Advent Devotionals
December 10, 2018, 7:11 PM

Advent Devotional, December 10, 2018


Advent Devotional

December 10, 2018

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Paul’s famous passage on the God-man nature of Christ reflects Advent and Christmas reality: The Eternal Son who is very God became true man for the purpose of redeeming those who by faith receive Him. It very much correlates to John 1:1ff which stresses the eternality and deity of the Christ as well as His incarnation: becoming a complete man.

This conjoining of Deity and humanity, two natures in one Person, is the true mystery of the incarnation of Jesus within the young virgin, Mary. The Early Church struggled with how to define this reality. The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) produced an affirmation that became the orthodox definition of the complexity of who Jesus is. It ruled against Arius in affirming the full deity of Christ. It ruled against Apollinarius by affirming the full humanity of Christ. It ruled against Nestorius by affirming Christ is one person. It ruled against Eutyches, by affirming that the deity and humanity of Christ remain distinct in the one person.

Later, the complex statement of Chalcedon is nicely summarized in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 21. The incarnation of the Christ Child is:

. . . the act whereby the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, without ceasing to be what he is, God the Son, took into union with himself what he before that act did not possess, a human nature, and so was and continues to be God and man in two distinct natures and one person, forever.

He did this for us, to become “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Father, may we never lose the wonder and amazement that you loved us so much you sent your Son to be our Redeemer. In this holy season, let us remember and rejoice! Amen.




December 7, 2018, 8:00 PM

Advent Devotional December 7, 2018


Advent Devotional

December 7, 2018

 

. . . and in his name the Gentiles will hope. Matthew 12:21

 

Matthew concludes a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah with an interesting textual variant and observation. The promised Messiah who was born on the first advent was to be the hope of the Gentiles. Not only Israelites were to be beneficiaries of Messiah and His coming Kingdom. Gentiles – non-Jews – were to have the redemptive attention and work of God. Hope was not to be grounded in wealth, power, intellect, or any possession. Hope resides in a person: Jesus the Messiah.

 

Because of who this person is, hope becomes something concrete. It is not mere wishful anticipation of a better future, position, or better circumstances. Because hope is focused on a heavenly person and His redemptive purposes, it is a certain anticipation of His promises and care because of who He is.

 

Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is a certain expectation that looks to the character and truthfulness of the one who promised. Hope relies on the character of the one who provides the certainty of what hope looks to. Hope is grounded in the character of the Messiah and in the Faith.

 

What do we hope for? Do we anchor our hope in the Messiah who came and is coming again? Anything less is not a worthy object of hope.

 

Father, if our hope has shifted to temporary things, please help us in this season to renew our hope in Christ and His promises. Amen.




December 6, 2018, 7:00 PM

Advent Devotional, December 6, 2018


Advent Devotional

December 6, 2018

 

. . . Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. . . . Matthew 1:18-24.

 

Today we would say this aspect of the advent of the Messiah was “under-reported.” Only Matthew’s Gospel records Joseph’s decision-making process when it was discovered Mary, his fiancé, was pregnant. And the child was not Joseph’s natural child.

 

Joseph determined to divorce Mary privately instead of publicly to save her from further disgrace. In that era it took a divorce to dissolve an engagement. In his own moment of pain and sorrow he sought to spare Mary. This reveals Joseph had a compassionate heart, indeed. He would no doubt think Mary had cheated on him. His heart must have been broken. But he sought to spare Mary any more difficulty than necessary.

 

Then we see another ministry avenue of God’s messenger – an angel speaking to Joseph in a dream! What an amazingly vivid dream that must have been to motivate Joseph to do what a man would normally not do – marry a pregnant girl and be a father to the child. We learn that the angel commanded Joseph to do so. And this would not be the last time angels would be involved in the development of Jesus the Messiah. For instance, the powerful activities of angels when Messiah wraps up history with sure judgment in the future.

 

Joseph, like Mary, did as he was requested when called upon by God. Will any of us be called on to make this kind of sacrifice? No. The Messiah has come! But it is possible we will be called upon to exhibit their kind of faith and willingness to obey in a lesser role. May that day find our faith strong and our hearts willing.

 

Father, may our compassion be like Joseph’s; our courage like Mary’s, and our faith in you as complete as both of them. Amen.




December 5, 2018, 7:00 PM

Advent Devotional December 5, 2018


Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him. . . The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. . . God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth. . . the angel said to her . . . Luke 1:1, 19, 26, 30

 

It is rare that an angel is identified by name in Scripture. But the announcement of the pending conception of the one who would be known as John the Baptist and the greater announcement that Jesus the Messiah would be born are two occasions where this happened. Two occasions, but the same angel. Why was Gabriel the angel tapped to give these two monumental announcements? And why these two announcements?

 

In both Old and New Testaments he word angel means “messenger”. Gabriel is a heavenly messenger who resides in the very presence of God Himself (v. 19). God sent one close to Himself to make two important announcements. The announcement of the forerunner, John, can be regarded as important for a number of reasons. It would be fair to say John is the last living prophet of the Old Testament. Jesus the Messiah is the guarantee of a New Covenant. The Old Covenant was ending; the New was beginning through the promised Messiah.

 

The angel Gabriel was special. For different reasons Elizabeth, Zacharias and Mary were very special. The parents of the herald of a new era; the parent of the Messiah who ushered in that promised time. One was special because he was a supernatural being; the others because God was choosing to do His greatest work through humble human beings.

 

The most important things here were accomplished not by a mighty angel, but by imperfect people who were willing to be used of God. And in the work of Gospel redemption God does not use powerful angels as His messengers. He uses us.

 

Heavenly Father, while we are amazed you used a mighty angelic messenger to announce the Messiah and His forerunner, we are even more amazed that you used fallible people. Lord, that gives us confidence that you can do eternal work through us, your children and servants. And to you belongs all the glory, amen!




December 4, 2018, 6:03 PM

Advent Devotional 12/4/18


Advent Devotional December 4, 2018

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:31-33

Of all the miracles recorded in the Bible the supernatural conception of Jesus within a virgin with no human father is the most amazing to me. It astonishes me, not because it was a creative miracle of God -- because He is the God of the miraculous. The answer to those who object to a virgin conception of Messiah can be set aside with one word: God. The fact of the Second Person of the Godhead becoming man in this way is also amazing and cannot be minimized. But another factor captures my attention.

As God knows all things perfectly in all ways and at all times, the process and outcome was completely and already known to Him. He did not have to figure it out and carefully weigh each aspect, pondering if it would accomplish what He wished. On the other hand, one person intimately involved in this entire miracle did not have the advantage of complete, timeless knowledge. Mary is that person.

The biblical narrative in Luke chapter one amazes me. Mary, although young, would have to know if she accepted her role as the mother of the Messiah it was almost certain she would become a social outcast – that no one would believe she became pregnant by supernatural power. She risked everything. Nothing is recorded in this context to suggest she was given full assurances as to her well-being, family acceptance, or reputation. She simply said yes – because she knew and trusted that the Lord of the earth always does what is right.

In this Advent Season, may we remember that the heavenly Father may at times call on us to exercise greater faith. But the outcome can be amazing!

Heavenly Father, help us to have faith like the girl Mary who measured the difficulty of the choice by your greatness and not by the difficulty alone. Such faith! May you be pleased that increasingly we also become people of greater faith.

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