Ordinary People

Christmas Devotional

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.” Matthew 1:  1-17

Ordinary People

By David Thompson

It was a common story – an arranged marriage between an older man and a younger woman.  Maybe they didn’t know each other that well, maybe they had only met a few times.  But then a complication; the young woman is already pregnant!  The man’s first instinct is to cancel the arrangement; after all, this certainly isn’t the bargain he struck with her family.  And then the most unexpected thing happens.  God speaks into His creation, after centuries of silence.  Who would ever have guessed that the Creator would take an interest in this ordinary and unremarkable situation?  Don’t back out of the marriage, the angel tells the man; this is a special child.  And by the way, he already has a name, and it isn’t your family name!

The rest of the story is so well known to us, that maybe we sometimes skip ahead and forget how extraordinary it all really was.  Of course the man swallowed his pride and doubt, and took a young woman pregnant with a child not his own as his wife.  Of course the young woman accepted her circumstance in faith, and set off on a difficult journey with a man she hardly knew.

But what if they hadn’t?  What if they, like Moses, had asked God to choose someone else?  Would Messiah still have come at that time and place, or would God have waited for another opportunity, another couple, to bring salvation into the world?  What if, in our own time, all that is needed for Messiah to come again is for perfectly ordinary people to accept in faith God’s plan for us?

Oh God our Creator, today we are thankful for ordinary people who put their trust in You.  May we, like them, accept Your extraordinary call in our lives.  Until Messiah comes again in power, Amen!

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.


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

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

Tomorrow Advent Begins


This is a season of anticipation, a season of waiting and longing for what is coming. We not only focus on Jesus’ birth, but also prepare our hearts for Jesus’ second coming, which is yet to happen. It is in the midst of the waiting that we find those gifts Jesus’ presence will bring us: hope, love, joy, and peace.

Every day there is a short passage of Scripture for you to read. Bering church members have prepared a short devotional as you think about the Scripture and the life of Jesus. May these words stretch you, encourage you, and bless you as you long for our coming King.

Thankful for Everyone

by Jeff Christian

A mass rebellion of mustaches is underway in India. In a caste system where the good people have it made, and the untouchables just have to scrape through life, one of their cultural norms is the privilege of a man being allowed to grow a mustache. For the untouchables, the lowest members of society, those called “Dalits,” they are not allowed to grow mustaches. So in rebellion to generations of oppression, the Dalits are putting their facial hair on display.

Here in Houston, Texas, it would be unthinkable for a church to meet a mustachioed Indian gentleman who grew up a Dalit during worship and say, “Sorry, pal, you cannot come in.” But in Christian history, we have practiced things every bit as inexcusable because of “the way we were raised.”

The now outdated issue I stepped into as a teenager looking for Jesus was the church’s treatment of divorced people. At one time, if you were divorced, too bad so sad for you. “Don’t come back to church, and enjoy your road to hell.” While we shudder to think people would have said something quite that crass, they did. Some still do. But somewhere along the way we realized that divorced people want Jesus, just like happily married people, and single people, and children, and everyone else for that matter. I think it was because some of the children of church leaders started going through divorces, and suddenly they had to rethink a limiting theology more concerned with restriction than collectively journeying through life, all of us wanting to be shaped in the image and likeness of Christ.

At the Bering Drive Church of Christ, we welcome everyone. We are thankful for everyone. Namely because every one of us believes that each of us have experiences in this world that are good and bad; in this world we all have limits. But because of Jesus, even when we are weak, we are strong.

I heard about Bering when I was a college student during the time when the church was taking a giant leap forward in doing what has long been a part of Christian history, but somewhere along the way became rooted in restriction. Women in the 1980s and 1990s at Bering started serving communion with men. Serving. Women started praying to God out loud. Children read Scripture during worship, even if they had not been baptized. People from different nationalities and races joined together in worship, hand-in-hand proclaiming the saving grace we know in Christ Jesus. Gay and straight people sat side-by-side in worship, knowing full well that the promises of God are far reaching. And if a man, woman, or child who grew up a Dalit in India happens to come our way, we will not think twice about swinging open the door, swinging it wide open to say, “We are less-than-perfect ourselves, but just wait until you see the ways the Lord is creating us anew. We cannot wait to share with you what we have.” And that is not because of who we are, but because of who Jesus has always been, who Jesus is, and who Jesus will always be.

Isn’t this the way it always should have been? We believe so. In all of our beautiful imperfection, that is the way it is to this day in this family-sized outpost of the Kingdom of Heaven that we call the Bering Drive Church of Christ.  We do not, in any way, shape, or form, claim to have everything figured out and settled. Jesus taught us to practice mercy over sacrifice, so we take that seriously. And when we say we are thankful for everyone, we give thanks that we are still learning what all of that means in our daily walk with Jesus.

The Next Word After the Final Word

by Jeff Christian

It rained again yesterday. The occasional thunderclap was a little too loud for those of us still soggy from the days of flooding and the weeks of aftermath. We are not at our best.

On Sunday we read the end of First Corinthians, a word meant to orient us and reorient us at the same time. These words help us know who we are, how to walk with Jesus. “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong, and let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

But these are more than words of orientation. For those of us who suffer, these words reorient us. In times of disorientation, they do more than remind. They re-situate us in the promises of God. The words echo “when we are weak, then we are strong.” Be strong? We meet that command of Scripture with the old prayer, “God, give me strength.”

And God is faithful.

But we are not at our best. Some of our Bering family lost so much in the flood. Some of our Bering family are dealing with physical pain, health issues, hope of recovery, and even some personal, family pain. During these reminders of our own vulnerability when the limits of our humanity stare us down unrelentingly, these are the times when we may not be able on our own to stand firm. We may not feel like being courageous today. And as far as actually being strong goes, that may be one of those times when God is just asking too much.

But God keeps speaking to us, reorienting us with the final word of 1 Corinthians 16, not as a list of individual encouragements to individuals, but a group of encouragements to a group of Christians. In this case, that’s us.

Keep alert. We keep watch together.

Stand firm in your faith. “Your” is tied to the previous word to keep alert. So, y’all together, all y’all together, stand together.

Be courageous. Pardon the language from ancient times, but literally, “Act like a man until you actually become a man.” This is not about pretending to be tough. Being “courageous” was foremost about an attitude of willingness to become a man of character, integrity, and service. A big focus of old Greek education was the shaping of the man, which eventually, even in early Christian times, was rightly expanded to include women and children so that everyone is reminded together that we are becoming something we cannot be without the teaching and formation of God working in us.

Be strong. Likewise, even when we are weak, God gives us strength. Even at times like these when we know we are not at our best, we are still being renewed day by day.

Therefore, let all that we do be done in love. That is a good final word. Amen.