Read Luke 2:1-7.
And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in
swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was
no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
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The Pope writes a Christmas letter to Middle East’s persecuted
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Read Luke 1:26-38.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city
of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose
name was Joseph,of the house of David.... Luke 1:26-27A
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A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch
shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on
him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of
counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the
Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets
us where we are and does not leave us where it found us
God, though we do not yet fully understand the mystery of
Jesus, we are thankful for his coming. This advent, do not let
the grace of Jesus leave of us where it found us. May we be
transformed into a people truly capable of courageous acts
of love. Amen.
"Do You Call That A Crib?"
Read Isaiah 7:10-17.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,and shall call
His Name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14B
All right, we have some kind of shelter for our Nativity scene.
Now let's turn to the one object inside that shelter that is
mentioned specifically in the Christmas account: the manger.
A manger is a feeding trough for animals. Don't you think that's
a pretty shabby crib? I wonder if Joseph and Mary ever thought
about that. The best they could do for God's one and only Son
was to lay Him in a feeding trough inside a pitiable shelter? If it
was me, I think I'd be trembling in fear at the thought.
Actually, that's what a lot of people do at Christmas time. They
tremble in fear over problems in their lives: serious health
problems, bills they can't pay, jobs they've lost, marriages that
have crumbled, or loved ones who are no longer here. Sadly,
many Christians add the fear that these are punishments from
a displeased God.
Actually, one of the great prophecies of Jesus' coming was given
to a king quaking in fear. King Ahaz was a descendant of King
David and ancestor of Jesus. Seven hundred years before Jesus'
birth, Ahaz feared two kingdoms that were threatening his little
kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, and its neighbor
Aram (Syria) had allied together to conquer Judah and replace Ahaz.
God wasn't about to let that happen. Instead He sent the prophet
Isaiah to reassure him. God offered to perform any miracle Ahaz
asked, but Ahaz didn't trust God and refused to ask for one. So
Isaiah rebuked the king, then said, "Therefore the Lord Himself will
give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call His Name Immanuel. ... For before the boy knows
how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two
kings you dread will be deserted" (Isaiah 7:14, 16). Within the time
a baby could be conceived, delivered, and grow old enough to know
the difference between good and bad, those two kingdoms would
cease to exist.
The virgin's Son is a sign for us as well. He is holy and pure, and He
gives us His holy and perfect life as though it were our own. He took
our sin upon Himself and suffered the punishment we deserve.
Because of His great exchange we can stand pure and holy before
God the Father by faith, clothed in Christ's holiness and righteousness.
Isaiah tells us the virgin "shall call His Name Immanuel." That name
means "God with us." This reassures us that no matter what our
problems may be this Christmas, God is right here with us just as He
was with Mary and Joseph. He has promised never to leave us or
forsake us. He will deliver us from all our problems too.
Almighty God, thank You for noticing our fear and anxiety. Thank You
for comforting and reassuring us. Remind us that You are Immanuel
and that we may know You are an ever-present help in trouble, until the
day You bring us to Your eternal rest. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
(Lutheran Hour Ministries)
Read Matthew 11:7-15.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven
has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12
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Read Matthew 11:2-6.
Jesus replied, "Tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive
sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the
dead are raised and good news is preached to the poor. Blessed
is he who is not offended by Me." Matthew 11:4-5
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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light
has shined. - Isaiah 9:2
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Read James 5:10-11.
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the
prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord. James 5:10
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Read James 5:7-9.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. ...
Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
James 5:7a, 8
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