Advent Devotional-Thursday, December 5, 2019

Matthew 21:23-32

Jesus went into the temple and upon his arriving he began to teach.  The teaching at this point we don’t know about what Jesus was teaching.  The chief priests and the elders don’t like what he is teaching and so they question Jesus, “by what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”  Because they had their perspective in mind and not God.  Jesus asks a question he later answers, “The baptism of John, from where did it come?  From heaven or from man?”  They are afraid to answer so they say they don’t know.

Jesus tells a parable of two sons demonstrating the actions and not the words true example of faithfulness.  It is also a parable of changing of minds and hearts.

Jesus tells the chief priests that even prostitutes and tax collectors will go into the kingdom of God before them.  Why?  They believed John came in the way of righteousness.  He was connected to Jesus and was preparing the way for “The Way.”  Jesus tell them even after they saw John and had proof, they did not believe.

What do you believe about Jesus?  Do you believe he is God’s Son and a righteous Savior?  It’s not too late to change your mind.

Advent Devotional-Wednesday, December 4, 2019

2 Peter 1:16-21

We are reminded that the author was not merely a hearer of the word but was an actual eyewitness to the majesty of Christ.

He was there when John the Baptist, baptized Jesus.  He also heard the voice of God from heaven proclaiming that “this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Early in the ministry of Jesus we hear the testimony of God concerning his son.  There were eyewitnesses.  It was the same voice that was heard again on the holy mountain when they received these words again and see Jesus transfigured before them.  In his glorified state they worship.

Then he speaks of the prophecy, the prophecy is given by God not by man.  The things that happened that they saw were spoken first in prophecy and so it is a confirmation of what God has spoken through the Prophets is true and revealed in Peter’s viewing and hearing.  Since the prophecies had been seen as coming to fulfillment in Peter’s time means they are true, and he knows it.

Whatever prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled should be paid attention to, because at God’s appointed time they will also be fulfilled.  Have you been looking for the return of Christ?  As we celebrate his first coming, so too, we look forward to his return.

Advent Devotional-Tuesday, December 3, 2019

2 Peter 1:3; 5-9

Through God’s divine power he has given all things needed for life and godliness, not of our own merit, rather through Jesus Christ.  It is our knowledge of him that we are called to his own glory and excellence.  What a wonderful gift!

The maturing believer follows a pattern outlined here in scripture.  We should make every effort to grow in our faith with virtue.  Faith is the beginning of the journey, then move toward virtue.  Virtue is about the heart and character.  From virtue to knowledge where the desire to learn and grow increase.  From knowledge to self-control, this is a time when either from false confidence or freedom that control is needed.  Self-control is coupled with steadfastness.  If you only occasionally practice self-control, then it is not really controlled it is the exception rather than the rule.  It is that steadfastness that leads to godliness, godliness without brotherly affection can become legalistic or haughty.  The culmination of which is love.  It is both the culmination and motivation.

“Christ’s love compels us…” and it is in these qualities that we increase in effectiveness and fruitfulness in the knowledge of Christ.  Those who lack these qualities are so nearsighted as to be blind, forgetting the cleansing of their former sins, because they are no longer growing in Christ.  Continue to walk in “The Way.”

Advent Devotional-Monday, December 2, 2019

I Thessalonians 5:1-11

The Day of the Lord will come when we least expect.  There will be people who will put their confidence in the state of the world saying that “peace and security” will reign.  The day will come quickly, and many will be confused.  Although we may not know “the” day, we do know the day is coming.

As children of light, children of the day we should stay awake and alert.  Each year as we enter the Advent Season we reflect on the coming of Christ into the world at his birth and also, we anticipate the second Advent, his return in power and glory.  So, we are children of the light and have knowledge of this happening and are to remain clear headed, vigil, and in anticipation of that return.  Don’t listen to the voices that say it’s not going to happen.

Instead guard our hearts with the breastplate of faith and love and guard our minds with the helmet of the hope of salvation.  Here’s the great news, “God has not destined us for wrath; but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”  It is what Christ accomplished at this first coming that will prepare us to receive him at his second coming.  Therefore, encourage and build one another up.  The news is still good, and we can encourage one another together until he brings us together home.  Keep looking, praying, and encouraging.

Advent Devotional-Sunday, December 1, 2019

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,

And order all things, far and nigh:

To us thy path of knowledge show,

And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations,

bind All peoples in one heart and mind;

Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;

Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Words: Jason Neale, Henry Coffin

Advent Devotional 2019 Introduction

Advent is a season of expectation and anticipation of the coming of Christ into the world.  This year the Advent Devotional will feature Hymn texts on the weekends, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Night.  You are invited to reflect on the words of these hymns as I pray the joy of each fills your hearts.

Each day there is a passage of scripture of and a guided thought.  It may be helpful to journal and pray ask the Lord to provide additional insights and help each of us to live for Him during this season and throughout the new year ahead.

God bless you as we look forward to the birth of Christ our newborn King!

The Hopes and Fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight

When I see these words from the O Little Town of Bethlehem I am struck by their expression of the tension of faith.  There is always in our faith as believers a tension between what it is, that we hope for and also the fear that our faith won’t meet our hopes.  At the time of Jesus’ birth there had been nearly four hundred years since the last word from God through a prophet.  Then the first word was not actually a word, but the Word, become flesh.  There was not a word by cries and coos.  God sent the Word.

I can only imagine the hopes of the people deferred for centuries.  The fears that maybe God had grown silent, distant, or unconcerned.  While this tension is real, God was doing just the opposite.  God was not becoming silent, distant, or unconcerned, rather God was writing the story in the stars, becoming personal in Jesus, and showing love through God’s great gift of Jesus. The place of this humble miraculous birth was the town of Bethlehem.  The name of the town Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  God has provided the Bread of Life, in Jesus.

The name Immanuel means God with Us, and Jesus means He will Save.  The hopes and fears, the tension of all of creation, human longing, and faith are found in Jesus.  As we are in the season of Advent now two thousand years since Jesus’ was physically on earth.  Are there hopes of his return? Yes!  Are there fears that our faith is unfounded, and Jesus is not coming back?  Yes!  When we look to this little town of Bethlehem, we are able to see in that quite unexpected place, the hopes and fears of all the years were met in thee tonight.

Hold on dear friend God sent His Son and we know that God is faithful.  God did it before and promises to send Jesus back again.  We are hopeful and fearful, but let’s always remain faithful.  In God’s time Christ will return and the hopes and fears of all the years will be realized.  There will no longer be a deferred hope or fear of God’s silence, distance, or unconcern.  There will be hope realized and fears relinquished as the hopes and fears of all of the years will be met in Christ.  Remain faithful through the tension of hopes and fears, for God is with us.