What do you treasure?
My devotion for today is based on Luke 2:17-19/ "And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this Child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart."
Parents treasure things related to their children, and Mary was no exception. In her case, she treasured what Gabriel said when he told her she would bear a Son; the shepherds' story and the angels' song; the sights and sounds of Jesus' birthplace. Many years later, she would share these stories with other Christian believers, and they found their way into the Gospels.
Why do we treasure these things—these objects, these stories? Probably because they are the only way we can hold on to the people we love. Children grow up and go out into the world; friends and relatives grow old and die. We suffer loss. And so we treasure the links we still have to those we love. It is the best we can do.
But God can do better than that—and He does. There was a time when God faced losing us, the people He created and loved. And it wasn't just to the ordinary process of growing up, but to something worse, to death and hell. Faced with that, God took action. He came into the world as our Savior Jesus. He fought the powers of death and the devil for our sake. And He rose victorious from death three days later, with the prize He wanted firmly grasped in His hands. We are that treasure. Because of Jesus, God doesn't have to treasure objects or stories related to us. He treasures us directly and forever, as His own children. We should treasure God and all He has done.
Please pray with me, Dear Father, thank You for treasuring us and making us Your own forever. Amen.
As we continue to celebrate Jesus' birth while waiting for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on Luke 2:15-16, "When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger."
Nobody had to to the shepherds to hurry up. They hurried themselves up. They were looking forward to getting to their goal—finding the baby Jesus that God had told them about through the Angels. And when they saw Him, they were happy, filled with so much joy that they had to share what they had seen.
I am afraid that too often in our relationship with Jesus, we don't hasten to hear or study His words to us. God knows this about us. And so He calls us to Him with love and mercy, not with anger and threats. Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
In another place, He says, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37-38).
Remember you are wanted by God—deeply, truly wanted. He calls you to Him. He is not planning to scold or punish you when you get there. Instead, He is giving you a gift—the best gift of all—our Savior Jesus, to be your own.
Please pray with me, Dear Lord, bring me to You with trust and joy to receive Your blessings. Amen.
Jesus is the only true light
As we continue to celebrate Jesus' birth while waiting for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on John 1:5,9, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world."
In many parts of the world, candles and strings of lights illuminate homes inside and out in the weeks before Christmas. Those lights can also point us to an essential truth about Christmas. The Bible describes the natural condition of humanity as darkness. In the darkness that we call sin, we are helpless and vulnerable. Dangers lurk all around us. We can't see God or anything truly good. We can't see the path through life that ends up anywhere but death.
But Christmas changed all of that. A Savior was born to dwell among us to bring light into our darkness. He overcame the darkness of sin through his perfect life as the Son of God. He destroyed sin's hold on our hearts and lives with his innocent death. The message of the Bible opens our eyes to see Jesus as the light that shines on the only path away from death to life that never ends.
With each Christmas light that pierces the darkness of these December nights, remember Jesus, the Savior, born to dwell among us and bring true light into the world. He is the light that keeps shining long after the Christmas decorations are stored away.
Please pray with me, Lord Jesus; thank you for bringing true light into our dark world. Let your light shine in my heart so that others can see your love through my words and actions. In your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
As we continue to celebrate Jesus' birth while waiting for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on John 1:4,12,13: "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind . . . to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."
As ordinary as the circumstances of Jesus' birth, he was no ordinary child. The child who took his first breath that night was the one who breathed life into the first people created and who gave life to you and me.
"In him was life," the Bible says. That doesn't just mean that he was alive. It means that life belongs to him. He gives life and gives you life. If you have children or grandchildren, he gave them life too.
But through Jesus, we also receive a more profound and vital life. "To those who believed in his name," the Bible says, "he gave the right to become children of God." As God leads you to see and trust that Jesus is your Savior, you are born again as a child of God, set free from guilt, shame, and death. You have new life—eternal life—in Jesus. What a gift!
Please pray with me, Jesus; thank you for giving me the faith so that I have become a child of God. Because of your birth, I am born again. Help me live as your child. Amen.
The Word became flesh for us
As we celebrate Jesus' birth and wait for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on John 1:1 and 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The birth of Jesus might sound like another myth or fairy tale, except that the story’s writer made sure to include many verifiable historical details. It is a true story. The Bible says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Word is the Son of God himself. He became a human being. He was born to dwell among us. We know him as Jesus. It is his birth that we just celebrated. In the little town of Bethlehem, a woman named Mary had a child. That child, Jesus, was “full of grace and truth.” He embodied truth. He didn’t embellish the truth. He didn’t cover up the truth or twist it to serve an agenda. Jesus came to dwell among us to live, and speak the truth.
The truth of a God who came to save a world consumed by self-serving lies. The truth of a God who loves you more than you can imagine. The truth of a God who made his home on earth, so you have a home with him in heaven. The world wants to put what took place at Bethlehem in the same category as the North Pole and Whoville. But what happened at Bethlehem is true. A Savior born for you.
Please pray with me, Jesus; help me believe and celebrate the truth of your birth as my Savior. Amen.
What's in a name
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and wait for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on Matthew 1:21, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins."
Mary and Joseph didn't have to flip through baby name books to land on the name Jesus. God, through his angel, instructed Joseph to give him the name Jesus because he would save his people. In Hebrew, the name means "salvation."
His name and all it means came into clearest focus when it was written on a sign and placed above him on the cross—JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS (Matthew 27:37). There on the cross, he was dying to save you. From cradle to cross, he came to save.
What does the name Jesus mean to you? His name means salvation for you! It means that as you remain on this earth for a time and still see the impact of sin and imperfection, salvation from sin is already yours. It means he will come again to rescue us from this perishing world to bring us to life everlasting. From cradle to cross, he came to save you. And he will come again!
Please pray with me, Forgiving God; help us always be mindful of your loving presence and not be distracted from our calling to be your children. Fill us with the confidence that your love is always there for us, no matter our challenges. Please help us find delight in your world and the people around us. Amen.
God is with us
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and wait for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
When God created the first people, he dwelt with them in the Garden of Eden. They disobeyed God. Sin entered the picture, and they became separated from God. But God did not leave them. God made a promise. He promised that one born of the woman would crush the devil and his plan to separate God and his people forever.
It was always God's plan to be with his people. He's the God that comes to us. He doesn't meet us halfway. He doesn't kick back in heaven and say, "You know where to find me, but it's up to you to come to me." No. He's the God who comes to us in love.
Here is proof that our God comes to us: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and call him Immanuel." Immanuel means God with us. He is no longer separated by sin. He wants nothing more than to be with us. God bridged the gap just as he always planned. Jesus—the offspring of the woman, the son born of a virgin—is living-proof that God came to be with us, and he will come again to take us to be with him.
Please pray with me. Come, Lord Jesus, to be with me and to comfort me with your promises. Amen
Jesus is knocking
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and wait for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on Philippians 4:3, "The Lord is at hand."
Sunday is the last Sunday of Advent. Christmas is knocking at the door. I am reminded of His words where he said he is knocking at the door of our hearts. What God did some 2000 years ago still concerns us. Jesus' arrival on this earth is not just some story that happened in the past. He is here with us through His words and Sacraments as they are recorded in the Bible.
The Lord is near. While the children are counting the days to Christmas, we look forward to that wonderful day when Jesus returns, not concealed in His Word, but in His glorified body. While the future is uncertain, his return is not, even if we don't know when it will occur. The Lord is near. Behold our King comes. Righteous and victorious, is He.
Please pray with me: My Lord and King, I pray that You make Your entrance as King into my heart. In Jesus' blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Serving as Jesus served
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and wait for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on Matthew 11: "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women, there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
Servanthood does not come easy because it is hardwired into human nature to put oneself above others. Servanthood is the direct opposite of the way the world thinks and works, for servanthood does not put the self first. Genuine, humble service to others is the signature characteristic of the Christian life. That is the way of Jesus. That is to be our way.
Please join me in praying today: Lord, we thank you for turning the world upside down with your life. Thank you for modeling servanthood for us. Help us in these challenging times to sharpen our focus on others and to look out for the needs of those around us; in gratitude for what you have done for us. In Your holy name, I pray. Amen
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth and wait for his Second Coming, my devotion for today is based on Luke 4:18-19, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
This is the passage that Jesus preached the only time he preached in his hometown, Nazareth. After doing so, he announced, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The importance of what Jesus said cannot be understated. He is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy spoken hundreds of years earlier.
It was God, through the Spirit, who moved Isaiah to speak. It was God who gave it form and shape. God interprets the prophecy in the events of history, in what he allows to happen when the prophecy is fulfilled. In this case, Jesus himself is the fulfillment.
Please pray with me, Lord; open my eyes and heart so I receive your Word. Please give me your Spirit’s help, so I hear what you and you alone say. Give me the gift of understanding, especially during the Christmas season so I better understand the wonderfulness of your coming to this earth. In Jesus’ blessed name, I pray. Amen