My husband and I love art and we raised our boys to love art and so when they became young men, almost men, we decided it was time to take them to Europe and see the real masters. Now Jim and I decided that we would just do a two week vacation and we’d do one week in Amsterdam and one week in Paris. And we would go by ourselves, we didn’t want a tour bus and a tour guide pushing us and rushing us along. And they said its okay mom, its okay Sheila, you can show the way. Go down to Barnes and Noble, go buy a guide book and study up. You can be our tour guide.
Well I was a little nervous about it but I thought well they probably speak a lot of English in Amsterdam and Paris and it’ll probably be okay. So I went down to Barnes and Noble and I got a guide book and I read it and I studied it on that long trans Atlantic flight to Amsterdam. But let me tell you when we landed in Amsterdam and I looked at the signs I could not read a single one. The machines that we were supposed to change our money in, I didn’t know where to begin. They didn’t look anything like the machines in the book. I looked to my phrases in the back of the book and I was feeling hopelessly lost and when my sons came gathered around with all of the luggage and baggage and they said mom now what? I don’t know. I’m lost. I’m the navigator but I’m lost.
Well we managed to find our hotel and that was a gruesome story in and of it self. We don’t have time for that. And we started to feel comfortable in Amsterdam after a few days and then my boys said hey let’s go rent a car because Vermeer was born in the city of Delft and that’s only thirty-some miles, just like thirty-two/thirty-three miles from Amsterdam. We can do this. We can rent a car and we can go out to Delft for the day. And we were also going to see Gouda or as they pronounced it in Amsterdam (SPEAKS DUTCH). But we had a heck of a time finding Delft. First of all we had a heck of a time getting a car. It’s not easy getting a rental car in Europe. We actually left our passports back at the hotel. Had to go back and get them and then come back to the rental car. Now we are big people, we Coleman’s. I’m six foot tall. My sons range in height from 6’2” to just under 6’8”. And have you seen the size of cars in Europe?
Well the biggest car we could find to rent was a mini, mini, mini van and I got thrust into the front seat with a map, but we were all in there with our little knees up to our chins. And Jim hands me the map and he says okay Sheila you’re the navigator. We’re going to find Delft. And he takes off and I’m still looking at the map, which is all in Dutch. And I don’t know where we are and where to go and the roads, the signs and the exits are coming at me fast and furious. Is that our exit? I don’t know. Where are we? I don’t know. Did we miss it? I don’t know! I can’t read the signs! I can’t read the map. Meanwhile we’re zipping along the motorways. I thought sure I’d see a sign that said Delft this way. I saw six signs that said Delft this way. Which one to take? It took us almost all day to find Delft. And then when we got there I was sure my husband was going to parallel park us right into the canal. And this thought flashed through my mind: what does insurance do in America when you have taken a mini car and put it in the bottom of a canal in Amsterdam? Is it covered? But he didn’t.
But I was worn out and I was tired and then to top it all off the boys were so excited with the adventure that they were talking about no longer taking the bullet train from Amsterdam to Paris, they were talking about renting a car and driving all the way to France. Well after all, mom, we can take a side trip to Normandy. And they were going on and on about it and I was getting more and more upset and more and more panicked because all I could do is I finally said to them you guys it’s thirty two miles from Amsterdam to Delft and it took us all day to find Delft. Do you think we’d ever find France? We’ll be lost forever in Europe! But they still were going on and on about it. When the waiter came, he handed me my menu. It was all in Dutch. There was no English translation, there were no pictures and I was hungry and tired and frustrated and this poor young man came up to me and he said ma’am can I get something for you? And I burst into tears and he said are you okay? I said I will be, but I said what you can get me? Can you get me a tour bus and a tour guide? But of course he couldn’t. But I really wanted it. I was tired of being the tour guide; lost. Lost in a foreign country, not speaking the language.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt lost? Not knowing where to turn, where to go. Well I was lost again this past week here in America where I could read the signs and speak the language. And my colleague and I, we were headed from Escondido to Oceanside but we were talking. And we forgot to pay attention to where we were going and the next thing you know I looked up and I said Carol, did we miss our turn? I don’t know Sheila, did we? Well I don’t know. Did we? We didn’t know. I said look for a sign, where are we? Look for a landmark. Where are we? I said Carol that sign we just passed said Fallbrook. We’re heading towards Temecula. We’re no where near Oceanside. We’re no where near Aliso Viejo. How do we get there? I don’t know. I’m hopelessly lost. I don’t have I-phone, I don’t have GPS. But I have a husband and he knows the way to everywhere. Don’t husbands always know the way to everywhere? And so I called my husband and I said Jim I’m lost. He says well Sheila, can you guess the question he asked me? Where are you? Where are you? I said well I’m headed towards Temecula. He says well where are you trying to get? Aliso Viejo. Oh, he says, you are so far off course! I know that. Tell me how to get back on course.
Well he said I need a specific address of where you are and where you want to go because I’ve got map quest up in front of me and I’ll look it up for you. Well I don’t have an address. I’m just off the road. I’m on some little road. There’s no address anywhere to be seen. Well he said do you know where you’re going? No, I don’t have an address. I just know it’s in Aliso Viejo. I know the off ramp. I said because I picked Carol up at Target. I don’t know the address of Target in Aliso Viejo. And he said well if I don’t have a precise address from where you are to where you want to go I can’t tell you how to get there.
And so I said well you’ve got to help us because we are lost. And so he actually pulled out an old atlas and he was able to tell us and this one and half hour trip back from Escondido was a three-hour trip. Carol and I got caught up on a lot of talking that we hadn’t done in a long time. But why did we get lost? We weren’t paying attention to where we were going. Are you paying attention to where you are going? If you’re not, don’t be surprised if like me you end up lost. You need to know where you’re going and you need to pay attention and you need to focus on that.
When my little son Nicholas was just an infant and he wasn’t able to crawl yet, it was Christmas time and when you’ve got four sons under the age of seven, your hands are full. And what are you going to wrap presents with? So I decided I would put Nick in front of the Christmas tree and that would entertain him. So I laid him on his tummy in front of the Christmas tree and I thought he’d have fun looking at the tinsel and the ornaments and everything and then I thought you know what we have a train that we put under this Christmas tree every year. I thought I’ll go turn the train on. He’ll have a lot of fun watching that train go round and round and round. And as soon as I flipped that switch on that train chug chug chuga choo choo; lights flashing, my little baby’s eyes got big as saucers. He popped up on his fours and he went huh huh huh. I could barely get him in time before he pulled that whole tree down on top of himself. He knew where he was going. He didn’t stop paying attention to where he wanted to be. Laser like focused on his goal, that train, nothing was going to stop him, not even not knowing how to crawl. He didn’t know he didn’t know how to crawl. You’d be surprised if you’ve got a goal and you know where you’re going how that can help you tap into things you did not know you knew how to do.
So do you know where you’re going? Do you know why you were born? Do you know why you’re alive? Do you know what you’re living for? Is it something you are willing to die for? Is it something that you’re keeping your attention, focusing your attention on? Not neglecting that goal. Well maybe you know what it is. Maybe you know what that goal is. But you don’t know how to get there or you don’t know the best way to get there. And then maybe you’re like me. I like to have a tour guide. I like to know that I’m following somebody who knows how to get there. I want to follow somebody who knows the best way to get there.
When my sons were little they didn’t like devotions. We’d bring out the bible and we’d try reading the bible and they’d poke and kick and tickle and I kept saying stop that, stop that, stop that. And I started thinking oh my goodness gracious, we’re doing more harm than good with these family devotions so I decided we’d make games out of it. So when it was time to learn about the shepherds and the sheep at the Christmas story, I roused my sons and I said come on boys we’re going to go outside and we’re going to play shepherd and sheep follow the leader. And I’ll be the shepherd and you be the sheep. And we went in the back yard and we went around trees and we went up and over rocks and different things like that and I heard myself say to them you’ll get to be the shepherd. It will be your turn in just a minute. But it’s important for you to learn how to follow before you learn how to lead. It’s important to learn how to follow before you can learn how to lead. And it’s important to follow somebody who knows the way.
So who are you following? With this one life that you have, who’s leading the way for you today? Well I believe in following a wise man and the wise men in the Christmas story were astrologists. They studied the stars and low and behold those stars revealed that a new king, the King of kings had been born in a land far away. They had to go see this king. It was the King of kings. The stars said this was an earth-shattering thing that had never happened before. It was historical and they didn’t want to miss it. So they got their caravan together, they got their gifts together and this new star that appeared; this divine guiding star, not a satellite star wannabe like GPS and map quest, but the divine star of God that He birthed in the heavens. That’s what they followed. They followed God’s guidance until it came and rested over the place where the Christ child was. They didn’t have a map, they didn’t have a guidebook, they couldn’t speak the language. They went into a foreign country but they followed God’s star.
And then when they saw the Christ child they fell on their knees. They came face to face with God. Have you ever come face to face with God? And they worshipped, they worshipped this baby and they gave Him their gifts: gold. You all know the gifts. Gold because He was royalty. He was the King of kings. Frankincense because He was the new high priest. People now could have a direct connection with God because Jesus was born. And myrrh, myrrh because myrrh was the spice that was used to dress the dead. It was a foreshadowing of the fact that this Christ child had been born to die. He came to give His life for you and for me. Have you come face to face with God? Have you come face to face with Jesus Christ? Do you know what it means to have Him in your life as your Lord and Savior? Do you know why you’re living? Do you know where you’re going? Do you have that end direction in sight? Do you have that goal? A goal that you’re willing to give your life for? If you let Jesus, if you let Jesus, a superstar, lead the way I promise you, you will never, never, never be led astray. If you let the star lead the way you will never, never, never be led astray, never.
I want to give you the testimony of somebody who lived her life for Jesus. And she’s a star in my life. Her name is Stella which literally translates to star. Stella was born in 1900 in the Netherlands and when she was a baby, only three months old, she came across America. They weren’t sure if she would even survive the trip. She raised a family here in the Midwest in America, seven children she birthed. Her two oldest sons out of the seven were fighting in World War II. One in the Pacific and one in Europe. Meanwhile, Stella’s relatives, the ones that she left behind, she didn’t know them. She knew of them. She heard about them. They all were wearing in 1942 they all had yellow star of Davids pinned to their chests because you see Stella was the daughter of a Jewess. But God brought Stella to America because He knew He needed her here so that she could raise up; would you believe at her ninety-fifth birthday there were over a hundred and twenty direct descendents of Stella and all of us, because I’m one of her descendants, Stella’s my grandmother. All of us, many, many, many of us are in full time Christian work today. Bright lights in a dark world. And I’m wearing today the broach that belonged to Stella’s mom and it has little tiny stars of David in it. And I’m wearing it in her memory because Stella was a star. Why? Because she lived her life following Jesus. Every step of her life she followed Jesus. If you let a superstar lead the way you’ll never, never, never be led astray.
In researching and preparing for this message today I called a friend of mine who is the science director for the Hubble telescope at NASA and I called her and I said Jennifer, what’s this about the Bethlehem star? Do you know anything about it? Was it a confluence of planets or comet or what? What are the theories out there amongst you astronomers? And she said I don’t know but I’ll check with somebody, a man who is a top notch astronomer at Harvard. And he emailed both of us back and said don’t go near it. It’s a big mystery. We have absolutely no idea. So I’m not going to go there but in the process Jennifer sent me some pictures from the Hubble telescope of deep, deep space and she said you might enjoy looking at these pictures, Sheila, because in them there’s stars. There’s a picture. And she says you can tell the stars from the other heavenly bodies like galaxies or planets or even gasses and just star dust. She says you can tell the difference because the stars are the ones that twinkle. Well that sounds very elementary doesn’t it? The stars are the ones that twinkle.
Well I was looking at it really closely the other morning when I was praying over this message and do you know what I saw when I looked at those stars? The stars, you can tell the stars, the stars are the ones that have a cross in them. Do you see the cross in the stars? And I say to you the Bethlehem star it’s a mystery but this I know: The Bethlehem star that leads the way to the Christ child has a cross in it because Jesus came to give us His life. If you follow, if you follow the cross, if you let a cross lead the way you will never, never, never be led astray.
Jesus said, I am the way. I am THE way. I am the way. Do you want to know the way? Do you want to know Jesus? He is here. He wants to be your friend. He doesn’t want you to be lost. He wants to take your hand and He wants to walk you step by step to this beautiful life that He came, that He came to give to you. Jesus also said “I am the bright and morning star” and Jewish tradition the morning star is the ultimate hero; the one who pays the ultimate sacrifice. And the morning star comes, it’s the brightest star of all, but it comes to herald the end of night. Are you lost? Are you floundering in the dark? Is your life feel like you’re in the night and you want it to be day? Jesus is the bright and morning star. For God so loved the world, for God so loved you and you and you; God so loved you that He came to earth so you won’t perish, so you won’t be lost. He came to give you life. Take it today; accept Him. If you let Jesus lead the way I promise you, you will never, never, never be led astray.
Let us pray. Almighty God, bright and morning star, shine Your light in our lives today. Where we are lost, groping in the dark, flash Your light into the farthest corners illuminating the way we need to go. Where we are confused, not knowing where to turn, provide direction, clarity, pointing the way toward Your plan for us. Where we are perishing, oh Lord, we pray that You will show us how to fight and have victory over fear, depression, loss of meaning. Give us the faith to grab onto Your lifeline. We choose today to let You lead. We give You our hearts, our lives, living for You and You alone. Thank You for being our superstar, for coming for us, dying for us and leading us to the way to truth and life everlasting. Amen.