An Advent Devotional

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An Advent Devotional

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The Gift of Love

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“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…

During the past three weeks, we have been building up to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  I have really appreciated the time to reflect on God’s Ultimate Gift of Jesus and all it means to us as we wait in anticipation of our Savior.  As we continue this journey of advent, let’s look at how Love fits into our celebration.

This is Love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. -1 John 4:10 

It’s hard to comprehend what that really looks like in the Christmas story.  We all know the story… even a child understands the baby in a manger, but do we really understand?  Really?  Can we actually process the idea of the God of the universe coming to us as a baby?  Because of …Love?

Ann Voskamp, in her book, The Greatest Gift, says it like this…

Our God who breathes stars in the dark-He breathes Bethlehem’s Star, then takes on lungs and breathes in stable air.  We are saved from hopelessness because God came with infant fists and opened wide His hand to take the iron-sharp edge of our sins. 

Our God who forms and delivers the black of the heavens-He waits patiently like an embryo in a womb and delivers Himself to free you.  We are saved from forever pain, because God pierced the dark and came to the pinpoint of us in the universe and took the nails. 

Our God who cradles whole galaxies in the palm of His hand, whom highest heavens cannot contain-He folds Himself into our skin, and He uncurls His newborn fingers in the cradle of a barn feeding trough…and we are saved from ourselves.

We are saved from our loneliness because God is love and He can’t stand to leave us by ourselves, to ourselves.  That is the message of Christmas. We need a Messiah. 

For unto us a Child is born.

God can’t stay away. This is the love story that has been coming for you since the beginning. The God who walked with us in the Garden in the cool of the evening before the Fall shattered our looseness with Him, is the God who came after His people in the pillar of cloud, of fire, because he could not bear to let his people wander alone. He is the God who loves us and likes us and isn’t merely 50 percent or 72.3 percent for us, but the God who is always, unequivocally, 100 percent for us- the God who is so for us that He is the God who chooses to be with us. (Voskamp,138-139,2013)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.  That whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did NOT send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through Him.”  John 3:16 & 17.

And now over Bethlehem, in the Nativity according to Luke, the star hangs high, victorious on a silent night, a holy night. 

Now all is calm.  God comes…God comes quiet….

This night a battle has been waged and won for you.  Love had to come back for you.  Love had to get to you. The Love that has been coming for you since the beginning - He slays dragons for you. This is the truest love story of history, and it’s His-Story, and it’s for you.  This is love you can’t comprehend. You can only feel and touch this kind. There, in the place where you feel rejected, you can be touched by God. There, in the places you feel small, you can touch God. He came in the flesh.  (Voskamp, 234, 2015)

As we continue to prepare for Advent this week, pause to reflect on how immense and incredible God’s Love really is.  How can we show this kind of love to our family, neighbors, co-workers? Pray and ask God to put people in your path who need to be loved, and then go the extra mile and put your faith into action. Praying we all shine His Light brightly into a world who desperately needs a Savior. 

May God Bless you this Christmas, 

-Jodie Lamb 

Advent Reading Plan
Dec. 22 - John 1 3:1-21
Dec. 23 – 2 Corinth 4-5
Dec 24 – Revelation 21
Dec 25 – Luke 2:1-20

 

Posted by Jodie Lamb with

The Gift of Joy

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There was a medical report on CNN that made a simple but powerful claim: People who listen to music, at least once a day, are happier than those who don’t. Music is a powerful medium, especially when you have something worthwhile to sing about or have a message in that song that is really worth listening to and remembering. And there is no better time to put this into practice than the Christmas season.

The early church recognized this. In the year, 130 AD (about 35 years after the apostle John finished writing the last book of the Bible, “Revelation” there was a church leader by the name of Telephorus. He suggested that whenever we read a Scripture about the birth of Christ we should also sing a song that goes along with that Scripture. The singing will reinforce the message. It will take what we have read and learned and anchor it more deeply in our soul. It will also double our joy as we celebrate what God has done for us. Telephorus reminded his congregation that this is what God did in Luke 2. When He told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus, He put angels in the sky. One made the announcement and gave all the details so they could see the baby for themselves; but then the rest of “the heavenly host” began to sing. The music magnified the moment and compelled the shepherds to make a response. Through both word and song God enshrined the glory and joy of His announcement deep in the shepherd’s hearts.

Of all seasons we celebrate, Christmas is particularly a time for joy. Yes, disappointment is as common as the air we breathe. You long for someone to say something and they never do. You hope for something to satisfy and it falls short of your expectations. Friends forget to stay in touch. Plans are cancelled. A member of the family lets you down. Tragedy strikes and way too often we go to bed with an ache in our heart. But the “good news of great joy” that the angels shared with the shepherds is not the “good news” of Billy getting a B on his report card or cousin Johnny sewing up a reservation for our favorite camping spot at the state park. This joy is not found in what we have. This joy is found in Who has us! It is the promise that those who are living in darkness will see a great light. A Savior has been born and He can save “all people” from their sins. And, because this joy is found in God Himself and what He alone can do for us, there is nothing that can take that joy away. Even when the mailbox is empty and the doctor’s prognosis is not good.

What if God had come to Bethlehem and brought a cure for cancer? We would rejoice and celebrate the good news. But it would only be good news for some, not for all. What about those with heart problems and diabetes and Alzheimer’s?

What if God had come to Bethlehem to announce the end of all wars? There would be jubilation all over the world. Now all the men and women in the military could come home. But what about world hunger and poverty and the 4,000 children who die every day because they don’t have clean water to drink?

When the angels appeared in the sky and announced the birth of Jesus, their announcement wasn’t just for the shepherds; it was “for all the people” (Luke 2:10). God came to Bethlehem with the greatest gift of all, “a Savior has been born for you” (Luke 2:11) because we all need Jesus. So, in the midst of all our disappointments, we still have a reason to sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”

-David Bourne

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