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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Presence

Day 25: Christmas Presence

Meditation (3-5 Minutes)
Begin by being still before God. Read Psalms 42:1-2,5-7 and meditate on the words.

Psalms 42:1-2, 5-6 (NIV)
1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 5-6 Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

1) Be still and know he is God.
2) Allow your soul to pant for God “as a deer pants for water.”
3) Today, on Christmas Day, thirst for the Presence of God.
4) Enjoy the living God.
5) Put your hope in God.
6) Praise Him, your savior and God.

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)
1) Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.

2) Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1):
a) Oh God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…
i) I praise your Holy Name today.
ii) I worship you.
iii) I love you.
iv) I long for your presence like a deer longs for water.
b) Give me your joy on this Holiest of Holy Days.
c) Fill me with your power today.
d) Take away my difficulties today so that victory over those difficulties will be a witness to your power and your love in my life.

3) Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2):
a) I am still.
i) I feel your presence.
ii) I feel your love flowing through me.
iii) I have your peace.
iv) Thank you.
v) You have made me worthy of your presence by “The Gift” you gave on that first Christmas.
b) I stand amazed at your presence this Christmas Day.
c) Forgive me when I am so far from you that I lose this amazement.

4) Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3):
a) Holy Father, I offer myself to you today.
i) Mold me.
ii) Shape me.
iii) Do with me as you will.
iv) Let no word come out of my mouth unless it is your word.
v) Let me take no action unless it is your action.
b) I offer my gifts to you.
i) Bless them.
ii) Use them as a witness to your mighty power.
iii) Use them to demonstrate your love for the people receiving them.
c) Merry Christmas, Dear Father.
d) I will not be afraid today to “tell the world” of your presence.
e) Today, I claim your presence in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
f) Amen.

5) Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out.

6) Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)
The Jewish people knew for centuries that Messiah was coming. They taught their children to look for him. They were waiting. Jesus fulfilled all of the hundreds of prophecies. A few of them are included in this Bible Study. In spite of the strong evidence, most of the Jewish people missed “The Gift.” They became so angry, disturbed and threatened over the possibility that he was “The Gift” that they crucified him. But alas, even that, was predicted. Today, most Jewish people are still waiting for a Gift that has already come.

Before you feel too smug, look around. Today is Christmas. It is a day we have set aside for celebrating “The Gift.” In most homes, presents given will have little to do with “The Gift” and God’s presence. Today, as you go through your day, do not miss “The Gift.” Spend your day celebrating “The Gift” of his presence. Look for the special gifts that “The Gift” has planned for you.

Background Scripture
Read Isaiah 7:14. Centuries before Jesus was born, he was predicted. What was the “sign” of the Christ Child? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Luke 1:26-27. How did God fulfill the prophesy from the book of Isaiah? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Micah 5:2. Where was the predicted birthplace of Jesus? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 2:1-2. How did God fulfill the prophesy from the book of Micah? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Jeremiah 31:15. What is Jeremiah predicting? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 2:16. How did God fulfill the prophesy from the book of Jeremiah? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Luke 2:38. Not everyone missed the Christmas presence. Whom did Anna tell about the Christ child? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 2:2. Unexpected people recognized and worshipped “The Gift.” Who were they? Can you think of others that recognized the Christmas Presence? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 2:3-4. How did most people feel about “The Gift?” (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 2:11. Today, join the Wise Men and bow down and worship him. Open your Christmas presents and offer them to the Christmas Presence.

Read Matthew 7:11. If you ask and watch, Jesus will send you a special gift today. Keep you eyes open. Do not miss your gift from “The Gift.”

Don’t Forget The Baby

A young seminary student spent many of his evenings gathered in a basement set aside for the recreation of the seminary students. There with his friends, he talked, played, and dreamed dreams.

The young man graduated, fell in love, and married. He began preaching in his first church. Just before his first Christmas at his first church, he and his wife had their first child. His seminary friends were excited and wanted to celebrate the birth of his son. They decided to meet back in the same basement where they had spent so much time together.

His wife was a little nervous about letting her new baby leave for an evening with a “bunch of guys” but eventually agreed. When this young preacher arrived at the basement, he saw a room filled with balloons. There was cake and gifts for the child. They sat the young baby in the middle of the table and played with him. The father opened gifts and everyone except the baby ate cake. Eventually, the baby went to sleep. They moved him over to a quiet corner of the room.

The years slipped away and suddenly they were young seminary students again. They talked about old times. They played the games that used to entertain them. They caught up with each other’s life and spun new dreams until the middle of the night. Finally, they realized it was past time to go home. Reluctantly, they stood up.

The young preacher climbed the stairs with his friends. He made it all the way upstairs and out to his car before he remembered the baby. In a panic, he rushed back to the entrance, tore down the stairs, to find his son still sleeping peacefully.

As he got back in his car, he smiled ruefully. Perhaps his wife’s concern about him going off with the baby was valid. He thought about the purpose of the party. It was for the baby. He had accepted and opened the gifts on his son’s behalf. He had even carried them to the car. He had left and forgotten the baby. Suddenly, he knew he had his first Christmas sermon.

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1) Making It Personal
a) In your journal, write a birthday message to Jesus.
i) Wish him a Merry Christmas.
ii) Offer him your presents in worship.
iii) Ask for the Christmas Presence throughout the day.
iv) Thank him for being “The Gift.”

2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a) Read the Christmas Story sometime during the day.
b) Ask God to interpret what you read and to make it meaningful to everyone around you.
c) Tell every person that receives a present from you that it is in honor of the Christmas Presence.
d) Tell people that you love them with the love of Jesus.
e) Tell people that Jesus loves them.
f) As you go through your day, experience the Christmas Presence.
g) Look for the customized Christmas Present the Christmas Presence will give you.

3) Ending The Day
a) Thank God for his Presence.
b) Review Christmas Day.
i) Was it worthy of the Christmas Presence?
ii) What changes do you need to make next year?
iii) Confess if necessary.
c) Sing the carol, “Away in a Manger.”

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