This is the last weekly devotional of 2016 and also the devotional guide that prepares for Christmas Day. The sermon for Christmas is called “I am Gabriel,” and it looks at the Jesus birth story through the eyes of Gabriel.
Daily Scripture Readings:
Monday, December 19. Read Luke 2:8-17. What role did Gabriel, the angel, play in the interaction with Zechariah? What was Zechariah’s reaction to first seeing Gabriel?
Tuesday, December 20. Read Genesis 16:6-16. What prompted the angel appearance in this text? How would you summarize the angel’s message to Hagar? How did Hagar’s view of God change as a result of this interaction?
Wednesday, December 21. Read 1 Timothy 3:14-16. What did Paul call the “great mystery of our faith? What are the 6 things that Paul enumerates about Christ? What role do angels play in this?
Thursday, December 22. Read 1 Peter 1:10-12. How much did the prophets know about their message? What were they told about their message? In what way were the angels involved with the message of the prophets?
Friday, December 23. Read Psalm 34:4-7. How would you summarize the idea of this passage? What does the Psalmist say about the “angel of the Lord?”
Saturday, December 24. Read Luke 1:26-38. This is the text for Sunday’s sermon, “I am Gabriel.”
Prayer for the Week:
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon himself, and to be born this day of a pure virgin. Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit. May I in my daily life incarnate your nature as Jesus did so that those who see me and know me may be reminded of you. Through my Lord Jesus Christ I pray this, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
Hymn for the Week:
It Came upon the Midnight Clear by E. H. Sears, 1849.
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Devotional Reading for the Week:
Angels Among Us!
You never know who a stranger is or the special person who is helping you out of an embarrassing mess!
by Brian McCutchen (10/13/2016)
A few years ago, I was getting groceries at a local supermarket in South Carolina. I finished my shopping and found a checkout lane empty and headed for lane 6. The cashier was extremely nice as we chatted a bit. The total was $34.78. I got out my debit card and swiped it, but the cashier said it didn’t take the card due to non-sufficient funds.
I said, “That can’t be, I just made a deposit into my bank account and have plenty of money.”
She said, “Try it again.”
I did and the same results: “Insufficient funds!”
I was totally embarrassed, but thankfully, no one else was in line with me. I said to the clerk, “I am going to my bank, please set my groceries aside, I will be right back.”
I walked out the door and headed for my car. The cashier comes out and yells, “Sir!” “Sir!” I turned around, and she said, “A man came up to me and paid for your groceries.”
I was dumbfounded because there was no one else in line and no one could have known my debit card didn’t work. I went back into the store to thank the man, but he was nowhere to be found. There was only one way in the store and one way out. The cashier and I looked all over the store but we could not find him. I remember the cashier saying with a smile on her face, “You must have an angel watching out for you!”
I think about what happened to me often and am grateful God uses his angels to help his children in times of need, stress, difficult situations or tragedies. The group Alabama performs a song called, “Angels Among Us” that is fitting for so many hard to answer situations:
Oh I believe there are, angels among us
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love.
I know that there are some who will say that God doesn’t use angels today as he once did! But, according to the writer of Hebrews, angels are here for us:
Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation? (Hebrews 1:14 MSG)
Angels are used by God to be a protector for believers. King David proclaimed a similar promise in one of his songs:
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalm 34:7 NIV)
Angels are active and usable for service to God whenever he calls them to serve. A believer can entertain angels at any time, anywhere, and even be unaware:
Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! (Hebrews 13:2 MSG)
How we act towards strangers may be a test to see how we will act toward one of God’s angels. The next person who asks us for food or shelter could be an angel in disguise to see how we would respond to the request. We must always be aware of who is in our presence. We must never show a lack of respect or a judgmental attitude toward the hungry and the homeless. We must never allow a stranger to leave without showing him or her kindness; that stranger could be an angel of God.
Angels are more than a figurine on a shelf or an ornament on top of a Christmas tree. They are God’s servants to be used to aid believers as God sees fit. Angels are real and used by God today. As much as Satan and his angels are active, so are God and his angels. They can also be a great blessing during an embarrassing moment in the grocery store checkout line.