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From Eternity

Prayer: O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Read: John 1:1-14
Think about It: The Gospels of John and Mark do not tell us theChristmas story. We learn all that we know of Jesus' birth from Luke, who spoke as a Gentile and detailed storyteller, and Matthew, who spoke as a Jew steeped in Old Testament prophecy and it's fulfillment. While John does not deal with the details of Jesus birth, he does place us onto a foundation that firmly establishes exactly who Jesus is - not from His birth but from eternity.
This Christ Child whose birth we celebrate every year is True God. As Tru…

Follow the Star

Prayer: We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Read: Matthew 2:1-12
Think about It: The popular Christmas Carol, We Three Kings of Orient Are has been sung and enjoyed by Christians since the mid 1800's when it was written (both lyrics and music) by Rev. John HenryHopkins, Jr., an Episcopal priest, from Williamsport, PA. The lyrics to this song lead us to believe there were three kings that came to visit Jesus shortly after His birth by following the star that appeared in the heaven to celebrate His birth. This is unfortunate because these visitors were not "kings" nor were there probably 3 of them. Here is a prime example of where tradition and truth becomeintermingled.
If you read the text carefully, you will find that the travelers from the East who came to visit Jesus…

Global God

Prayer:May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him! (Psalm 67)
Read: Psalm 67
Think about It: Our world is often shattered by those who would go to war in order to exterminate a population group who is different. We have seen numerous examples in our own lifetimes and the images that come into our living rooms of these military actions via the media are terrible. Sadly, these actions are often taken in the name of somereligion. While Christianity has (rightly sometimes) been blamed for some of these actions in the pas…

Eyewitness

Prayer: Holy God, You are wonderful and marvelous. It is my joy and honor to worship and praise You. Thank You for being willing to love me and care for me, even as I am a sinner and unworthy of yourattention. Thank You for sending Jesus to rectify my worst problem - sin. Thank You for this Word that tells me both of my need for a Savior and of Your gracious response to my need. Please be with me as I read and meditation upon Your Word. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Read: 2 Peter 1:16–21
Think about It: Throughout the story of our salvation, God has allowed human eyewitnesses. With the exception of the creation, we havealways been there to see God moving in the lives of His people. (There are those who believe that God actually showed the creation to Moses so that He could write the story down when He showed Moses His "back parts" up on the mountain. See Exodus 33:18-23). While there were no eyewitnesses to the conception of Christ, we know that Mary was told ahead of tim…

Wisdom

Prayer: You are awesome God, Creator, Savior, and Friend. Be praised in my heart and on my lips today. Thank You for this incredible story of the Jesus' birth. Please speak through Your Word and teach me a greater love for You as together we look at my life and how I live it for You. Where I have sinned, bring conviction. Where I have pain, bring healing. And where I need truth bring   enlightenment. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Read: Proverbs 2:1–8

Think about It: What does wisdom have to do with the Christmas story? The answer is fairly obvious as the "wise men" are an integral part of the story. They earned the title of wise men by virtue of the office they held back in their home country (we don't really know exactly which country they come from) as advisers to the king. They had been instructed (by whom we don't exactly know) that when a huge star appeared, if they followed it they would find an important King. Although we do not know this for certain, t…

True God and True Man

Prayer:  Come Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free
              From our fears and sins release us
              Let us find our rest in Thee
              Israel's strength and consolation
              Hope of all the earth Thou art
              Dear desire of every nation
              Joy of every longing heart
Read: Colossians 1:19–23
Think about It: This week we have discussed the fact that Jesus was born of a human mother and raised by a human step-father. He comes to us as True Man. But today's reading displays yet another aspect of His make-up - He is also True God. It is one of the divine mysteries of the faith how He can be both equally at the same time, and yet He is!
The divinity of Jesus cannot be argued. There are those who would say that Jesus was just a good man. They may even call Him a prophet. But they are denying a vital aspect of who He is.Colossians tells us that in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. This True God part of His cha…

Blessed of Women

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, please enter into this time of devotion and meditation. Bring Your Word to life as I read what You have for me today. Bring inspiration, insight, and depth of understanding to my mind and strength to my faith as I think about Your great love for us. Make the story of Jesus' birth real for me and help me to grasp theimportance of this story for my life. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Read: Luke 1:26–38
Think about It: In Mary, the mother of Jesus, we find the humancomponent to Jesus' make-up. While He was True God, He was also True Man and that humanity comes through Mary's DNA. This is aremarkable part of God's truth for us. While other religions have the "gods" mingling with humanity, none of them embrace the humanexperience in such a dramatic way. Jesus actually became one of us!
When Mary learns that she has been chosen as the mother of the Savior, she is naturally surprised, but incredibly accepting. She doesn't ask "wh…

Shame and Grace

Prayer: "Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long. Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of Your goodness, O Lord!" Psalm 25:4-7
Read: Psalm 25
Think about It: Mary and Joseph are placed, by God, into a potentially shameful situation and yet both of them respond with grace and quiet peace. What we don't know is what went on in their hearts and minds before they came to that peace. What kind of turmoil coursed through their veins when they first heard about the Baby that was on the way? What kinds of plans were conjured up in their minds in those moments of uncertainty before they settled into God's will for them?
Psalm 25 provides some answers for us when we are in a place of unrest and dist…

Convincible

Prayer: Dear Lord God, Creator, Savior, and Guide. Praises and honor are due to You and You alone. It is always my joy to worship and glorify You. Please join with me today in examination of Your Word and open up my spirit to Your instruction. Lead me evercloser to Your heart and teach me to walk in Your path. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Read: Ezekiel 36:25-29
Think about It: Each of us knows that we can be hard-hearted at times. We can also point to those who are easier to get along with than we are and we can certainly point to those who are moredifficult! But when it comes to the faith what we need to ask is "are we convincible?"
Paul addresses this issue for us in his letter to the Romans,chapter 12. "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy andacceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not beconformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing y…

Step-Father

Prayer: Dear Lord God, Thank You for times of quiet reflection and mediation upon Your Word. Please join me here so that You might be glorified and I might be edified. Strengthen my faith and deepen my love. Show me where I might serve others because of Your love. InJesus' name I pray. Amen.
Read: Matthew 1:18–21
Think about It: As of 2011, 11.7 million families in the US wereheaded by a single parent, 85.2% of which were headed by a female, 55% of whom were never married. This statistical reports also point to the fact that a large percentage these fractured families usually fallbelow the poverty line and struggle everyday just to sustain a home with food on the table. Single motherhood has never been easy.
When God the Father announced to Mary that she would carry the Son of God, He was setting her into a very difficult situation. First of all, they stoned women who came up pregnant without the benefit ofmarriage. Then, even if they escaped death by stoning, they were shunned from …

The Prophetic

Prayer: Dear God, as all the Christmas hype intensifies, please grant to me a few quiet moments each day to be with You in worship, meditation, prayer, and study. Please Holy Spirit, use the gift of this Holy Word to enliven my faith and strengthen my love for You. Where I have wrong thinking, bring correction and where I have doubt, bring faith. Thank You for this time and for Yourtender patience. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Read: Revelation 12:1-6

Think about It: The Revelation of John certainly does provide some interesting albeit difficult reading! Here we have a passages that sweeps from theannunciation to Mary that she was going to have a Child through to that Child's enthronement in heaven! That's a great deal of information to cram into 6verses! Of course it is all couched in symbolic language and there isn't much room for details. But here are the highlights.
"A great sign" = a miracle"A woman . . . crowned with 12 stars" = represents both Ma…