Not a God of Wishful Thinking or Religious Sentimentality: Devotion, Matthew 2

God is not a god of wishful thinking based on my expectations or sentiments. Religious sentimentality and religious wishful thinking may feel good but give little value or substance to face the difficulties of life. Although I like to feel good, and the holiday season is very pleasant, I must go beyond this if I am to have a relationship with God with substance; especially if I am to have any lasting value as a servant to my family, church, community, and God. Simple contrariness or rejection of sentimentality is no more than avoiding a ditch and jumping over into another one. No, the answer is looking to my Lord and developing a deep personal relationship with him founded on meditation on him, prayer, and consuming his Word.

Read Matthew Chapter Two

  1. How did a situation come about where a Jewish king, his advisers, and teachers understood less about the scriptures than foreign kings and wise men? How can this happen to me?
  2. How did the undesirable circumstances of being occupied by a detested foreign power distort the peoples expectations about the Messiah that would come as compared to the Messiah that was prophesied? How can my desire for different circumstance cause me to miss God’s will for me, turn him into a god of wishful thinking,  and block me from seeing his answer to my prayers?
  3. How do the events in this chapter contrast to most religious sentimentality during the Christmas season?
  4. If I were to retell the stories present in this chapter as a fairytale, what would I leave out? The manger? Herod? The murder of the innocents? What does this say about how well my relationship with God equips me to deal with the realities he asks me to face?
  5. How do debates about Christmas trees (originally a pagan symbol) and other religious topics during the holidays compare the realities of this chapter?

Passage for Meditation

And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. Micah 5:5

Prayer

Father if I am to be salt and to be your changing influence in this world, loving the unlovable, and living among difficult people in difficult circumstances, give me strength, courage, persistence, and patience. And help me to keep my eyes focused on you.. Help me to advance boldly. Help me to love when it is difficult. Thank you for pleasant times, for family, for friends, for encouraging community. Help me not to grumble when you place a difficult task, person, or situation before me. Help me not to be so quick to avoid it that I miss your will. Give me the strength and wisdom to accomplish your purposes. Show me your will. I trust in you. Help me to know you as I am capable of knowing you. Help me not to attempt to make you over in my image and make you a god of wishful thinking.

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