The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Seeing What God Sees’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 12/9/2018, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click
Your God-Given Destiny
You have a destiny. Scripture says you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)! You have a purpose. God formed the days for you when as yet there were none of them (Ps 139:16). He prepared works for you before you were even born (Eph 2:10)! You were born to serve God: to worship Him with your whole heart! Do you believe it?
So how can you develop the courage and the confidence to walk out your destiny? It all starts with asking God to show you what He wants to do in your life. He has given you eyes that you might see (Matt 13:16)! You don’t have to drift through life, wondering if you have a purpose, and struggling to know if you’re doing things “right.” God will show you. He will tell you!
God wants to show you what He sees, so you can set out and do what He has called you to do! Pray this with me: Father, help me to SEE what You SEE, so that I can be FREE: free to walk out my purpose, and free to live my destiny!
What Makes a Seer?
What differentiates those who can see what God is doing, from those who can’t? Given the proximity of Christmas (at the time of this message, it is Sunday, December 9th, 2018), we’re going to examine this question through the lens of the Christmas story.
There’s something special about the Christmas season. We’re expectant: we’re waiting and hoping as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus; and it’s in those times of persistent expectation that God loves to speak!
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. – Matthew 2:1-12
In this text, we have two kinds of people: the wise men, and the Hebrew aristocracy (i.e. King Herod). The wise men saw what God was doing; but Herod completely missed it. So the question is, why? What was it about the wise men that allowed them to see what Herod was missing? What keys can we find in their posture and preparation that will help us develop a lifestyle in which we see what God is doing much more readily?
1) They were available.
The wise men were available. “Wise men” is the Greek magos, which is the name given by Israel’s enemies (Babylonians, Medes, Persians, and others) to teachers, physicians, astrologers, and sorcerers. Needless to say, these men were not what we would call “Christians” today. Surely they were academically gifted and spiritually “enlightened;” but they didn’t know our God.
But they were searching! They were looking and watching the sky, waiting for any indication that the Messiah would be born; and as soon as they caught wind that God was up to something, they moved! They dropped whatever they were doing, and made a trek across much of the then-known world, simply to see what God was up to.
Herod, on the other hand, was a believer. He should have known God. Herod’s father was an Edomite, whose ancestors had converted to Judaism. Herod was raised according to Jewish custom and tradition. In other words, He knew God’s word! He knew how to pray! But still he heard nothing. He had everything he needed in the form of theological training to hear from God; but he missed it completely. Why? He wasn’t available.
Being available is key! Have you ever been in a place where you need to hear from God? I would argue God never stopped speaking; but there was a time when you stopped making yourself available. Sure, I know you sought the Lord and spent some time in prayer; but what made you think you could box God in and only expect Him to speak during the time you hit your knees and pray? God is GOD! He is always speaking; it’s us – His people – who have to make time to listen. He is free to speak any time throughout your day – and at night in the form of dreams – and our duty is to drop whatever we are doing when He speaks, and pursue what He has to say.
God uses people who are available. He doesn’t always pick the smartest guy or girl in the class. He doesn’t always pick the strongest guy or girl in the gym! But He does choose those who make a habit of being available.
The wise men weren’t inconvenienced by stopping to see what God was doing; they were excited. When God starts to show you something: is it a pain, or a pleasure?
2) They were hungry.
The wise men longed to see Jesus. How do I know? Because they traveled across the known world at that time, desperate to simply lay their gifts at Jesus’ feet:
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. – Matt 2:11
In Eastern culture, this was the most profound expression of reverence possible. They dropped to their knees to worship Jesus – an action which surely would have alienated them in their non-Hebrew home country – and gave Him the best they had to offer. The only response they could even conceive as appropriate was to give Jesus – at that time only an infant – everything they had. That is hunger!
But Herod was not so hungry. When Herod heard about Jesus, he was the opposite of excited:
When Herod the king heard [about Jesus’ birth], he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. – Matt 2:3
Troubled? Troubled? Why would Herod be troubled at the news of the birth of the Messiah: King of kings, and Lord of lords?
Herod didn’t want to worship a King; he wanted to remain king. Herod didn’t want to fall down at Jesus’ feet; he wanted everyone to fall down at his feet. The very birth of Jesus meant that Herod’s plans and authority might be compromised; so he took drastic action to try and kill God’s Plan. He planned to follow the wise men: not to worship Jesus, but to kill Him! When the wise men sniffed it out and avoided Herod (v 12), Herod enacted a plan to kill every male born in “Bethlehem and all its districts, from two years old and under” (v 16).
It’s easy to point a finger at Herod and ask, How could he? But the truth is, you are Herod. I am Herod. Often times when God is doing something great in our lives, instead of bowing at His feet and worshipping Him, we try to stop His plan – whether consciously through overt action of subconsciously through sabotage – because it conflicts with our plan. We fail to submit to God’s vision for our lives because we don’t think it will be as glitzy or glamorous as our own vision for our lives.
If you’re ever asking God to make your plans happen – instead of seeking to make His plans happen – you’re putting yourself in a place where your eyes are closed. It’s not that God isn’t speaking; it’s that you’re ignoring what He is saying to you! Herod could have made a decision, with a humble heart, to submit to what God was doing. Instead, he refused: and this was the beginning of the end of his reign.
Herod called the wise men “secretly” (v 7). He figured out what time the star had appeared. And then, “he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also (v 8)’”
But we know the truth. Herod had no interest in worshipping Jesus. He wanted to pretend he was worshipping just long enough to make his own plans happen. Herod had no interest in Jesus’ Kingdom; he just wanted to make sure Jesus didn’t interfere with his kingdom. Herod didn’t want to serve Jesus; he wanted to serve himself. Herod wanted to be king over his own life; instead of inviting Jesus to be King of kings and Lord or lords!
How often do you and I “worship” the same way?
3) They were expectant.
The wise men and Herod had fundamentally different expectations. The wise men – though they were not Hebrew – expected that God was going to speak. They believed God was going to show them something. They were ready to respond to His word! And God responded to their expectation with a sign that led them straight to Jesus.
Herod, on the other hand, did not expect to hear from God. Look at his response:
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. – Matt 2:4
Herod gathered the “chief priests and scribes” – the religious leaders at that time – and asked them for a word. He didn’t believe God would speak to him directly; so he relied on the wisdom of others to get him the information he felt he needed.
When you need to make a major decision, whom do you seek? Do you call your prophetic friend? Do you go to a conference because you “need a word?” Or do you seek Jesus – going straight to the Source – and trust that He will supply everything you could ever need?
The Self-Perpetuating Effect of “Hearing from God”
God takes us from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18). As we worship and respond to everything He has already done, He does more. The wise men took a step out in faith. They believed God’s word, and honored His sign; and in response, God gave them more.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. – Matt 2:12
The wise men could have ignored the star. But instead, they dropped what they were doing, and gave everything to fall at the feet of Jesus. And in response, God continued speaking.
The more you hear and respond, the more God will speak. What has God already shown you? Do it! And in response, God will show you more.
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” – Matt 25:29
© Michael D. White, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 Strong’s G3097
 “Herod” at Encyclopædia Britannica: “…thus, Herod was, although a practicing Jew, of Arab origin on both sides.”