First Day of Christmas

Luke 2:8-20 ESV

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20And the shepherds returned,glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” vs. 19
Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Mary?
To have anticipated the birth of the Savior of the world?
To have seen how all of the events came to pass?
The Scripture tells us she treasured up these things and
pondered them in her heart. Aren’t we called to do the same?
Psalm 77:12 says, “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

What a blessing it is to ponder and meditate on the work
God has already done in our lives! It reminds us of His
goodness and faithfulness. It gives us strengh to
face the days ahead. When I struggle with trusting God, reflecting on the things he
has already done in my life and resting on His character keep me grounded.
Because of Jesus, we have hope for coming days.
This Christmas let’s remember and
rejoice in who God is and what He has done!

Lauren Wells

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47


Twenty-fifth Day of Advent

Luke 2:1 – 7 NIV

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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 room for them in the inn.

It sounds so . . . well, ordinary. A young woman gives birth to a boy baby. Perhaps a little unusual, even for the first century, in that the birth took place in a stable because all the town’s hotel rooms were booked. All the elements of a normal physical birth process were there . . . and yet this birth was anything but ordinary. The greatest miracle in the history of the world – the eternal Son of God taking on human flesh. . . the launch of God’s plan to provide redemption . . . the cure for mankind’s sin problem . . the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “. . . and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger . . .” At the close of this day, Mary “pondered these things and treasured them in her heart” (v.19). Take time today to follow Mary’s example and praise God for His Son’s very extra-ordinary human birth.

Jean Nystrand

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47

Magnify Him

Twenty-fourth Day of Advent

‭Luke‬ ‭1‬:‭39-56‬ ESV

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. (‭Luke‬ ‭1‬:‭39-56‬ ESV) ‬‬‬

I LOVE worshipping with young people, with the abandon that comes when a teenager has, at last, received confirmation that the Lord is GOOD, that He is Who He says He Is, and that she belongs to Him.

Every Jewish girl, every night: Lord, make me a woman fit to bear Messiah. This angel – this story – IT HAPPENED, it was more reality than any other day. But if it’s true, then Cousin Elizabeth will understand. This will make sense. I’m going there to see her – NOW; I’m keeping this secret for now… So to the hill country – Hebron? – she travels, she knocks. Elizabeth shouts. IT’S REAL – YOUR WORD IS REAL – IT’S ALL TRUE – YOU ARE SO GOOD!

And out spills this song – the Magnificat – from a poor, young girl. The overflow of a heart that KNOWS His goodness. This, perhaps the most profound song in all the Bible.

This Christmas, count His goodness to YOU, to your family. He has indeed filled us with good things.

Sing THIS song. Sing YOUR song. Sing it every day to your children, your grandchildren. SHOUT it to this hurting, broken world. Magnify Him. He has indeed filled us with good things. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Sandi Faulk

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47

Newborn Hope

Twenty-third Day of Advent

Luke 1:67-79New International Version (NIV)

Zechariah’s Song
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 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,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

What parent hasn’t held their newborn child for the first time and spoken to them words of love, full of hope for their future. It was no different for Zechariah. But Zechariah’s words were different, they were prophetic. His son John was given an assignment by God – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). This would not involve repaving streets throughout Judea or cleaning up storefronts or eloquent speeches presented before a crowd of well-dressed people. No, John would prepare the people by giving them “knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” How do you prepare people for a message of salvation? You help them see their need for a Savior. John would awaken hearts long dead to personal sin, comfortable in their self-righteousness. He would prepare them for their Savior by causing them to see their sin and calling them to repentance. What will you do to prepare your heart today? Start by presenting to Him a clean heart. He deserves nothing less. Jesus died so that you could experience the embrace of your Heavenly Father as He speaks to you words of love, full of hope for your future.

Emily Cox

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47

Don’t Miss Him

Twenty-second Day of Advent

Micah 5:2-4 (ESV)

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.

Unsuspecting. Humble. Small. Modest. Undistinguished. Ignoble.

The world could use any or all of these words to describe the birth and life of Jesus Christ. Think about it. He was born in Bethlehem…a shepherd’s town. He was born in a manger…not even your grandpa’s barn. He is compared to a shepherd…not exactly a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. His triumphal entry was made on a donkey….not quite Aladdin’s entrance to meet Jasmine. It’s really no wonder so many people missed the boat. They were looking for someone born of a king in a palace and introduced to the world with fanfare and fireworks.

And don’t we often make the same mistake? I so often look for God to speak in a billboard or a red-lettered memo or in a sermon where the Pastor says, “Tiffini, this is for you.” But instead I most often FIND God in whispers and worship songs and friends’ encouragement.

The world missed His birth because it looked too lowly to be the Messiah. They missed His life because He laid His head in the homes of acquaintances. They missed His death because it was no different than a criminal’s. The Old Testament is fraught with prophecies and don’t-miss-what-I’m-about-to-do warnings of how Jesus would come not from “just a carpenter” but from the lineage of King David, how He would not have a home but that His home was the place God intended for Him to spread the Gospel message, how He would not die as a criminal but as a sacrificial lamb for the atonement of the world’s sins.

So this Christmas I will choose to look for Jesus Christ not in extravagant department store displays or grand parades with blimps of every imaginable character. I will instead look for Him in my heart, in my children’s hearts, in the sweet words of an Advent devotional book, under the tree in a bed made of straw with the eyes of the shepherds upon Him. And my guess is that I will use different words to describe what I find….

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

Tiffini Greer

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51

Lost and Found

Twenty-first Day of Advent

Isaiah 52:7-10 English Standard Version (ESV)

7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.


Have you ever been lost? For the moment I don’t mean spiritually lost, but rather didn’t stop to ask directions lost, separated from your parents at the mall, or out in the wilderness lost. If you have, you likely have some sort of pit-of-your stomach feeling remembering that experience. Not knowing when or how you would be found again is a terrible place to be. What about that moment when rescue did come? Another feeling, but this time joy, elation, relief. When you saw that help come, it caused in you a need to rejoice. It might have been emotional, but it was certainly celebratory. The prophet Isaiah speaks about those who bring the good news to the lost (back to spiritual things now). The prospect of being found and brought back to the light is a cause for great joy. It still is. The Lord has done great things to rescue his people. What will your response be? You can imagine that I really like Isaiah’s ideas: lift their voice and break forth into singing.

Aaron C. Hufty

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51

Sharing Life

Twentieth Day of Advent

Isaiah 40:9-11
“9You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,c
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10See, the Sovereign Lordcomes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”

To attain knowledge of the grace of God in our lives, yet remain silent is impossible. This grace, so precious, can not be merely bottled up within ourselves. We must “lift up [our] voice with a shout”. Compartmentalizing environments where a individual’s faith is proclaimed not only destroys their walk with God, but defeats the purpose of the gospel. It’s God’s breath in our lungs, so we might glorify his righteousness to all. Yes, I did say all. Not just to those who are easy to love, but all. Pouring out declarations of God’s goodness bears joy. By testifying you share life. To know there’s a God who dearly loves and cares for all changes everything. Go and alter people’s preconceptions about our mighty Lord and savior.

With love,
Madeline Senter

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51

Prepare the Way

Nineteenth Day of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-5 (NASB)
“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of the LORD’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

What glorious words with which to announce the coming of the LORD!
What is more comforting than to know with surety that one’s sins, transgressions, and iniquities have been removed. Ironside tells us, “Double for all her sins” is a commercial expression. If a property was mortgaged for a debt, a notice spelling out all the conditions, including information of the lien-holder, would be posted on the doorpost. When the lien was fulfilled, the notice would be folded up, doubled, and tacked in place to indicate that all the conditions of the mortgage had been met.
What a rich picture of my life! I am a sinner; the Lord has given His life to meet the requirements of God to erase my sin. Now He has declared me cleansed!
But that is not all. This good news is available to all; it must be shared! The hills and valleys – what a vivid picture of Jerusalem where one must climb to go both to and fro; what an apt description of each person’s life with all its stumbling blocks – will be leveled to make possible the entrance of this GOOD NEWS, in the Person of Jesus Christ – His incarnation, His substitutionary death, His resurrection and ascension, His coming again.
That is my role, your privilege – to remove the hindrances that impede the advance of the Good News, the KING, from coming near to each one within earshot.
The KING is coming. He came as a child and a suffering Servant; He will come as KING and Judge. How can I best share this good news? How can I help to make the way level for His coming?

Anna Kingsbury

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51

A Child Will Lead Them

Eighteenth Day of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10 (NIV 2011)
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD – and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and the little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner over the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.

Financial problems, chronic pain, emotional hurt – these struggles seem to intensify as Christmas approaches. We wonder if God’s promises of peace and joy are out of our grasp. However, God has a plan bigger than we can imagine. These are days to look at our lives through the lens of our eternal tomorrows. Judah’s problems made God’s promise of a Messiah seem impossible. Life for God’s people in Judah held destruction, pain and hardship. Had God forsaken them? No, God had a plan bigger than they could imagine. The promise of a Messiah from the family line of David, son of Jesse was good because God is faithful to His word. As a tree stump grows shoots of new life after a fire so new life would come from God’s people. The Messiah, Jesus Christ would bless the people with the peace of God and transform their lives.

The Messiah’s peaceful rule will one day transform the earth. A day is coming when the wolf, leopard and lion will no longer hunt the lamb, goat and calf. A small child will be safe with wild animals and snakes. What God has promised, He will do. Looking to the future we have every reason not to fear, every reason to be peaceful, joyful people. He is able to transform your anguish into peace. This Christmas will you begin to look at your days through the lens of all your glorious eternal tomorrows?

Barbara Reaoch

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51

A Child Will Be Born

Seventeenth Day of Advent

Isaiah 9:2-7New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2 The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
3 You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Your presence
As with the gladness of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
5 For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
6 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.
7 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.

So much hope resting on the birth of a child. This child is light to those in darkness, freedom to those in bondage, and justice to the oppressor; no earthly king could shoulder such a burden for long. Maybe for a season, with great feats of diplomacy and military maneuverings, a king could usher in brief peace and expansion, but to bring lasting peace from this time forward and forevermore it would take infinitely more that a man with the right earthly heritage, but the King Eternal. The Father did the unimaginable, he sent his Son Emmanuel, God with us, to do what no earthy king could. He sent the Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Even more shocking is that the Father accomplished all this in Jesus not because of some lofty merit of our own, or stupendous faithfulness, but out of his own devotion to his people!

Oh thank you Father for sending your Great Light; your Son given to us!

Danny Panter

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51