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Dec
22

Christmas Wonder

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

Remember His marvelous works which He has done.
1 Chronicles 16:12

After my first semester in seminary, my family was given airline tickets to fly home for Christmas. The night before our flight, we realized we had less than $20 for the trip. Parking, transportation, and other incidentals were certain to cost more than $20. Heartsick, we resolved to pray about it. Though our children were small (6 and 2), we included them in the prayer time.

As we were praying, we heard footsteps in the hallway of the apartment building, and then “whisk”—the sound of an envelope sliding under the door. Inside the envelope was an anonymous gift of $50.

The wonder reflected on our 6-year-old daughter’s face matched the wonder in our own hearts. Here was a mighty God writing His name on a little girl’s heart by hearing and answering our prayer in the same instant. And so we, like the psalmist David, could “talk of all His wondrous works!” (1 Chron. 16:9).

So it was that first Christmas night, when a mighty, all-knowing, all-powerful God wrote His name on the heart of humanity, stunning us with the generosity of forgiveness and the joy of unconditional love. The birth of Christ is the answer to our most fervent prayers for love and forgiveness. Can you feel the wonder?

Lord, restore to me the wonder of Christmas,
felt most keenly when I first met Jesus;
for I long to tell the story with all the
joy it brought me that day.
A wonder-filled life is ours when we know the Christ of Christmas.
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Dec
21

Light And Shadow

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.
Isaiah 9:2

Art historian Seymour Slive described the great Dutch artist Rembrandt (1606–1669) as the master of light and shadow, a compelling storyteller on canvas. Rembrandt’s painting The Adoration of the Shepherds portrays the darkened stable in Bethlehem where two shepherds kneel beside the manger while other people stand farther away. One man holds a lantern, but the brightest light shines not from his lantern but from the Christ-child, illuminating those who have gathered close to Him.

Seven centuries before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah used an image of light and shadow to foretell the coming of a Savior for Israel: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. . . . For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Isa. 9:2,6).

Each person may see a different story in Rembrandt’s painting, but perhaps each of us is represented somewhere in that stable. Are we kneeling in worship, standing back in hesitation, or hiding from the light that has penetrated our darkness?

Christmas invites us to step out of the shadows of darkness and to allow the light of Christ to shine into our hearts.

Observing God’s love from afar
Is only a passing delight;
But when we experience Christ’s presence,
Our darkness is turned into light. —Hess
Faith in Christ is not a leap into the dark; it’s a step into the Light.
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Dec
20

Taking Refuge

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10

In the medieval world, farmers would care for their crops until an enemy appeared on the horizon. Then they would flee with their families to their fortified city for protection from the marauders.

The city of Carcassonne has been a refuge for generations. Built in the 5th century bc, this stone fortress has provided protection for Romans, Gauls, Visigoths, Franks, and French. Its sprawling size and majestic watchtowers and battlements gave confidence to those hiding inside its protective walls.

As believers, we can take refuge in the presence of the living God. The book of Proverbs tells us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). “The name of the Lord” refers to God’s character—abounding with faithfulness, power, and mercy. The term safe means “set on high out of danger.”

We all face threats at times that make us want to run for cover. Some seek security in material wealth or relationships. But the Christ-follower has a more secure refuge. Because of who God is and what He can do for us, our best protection ultimately rests in Him. If you are facing a threat today, go to the Lord, who is a strong tower. You will find refuge in His care.

In the times of greatest struggle,
When the angry billows roll,
I can always find my Savior,
Christ, the Refuge of my soul. —Woodruff
In good times and bad, God is our safe resting place.