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“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: Matthew 2:5 (NLT)

When the Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the new King, we are told that all Jerusalem was in an uproar over their question. By now Jesus was perhaps two years old. The rumors about the baby in the manger had most likely died away. After all, even back in Biblical days the idea of a Messiah being born in a manger, of angels singing to a bunch of neighbors, and the young mother being an unmarried teenager from the small, obscure hamlet of Nazareth seemed pretty preposterous.

When Herod came to the priests to seek an answer to the Magi’s question they were quick to quote scripture to him. They knew full well that location of the birth a new King. It was spelled out clearly by the prophecy in Micah as well as by other prophets. The signs were there.

Jesus would say later in his ministry, when asked about his return, to watch for the signs. Dates and times weren’t for us to know. When buds form on trees and flowers push through the hard ground of winter you know spring is coming. When you see wars, rumors of war, political and relational turmoil, an increase in sin and other abominations, you know I’m coming back.

In the same way, there were many signs that the coming of the Messiah was close. Who knows but that there were many babies born around Jesus time in which people asked: “Is this him? Could this be Messiah? It had been 400 years since there were any prophecies spoken. Four hundred years of silence by God, four hundred years of waiting by the people. Four hundred years to grow complacent and skeptical.

Did they see the star as well and choose to ignore it? Did they hear the rumors and spend their time determining why this could not be the way God would do things? Did their skepticism keep them from seeing the ‘handwriting on the wall’?

Dead faith is faith in which we refuse to look at the answers. We see the truth and decide to follow only those that don’t interfere with our own plans, our own ambitions, our own interpretation and determination of how God works. Dead faith is unable to see God’s handiwork because we are blinded by our own ideas, our own traditions, our own determination of God’s ability to fulfill his promises.

Dead faith is religion. We aren’t called to follow religious dogmas. We are called to relationship with a living Savior. Dead faith follows an unapproachable God. Relationship can only happen with a  living being. Our God is not dead or unapproachable.

Not a single priest offered to go check out the story the Magi told them. Not a single religious leader took enough interest in their story to see if maybe, just maybe it really was the Messiah. It simply wasn’t important enough to them. It wasn’t worth their time.

PRAYER: Father, you show us on a daily basis, through your Word and your Spirit, how we should live. May we never be guilty of ignoring the ‘stars’ the signs in our lives. Help us to see you clearly and act on what we know. Amen.

Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” Isaiah 7:9 (NLT)

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” It’s a short little phrase stuck in the middle of an important part of Israel’s history. King Ahaz had to make a decision. Would he really put his faith in God and stand firm against the enemies that wanted to destroy Israel or would he put his trust in a neighboring countries power?

In the midst of his emotional and mental struggle God said “Go ahead. Ask me to show you a sign of what you should do and what will happen.” It was a crisis of faith for the King. Where was his true allegiance? Ahaz chose not to ask for the sign. In the end he trusted the neighboring power rather than the God of heaven and his kingdom was ripped from his hands.

Each of us must choose where our true allegiance is. It’s a daily decision, even a moment by moment decision. The enemy wants us to doubt who is really in control. It happened in the Garden of Eden, “Did God REALLY say you’d die?” It happened in during Jesus time on earth when He visited His hometown and the Bible tells us “He did no miracles there because of their unbelief”.

As Christ-followers we must always remember that God’s way is the best way. We must measure each of our actions according to what God wants and allow Him to determine the outcome by His power. God CAN do anything we ask but He requires that we first trust Him to do what is best for us, even if His best seems detrimental at the time.

There will be bumps along the road. There are going to be forks in the journey with confusing sign posts directing you along the way. As you grow closer to Christ, through obedience and knowledge of His word, He will show you the path to take. Don’t be afraid to ask Him. Don’t impatiently take action on your own.

Never forget that the Creator God of the universe loves you and wants you to experience all He has for you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. But you need to make that first step. Each of us needs to make a conscious decision to trust Him above all else and actively believe that He can and will see you through life’s obstacles. That’s what His love is all about.

PRAYER: Father God, I acknowledge that you are the creator and sustainer of the universe. I believe that you have all things in control. But I confess to you that there are many times during my day when I am faced with a choice to follow my own wisdom or ask you for direction. This almost always takes me down the wrong path. Forgive me for living in fear. Forgive me for following my heart and not what I know to be true. Help me to stand firm and step out in faith, truly believing that You can and will accomplish great things if I let You have control of my life. Amen.

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August 2022
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