Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reflections for the 4th Week in Advent and Christmas, Part 1

Monday – Shout for Joy!

“Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!”

Shout for joy, people of God! Our Savior is coming to us. 

Sing joyfully, people of God! He is bringing forgiveness and healing.

Be glad and exult, people of God! A Child is to be born, a Child Who will take all of our sins upon Himself and pay the price of our ransom from death.

Shout for joy, people of God! Our God has become one of us without ceasing to be God. He has walked among us. He has ascended into Heaven. He is preparing a place for us. He will return again to take us home to be with Him for all eternity.

Tuesday – Hannah

Hannah probably thought her heart would break. She had prayed so long and so intensely for a son that she might please her beloved husband. In her passionate desire for a child, she had even made a vow to God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate him back to God as a Nazirite, a man specially consecrated to serve the Lord. 

God had answered her prayers. Hannah now had a beautiful little son, whom she named Samuel. She loved the child dearly, but now the time had come to fulfill her vow. Hannah and her husband traveled to Shiloh to make their sacrifice and turn their son over to the care of Eli the priest. All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. Samuel stayed with Eli; Hannah went home. Her mother's heart grieved, but she knew that her son belonged to God, and she trusted that God would care for him.

Hannah foreshadows another young mother who gave birth to a very special Son. Mary, too, had prayed long and intensely, but her prayer was for the coming of the Messiah. She probably never dreamed that she would be the mother of the One Who was to come. But God had prepared her for that very role, and when the request came, Mary embraced her task with joy. 

Like Hannah, Mary, too, dedicated her Son to God. She understood that He had a special mission, and she knew that one day, she would have to let Him go, to give Him up. Even though her mother's heart would break, she knew that her Son belonged to God, and she trusted that God would care for Him. She would trust and accept God's plan all the way to the Cross and beyond. 

Wednesday – God's Messenger

“Lo, I am sending My messenger to prepare the way before Me...” John the Baptist was God's messenger, sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. His task was to turn Israel's heart back to God through his preaching and his baptism of repentance. 

But John wasn't and isn't God's only messenger. God uses all kinds of emissaries to communicate with us, and sometimes He even speaks through us to send His messages to those around us.

Spend some time this week reflecting on God's messengers to you. Perhaps He speaks through a friend or whispers in your ear as you enjoy nature's beauty. Maybe He catches your attention through something you read or touches your heart through a special song. How does God speak to you? And are you listening?

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