Date: 12/01/2016 08:16 - Subscribe

And you will have joy and gladness, and many
will rejoice at his birth (Luke 1:14).

Stringing up Christmas lights is hard work, especially
when you are on that ladder on a cold, windy day in
December. But it's all worth it when evening comes-
when you stand far enough back to take it all in, and
then ... you throw the switch. Those bright lights bring
such joy: a joy many of your neighbors will share too.

Now Zechariah stands in the presence of the holy
angel hearing amazing news. How wonderful it must
be for Zechariah to hear that he and Elizabeth will
finally have that child for whom they prayed so many
decades ago. They will finally hold him in their arms,
their long-awaited son. This child will be a source of
great joy, ending their sorrow, disappointment and

God even handpicks his name: John. It means "The
Lord has shown favor." That favor is even greater
than the conception of this miraculous child
Elizabeth will soon bear; it rests in another Child-
God's own Son. That Son for whom Christmas is
named will bring us true joy and peace as He
removes our sin and guilt and reconciles us to God.

Zechariah and Elizabeth waited decades for the
birth of their son, but God's people waited
thousands of years for their Lord to keep His
promise and send His own Son to save us. John
will bring all these believers great joy because he
will be the messenger who will show the world God's
Son has come at last.


Heavenly Father, fill us with the joy of this blessed
Christmas season, and drive away all our guilt, fear,
and sorrow. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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Date: 12/01/2016 10:20 - Subscribe


There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer
slave or free, there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28


The smallest indivisible human unit is two people,
not one; one is a fiction. From such nets of souls
societies, the social world, human life springs.
Tony Kushner


Show us the ways, God, in which we can be
there for the many people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Teach us this, on this World AIDS day, and make
it so that we don't forget your wisdom once today


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Date: 11/30/2016 06:29 - Subscribe

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid Zechariah,
for your prayer has been heard. And your wife Elizabeth
will bear you a son" (Luke 1:13)
When I was a teenager I desperately wanted to find the
girl I would marry. Over the next 20 years I kept praying
for a wife, but that prayer went unanswered. At times I
was convinced I would be single all my life. Then I
finished seminary and went to my first call. Within a
month I was dating the woman who would become my

For decades Zechariah had prayed for a child. But
when no child came he eventually gave up-but not God.
On the very first day Zechariah prayed God marked that
prayer in His memory. Decades later God vividly
remembers every detail of that prayer, including the
urgency Zechariah felt month after month as he poured
out his plea to God. Now as the clouds of incense are
rising from the altar to symbolize God's acceptance of
His people's prayers, the angel brings Zechariah the
answer to his long-forgotten prayer.

Have you been raising heartfelt prayers to God for years
and years, only to find things get worse-finances,
employment, health, family strains? Does it seem God
is against you -- that He just doesn't care? We learn the
truth in this angel visit. The first moment we offer a
prayer in faith to God, He in His great wisdom and care
chooses the best way to answer that prayer as well as
the best time to answer it. Sometimes, like Zechariah,
we just have to wait until God's time is right, and He
has made everything fall into place.


Heavenly Father, fill me with confidence that You mark
all my prayers, and will answer them when Your time is
right, and always for my good. I pray in Jesus' Name.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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Date: 11/30/2016 07:44 - Subscribe

"There appeared to him an angel...Zechariah was
troubled when he saw him." (see Luke 1:11-12)
Did your family have a Nativity scene in the front
yard, under your tree, or on a table? I remember
staring at the angel wondering what it will be like
to see one of these beautiful creatures face-to-face.

As Luke continues his account of the first
Christmas, Zechariah the priest is in the temple.
He's laying the incense on the altar. Suddenly,
through the clouds of smoke, an angel of the Lord
appears. But for Zechariah it isn't the wonderful,
thrilling scene I imagined-not at all. The aged priest
is struck with terror, shaken to the core.

As the Christmas story unfolds, we'll see angels
appear to Mary and to the shepherds, keeping
watch over their flocks by night. And both will have
this same reaction: one of being instantly filled with
terror. You and I would be too.

No matter how good a person you are, coming
face-to-face with the holiness of an angel shows
you your failings, and fills you with dread and fear.
How much more terrifying will it be to look into God's
face when He comes with His angels in great power
and glory to judge us on the Last Day?

That's one of the truly wonderful things about
Christmas. The promised Savior did not come as a
fearsome, mighty warrior to strike fear and terror into
each of us. Instead, He came as a tiny Baby lying in
a manger. He didn't come to terrify us; He came to
take away our sin and guilt and assure us of God's
love and forgiveness

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to
live among us and save us by Your perfect life, Your
innocent suffering and death, and Your glorious
resurrection. Calm my heart when I'm gripped with
fear, and fill me with peace and joy. Amen.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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Date: 11/29/2016 07:07 - Subscribe

According to the custom of the priesthood, (Zechariah)
was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and
burn incense (Luke 1:9).

Luke’s account provides us rich detail regarding Zechariah
the priest and the part he played in the first Christmas.
Herod the Great was king over Judea at the time. We learn
that Zechariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah,
one of 24 divisions of priests. Each of these divisions
worked two weeks out of the year at the Jerusalem temple.
Each afternoon these priests cast lots to see who would
enter the temple alone to burn incense.

Luke takes us to the day the lot fell to Zechariah. It may
have looked like luck or chance to us, but Zechariah knew
better. God was inviting him into His presence. As
Zechariah smelled the clouds of sweet, fragrant incense
rising to heaven, he knew God was pleased with the prayers
His people were offering to Him. These were prayers that
rose from hearts that believed His ancient promise to send
their Savior.

At Christmas we are often invited to other people’s houses.
Sometimes we get the honor of a special invitation. But God
extends a greater invitation to us. Like Zechariah we can
enter His presence in His house. And not just once in a
lifetime can we do this, but every week. At the same time
He promises to make His home in us. What a great privilege
and honor to sit in God’s presence and learn about His
saving love.


Heavenly Father, what a tremendous honor You give when
You invite us into Your house. Thank You for coming to us
and making Your home with us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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