23

DEC

PSALM 126 A PEOPLE WHO DREAM

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ 3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

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22

DEC

ACTS 16:25-34 A JAILER IS FILLED WITH JOY

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31 They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole household.

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21

DEC

PSALM 63:1-8 IN GOD’S PRESENCE I SING FOR JOY

1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.

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20

DEC

LUKE 1:46B-55 MARY’S SONG OF PRAISE

46 And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants for ever, just as he promised our ancestors.’

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19

DEC

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24 A CALL TO REJOICE

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

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18

DEC

ISAIAH 61:1-4, 8-11 GOOD NEWS OF DELIVERANCE

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

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17

DEC

JOHN 1:6-8,19-28 JOHN'S WITNESS TO THE LIGHT

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ 21 They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ 22 Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’ 24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptise if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ 26 ‘I baptise with[[c](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1%3A6-8%2C19-28&version=NIVUK#fen-NIVUK-26071c)] water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

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16

DEC

PSALM 85:1-2, 8-13 A PRAYER FOR GOD'S PEACE

1 You, Lord, showed favour to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. 8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants – but let them not turn to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. 10 Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. 12 The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. 13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

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15

DEC

MALACHI 3:1-4 GOD PROMISES A MESSENGER

3 ‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

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