December 24:  The Hearts of Many Revealed

 

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Luke 2:22-35

He worked in the temple because he believed God was near.  He knew God was near.  He knew this because God had visited him, telling him he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And at his age, it would have to be soon.

Then she [Mary] and her husband [Joseph] took up their boy.  It was time to purchase his release with more blood.  As they moved toward the place where he would be redeemed, they passed an old man with searching eyes and purpose in his step.

dec 24Simeon’s joyful hope was in the promise of a glimpse of the Christ, but God had something better in mind.  Simeon actually got to hold him.  This mumbling member of the old guard took this new life into his arms as his words rose to a cry of praise.

…They had brought Jesus to this place to redeem him, but before them stood a man proclaiming that this baby would, in fact, redeem them.

…Jesus would  reveal the hearts of all mankind.  The light of the world would shine in every dark corner of every dark heart, exposing every dark secret.  And this was a world that had grown quite fond of darkness.  It was no surprise that he would be opposed.

Excerpt taken from Behold, the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey. (Pg. 168, 170-171)

December 23: One Star Lit for Them

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Matthew 2:1-12

One of the Magi moved forward and produced a purse of gold, laying it at the child’s feet. Another came with a flask of myrrh, then another with a box of frankincense.  Unaware that they were funding a hasty trip to Egypt necessitated by Herod’s paranoia, they gave these gifts for no other reason than to honor the one born King of the Jews.

dec 23He wasn’t even their king.  Israel’s God was not their people’s God.  And yet, they had come because the thought of a God of mercy with healing in his wings awakened in them a desire to be close to the One through whom that healing would flow.  They followed the star, and after countless miles of sojourn, they found the king.

Since the fall of man, God’s promise to redeem and restore has permeated the air and found its way into the lyrics of kings and criminals.  It has been anthem of the helpless, blind, lame, and guilt-ridden—a song of hope in the night, rolling in from some distant country with the trace of a melody known by heart.

…Then all at once, as with the fall of a curtain, the night fell silent, and the audience went back to their homes.  Bethlehem went back to being ordinary town it had been for as long as anyone could remember.

But the world would never be the same.

Excerpt taken from Behold, the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey. (Pg. 164-165)

December 22:  Where The Lambs are Kept

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Luke 2:8-15

The shepherd’s life was ironic.  Their job was to care for the animals that would be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people.  Yet because of their handling of these dirty creatures, they themselves were unclean and thus prevented from keeping the ceremonial law.  And because they were ceremonially unclean, they were often regarded as untrustworthy, irreligious, and poor in reputation.

dec 22But why had the glory of all glories appeared to the lowest of the lows?   [Read more…]

December 21:  Martha at Christmas

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In the famous story of Martha and Mary, Mary was sitting at the feet of Christ, listening to Him teach, while Martha was in the kitchen, cumbered with much serving. Jesus said that Mary had the better part, but a lot of us are secretly sympathetic with Martha.

dec 21As our advent preparations come to a close, this is a good thing for [Read more…]

December 20:  Glory in the Highest Comes to the Lowest

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Consider the glory of it all.  “Glory in the highest” is sung to dirty and despised men in a field—glory in the highest comes down to the lowest.  Glory given to God in the highest is glory given (in another sense) to men in the lowest.  IN the Incarnation, God condescends to stoop.  In the grip of pride, we rarely understand what dec 20happened that night.  The highest reached down to the lowest.  The glory goes to God—we do not give glory to God in the highest because we think that something else is “the highest.”  But when we come to understand the truth, we sing as the angels did.  So great joy comes to men—when the order is right, and glory is given to God, then great joy can be found among men, and no other way.  

Excerpt taken from God Rest Ye Merry by Douglas Wilson. (Pg. 129)

December 19:  It Was Not a Silent Night

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Luke 2:1-7

It was not a silent night.  She strained and groaned and fought for every breath.  She pushed as sweat beaded on her forehead.  Joseph wiped her brow and told her a hundred times that he loved her he loved her, he loved her.  

Swept up in waves of pain and contractions, Mary continued to push and breathe and strain while time passed.  Eventually, as if cresting a ridge, her labor gave way to delivery, and her groaning gave way to the sound of the cries and the coos of little lungs drawing in the breath of earth for the first time.

dec 19…They gave him the name Jesus.  And they both remember why.  

…God, in his infinite wisdom, chose this couple for this night in this shelter. ..He would be their wonderful counselor, their mighty God, their everlasting Father, their Prince of Peace.  The government would be upon his shoulders.  [Isa 9:2-7]

…By all appearances, it was a humble, simple affair, seemingly unconnected to everything else going on in David’s town that night.

But it wasn’t inconsequential.  It was the most significant moment in the history of the world.  There on the edge of Bethlehem, a child was born.  A son was given.  And the zeal of the Lord Almighty accomplished this.  [Isa 9:7]

Excerpt taken from Behold, the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey.  (Pg. 152-154)

December 18:  The Ordinary Overshadowed

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Luke 1:26-38

Elizabeth had a cousin, a girl named Mary, who was engaged to a young man named Joseph. They lived in an out-of-the-way town called Nazareth.  Joseph was descended from the great King David, though for his part he was a common laborer, a carpenter.

…The angel of the Lord—the same one who visited Zechariah six months earlier—appeared to Mary and told her something that would alter the course of her and her husband’s lives—and for that matter, the world itself.  

dec 18When the angel Gabriel stood before Mary, the hypothetical gave way to the real.  The ordinary stories all at once glisical gave way to the real.  The ordinary stories all at once glistened under the extraordinary light of this celestial storyteller.   [Read more…]

December 17:  The Silence of the Priest

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Luke 1:1-25, 57-80

As a priest Zechariah was scheduled to serve in the temple in Jerusalem for two weeks out of the year.  On one particular occasion, it was his responsibility to go into the temple to burn incense to the Lord.  This was an honor that came once in a lifetime.  But when Zechariah entered the temple, at the right side of the altar of incense stood an angel of the Lord named Gabriel.

dec 17“Don’t be afraid,” Gabriel said.  It was a small comfort, but Zechariah had no time to think as the angel continued, “The cry of your heart has been heard.” [Read more…]

December 16: I Have Loved You

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Malachi 4

Assyria and Babylon swept through the Promised Land and carried the people of God into captivity.  They consumed Israel’s resources and destroyed their cities.  They killed their livestock and burned their homes.  They separated husbands from their wives and parents from their children.  

…Yes, they had disobeyed his Law.  Yes, they had idolatrous hearts.  But what about God’s promise to never leave them or forsake them?  Where was he in all this?   [Read more…]

December 15: The Edge of Ruin

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Isaiah 9:2,6-7
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light;  those who live in a dark land,  the light will shine on them. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;  And the government will rest on His shoulders;  And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of  His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

The Lord told him [Isaiah], “Go and tell your people that they hear, but they don’t understand. They see, but they don’t perceive.  Their hearts are dull, and I mean to keep them this way.” [Isa 6:9-10]

“For how long, O Lord?” Isaiah asked. [Read more…]