Home Altar: Week of December 26, 2021

by Lillian Dwight

First Sunday After Christmas

Sunday, December 26

LUKE 2:15-20

Unlikely Recipients

What an unlikely group that God would send his angels to shepherds to announce the birth of his son. Yet no sooner had the angels spoken that the shepherds quickly went to Bethlehem. There they beheld God’s glory in the baby Jesus and shared what they saw and glorified and praised God. Who would have thought that Filipino factory workers would come to Taiwan—a mostly Buddhist country, and find Jesus here? Such an unlikely group, yet God in his omniscience saw with compassion the hearts of Filipinos who would leave their homes and families in order to help their loved ones. God has seen their sacrifices and their homesickness. And in their loneliness he has met them. Many knew of God, but few knew they could have a living vital relationship with God through his son Jesus.

All praise and glory to God who sent his Son for all peoples, even the most unlikely. AMEN.

Monday, December 27

LUKE 2:22-35

The Holy Spirit Rested on Him

Simeon was a righteous and devout man, looking to the coming Messiah that God had promised. In his daily trusting and obeying the Lord, the Holy Spirit rested on him, revealed God’s plans, and guided him to meet the baby Jesus at the temple. How do we let God, his Spirit, and his Word inhabit our thoughts each day? If anything, God has taught me in these last two years, after my husband almost died from cardiac arrest and then Covid, that God is in control and his Spirit is always at work. Stopping to take the time to read his Word, pray, and in faith wait on him gives us time to meet his Son Jesus in life-changing ways that will sustain us through the hardest of days.

May we be like Simeon. In our daily trust and obedience, let your Spirit rest upon us and reveal and guide us to your Son. AMEN.

Tuesday, December 28

Luke 2:36-38

Worship That Never Stops

Barbara Strom was widowed at 37 and although she had no children, she continued to faithfully teach kindergarten for the Hilmar, California, school district for many years. Like Anna, she served and worshiped the Lord well into old age. After many years of playing the church organ, she finally had to give it up due to bad knees. Well into her 90s she would be seen visiting folks at the elder care home until she herself went home to be with the Lord. I still remember her sharing with me about the new bakery in town and her joy about telling the owners about Jesus. God was enough for both her and Anna. They had both known loss and sorrow, yet they both chose to focus on their Lord and lived lives of caring and interceding for others.

May we be like Anna worshiping you daily, Lord, recognizing your presence in our lives as she did that day in the temple.

Wednesday, December 29

Luke 2:41-52

Never Lost

We lost him. Our son Peter was only four years old. He was right next to us as we ran through the crowded Hong Kong airport. Somehow we were separated by a giant wide pillar, and we thought he ran ahead but he had stopped and turned around. Anxiety and fear gripped us, he was a fast little guy and we needed to catch our flight. Then we found him—what relief. Mary and Joseph looked for three days and finally they found Jesus. They were anxious, and yet Jesus asks them, ”Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (v. 49, NRSV). Jesus was never lost. He was with his Father in his house all the time. Those of us who belong to the Father are never lost.

Lord, there are times when we feel confused and anxious. Thank you we can find refuge in you. AMEN.

Thursday, December 30

Colossians 3:15-17

Be Thankful

It’s easy to complain, yet we are called to “Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (vv. 15-17, NRSV). We were studying Mark 14 and suddenly the Holy Spirit hit me. It was the last supper and Jesus had just told his disciples that someone would betray him. Jesus knew the cross was coming, yet he gives thanks for the bread and the wine, then looking to the future he says, “I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25, NRSV). He knew his Father was in control. Complaining may come easily when we experience changes or difficulties. But in light of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, my suffering, my inconveniences are nothing compared to all Christ suffered for me and you.

Lord, help us to let your costly peace rule in our hearts. Thank you for being the forgiving, merciful God that you are. AMEN.

Friday, December 31

Psalm 98:1-3

The “Big Who”

For years often the focus of my Bible study was, “How do I apply this passage to my life?” But then I heard about the “Big Who” and the “little who.” I was reminded to look for God in Scripture—the “Big Who”— his character, attributes, and what he does. I began to take time to behold him in the text, and not just rush into “What am I (the ‘little who’) going to do in response?” Taking a longer look at the Big Who transformed my life. As I look to him, his marvelous works, his righteousness and steadfast love and faithfulness, I am always given a new song to sing. Suddenly the worries of the world and my inadequacies fade in the light of who God is and makes me want to sing.

Knowing you Jesus….There is no greater thing. You’re my all, you’re the best, you’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love you, Lord (Graham Kendrick, “Knowing You”). Amen.

Saturday, January 1

Psalm 98:4-9

He’s Coming

In the presence of the Lord, the whole earth rejoices and bursts forth with song and music. Even the sea resounds and rivers clap their hands. And why? Because he comes to judge the world with righteousness and the people with equity. No biased judging from the Creator of the universe. No lack of evidence. He sees it all and knows it all. The factory worker will be judged the same as the factory owner. No high-priced lawyer can change the truth.

This psalm reminds us that he is indeed coming and will hold us accountable for what we do with our lives. The holy and righteous God will weigh us on his scales someday and here is the question: Will you be ready? Those clothed in Jesus’s righteousness will be rejoicing with the earth.

Lord, we thank you for your victory over sin and that although you are the ultimate judge you also paid the ultimate price for us. AMEN.

About the Author: Lillian Dwight

Feng Yuan, Taiwan

My husband, Don, and I have enjoyed serving the Lord as Covenant missionaries in Taiwan. For over 25 years we worked at Morrison Christian Academy, a missionary school. We raised five kids in Taiwan who are now all living and working in the States, save for one who teaches in France. Over the last 20 years we have also pastored a church for migrant Filipino factory workers that meets at Feng Yuan Chinese Covenant Church. It has been my pleasure to lead Bible studies at a few factory dormitories, and I enjoy seeing the lives of Filipino brothers and sisters transformed as they grow in the knowledge of God’s love and grace. Besides the people of Taiwan and the Filipinos who work here, I love the beaches of Southern Taiwan, hiking, singing, and playing guitar.

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