advent devotional day 12, in a manger

This will be a sign to you: 
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, 
and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them 
until it stopped over the place where the child was.  
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 

Blessings hidden in the most unlikely places

The Lord saw fit to grace the world with a king, in the form of an innocent and helpless newborn laying in a manger amongst livestock.  If you do not know the Lord, I can fill you in on one of the most incredible aspects of His personality; He has a sense of humor.  

Babies who are born to wealthy and royal families in tiny self-governed countries become kings, not infants born to teenage virgins who are sleeping in a barn.

This is just another reminder of how amazing the Lord’s voice was in those early days.  He sent an angel to light up the sky and tell the shepherds that this baby in the hay would be their Savior.  And they believed Him.

What a commanding and compassionate, awesome and marvelous God to receive such faith from His followers.

How often can we say that we heed the most tiny nudge to follow the command of the Lord?  I mean, we may not ever receive something like an angel, but we do receive messages.  Do we listen, or do we hide?  I feel it is safe to speak generally about our humanness when I say that we are more inclined to obey when all signs point to something great.  If it is not-so-great, however, we may hesitate to be so obedient.

A star, pointing to a child in a manger, who is God in the flesh.

It just sounds too risky, right? 

Or maybe it was just that crazy that is had to be true. 

In any case, they went and saw the child, just as the Lord said they would.

I think of the Exodus, and how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.  After all of the miracles they had seen thus far, they still doubted the Lord when their spies returned claiming “giants” flooded their Promised Land.  God condemned them to remain in the desert until the doubters, well, you know…

It’s not that our Lord is cruel, it’s that He is jealous for us.  He wants us to trust Him, and Him only.  He wants us to go to Him for our every need.  And when He commands something, He wants our obedience!  Numbers 13:1-2 NIV says:

“The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Not only did the Lord command this Himself, but He bolstered it with “which I am giving to the Israelites.”  They were leaving to go to the Promised Land. They were commanded to explore the land.  And they were reminded that it was already theirs.

Clearly this was a test!

Who knows what the shepherds thought when the multitude of angels (which we’ll discuss tomorrow) appeared.  What we do know is they were terrified.  The spies were terrified when they peered at the land and noticed “giants” living there.  Sometimes, when we catch a glimpse of the gifts the Lord is presenting us, or where we must go to receive them, we may feel scared.  Either it isn’t what we expected, or it’s much, much more.  Perhaps we feel ill-equipped.  We may think it is the most unlikely and ridiculous place.

We may think it is not God telling us to go at all!

The wicked one is aware of the fact that we do not know the Lord’s every move, and he will capitalize on that with every chance he is given.

God’s truth will hit you like a peaceful lightning bolt; 
fearful confusion is never a good sign.

What is your test right now?

Are you feeling confused or misled?

Have you experienced moments where you were afraid to move forward, but in the end it was a great blessing?

Today find rest in knowing that your understanding alone is just not enough.  This should not only take the pressure off of you to try to “have it all figured out,” but it should also guide you to listen more carefully for the Lord.  Our everyday is filled with opportunities to hear Him and choose whether or not to have faith and obey.  He knows we will likely stray, and like a good shepherd He will guide us back to the flock.  

This comfort comes at a price, however, because the wicked one also knows we will stray, and he can feed our insecurities attached to the unknown.  Make it a point to understand that God’s blessings can be found in the most unlikely places and choose to rebuke the wicked one immediately.  True discernment only happens when we are fully tapped into the Lord.

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