Prepare to Listen. (If using, light the first and second purple Advent candles.) If you do not stand in faith, you will not stand at all.
Prayerfully Read Isaiah 7:9b-14 and Matthew 1:23
9bIf you do not stand in faith, you will not stand at all. 10Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’
Faith, not what you believe, but how you live, matters. But King Ahaz failed to accept this truth. He lacked faith in God’s loyalty to the ancient covenant made with Judah. Thus, when two small nations, Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Aram (Syria) attacked, Ahaz’s heart filled with fear and “shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” His fear led him to the foolish decision to ask an enemy, Assyria for help. God sent Isaiah to give the king assurance and a warning: “If you do not stand in faith, you will not stand at all.”
Then God made a generous offer—ask me for a sign, no matter how easy or impossible. Ahaz remained unshaken in his fear. He piously refused to put God to the test, thinking he was obeying the Law. But if God makes the offer, we should listen and obey. Fear ruled Ahaz. He lacked trust in God, and refused God’s generous offer. God gave him a sign anyway. We know it well because Matthew applied it to Jesus, who was conceived of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. There is no longer legitimate room for fear.
We too live in a culture of fear that has led many to arm themselves, divide from those who believe and live differently, ban books with which they take offence, and more. We must keep in mind God’s sign, Immanuel. Trust his presence and power to keep us from our fears and foolish decisions. Remember: No faith, no future!
Name your fears and rely, trust (the meaning of faith) God’s presence with and in you to lead you in right paths. Live this today.
Lord, don’t let my fears lead me to foolishness that turns me away from you. Deepen my trust in you to guard your people today. Amen.
Live obediently. Stand in faith or you will not stand at all.
 Isaiah 7:2.  “Do not put the LORD you God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6:16).