Day 26: Luke 2:1-8 and John 1:1-5, 10-14

Light came into the darkness for all humanity on this very special birthday.

One of the girls from my AWANA table texted me how excited she was on Christmas Eve’s Eve for this very day to be here. Her enthusiasm came across boldly, even through text and took me to a place of feeling that wonder and energy of excitement because you can’t possibly know the goodness right around the corner. Although Mary and Joseph, and all humanity for that matter, can’t realize the goodness in store for us, I do believe He longs us to feel abounding joy in the waiting.

John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.”

Lord Jesus, shine strong into this world and to each reading now. Fill them with wonder, excitement, renewed hope, and Your wild energy. Thank You for choosing to come into our world, held together by You. Grant us grace to see Your choices in our own lives. Give us Your strength to rise to them. Bless us in our reflections and prayers these next few days to be a resounding chorus of praise leaving You smiling. In Your Star-Making Name, Amen.

Final Engineer Log Entry 356: USS Baruch HaShem, Dec 23, 2020

Day 25

Matthew 1:18-25

Lord Jesus, thank You for this space and time to honor my dad with You and others. Thank You for all I’ve seen and done, mourned and rejoiced over, learned and healed. Continue Your work in our lives and the life of Your Church to extend forgiveness and accept Yours in all things. Grant the grace to allow Your Spirit and healing presence to rule our house; body, mind, soul and strength. In You as Alpha and Omega, Amen.

Day 25: Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph shines with integrity, humility, gentleness, and kindness.

One of the many questions I have for the Lord is to know more about His time with Joseph. There is much we can glean from this story, and, as it is so far from my own tendencies, I want to focus on his immediate obedience. This also contrasts with Zechariah’s response to an angel from earlier in our story.

Verse 24 varies with translations, but my most literal one says, “he did as he was told.”

I am so grateful for our Eternal Father.

Here we have been told yet another story of convention and how to Lord was working behind the scenes. With devoted prayer, and being “told” so many different messages, let us pray to hear only the Spirit’s voice and direction today.

  • When you can carve out space for true quiet, however that happens, welcome His Spirit to speak.
  • Pray discernment, clarity and wisdom for yourself and wait to see if He brings anything up in particular.
  • Close your time with a commitment to a “yes” if there is something He’s surfaced, or if not, imagine something a little less conventional in your life you think would please Him.

Day 24: Luke 1:26-56

Mary’s trust is beautiful.

As we read and pray over these Scriptures today, may our own trust increase. May we be attentive to the people the Lord brings to mind where He is working and move in their direction. May He bless us with ever increasing wonders to treasure in our own hearts because of His Son.

Verse 39 describes both the time and the timing of Mary’s immediate departure for 3 months to Elizabeth’s. This brings conviction, challenge, and joy to my own heart. As we reflect on our blessings today, ask the Spirit to show you how, in this particular season, you can immediately respond to His call in your own life. I am striving to increase in trust He knows!

  • Take several minutes to be still before the Lord, listening.
  • Where can your trusting yes increase?
  • Who near you is trusting He’s asking you to move in some way toward?

Day 23: Luke 1:1-25, 57-80 and John 1:6-9

This is the way being made for our Lord. The opening of the story is wonderous, mysterious, and fulfilling prophecies. It is a story I never knew growing up, but delight in now. I especially am grateful that our Father chose to give His son fellowship from womb.

Elizabeth’s experience, from her sense of failure, to her vindication before the community, is what we are going to stay with today. As you reflect and pray, please consider these questions:

  • In this season of waiting, what are you most longing for?
  • Imagine how Elizabeth felt when Zechariah said “His name is John.” Who do you want to speak into your own life in this way?
  • His coming at first is how we can have peace Elizabeth had no access to. Ask the Spirit to show you any place in your life He can heal and take time to wait on Him with it now, if He wants, or allow the space for it later.

Day 22 : the book of Esther

Esther’s story of a sacrificial life, her response when her physical life was most endangered, and what God did stir up a lot of gratitude and looking forward in hope.

Jesus says explicitly in Matthew 20:16, “so the last will be first, and the first will be last” and we’ve seen this spiritual principal over and over again throughout the Hebrew bible, from brothers to kings. Now the greatest is about to become the smallest for us to glorify into Eternity.

My heart always is full when reading Esther’s plea for prayers at the close of Chapter 5, the note Mordecai obeyed her, and all her actions and choices.

A more subtle parallel in this story is directly connected to the main theme. The king had put on a great banquet and, at first, with all the parables about heaven and its kingdom, my thoughts went there. Next though, the phrase that everyone was invited and reflecting on everyone who came, probably many out of fear, reminded me of the census the Holy Family was forced to travel for.

There is an ugly chapter of King David’s life when he calls for a count as well, resulting in God’s displeasure and severe consequences. Since the Scripture says that Joab, who was not of the same caliber of David’s heart in character, even knew this to be wrong, I was puzzled both by David’s decision and God’s response.

The best explanation I got was from a Messianic Rabbi who said he didn’t know, but would suspect it had to do with counting on man’s resources and not God’s.

The verse from Esther that stood out to me the most after these thoughts was 6:1-3, how the king couldn’t sleep, and happened upon the record of Mordecai’s report of spies and nothing had been done to honor him. Yet.

Reflecting on all the power plays, ambition, and deception in this book, let’s ponder together the bigger picture for leaders, nations, and the least of all nations on the world stage. Our Lord is Sovereign, and may He help us to live out that same courageous trust and sound discernment present here in Mordecai, Esther, and the Jewish people whose faith has kindled and retold these stories.

If a particular nation or leader comes to mind, please take some extra time today to look for their specific needs.

Lord Jesus, thank You for leaving the Father to live here and agreeing to suffer unimaginably in our stead. Thank You for Your people who have kept alive Your light and tell and retell Your story. For those that don’t know the full story, reveal it to them today Lord. Help us all as a church to set aside ourselves and our ideas of how You work and submit fully to Your ways. Thank You for sharing human life so fully, we can celebrate Your birthday every year. Grant this year, many are reborn around the world. In Your Upending Name, Amen.