This Devotional has been a labor of love and has been part of a personal journey of mine toward the celebration of Christ’s birth. I want to thank each of you for following this journey with me and hope it has blessed your days as you also anticipate the birth of Christ and look forward to his coming again. God bless each of you as you celebrate Christ’s love with one another.
Rev. Greg Soult, Pastor
Antioch Baptist Church, Sandston, VA
1 John 4:7-16
7 Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
“As he is so are, we in the world” because we are his so should we be in the world. Be love.
Micah 4:1-5, 5:2-4
In those last days people will gather together at the house of the Lord. The purpose of the gathering is that the Lord may teach us his ways. People gather for many reasons, but his gathering is so that they may be taught the ways of the Lord. Learning his ways would be pointless if we don’t walk in them.
He is also coming righteous judge between nations. Because he and his judgments are righteous there will be no disputes. They will exchange swords for farm equipment and spears for fishing poles. The nations will not fight or go to war with other nations, but instead will lay down their weapons of destruction and study or practice war no more. They can attend to their land and not be afraid.
Where? In Bethlehem the smallest of the places. Out of Bethlehem will come the ruler, who is ancient of days. Bethlehem means “house of bread” from the house of bread, come the “bread of life.”
He shall stand and shepherd the flock, in strength and majesty. Because the good shepherd is here, we shall dwell secure.
I hope we can all celebrate a lasting peace, a righteous judge, and a good shepherd. May we gather to learn his ways and walk in “The Way!”
Late December is the darkest time of the year. All throughout Advent we have experienced a building of light as we look expectantly toward the coming of Christ. We ourselves have been lighting candles each of the last four weeks building the light of Jesus and now the culmination tonight with the lighting of the Christ Candle. Truly, we can say, “Arise, shine, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
The world is dark but hold on and hold out for hope. Light is on its way. There will be a restoration of hope and promise of a future because of Jesus Christ. At his birth and in his early life he was honored a king. Bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The arrival of good news and praises of the Lord flow. The long-awaited, long-expected Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ is here.
Today many anticipated Christmas, but far too many for the wrong reasons. It is easy to get caught up in consumerism. Tinsel, trees, treats, and lights. Looking for gifts and glitter rather than the true light the light that is life to all. While we celebrate, let us be reminded we celebrate the light that gives life. May we give our hearts to the newborn king.
Mary and Joseph were engaged but not married yet. Before they had been with one another, Mary was found with child from the Holy Spirit. Imagine the scandal that would surround this young couple. Mary had received a word from the Lord but at this point Joseph was confused and hurt. Not sure what to make of his bride-to-be, being pregnant. Imagine the ridicule she would have faced. Imagine how foolish he would look if he remained betrothed to her. He loved her still and didn’t want to put her to additional shame, so he considered breaking off their engagement, in their day this was equivalent to a divorce.
Then the angel also appeared to him. The angel said to not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, this was God’s doing. The angel also gives the names and purpose of this child in the world. Jesus meaning “he will save” his people, and also the prophecy stating, “behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel, which means God with us.
When Joseph woke, he did as the angel of the Lord said. Mary became his wife, but he didn’t know her until gave birth. Joseph’s costly faithfulness supported Mary and God was with us and came to save. Thank you for courageous and faithful people like Joseph and Mary.
What’s in a name? A name tells us about that person. It gives us a way to identify them and remember their legacy, but it also tells us about who their family connections are. Here in Matthew’s gospel we see the lineage of Jesus through Joseph. This line goes all the way back to Abraham. However, from the view of the world most thought Joseph was Jesus’ father, but it was really God through the Holy Spirit.
There is also an account of Jesus’ lineage in Luke 3:23-38. Many scholars belief this line is traced through his mother Mary. This line goes back further revealing Jesus’ true identity, past Abraham, to Adam, and to God. This was to fully conclude that Jesus was through the line of David, and to God. There are the miraculous circumstances like Jesus being born of a virgin, through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. His cousin John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth in her old age.
The appearance of the divine messages and messengers in the form of dreams and angels, telling the people who this child was and is. What is the answer to “what child is this?” It’s in a name. He shall be called Immanuel meaning “God with us” and Jesus meaning “He will save.” Paul puts it this way, “therefore God highly exalted him and bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
The Spirit wasn’t given because the people were faithful to the law, but because they had faith in Jesus. In the same way the Spirit isn’t going to grow into maturity in us because we do good works. The one who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles does so not by the law but by faith through the Spirit. Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
The righteous shall live by faith. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. The curse was taken care of in Jesus.
The hymn “Joy to the World” has a line that says, “far as the curse is found.” The victory found in King Jesus abolished the curse “far as” or “wherever” the curse is found. Victory from the law of condemnation of sin and death is found, met, and made free in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
O Come Let Us Adore Him! Adore not only the infant, but the crucified, resurrected Savior, and the King coming again. In faith, not works, the curse is found, met, and destroyed. That truly is Joy to the World.