Read Matthew 2:1-2.
The monumental event of Jesus’ birth was so humble that only a few people noticed.  While most of the world missed it, there were a few who paid attention.  Much to our surprise, they weren’t priests in charge of the Temple.  They weren’t those tasked with understanding God’s Word.  In fact, they weren’t from Israel at all; they were from Persia.
It’s no mistake that they were paying attention, either.  Persia was the reason Israel had been set free from their captivity to the Babylonians.  When the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians and released Israel to return home, they were, in a way, a savior to Israel.  Persia was an agent of God’s redemption, so it makes sense that Israel would have shared their hopes for a savior with them.  Israel had been looking to God to deliver them for years.  
When we get to this story in Matthew, it becomes apparent that the Persians began watching too, only they seem to look more intently.  Once Israel settled back in their homeland, they grew complacent.  Sure, they were occupied by Rome, but they had access to the Temple and for many of them, that was enough.  Sometimes it’s easy to settle for good enough.  Complacency has a way of dimming the light of anticipation of something greater.  
I wonder if the spirit of complacency has dimmed your light in any way.  It happens to us much like it did the people of Israel.  Trying times come our way, and we grow weary.  We find ourselves stuck in survival mode.  
The reason I ask is that complacency can be dangerous to our relationship with the Lord.  Just look at Israel.  Their light of anticipation dimmed to the point that when the Savior’s star shone over their heads, they didn’t even notice.  Perhaps we need to ask the Lord to fan the flames of our hopes today.  
If your light has grown faint, take heart.  After all, our Savior is the Light of the world.  In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 
Praying Together: 
“Jesus, awaken us today.  Fan the flames of our hearts and open our eyes to Your presence and power at work in us and in the world.  Restore our hopes and give us a new spirit that looks for and anticipates You to move in great ways. Amen.”
Read Matthew 2:3.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  This is a good way to think about today’s passage.  King Herod may not have been a momma, but he was king, and everyone under his rule knew it. 
King Herod was an interesting figure, to say the least.  While there are examples of his benevolence toward his people, he was by and large feared by them–and for good reason.  King Herod was responsible for killing his wife and three of his sons all in an effort to protect his throne.  By the end of the chapter, we’ll see him wipe out a generation of toddlers in Bethlehem to preserve his place.  So when the people heard word of a new successor to Herod, they were right to be worried.
It’s difficult to fathom being capable of such evil, but when you look deeper, it appears that the root of Herod’s sin was his desire for control.  Herod craved power, and he was afraid of losing it.  He was so anxious that he was more apt to kill than to trust.  He stopped at nothing to keep what was his.  
While we may not connect with the mass murder part of his story, we do understand the desire for control.  While we may not be fighting for political power, we do jockey for position at work, school, and even within our relationships with others.  We struggle with wanting to control our circumstances, often doing what we can to bend them to our liking.  But in our battle for control, we must ask ourselves this:  are we trusting the One who is really in control?  
This is the posture of children of God.  We know we don’t have to fight for control because we are children of a God who is indeed in control.  The reality is Jesus has overcome everything.  The world is His footstool.  Just as the winds and wave obey Him, so will all creation when He comes back in glory.  
So maybe today, instead of clamoring for a sense of control, we need to surrender.  We need to yield ourselves and our need for control to Him because we love Him and trust Him.  When we do this, our anxiety will fade.  The exhausting fight of trying to control the uncontrollable will turn into rest, and we will be at peace.  
Praying Together: 
“Jesus, we affirm that You indeed are sovereign and good, and that nothing is beyond Your power.  Take from us the need to manipulate the outcome of our lives.  As we put our hope and trust in You, grant us the gift of peace that surpasses all understanding.  Amen.”
Read Matthew 2:4-6.
Bethlehem.  That was the answer Herod was given when he asked his counselors for the location of the birth of this so-called king of the Jews.  
Bethlehem was an interesting choice for the site of Jesus’ birth.  The small city sat well below the towering hills of God’s city, Jerusalem.  As a result, Bethlehem was in the shadow of the Temple and even King Herod’s palace.  Each of those sites was visible as they rose far above the meager stance of the small city.  And yet, it was there, in Bethlehem, that Jesus was born.  
While we might expect the King of kings to come to a more prestigious place, such as a palace or the Temple, it is Jesus’ way to arrive in a humbler manner.  After all, this is the One who Paul says in Philippians 2, “did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited for His own gain, but made Himself nothing by being born in human likeness.”  
This movement of Jesus to humble Himself shows His confidence in His strength.  Oftentimes, we associate humility with weakness, but this is not true.  It takes a lot of strength and confidence to choose the path of humility.  This is, of course, the path Jesus not only took for Himself but also for His followers to take.  The difference for us is that our confidence and strength to do so is found in Christ, not ourselves.  We are sure of His keeping.  We know His strength, so we can surrender ourselves into His care.  We trust that Jesus can do far more through our life surrendered to Him than we can striving to do for Him by our own strength.  We don’t have anything we need to prove to anyone in this world, so we can take up the humble ways of Christ. 
Praying Together: 
“Christ, we celebrate Your humility.  You chose to come to us as one of us, while setting aside many of Your glorious privileges as God’s Son.  You showed us the way of humility.  Now give us the courage to be humble in our spirit, not thinking more of ourselves than we ought to think.  Let us follow Your way for it is truly life giving.  Amen.”
Read Matthew 2:7-8.
In October 2020, my family went on a little road trip.  We took my in-laws’ camper trailer to Seattle to see my cousin and his family.  In just 14 days, we drove for 98 ½ hours and over 5,100 miles.  Needless to say, we were glad to be home.
The Magi made quite a journey themselves to see Jesus.  The trip would have been a minimum of 800 miles through challenging terrain, like deserts and mountains.  The trip would have taken them upwards of three months.  They also would have traveled by foot or by animal–not nearly as convenient as a Ford F-150.  Such a trip would have been arduous at best, but they were eager to make it in order to welcome the new king into the world.  
I wonder how far you would go for Jesus.  Would you have been willing to pack up your things and brave the unknown in hope that you might find Him, or would the unknown elements of the journey cause you to stay home instead?  I wonder which would win you over–the comforts of home or the payout of discovering a priceless treasure.  
So often, we choose to stay in our comfort zone.  We like to stay with what we know, with what is familiar to us.  There are certainly benefits to our comfort zone but refusing to move beyond it can cost us as well, especially in our spiritual life.  Choosing to stay within the confines of your comfort zone is a sure-fire recipe for complacency with your faith.  
The comfort zone doesn’t allow room for God to do something new, as anything new is unfamiliar.  As a result, we are unlikely to see any spiritual breakthrough.  Spiritual revival will come only when we venture beyond our comfort zone to where God is moving.  This is what the Magi did.  They went out in pursuit of Jesus.  This journey took them well past anything that was known to them.  Their breakthrough was that they got to worship at the feet of Jesus.  
Prayer: “Jesus, You are the One who first came to us.  You left the glory of the heavens to be born to us.  Give me the courage to come to You.  Help me venture beyond my comfort zone.  I want to know You more, and that means trusting You when You call me out of my normal routine.  I want You to take me on an adventure that would put Your greatness on display.  Amen.”
Read Matthew 2:9.
I find it interesting that God uses a star to point the way to Jesus.  It’s interesting but not that surprising given the significance of light throughout the scriptures.  
In the beginning, light was the first thing God created.  It was also the first thing He called good, just before He separated it from the darkness.  God reveals Himself to Abraham through a smoking firepot.  On their way out of Egypt, the Israelites were guided by God with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night.  When God gave them the Law, the people thought the mountain was on fire.  
Fast forward to the New Testament when Jesus calls Himself the “Light of the World.”  Light also plays an important role in the resurrection story.  The Apostle Paul was blinded by the Jesus’ light on the road to Damascus, and in the glimpse of Jesus’ glorious reign in Revelation 22, God’s people won’t need a light “for the Lord their God will give them light.” 
It begs the question, why is light so important in the Bible?  Well, the best I can come up with is that light gives us a way of thinking about God.  Light is powerful and mysterious.  We know there is light, but we don’t fully understand it.  If you want to humble the world’s leading physicists, ask them where light comes from and watch them flounder.  We don’t know.  We know light only because of what light reveals, and isn’t that a lot like God?  Light allows us to see, but at the same time, remains a mystery.  So it should be no surprise to us that God uses light to point the way to His Son.  
Praying Together: 
“Gracious God of Creation, You continue to bring light into our darkened world because of Your love for us.  I am humbled by the fact that You are both revealed to me and hidden from me.  I know You only because You have made Yourself known to me. I need You in my world. I am grateful for the light that has been given to us in Christ.  May Your Light continue to shine so brightly that the darkness dare not approach.  In Your Name, Amen.”
Read Matthew 2:10.
We have already considered the distance the Magi traveled to get to Jerusalem.  They have persevered through all the arduous travel to make it here.
When they arrive in Jerusalem, they begin asking where to find the new king of the Jews.  Perhaps they expected the news to be the talk of the town.  While the people had not heard anything, Herod’s council pointed them in the direction of Bethlehem.  When the Magi began moving in that direction, they saw Jesus’ star and were overjoyed.  This verse is a reminder to us that there is great joy to be found in seeking after Jesus. 
I wonder if you’re experiencing an overabundance of joy in your relationship with Jesus.  You should be.  After all, the Lord of all creation has become one of us so that we could be one with Him.  Jesus has come to redeem us and bring us into a life-giving relationship with God again.  We have the opportunity to enjoy that relationship every moment of every day, from now throughout eternity.    
Now we don’t seek Jesus because of what He gives us, even for something as great as joy.  We seek Jesus because He is worthy.  The benefits of seeking after Him are just icing on the cake.  They’re evidence of the lavish abundance of grace that God loves to heap on His children. 
I hope that you’re enjoying the grace that your Heavenly Father is offering you today.  I hope you are walking in the joy of knowing Him.
Praying Together: 
“Lord, I want to enjoy You.  You are so good, and my soul is never more alive than when I am in fellowship with You.  Awaken me to Your wonder and free me to find rest in Your presence.  Amen.”
Read Matthew 2:11-12.
In Jesus’ birth narrative, we encounter the various reactions to Jesus.  There are the shepherds who bring the good news of great joy.  There is Mary who treasures the events in her heart.  And finally, we have the Magi, who worship.  All of these are appropriate responses to Jesus, but I especially appreciate the image the Magi leave for us.
At the sight of Jesus, they fall to their knees.  Is there any other way to approach Jesus?  We’re told in Philippians 2 that when Jesus returns and His true identity is revealed to the world, that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  When we see Jesus as He is, the sheer magnitude of His glory will compel everyone to  fall on their knees.    
The amazing thing for us is that we don’t have to wait until that moment to honor Him in this way.  We get to worship Him every day.  We get to look upon Him and glory in Him.  We get to enjoy His grace and grow in depth of knowledge of Him.  We are freed to throw open our treasures and give as generously to Him as He continues to give to us.  This is the picture of true worship.  Yes, one day the world will be obliged to worship the Glory-filled Jesus.  Today, we have the privilege to worship Him.  
Praying Together: 
“Christ, You are indeed worthy of my worship and my love.  Open my heart and mind to You so I can grow in love and mercy.  I pray I can model Your grace to all I encounter.   It is my privilege to know You and to serve You by serving others. Amen.”