Advent Devotional-Saturday, December 21, 2019

Angles We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply
echoing their joyous strains:

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
which inspire your heav’nly song? [Refrain]

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the new-born King. [Refrain]

See Him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels sing;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise. [Refrain]

Words:  Traditional French Carol

Advent Devotional-Friday, December 20, 2019

John 1:1-14

John’s gospel ties in the fact that Jesus was God’s Son and with God from the beginning. God’s word brought forth all of creation. In the Word was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus is God, Jesus is the Word and pre-existing before time and history. All creation came through the Word. In him was life, and from that life all life began. His light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Those who receive the Word, believed in his name, he gave the night to be children of God. The Word was not born of blood but of the Spirit. Since the Word was not born of blood or conceived by man, those who he will save will become children of God. Children not born of blood or will of man, or will of flesh, but of God. Meaning it’s not our choice or choosing, but God is the initiator.

Then the Word became flesh. What was in the Spirit now takes shape in the flesh. He made his dwelling among us. Truly, God with us, Immanuel. What do we know of this great gift? He is the glorious one, the only Son of the Father. He was full of grace and truth. When we see the glory of Christ, we see the fullest picture of grace and truth. What a great gift that we can be born again of the Spirit, for the Spirit if life.

Advent Devotional-Thursday, December 19, 2019

Matthew 1:18-25

The scandal of grace is now recorded in scripture. Mary was engaged to Joseph and before they came together as husband and wife, she became pregnant. The scripture tells us it was from the Holy Spirit, but at first Joseph didn’t know that. Imagine the anguish he must have felt. He must have been hurt, wondering what others may say about her and about him. Scandalous indeed but he loved her and wanted to protect her from any further shame thought to divorce her quietly.

Before he could do this an angel of the Lord, a messenger appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Imagine his surprise, how is this even possible? How could this be true? But if it is and this is God’s work, then Mary was faithful to God and to her husband.

Moreover, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for his will save his people from their sins.” This son will save his people. This child is not a burden for them, but a blessing for the world. He fulfilled prophecy, “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 commanded! He took his wife but knew her not until she gave birth to Jesus. He followed Mary’s faithfulness to God by taking her as his wife he was also faithful to God. The scandal of grace is also God’s miraculous gift.

Advent Devotional-Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Over the last several days we have reflected on the return of Christ, the signs of those times, and the unexpected hour. Zephaniah tells of joy and restoration. We hear the words, sing, rejoice, and exult, because the Lord has taken away the judgments against you. This is a reason to celebrate and in fact the judgments weren’t just taken away but paid in full in Jesus. He has cleared away our enemies and the last great enemy, death.

The King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst; and you shall never again fear evil. This is the celebration we spoke of on Christ the King Sunday. Contrast this joy of the presence of God with the mourning of those who do not want or expect God to be there. For believers and in particular those in persecution for His name sake this isn’t just good news, it’s great news! Fear not, don’t let your hands grow weak. Do not grow weary of doing good, for God is in your midst.

He is the mighty one who will save. God knows how much you love him. Listen to what the scripture says concerning God’s personal affection and protection of us. God will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you by His love, and exult over you with loud singing. I personally am struck by the phrase, “He will quiet you by his love.” The noisy restless heart of worry will be quieted by the love of God over us. God too, rejoices over you with gladness, quiets you with love, and celebrates over us with loud singing. Do you feel the master’s joy, experience His love?

Advent Devotional-Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Matthew 24:36-44

We must be ready for Christ’s return. Know that it will happen, but we don’t know the day, hour, or time it will happen. Sadly, even if we did there would be many who would procrastinate, trying to live for themselves rather than look for the moment. The scripture say no one knows, not the angels, not even the Son. But the Father is the only who knows.

Jesus gives us examples, people were going about their lives, eating, drinking, managing and going about all of their daily lives and celebrations in the shadow of Noah building the Ark, then came the rain, and they were swept away. He speaks of field workers, and mill workers. One will be taken and the other left. Adding if the head of the house knew what hour of the night the thief was coming that they would have stayed alert. Since we don’t know- stay alert.

The main point here is clearly not about who is going and who is left behind. The focus and point is to be aware, alert, preparing, and expecting his return. You may not know the day or hour, but you can prepare yourself as you go about life. Understanding that reality is always before us. To not prepare would be folly and we would be caught by surprise. How are you preparing your heart and life for Christ so that at His return, we will be filled with hope and joy? Live each day as this could be the day!

Advent Devotional-Monday, December 16, 2019

Matthew 24:29-31

Immediately after the non-tribulation of those days other natural phenomena will take place. The sun will go dark, moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven. When we consider this, it makes sense. For if the sun is not shining, there will be no moon, because it merely reflects the sun.

It seems amazing after all these details in scripture that people would recognize and not be surprised at his return. In our desire to want immediate gratification an immediate response that God’s timing may feel like a delay. In this prolonged time of waiting we may be tempted to become comfortable or complacent. We should remain aware, expectant and hopeful, knowing that Christ will return. When He does, we will be ready.

There is no room in the inn, because there was no expectation of his arrival. Are we preparing room in our hearts for his arrival? Waiting need not be boring, in fact it can be quite busy. When the sign of the Son of Man appears, it will be too late. All the tribes will mourn; for they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and glory.

However, to the elect, the faithful, to those who are waiting at the sound of the trumpet they will all be gathered. Are we comfortable, complacent, or expecting his coming? He’s coming again!

Advent Devotional-Sunday, December 15, 2019

Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Words:  Charles Wesley, George Whitefield