LHM Advent Devotion – December 21, 2014 “Any Shelter”


2014 Advent Devotions Header

Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Reverend Wayne Palmer

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin!  Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int’l LLL (LHM). 

“Any Shelter”

December 21, 2014

2014 Advent Devotions cover

Read Psalm 24.
Lift up your heads O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Psalm 24:7-8

This week the fourth candle of the Advent wreath is lit, and it is obvious Christmas is fast approaching. It’s time to put up the Nativity scene.

When I moved away from home for the first time I brought along a box with figures from the Nativity: Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus lying in a manger, the shepherds, the wise men, an angel, and a few animals. I just had the figures but nothing to put them in. So as we prepare to assemble our Nativity scene let’s start with the place-the shelter that will house Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. When you look closely at the Christmas accounts (Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 2:1), you find they never describe the kind of shelter Joseph borrowed for his wife and her Child.

The truth is we’re not sure what that shelter looked like. It could have been a stable; it could have been a cave. It could have even been something like a first-century garage, a back room in the house where a family kept its donkeys and other animals. No matter what it was, it was a pretty pathetic excuse of a shelter for the Son of God, wasn’t it? Yet, He gladly-willingly-came down to be born in a rough shelter, and laid in a humble manger.

Today He comes into our lowly hearts and minds and promises to dwell there with us. Which of us is a worthy dwelling place for God? We are self-centered when we should be God-centered. We judge the motives of others by their actions when God alone knows their hearts and minds and their genuine motivation. We justify ourselves and condemn others; we excuse ourselves and blame others. We are far more unworthy of Christ’s presence than any stable, cave, or garage.

But that is why Christ Jesus came into this world. He took our sin and guilt upon Himself and paid the price for our sinful rebellion by suffering God’s wrath on the cross. In His death and resurrection Christ Jesus has satisfied God’s righteous demands. Even when our sinful nature drives us to sin He forgives us, quietly knocking at the door of our hearts and making His dwelling place within us.

There is much still to be done in this final week before Christmas. But don’t let all the details crowd Jesus out of your heart. Remember, it’s all for Him; the decorations are for Him. The cookies and food are for Him. The cards are for Him, as is the Christmas tree. Don’t forget to set time aside to pray, to meditate, and to let Jesus come inside and prepare you for Christmas.

THE PRAYER: O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!

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