his pain as God’s punishment.
The man would not let anybody see him, not even his wife. She went to this plastic surgeon,
and why she went is incredible. She went for help. He told the woman I don’t want you to
worry. I can help restore his face. But the wife didn’t seem to be enthused. She said her
husband had repeatedly refused anybody’s help. She knew he was going to refuse again. Then
why did she come? She said this to the doctor, I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like
him. If I can share in his pain then maybe he will let me back into his life.
The doctor was shocked. He denied her request but was so moved by the woman’s love that he went to speak
to the woman’s husband. Knocking on the man’s bedroom door, loudly yelling, I’m a plastic
surgeon. I want you to know I can restore you face. No response. Please come out. No answer.
Still speaking through the door, the doctor told the man of his wife’s proposal. She wants me to
disfigure her face, to make her face like yours in the hope that you will let her back into your
life. That’s how much she loves you. A brief moment of silence and then ever so slowly, the
door began to open. That’s a picture of God. He didn’t just make the offer to us. He came and
was disfigured so to speak. He took our sin, our pain, our heartache, our fears, our worries, our
discouragement upon himself. He took all of that and more. Why did he do it? He wanted us to
know how much he loves us. Thank God he came. And no wonder, no wonder we call him
Savior. And no wonder why we worship him the way we do.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.