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12/09/2016

CONFUSION

And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for
you have found favor with God" (Luke 1:30).
Read Luke 1:26-29.
 
Frustration is sitting on the floor with six or seven strings
of Christmas lights all tangled together. After a short
struggle I gave up and handed the whole mess to dad.
And even though I'd left the tangled ball of wire and lights
even more tightly tangled than before, in dad's skilled
Navy hands they were untangled and ready for the tree
in a jiffy.
 
When Mary heard the greeting of the angel Gabriel, she
was frustrated, confused, perplexed and greatly troubled-
like I felt trying to untangle the lights. A debate began
raging back and forth in her mind as she considered what
the greeting meant. Why had the angel come? What
message would he bring?
 
There is so much confusion in life. Just like Mary we try to
pick through the tangled pieces of our lives and see if we
can make sense out of them. Our minds go back and forth
from one point of view to another, from faith to doubt, from
confidence to uncertainty, from comfort to fear.
Thankfully, nothing is a mystery for God. He arranges
everything according to His loving plan. He assures us, "I
know the plans I have for you ... plans for welfare and not
for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (see Jeremiah 29:11).
The most important part of that plan was starting to fall into
place right now. God's own Son is becoming human, so He
can live a perfect life and suffer on the cross in our place to
win eternal life for all of us.
 
THE PRAYER:
 
 Heavenly Father, life can be very confusing. In such times
remind me to cast my cares into Your hands so I may live
in peace and quietness. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 
(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

13:47 Posted in Blog | Permalink | Comments (0)

12/08/2016

THE LORDS FAVOR

"Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
(Luke 1:28b).         Read Luke 1:26-28.
 
One of the most coveted roles among the girls in our
Sunday school Christmas program was the Virgin
Mary. Her big moment was when she gently wrapped
a baby doll in cloths and laid him in the manger. But
another sought-after part was the angel Gabriel. Since
that required memorizing a larger part, it usually was
given to an older student.
 
The angel Gabriel had already brought some great
messages to Daniel and Zechariah, but nothing could
compare with the message God entrusts to him now.
He goes out from the presence of God to a city in the
northern region of Galilee called Nazareth. There he
appears to a virgin who is betrothed to a man named
Joseph. Her name is Mary. Gabriel greets her with
reassuring words, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord
is with you!"
 
But what is so special about Mary? Why has God
chosen her for this singular honor above all other virgins
in Israel? Actually, there is nothing special about Mary.
She is a sinner like you and me, and needs God's grace
and favor just like we all do. The focus is upon God; He
has chosen a simple person like her to be the mother
of His Son.
 
Each of us who celebrate with joy our Savior's birth has
been favored by our God the same way as Mary. Like her,
we deserved nothing but God's wrath, but instead He
showers His grace and forgiveness on us through the
Christmas Child. And just as Mary was favored to bring
the Christ Child into the world, we are favored to bring
Christ Jesus to the nations.
 
THE PRAYER:
 
Heavenly Father, You showed us Your favor by calling us
by name and making us Your own children through faith in
Jesus Christ. Bless us now to share that favor with others
as we share Jesus' story. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 
(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

13:14 Posted in Blog | Permalink | Comments (0)

12/07/2016

FALSE ASSUMPTIONS

After these days (Zechariah's) wife Elizabeth conceived,
and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying,
"Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He
looked on me, to take away my reproach among people"
(Luke 1:24-25).
Read Luke 1:23-25.
 
Many husbands and wives struggle with the heartbreak
of infertility. But Zechariah and Elizabeth experience
something even deeper. During that period when a
couple was childless, their neighbors often made false
and hurtful assumptions about them.
 
Judaism had lost its proper understanding of the Old
Testament. Instead of focusing on God's undeserved
grace for helpless sinners, the Jews focused on their
own worthiness. They judged their neighbors'
relationship with God by the blessings He showered
on them. Their good health, financial status, overall
prosperity, social status, and number of descendants --
or lack of -- were indicators of their connection with
God. No matter how much they honored God and
trusted His salvation, Jewish society looked upon
Zechariah and Elizabeth's infertility as proof that
things were not quite right between them and God.
Now, at last, God has visited them and removed
Elizabeth's social disgrace. But interestingly, Elizabeth
doesn't go right out and clear up her reputation by
broadcasting her pregnancy. Instead, she keeps her
pregnancy hidden. Perhaps it is because Elizabeth
knows God is doing something even greater than
granting her the gift of a child-as special as that child
will be.
 
God is sending His Son into the world, and her son will
be His forerunner, His messenger. How surprised she
will be in the sixth month when the mother of God's Son
comes to be a guest in her house.
 
THE PRAYER:
 
Heavenly Father, it is not easy to be judged and
misunderstood by people-especially when I struggle
through difficult situations. Grant me Your joy, peace,
and patience as You guide me through this life. In Jesus'
Name. Amen.
 
(Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

14:03 Posted in RELIGION | Permalink | Comments (0)

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