Christmas DevotionsDecember 27-31
God’s Indescribable Gift: The People
In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people – Luke 2:8-10 (CSB)
A wife said to her husband, “Shall we watch the six o’clock news and get indigestion or wait for the eleven o’clock and have insomnia?” One person said, “The evening news is where they begin
with ‘Good evening’ and then tell you why it isn’t.” We live in a world filled with tragedy. If there’s anything this hurting world desperately needs, it is good news.
When God sent the good news about the birth of the Messiah, He sent the good news for all people and chose some of the least likely to start with. He picked shepherds. As a class shepherds had a bad reputation. According to Robert Morris, “More regrettable was their habit of confusing ‘mine’ with ‘thine’ as they moved about the country. They were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give testimony in the law courts.” Using shepherds would have been considered a bad PR move. But the good news was for “all people” and that included the best and the worst.
Mary was also another unlikely candidate. According to Jon Cannon, “when God decided to select a mother for His Son, He went past the fashion salons and beauty parlors. He went past the furs and diamonds and gold and went to an insignificant village called Nazareth. He found a peasant girl. She did not dress in designer clothes. She did not have a sophisticated education. But she was pure and God selected her to be the mother of His only begotten Son.
Think about the fact that God has revealed the good news to you. How would your list of qualifications line up if it was based only on merit?
In Luke 2:20, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.” Glorify and praise God for what you have seen and heard about the birth of Christ.
God’s Indescribable Gift: The Presence
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people – Luke 2:9-10 (CSB)
Luis Palau tells of a wealthy European family that decided to have their newborn baby baptized in their enormous mansion. Many people were invited, it was an elegant and elaborate affair. They took off their coats and laid them on the bed in a designated room and soon the time came for the main purpose of their gathering but no one could find the baby!
To the horror of all, they finally found the baby! It was now buried under the pile of coats, jackets, and furs nearly smothered to death. The baby was alive but they had neglected the main purpose of the celebration. If we bury Jesus under our traditions, our families, our good works, our emotions, our music, our programs, or our rotten self, we truly miss the reason for the season.
Part of the gift of Christmas was the presence of the angel and the presence of God’s glory announcing the presence of Christ. The angel “stood before them. It literally means to stand near somebody. Imagine, the shepherds are there checking out the fold, doing whatever they do and all of a sudden here’s Gabriel standing there. And it’s evident that he’s not one of the guys. They are immediately afraid. The sudden bright light of God’s glory terrified the shepherds, as is always the case when sinners encounter the holy light of God’s presence. But the angel quickly relieved their fears and told them this incredibly good news.
As John Newton put it in his classic hymn, Amazing Grace, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear; The hour I first believed! When did you first believe? Was there some fear and some amazement that God wanted to live with you and in you?
Look up the lyrics to the hymn Amazing Grace. Sing it as your praise to God today!
God’s Indescribable Gift: A Savior
Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:11-12 (CSB)
Some years ago, a cartoon appeared in newspapers. It pictured two farmers in Kentucky, standing in a field as snow fell softly. One turned to the other and asked, “Anything exciting happen today?” “Nah, nothing exciting,” said the other farmer. “Oh, there was a baby born over at Tom Lincoln’s home, but nothing exciting ever happens around here.” But that baby born in the home of Tom Lincoln one day became the President of the United States. He changed the course of history and liberated the slaves.
I wonder if there were people in Bethlehem on that night so long ago, asking, “Anything exciting happen today?” Maybe they were told, “No, nothing much. Oh, I hear some woman gave birth to a baby in a stable, but nothing exciting ever happens around here.” Except that a baby was born, a baby that changed the world.
It wasn’t an unusual sign to see a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, but it was strange to see a baby lying in a manger – a feeding trough. If the angel had not told them to look for such a specific sign, they would never have believed it. This was a sign that Jesus was the Savior of the World.
The Jewish religious leaders had been looking for a Savior for a long time. But they missed the signs and they missed the Savior. As we celebrate the Christmas season, have you overlooked the significance of Jesus as Savior of the world?
In Luke 2:19 “Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” Mary took time to meditate on all the events surrounding the birth of our Savior and treated those thoughts as precious. Take some time today and meditate on the treasures God has given you this Christmas.
God’s Indescribable Gift: Peace
Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! – Luke 2:13-14
Someone wrote, “My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today I have finished two bags of chips and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” God has a plan to bring us a true inner peace that doesn’t add to our waistline.
According to Luke 2:14, the gift of Christmas is “Glory to God” which brings “peace on earth.” These two are joined together, and none can separate them. Do you want peace? Your highest aim must be the glory of God. Do you seek God’s glory as your highest aim? Then the inevitable result will be a peace that passes understanding.
In the Bible, the word “worry” literally means to pull apart. And the word “peace” literally means to hold together. It’s Christmas Eve, yet some things are still pulling us apart. What are the things pulling you apart today?
Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Let your request be made known to God and praise Him for the peace He promises to give.
God’s Indescribable Gift: Share
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told. – Luke 2:20 (CSB)
A group of kids was putting on a Christmas play. To show the radiance of the newborn Savior, a light bulb was hidden in the manger. All the stage lights were to be turned off so that only the brightness of the manger could be seen. But the boy who controlled the lights got confused and all the lights went out. It was a tense moment, broken only when one of the shepherds said in a loud stage whisper, “Hey! You switched off Jesus!”
The shepherd’s response on the first Christmas morning was to shine the light on Jesus. They wanted everyone to know what they had seen. In Luke 2:20 they went home glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen. In Luke 2:17 they, “reported the message.”
When you genuinely meet Jesus, you want others to meet Him too. And there is no better place to start than at home. Spend some time today taking turns with friends and family sharing one thing you want them to know about Jesus’ role in your life.
Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is on me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” Read the rest of Isaiah 61 today. Let this shape a time of praising God today