LHM Advent Devotion – December 24, 2014 “An Empty Manger”

 

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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). 

“An Empty Manger”

December 24, 2014

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Read Luke 2:1-7.
And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Now that Joseph and Mary were together as husband and wife only one detail of prophecy remained to be fulfilled. Do you remember our shelter and manger waiting patiently for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus down in Bethlehem? Mary and Joseph are 70 miles away and have no plans for a trip south! The shelter and manger will remain empty and Micah’s prophecy unfulfilled-unless God steps into human history once again.

So God steps in through the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, a powerful ruler at that time over the Mediterranean world. Augustus issued a decree commanding a worldwide census. He has no idea that he is an instrument in God’s hand to fulfill the words of the prophet, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). Because of this census Joseph sets out with his wife Mary to the little town of Bethlehem.

While they were there the time came for Mary to give birth. And since there was no room in the inn in the crowded city, she laid her baby in our manger inside that lowly shelter.

So many people come out to church on this night. Often they’re people who have not been here since last Christmas Eve. And sometimes they’re people who will not set foot in church again until next Christmas Eve. Like the crowds of Bethlehem, they turn Jesus away from their hearts and make Him remain outside in the cold. He faced that kind of rejection all through His earthly life-all the way to His death. But He suffered it all to save us. No matter who we are or what we have done, Jesus has won our place in paradise by His perfect life and innocent suffering and death as our Substitute.

Are you home for the holidays this Christmas Eve? As you prepare to gather together with family and friends, don’t forget to gather with your Christian family. Not just tonight or tomorrow, but all through the year. Don’t leave Jesus in that manger as though He never grew up to save you. Join us in your church home as we follow Him through His childhood. Join us as He takes on His life’s work and goes to the cross to save us all through His suffering, death, and glorious resurrection.

God grant you a joyous Christmas gathering together with your family and friends at home, in your church home, and in eternity in His heavenly home.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for moving Augustus to issue a decree so that Your Son would be born in the place You chose. Prepare me to celebrate our Savior’s birth this night, that He might be born in my heart again, and that forgiven of all my sins for His sake, I may rejoice in Your presence now and always. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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