Echoes of God’s Faithfulness

Angel Gabriel and Mary

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:26-38

Echoes of God’s Faithfulness

By Cale Ownby

Samuel searched until he found the old house where the young David lived. He sought out David in order to share the message of God’s favor. It was not the first time a messenger from God would seek out a child to share this message, and it wouldn’t be the last. Years later, we find David receiving the promise from God, “I will raise up your offspring, and I will establish my kingdom.” As we hear God’s promise, we can hear echoes of a generation before—a promise with Abraham, and echoes of a generation later—a promise with Mary.

This brings us to the gospel of Luke. Imagine Gabriel seeking out young Mary, saying, “You will give birth to a son, and His kingdom will never end.” We hear the echoes from the past get louder. “How can I have a child?,” we hear Mary ask, and we are reminded of laughter from Abraham and Sarah.

In Mary’s story, we see God’s faithfulness echo back through David’s sin, through Abraham and Sarah’s doubt. When Mary replies to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant; may your word to me be fulfilled,” the people of God are faithful. Echoes of the rooster crowing and of Peter confessing. This confession of God’s faithfulness covers David, it covers Abraham and Sarah, and it covers the times when we ourselves are not faithful—in the past and in the future.

No Silence Will Last Forever

Zechariah and Elizabeth

Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak.  When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said,  “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.” Luke 1: 18-25

No Silence Will Last Forever

By Brandon and Anna Huber

When Zechariah heard Gabriel’s message of his impending fatherhood, he asked God how he should know the announcement was for real, as if an angelic message wasn’t enough. Perhaps a priest like Zechariah was too used to reading the cryptic prophesies of the coming age and had come to not take God at His literal word. God answered by taking away Zechariah’s speech. Zechariah’s silence in itself was not the whole sign; his speech would return when the promise was fulfilled. Perhaps he shuddered slightly at the familiar vagueness of “in their time.” Yet God would fulfill his promise before Zechariah’s eyes, and Zechariah’s first words would be those of praise and joy.

Elizabeth’s own reaction to the miracle is also surprising. Rather than broadcast it and celebrate immediately, she secluded herself for the first five months of her pregnancy. Did people doubt her pregnancy while she hid? If they did, there surely could have been no doubt when she reappeared in the middle of her second trimester. Perhaps it was a symbolic gesture, remembering how God had seemed hidden from her life until that moment when He was undeniable. For Elizabeth, her childless years were transformed from a shame to a testimony of God’s reality.

Silence communicates, emphasizing the other senses, and sounds around it. Our Father composes with both sound and silence, though He promises that no silence will last forever. Zechariah and Elizabeth testify to us that, though silence can be hard, God will break it with joy.

God’s Work


“In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:5-17

God’s Work

By Osasu Ehiorobo

The Bible tells us that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were Godly people and righteous in God’s eyes. They obeyed and feared the Lord but in all these characteristics, they had no child. It was a terrible hardship to have no children; they must have suffered painfully. Until God intervened, this had also happened to the parents of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, and Samuel. That’s quite a list—these are some of the most famous people in Israel’s history!

On a day that Zechariah least expected, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the sanctuary. The angel assured him that God had answered his prayers: his wife will bear a child and they should call him John. John (meaning “YAHWEH has been gracious”) would have the spirit and power of Elijah and would prepare the coming of the Lord.

Brethren, your present hardship does not mean life will always be difficult. The fact that God has not responded to your prayer request does not mean He has abandoned you and your household. At the appointed time God will make His will be done in our lives. As long as we keep our faith strong and do God’s work, He will not let us down.

Do not be discouraged. God sends good, surprising things to those who wait and pray. Never underestimate what God can do at any time of His choosing. God will decide both the ‘what’ and the ‘when’ of everything.


Father, forgive us for doubting your power when the going gets tough.  No matter what we are going through, help us to follow Your will and gain victory. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Kings and Prostitutes

Bering Drive Church of Christ Christmas Devotional

“An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.  And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.” Matthew 1: 1-17

Kings and Prostitutes

By David Pybus

“Where are you from?” the nurse asked.  “From Houston,” I said.  She told me she was from Angleton, and I told her I know the place quite well.  “No one ever knows where that is,” she said.  But as it happens, my family is from near there. It told me a little of who she was and who her people are.

Matthew begins the story of Jesus by telling us who his people are.  His lineage is grand, going back through a line of kings, back to Solomon and David himself, and on to Judah in Egypt, and to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He has the right pedigree. Yet he and his family no longer live in a palace; he is—it is supposed—the illegitimate son of a young woman in a small town.  Joseph isn’t even his real father.  What does this royal lineage have to do with Jesus and his young mother?

The key is buried in the lineage, where women just like Mary are hiding in plain sight.   Tamar, a woman who tricked her untrustworthy father-in-law into having sex with her, so she could have children. Rahab, a prostitute whose treason saved her life. Ruth, a young foreigner who married an older man, after losing her own husband. And Uriah’s wife, a woman forced into adultery, with her husband murdered soon after.

Jesus comes from a long line of people who aren’t kings and who haven’t done the right thing and who aren’t from the right place.  Mary is certainly not from anywhere, and the world assumes the worst about her.  Yet she is Jesus’ people, just as these women were.   And we are his people, too, even if we are not of royal lineage, or we don’t live in palaces, and even if we come from people who have lived life outside the lines.  If we belong to Jesus, we fit right in among the kings and the prostitutes.

This Changes Everything

Mary and Child

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[a] full of grace and truth.  (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)  From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:14-18

This Changes Everything

By Rick Straker

That the Word, logos, God chose to be born a child. Human, and yet divine (as if we have any sense of what that really means). That’s just preposterous… isn’t it?

For me, it’s easier to go with the ethereal (pronounced in a high-brow British accent) Jesus the Divine. Like the wonderful picture William Chatterson Dix paints:

What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Angels singing… the announcement of cosmic proportions. I can hear the heavenly chorus swell.

No, no problem there. But God becoming human? No beatific halos for Mary and Jesus. Just a poor boy being born, out in a stranger’s barn, rich with the smells of the animals.  A baby who cried, suckled, and needed his diapers changed?

More like Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.”

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?

The first song fills me with awe. 

The second chokes me with feelings of “tryin’ to make my way home.”

And I am so grateful that God chooses to walk with us.


Bering Drive Church of Christ Christmas
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:613


by Jennifer Christian

Pause and take a deep, nourishing breath. 
Notice the tiny, sparkling Christmas lights shining beauty everywhere you go.
Individually, each bulb is dim, a tiny trace of light in the darkness. That is okay! Each light shines dimly with confidence knowing its light becomes magnified when combined with hundreds and thousands of other lights.
We, like John the Baptist, are a tiny light when we choose to receive the gift of Jesus. 
“The true Light, which enlightens everyone is coming into the world.”
John knew he was not the true light, but a testimony of the Light that shines on everyone. On our own, we may think our light is dim and insufficient. That is okay! Your light matters. You are a created reflection of the true Light. Together we shine the message. 
“The true Light, which enlightens everyone is coming into the world.”
Throughout this season, pause when you see Christmas lights, and take three deep nourishing breaths.

Breath Prayer 

Breathe in – Receive
Breathe out – Shine

Receive the gift. You are a child of God. You belong to the Light.
Shine your light out into the world:
Shine – Hope
Shine – Peace
Shine – Joy
Shine – Love

Word Revealed

Word Revealed

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

Word Revealed

By Kirk Blackard

This passage is difficult for me to understand. I take it, however that John is referring to Jesus as the Word, and that attributing to Jesus characteristics of words gives us a better understanding of who he is and what we may look forward to. Several characteristics come to mind:

Words reveal unseen thoughts. The Word reveals the unseen God, as God has spoken to us and revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We can learn to know God better by seeking to hear Him in every way He communicates, and especially in truly knowing the Word.

Words convey messages and meaning, and are vehicles for sharing our thoughts and providing comfort and healing. Through words we communicate with others and form relationships. Jesus has done the same things. Jesus has conveyed the message of good news, that He is with God and is the light that shines in the darkness, the vehicle for comfort and healing.

Words are powerful. It’s often true that “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Even though words are made of nothing but letters they are powerful things because they convey meaning, thoughts, and feelings. Similarly, the Word is the power of God that can change the world and assure salvation for us all.

Words maintain their relevance. The word of God is alive and active, and Jesus is the living word of God. Just as our vocabulary adapts to stay alive and relevant, the Word continues as the light of mankind, even in an ever changing world.

In summary, the Word reveals God and conveys a powerful message of good news that continues to be relevant for all of us.

Blessings Upon a King

Christmas Crown

“Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King
Of Solomon.

Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes[b] bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
    render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts.
May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations give him service.

For he delivers the needy when they call,
    the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
    and precious is their blood in his sight.

Long may he live!
    May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
    and blessings invoked for him all day long.
May there be abundance of grain in the land;
    may it wave on the tops of the mountains;
    may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
    like the grass of the field.
May his name endure forever,
    his fame continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed in him;[c]
    may they pronounce him happy.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.

The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended.” Psalm 72

Blessings Upon a King

By Paul Riddle

This psalm invokes God’s blessings upon a king, probably on the occasion of his coronation. It is unabashedly aspirational. It projects a world imagined, in which the king exercises godly rule, intentionally seeking divine guidance to rule with justice and righteousness. In this hoped-for world, the king thoughtfully considers the impact of his decisions on those who will be affected and seeks to mitigate the affects on those who are most vulnerable. The dignity of each person is upheld, the forces of oppression are thwarted, and the people flourish.

Few of Israel’s kings ruled with the justice and righteousness that the Psalmist envisions. Those qualities remain scarce among the rulers of our own time.

Few of us exercise power on the scale of a king, but each of us exercises power in some realm – parent, sibling, employer, supervisor, teacher, and decision maker. In those realms, where most of life is lived, our influence on the people whose lives we touch may be even more far-reaching and long lasting than the influence of a sovereign on his or her subjects.

Whatever power is entrusted to us, may we exercise it justly and righteously.

A Light Shines in the Darkness

Christmas Light

“But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
    on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
    and the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
    and all the garments rolled in blood
    shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:1-7

A Light Shines in the Darkness

By Sara Faye Fudge

In the darkest of times, for the nation Israel and for us today, the light that is the Lord breaks through the gloom. It  shines and rescues from oppressors, both marauding armies with brute force and blood, and those forces of wickedness that seem to pervade our culture and sadly, our own lives. These dark times are actually the best times for seeing God work in his own transformative way.  The light that illumined the created universe again shines through our own darkness, filling his creation with light and goodness.

The astounding way God accomplished this for Israel was not with stronger armies or crusading causes, but through the life of an innocent child.  This child, this son given to us, would be the manifestation of the very essence of God and his names reflect the wonderful, wise, mighty, eternal nature of God.  His power and might would conquer this world, his favor and protection would prosper the nation, and his rule of peace and righteousness would know no end.

As we await again the celebration of the coming of Jesus, we praise God for his incredible gift that shines light into our dark hearts of sin and doubt.  He offers us rescue from our sins which oppress us, comfort and counsel for each day’s needs, and continuing peace for now and forever.  And in his presence we find gladness of heart.

The Lord Protects the Stranger, the Fatherless, and the Widow

Ruth and Naomi

“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
    he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!” Psalm 146

The Lord Protects the Stranger, the Fatherless, and the Widow

By Don Edwards

There is a beautiful love story in the Book of Ruth; and it is a story that never grows old. No, it is not the story of Ruth and Naomi; nor is it the story of Ruth and Boaz. It is a story about the love that God has for the needy and the disenfranchised in this world. In Psalms 146, God said,

“Don’t trust in princes, in mortal man…How blessed is he whose help comes from the God of Jacob; whose hope is in the Lord his God.”

Once upon a time an Israelite named Elimelech took his wife and two sons into the land of Moab in search of food for his family. Eventually he died then his two sons died leaving a widowed wife/mother and two widowed daughters-in- law. In time the food source in Moab dried up, so Naomi said to her daughters-in- law, “I am going home to Bethlehem in Judah.” But what of the young widows? What will they do? Orpah stayed in Moab, but Ruth said to Naomi, “I am going where you go, and I am choosing the God you chose.”

In Leviticus 19;9, Moses gave the people God’s instruction about the needy: “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corers of your field neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Also leave the fallen fruit for the needy and the stranger.” When the duo arrived in Judah, Naomi located some near of kin and received permission for Ruth to glean the fields of Boaz. This means that God provides by giving the left-overs to the poor. God loves this story so much that he put Ruth, a Gentile Moabite into the linage of His son Jesus.

In conclusion from Psalms 146: “Who gives food to the hungry?…the Lord protects the strangers…He supports the fatherless and widow, “The Lord will reign forever.” Amen