Read: Philippians 2:5–11 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 18–19; Matthew 6:1–18
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Philippians 2:10
Cleopatra, Galileo, Shakespeare, Elvis, Pelé. They are all so well known that they need only one name to be recognized. They have remained prominent in history because of who they were and what they did. But there is another name that stands far above these or any other name!
Before the Son of God was born into this world, the angel told Mary and Joseph to name Him Jesus because “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and “he . . . will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Jesus didn’t come as a celebrity but as a servant who humbled Himself and died on the cross so that anyone who receives Him can be forgiven and freed from the power of sin. Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all. Augustine
The apostle Paul wrote, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).
In our times of greatest joy and our deepest need, the name we cling to is Jesus. He will never leave us, and His love will not fail.
Jesus, You are the name above all names, our Savior and Lord. We lift our praise to You as we celebrate Your presence and power in our lives today.
Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all. Augustine
By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors
God, who exists eternally in three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—has a variety of names that describe His attributes, including Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Strong Tower, and Comforter. Yet here in Philippians 2 Jesus is called the “name that is above every name” (v. 9). Paul, the author of Philippians, goes on to say that at the sound of His name “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (v. 10). Why this enthusiastic praise for the name of Jesus? It’s because of who He is, what He left behind, and what He accomplished. Jesus, the Son of God, left the magnificence of heaven and the presence of His Father and humbled Himself by taking on “human likeness” and “becoming obedient to death” (vv. 7–8). Thus humbled, Jesus was “exalted . . . to the highest place” and given the name above all names (v. 9). He died and rose again because of His love for us and is deserving of our praise and the overflowing joy it expresses.
The Christian life is continually full of challenges, and if you are anything like me, you may “camp out” more so on our continual battles rather than celebrate the victories. Here is a beautiful scripture that will keep things in perspective:
Psalm 126:5-6 King James Version (KJV)
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Take inventory about the blessings and success the Lord has already given you, and focus on further faithful service in the year to come. At the threshold of this new year, let it be Christian Priority Check 101. Enjoy the following year ending devotional on this theme from Our Daily Bread devotional. Happy New Year!Pastor Steve
Times of Completion
December 30, 2017
Read: Acts 14:21–28
Bible in a Year: Zechariah 13–14; Revelation 21
They sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.—Acts 14:26
At the end of the year, the burden of uncompleted tasks can weigh us down. Responsibilities at home and work may seem never-ending, and those unfinished today roll into tomorrow. But there are times in our journey of faith when we should pause and celebrate God’s faithfulness and the tasks completed.
After the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, “they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed” (Acts 14:26). While much work remained in sharing the message of Jesus with others, they took time to give thanks for what had been done. “They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27).
What has God done through you during the past year? How has He opened the door of faith for someone you know and love? In ways we can’t imagine, He is at work through us in tasks that may seem insignificant or incomplete.
When we feel painfully aware of our unfinished tasks in serving the Lord, let’s not forget to give thanks for the ways He has worked through us. Rejoicing over what God has done by His grace sets the stage for what is to come! —David C. McCasland
Lord, as this year comes to a close, we give thanks for all You have accomplished in and through us. By Your grace, lift our eyes to see what is to come!
God is always at work in and through us.
INSIGHT: This inaugural missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas covered nearly 900 miles, much of it on foot. At first the duo met primarily with Jewish audiences. In the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey) Paul appealed to the Jewish heritage of his hearers. He outlined Israel’s history and clearly showed how it culminated in the coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:13-41). Paul’s biblical preaching so intrigued his listeners that they invited him back the following Sabbath.
So many people returned to hear him the next week that it set off a jealous reaction among some influential Jews in Antioch (v. 45). This didn’t appear to faze Paul and Barnabas, who simply turned to the Gentiles who were present and quoted Isaiah 49:6 to them: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” The church grew. The opposition Paul and Barnabas faced merely resulted in the expansion of the gospel message and contributed to the overall success of their missionary journey. Tim Gustafson
Thanks for the Greatest Gift
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. | Dec. 25, 2017
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
We who have known and sought to follow the Lord for many years have received many, many blessings for which to thank Him. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits” (Psalm 68:19), we can pray again and again.
But there is one blessing that is so great that it cannot even be put into words—it is unspeakable! That gift is so great that when we try to comprehend it, the sense of awe and gratitude becomes so overwhelming (or at least should become so overwhelming) that our joy is also unspeakable—indescribable! That gift, of course, is the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior, “whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, . . . ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
It is significant that the Greek word translated “unspeakable” occurs only these two times in the entire New Testament. God’s unspeakable gift to us produces unspeakable joy in us. We who deserve nothing but eternal separation from God in hell, instead will enjoy eternal life with God in heaven, and all because of that amazing and truly inexpressible gift!
To think that the mighty Creator, God the Son, would not only humble Himself to become His own creature, man, but then also suffer the unimaginable agony of the cross and separation from God the Father in order to deliver us from the just penalty of sin! This act speaks of such love and grace that all we can do is whisper softly, “Thank you, Lord, for this unspeakable gift,” and then shout it over and over again in our hearts wherever we go and share its unspeakable joy and blessing with whomever will listen to its message. “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psalm 126:3). Thank you, Lord! HMM
Read: Luke 2:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Zephaniah 1–3; Revelation 16
I bring you good news that will cause great joy . . . a Savior has been born to you. Luke 2:10–11
As you savor a candy cane this Christmas, say “danke schön” to the Germans, for that confectionary treat was first created in Cologne. As you admire your poinsettia, say “gracias” to Mexico, where the plant originated. Say “merci beaucoup” to the French for the term noel, and give a “cheers” to the English for your mistletoe.
But as we enjoy our traditions and festivities of the Christmas season—customs that have been collected from around the world—let’s save our most sincere and heartfelt “thank you” for our good, merciful, and loving God. From Him came the reason for our Christmas celebration: the baby born in that Judean manger more than 2,000 years ago. An angel announced the arrival of this gift to mankind by saying, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy . . . a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:10–11).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13
This Christmas, even in the light of the sparkling Christmas tree and surrounded by newly opened presents, the true excitement comes when we turn our attention to the baby named Jesus, who came to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). His birth transcends tradition: It is our central focus as we send praises to God for this indescribable Christmas gift.
Lord, we thank You for coming to join us on that first Christmas. During a time of the year filled with many traditions, help us to keep You first.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13
By Dave Branon | See Other Authors
The angel Gabriel told Mary, “[Jesus] will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32–33). The angel who appeared to Joseph said, “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. . . . [Y]ou are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20–21). Mary and Joseph knew Jesus would be the Messiah, and as faithful Jews they would have known the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem, David’s hometown. Perhaps when Joseph was ordered to Bethlehem for the census he thought, So that’s how God is going to get us to Bethlehem!
How does reflecting on the miraculous events that led to the birth of Jesus fill you with renewed awe and wonder?
Adapted from Mystery of the Manger by John Greco. Read more at discoveryseries.org/hp161.
One Size Fits All
By: Joe Stowell
Today’s Reading: John 3:10–21
Everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Like most children, I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas. With great anticipation, I would snoop under the tree to see what toys and games awaited my eager grasp. So I felt deflated when I started getting things like shirts and pants. Grownup gifts were no fun! Then last Christmas, my kids gave me some cool socks with bright colors and designs. I almost felt young again! Even grownups could wear these socks, as the label reassured me: “One size fits all.”
That welcome phrase “one size fits all” reminds me of the best gift of Christmas—the good news that Jesus is for everyone. The point was proven when the first invitation sent by angel choirs was to shepherds on the bottom rung of the social ladder. The news was underscored further when the VIPs—the wealthy and powerful Magi—followed the star to come and worship the Christ-child.
After Jesus began His ministry, an influential member of the Jewish ruling council came to Him at night. In the course of their conversation, Jesus invited “everyone who believes” to come to Him. The simple act of faith in Christ grants eternal life to those who trust in Him (John 3:16).
If Jesus were only for the poor and marginalized, or only for the famous and well-to-do, many of us would not qualify. But Christ is for everyone, regardless of status, financial situation, or social standing. He is the only gift truly fit for all.
A Thrill of Hope ~ Our Daily Bread
A Thrill of Hope
December 24, 2017
Read: Luke 2:11–20 | Bible in a Year: Habakkuk 1–3; Revelation 15
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11
Reginald Fessenden had been working for years to achieve wireless radio communication. Other scientists found his ideas radical and unorthodox, and doubted he would succeed. But he claims that on December 24, 1906, he became the first person to ever play music over the radio.
Fessenden held a contract with a fruit company which had installed wireless systems on roughly a dozen boats to communicate about the harvesting and marketing of bananas. That Christmas Eve, Fessenden said that he told the wireless operators on board all ships to pay attention. At 9 o’clock they heard his voice.
Without Christ there is no hope. Charles Spurgeon
He reportedly played a record of an operatic aria, and then he pulled out his violin, playing “O Holy Night” and singing the words to the last verse as he played. Finally, he offered Christmas greetings and read from Luke 2 the story of angels announcing the birth of a Savior to shepherds in Bethlehem.
Both the shepherds in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago and the sailors on board the United Fruit Company ships in 1906 heard an unexpected, surprising message of hope on a dark night. And God still speaks that same message of hope to us today. A Savior has been born for us—Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:11). We can join the choir of angels and believers through the ages who respond with “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (v. 14).
God, we give You glory and thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior!
Without Christ there is no hope. Charles Spurgeon
By Amy Peterson | See Other Authors
Luke’s telling of the birth of Christ is a study in contrasts. We are introduced to the Son of God in the weakness of an infant, while powerful world rulers play their part in moving the family to the city of David. The shepherds were likely guarding temple flocks that would supply the sacrificial system at Jerusalem’s temple. Yet though they were treated as unclean by the religionists of their day, they are invited into the presence of the ultimate Sacrifice. From the humble to the heavenly and everything in between, these contrasts launch the journey of the Son who came from the highest place to be the Lamb of God.
In what way does the coming of Jesus touch your heart?
For further study download the brochure “10 Reasons to Believe God Offers the Perfect Gift” at discoveryseries.org/perfectgift.
The Hope of Christmas | Day 9: Reclaiming the Lost
By: Joe Stowell
Today’s Reading: Luke 19:1–10
The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.
A few years ago, a friend of mine lost track of her young son while walking through a swarm of people at Union Station in Chicago. Needless to say, it was a terrifying experience. Frantically, she yelled his name and ran back up the escalator, retracing her steps in an effort to find her little boy. The minutes of separation seemed like hours, until, suddenly—thankfully—her son emerged from the crowd and ran to the safety of her arms.
Thinking of my friend who would have given anything to find her child fills me with a renewed sense of gratitude that God did everything in His power to seek and save us. From the time God’s first image bearers—Adam and Eve—wandered off in sin, He lamented the loss of fellowship with His people. He did everything in His power to restore the relationship, ultimately sending His one and only Son “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10). Without the birth of Jesus, and without His willingness to die to pay the price for our sin and to reunite lost souls to God, we would have nothing to celebrate at Christmastime.
So, this Christmas, let’s be thankful that God took extreme measures by sending Jesus to reclaim our fellowship with Him. Although we once were lost, because of Jesus we have been found!
December 23, 2017
Our Daily Bread
God with Us
Our Daily Bread
God with Us
December 23, 2017
Read: Matthew 1:18–23
Bible in a Year: Nahum 1–3; Revelation 14
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.—Matthew 1:23
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left . . .” These hymn lyrics, written by the fifth-century Celtic Christian St. Patrick, echo in my mind when I read Matthew’s account of Jesus’s birth. They feel like a warm embrace, reminding me that I’m never alone.
Matthew’s account tells us that God dwelling with His people is at the heart of Christmas. Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy of a child who would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Isa. 7:14), Matthew points to the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy—Jesus, the One born by the power of the Holy Spirit to be God with us. This truth is so central that Matthew begins and ends his gospel with it, concluding with Jesus’s words to His disciples: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
St. Patrick’s lyrics remind me that Christ is with believers always through His Spirit living within. When I’m nervous or afraid, I can hold fast to His promises that He will never leave me. When I can’t fall asleep, I can ask Him to give me His peace. When I’m celebrating and filled with joy, I can thank Him for His gracious work in my life.
Jesus, Immanuel—God with us. —Amy Boucher Pye
Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to be God with us. May we experience Your presence this day.
God’s love became Incarnate at Bethlehem.
INSIGHT: We can only imagine the emotions Joseph experienced when he discovered his fiancée was pregnant. But in a dream he was told that Mary’s child was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. In obedience to this divine revelation, Joseph took her as his wife and did not consummate the marriage until she had given birth to the child.
The Father, Son, and Spirit all share in our redemption. God took on human form and came to Earth to live among us. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit now dwells within us (1 Peter 1:11; Gal. 4:6; 1 Cor. 6:19).
How does knowing Christ is present in your life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit encourage you? Dennis Fisher
A Fragile Gift
By: Keila Ochoa
Today’s Reading: John 1:1–14
For this his how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
When we give a fragile gift, we make sure it is marked on the box that contains it. The word FRAGILE is written with big letters because we don’t want anyone to damage what is inside.
God’s gift to us came in the most fragile package: a baby. Sometimes we imagine Christmas day as a beautiful scene on a postcard, but any mother can tell you it wasn’t so. Mary was tired, probably insecure. It was her first child, and He was born in the most unsanitary conditions. She “wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 nkjv).
A baby needs constant care. Babies cry, eat, sleep, and depend on their caregivers. They cannot make decisions. In Mary’s day, infant mortality was high, and mothers often died in childbirth.
Why did God choose such a fragile way to send His Son to earth? Because Jesus had to be like us in order to save us. God’s greatest gift came in the fragile body of a baby, but God took the risk because He loves us. Let us be thankful today for such a gift.
Silent Night of the Soul
December 22, 2017
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:14–21
Bible in a Year: Micah 6–7; Revelation 13
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here!—2 Corinthians 5:17
Long before Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber created the familiar carol “Silent Night,” Angelus Silesius had written:
Lo! in the silent night a child to God is born,
And all is brought again that ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man, become a silent night
God would be born in thee and set all things aright.
Silesius, a Polish monk, published the poem in 1657 in The Cherubic Pilgrim. During our church’s annual Christmas Eve service, the choir sang a beautiful rendition of the song titled “Could but Thy Soul Become a Silent Night.”
The twofold mystery of Christmas is that God became one of us so that we might become one with Him. Jesus suffered everything that was wrong so that we could be made right. That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17–18).
Whether our Christmas is filled with family and friends or empty of all we long for, we know that Jesus came to be born in us.
Ah, would thy heart but be a manger for the birth,
God would once more become a child on earth. —David C. McCasland
Lord Jesus, thank You for being born into this dark world so that we might be born again into Your life and light. God became one of us so that we might become one with Him.
INSIGHT: At the heart of the concept of becoming one with Christ is His work of reconciliation in us. In today’s passage, Paul weaves several themes together—life, love, new creation, and the ministry of reconciliation—all framed by a call to act with urgency. It is because of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection that we can be reconciled to God. Those who accept Christ’s gift of reconciliation must “no longer live for themselves” (2 Cor. 5:15). Instead, we are compelled to view everyone differently (v. 16), as people in dire need of Christ’s reconciliation. And what is this reconciliation? God will no longer “[count] people’s sins against them” (v. 19). With urgency, Paul tells us that we are now Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation and says, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (v. 20, emphasis added).
With whom can you share this offer of reconciliation today? Tim Gustaftson
The Perfect Gift
By: Julie Ackerman Link
Today’s Reading: Romans 12:1–8
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts.
Every year our local botanical garden hosts a celebration of Christmas around the world. My favorite display is a French nativity. Instead of the traditional scene showing shepherds and wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh gathered around the manger, it shows French villagers bringing their gifts to baby Jesus. They bring bread, wine, cheese, flowers, and other items that God has given them the ability to produce. This reminds me of the Old Testament command to bring the firstfruits of our labor to the house of the Lord (Exodus 23:16–19). This depiction of the nativity illustrates that everything we have comes from God, so the only thing we have to give is something that God has given us.
When Paul instructed the Romans to present themselves as a living sacrifice, he was telling them to give back to God what God had given them—their own selves (Romans 12:1). This includes the gifts He gave them, even their ability to earn a living. We know that God gives people special abilities. Some were skilled in music (1 Samuel 16:18). Some were skilled in artistic works (Exodus 35:30–35). Others have skill in writing, teaching, gardening, and many other things.
When we give back to God what He has first given to us, we give Him the perfect gift—ourselves.
Home For Christmas
Our Daily Bread
Home for Christmas
December 21, 2017
Read: Genesis 28:10–17
Bible in a Year: Micah 4–5; Revelation 12
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.—Genesis 28:15
One year Christmas found me on assignment in a place many of my friends couldn’t locate on a map. Trudging from my worksite back to my room, I braced against the chill wind blowing off the bleak Black Sea. I missed home.
When I arrived at my room, I opened the door to a magical moment. My artistic roommate had completed his latest project—a nineteen-inch ceramic Christmas tree that now illuminated our darkened room with sparkling dots of color. If only for a moment, I was home again!
As Jacob fled from his brother Esau, he found himself in a strange and lonely place too. Asleep on the hard ground, he met God in a dream. And God promised Jacob a home. “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying,” He told him. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (Gen. 28:13–14).
From Jacob, of course, would come the promised Messiah, the One who left His home to draw us to Himself. “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am,” Jesus told His disciples (John 14:3).
That December night I sat in the darkness of my room and gazed at that Christmas tree. Perhaps inevitably I thought of the Light that entered the world to show us the way home. —Tim Gustafson
Lord, no matter where we are today, we can thank You for preparing a place for us to be with You. And we have the presence of Your Spirit today!
Home is not so much a place on a map, as it is a place to belong. God gives us that place.
INSIGHT: Sometimes our perceptions of God get a startling adjustment. That was the case for Jacob in today’s passage. From our perspective we know through the Old and New Testament Scriptures that God is everywhere and is always with us. But Jacob’s knowledge was limited. His statement in Genesis 28:16 hints that he thought he was out of “God’s area.” How comforting it must have been to Jacob to realize that though he had left his family and his home, he was still in the presence of God.
How does knowing that God is always present comfort you? J.R. Hudber
Read: Luke 1:11–17
Bible in a Year: Micah 1–3; Revelation 11
He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.—Luke 1:17
At the end of the Old Testament, God seems to be in hiding. For four centuries, the Jews wait and wonder. God seems passive, unconcerned, and deaf to their prayers. Only one hope remains: the ancient promise of a Messiah. On that promise the Jews stake everything. And then something momentous happens. The birth of a baby is announced.
You can catch the excitement just by reading the reactions of people in Luke. Events surrounding Jesus’s birth resemble a joy-filled musical. Characters crowd into the scene: a white-haired great uncle (Luke 1:5–25), an astonished virgin (1:26–38), the old prophetess Anna (2:36). Mary herself lets loose with a beautiful hymn (1:46–55). Even Jesus’s unborn cousin kicks for joy inside his mother’s womb (1:41).
Luke takes care to make direct connections to Old Testament promises of a Messiah. The angel Gabriel even calls John the Baptist an “Elijah” sent to prepare the way for the Lord (1:17). Clearly, something is brewing on planet Earth. Among the dreary, defeated villagers in a remote corner of the Roman Empire, something good is breaking out. —Philip Yancey
You have come to us, and we rejoice! Jesus, You are the gift of redemption and hope for us. Thank You.
Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world. C. S. Lewis (from The Last Battle)
INSIGHT: The virgin birth of Christ is not the only miracle in the Christmas story. John the Baptist’s birth was also miraculous. His father, Zechariah, was a priest of the line of Abijah (a priest during David’s time descended from Aaron) who served at the temple in Jerusalem twice a year. John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a cousin of Mary and also a descendant of Aaron (the first high priest). Zechariah and Elizabeth faithfully followed God’s laws, yet they were “very old” and were childless because Elizabeth could not conceive (Luke 1:5-7). God miraculously blessed this elderly couple with a child—and no ordinary child. Their son would be “great in the sight of the Lord” (v. 15) and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (v. 17).
What in the Christmas story is most meaningful to you?
Our Daily Bread Ministry
What really matters is . . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” John 1:14
Christmas is a time of Celebration! As Christians, we have the only valuable gift worthy of Celebration. It’s nice to get the material possessions of toys, clothes, and ugly Christmas sweaters, 🙂 but the real Joy comes from knowing that the Creator became our Savior. This Christmas, take a moment to reflect on what really matters: The Creator of the Universe, the All-powerful, All-knowing God, became part of creation to save humanity. Pondering that thought alone should keep us musing for hours and days and years on end.
From the team at Creation Today, which loves introducing people to this Creator and showing them how he became the Savior, Merry Christmas!
Christmas in Tokyo
By: David McCasland
Today’s Reading: Acts 17:22–34
This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
On Christmas Eve 2003, noted painter Makoto Fujimura gathered with other artists for a party at Sato Museum in Tokyo. Many had donated their works for a benefit exhibit to raise money for children in Afghanistan. After the meal, Mr. Fujimura, an ardent Christian who lives in New York, shared some words about the true meaning of Christmas and their opportunity as artists to create works that help bring hope into the world.
Reflecting on that event, Fujimura wrote: “I was convinced, that evening in Tokyo, that Jesus invited Himself to be among artists who may not even know His name. Some of these artists, I suspect, have already sensed His presence in their studios as they labored to create peace via their paintings. All gifts of creativity, like the Magi’s [star], point straight to a stable in Bethlehem.”
Paul said that God is at work among people of all nations so that they should “feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:27-28).
We should be alert for the Lord’s presence where we least expect to see Him. Jesus may invite Himself to any Christmas party. After all, it’s His birthday.
The following are staples for me at Christmas: Family and friends. Eggnog. Christmas music. At least one watching of: 1)It’s A Wonderful Life, 2)A Christmas Carol and 3)A Christmas Story, and last but not least, 4)Linus straightening Charlie Brown out about the real meaning of Christmas. (Thank you Charles Schulz) I recorded and watched this great Peanuts edition this year on November 30. Have a blessed and MerryChristmas! Pastor Steve <><
By: Tim Gustafson
Today’s Reading: Luke 2:1–7
I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
In the timeless TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown tries to direct a children’s Christmas pageant. Everyone, it seems, is caught up in the commercialism of the season. Rehearsals go from bad to worse until our exasperated hero shouts at the ceiling, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
It’s then that Linus pipes up, “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” Clutching his security blanket, Linus shuffles center stage and launches into a soliloquy for the ages—the Christmas story from Luke 2.
Christopher Shea, the seven-year-old actor who voiced Linus’s role, died at age fifty-two. But he learned the source of that simple TV show’s significance. “As I got older,” Shea once said, “I understood the words more, and I understood the power of what was going on.”
One day our lines will be complete. We’ll walk offstage and into eternity. If we know Who it’s all about, we can exit in satisfaction and fulfillment, fully confident of life with the Power behind the words—the One who came on Christmas to rescue His creation. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 kjv).