Monday, December 25, 2017 Evening
Micah 4:1-5, 5:2
The day has arrived, the promises fulfilled. Jesus has been born. God’s Son and our salvation. A physical reminder that God is with us and God desires a relationship with us. It is not just about Jesus’ birth, but about his second coming as well and the culmination of all things. The making of things right in the world.
“The nations will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The weapons and study of war will be replaced by more life-sustaining things like providing food and living peacefully with others.
This is all possible because of the baby born in Bethlehem. Chapter five verse two, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.”
The name Bethlehem means “house of bread.” From this house of bread, comes the bread of life, Jesus Christ. His body will become broken like the bread to give life and life eternal to all those who will believe.
The day has arrived, peace is at hand, the ways of war will cease, and life everlasting is here! Worship Christ the Newborn King, and hold on to the promises of his return.
Monday, December 25, 2017 Morning
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her, she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
This is a remarkable journey of grace that God would choose humble faithful people like Joseph and Mary to be the earthly parents of Jesus. It was a great risk and humiliation, but they honored God and their faithfulness led to our salvation.
How will God use your story of faithfulness? Mary and Joseph’s faithfulness brought Christ into the world, and our faithful testimony will continue to carry Christ to the world. God bless you as you carry the name of Christ.
Sunday, December 24, 2017
The coming of Christ into the world was and is truly the greatest of all gifts. Isaiah was speaking words that were largely ignored at the time he shared them. He responded to the call of God and shortly after God told him how the people would continue in this same path for some time.
Isaiah prophesied for God for over forty years and through the reigns of multiple kings. I used to wonder “was he successful?” Is the success of a prophet determined by the prophecies coming true or the influence of them to change the hearts and minds of the hearers? Then I realized through the years, God did ask Isaiah to be successful, but faithful! Wow! This puts the outcome in God’s hands and in God’s time. God’s word goes out and it won’t return void.
Many of Isaiah’s prophecies point beyond his life and are fulfilled in Jesus. Good news about the binding of the brokenhearted, liberty to the captives, year of the Lord’s favor, comfort to all who mourn; and gladness for mourning.
Many people won’t attempt to do something unless they believe they can succeed. Others will start, but if success doesn’t look likely then they will abandon the task. What if the burden of success was removed? We trust God for the outcome. What if we focus on faithfulness rather than success? Jesus would be glorified in us and God will do the impossible. Even a virgin giving birth to the very Son of God!
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Zechariah ties this crucial time in the history of the people of God by sharing about John’s role and about Jesus’ identity.
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us[a] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
What a beautiful description of John and Jesus.
Friday, December 22, 2017
Zechariah had been made mute by God throughout Elizabeth’s pregnancy. It was the tradition in their time for the father to name the child. It was time for Elizabeth to give birth and she bore a son. Neighbors, family, and friends were happy for her that God had shown her mercy.
On the eighth day was circumcision and the naming of the child. The people wanted to name him after his father. Elizabeth said, “no, he shall be called John.” The people were puzzled because it was not a family name. Then they seem to ignore Elizabeth, after celebrating God’s mercy on her, and wanted the official answer from Zechariah. Elizabeth was affirmed by her husband as he wrote, “His name is John.”
As the people wondered, Zechariah was immediately able to speak and to praise God. The people were amazed, and some were afraid to see the mighty work of God in their midst. It the wasn’t earthly father who determined his name and direction for his life, but his Heavenly Father.
The people wondered, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. We often look at the potential of young children and wonder what they will grow to be and do. Truly, John would be unique to his purpose in the world as the one preparing the way for The Way.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Two extraordinary women, Mary and Elizabeth. When Mary found out about Elizabeth, her cousin, she goes to see her. Imagine Mary wondering who might believe her and how would she spend the next few months. Knowing the Lord had also done what seemed to be the impossible in her cousin Elizabeth’s life. She would surely understand both the confusion and excitement. They had in each other the blessings of God in their bodies. Life, where none would have been possible before.
When Mary arrives at Elizabeth’s house her baby jumped for joy in her womb. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks about how blessed Mary is, and how blessed she feels that Mary would come to see her. I’m sure that in some people’s mind Mary was not blessed. Some, perhaps didn’t believe her story and ridiculed her as an adulteress, and take her husband as a fool for staying with her. That doesn’t feel much like a blessing, yet they both trusted God and God’s messengers, and were faithful even if it was tough. God also provided a support system in Elizabeth and Zechariah. Their son, John the Baptist, would express joy for the arrival of Jesus the rest of his life. He would recognize, point to, glorify, and honor Jesus. Will we recognize God’s work in the world and will we honor and glorify Him?
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
It was truly an amazing time. Mary was going on with life as usual. She was engaged to be married to Joseph and they were planning life together. Nothing extraordinary. Then, the angel, Gabriel, appears to her and says, “O favored one, the Lord is with you!” She was troubled and tried to figure out what kind of greeting this might be. I think I understand her concern. How many times have you seen an angel of the Lord?
He knows this is a surprise, “Don’t be afraid, you have found favor with God.” Whew, that’s good! But wait, there’s more. “You will conceive and bear a son and call him Jesus. He is God’s Son and there is no end to His Kingdom.” Mary was astonished. This perhaps sounded great, but the first question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Her first question was practical. Sometimes, we may be too busy looking at the practical to see the God-sized possibility.
The Holy Spirit will enable this to happen. This is God’s Son. You may be a virgin, but God is in the miracle business. Your cousin, Elizabeth, in her old age, has also conceived a son, before she was barren. God is the worker of miracles and the giver of life. God, who created the universe, can give life. Nothing is impossible for God.
Mary asks no more questions, but says, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” God may want to do something extraordinary through you. Will you let me?