Born for you
Born for you.
As we continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the devotion for this morning 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 less tangible things—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? 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 to death and eternal separation from God. Faced with that, God took action. He came into the world as our Savior to fight 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.
Please pray with me; Dear Father, thank You for treasuring us and making us Your own forever. In Jesus' blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Born for you.
As we continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus the devotion for this morning is based on Luke 2:10-11, "And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
The ancient Israelites had a concept we usually translate as "redeemer" or even "kinsman-redeemer." If you got into trouble or lost all your money, this was the person you needed. A kinsman-redeemer is what we need as human beings. Once all of us were under the power of the devil, living as slaves to guilt and shame and sin. We needed help. But who could do it? We got ourselves into that situation—by rights, it ought to be fixed by a human being. But no human being was in a position to pay. God could pay—but He was not human. By being born into our human family, Jesus fixed that problem. He became our Kinsman-Redeemer, our blood relative who has the right and the ability to buy us back out of slavery.
So yes, Jesus is born to the shepherds—and me—and you. He is born to all of us, as close kin as our children, as generous and loving as the best relative you ever had or dreamed of having. And because He became our kin, now we can become His kin—children of God, sharing His everlasting life and joy.
Please pray with me: Dear Lord, thank You for coming to be my Redeemer. Thank You for being born to me. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
As we continue to celebrate our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Luke 2:52. "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and all the people."
The events between his birth and the beginning of his public ministry in his baptism all fit into less than two chapters (Luke 2 and Matthew 2). But there is this wonderful summary in Luke 2:52, after Jesus' trip to the temple at 12 years old: 'And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and all the people.'
In this coming year, wouldn't it be wonderful if each of us could, like Jesus, 'grow in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and with all the people?'
Please pray with me; Lord Jesus, thank you for the profound reality of your incarnation. This coming year, please help me grow more fully human as you restore me in the image of God so that I may grow in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and with all the people? In your name, I pray. Amen.
Immanuel (God With Us)
Immanuel (God with us)
As we celebrate our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Luke 2:7, "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."
In this birth, in this arrival, God is with us. And nothing will ever be the same. The God who has raised the humble but cast down the mighty. This God who has set the Prince of Peace on the throne of victory. This God whose wisdom comes mingled with childlike wonder and delight. This is the God we serve, for this is the God who loves us with an everlasting love that he came to live among us in order that we can be declared righteous before God the Father. Praise and glory be to our Prince of Peace!
Please pray with me; Jesus, our king, we adore and thank you for your incredible love. You are God with us. Help us know your love and companionship this Christmas season. Please help us to share it with others. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest
As we prepare for celebrating our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Luke 2:13.14: "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
Of all the events in the Bible, I think I most would have liked to witness the night the angels appeared to the shepherds. To see the angel's announcement of our Savior's birth would have been fantastic for sure. But it would also have been great to see the shepherd's reaction The amazed expression on their faces. Their excited shouts of joy. Their adrenaline pumping as they ran off to spread the fantastic news.
Is that your reaction to Jesus? We are certainly tempted to take the message of Christmas for granted because we have heard it all before. It is easy to quickly forget the importance of what happened on that first Christmas. I imagine those Shepherds did not so easily forget what they saw.
God bless you as you worship your Lord and Savior tonight. May you also be filled with awe and joy that God kept his promises. While we were not there to see the angels, we can be just like those shepherds and spread the good news of our Savior's birth wherever we go.
Please pray with me; Dear Lord, like the shepherds, please fill me with joy at the birth of Jesus and move me to share the fantastic news of his birth. Amen.
As we prepare for celebrating our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Luke 2:4-5, "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with Child."
It could not have been an easy trip. Joseph needed to get to Bethlehem for legal reasons, and he brought Mary with him on the verge of delivery. In spite of the Christmas cards, there's a good chance they both walked. The Bible says nothing about a donkey. And the trip was at least 70 miles.
And then the birth itself—not in an inn, as there was no room for them there. Labor and delivery for a first-time mother—could Joseph find anyone to help? Who knows? No cradle, just a manger to keep Him off the floor so no one could step on Him and the rats wouldn't bite Him.
This is how much God loves us, that He sent His only Son into the world under such circumstances. This is how much Jesus our Savior loves us. Our troubles, suffering, poverty, and griefs—He shared them all from the beginning, every day of His life.
He did it for you and me because He loves us. As He shared our suffering, so now we share in His joy and everlasting life. Jesus came to be Immanuel, God-with-us forever.
Please pray with me; Lord, thank You for loving us so much. Draw me closer to You as I live my life so that I never forget your love and forgiveness. In Your name, I pay. Amen.
As we prepare for celebrating our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Matthew 1:24-25, "When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife but knew her not until she had given birth to a Son. And he called His Name Jesus."
What courage Joseph had to go forward with the marriage, bringing his wife home—all based on a dream. Mary and Zechariah both benefited from a face-to-face meeting with a real live angel. Joseph? Well, like his Old Testament namesake, he got his instructions in dreams.
God speaks to us today through the Bible, prayer, and consultation with wise Christian friends. That can cause us to question God's directions. What if I get it wrong? What if I think God wants me to do something, and later on, it turns into a disaster? We fret and worry as if knowing God's will were some test.
But that is not the case. Because of our Savior Jesus, we are now God's beloved children. God is certainly not looking to set traps for us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will make the best decisions we can; and if things go badly (and face it, don't they often?), we will know that God is still with us, and we are still His children. After all, Jesus is Immanuel; God with us.
Please pray with me; Lord, You know that I can get confused easily. Guide me through your Word, and help me trust in You when I doubt whether or not I am doing your will. In Jesus' blessed name, I pray. Amen.
The wisdom of God will guide you.
As we prepare for celebrating our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Matthew 1:19-20, "And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream."
Can you imagine what it was like when an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream? He obviously believed what the angel said, for he did not divorce Mary. There have been times when I wished God would send me a message through an angel when I needed some guidance.
But of course, God usually doesn't do that. Angels are few and far between in my life and (I'm guessing) in yours as well. Instead, we're left to do what Joseph did—lie awake, "considering these things" with the best wisdom we have available to us.
But the good news is that we do not have to "consider these things" on our own! James says this to us as well: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5). He listens to us when we are in trouble and cry out. God gives us the Holy Spirit's help to make decisions, even the terribly tough ones. After all, He knows what our lives are like, for he became a human being like us, to suffer, die, and rise for our sakes.
Please join me in praying; Lord, when I am in trouble, help me to cry out to You for help, for you have promised to hear me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
As we prepare for celebrating our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Matthew 1:18, "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."
Mary "was found to be with child." What lies behind those words, "was found"? It doesn't sound like she had the chance to break the news gently. It sounds rather like someone found out—like there was a shocking moment of discovery.
Of course, Mary had a perfectly innocent explanation—though, given human nature, I wonder how many people believed her. But we have our "found out" moments, too. Those sickening moments when a friend or family member confronts us with a truth we tried to keep hidden.
In times like these, there is nothing to do but flee to the One who saves us from shame and fear; Jesus. There is no need to worry about being "found out" with Him. He already knows. And knowing, He has already laid down His life for us, doing everything necessary to rescue us and to set us free from our terror and guilt.
With Jesus our Savior, there is never any "found out." There is only "found"—we are found safe, in Him.
Please pray with me; Let me know that despite what sin I have done, whether others know about it or is known only to me that you know about it, yet you still love me. I pray in your beloved name. Amen.
The Lord is near
As we prepare for celebrating our Lord's birth, today's devotion is based on Philipsssss 4:4-5, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand."
The Lord is near! What wonderful words those are. While the children are counting the days to Christmas, we as children of God look forward to the second coming of Jesus. On that day, Jesus will not be a baby but a mighty King manifested in all his glory.
Maybe we will see that day while we are still here. Perhaps we will see it when we wake from death's sleep. Whichever it is we look forward to that day. While the future is uncertain, we know who will appear that day. The Lord is near! Behold, your King comes to you. Righteous and victorious is He.
Please pray with me, Dearest Jesus, my Lord, and King. I pray this day that you continue to reside in my heart. I am afraid that my sinful self has not lived as if you are there too many times. Liberate me, Lord, first from all my guilt and then from everything else that wants to pull me away from your Lordship in my life. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.