Forty Days with Christ – Christmas Eve

We have made it through the past forty days in our walk with Christ in Mark and Luke.  Congratulations!!!!!

We end in triumph as we celebrate both Resurrection and Christmas Eve.  What a great Day!  Both Resurrection and Christmas occur in the midst of darkness and end in joy.  It is my deep hope your day ends in Joy.  I pray those of you who shared with me in reading these two Gospels can have a richer celebration of the birth of this amazing Baby Savior.  Merry Christmas!

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Forty Days with Christ – December 23

This difficult passage for today sets the stage for the glory of what happens tomorrow.  As you read this, pay attention to the many ways different people are drawn into this story.  Each person comes with different perspective, bias and authority.  As we consider the final day of the life of Christ, we too come from different places and with our own unique perspectives.  To keep from being blinded to all that was happening on that day, as you read this chapter, consider one or two individuals and try to see what they saw and all they missed.  

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Forty Days with Christ – December 22

The days are short and time is precious.  I know this is a long chapter  but it is worth the time.  Jesus comes to the night more important in his life than the one he was born.  But it is a different kind of drama.  This one is filled with darkness and betrayal.  By the end, Jesus has been beaten and unjustly judged.  The path to the cross is clear.  This is a passage where instead of getting parables or lessons, we sit and watch Jesus walk a journey that was his alone.

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Forty Days with Christ – December 21

Luke 21 begins with a few verses that humble all who read it.  The chapter then reflects a yearning to see an end to troubling times.  These teachings are words of encouragement for those who yearn for delivery from a troubled world.  Watch, be ready, for the world will be turned upside down at a moment when we least expect it.  That is a message for holy week and for this week.

Luke 21

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’

They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.

‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.

Forty Days with Christ – December 20

In the Holy City, Jesus faces his enemies.  Tell us Jesus, what is your authority?  What do you say about that law or this teaching?  What is the meaning of the story about those who rejected those sent to them?  You don’t mean us, right?

They watched every move that Jesus made.  But they did not come close to seeing what he was really doing.  They did not understand what he was trying to teach them.  Yet he stayed in the middle of the crowd.  He kept teaching.  He kept showing up.  For his misson was bigger than one day of challenge.  So is Christmas.  

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Forty Days with Christ – December 19

We are entering the last week before Christmas as we see Jesus enter into Jerusalem for the last week of his life.  This is an interesting contrast with deep meaning.  The joy and light of Christmas had a purpose.  It was to allow God to become incarnate, Divine became human.  Why?  Because of the love of God for us.  So God could experience all of humanity and so humanity would see what life could be as God intended.  Most of all, so sin and death would lose its ultimate power over us.  

The truth is the week ahead will have blessing and challenges, joy and stress, sadness and hope.  What you or I will experience is not yet known.  But if a tax collector can be an host of Jesus, servants become financial advisors, a holy meal prepared with unknown meaning and tears for what is loved are shared, than Luke 19 may indeed be exactly what we need for the week ahead.

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Forty Days with Christ – December 18

 We work hard to figure out our relationship with God.  Does God care about our needs and our requests?  Does God listen and what must we do to be found right in the sight of God?

Good questions but if you are looking for simple answers, you will not find them here in Luke 18.  Persistence in our prayer life is valued and important.  Prayer changes us certainly.  It may make us feel as if it changes God too.  Maybe it makes us more aware of what God is doing.

When we approach God with self-righteousness, we would do well to take a dose of humility.  We often approach God as if we have earned the right rather than understand the relationship between Creator and creature. Children are welcomed by Jesus.  Those who are seen as of little value by others are welcome in the presence of Christ.

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