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 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.

Daily December Devotional — Day 23

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:8-12

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Today’s Questions:

Why do you think God chose to have his angel declare the good news of the arrival of the Savior to shepherds living in the fields (as opposed to people in town; a family in a home; or the Jews at the temple)?

Why do you think the initial reaction to the Lord’s angels, by Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds, was fear?

When and how did you first come to realize your need to be saved? How did you feel when you came to the realization?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, thank you for the day you revealed to me not only my need for a savior, but also the availability of the Savior. Thank you, Lord, that you met my need with your grace; my sin with your forgiveness; my darkness with your light. There are days I forget the good news: you have saved me. Minor irritants, insignificant hurts, small resentments, and paralyzing fears pull me off course. How can I forget that you’ve set me free and called me higher? Help me to remember, Father. Help me to lay down my pride and fear. Help me to be patient, bring my hurt to your healing hand, and manifest your grace and love.

Daily December Devotional — Day 22

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 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.

Today’s Questions:

How do you picture Mary’s reaction when she first held Jesus?

What words come to mind when you think of a newborn baby?

Why do you think God chose to come into the world by being born as a baby? Why not just appear as an adult?

Today’s Prayer:

Most High God, how could you have subjected yourself to the weakness and vulnerability it is to be a human baby? I have dreamed of being greater, stronger, immortal. I have never sought to become weak, vulnerable, or subject to death. How could you have left all the riches of heaven for the suffering that awaited you here on earth? I don’t understand your love, Father. Help me to just receive it. Thank you, Lord, for the way you came, the way you know, the way you save.

Daily December Devotional — Day 20

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:76-80

And you, my child, will be called a
prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to
prepare the way for him,

to give his people the knowledge of
salvation
through forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us
from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Today’s Questions:

Why do you think it was necessary for John to prepare the way for the Lord by giving people knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of sins?

When did you first hear about salvation through the forgiveness of sins? What was your initial response?

Are there areas in your life in which you have resisted the light that Jesus brings?

Why do you think John lived in the wilderness before appearing to share the message of salvation?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, thank you for saving me, for forgiving me, for shining your light on me! Help me to share the message of your salvation through forgiveness with my family and friends. Help me to reflect your love by infusing me with your tender mercy. In times of sadness or temptation, Lord, I long for your light. I pray that you would invade every area of my heart, every grudge, resentment, and hurt. Shine your light in my darkness and transform my heart so that it reflects your love and peace.

Daily December Devotional — Day 17

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:56-60

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

Today’s Questions:

What do you think it must have been like for Mary and Elizabeth to wait month after month for their babies to come given the circumstances of their pregnancies?

Can you think of a time that you had to wait for something that seemed like it would never happen? Describe it and the emotions attached.

Describe a time that you truly shared in someone else’s joy. What about a time you felt more envy than joy when someone else experienced a great mercy or blessing?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, please forgive me. I am impatient. I doubt you. I think you’ve forgotten me. I forget your blessings. I pray, Lord, that you would increase my patience and help me to see you in the midst of this season. I don’t want to miss you here, now. Help me to rejoice with others as you bless them or extend them mercy. So often, I feel envy instead of sharing in their joy. I know you are endlessly good. Remind me, Father, that you do not and will not run out of goodness.

Daily December Devotional — Day 16

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:53-55

He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.

Today’s Questions:

Can you call to mind the last time you felt physically hungry? What kind of symptoms did you have that made you know you were hungry?

Have you ever felt a similar kind of hunger for God, a kind of restlessness or desire in your soul? How was that hunger satisfied?

What things, attitudes, or people pull you away from God?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, Father, I long for you. Though success, affirmation, and adoration lure me away, and though fear, failure, and disappointment threaten to overwhelm me, my soul searches for you alone. My spirit reaches out, longing for your peace, joy, and life. Fill the ache in me with your presence today. Pour your love into my hungry heart. Remind me of your promises and your mercy. I am yours.

Daily December Devotional — Day 15

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:50-52

His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud
in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.

Today’s Questions:

Why do you think Mary praises God in her psalm for lifting up the humble and scattering the proud?

Are there areas in your life where you are prideful in your inmost thoughts – your motivations, your thoughts of yourself, your thoughts of others in relation to yourself?

Can you identify any mighty deeds that God has performed in your life?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, extend your mercy to me. I am desperate for it. I have had self-aggrandizing motivations just this week. I have tried to wrest control away from you, I have sought my own glory over yours, I have sought my own comfort over love for someone else. Father, without you, I can do nothing. Pour your grace over me once again. Purify my inmost thoughts and bring me low if it means you will be lifted high.

Daily December Devotional — Day 14

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Today’s Verses:

Luke 1:46-49

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me
blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
holy is his name.”

This section of Scripture (along with six more verses) is a hymn referred to as the Magnificat, which means “glorifies” in Latin Vulgate.

Today’s Questions:

How do you imagine Mary’s posture as she says these words? In what position are her arms? Her hands? The rest of her body?

When did you last feel your soul glorify, or worship, the Lord? What did it feel like?

What does it mean to you to be humble in the sight of God?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, I lift my hands and fix my eyes on you. I am here on this earth, praying that your will would be done in my life, in my family, this day. I want nothing but for my soul to glorify you and my spirit to rejoice in knowing you. Lord, when I seek my own glory, remind me gently that you made me, that you are the creator, that you are God. Be gracious to me, Father, grant me mercy as you transform me and I learn how to walk in humility and gratitude. You have done great things for me, your name is above all names.