St. Luke’s Weekly Devotions are written by people just like you. These devotions draw on authentic life experiences, scripture, prayers, and sermon series material to offer inspiration throughout the week. Use these devotions to guide you in your spiritual journey.
Seeking Direction? – January 2, 2017
Read: “I see him, but not now; I behold him but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel.” (Numbers 24:17 NIV)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Matthew 2:1-6
Think About: The all-knowing God placed the star of Bethlehem in the sky and ordained its appearance long before the wise men were ever conceived. As early as the book of Numbers, the word of God speaks through a sorcerer to tell of a coming star that will mark the emergence of a ruler in Israel. A plan was already in place to draw the three wise men to Christ. Imagine that! Wonder at this, God has a plan to draw you to Christ as well! However, the nature of God is not to command, but to offer. Humankind has intellect, will, and freedom to read the signs and determine the next step.
The wise men followed the star. Simple phrase, extraordinary event. They left comfort, riches, safety, and routine to head out on a long, arduous journey. They could have ignored the sign and stayed put, but instead they ventured into the unknown to find a Jewish king.
The light indicating the birth of Christ still directs us to the manger. God’s plan still beckons; our response is just that, ours. What is our next step? Reside in the familiar, or relocate in the uncertain?
While our journey might not lead us hundreds of miles to the east, place us in the path of danger, or confront us with hostile leaders, it will surely present us with challenges, questions, and doubts. Do we continue, detour, or turn away? Will we disturb leaders? Alarm a city? Keep moving to discover one who is worthy of worship?
Pray: Lord, give us the resolve to seek the one you have delivered. Call us to the manger in spite of danger, distraction, and discouragement. Help us to renew our commitment to your Son and keep moving toward his peace. Amen
Two Encounters – January 4, 2017
Read: Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11 NIV
Think About: Along the way the Magi encounter two very powerful and diametrically opposed people. The first is Herod the Great, an insecure tyrant, and the second is Jesus the Christ, a vulnerable infant. Herod lies to the wise men in order to plan a murder, and Jesus lies in a manger in order to offer life. We are not told if the Magi offered any homage to Herod. No gifts were presented, no kneeling in his presence, just a secret conversation loaded with instructions, “Go, Search, Find, Report.”
The wise men renew their journey, joyfully following the star to the stable in Bethlehem and find the child they sought. As soon as they saw him, they bowed and worshipped, and gave him gifts, kingly, symbolic gifts. Gold represents wealth and power; frankincense represents priesthood, and myrrh represents mortality, all attributes of the new born king. These were suitable offerings indeed.
Herod, they passively heard; Jesus, they passionately worshipped.
God’s intent is for people to seek, find, and worship Christ. By any means possible, signs point to Jesus. Stars, prophecy, angels, songs, scripture, words, nature, circumstances: all are used by the hand of God to bring us to the feet of Christ. But as with the wise men, it is we who must respond. It is always our choice, our journey, our discovery.
Pray: Oh God, thank you for signs and wonders. Thank you for words and whispers. Thank you for your grace that pursues and calls us to you. Allow us to be so aware of you that we cannot miss your message of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation. Lead us to the manger and give us worshipful hearts that will compel us to leave as changed people. Amen.
Change of Course – January 6, 2017
Change of Course
Read: And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route. Matthew 2:12 NIV
Think About: After having the encounter with the new born king, the wise men received a divine warning not to go back to Herod with any information about the infant. From heaven, protection came to preserve the life of the child, and the wise men changed their course to an alternate route. They headed back in a different direction.
All the people who came to the manger left changed. Recluse shepherds ran, proclaiming good news; wise men who followed stars chose a new route. Neither group remained the same.
After hearing the Christmas gospel, how can we not be changed? Imagine having been at the manger ourselves! Like the shepherds, we share the glory, and like the wise men, we worship. We are not the same!
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism gave us words and direction. His covenant, shared at the New Year challenges us to renew our commitment to Christ. Spoken truly, this is our gift to the new born Christ.
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Pray: Lord, may it be so. May I be changed, of course. Amen