Read Luke 2:12
I’m not exactly sure what what it is about them, but I find it hard to read the sign posts at MOTO service stations on UK motorways. As I come off the motorway slip road, there before me is a sign post with multiple options in picture form and I have to make a fairly quick decision about which way to go. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve ended up parking in the lorry-park or the fuel station! Clearly I find the signs hard to read!
There are many signs in life and they’re not always easy to read, especially if you have to make a quick decision about them. God-given signs are the same – they’re not normally meant to be reacted to in a hurry. They’re meant to be considered and then followed.
Signs point to something. They’re there to guide us. To help us. To lead us in the right direction. And God’s signs are no different. This summer we ran a 7-week series at The Belfrey called Sign Posts, considering the 7 miraculous signs in John’s gospel that all point to Jesus and how amazing he is. The miracles are exciting and good, but their main point is to lead us to Christ.
God uses macro-signs and micro-signs to lead us to Christ, and we see this in the Advent stories. It was long prophesied that a virgin giving birth would be a big God-given sign pointing to Messiah (Isaiah 7:14). That was a macro-sign. But look at the story of the shepherds and we see a micro-sign too. They were watching their sheep on night when they were greeted with an angelic host. Clearly they were intrigued by their encounter announcing the news of the birth of ‘a Saviour, the Christ, the Lord’ (Lk 2:11) which concluded with the promise of a micro-sign: ‘This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’ (Lk 2:12). This pretty specific sign was to lead them to Christ. And it did! The shepherds went to Bethlehem to search for such a baby. The sign was clear – and unusual. Babies were not normally wrapped in cloths and certainly not placed in a manger. But that’s exactly what they found!!! It was a sign. A sign leading them to Christ.
God sometimes gives signs today. In fact the bible promises them – signs and wonders (Acts 2:43; Acts 4:30; Mark 6:17-19). Signs to get our attention and lead us to Christ and worship him. To lead us to his presence. Macro-signs and micro-signs. To cause us to worship and, like the shepherds, to go into the world full of praise and telling everyone about the wonderful things we’ve seen and heard (Lk 2:20).
Of course we have to be careful not to get obsessed with signs or see everything in life as a sign. In fact we’re not meant to seek signs in themselves, but rather to seek the One all God-given signs point to, who is Jesus Christ and his kingdom (Mt 6:33). It’s a matter of focus. If we keep our eyes on him (Heb 12:2) and seek him, God will give us signs along the way to guide us.
When these signs come, we’re supposed to read them, consider them and respond. In our sometimes cynical UK culture we’re not always good at that, even rejecting signs altogether. But we mustn’t. The bible sees them as part of life in God’s kingdom. In Matthew 16 Jesus is critical of those who are able to look at the clouds and interpret the weather but look around and can’t interpret ‘the signs of the times’.
God gives us signs. Signs to follow. Signs to guide. Signs to point us to Jesus. Be thankful today for Advent signs. Pray for wisdom to interpret the signs of the times in the world, your nation, your community and your life. And finally pray that today you yourself would be a sign – someone who’s life and witness points others to the wonder of Jesus Christ.
ACTION: If you’re a follower of Jesus, take a few minutes to think about the signs that helped point you to Jesus and put your faith in him. Write them in your Notebook. If you’re not yet a follower of Jesus, are there some signs that are leading you to him? Think about them and write them in your Notebook so you don’t forget. Is God getting your attention?
PRAY: Thank the Lord for signs and wonders that point to Christ and pray for more (as the apostles did in Acts 4:30) to lead people to Jesus. Are there signs of the times that you need to prayerfully interpret? Finally (as suggested above) pray that you will be a sign today, helpfully guiding others to Christ.