Good morning. I think it’s…yes…it’s Wednesday, December 21, 2011. It’s 32 degrees outside this morning. But it’s clear. Could be some showers tonight, but warmer in the morning, as we welcome in Winter. Tomorrow, the first day of Winter, it will be 62 degrees. Heh. I just looked at the five-day forecast. There is actually a possibility of some rain/snow showers on Christmas Eve. But Christmas Day is supposed to be around 55 for a high, and only 32 that morning.
Not much else to report around here, so I’ll go ahead and just straight into my devotion for the day. I just updated Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit, should you be inclined to check it out…
Today’s Bible readings:
Revelation 12; Esther 7-10; Luke 1:26-38
Revelation 12 is somewhat perplexing, I’ll admit. There is a “woman,” giving birth to a male child, and being chased by a “dragon.” No one knows for sure who the woman represents. It’s doubtful that it she is a single person, such as Mary, the mother of Jesus. But she could represent Israel, out of whom came salvation for all of us, or she could represent the Church, or some kind of conglomeration of all of those. The dragon is said to be Satan. There is war depicted in heaven, as Michael and the angels battle against Satan and his angels. Satan is defeated and thrown out of heaven, down to the earth, where, in his frustration, knowing that he has a short time left, he wages war against “the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (v. 17)
The conclusion of the story of Esther is a classic case of “what goes around comes around.” At the beginning of chapter 7, Esther calls out Haman for his plan to destroy her people. I can almost envision Haman’s face as she points him out, right in front of the king! The king storms out in anger, only to return to find Haman groveling all over Esther and her couch. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. (7:8 ) Haman was hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. Mordecai was eventually brought before the king, and made virtually second in command to the king, himself. The Jews were saved and had vengeance on those who sought to do them harm.
The book of Esther is a magnificent display of the sovereign hand of God. Even though never specifically mentioned in the book, it is clear that God’s hand was at work in the events described.
The Luke passage for today is the appearance of the angel to Mary.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luk 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
This is one of my favorite passages regarding the birth of Jesus. Even more, I think, than the magnificent appearance of the angel choir in the night sky over the shepherds. Mary’s response is truly amazing. If only we could all have such innocent faith.
Father, as I ponder the angel’s message to Mary and her response, I am shamed by my own skepticism. It’s not skepticism in that I don’t believe you. But yet, my faith is weak. I’ve always said that I have no problem believing what you can do. My problem is whether I believe you will do it. Nevertheless, you have brought me far this year. I believe that I trust you more now than I did at the beginning of 2011. It has been a year fraught with struggle and pain. But we have prevailed. And we could not have prevailed without you as our fortress. I praise you, Father, for your hand has brought us through. I praise you, because you are our fortress and our stronghold. And, as I look forward to 2012, I believe that I am closer to saying the words of Mary as she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
I pray for this day, Lord. Let it be another good day for Christi and for me. I pray for Stephanie’s day at home, that she may find some way to be productively occupied.
I pray that my friend Andy was able to find shelter last night.
I pray for Melinda as she is entering the last weeks of pregnancy. I pray that the remaining time will be good and that they will welcome this new baby girl, with everyone being healthy. Thank you, Father, for this miracle.
Let this coming weekend be full of peace and joy for everyone, Lord.
Let us be as Mary. May we surrender completely to the Lord’s will for our lives.
Grace and peace, friends.