Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Certain Day

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God;
Luke 2:25-28

Imagine waiting for a singular event. And knowing that you would not die until that event took place. Now imagine that one day, much like any other day, the Holy Spirit of God tells you to go to the temple. You do as He says and then it happens. The event you've waited for -- maybe waited your whole life for -- arrives. How would you feel? What would you do? When Simeon saw what he had been waiting for -- the Messiah, the consolation of Israel -- he took the child from Mary's arms and held him. And blessed God. Simeon blessed God because he had seen God's salvation: Jesus, His Son. His Son whom God had brought to all people. Not just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles, too. Simeon called Jesus "A Light of Revelation to the Gentiles" and "the glory of God's people Israel." You and I have been born into a world where the Light of Revelation and the glory of God's people has already come. We don't have to wait for salvation. Salvation has already arrived and sin and death have been conquered by the cross of Christ and His resurrection. Today may be much like any other day to you. But if you have not yet received Jesus as your Savior, don't wait any longer. This is your day. Receive the Lord Jesus into your heart and bless God for your salvation. "He again fixes a certain day, 'Today,' saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.'” (Hebrews 4:7)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Always Obedient

And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”
Luke 2:21-24

Our Lord Jesus was not born into sin. He did not need circumcision nor redemption according to the Law. But in everything Mary and Joseph were obedient; from the naming of Jesus according to the angel's instructions, to the following of the Mosaic Law. Jesus was born into a Law abiding home (Galatians 4:4). He would be brought up to obey God's word, and in all things He would remain blameless. "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:5-8)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Go Tell It on the Mountain

"When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them."
Luke 2:17-19

The shepherds were the first to see the Christ child, the first to believe and the first to tell others about Jesus. All who heard the shepherds testimony "wondered". The text doesn't say the hearers went to worship Jesus, too. It just says "they wondered". It doesn't sound much different than what we find today in sharing the gospel. We discover its truth and come to Christ. Then we share what we have found with others. Some receive it, but many others just wonder about it. And still there are those who reject it altogether. The shepherds didn't seem bothered by how their message was received. They simply told what they knew and continued to glorify and praise God for all they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. This is a good lesson for us. We have something wonderful to share -- the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our task is to share it with others. Some will receive it, some will wonder about it and some will reject it altogether. No worries. We go on glorifying and praising God for all He has done, and leave the results of our testimony to Him.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Shepherds' Reward

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 
Luke 2:15-16

As soon as the heavenly messengers left, the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem and sought the Lord Jesus. Even though the hour was late, they did not delay. They went in faith, believing God's message that they would "see this thing that has happened". Their obedience and faith were rewarded: they were the first visitors of the nativity and the first believers to worship the Lord. Faithful, unhesitating obedience to God brings certain reward. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peace on Earth

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 
Luke 2:13-14

Our world often speaks of peace. The Bible speaks of peace, too:
Peace with God - that's the peace between man and God. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Romans 5:1)
Peace of God - the peace that we can have internally. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)
Peace with others - this is peace we can experience when we have the first two: peace with God and the peace of God. "So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another." (Romans 14:19)
Aren't these three forms of peace the kind we really desire? It begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we confess our sins and give ourselves to Him, we are reconciled with God; no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1). He then gives us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and give us the internal peace that we need to face life's trials and disappointments. Finally, He teaches us how to have peace with others -- even when they are anything but peacemakers themselves. There can be peace on earth. Not as the world gives, but as Christ gives.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Good News For All the People

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
Luke 2:8-12

The good news of Jesus Christ coming to earth is for all the people. It was so the night the angel came to the shepherds in the field. It is still so today. No matter your background or education. Whether you're rich or poor, white or a person of color. City slicker or country folk. Young or old. Jesus came for you. He came for me. He came for the world. We live in times of uncertainty. Some days the news is pretty awful. But no matter how bad it gets, we always have the good news of Jesus Christ. He loves us. We can search our whole lives for the kind of love He offers, but we will never find it outside of His arms. The arms that stretched out for His mother, one day stretched out on a cross. For you, for me, for the world. Jesus came as a baby, but He died as an adult --  fully God, fully man. This is the good news of His sacrifice for our sins. But there's more good news. He rose again and lives today to offer salvation to all the people; all who will come to Him and receive the glorious gift He offers -- Himself.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Savior is Born

"While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:6-7

The long-awaited Messiah arrives. Prophesies are fulfilled. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords comes to earth. But not in the way many people expected. He is born into this world as a humble baby. Local reporters aren't there to take his photo and interview his parents about the shameful conditions of his birth. God's Son born in a dirty stable with smelly animals and only a trough for a bed? Could not the innkeeper have seen that Mary was about to give birth? Could he not have given up his own bed for a woman in labor? Jesus comes in the weakest way possible, for who is weaker than a tiny infant? He comes in the lowliest of circumstances. He comes without fanfare. But He comes in just the way intended. For "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong." (1 Corinthians 1:27) A Savior is born. A Redeemer is given. He will save His people from their sins. And not just the Jewish people. He will also save the Gentiles. Jesus came as a child, and those who want Him as their Savior must come as children, too. "But Jesus said, 'Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"
(Matthew 19:14)

I want to be like a child before the King today. Wide-eyed and amazed. My heart overflowing with joy and gratitude. We have a Savior. We don't have to wallow in our sin. Hope lives. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you. 

(Thank you to my friend, Sara, for allowing me to use the precious photo of her children in this devotional. "Come as a child".)
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