It has become very evident to many people that death is a reality. The recent death of Carrie Fisher at age 60 has reminded us once again that anyone can die. Put with that the death of George Michael at age 53 and the circle draws tighter. We don't like to talk about death. We don't want to think about death. After all, it is so, well, final. When you die, that is the end. No more train rides. No more Christmas presents. No more celebrations with family. It is just the end. Final. Complete.
Let's not talk about it. Let's talk about the Cubs and the way they will win the 2nd World Series in a row in 2017. Let's focus on the weather. Or perhaps how fast time seems to go the older you get. Wait, that one brings us back to death. So drop that one. How about...you get the idea.
But death is a reality. Every one of us is going to die. Like it or not, we face death all day long. We are like sheep lead to the slaughter. It might be from an accident or an illness or a disease or who knows what. But death will come. In my life here at St. Paul's and in my personal life, in the 1st 3 weeks of December 2016, I was personally touched by 7 deaths. That is quite a few. Folks were even saying, "Enough is enough. No more deaths." I agree. No more deaths. But my desire to not have to face death again doesn't stop it. For Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia, died. She didn't just become "one with the force" as the Star Wars universe would like to say. She died. So will you and me. Ugh. Really? Do we have to say that?
Yes we do. It is for that reason that the Son of God came into the world on that silent night so many years ago. It was because you and I must face death that the holy Child of Bethlehem was born. He comes because you and I are dying. We are dying for the very reason that we are sinners. Ever since sin came into the world through Adam and Eve, death came with it. "The day you eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will surely die." They did and all mankind dies. They see that in the death of their son Abel at the hands of their other son Cain. We see that in the death of the Carl Rhymer, Isabelle Ackerman, Amelia Kilzer, Lorene Wehmeyer and Amy Trau here at St. Paul's. That reminds us of the reality of sin. Death comes from sin and so all die because all have sinned.
So we have the Son of God, born as a human, a baby, in Bethlehem. He comes for one reason - to save you and I. He comes to give life that will not end. He comes to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. He comes as the Savior of mankind from the reality of sin and death. The wages of sin might be death but the gift of God, a free gift paid for by the blood of His only Son, is eternal life given to all who believe in Him. Life from death. That is what we are given at Christmas. The best gift of all is given to each of us. It is bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit through the waters of Baptism and through the working of the Word. It is ensured in us through the bread and wine which is the body and blood of Christ Jesus.
Life. We don't like to talk about death so let's talk about life. Life is given through Jesus Christ. The one thing I always think about when I hear about another person dying, is this: Did they believe in Jesus as their Savior? If they did, I rejoice. If they didn't, I am devastated for it truly is a terrible death. Do I like any death? No. But the death of a Christian is a victory over sin and over death for in Christ, they do not die but they live, forever, eternally, in heaven, with the Savior, without any of the things that we face here on earth.
Life. Let's talk about it. To do so, we must talk about Jesus. Let's talk about Him.
Sunday, December 25, 2016
A VOICE IS HEARD
Day # 25
Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
“Go tell it on the mountains…” Perhaps you joined in singing this song last night at Christmas Eve worship or this morning at Christmas Day worship. Have you actually paid attention to what you are singing? You are saying that you want to be like the shepherds on that first Christmas.
They were disturbed as they watched their sheep by night. The angels came and gave them the good news that the Savior was born in Bethlehem. They hurried off to Bethlehem and soon found the baby, lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. No room in the inn? Not a problem. Dirty shepherds coming to see a baby? Not an issue when you think of them being in a stable. What hospital would let them in? But a stable? It was a fitting place for them to find the Savior.
Then they did what shepherds do, returned to their flocks. Of course they did. Why wouldn’t they? It was their life. Even with the Savior born, they had to watch over the sheep to keep them safe. But what they did as they returned to the flocks, that is truly amazing. They told everyone they met. They praised God. It is like they walked out of the stable singing the song of the ages. They probably sang some of their favorite Psalms. They lifted up their voices to the people as they came out of their warm houses. They told them about a baby, about angels, about the Savior. They didn’t care who heard. They just said what needed to be said. A Savior is born to you on this day!
What are you going to do today? What are you going to say as you go about your day? Will you speak the words of the shepherds? Will you sing the song of the ages? Go tell it on a mountain, the Savior is born! What great news this is. A Recipe for a Savior is complete. Or is it? Yes, a baby is born. The Savior is born. But why has He come? That, my friends, is a story for another time.
Prayer: Alleluia! Praise to You, dear God. You have sent Your only-begotten Son to be our Savior. How overwhelming it is to see how throughout the years, You kept Your word. You promised and You fulfilled the promise. I am blown away by Your love. Thank You. Amen.
Deeper Thought: As A Recipe for a Savior comes to an end remember that it is just the beginning. The Child is born. Yet He comes to save. How He does that is even more amazing that His birth. Think about the wonder that the Son of God came for you!
Saturday, December 24, 2016
A SONG FOR THE AGES
Day # 24
Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
The Christmas program takes place. Parents beam. Grandparents smile. Pictures and videos are taken. Everyone is vying for that one spot where they can see their child or grandchild. It is the song of angels. “Away in a Manger” is crooned by the children and not even the angels in heaven could sound as beautiful at that moment. Why? It comes from the hearts of the children to the hearts of the hearers. It touches that special spot that swells with joy as it hears the wonder of the story being told once again.
That night was dark. The last thing the shepherds were thinking of was children singing and yet, they were probably singing. Shepherds did that. They would sing to their flocks. It would calm them. The voice of their shepherd, crooning to them in the dark of the night, was a comfort. It helped them to sleep. Voices of rough, dirty shepherds filled the air as they sat with their flocks by night. The song of the ages heard again.
Another song was about to be sung, one that would replace the voice of the shepherds. It was the song of the angels, praising God that A Recipe for a Savior was taking place. The Savior had been born! Yes, in Bethlehem, in a stable with the baby lying in a manger. “Glory to God in the highest!” the angels sing. Glory to God in the highest we sing. Glory to God in the highest for the Savior has been born. Your Savior, my Savior, the Savior of the world is born!
A song for the ages, a song for broken hearts. It is a song for you in whatever state you find yourself. You might be rejoicing this Christmas Eve. You might be shedding a tear. You might be celebrating with family. You might be sitting with a loved one who is breathing their last. It is a song for you. Your Savior, their Savior, THE Savior is born. Glory to God in highest.
Prayer: On this Christmas Eve, dear Father, we remember that You sent Your Son for each of us. We need this Savior. We are lost in sin, in darkness, in pain and in suffering. We give thanks that we are able to lift up our voices with the angels and say, “Glory be to You!” Fill our hearts tonight with hope and peace. Amen.
Friday, December 23, 2016
IT IS TIME
Day # 23
Luke 2:6b-7 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son…
“Dear, it is time!” she says to you as you sleep. “Is it time?” he asks you with that worried look on his face. The phone calls are made, the bag is put in the car, and off you go to the hospital. The moment you have been waiting for has arrived! After 9 months of joy, tiredness, sickness, struggle, growing, anticipation (along with a whole host of other emotions and feelings) the time comes for the baby to be born. With great excitement you make the drive to the nice, warm hospital with the birthing rooms.
It wasn’t that way for Mary. It was a stable. Straw all around. (All right, so this really isn’t that different from the normal birth because most houses were dirt floors and mats were stuffed with straw. We see it as unusual but it really wasn’t that overly strange.) There is no midwife present. Joseph has to deliver his child there in a stable, with ox lowing and ass braying. The most ideal place? Not for us.
But it is for the Lord. A Recipe for a Savior has taken a turn for wonderful. The baby is born in a stable. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes. He is placed in a manger. It is the most glorious event in the most amazing place. God had A Recipe for a Savior that He had told to Adam and Eve several thousand years before. He had passed that Recipe down through the ages. He had brought all the ingredients together. Now, in this place, at this time, with these two people, the Savior is born.
Your Savior is born! That is right. Your Savior is born in a stable. A humble place but then then again, the Son of God did humble Himself and became a man. (Philippians 2:7-8) He did this for you and for your salvation. God was thinking of you the moment He gave that promise. He had you in mind as He added each ingredient to the Recipe. This moment in the stable is for you.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, what an amazing event You have brought forth on that night so long ago. You sent Your Son to be my Savior. That overwhelms me. Thank You. Be with me as I make these final preparations for the celebration of Christmas. Amen.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
A PLACE TO STAY
Day # 22
Luke 2:7 …and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
No room. That is the last thing that you want to hear when you are traveling. You pull into a motel, looking for a room after a long day of traveling, ask for a room and are told, “Sorry, no rooms are available.” Your heart sinks. It is in the middle of a major blizzard, the roads are being shut down. Hotels and motels are full. There is no place left to stay. What would you do? How would you feel?
Now imagine that you are traveling with a woman who is great with child. The day of delivery is close at hand. You have traveled for days. It has been a difficult journey. You have reached your destination with a sigh of relief. Then you are told, “No room.” No room. Your heart sinks. Do you have relatives close by that you can stay with? Not at the moment. What do you do? You take what you can in order to get a “roof” over your head for the night.
Joseph and Mary have been traveling far too long for a woman who is expecting a child. Rough travel, late in the term of pregnancy, and no place to stay are not a good combination for Mary. Joseph takes what he can get, a stable. There is straw to lay on to soften the ground. It is not an ideal place for A Recipe for a Savior to be completed. But that is the way things go. The Lord had some great plans for that night, the greatest plan was for a baby to be born. Not just any baby but the Savior of the world. He had put into place all that was needed for our salvation. Here, in the stable, the parents find a place to stay, a holy place.
Situations of life don’t always work the way that you plan. They don’t always go according to your will. There are twists and turns that really throw you for a loop. The challenge is not to shake your fist at God but to bow your head in humble acceptance and ask Him for continued strength and guidance. He has a plan, a “recipe,” for your life. As the time is winding down in Advent, you are challenged to trust in the Lord in whatever “place” you have to stay.
Prayer: Lord, things are not always the way I plan. I have trouble with that. I pray that You would help me to trust in Your guiding hand even when I cannot see it. It might take time for Your recipe to unfold in my life, so help me to stay the course and continue to follow Your will. Amen.
Deeper Thought: When you have been told that there is no place for you or perhaps your place to stay is not quite ready and you will have to wait? How did you react? What areas of your life is your place to stay challenging? What would help you as you work through that difficult time?
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
A HOLIDAY TRIP
Luke 2:4-5 And Joseph went up from Galilee…to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…to be registered with Mary, his betrothed.
“Over the hills and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go…” (I know that you are singing that in your head right now.) As a child, there is nothing more exciting than a trip to grandmother’s house. The anticipation builds with each mile. “Are we there yet?” is the regular question that is asked. A holiday trip to grandma’s house is perhaps the most glorious thing for a child. It is like going to one of those magical places. Holiday trips…
…aren’t always so exciting. I guess this isn’t really a “holiday” trip as we know it. It was more of a trip that had to be made because you are told that you have to do it. It is like having that business trip the day before Thanksgiving, to a city where they are getting snow, with no hope of making it back home in time for Thanksgiving. You have no choice. You have to do it but you don’t like it.
Joseph takes Mary to the City of David. That is the town his family was from because he was from the house and line of David. Mary was great with child (as we know from the outcome). It wasn’t an easy trip. It took days to get there. No one was waiting for them with eager anticipation. The outcome was going to be that they would have to pay more taxes to Caesar. It was not a good trip. And yet, it was a vital part of A Recipe for a Savior. All the ingredients had been brought together. The Lord had made many promises through the years, all of which became active ingredients in A Recipe for a Savior. This also was part of the recipe, a difficult part of the recipe but a necessary part.
There are many times we must go through struggles in this life. We don’t like them. They are not pleasant. A sickness, a loss of job, a move to a new city and a whole host of other events take place in our lives. “Not pleasant” is not the way to describe some. They are downright painful events and we don’t want to face them. But we must. Face them we do, without knowing what the outcome will be. All we can do is trust in our Lord, that what He is doing is ultimately for our good. A “holiday trip” takes on a new meaning.
Prayer: Lord, this is a joyous time for many people and yet, for others, it is very painful. We pray for those who are going through those difficult “holiday trips.” Give them strength to travel to the end of their journey in faith. Amen.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Day # 20
Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
You go to the mailbox and find an official looking envelope. You open it and it says, “Your are invited to…” It is an invitation to a wedding, baby or bridal shower, a birthday party or a graduation. It doesn’t matter what it is an invitation for, it is an invitation to a party. You have been invited. Remember how excited you were as a child in school when you were invited to a birthday party? It was the most amazing thing in the world. It was the event of your year!
There was no such excitement in A Recipe for a Savior. In fact, the people probably groaned under the pressure that this invitation put on them. Caesar had told them to go to their hometowns in order to be registered. This wasn’t for a party. He did this because he wanted more money. The people were going to be taxed again. This was an invitation that couldn’t be ignore.
Joseph and Mary left for Bethlehem. Seems so out of character for A Recipe for a Savior. What is Caesar doing upsetting the apple cart like he is? What kind of mess was he making of God’s plan? Actually he was doing exactly what God wanted to be done. He might have had his own sinful desires at heart, but he was serving as God’s agent at this time. God had said through the prophet Micah that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) But Joseph and Mary were still in Nazareth. A Recipe for a Savior could be messed up if they do not go to the City of David. So an invitation goes out to tax the people. Sin and greed leads to the invitation. And in the process, the Father smiles for He knows that A Recipe for a Savior is about to be brought to its fullness. “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the City of David, which is called Bethlehem.” (Luke 2:4) Mary, his wife, went with him. Yes, the invitation for A Recipe for a Savior has been sent out.
You are invited to a party. This party is a special party, one that means the world to you and your future. This party is the celebration of the birth of the Savior. The challenge now is how shall you answer this invitation?
Prayer: Father, the way You work in this world is amazing. Help me in my life to see Your hand at work in all the moving parts of my life. Help me to trust in Your guiding care. Amen.
Deeper Thought: Think of a time in your life when you received an invitation to an event in which you didn’t want to go to but in the end was happy that you went. What are some of the times the Lord has placed an invitation before you to do something but for whatever reason, you refused the invitation. How can you act differently as you move forward?
Monday, December 19, 2016
Day # 19
Matthew 1:20 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 be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
“Honest, the cookies taste really good,” you say to your daughter who has just finished baking her first batch of cookies. She was nervous. She feared that no one would like them, that they wouldn’t be fit to eat. “Do you really mean that?” she asks. “Or are you just saying that to make me feel better?” She needs assurance that it is all right, that she did good with the mother’s recipe for cookies. Many a baker has been in that position. They have needed assurance that this recipe that they have labored so hard upon, is worth the time and effort that they put into it.
In A Recipe for a Savior it wasn’t a baker that needed assurance. It was Joseph, a carpenter. He received unexpected news. His betrothed, Mary, was pregnant. She was expecting a child that wasn’t his. (For the full story, read Matthew 1:18-25) He wasn’t sure what to do. Divorce her quietly? Accuse her of adultery? Leave her? All the things he was thinking to do was for himself. He wanted to be out of this situation. He never planned to be part of A Recipe for a Savior. He didn’t want any part of it. God sent him the assurance that he needed. Mary had not been unfaithful. Quite the opposite. She was still a virgin, pure. The child she carried was God’s Son, the Savior of the world. Do you remember the amazing ingredient that was added a while ago? Immanuel, God with us. Assurance is what Joseph needed. Assurance that all was good, faithful, holy and pure. The angel, a messenger from God, gives him that assurance.
How we need assurance of God’s love. The situations of our lives are often not what we expect them to be. They overwhelm us as we go through our days, sure that we cannot make the right decision. We need some assurance that the path we are on is the right path, doing the right thing. We are given that assurance in A Recipe for a Savior. Here in the child that is born to Mary we are given that assurance. As long as we keep our eyes on the Savior, following the way of the Lord in the Word, we are on the right path. In that soon to be born child we have our assurance.
Prayer: Lord God, You assured Joseph of the purity of Your Son’s birth. In that assurance he was able to live his life in faith, trusting in You. Give each of us that assurance that all is good in Your Son. Send us Your Spirit in Word and Sacrament to assure us in our times of weakness. Amen.
Deeper Thought: What area of your life have you needed the most assurance that all will be well? Who gave you that assurance? How has God assured you of His presence or love in those times of doubt or trouble?
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Day # 18
Luke 1:41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
As we enter this last week of Advent, we begin the countdown to Christmas. We look forward to the joyous times that will take place when we get together with our family. It won’t be long before you and the family will pile into the car, head for the airport and fly off to visit family in another state. They will be excited. You will be excited. You know that there will be the great reunion at the airport or at the door of the house as you all see each other. Your heart leaps with joy. What a grand time it is going to be as you spend the holiday with family.
Mary left Nazareth to visit her relative Elizabeth. They didn’t have the technology which we have so she could not call ahead or text her to let her know that she was coming. In fact, it was only at the words of the angel Gabriel that Mary sets off for Elizabeth’s house. (Read more about this in Luke 1.) So when Mary knocks on the door and calls out to Elizabeth, there is sheer joy. “Elizabeth!” Mary calls. At that moment, we see that the Lord has been putting A Recipe for a Savior together in an amazing fashion. Elizabeth cries out with joy. More than that, her baby son to be born, is leaping with joy! Yes, he hears Mary’s voice and filled with the Holy Spirit, leaps for joy. He is 6 months old by now. In the years to come, this baby, a part of A Recipe for a Savior, will be the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Here, at this joyous time, he is already proclaiming the wonder of the Savior whom he has never met.
Joyous times! That is the Advent and Christmas seasons for us. We celebrate the coming of the Savior. Our hearts leap for joy at the mention of His name. Soon, very soon, A Recipe for a Savior will be complete. For now, enjoy the joyous times.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, You filled the hearts of Elizabeth and John at the coming of the Savior. Please fill our hearts with that same joy as we hear the voice of our Savior. Amen.
Deeper Thought: What are the most joyous memories you have the Advent/Christmas seasons? What made them so joyous? What is standing in the way of joyous times in your life today?
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Day # 17
Matthew 3:4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Have you ever tried a grasshopper? No, not the dessert or a drink but the insect called grasshopper. I have to admit that I have not. It sure isn’t an ingredient we would readily add to our diet or our recipes. I googled “grasshopper insect recipes” and came up with several. One of them was a deep fried grasshopper while another was to be prepared as a snack. Really? That is not for me.
Yet it was another ingredient of A Recipe for a Savior. Earlier we talked about preheating the oven by sending the prophet Elijah before the day of the Lord. Today, we add grasshoppers into the recipe for this was a part of the diet of the one who prepared the way of the Lord. This one is John the Baptist who came before the Savior in the power and spirit of Elijah. The Lord had added him into A Recipe for a Savior through two aging parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. (You can read more about them in Luke 1:5-25, 57-80.) This addition brings some “pop” to the recipe.
John is known as the Baptist for he was at the Jordan River baptizing people for the repentance of sins. He called the people to prepare for the coming of the day of the Lord, the coming of the Savior. He called the people to repent of their sins, turning from them and returning to the way of the Lord. He was a vital addition to A Recipe for a Savior because the Lord had promised this special one who could prepare the hearts for the people for the fullness of this recipe.
I am still not going to try grasshopper in any sort of recipe. I will stick to the grasshopper dessert. But you and I are called by John, this forerunner of the Savior, to prepare for the coming of the Savior. It won’t be long now and we will celebrate the fullness of A Recipe for a Savior.
Prayer: Dear Lord, You have prepared the way of the Savior by sending John as the great forerunner. Prepare our hearts through the working of the Spirit through the Word and Sacrament. Amen.
Deeper Thought: What is the most unusual thing that you have eaten in a meal? Were you ready for it or did it come as a surprise? What is the one thing that John would call you to repent over in your life? What is stopping you from going to the Lord for forgiveness?
Friday, December 16, 2016
Day # 16
Jeremiah 31:15 Thus says the Lord, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children.
There is nothing worse than ruining a recipe, especially when you have carefully planned the timing of the needed recipes. You mix and bake the cookie recipe on day one, planning on day two to prepare the 2nd and 3rd recipes so that you will have them all done on time. You plan to be done in time for the family party. Then it happens. The yeast for the rolls don’t rise. A whole batch of cookies are burned up. You add to much lemon extract when you should have added vanilla extract. “No!” you cry. “I don’t have time for this. I had it all planned out.” It is ruined.
With A Recipe for a Savior that is what happens at the birth of the Savior. Just when the time was right, the recipe had been brought together and it seemed to be going according to plan. Then King Herod steps into the mix. (Read Matthew 2:1-2, 16-18 for a full recounting of what took place.) Satan knew that God had planned every detail of A Recipe for a Savior together in just the right way and so he did all he could to thwart God’s plans. He tempted King Herod to see the newborn child as a threat to him and his kingdom. He tried to destroy A Recipe for a Savior. He sent his soldiers and the cry of “No!” went up from Bethlehem.
In our lives we find that Satan tries to destroy the Lord’s recipe for our life. He tries to use the situation of the day to cause us to cry out with doubt. It seems to work that way. We are given assurance from the Lord that He does have things under control but we struggle with that thought when we are in the middle of the situation that seems to ruin the recipe of life. Take note that already through the prophet Jeremiah, nearly 600 years before the fact, that the Lord said this would take place. He had knew of Herod’s tantrum and the resulting cries of the people of Bethlehem into A Recipe for a Savior. The Lord is still the Lord who is in charge. We are challenged to trust Him (remember the ingredient of faith) as things come together.
We know that the Christ-child made it safely out of Bethlehem. That didn’t stop the cries from going up. We know that the Lord’s recipe for our life works out even in the middle of those events which cause us to cry out in pain. Yes, it seemed like a ruined recipe but it was not.
Prayer: Dear Lord, it is difficult to see that You are in control, especially when life seems to be ruined. Help us to keep our eyes focused on the Savior, crying out to Him in times of great turmoil. Amen.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Day # 15
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined.
When you are baking, one of the things you like to do is look in the oven to see how things are going. You can do that if you have an oven light. You can turn it on and look through the window to see how the baking is going. Well, I would be willing to bet that those of you who are bakers actually open the oven door to see how things are baking. It is the rest of us non-bakers, especially the children, who look through the window to see how the cookies or cake is baking. The oven light helps us so much. Yes, look and you will see how it is going, if it needs a little more time or needs to come out right now.
But then the oven light burns out. What? You have never had the oven light burn out on you? Do you really use your oven? When the light burns out, it is more of a challenge to bake because the inside of the oven is dark. While you can bake without the oven light, it is much more difficult.
In A Recipe for a Savior the oven light isn’t really a part of the recipe, but it is needed nonetheless. People are in darkness, just like sitting inside of the oven with no light. Sitting in that darkness there is nothing but hopelessness. It is true that when you are in the darkness, you don’t think much of it. It is not until you are in need of light that you realize it, much like you don’t think about replacement until you are in the middle of baking something. The people sitting in darkness need a light but cannot get it on their own. In pain, in suffering, in loneliness, in lostness, in sorrow and in death, we begin to realize that we are in deep darkness, one that we cannot break.
So the Father promises to send a Light to the people in darkness. In A Recipe for a Savior we hear the Father say, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” It isn’t an oven light but it is the much great light, the light of salvation. The Savior has been called the Light of the World. To people lost in the darkness of sin, He brings the light of hope and forgiveness, the light of peace and life, the light that destroys darkness. John writes, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:15)
A Recipe for a Savior brings light to darkness. It gives Light to all people, for all are in darkness, needing a great light.
Prayer: Light my darkness, dear Lord. Brighten my life with Your presence. Pease bring light to the lost world around us, using each of us to share the message of Light with those lost in the darkness of sin. Amen.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
PREHEAT THE OVEN
Day # 14
Malachi 4:5 Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
“Preheat the oven to _______ degrees.” You can fill in the blank with the temperature. It seems that just about every recipe that uses the oven calls for it to be preheated. I often wondered why this was then I realized that it is because it makes the baking more uniform, keeps the product from being over/under cooked. You don’t want to put your cookies in a cold oven. You need to preheat to…
Preheat the oven for A Recipe for a Savior. The prophet Malachi is bringing to the recipe the idea that the oven of life needs to be preheated for A Recipe for a Savior to work. “I will send the prophet Elijah before…” Really? How old would Elijah be at this time? Will he come in a fiery chariot just like he went into heaven? Who is this prophet Elijah going to be? “Preheat the oven…” gives us more questions than answers.
The people of Israel understood, sort of. They waited for the coming of the one in the power and spirit of Elijah. They did not really think that Elijah himself would return. Elijah was a prophet of God that called the people back from their sinful lives. He was not afraid to address king or peasant. When God spoke to him, he would take that message to the people. So all Israel waited for the coming of the one who would be the Elijah of their day. For them, the recipe would start to come together at that time. Elijah was not the Savior. He was just the one who “preheated the oven,” preparing the people for the coming of the Savior.
We wait as well. Will an Elijah come to our day and age? Will we have one that goes before the people calling them to repent before the Day of the Lord? Actually, no we will not. The Savior has already come, as we remember during this Advent and Christmas season. What do we do with this Elijah? We search the Scriptures to see who this one was in order to know that A Recipe for a Savior is complete.
Who was the Elijah that went before the day of the Lord? Who was the one who is like preheating the oven, getting things ready for when the full recipe can begin to bake? That is the question we will answer in the next devotion.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are amazing, beyond what we can ever imagine. You prepared the world for the coming of Your Son. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, open our hearts to Your Word that calls us from our sins. Amen.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Day # 13
Matthew 22:41b-42 Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They replied, “The Son of David.”
The promise made, the promise kept. That is hard for us to say. How many times have you promised someone something and then have failed to keep your promise? The longer it goes between the time of the making of the promise and the current moment in time, the more likely the promise is going to be broken. Make a promise to a 5 year-old child and then wait 20 years before trying to fulfill the promise. The child may well forget. You might just as easily forget. Those 20 years makes it easy to forget the promise that has been made.
It had been generations since God had promised David that he would have a descendent upon his throne forever. Was it forgotten? Did God let that promise slip by without fulfilling it? Perhaps it was one ingredient in A Recipe for a Savior that would not be added. But God never forgets His promise. His Word is sure and certain. Luke writes concerning the genealogy of Jesus: Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son of Joseph, the son of Helil…the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz.” (Luke 3:23, 31b-32) Jesus was the promised descendent of David.
While we forget promises, God doesn’t. As Jesus spoke with the Pharisees, He asked whose son the Christ would be. They knew the answer. It was a promise that they held onto in their lives. He was to be the son of David. As Jesus rode in the Jerusalem on that 1st Palm Sunday, the people called, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9) The Christ was the promised son of David, and the people acknowledged that Jesus was that Promised One. Promise fulfilled.
What difference does it really make? As we look at A Recipe for a Savior, we see that God the Father does complete the recipe as promised. But more than that, as if that wasn’t enough, we see that God’s promises to us are just as sure and certain. His Word is true not only for those years gone by but also for us today. He promises: to watch over you and He does; to love you and He does; to forgive you and He does. He promises…well that will be what we continue to consider.
Prayer: It amazes us, heavenly Father that You keep Your promises throughout the generations, through the many ages as well as in our lives today. Lift up our sagging hearts when we begin to doubt Your promises. Amen.