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Stars of Christmas Part Three

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I’m sensing the frantic dial rising as I’m out and about in stores and restaurants. People who are already busy, add a lot of commitments and extra demands on their schedule during December. Right about now, or maybe earlier, some realize they will not get everything done they wanted to do. Or at least, not get it done on time.

Some folks were already drowning before we ate our Thanksgiving turkeys. They are working two jobs and caring for a family. They are caretakers of aging parents and parents of young children. They are healthcare workers, schoolteachers, store clerks, waiters and factory workers all overwhelmed by the extra demands created by our diminished work force.

These are the very people with whom you need to share this devotional. Maybe print this week out for them and give it to them with gentle encouragement to take just ten minutes a day to read, reflect and pray. Friends don’t let friends miss the Christ of Christmas.

Here’s the intro and first day of this week’s download. If you’re new to the devotional and my website, days 1-7, 8-13 and now 14-19 are posted under “Bible Studies and Devotionals,” as free downloads. Help yourself and freely share. Merry Christmas!

Stars of Christmas Part Three

December 14-19

How are you doing with all your Christmas preparations? Are you feeling overwhelmed, uncertain how you’ll finish everything? That’s a common sensation that many feel at this time of year.

 Some of you are ahead of the game with presents all wrapped and under the tree, menus planned, and time left over to watch a Christmas movie. God might be asking you to reach out and help a young mother or a single parent or someone else around you, who could use another set of hands.

Maybe you are alone for the first time this season, and your feelings of grief and loss drain your motivation to even put up a tree. Did you lose your job or your business this year and money is so scarce you don’t know how to do Christmas presents? Some of you might be reading this from a hospital bed or your couch at home, too sick and too tired to do your normal December routines.

This set of stars starts with two prophecies which warn Israel that Jesus and his family will need to flee Bethlehem to escape a murderous king who will slaughter thousands of innocents to protect his throne and legacy. The series then shifts to the prophecies concerning the shepherds and wisemen and ends with two triumphant declarations about the authority and power of Christ’s coming kingdom and blessings for the nation.

Life is often like this set of stars; we can shift between darkness and peril and light and joy all within the hours of one day. This earthly journey is unpredictable and only God knows what lies around the next corner for any of us.

This is why I believe, in part, God gives us the gifts of prophecies. He shows us glimpses of what is yet to be in his kingdom plan so that we may be encouraged that what we see around us right now is not the end of our story. Israel needed to know that each dark season of their history was not their last chapter.

If you are currently in a season of peace and light, be sensitive to those who are not. If you are facing difficulties and challenges right now, know that God is still speaking blessing and goodness over your life.

As his child, remember we find comfort in the knowledge that the shadows of this earth will give way to the light of our forever lives with him for all eternity. Meanwhile, in the valley of our shadows, we are never alone. Messiah has come and he is with us! Let heaven and earth sing even if it’s through fever-cracked lips or from a broken heart. May you sense his power and peace with you today.

December 14

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son,” Isaiah 11:1

Prophecy: Messiah would spend a season in Egypt

Fulfillment: Matthew 2:14-15

Have you ever met someone whose ego uses up all the air around them? King Herod, the ruler of Galilee at the time of Jesus’ birth, was such a person. This madman who murdered his own family members sat on a throne of terror until Jesus was four years old. There’s a fascinating article entitled, “Who Was Herod, “by Jayson Bradley, about Herod’s life and rule, that will help you understand why Joseph and Mary needed to flee all the way to Egypt to escape his death threats.

For our purposes, let’s simply agree that Herod wasn’t going to allow anyone perceived as a threat to his throne, to remain alive. God knew this and sent an angel to Joseph and Mary to insist that they leave Bethlehem and stay in Egypt for a time.

Hosea predicts the conclusion of the holy family’s time in Egypt. God informs Joseph and Mary that King Herod is dead. He calls Jesus out of Egypt because that isn’t where God planned for him to grow up. Jesus would come to manhood within the community Israel. Egypt was Jesus’ temporary place of deliverance, but Nazareth would be his home.

God carefully moved Jesus and his family away from Herod’s assassination attempts. Jesus would not die in infancy. He would be hidden and protected.

Later in Jesus’ life, God did not move him out of Pilate’s line of fire. Instead, God gave his son up to be a sacrifice for us all. Did Mary wonder why God saved her son once but not a second time? Did she understand the prophecies about him?

Did his close friends understand why God didn’t send angels to rescue Jesus from his murderers? I don’t think they did based on their initial reactions to his death. Surely, they heard the story of the flight to Egypt from his mother or siblings.

Some of our most painful times happen when we are waiting on God for a rescue, but he says, “No, that’s not my plan for this situation.” When God doesn’t heal, deliver, or provide in the way you want him to, remember this small prophecy. What God did for us in one situation, he may do again in another, (remember Jesus escaped murderous crowds several times before his arrest and death) but that doesn’t mean that we now have a magic formula for the next hard circumstance.

God’s plan for the world is so complex we cannot possibly understand how a wrong movement in our life may put other things in peril. We must simply trust and obey him, as Joseph, Mary and Jesus did, with faith that God’s ways may be mysterious, but they are always good.

Prayer: Lord, grant me peaceful confidence in your great love for me and your plan for my life.

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