BACK TO NORMAL
Date: 1/06/2017 07:18 - Subscribe


And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.
And the favor of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40).
Read Luke 2:39-40.

Today we take down our Christmas tree, the lights, and all
the decorations. Finally, our house is getting back to normal.

Luke's account of that first Christmas is drawing to a close.
After completing all the tasks God's Law laid out for them to
do, Joseph and Mary left Judea and returned to Nazareth,
where they would raise Jesus. We know from Matthew's
account the reason the couple first left Bethlehem was
because Herod sent soldiers to murder the Christ Child, after
the wise men had come to visit. After spending some time
in Egypt, they returned to Nazareth.

Luke tells us that in Nazareth Jesus grew physically,
experiencing the normal development of a human being. But
he also accumulated the knowledge, wisdom and discretion
He would show throughout His adult ministry. In our Lenten
devotions in March, we will listen to Jesus' own wonderful
message of forgiveness, peace, salvation and eternal life,
and we will follow Him as He courageously faces bitter
opposition and a cross to save us from our sins.

In a sense life was back to normal for Mary and Joseph.
They were home now and Joseph could go back to his
carpenter's shop. But then again, once the Christ Child was
born their lives would never really be the same. This is true
for us too. Even though the trappings of Christmas are gone
for another year, the Christ Child has come into our homes,
and our lives will never be the same either.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming into our world that first
Christmas, and coming into our hearts this Christmas. Keep
us strong in faith, filled with peace and joy until the day
You return to earth. Amen

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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THE DARK SIDE OF CHRISTMAS
Date: 1/04/2017 06:57 - Subscribe


(Simeon said) "And a sword will pierce through your own
soul also ..." (Luke 2:35). Read Luke 2:34-35.

If you have lost a loved one in death, then you know the
pain the following Christmas when you feel that person's
absence so keenly. But what if you had known the year
before that would be the last Christmas you would spend
with them?

After blessing God, Simeon turns to Mary and says
something strange. She will see the nation of Israel reject
its Messiah and speak against the One God has sent to
them. This is something Mary has never heard before,
and probably never imagined would happen.

The angels only spoke of God's gift of salvation to all
people, of His love for the whole world in sending His Son.
But Simeon warns that when He is grown and begins His
ministry, there will be Jews who reject the salvation He
came to bring.

But Simeon tells her it will get worse. She will feel as if a
great broadsword is piercing her own soul. This is the
connection between our Advent devotions coming to a
close and our Lenten devotions beginning March 1. Mary,
the virgin mother who laid her Child in the manger, will
watch that same Son get nailed to a cross.

In all the Christmas memories Mary stored in her heart,
this may be the first cloud that appeared over her thoughts.
She will not only remember the moment when Simeon
prophesied it, but she will stand beneath the cross of her
beloved Son Jesus Christ. But the cloud will quickly pass
three days after His death, when her mighty Son rises to
life again -- victorious through all eternity.

THE PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, You loved us so much You sent Your
Son to die in our place on the cross. Thank You for saving
us through faith in Him. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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DEPARTING
Date: 1/04/2017 07:11 - Subscribe


He took Him up in his arms and blessed God ...
(Luke 2:28a). Read Luke 2:28-33.

Most of us really anticipate Christmas homecomings and
get-togethers, but few of us look forward to that moment
we have to depart. Saying goodbye is rarely easy, but it's
wonderful to leave on peaceful terms, returning to normal
life with warm memories of Christmas.

Simeon thinks of something similar as he steps up to the
young couple and takes the Child in his arms. He says,
"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your
salvation." Many have taken Simeon's words to mean he
was old or close to death, but not necessarily. He had
spent years anxiously waiting to see the consolation of
Israel, and now the suspense has finally ended. Looking
down into the face of the Christ Child, he knows he can
live out the rest of his life with this peaceful, joyous
memory.

Simeon points out that God has prepared His salvation
before the face of all peoples. He doesn't want us to look
at a baby in a manger and get warm fuzzy feelings.
Instead, we are to be confident that Jesus Christ came
into this world to make us right before God. He came to
save us from death and hell by His suffering, death and
resurrection.

Joseph and Mary both marvel at the things Simeon says
about Jesus. For the first time they learn He has come
not only for the people of Israel, but for people of all
nations. Through Luke's words we, like Simeon, have
looked upon the Christ Child: our Lord and Savior.
Because of His life, death and resurrection, we can pass
the rest of our days in peace and faith.

THE PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You that I can depart this
Christmas season in peace, having seen Your salvation
in the Child of Christmas, Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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EXPECTATIONS
Date: 1/03/2017 08:10 - Subscribe


And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he
would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ
(Luke 2:26). Read Luke 2:25-27.

We are moving further away from Christmas Day. For
most of us life is returning to normal. Back when I was a
child I would be back in school by now, or I would know
that it was only a few days away. Time passed for Jesus
too. He didn't stay a baby. Like every other child He
quickly grew. In our reading He is now more than a month
old, and Mary and Joseph take Him to Jerusalem for His
presentation.

At the same time they carry Him into the temple courts,
an Israelite man enters. Luke describes Simeon in much
the same way he had spoken of John the Baptist's father,
Zechariah, when he first introduced him. Both men were
righteous through their belief in God, firm in their faith,
and waiting anxiously for Him to keep His promise and
send the Savior. The Holy Spirit had given Simeon a
remarkable promise: he would not die before he had
seen the Christ. During his lifetime the Messiah would
come, and Simeon would see Him with his own eyes.

Simeon was a rare Israelite in his day. By the Holy
Spirit's guidance, he understood the Old Testament
promises accurately. The Christ would comfort His
people by saving them from their sins -- not by driving
out their earthly enemies, as most Jews expected.

And this very day Simeon feels a powerful urging from
the Holy Spirit to go to the temple. As he passes
through the temple courts, he is drawn to a young Boy
being carried by His mother and father.

THE PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, You revealed Your Son to Simeon.
As I read the Bible, reveal Him to me that I may know
His salvation and praise You forever in heaven. In
Jesus' Name. Amen.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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SET APART
Date: 1/01/2017 08:37 - Subscribe


... they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to
the Lord (Luke 2:22b). Read Luke 2:22-24.

I was really rough on toys when I was a kid. Few of the
presents I opened on Christmas day actually lasted
through the 12 days of Christmas. Sadly, I realize now
that only two of all those great toys still survive to this
day: a Tiny Tonka bulldozer and a gas-powered Cox
mini-van. The van doesn't run, and the bulldozer has a
few rust spots on it, but those two toys stand apart as
special to me because of their physical connection to
my long-gone childhood.

Today's devotion is about the day Jesus was set apart
as someone special. After the eighth-day circumcision,
the next big event for firstborn male children was their
presentation at the temple in Jerusalem, when they
were 40 days old.

The firstborn male child of each family was set apart as
holy to the Lord. And among all the Jewish boys
presented, this Son was unique. Through His miraculous
conception, Jesus was the only male Child who truly
stood apart from all His fellow Israelites, the only One
who was actually holy to the Lord, in, and of Himself.

In His presentation Jesus was officially set apart and
presented to the Lord for the unique work He would
undertake, saving all people from sin, death and hell.
Through faith in Him, God sets you and me apart from
all people, so we may serve the Lord and share Jesus'
story with those around us.

THE PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, through Your Son Jesus Christ, You
have set me apart as holy. Equip me and all your
children in Jesus to share His wonderful salvation with
those around us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

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