Bible Readings for December 18th

We are now coming to the conclusion of Advent, and the readings focus more and more on Jesus’ birth.  Early in Advent we focused on Jesus’ return at the end of time, then we looked at John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, and now, the Sunday before Christmas, we look forward to the birth of Jesus.

Isaiah 7:10-17  The First Reading is recorded in Isaiah 7:10-17.  The prophet Isaiah, in speaking for the LORD, urges faithless Ahaz to ask the LORD for a sign to prove that the LORD will fulfill His promises; Ahaz, in false piety, refuses to ask.  The LORD then proclaims what He will do, He will do the impossible, causing a virgin, or young woman, to conceive, and then the LORD will drive out the Assyrian army from Judah.  This happened in Isaiah’s day, the LORD drove out the Assyrian army, and this happened about 700 years later when the virgin Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and bore the One called Immanuel: God with us.  At the right time the LORD will fulfill His promises, let us trust Him.
Faithful Lord, You keep Your promises, even when it seems impossible to us.  Enable us to trust that with You all things are possible, even a virgin conceiving, bearing a Son Who is God with us, Who will proclaim Your message, bring hope to the hopeless, take our sin upon Himself, die and rise, conquering death so that by faith we would live with You forever.  Keep us firm in faith in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.
Psalm 24:1-10  The psalm in Psalm 24.  Who will be able to approach the LORD?  As you read the psalm, think about Jesus and His faithfulness to serve the Lord.   Notice the hymn of praise starting in vs. 7.  This is a passage G.F.Handel used in the Messiah, so if you are familiar with the Messaih, this passage will be familiar.  It is a hymn of praise to the Lord as He comes into the Temple.  Let us join this wonderful hymn of praise.
O Lord, lift up our hearts to give You thanks and praise, especially for Your Son Jesus, Who fulfilled all righteousness, and Who gives us His righteousness by Baptism into His death and resurrection.  Amen.
Romans 1:1-7  The Second Reading is Romans 1:1-7.  This is the Gospel in a nutshell: Jesus is human by virtue of being a son of David, and also declared Son of God by virtue of His resurrection.  Through this proclamation the Holy Spirit enables us to believe.  Let us be open to hearing, receiving, and believing this proclamation of Jesus, the crucified and risen One, Who brings us eternal life.
Lord Jesus, son of David, and Son of God, we thank and praise You for Your death and resurrection, for Your victory over sin, death, and the devil.  Let Your Holy Spirit enable faith to grow in us as we hear this Good News.  Amen.
Matthew 1:18-25  The Gospel is the wonderful account of Jesus’ birth as recorded in Matthew 1:18-25.  This passage goes from the depths of despair, to the heights of glory: Joseph learned that his betrothed was going to have a child, and he knew he was not the father; his heart must have been shattered.  As he considered what to do, how to deal mercifully with Mary, an angel appeared to him in a dream and proclaimed to him that all was well, the child conceived in Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that He would be named Jesus: which means Savior, and also Immanuel, which means: God with us.  Joseph went from despair to rejoicing: God was keeping His promises, the Messiah was to be born, and he would be the acting father to raise Jesus, our Savior; Immanuel, God with us.  Let us rejoice with Mary and Joseph.
Lord, at times we are in the midst of despair like Joseph and we don’t know which way to turn.  When despair and heartache crash into our lives, let us hear again the message that Jesus our Savior, Immanuel, God with us, is born.  Let this Good News take root, grow, and bear fruit in our lives, leading us to rejoice.  Amen.
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