Daily December Devotional — Day 30

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:36-40

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Today’s Questions:

What is the significance of Anna’s age as you read this passage?

What do you make of the fact that the person who spoke about Jesus “to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” was a woman?

What do you think it means that the grace of God was on Jesus? How do you picture that manifesting itself?

Can you identify all the people or groups that we have come into contact with over this month of study who were waiting in expectation for the arrival of the Messiah? How might you refer to their example as you wait for the second coming of Christ?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for the example of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. Their sacrifice, devotion, and faithful obedience and waiting amaze me as I have come to learn more about their lives and context. Thank you for your servant, Luke, for writing his account with a commitment to investigating what happened so that we may be certain of what we have been taught. Never let me forget, Lord, that these were real people who lived on this earth and struggled with the same kinds of doubts and fears and longings that I struggle with today. Thank you, Lord for the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf, for the robe of righteousness I now live within as a result, and for the knowledge that Jesus will come again and make all things new.

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Daily December Devotional — Day 29

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:25-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Today’s Questions:

What is the importance of the Holy Spirit being on Simeon as he speaks?

What words does Simeon use to describe Jesus?

What does Simeon say Jesus will cause? And why?

How do you think Mary felt when Simeon said, “a sword will pierce your own soul too”?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, where would I be without your salvation? Thank you that you keep your promises! Thank you, Lord, for extending your saving grace to all the nations, to me. Thank you for the moment I realized your light was for me, would overcome the darkness, and would satisfy the deep longing of my soul. I pray, Father, that the thoughts of my heart would be of you and that they reveal my faith in and devotion to you. Where my thoughts wander, God, I pray that you would forgive me quickly and redirect them so that my eyes and heart are fixed on you and my words and actions reflect your love and grace.

Daily December Devotional — Day 28

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:21-26

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.

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Purification rites would have been required 40 days after Jesus’ birth. Consecrate means to set apart for God’s use.

Today’s Questions:

What do you imagine the conversations between Mary and Joseph were like just after Jesus was born? A week later? A month later?

Knowing what they had been told about their baby, do you think Mary and Joseph had any hesitation about presenting Jesus at the temple?

Is any emotion evoked in you when you speak the name, “Jesus”? Describe it.

How do you feel when you hear someone use the name of Jesus in anger or frustration?

Today’s Prayer:

Jesus, my Lord. Your name evokes in me a love beyond compare. Forgive me the times your name has escaped my mouth as a curse or out of anger or frustration. My heart breaks to know how this grieves you. When I hear your name, I see eyes that penetrate my soul and cried for me, arms spread wide enough to encompass even me, a body beaten and broken for me, and a mouth that knows my name. But Lord, I also see a glorious and fierce light, a strong arm that pulls me up, and an ocean of grace. Jesus. Lord Jesus.

Daily December Devotional — Day 27

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Today’s Verses:

Matthew 2:7-12

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Today’s Questions:

What was Herod afraid of with the appearance of this new king of the Jews?

What do you think it would have been like for Mary and Joseph for these men to have come, bow down, and worship their new son?

Have you ever been afraid of what God might ask you to do if you listened carefully? Why? What are you afraid of?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, how is it that I forget that I am the created and you are the Creator? How is it that I constantly seek to wrest control away from you, turn my way, ignore you, ask you to wait outside, deny you? Am I no better than King Herod? You see the broken places in me, Lord. Hold me fast, lock your hand on mine. I am apt, over and over, to let go. I have not always given you my best gifts, but offered instead the leftovers. Help me to be what you made me to be, to follow you fearlessly. Help me to worship you in each moment of my life and use my remaining breath to make you known, glorify you, and forward your purposes.

Daily December Devotional — Day 26

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Today’s Verses:

Matthew 2:1-6

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”

The “magi” were likely non-Jewish wise men or scholars of the day who studied astronomy and knew the Jewish prophecies about the coming Messiah. The appearance of a previously unseen star was seen as the fulfillment of the prophecy made by Balaam and recorded in Numbers 24:17 (“A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”). The passage quoted by the chief priests and teachers of the law (spiritual leaders of the Jews) is found in Micah 5:2, 4.

Today’s Questions:

How do you picture the magi responding when they first saw the new star in the sky? Did they know right away? Did they doubt?

Why do you think “all of Jerusalem” was disturbed by the news that the magi saw the star and came to worship the new king?

What do you think the response of the chief priests and teachers of the law was when they heard the claim of the magi and advised Herod of Micah’s prophecy about the birthplace of the Messiah?

How would you have responded if you had been a Jew and were present when the magi explained what they had seen and why they had come?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, God, I worship you. I want to be someone who, as soon as I am aware of your presence, lifts my hands, laughs with joy, and exclaims your praise. Let every star, every sunrise, every breeze, every smile, every storm, every pair of eyes, every snowfall, every breath lead me to worship you. Lord, let all that I see as good and all that I see as suffering lead me to my knees in worship. You are my King. The King. The one predicted by the mouths of prophets, the stars in the sky, and the hearts of the faithful. My heart calls out and longs for you alone.

Daily December Devotional — Day 25

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:16-20

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Today’s Questions:

How do you think the shepherds explained what they had been told about the newborn child?

Have you ever overheard people saying good things about your parent, or child, or spouse, or friend? How did it make you feel?

Think of a time you experienced something – a beautiful sunset, a feeling, words from someone else, an unexplained mercy – that you could not quite put into words for another person. Have you been able to treasure and ponder that experience? How?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, when I read what happened, and imagine the way the shepherds must have explained to their friends, their family, and even strangers, about the arrival of the Savior, I am amazed! When I think of what Mary must have felt as she heard people describing what her son was, what he would be, and all he would do! How is it that I could ever come to see this event as run-of-the-mill, boring, or just another story? Help it sink in, Lord! Block out all the other noise and distractions that pull at me. Thank you for the blessings and mercies you have given to my heart alone. When you bless me this way, Lord, I pray that I will treasure it deeply.

Daily December Devotional — Day 24

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:13-15

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.”

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.”

In Latin Vulgate, “Glory to God in the highest” is translated “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.”

Today’s Questions:

Why do you think the company of heavenly host appeared to praise God before the shepherds?

How do you picture the shepherds as the angels descended and began singing? What did they do? How did they feel?

Can you think of a time when you said, “I can’t believe that happened!”? What were you referring to? Was it something you could see or touch or hear?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh Father, thank you that Jesus happened. Here. On earth! Thank you that you came to be with us, Immanuel. Thank you for yet another reminder that Jesus isn’t a concept, but someone who happened, someone who occurred and came to pass. Lord, I want to be a person who sings, “Glory to God in the highest!” Glory to you, Lord, not to me. When your glory is revealed, let me be the first to sing your praise, to go and see, to stand in awe. Let this not just be a refrain I sing, but a life I live.