There are people who try to take the supernatural aspect of personal guidance away, saying we have many natural means available for us today, like a Bible to read and a good mind to use. But the Bible points to many examples of supernatural guidance. The Christmas story alone provides enough to encourage us that we should believe in personal guidance.
For this study, let’s review all the guidance that brought about the birth of Jesus, which is found in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-3:
- Supernatural signs: Unusual stars in the sky indicated that God was doing something new.
- Angels: God used His angels as messengers, both to Mary and to Joseph, to John the Baptist’s father, as well as to the shepherds.
- The entire story was in line with Scripture: All of this happened to fulfill Scripture.
- Surrender to His will was required at every stage: The submission of Mary was simple and sincere. Joseph had to surrender his understanding and reputation. The wise men had to surrender their security or safety by disobeying the evil king.
- Pondering it in Mary’s heart: Mary didn’t blurt it out all over the place but pondered in her heart all that had been said and all that happened (see Luke 2:19).
- Joseph: God did not always explain Himself to Joseph ahead of time, telling him what He was doing. He knew Joseph was a righteous man, trying to do what was right, so He began to lead him.
- God always works on both ends of the guidance: He spoke to everyone whose lives were about to be affected by the guidance. He spoke to Mary, and then went on the other end to speak to Joseph.
- God always establishes His will with two or three witnesses: Both the shepherds and wise men bore witness to what God was doing. In a way, what was happening to Elizabeth in another part of Judah was also part of the confirmation of who Jesus was.
- Herod: Experiencing trouble does not mean you are not in His will. Herod had his will too, but God thwarted it with His guidance and provision.
- Timely provision: Jesus was about two years old when the wise men came from the East bearing gifts. These gifts came in at just the right time, as the young family was about to flee to Egypt.
- Dreams: He warned Joseph in a dream four times: told about Mary (Matthew 1:18-24); told to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13); told to return home (Matthew 2:19-20); told not to go back to his hometown (Matthew 2:22). Even the wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod (Matthew 2:12).
- In the fullness of time: God always keeps His promises, but often it takes time.
- Waiting: The anticipation of the coming Messiah kept Simeon and Anna engaged in their callings. Their passion for what God had put in their hearts was part of the Christmas story. Waiting is a normal part of God’s process in our lives.
- Humility: From Mary to Anna, the shepherds to the wise men, everyone whom God used in this story demonstrated real humility.