Return to Bible Devotional > Scripture Prayer > Mini-Worship
Dec 20-25, 2021
Take a few deep breaths and center yourself and quiet down
Entering the presence of God
(M)Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
(W)The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love.
(All)Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
(Selection from Psalm 33:8-9; 13-14; 18-22)
The most merciful and loving God, as we look into our world, we know that we so struggle with the fruits of our sinful thoughts and deeds. We need you. Come, lead us to repent; save us and grant comfort to us. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah53:3-6; Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces; he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Thoughts to share and to ponder
Son of God, who was conceived from the Holy Spirit, took human form, went through human process, and came into the world to dwell among people. This is a great mystery. We all can be like Mary to ask what it means and how it will be.
At Mary's time, people had not comprehended the relation between this baby Jesus and the suffering servant in the prophecy. They had not understood the relation between salvation and suffering. The popular understanding was that the coming Messiah Savior would restore an earthly kingdom like David or Solomon's. Israel would be free from the oppressed foreign ruling power. The new kingdom would last forever.
Later, the risen Jesus opened up the mystery of God's salvation to his disciples. Then all ancient prophecies concerning Messiah became understandable. Long ago God had a plan. God saw our turning away from him as a fundamental sin. It was the source of all pains we had. Such a sin was grave. Its penalty would be eternal death. The same holy God was also a compassionate God who had pity on our perishable fate. So he designed a way to spare us. This way would fulfill God's requirement for justice so that the forgiveness could be granted; the relationship between God and humans could be restored, and all could receive eternal life. The way God offered was that he would send his only son Jesus as a suffering servant. His suffering and death on the cross would make the way leading us back to God. He would bear the wrath of God toward our sin. He would become a ransom to satisfy God's judgment for sin so we could live through him. Because of Jesus, our sin would be forgiven. We would stand before God and be called his children without fear. We would receive a new spirit and new heart. We would access his love and life.
God intends Jesus to be the one showing his love among us. Paul understood this kind of love. He said, "very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we are still sinners Christ died for us. "
The conception of baby Jesus was the beginning of God's salvation plan in unfolding. Mary said," May your word be fulfilled to me." She accepted a mission of joy and suffering. She bore despisement, gossip and rejection. Her heart was pierced when Jesus was on the cross. Jesus said "I come to do your will." He bore scorn, questioning, rejection, punishment and crucifixion. Their obedience to God has brought salvation to us. Their examples have taught us what true love is. In true love, there is dedication of a total person with full faith and trust. There is acceptance of embracing suffering and laboring. There is full obedience with no calculation and speculations. There is zeal to carry a mission through.
Our world desperately thirsts and quests for love. We often mistake many things as love but find only disappointments. We also often find that we just do not have enough love to love others. We are looking for a well of love. Is there one? The Creator our God has said yes to us. He is Love. Love is from him. He intends to love us with his everlasting and steadfast love. Jesus came to invite us to taste God's love and to see how God loves us. Are we willing to say yes to this love?
This is a season reminding us of the wonder of God's holy love toward us. Let us meditate this love and be renewed in it.
Our loving and saving God , thanks for your love and the way you love us. Thanks for the good news in this baby Jesus. Jesus, we welcome you. We confess that sin blocks out our vision of love. Our own love grows cold easily. We need you. May your love continuously redeem us and embrace us. We will be able to stand firm until the day you return. We pray in the name of Jesus.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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