God With Us

Today is Monday, December 21, 2020, in the fourth week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, also known as “Thomas the Doubter.”

Day 22,929

Only four days until Christmas, y’all! We got a bunch of presents wrapped, yesterday. And by “we,” I mean C did all the wrapping. I will, eventually wrap the ones that are for her. Or, as we have done in the past, from time to time, I will place them in boxes, and she will wrap them.

Plans for Christmas visitations have finally been made. We will drive to Mineral Wells on Thursday (Christmas Eve), and have a brief and safe visit with Mama, and exchange our gifts there. There will be no meal involved, unless we grab something at Subway or The Mesquite Pit on the way in.

On Friday, Christmas Day, we will have our little Christmas with just the three of us, at home. R & J will show up sometime that morning, and probably won’t come in the house. After that, they plan to head to Mineral Wells to give gifts to Grandma.

C’s sister and brother-in-law are having gifts sent to our house, so we will figure out something for them, as well, in that same light. We will probably email a gift to C’s niece.

All of this is not because we are afraid. Hear that loudly and correctly, please. It is, rather, because we care about one another’s health and safety. My mother is “elderly,” and C and I are on the verge of “elderly,” although I will forever maintain that “elderly” is twenty years older than me. Hahaha! Seriously, though, we want to protect each other as much as we can. More and more people that we know are being afflicted by this plague, and it has, as we well know, the potential of being deadly.

I just saw news this morning, that Chad Stuart, half of the British duo Chad and Jeremy, has passed away from pneumonia, at the age of 79. I saw no indication, at least not in what I read, that it was Covid-related.

We had a nice trip home, yesterday, and a good lunch after we got home, as we stopped and picked up Applebee’s and Sonic drinks on the way. We got everything unpacked and put away, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Today, it’s back to work, but only for three days.

It’s nice to be back at my home computer. While writing the blog was easier on an iPad than on a phone, it was still somewhat tedious, and I couldn’t quite make it look like I want it to look.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

Psalms 31:23-24 ESV
(23) Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
(24) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Today I am grateful:

  1. A new, but short week, with all the opportunities it will bring, along with the celebrations, even as subdued as they will be
  2. That You are my Rock and my Fortress (Psalm 31:3)
  3. For Your abundant goodness, “which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!” (Psalm 31:19)
  4. For the birth of Jesus Christ
  5. That, because of his birth, we have full access to You, our Father in heaven

Psalms 31:2-3 ESV
(2) Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
(3) For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;

Psalms 31:19 ESV
(19) Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

Psalms 31:24 ESV
(24) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

John 20:24-29 ESV
(24) Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
(25) So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
(26) Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
(27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
(28) Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
(29) Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Psalms 126:1-6 ESV
(1) A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
(2) Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
(3) The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
(4) Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
(5) Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
(6) He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalms 55:17 ESV
(17) Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Purify my conscience,
Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Twenty-three

Isaiah 62:1-5 ESV
(1) For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.
(2) The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.
(3) You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
(4) You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
(5) For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Acts 13:16-17 ESV
(16) So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen.
(17) The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it.

Acts 13:22-25 ESV
(22) And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
(23) Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.
(24) Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
(25) And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Matthew 1:1-25 ESV
(1) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

(2) Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
(3) and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
(4) and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
(5) and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
(6) and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
(7) and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,
(8) and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,
(9) and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
(10) and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,
(11) and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

(12) And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
(13) and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,
(14) and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,
(15) and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,
(16) and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

(17) So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

(18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
(19) And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
(20) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
(21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

(23) “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).
(24) When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
(25) but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Isaiah 9:1-6 ESV
(1) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(3) You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
(4) For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
(5) For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
(6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Titus 2:11-14 ESV
(11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
(12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
(13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
(14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Luke 2:1-14 ESV
(1) In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
(2) This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
(3) And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
(4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
(5) to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
(6) And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
(7) And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

(8) And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
(9) And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
(10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
(11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
(12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

(14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Isaiah 62:11-12 ESV
(11) Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”
(12) And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

Titus 3:4-7 ESV
(4) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
(5) he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
(6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
(7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Luke 2:15-20 ESV
(15) When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
(16) And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
(17) And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
(18) And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
(19) But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
(20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Isaiah 52:7-10 ESV
(7) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
(8) The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.
(9) Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
(10) The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Hebrews 1:1-6 ESV
(1) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
(2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
(3) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
(4) having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
(5) For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

(6) And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

John 1:1-18 ESV
(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(2) He was in the beginning with God.
(3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
(5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
(7) He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
(8) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
(9) The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
(10) He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
(11) He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
(12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
(13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

(14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(15) (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”)
(16) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
(17) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(18) No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Whew. That was a lot. If you read all of those, you should get a badge! Aha. No wonder. That was the last day of this reading plan.

Isaiah 9:2-7 ESV
(2) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(3) You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
(4) For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
(5) For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
(6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 7:14 ESV
(14) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Joseph and Mary had no concern over what to name their baby. Or perhaps, more accurately, her baby, since he had nothing to do with it.

They had both been instructed to name the child “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) They were also told to call the child “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”

In the passage from Isaiah 9, we are given more names that he would be called. “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

No other baby born in history has the impact of Jesus. As much as people attempt to take his name out of history, they cannot. It is popular, these days, to refer to the time frame as “C.E.” (Common Era), rather than “A.D.” (Year of our Lord). And what we used to call “B.C.” (Before Christ) is sometimes, now, referred to as “B.C.E.” (Before Common Era). These feeble attempts to remove Jesus Christ from our history have no bearing on his impact in history, even in “non-religious” history.

As we celebrate “Christ-mass” this week, may we remember the “reason for the season.” I know that’s clichĂ©, but there it is. The reason for this holiday is not to spend gobs of money and make the year for the retail stores. The reason is to celebrate the birth of the child that changed the world forever; the One who made it possible for us to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Him.

Father, I praise You for this season. I ask that, as this pandemic Christmas approaches, we would be made to remember why we celebrate. And do cause us to celebrate, in spite of all of the challenges that 2020 has brought us. Because, O Lord, no matter what terrible things we have seen, this year, You are still on Your throne, and Jesus is still King of kings and Lord of lords! Hallelujah!

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.