Have you ever gone outside at night and just looked up at the stars? They're beautiful, aren't they? Did you know that we can see about 2,000 stars with just our eyes? If we had a telescope, which is a thing we can look through to see stuff that's really far away, we could probably see about 6,000 stars.
Astronomers, the people who study stars, say that there are thousands of millions of stars in our universe. All the stars in the sky look shiny and white to us, but if we could see them close up, we would see that stars are different colors. A star's color depends on how hot it is. The hottest stars are a really light bluish-white color, like this one. The cooler stars are a reddish-orange color, like this one. There is a very important reason why we're talking about stars today.
in our Bible passage today, we learn about the wise men. There was a bunch of wise men, and they studied the stars. One day, they saw a certain very special star, and they decided to follow it. This special star marked the place where Jesus was born. When the wise men saw baby Jesus, they knew He was the Son of God. They bowed down to Him and worshiped Him, then they gave Him very expensive gifts. The wise men were the very first people to ever worship Jesus.
If it hadn't been for the very special star, the wise men never would have found Jesus. They needed this special star to guide them to the place where Jesus was born. But we don't need a star to guide us to Jesus, do we? The Bible says that when we ask Jesus to be our Savior, Jesus' spirit comes into our hearts. We don't have to go looking for Him. He is always with us. Let's pray today that Jesus' spirit will come into our hearts.
Based on the tradition of children having the lowest position in the community during Jesus time, Jesus made an important statement when he said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."
I remember reading about a little boy who came to his dad and said, "I wanna horsey ride!"
The dad who was stirring paint said, "I'm too busy.
The little boy said, "You know, Dad, it won't be long before I'm all grown up. One day you'll wake up and wonder how all the years slipped by. You'll look back and say, "Where has the time gone? My boy is so big. It's hard to remember when he was small enough that I could give him horsey rides..." But those days will be lost forever."
The next thing you know the little boy is on Dad's back as they gallop toward a fence.
Dad says, I think I've worked through my potential guilt now."
The little boy says, "Oh no you haven't! Jump the fence!"
The best way we can show respect for our children is to spend time with them. Jesus did!
Paul's conversion brought him the joy of unconditional love. That has to be one reason Paul was so content in his new faith. He discovered what it is to be loved unconditionally. Nothing in this world is more pitiful than the person who is unsure he or she is loved.
It has been observed that most emotional problems can be summed up in the kind of behavior where a person walks around screaming, "For God's sake, love me." Such feelings are formed in the earliest years of our lives. As children we are constantly seeking approval from the significant people in our lives. If those significant people show their approval for us only when we do things right, then the message we get is that when you are good, you are loveable. When you are not good, you are not loveable. Love, then, is something you earn. If you have to live up to my expectations to win my love, that's conditional love.
Rigid obedience to the Law makes God's love appear to be conditional. The message of such faith is, "I love you only when you are obedient, only when you are sinless, only when you measure up to My standards." Can you imagine what a giant leap of understanding it represented when Paul was able to write in his letter to the Romans, "But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us." That's a special kind of love, isn't it? It's unconditional love. There is life-changing power in unconditional love.