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GPS Week of December 16, 2018

Music Sunday – “Let There Be Christmas” / Advent, Poem, Songs & Art

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:3-5, Luke 1:78-79
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

 

Monday December 17 — Luke 1:5-25

The first chapter of Luke’s Gospel begins with a brief prologue and continues with an extended narrative that intertwines the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus. We discover in Luke 1:36 that Mary and John’s mother, Elizabeth, are related. Luke includes the details surrounding John’s birth because John was an important character in the Gospel story and the account of his birth affirms that John and his ministry are part of God’s plan. In reading about Zechariah, do you see yourself. Do you ever have doubts? If so, you are in good company. How might the Christmas story inspire you to deeper faith and more confidence in God’s presence in your life?

  • Prayer: Merciful God, I confess that I often have doubts that paralyze me and prevent me from trusting and obeying your will for my life. Strengthen my faith today. Amen.

 

Tuesday December 18 — Luke 1:39-45

Jesus’ mother Mary and John’s mother Elizabeth are both pregnant with anticipation of their babies’ births when Mary visits Zechariah and Elizabeth at their home. The intersection of the two mothers emphasizes the primacy of Mary’s yet-unborn son. John will be a prophet, used by God to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. But Jesus will be the Savior of the world, God’s Messiah-King. In verse 45, Elizabeth praises Mary’s faithfulness, reminding us to follow Mary’s example and trust in God’s faithfulness. How might you grow in your ability to trust God today?

  • Prayer: Faithful God, thank you for the example of Mary, and everyone who trusts in your faithfulness. Give me the courage I need to trust you with my life.

 

Wednesday December 19 — Luke 1:57-66

Luke is clear that the birth of Elizabeth’s son John is a gift from God. (Remember what Luke tells us in Luke 1:7.) In fact, John’s birth fulfills all of the promises made to Zechariah in verses 13-14. This is one of the Gospel’s themes: God keeps promises! As we will discover, the ministries of both Jesus and John fulfill promises made by Israel’s prophets. God is the ultimate promise-keeper. Which of God’s promises are you trusting God to keep?

  • Prayer: Promise-Keeping God, the promise of salvation is the greatest gift I can ever receive. Thank you for saving me from the power of sin and death. Amen.

 

Thursday December 20 — Luke 1:67-80

In response to the birth of John, his father, Zechariah, spoke (or sang) his own prophecy. In Christian tradition, Zechariah’s song is called the Benedictus. It celebrates God’s faithfulness and the promise of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Its final stanzas describe the miracle of Christmas: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). How does God’s light shine into the darkness of the world today?

  • Prayer: God of Light, thank you for the power of your love and the amazing gift of your grace. Shine your light in my life. Use me to reflect your light in the world today.

 

Friday December 21 — Isaiah 40:3-5

During the season of Advent, the Church often listens to the voices of the Old Testament prophets in anticipation and preparation for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, into the world. The 40th chapter of Isaiah anticipates the coming of God’s messenger (John the Baptist) to prepare the way for God (and God’s Messiah.) This passage challenges us to prepare a way for God to access our hearts and transform our lives. Are you ready for Jesus to come (again) into your life at Christmas?

  • Prayer: God of Glory, continue to prepare me for Christmas. Clear out everything in my life that might prevent me from experiencing the miracle of Christmas this year.

 

Saturday December 22 — Luke 3:1-17

John’s ministry in the wilderness fulfills the promises made in Isaiah 40:3-5. As Jesus’ ministry is about to begin, John calls the people to prepare for his coming through repentance, service, compassion, and justice. John is clear that the Good News about God’s salvation through Jesus, the Messiah, requires a response – not just in our hearts and minds, but in our lives. We are expected to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). In what ways are you responding to the Good News of salvation? In what ways does your life bear fruit worthy of your repentance?

  • Prayer: Gracious God, I am humbled by the gift of salvation and transformed by the life-changing power of your grace. Help me bear fruit worthy of my repentance.

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