Matthew 2:1-18

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for from you will come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and determined from them the exact ]time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

9 After hearing the king, they went on their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on ahead of them until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was to be found. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

11 And after they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And after being warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod; this happened so that what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent men and killed all the boys who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. 17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she refused to be comforted, Because they were no more.”


• It would have been so hard to make something fit as perfectly as it does. This chapter has 4 of the over 300 prophecies Jesus fulfills.

• In the Mormon bible, Joseph smith had to write additional verses at the end of chapter 50, at the end of genesis. He could not find ripe prophecy for the taking, to be interpreted to predict him.

• The reason this is important, is there are more prophecies in the Bible that have not yet been fulfilled. Christ says he is coming back. Much like Herod back then, Satan is not a legitimate king. Satan is troubled, because his dominion over this earth and over us has come to an end.

• The announcement of Jesus as foretold hundreds and even thousands of years ahead of time, gives us confidence in the words of God.

• We can be Herod and all of Jerusalem. Or we can be the magi.

• Jerusalem was perfectly content to sit around and ignore what God was doing around them. They averted their eyes from the star above because it was in their short-term best interest.

• Herod could have gone with the Magi, instead of paying lip service. The bible does not tell us of anyone who goes with them.

• The wise men were seekers, looking for the truth. They went to great lengths, sacrificing earthy possessions and a great deal of time. And when they found the Christ, they fell to the ground and worshiped.

• It did not matter that the magi were foreigners. They were not the religious leaders of the day; they were not Gods chosen people. They were far away from God, but God drew them to Him.

• When David was running from King Saul, his followers consisted of similar outsiders

• 1 Samuel 22:2 “And everyone who was in distress and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him”

• David gathered the downtrodden, the rejects, and built-up a following. 1,000 years later Jesus would do the same thing, the religious establishment was content, already worshiping themselves and their wicked ways, they refused to look up, or make a 6-mile journey to Bethlehem.

• Sometimes we can feel like Jerusalem, thinking we’re on the inside of God’s plan. It can be easy to think of ourselves as a pretty good person who was raised in a Christian home, that we go to church, have religious friends. God shows us that isn’t enough.

• Make the trip to Bethlehem. Give what you have, and fall down before him.

Ways we can apply this text

• When God reveals himself, take time a figure out what he’s telling you.

• There is tension between taking time to listen, and to act when he tells you!

• Drawing near to God and serving Him takes obedience and sacrifice

• Study the Old Testament, it will enrich our understanding of who God is and what He has done.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness, from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.

Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy & Love. It is all about God glory, and this is part of the back story… We celebrate the Advent of Glory, God’s ultimate glory: JESUS CHRIST!

Living this life for God based on who HE IS, not circumstances

The story of this glory is full of revelation about God and about US! The Biblical narrative is about the preparation that went into the preparation for the advent of our Lord! This greatest of all stories has quite a back story, we refer to it as the Hebrew Scriptures or The Old Testament. The back story has lessons for us if we desire to be used by God for HIS glory. Part of our celebration of Advent and Christmas is learning about God and about ourselves. The back story of God’s ultimate glory is all about humble people who believed God was who HE says HE is. That is who Zach and Beth were…

Luke 1:5-25 & 39-45

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

  • They were righteous in God’s sight yet childless
  • The culture at that time saw children as a blessing from God
  • Since they had no child their neighbors would view them as disobedient to God

8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

  • Priests lived all over Israel and would travel to Jerusalem to serve a period
  • A group would serve for a week and some would get to do special things
  • Worship and prayer took place durning the ceremony of burning incense
  • Incense symbolized the prayers and praise going up to God (pleasing aroma)

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.

  • We can’t comprehend what it is like to see an Angel (it always causes fear)
  • There is a difference between feeling afraid and BEING afraid
  • More than 200 times in scripture God says: ‘Do not be afraid’
  • A child, and specifically a son, must have been a focus of Zach’s prayer life
  • The answered prayer will be a great joy for Zach & Beth that many will share in
  • The child that the Angel is foretelling will be great in the sight of the Lord
  • Notice the distinction between being great to people & being great to God
  • Jesus confirms his cousin John’s status in Luke 7:28
    • I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

  • Aspects of the Nazarite Vow regarding alcoholic beverages
  • Filled with the Holy Spirit even while still in the womb (must be a person)
  • We will explore this term ‘Filled with The Holy Spirit’ later in the text
  • He will lead Jews to reconnect with God (lots of disconnection is present)
  • He is to set the stage for the coming of the Lord
  • How to find God: Gratitude for what HE gives & desiring HIS wisdom
  • These 2 PRACTICES (giving God gratitude & seeking God’s wisdom) Biblical paths to God

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

  • Zacheriah asks the question we all ask: ‘How can I be sure of this’
  • This is an expression of our desire for control
  • Even those who are righteous in God’s sight can doubt revelation from God
  • Gabe says: Look I am an Archangel, I hang with God and do HIS business
  • You can be sure of what I tell you because I am a projection of God’s will
  • As a lesson, Zach is struck speechless until the birth of the child
  • My guess is that he never doubted God again…or maybe he did (only human)

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

  • The people gather at the temple for these daily sacrifices.
  • The incense burning only took a couple minutes, what was the hold up?
  • He was able to communicate that something had happened with gestures
  • Why is Zach disciplined and yet Mary will not be?

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

  • Once he is reunited with Beth they conceive
  • Perhaps she thinks she is pregnant but waits to be sure (no ultrasound)
  • It is a good practice to be sure of what God is doing before we declare it
  • Beth recognizes that God has in this act declared HIS favor for Zach & Beth
  • Since the disgrace was removed that means it must have been there
  • People had judged what God thought of Zach & Beth based on circumstances
  • People who serve God suffer; it is part of the deal
  • Their years of suffering through childlessness prepared them for this

Then Gabriel visits Mary (Luke 26-38)

Guess what Mary, you are going to give birth to God!!!

You will have a child even though you are a virgin, even your relative Beth (cousin or aunt) who was thought to be barren has conceived, because God can do anything!

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • Right away (at that time) Mary goes to see the one person who will understand
  • Once Mary (and Jesus) were in Beth’s (and John’s) presence sparks fly!
  • John in her womb was already ‘Filled with The Holy Spirit’; now Beth is also
  • What does ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ mean?
  • Luke uses this term ‘Filled’ here and in the book of Acts

42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

  • When ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit she speaks with His voice
  • The filling of the Holy Spirit always results in God being glorified (Acts 4 & 13)


God’s favor is not equal to earthly prosperity. In Scripture, God’s eternal grace is not always displayed in earthly circumstances. This ‘long-suffering’ couple is used to birth the greatest human ever…God’s blessings are not denoted by worldly success.

Zach & Beth are model servants, observing God’s Word blamelessly for decades, even though their dreams of a family go unrealized. God will refine willing vessels by hardship and faithful obedience, and then use them for HIS glory!

As spiritually mature as Zach was, he still doubted God’s messenger; all of us humans doubt. Obedience over time lays the groundwork to overcome doubt. This season is given by God to encourage us, even when we doubt. It is hard to doubt when you rejoice!

God fills HIS people with HIS Spirit creating focus and connection to participate in what HE is doing.

This text is just a chapter of the story of how God HIMSELF came to earth without comfort, acceptance or accolades. HE was unappreciated, un-thanked and to many, HE seemed cursed not blessed! The ONE who appeared to this world as most despised is in fact, the definition of blessing, the definition of love, the definition of Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness!

HE did not strive for a successful career or family or empire or office or travel or the accumulation of things …. He was born into lowliness and died in lowliness… for you and I. Born in a cave! Killed on a cross! That you and I might be united with God! Might we surrender our lives more fully to HIM today!

And THIS SEASON we get to celebrate this REALITY, God with us! Not just today but for weeks!


What circumstances in your life keep you from fully obeying and serving the Lord?

When you have doubts about God how do you go about alleviating them?

What are the eternal blessings that you count on to get you through tough times?


When we focus on what God has done and what He is doing, HE will lead us to belief in HIS favor for us. Let us intentionally celebrate HIM this Christmas and rejoice in our belief in God’s grace to us in Christ.

Advent Scripture


Isiah 40:3-5 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”


Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Isaiah 55:12 For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Philippians 4:4-5 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.


John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

John 15:13 ”Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

1 John 4: 7-10 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.



Father, just as You sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, help me to clear the path in my heart, too. Show me the distractions in my life that block me from all-out worship of You this Advent. Lord, I await Your coming! As I celebrate the first Advent––the first coming––I look toward the day where I will see You face to face. I imagine what it will be like. Give me a heart, Lord, that looks for Your coming on a daily basis. Help me to live my life where I’m constantly seeking Your presence. My offering to You today is my righteous life for I know I am only clean because of Jesus. Show me today how I need to be refined, purified, forgiven. Give me the strength to ask for forgiveness and to then change my ways. Amen


God, as I head into December, I want pause and remember all that You’ve done in my life, my family, and community. I praise You because You are the God who saves. You are Immanuel, God with us. I thank You that my hope is in You, not in circumstances or people. Because I hope in You, I am confident that You will fulfill Your promises to Me. Remind me today of what truly matters. Fix my hearts on You. Help me to see how You are working in the middle of my waiting. Draw me closer to You this Christmas season, and prepare My hearts for the fulfillment of Your promises. Amen.


Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Thank You for you caring, and thank You for promising to give me your peace. Please guard my hearts and mind with Your peace. You know the things that have been weighing me down with worry, anxiety, or fear. Lord, please help me fix my mind on You instead, and on Your Spirit. Thank You for promising to bring me life and peace. Amen


Heavenly Father, Thank You for the joy that entered the world when Jesus was born. You have given us pure joy by becoming God with us. Lord, sometimes it’s difficult to live joyfully, especially in difficult or busy seasons. Please purify my heart this Christmas season and remind me that You’re in control. Help me to consider it joy when I experience trials of any kind because I know You’re creating something beautiful and eternal. Enable me to fix my eyes and heart on You, fill my soul with renewed strength, courage, and hope. Lord, you are always worthy of being praised – and I want to joyfully worship You! Amen


Lord, thank You for loving me so much that You gave Your Son for me, even before I loved You. Thank You for inviting me into Your family. Thank you for the sacrificial display of your love for me on the cross. Thank you for enabling me to surrender my life to you love. Help me to live a life that sacrificially display the love you have placed in me by your Spirit. Please help me to love others as You have loved me Father, please help me to see every person the same way that You see them. Help me love them the way that You love them — even when that love is not returned. Please show me how to walk continually in Your love, that perfect love which casts out fear. Amen.

Prayer Points

Pray for openness to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Pray for attentiveness to what truly matters, without being distracted by trivial things.
Pray for opportunities to learn something new.
Pray for discernment of how God would like you to set your priorities.

Pray for the ability to focus on biblical priorities consistently to fulfill His purposes in your life.
Pray for the grace to be able to rest, become aware of God’s presence, and enjoy it.
Pray for strong relationships with other people in the bond of a loving community.
Pray for peace in all situations, no matter what the circumstances.
Pray for freedom from all that burdens you – past mistakes, fears, destructive habits, hurts and more.
Pray for joy and a sense of humor.
Pray for confidence in God’s love for you and trust in His power to work things out for the best in your life.
Pray for a clear mind and the ability to clearly communicate what you value to others.
Pray for purity so you can grow as a person and encounter God more fully.

Pray for a genuine awareness of God’s grace in your life and the humility to extend grace to others.