Advent Devotionals
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December 20, 2017, 8:58 PM

Advent Devotional #12

Advent Devotional 12/20/17

The Promise of Perfect Divinity

 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

John tells us the eternal Word became flesh. The Word is also “God who is at the Father’s side”. Make no mistake about it: that baby who lay in the manger on that Advent morning is no mere human being who would become a great teacher and a model for loving behavior. He is no mere created being who did not exist before His conception and birth. His divine nature existed eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is God the only Son. His humanity had a beginning. It began with His conception and birth. His divinity exists eternally and had no beginning. Exactly how God brought all of this into being is what we call a mystery – something that cannot be explained apart from God’s revelation in Scripture. It is entirely unique.

We have nothing of any variety that we can compare with the incarnation and birth of the Messiah. He is both eternal infinite God and finite man in one person. As the great creeds tell us, He has two natures in one person without separation but without admixture. One holy Person with one center of consciousness – but with a fully intact human nature and a fully divine eternally existing nature. No wonder John said, “we have seen his glory . . .”

Father, your Son who came to save us is amazing. We have no one who is His peer on earth. Thank you that you sent your Son, born of a woman, sinless in life, crucified for our sins, raised for our justification. Your wisdom is to be praised forever! Amen.

December 15, 2017, 12:53 PM

Advent Devotional #11

Advent Devotional 12/15/17

The Promise of Powerful Praise

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

After the angel surrounded by the visible glory of God announced the birth of Jesus another group of heavenly beings appear. Who are they? They are a “multitude of the heavenly host”. This sounds like it is simply a large choir of angels singing. It is not merely that – although that would be magnificent, indeed. These are the “host” -- militaristic angels. Warriors. Supernatural warriors – and not a choir sized group. This is a vast army of heavenly beings. An army. A massive, massive army!

This is the vast army of the Great King – the King who is the incarnate Son of God, the promised greater son of David who will sit on an everlasting throne -- the one who was just born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. In the Book of Revelation we see heavenly beings whose function is to continually offer up praise to God. Here a heavenly army praises God and announces peace. The key point is they worship because Messiah has come. Amazingly powerful angelic warriors’ first response to the birth is worship.

Were they there to provide protection against malevolent forces that could threaten the baby God-man? The Scriptures do not tell us. It is only written that they gave full-throated praise to God.

It is perhaps appropriate to ask: if massive numbers of angelic warriors worshipped because the Christ arrived, should we order our thoughts and hearts to do the same? I would suggest that, yes, the Advent season should be immersed in our personal and corporate worship! May that be our response!

Father, your very powerful army of angels worshiped at the coming of the Messiah. May we do the same.

"Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength                                                                                                                                                                    To serve the King of Kings."

May our hearts and thoughts intentionally find time and occasion to give you glory in the highest because your Son has come. Amen.

December 14, 2017, 8:39 PM

Advent Devotional #10

Advent Devotional 12/14/17

The Promise of Humility

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 

Many of us have children who at Christmas were in plays and pageants about the Inn, stable and manger. For those with children this is quintessentially “Christmas.” Baby Jesus lying in a manger with cattle lowing in the background. But there are more things worthy of consideration. Joseph was of the line of King David. This is important in establishing that Jesus was legally of the line of David, so that Matthew wrote, “. . . the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David . . .”. Messiah was to serve as the “greater son” of David, legitimately the one to sit on the throne of David at the end of the age. The coming of the Messiah ushered in the fulfillment of promise that begins the multiplex and chronological launching of the end of the age.

The humble birth is stunning. In our hospital age of potential infection and germs in unsanitary conditions it is hard for us to grasp a child being born in an animal shed – not to mention this child was the incarnate Second Person of the Godhead! The words of Philippians, “He humbled Himself” are important to remember. Humility marked His life following the Advent. Humility marked His public ministry. He never demanded preferential treatment or the best of anything. This should give us pause.

Are we ever treated in a manner that we feel is beneath us? The Messiah in His birth gives an amazing example. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not mind a motel six instead of the Plaza. He settles for very humble circumstances. Advent reminds us to reject inclinations toward preferential treatment and moves us toward preferring others. Advent encourages humility.

Father, help us to resist the temptation to elevate ourselves. Help us to be content to allow honorifics to come from you and flow toward others. Help us never to forget how our Savior accepted humble circumstances while elevating and blessing others. May we do the same. Help us to be content with whatever blessing you bring our way.

December 13, 2017, 7:54 PM

Advent Devotional #9

Advent Devotional 12/13/17

The Promise of Heavenly Messengers

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

Fifteen times in the first two chapters of his Gospel Luke references an “angel”. It is important to note that these two chapters are the extended events associated with the birth narrative about Jesus the Messiah. Only the Book of Revelation mentions angels more (75 times) than Luke’s Gospel (24 times). The word “angel” means “messenger”.  Angels are frequently portrayed as representing God and His purposes.

The angels in the birth narratives of Jesus communicated a powerful message: essentially that the Christ is God in the flesh for the purpose of redeeming alienated mankind. They are such awesome beings that frequently their appearance produces fear. And not just fear, but “great fear”. We tend to think of them in the common culture as gossamer, kind and gentle, effecting wonder and benevolent awe. But in truth, many of them are fearsome supernatural warriors with abilities and powers that boggle the imagination. The Father decided to make a powerful impression when announcing the conception and birth of Messiah.

There is no information to provide an answer, but I wonder if the announcing angels wondered why God brought the holy child and King of Kings and Lord of Lords into such humble circumstances? There is no hint of that in their pronouncements. Rather, the focus is on the reality of “God with us”, “Peace on earth” and redemption. I think we can infer that they, knowing God intimately, trusted His purposes passionately, and communicated the intent of God clearly. At the birth of Messiah Luke 2:13 also records how passionately they worshipped. They communicated clearly and worshipped deeply. A great combination.

Father, we pause to remember that on occasion you used heavenly messengers. The birth of our Lord accompanied by angelic glory. We remember that they were your messengers who faithfully conveyed your salvation and redemption in Christ. May we do the same. In Jesus name, Amen.

December 12, 2017, 12:51 PM

Advent Devotional #8

Advent Devotional 12/12/17

The Promise of Devoted Faith

When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” . . . When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

The history given in the Scriptures of the conception and birth of Messiah is filled with wonder and miracle, faith and hope. Of the people spotlighted in this history one stands out as utterly exceptional. Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, was clearly a man of great faith and godly devotion.

We marvel at Joseph for numerous reasons -- but especially for his faith which moved him to concrete action. In Israel of this era an engagement to marriage was binding. To cancel it Joseph would have to obtain something very similar to a divorce. No small thing. There is more. Where sexual infidelity existed the Law allowed for the death of the offender by stoning. The offender would have rocks thrown at them until they died. Serious business, indeed. But Joseph determined in his heart to put Mary away privately. He wished to spare her further humiliation even though he believed she was guilty. He did not want her to experience shame. This reveals him to be a kind and compassionate man.

As he sleeps an angel of the Lord appears to him with assurances about the holy child. That must have been some amazing, powerful dream! It convinced Joseph to proceed with the marriage. In doing so much of his character as a godly man of faith is revealed. He became the step-father to the Messiah, provided a spiritual model for the young Jesus, and no doubt provided spiritual training. He taught Him to be a carpenter. He was there for the supernaturally conceived Son of God. He walked as a man of faith. We don’t know if he ever had doubts or second thoughts. The Scriptures only point us to his important role for the Christ child. Amazing faith!

Father, we marvel at the faith and commitment of Joseph who willingly provided fatherhood to Messiah. When we are called on to do something difficult may we by faith also do the right thing. In Jesus name, Amen.

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