Monday
 
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:20-21
 New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
Jesus first had to become the sins of the people before he could save them (us) from those sins (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 4:10).   His own people rejected him before his forgiveness could be received.  Jesus' gift of salvation was incredibly costly to him.   It is a reminder of two great truths:  God loves us incredibly and salvation is a precious gift.
 
MY PRAYER...
 
Almighty God and Savior, thank you for bearing the cost of my sin in Jesus.  Thank you precious Lord, for taking on human flesh, bearing its difficulties, facing rejection so I could be saved. My salvation makes all other names pale in comparison to Jesus, through whom I offer all thanks and praise.  Amen.
 
Tuesday
 
[Zechariah said,] "Praise be to the Lord, God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.  He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he said through his holy prophets long ago." 
Luke 1:68-70
 New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
What God does in Jesus is not a surprise.  Yes, it was unexpected, but the "hints" and prophecies of his coming are found all over the Old Testament.  The holy prophets had spoken about it "long ago." But more than the prophets, Jesus coming is God keeping his word.  Jesus' coming is God's answer to his promises.  That's why Paul can say that all God's promises find their "yes" in Jesus and it is through Jesus that the "amen" is spoken (2 Cor. 1).  In Jesus, God comes, God ministers, God cares, God saves, God redeems, and God keeps his promises. 
 
MY PRAYER...
I thank you, Holy Father, that you keep your promises.  I know you don't have to keep your word to me, but because of your love and kindness, I know you will.  So please help me be more faithful to you as I seek to honor my commitments and pledges to you.  I know this is important to you not only because I need to learn obedience, but I also need to develop a character more consistent with your own.  Thank you for hearing my heart. In Jesus name I pray.  Amen. 
 
Wednesday
 
[Zechariah prophesied concerning John,] "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, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God."
Luke 1:76-78
 New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
Where does salvation come from?  Does it come from our sense that something is desperately wrong and we need to change and make it better?  Does it come from casting things in a more positive light so we don't become discouraged and quit?  Does it come from a lucky break?  Does it come because we are scrupulously righteous and deserve it come our way?  Does it come from rigorously obeying everything in the law?  No! Salvation and forgiveness come from one source, "the tender mercy of our God."
 
MY PRAYER...
 
I confess, Father, that at times I've tried to earn my salvation.  At other times, I have taken it for granted and trampled on your mercy and grace.  Today, Father, I want to live for you: not to be saved or gain salvation, but to please you and reflect your character and nature.  Your mercy and grace have redeemed many people from the worthless way of living that I see so many others trapped in. Thank you for your salvation, but please help me to live in a way that shows the joy of that salvation in all I say, think, and do.  Through Jesus I pray.  Amen.
 
Thursday
 
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So Joseph 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.
Luke 2:1and Luke 4:5
New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
Isn't it amazing how many inconveniences in our lives the Lord uses to accomplish his will in us?  Can you think of a worse time to have to go on a cross-country trip with their modes of travel than Joseph and Mary faced?  Yet God turned it into the moment in which the angels found their tune and Satan met his match.
 
MY PRAYER...
 
Father, I thank you that behind history, and especially behind the part of history where I live, your hand is always working for my redemption and your glory.  Give me faith to ride out the difficult times, knowing that you will use those difficulties to be the incubator of your next great work in me. Through Jesus I pray.   Amen.
 
Friday
 
While [Joseph and Mary] were [in Bethlehem], 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.
Luke 2:6-7
New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
I've always been amazed at how God chose to place his Son into our world.  He could have done it any way he wanted.  But he chose this way -- to enter the world in difficult times under difficult circumstances as a helpless infant who must be cared for by parents who were vulnerable to so many frailties. Yet in spite of the challenges that lay ahead and the bewildering mystery that confronted them:  Joseph and Mary, along with everyone around them, were caught up in the great joy this new child gave.
 
MY PRAYER...
 
Give me a heart of faith, O God, so that I might always see your sovereignty and grace being poured out on me in special ways.  I am thrilled that you, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, chose to enter my world as a child.  Thank you for trusting your wonderful salvation to human flesh so we could know that you deemed us worthy of entering our world to make us right for yours.  Through Jesus.  Amen.
 
Saturday
 
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:8-11
New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
Shepherds and the glory of the Lord in the same sentence. Shepherds enjoyed a great heritage in Israel with Abraham, Moses, and David as notable shepherds and God being identified through Psalm 23 as a great shepherd.  But by this time in Israelite history, they were not highly regarded.  They smelled like sheep.  They spent their time with sheep.   They were not really clean and religious enough to be considered spiritual. So when God chose to announce the birth of Jesus to shepherds with his contingent of angels he makes his point clear: Everyone is loved by God, everyone has access to God, and everyone is desired by God.
 
MY PRAYER...
 
Holy and Almighty God, I confess to you that sometimes the outward appearance and reputation of a person colors the way I treat them.  But today, I'm convicted of how much you want everyone to know about your grace in Jesus.  Give me a heart to love all people and a passion to share your grace with them. Through Jesus I pray this.  Amen.
 
Sunday
 
[An angel of the Lord said,] "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:11-14
New International Version
 
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE...
 
The sign to the shepherds was a baby in a feeding trough. Pretty potent sign isn't it!  The Almighty Creator of the universe sleeping where the sheep and goats have eaten their grain and hay.   That God would love us so much as to reduce himself to such an inauspicious beginning reminds us why the angels praise him so.  He is glorious and yet he chose not to hide or protect that glory, but instead he shared it so we could find it, too!
 
MY PRAYER...
 
God of the manger and Ruler of the constellations, I join my heart and my voice with the angels in praise to your glorious and holy name.   Your sacrifice is so profound I am awe-struck. You could have chosen any sign to show Jesus to the shepherds, but you chose the manger.  Thank you for revealing yourself in such a common place so I could find your sign and come home to you.  Through Jesus with all my love.  Amen.