This devotional has been a labor of love and has been part of a personal journey of mine toward the celebration of Christ’s birth. I want to thank each of you for following this journey with me and hope it has blessed your days as you also anticipate the birth of Christ and look forward to his coming again. God bless each of you as you celebrate Christ’s love with one another.
Friday, December 25, 2015, evening
Background: Luke 2:8-21
Focal: Luke 2:10-15
Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. It is perhaps the best message that the shepherds or the world could receive, the birth of Jesus was for all the people. Not for some of the people, but for all people. He could not be the Savior of the world if his birth was not for all the people.
The difficulty for us many times is that we say that we believe Jesus came to save the world, but at times we may not make room in our hearts for those he came to save. We can at times not want the greatest gift to be for everyone but just for us. We are so used to receiving gifts that often we are not able to share gifts.
In another way there are also people who do believe that Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world but feel unworthy to claim him as their Savior. He came for each one of us too. We should tell the story of Jesus.
We should respond the way the shepherds did after hearing about Jesus, let us go and see this thing that the Lord has told us. Will we respond to the invitation of God through Jesus, claim him as Savior and worship him as Lord?
Friday, December 25, 2015, morning
While Mary and Joseph were participating in the census is came time for Jesus to be born. If you know anything about babies they come in their own time. When it is their time no one can tell them to wait or hold up. It had come time for Jesus to be born.
Mary gave birth as the Lord had said, and she had promised. She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough for the animals. Her son was born in a barn with the animals and placed in their feed trough. I would not have wished that to be the circumstance of birth for either one of my children, much less God’s one and only Son.
It was not what they would have chosen either, yet it was because there was no room for them in the inn. Other travelers where there in town for the census as well and there was just no room.
What about us? Would there be room in our hearts for Jesus? Have our lives become so cluttered with the trappings of the holidays that we have lost track of what we must make room for? Open the inn of our hearts to receive Jesus, and allow him to remain there as Lord of our lives.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Background: Luke 2:1-5
Focal: Luke 2:1-5
The stage was being set. Caesar had made a decree and wanted a census taken. He wanted to know how expansive his empire had become. He wanted to know how many where under his rule. The difference in this census and those taken today is that Caesar wanted everyone to go to their hometown and not necessarily the town they were living in at that time.
Joseph packed up his pregnant wife and headed to Bethlehem because he was of the lineage of David. Little did Caesar know that his desire to fulfill his own wishes was moving God’s agenda along, Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. It would have been easier to stay nearby the people that they knew and family that could help with the birth of the child but they had to follow the rule of Caesar.
The name Bethlehem means house of bread and it would foreshadow Jesus becoming the bread of life. He takes the Passover and reminds them of the broken sacrifices he would make on their behalf. I cannot begin to image the difficulty Mary must have felt know what would come of her son. God’s gift to her is also God’s gift to all of creation. What a gift indeed.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Background: Luke 1:67-80
Focal: Luke 1:76-79
Zechariah’s prophecy speaks about his son’s role in preparing the way for the Lord. He didn’t see it as a lesser role but that it was what God had called and prepared for him to do and this calling is the greatest gift that any could have. It was to announce and give knowledge to the salvation of God to his people and the forgiveness of their sins.
Why would God forgive? It is because of his tender mercy. The sunrise from on high and is coming to us. This is the greatest message that could be given that salvation is here, sin has no power because of the great mercy of God bringing salvation to us all.
I do not think it is by chance that Christmas falls in the darkest time of the year. A time when the shortness of the days can leave us to feel overwhelmed by darkness, celebrate for the light of the world has come into our darkness and he is here. We can celebrate that the darkness of our lives in sin is overcome by the light of the world Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Background: Luke 1:57-66
Focal: Luke 1:57-66
The time had come for Elizabeth to give birth and in one way the people recognized God’s working through her life and they rejoiced. Then the day came for him to be circumcised and given a name. They wanted to name the child after his father and she said no, his name is John. The people also asked his father Zechariah’s wishes, for the father was the one who would name the child and John was not a family name.
Zechariah wrote John is his name. John was also a gift from God to the world and was dedicated to the Lord. He was named by his heavenly Father and that was repeated by his earthly father. His life and work would be to honor his heavenly Father, set aside as one crying out in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord in the desert.
It is as if John’s very name coming from his heavenly Father would be an affirmation that he would be involved in his Father’s business. Also it seems that this setting apart would be from the first and throughout his life. Imagine his earthly family who knew he would play such an important and painful part in the larger part of what God’s work in the world.
Does God have a say on every part of your life? Does your Heavenly Father have a say in every part of your life? He calls us his and calls us by name to work his will and way in the world!
Monday, December 21, 2015
Background: Luke 1:39-48a (48b-56)
Focal: Luke 1:41, 44-45
Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who would be the mother of John the Baptist and also pregnant at the same time. Perhaps Mary needed family or just need to get out-of-town for a little while, but it is evident that Elizabeth understood and believed Mary. Upon Mary’s arrival, John leapt in her womb with excitement to know Jesus was near, neither being born yet.
Elizabeth pronounces blessing over her, “and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
A few thoughts do we leap with joy and excitement to know that Jesus is near? Does his nearness to us change who we are and how we see world around us? Do we realize that Jesus is here with us and he does change our lives?
Second, Mary is called blessed because she believed not only what God said but that it would be fulfilled in her life. Are we not blessed because we do not believe what God wants to do in our lives and then allow him to have his will and his way in our lives?
Lastly, how do we encourage one another? Elizabeth acknowledged and affirmed both Mary’s hearing and acting on faith to the word of God. Can we affirm God’s working in others and help them to see his blessing?