The HEAVEN App (for the Once & Future Wise!)

Our praise band has a piece with this title. I Can Only Imagine. (‘Haven’t sung it for awhile.) But I like the thought. Some stuff is so beyond us we can’t quite grasp it. Especially GOD stuff, LOVE stuff, MADE OVER and MADE NEW stuff. So it seems to remain in the realm of imagination, forever just-out-of-reach. But this Christmas we have shared, this Christmas extends our reach. Why? Because God is reaching for us at the same time. Let me put this in everyday terms. Two notes came to me this summer. One said, “And, from something I heard this week. (There must be a sermon in it) …There's an App you can hold up to the sky and it will tell you what constellations you're looking at.  Maybe the Wisemen had one! Shouldn’t there be an App to hold up to heaven to see God's will?” The 2nd note pairs with this. “How do we recognize a sign from God? ‘Not miss the signs he gives us? Are there questions we can ask God so we don't miss the signs? What do we do when we don't LIKE the signs? I guess this is about doing God's will, which is easy to say and all, but I find it difficult and I feel a lot of the time like I want Him to TALK to me and show me what to do.  Maybe he does &I don't see it. Is my life not what he wants because I miss his signs? ‘Hope this all makes sense. Can you help?”

Enter those Wisemen, 3 Kings, Magi… whatever you call them. We usually think of them in the realm of I can only imagine. As in, “I can only imagine what it might have been like, had they had a GPS and one of those Heaven Apps. Maybe it wouldn't have taken them a two year journey to join up with Jesus!”  But what if we take them more seriously/personally/practically? I think they can teach us a thing or 2 about signs from God and directions for life.

Lesson #1. To see the signs, you gotta be looking for them. Daaa!!! But it’s absolutely. More of us live life not-looking-for than not-understanding the signs of God. The Magi looked up on the same sky as Herod. The shepherds slept under the same star(s) as the kings. Whoever really keeps the peace at your house, school or work rests under the same heaven as the one(s) who bully, badger or belittle. It could be, as a practical thing, the universe has a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy all its own. Though God is always speaking, if we’re not asking, we’ll rarely hear what God is telling. So folks: Spend a little time looking up! Listen up (literally), instead of just listening all around. (Part of Herod’s problem: he was a horizontal, not a vertical listener!) How about you?

Lesson #2. Folks who listen by themselves mostly end up listening to themselves. The magi were a community of watchers/listeners. They didn’t try to go it alone! That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with private prayers or personal devotions. It just means we need each other as a means to test and examine our spiritual ways. Even the faith of Christ himself is set in a community of kindred travelers. I pray church will be your caring caravan/challenging check.

Lesson #3. If you’re lookin’ for a sign for where to go, don’t expect to sit still or go nowhere. Lookin’ up always requires saddling up! You and I will have to gas up our giddy-up as surely as the kings had to water-up their camel rides. This is a really nice way of saying some tough stuff. Following God’s signs invariably means changing our ways! Bummer! YCDGSOYG (You can’t do God sittin’ on your gluts). O, and you’re unlikely to get home the same way you came. Even the magi went home by a different way! THIS is a moving experience!

Lesson #4. See God’s brightness and you’ll need to bring your best. Don’t expect to get a sign from God for your life and then follow empty-handed. Your gifts will be required. Your best gifts. Your gold, frankincense and myrrh will all get given when heaven’s the thing your looking’ for getting’. We don’t buy or pay for saving grace. The Little One in the cradle who grows into the Crucified One on the cross does that. But we are asked, and do give glory by the gifts-we-give and the joy with which we give them.

Lesson #5. A starry-eyed soul is best served by steely-eyed study. Too often we miss the signs of God, or misinterpret them, either because we are trying to start from scratch every day, or because we’re bustin’ lesson #2 (tryin’ to do it all ourselves). [CF 12 Steppers.] If you want a useful resolution for the year ahead try this. Resolve to a disciplined/shared adventure in learning from God’s Word.

Watchin’ for signs? Learn how and where to look!

Even theWisemen studied up before they saddled up!

Well, there it is. A 5 button Heaven App, for the once and future wise. And brought to you by ancient kings, who found in the stars, THE SIGN for the King of all Souls and the King all Things!

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