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What the Lord Wants

Micah 6: 6-8 “6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, wi...

Monday, December 28, 2020

Acts of Faith and Obedience

Luke 2: 21

“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”

Mary’s decision to give birth to the child of God was an act of faith in God’s goodness and an act of obedience to His will.  Joseph’s decision not to divorce Mary was an act of faith that God’s wisdom was not his wisdom and an act of obedience to God’s will.

Traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem was an act of faith that God was with them and an act of obedience to Roman law.  The first act with the baby Jesus after His birth was an act of faith, by naming Him Jesus, and an act of obedience to Jewish tradition, by having Him circumcised.

Christ, as an adult, would call all who had ears to hear to a new faith of transformation in which God’s will is written on our hearts, and to a new obedience that flows from our love.

Joseph and Mary were called to live out their faith.  

Their Child, our Savior, asks the same of us.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Life Begun

Luke 2: 18-19

“18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Mary...the young girl...the servant of God.  Her heart was full. The words of the angel Gabriel and the shepherds spun in her head as she sat with her newborn near her. I imagine that Mary wondered what lay ahead for her child.

Earlier, Mary and Joseph had decided to trust God.  The words of the shepherds must have reinforced this trust.  A new life was beginning for them all.

The first Christmas.  An infant child.  A new mother.  A new father.  

Words of wonder.  A life on earth begun.

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Beginning

Luke 2: 15-17, 20

“15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child...20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

The angels left.  The great company of heavenly hosts were gone.  The light that had shone round about them was gone and they were surrounded by darkness once again.  The shepherds stood alone in the empty fields.

One of the Shepherds, excited about what he had heard and seen, suggested that they leave the fields and travel to Bethlehem to see for themselves what the angels had revealed to them.  And they hurried off and discovered that everything they had heard that night was true.

Christmas is more than the glitz.  It is more than lights.  It is more than songs and gifts.  It is more than words.  Christmas means the savior is actually in the world.  Christmas means seeking Him, finding Him, and believing in Him.  

Christmas does not end when we give the last gift, cut off the lights, or take down the tree.  It has only just begun.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

God's Peace

Luke 2: 13-14

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The peace that the angels proclaimed was not peace between nations or peace between family members.  The peace that the angels proclaimed was a more profound peace; a peace offered to us by God.

This peace is to be found through a relationship in Christ; a peace grounded in our faith.  This kind of peace transcends our circumstances and the circumstances of the world.  It is a peace that passes all understanding, and is offered to all who seek Him.

Into this world God’s peace was born.  And the angels rejoiced.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Born Unto You

Luke 2: 10-12

“10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

The shepherds were terrified by the presence of the angels, but the angels reached out to them, telling them not to be afraid.

When God directly intervenes in the world our first reaction is fear.   This is because God’s intervention is unexpected, unusual, and, to be honest, scary.  Are we afraid of God’s messengers or are we afraid of God’s message?  Or both?  God’s messengers may not look like the messengers in our heads.  And God’s message may not always be the message we want to hear.

God’s message normally involves change; change for the world, and change for us.  The coming of Christ offers us the possibility of change ; it offers us the possibility to stop the charade of righteousness under the law and to change for real; to change our hearts; to transform us with God’s help into a new creation in Christ.

So, this Christmas season, remember the message of the angels.  Do not be afraid. Hope has been born unto you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Lowly

Luke 2: 8-9

“8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”

When we think of God revealing something earth shattering and momentous, we think of mountains trembling, smoke billowing, earthquakes, etc.  But not in this case.

God first revealed the birth of the Messiah to shepherds who were tending their flocks nearby.  He sent His angels to quietly announce the news to them.  

Shepherds were the lowliest occupation in Israel.  The orthodox looked down on them because they could not comply with all of the meticulous requirements of their religion due to the demands their flocks made upon them.

Later in his life, Christ identified himself as “the good shepherd”, a nod, no doubt, to the shepherds that His mother must have told him about, who visited him when he was born.

The lowly shepherds, a child born in a stable, two parents unable to get a room…

And the glory of the Lord shone around them.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Bread of Life

Luke 2: 6-7

“6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Arriving in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph found it to be crowded with people who had traveled there for the same purpose, to be counted so that they could be taxed.  They were all compelled to be there by Rome.   And, probably to their dismay, Mary and Joseph found that private rooms for guests were in short supply. So they slept in a place where the overflow of people stayed and where animals were kept at night.

While they were there, Mary went into labor; a young girl, as far from home as she had ever been, giving birth to her first child, in a strange place, under unfamiliar circumstances.   

The Bible is silent about her labor.  Was it difficult?  Was it lengthy?  Was Joseph there holding her hand?  Was there a midwife?  All it says is… “and she gave birth…”.  And just like that, the promised Messiah entered the world.

All of the things they had been told by the Angel of the Lord must have come flooding back to Mary and Joseph as they watched and experienced his birth, as they held him and swaddled him.   

And they lay him in a feeding trough; the Bread of Life.