Day 25: Jesus, The Light of the World

Read Isaiah 60,61, John 8:12-30, and 1 John 1

“Arise, shine for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising…
The sun shall be no more your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light.”

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

(After listening to Rejoice The Lord Is King, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Hallelujah…” and “Amen…”)

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Day 24: Joseph, the Carpenter

Read Isaiah 9:1-7 and Matthew 1, 13:53-57

Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke in parables? Maybe like me, you’ve been told that parables are a type of illustration to help people understand a difficult concept by using examples from every day life. But Matthew 13:34,35 offers a different explanation, “All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet; ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” Wow. The foundation of the world was a pretty long time ago. And these secrets that Jesus spoke had been hidden since then. Why?

Earlier in the chapter, the disciples had asked Jesus the same question. “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Jesus brings up the secrets then, too. “To you has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” If they did see, and hear, and understand, Jesus says, quoting the prophet Isaiah, I would turn, and I would heal them.”

Jesus wasn’t employing a practical teaching method with the aim of reaching the masses. The masses were prophetically blind, deaf and dull. But to those, like the disciples, whose eyes had been opened and to whose hearts it was given to understand, the great secrets of the ages were opened and the treasures were brought out, both “what is new and what is old.”

“When Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “where did this man get the wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?… Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and in his own household.”

This son of Joseph, the carpenter, whose birth into Joseph’s family was a fulfillment of what was spoken of by the prophets,  whose astonishing teachings were the fulfillment of what was spoken by the prophets, was later betrayed and arrested “that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”  This son of Joseph, the carpenter would then be nailed to a wooden cross and suffer the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unbelief.  This son of Joseph, the carpenter, would rise from the dead and ascend the throne as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Do you know this son of Joseph, the carpenter?

(After singing Angels We Have Heard On High, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “There were shepherds…And lo, the angel of the Lord…And the angel said unto them…” and “Glory to God...”)

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Day 23: In Mary’s Heart

Read Isaiah 7:10-16 and Luke 1:26-38, 46-55, and 2:1-20

Well, we’ve finally made it out of the Old Testament and into the New :). Or so we think. Just as the Old Testament is written to point us to the Christ, Luke’s gospel announces the Christ by pointing us back to the prophets. When the angel Gabriel appears to poor, unsuspecting Mary, he issues forth 7 crucial pieces of information, all of them echos of Old Testament scripture:
1. “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” (Isaiah 7:14)
2. “You shall call his name Jesus [which means Savior].” (Joel 2:32)
3. “He will be great.” (Malachi 1)
4. “He will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Daniel 3:8-4:3)
5. “The Lord God will give him the house of his father, David.” (Isaiah 9:1-7)
6. “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.” (Jeremiah 30)
7. “And of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Psalm 89:1-37)

Out of all these bits of news only one seems questionable to Mary. “How can this be since I am a virgin?” she asks the angel, obviously referring to statement #1. To answer her question in a round-about way he gives her a vague account of the process she’s about to undergo which will result in her child being holy and the Son of God. In an apparent attempt to reassure her, Gabrielle informs Mary that barren old Aunt Elizabeth was going to have a baby as well. This seems to do the trick. Mary must have thought, “well if Old Aunty Elizabeth can be with child I guess a virgin like me can be pregnant too!” “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord,” she replies confidently, “let it be to me according to your plan.” A subsequent visit to said Aunty inspires Mary’s praise song,

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Well if that isn’t just dripping with Old Testament references!  And right in the middle, is this gem, “he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.”  What was going on in Mary’s own heart throughout this spectacular drama? Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  What a contrast!  The proud, God scatters in the the thoughts of their hearts, but the humble are given treasure to store up in theirs.  Judging from Mary’s responses and words of praise, she already had a storehouse of scripture stored up in her heart, but oh the riches she was heaping up in those moments!

It’s little wonder that God was ensuring a rich storehouse for her in light of what was come.  When Jesus was presented to Simeon in the temple, it was prophesied to Mary that through the piercing of her own heart, “the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”  Oh that the death of Christ would work to reveal in our own hearts a love for Him, a storehouse of treasure from His word, and a humble rejoicing in God our Savior.

(After singing O Holy Night, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold a virgin shall conceive…O thou that tallest good tidings…”Arise…”)

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Day 22: Josiah Brings Out The Book

Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-21 and John 1:1-18

When young King Josiah opened The Book to be read in the hearing of all the people, he was in essence turning on the light. His heart had been softened to the Lord and he was willing that the darkness there be exposed to the penetrating light of the Word. So penetrating was it that he fell on his face in repentance. That’s just the nature of God’s Word. And when that very Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among men, the hearts that were softened in His presence could respond no differently.

This time, The Word came not as the law given through Moses, but as the fulfillment of the law and all of the prophets. Jesus came as the fullness of grace and truth. Grace upon grace.  Light of life.  The glory as of the only Son from the Father.  All this was made known to the world but was neither recognized nor received.  “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know Him.”

But there were those, born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God, whose hearts were tender like those of that young king, who humbled themselves when they heard the word, who fell on their faces when faced with The Word, who believed in His name and were given the right to become children of God. WERE GIVEN THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD.  

In the darkness we inhabit, we are children of wrath, without any rights at all.  But on us A LIGHT HAS SHOWN!  It’s all laid out for us right there in His excellent word!  We need only repent, believe in His name, and be born of God.

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes;         that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

(After singing How Firm a Foundation, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “For behold darkness… and The people who walked in darkness…”)

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Day 21: Hezekiah’s Righteous Act

Read 2 Kings 18:1-12 and John 3:1-21

Those stubborn people, impatient in their desert wanderings, were complaining again. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Cue the fiery serpents. Cue the rising death toll. Cue the cry for mercy. Cue the intercessor. Cue the answer to prayer, yet another provision from a loving, faithful God. “Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”

By the time Hezekiah took the throne in Judah, the people had quite forgotten God’s merciful provision, His faithfulness and love, and were worshipping the bronze serpent itself. Cue the righteous king who breaks the icon into pieces.

And then comes a man named Nicodemus asking questions of the Christ. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” O Nicodemus, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” He’s still confused. This teacher of of Israel, just doesn’t get it. “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” O Nicodemus, believe this, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Cue the most quoted verse in all of scripture,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn he world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Cue. The. Light.

(After singing When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Thy rebuke hath broken…” “Behold and see if there be…” “He was cut off… But thou didst not leave…”)

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Day 20: Jehoshaphat’s Courage

Read 2 Chronicles 17 and Hebrews 11:32-12:29

There’s this one little verse in the account of Jehoshaphat that brings color to his whole history.  “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.”  Under his reign, Judah became a strongly fortified land, so fortified that the surrounding kingdoms lived in fear of the Lord. Jehoshaphat appointed judges and commanded them to “deal courageously” with the people. Perhaps his greatest act of courage came when a great multitude rose up out of Edom, and Jehoshaphat was afraid. But in his fear he “set his face to seek the Lord” and he prayed.

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?
You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.
In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you…
If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgement, or pestilence, or famine,
we will stand before this house and before you in our affliction,
and you will hear and save…
WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO, BUT OUR EYES ARE ON YOU.”

The Lord’s answer to that courageous prayer was in these words,

“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde,
for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them…
Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord.”

What the Israelites saw was the enemy turn against itself and wipe itself out.
While the army of Judah did nothing but sing.

It’s a story of courage that fits perfectly in the Hebrews 11 account of those,
“who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises,
stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword,
were made strong out weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…”

But in these same heroic annals were listed those who were
“tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword…”

How could such a courage exist? The author of Hebrews echos the prayer of Jehoshaphat when he too, says one need only to “LOOK TO JESUS.” Only in considering the One who has founded and perfected our faith, endured the cross, despised it’s shame and is now seated at the right hand of God can we find the courage to resist sin, endure discipline, and strive for peace and holiness.  Hebrews 12 ends with the following call to courageous worship.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us off to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

“Did we in our own strength confidence, our striving would be losing,                                        were not the right Man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing:                                       Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus, it is He;                                                                    Lord Sabbath His name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.”

(After singing A Mighty Fortress is Our God, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Thus saith the Lord…” and “Why do the nations rage so furiously...”)

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Day 19: Asa’s Gifts

Read 1 Kings 15:9-24 and Matthew 2

It’s strange, isn’t it? How little we know about the wise men from the east who came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is he who is born the king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and we have come to worship him.” Who were they and where exactly were they from and how did they know about the Messiah and that a star would show them the way to Him? So few details and yet Matthew is careful to record that whoever these mysterious men were, they brought gifts, and particularly gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They worshiped the Christ and then they were gone, back to wherever they came from, never mentioned in scripture again.

Their exit ushers in the very worst kind of horror. King Herod, upset by the Magi’s inquiries made some of his own and discovered from the chief priests and scribes that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. So he set out to murder every male baby around there. But having been warned in a dream, Joseph and Mary have taken Jesus and escaped into the wilderness of Egypt. It is here that Matthew inserts a quote from Jeremiah 31:15,

“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”

I had to ask some of my more scholarly friends about the significance of Ramah and was pointed to Genesis 35 and 1 Samuel 10. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin as they are journeying from Bethel to Ephrath (Bethlehem). Her tomb, or at least a memorial to her near Ramah, was the meeting place of Saul and the what-was-lost-has-been-found-messengers of 1 Samuel 10. Moving on to the Oak of Tabor Saul was met with 3 men bearing perishable gifts of meat, bread and wine. Finally after running into a group of prophets the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon Saul and he was “turned into another man,” given “another heart,” and subsequently proclaimed King of Israel. Samuel points out that all of this was because the Israelites had “rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and distresses, and you have said to Him, ‘Set a king over us.” Samuel also points out that “some worthless fellows said, ‘How can this man save us?’ And they despised him and brought him no gifts.”

Which brings us to King Asa of Judah, who like all earthly rulers knew the value of gifts when it comes to showing homage and maintaining covenants. 1 Kings 15 records that Asa “brought into the house of the Lord the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels.” Gifts of homage to the Lord were certainly due for it was the Lord that 2 Chronicles 16 records as having given “the Ethiopians and the Libyans, a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen” into Asa’s hand because he “relied on the Lord.” But then Asa turns around and takes the the gifts of silver and gold from the house of the Lord and uses them to form an alliance with the Syrian king against Baasha, king of Israel. The result of this act would be that King Baasha would stop the building of, which city? Ramah. In fact, King Asa would carry away the stones of Ramah and use them to build his own cities. But because Asa did not rely on the Lord and instead offered his gifts and homage to the king of Syria, the Syrian army would escape him. As would his own health. 2 Chronicles 16 also records that King Asa was diseased in his feet, “Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord but sought help from physicians.” And so he died.

I know this is all a bit too much Old Testament history for your average Advent devo, and maybe I’m making connections where there are none, but all these passages seem to be working together to get at least THIS message across: That Israel rejected their true King, desiring instead to give gifts and pay homage to earthly kings WHO COULD NOT SAVE THEM. But as Jeremiah 31:2,3 reminds us,

“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness…
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

Israel’s true King came to save and bring back that which was lost. And though His own received Him not, there were those who came from afar to worship Him, bringing gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

“So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, come peasant, king, to own Him;                                The King of kings Salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him.”

(After singing What Child is This, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “If God be for us…”)

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Day 18: Rehoboam’s Yoke

Read 1 Kings 12:1-15 and Matthew 11:25-30

The wisdom of this world says look to youth rather than old age and that wielding power produces service, which is what King Rehaboam set out to prove. But the folly of Rehaboam not only proves wrong the wisdom of the world, it proves that even the most powerful kings are like streams of water in God’s hand. He turns them wherever He will. When Rehaboam, ignoring the advice of his elders, instead follows the advice of his friends and threatens the Israelites thusly, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions,” he was acting in fulfillment to the word the Lord had spoken in the previous chapter of 1 Kings. “Because they have forsaken me and worshipped [other gods] and they have not walked in my ways,” God was going tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and it would be divided. “Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.”

Just as the Lord willed, Rehaboam’s folly led to a divided kingdom of Israel. And in the fullness of time God’s promise to keep a son of David always on the throne in Jerusalem was fulfilled. But not in keeping with the wisdom of the world. The heir to David’s throne would come as a carpenter, only to be nailed Himself to a tree. His rule would be the opposite of Rehaboam’s. Matthew 11 describes the earth shattering means this king would use to build His kingdom.

“At that time Jesus declared, I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will… no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

(After singing Come Unto Me, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Then shall the eyes of the blind/He shall feed His flock/His yoke is easy…”)

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Day 17: King Solomon’s Crown

Read 1 Kings 8:22-30 and Isaiah 6:1-7

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne,                           high and lifted up;
and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim.                      Each had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet,     and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called,
and the house was filled with smoke. And I said; ‘Woe is me! For I am lost;
for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
for my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts!”

This is the king that the Israelites rejected.

In 1 Samuel 8:5, the Israelites make the following demand, “Appoint for us a king to judge us like all the other nations.” Oh the irony. The whole point of everything they’d been through is that they would NOT be like the other nations because they were the only nation who had as a king the KING OF ALL KINGS! So the Lord tells Samuel to give the people what they ask for and reassures him that “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”

3 kingships in and we have Solomon, son of David, standing before the alter of the Lord in a prayer of dedication for the temple he has built for this rejected King.                         “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant showing steadfast love to your servants… But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built.”

Indeed, God would come to dwell on the earth. The very King that Isaiah saw sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, would come as a lowly babe, a suffering servant, and once again, be rejected. The Romans in cruel mockery would nail a sign over His head, ‘King of the Jews.’ And while this king was being murdered by the very ones He came to save, He would speak the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Solomon had offered his prayer of dedication, saying,”listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive” little imagining that the rejected King to whom he was praying would as rightful heir to the throne of David offer that forgiveness from a cross.  O the steadfast love of our King!

“Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert and art, and ever more shalt be.”

(After singing Holy, Holy, Holy, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “Lift up your heads, o ye gates…”)

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Day 16: Nathan’s Fountain

Read Zechariah 12:10-13:1 and Revelation 21:1-8

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them,
and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away.’
And he who was seated on the throne said,’Behold, I am making all things new.’
Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.                     To the one who conquers will have this heritage,                                                                    and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

So many promises in this passage! When God makes all things new, just think of what that will be like!  God, Himself will dwell among us, wiping the tears from our eyes. No more death! No more mourning! No more pain!  That’s all going to be gone!

How could such a thing be accomplished? The Alpha and Omega Himself said, ‘It is done!’   But HOW was it done?  Long ago, the prophet Zechariah was given a clue. Grace would come to the house of David and they would cry out for mercy when they looked on him who they pierced.  The houses of David, and of David’s son, Nathan, would mourn for him.  And to them and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem would be opened a fountain, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

That’s how it would be done.  Grace.  The Messiah would be pierced.  Blood and water would flow.  From Him would spring a fountain of life to cleanse us from all our sin so that God could make His dwelling among us.  

Do you not thirst for that grace?  For those cleansing waters of life?

“When I saw the cleansing fountain, open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing when He said, ‘wilt thou be clean?”
I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
for His blood can wash away each stain.”

(After singing I Will Praise Him, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Who may abide the day of His coming…” and “And he shall purify the sons of Levi…“)

Day 15: David’s Lamb

This one’s just too big.  How do you write a short devo on David, the iconic shepherd king and his imperfect representation of the King of Kings, the Good Shepherd, who was also the Perfect Lamb? My head is flooded with passages from scripture depicting Jesus as the heir to the throne of David, Jesus as fully God and fully man, fully Shepherd and fully Lamb.  But my heart is drawn to two passages that leave me silenced by the perfect Word of God and the coming King it heralds. Read Isaiah 40:1-11 and the selections from Revelation 21 and 22 below.

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah,
‘Behold your God!’
Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”

Isaiah points us to the good news of the coming King of Glory and Shepherd of the sheep. John, in the last two chapters of Revelation, gives us a glimpse of what it will be like when that flock is finally gathered in.

Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain,
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God…
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the lamb.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light,
and its lamp is the Lamb
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb                                                                through the middle of the street of the city;
also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit,
yielding its fruit each month. the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nation.
No longer will there be anything accursed,                                                                                but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,                                                                 and his servants will worship him. They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more.
They will need no light of the lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light,
and they will reign forever and ever…

Behold, I am coming soon,
bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end…
I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star…’

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let the one who is thirsty come;                                                                                               let the one who desires take the water of life without price…
He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus!”

If you get nothing else from this blog.  Get those last two paragraphs.  Jesus, the Lamb, descendant of David, is coming back as judge.  And He invites all who are thirsty for the water of life to come to Him.  Is that not worthy of our loudest ‘Amen?’

Come, Lord Jesus!

(I wish I had time to include the words to today’s hymn but please take time to listen or read them here and sing them with your family.  Then be sure to listen to Handel’s Messiah, selections “Comfort ye my people…“, “Every valley...”, “And the glory of the Lord…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season

 

Day 14: Jesse’s Tree

Read Isaiah 11,12 and Romans 15:1-13.

When Paul says, in Romans 15:4, “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope,” he had passages like Isaiah 11 in mind.  It is from that very chapter which he quotes, “The root of Jesse will come; even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Paul is speaking right to the heart of believers like you and me.  All of scripture, whether historical narrative, prophesy, or poem, was written for our instruction that we might have hope.

Isaiah 11 is just brimming with the kind of hope Paul wants us to have.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” –Hope for the future of Israel, hope in One who will be filled with the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, hope in a righteous judge, hope in a just avenger, hope in a future peace– “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea…”

“…In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples –of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” –Hope for the Gentile nations that would be grafted in as well. This is was what Paul was marveling at in Romans 15, that “in him will the Gentiles have hope.” He continues, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

In a season when all the world seems to be offering empty sources of hope, joy and peace, Paul’s benediction points us to our ONLY hope, to THE GOD OF HOPE, the only source of joy and peace, WHICH COMES THROUGH BELIEF IN HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, THE ROOT OF JESSE. Through belief in Him we might not just have hope, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we might ABOUND in it.

“O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny;                                                        from depths of hell Thy people save and give them victory over the grave.”

(After singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Let us break their bonds…“, “He that dwelleth…”, “Thou shalt break them…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season

Day 13: Ruth’s Redeemer

Read Ruth 1-4 (or just read the summary below) and Micah 5:2-5

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.”  After God allows all 10 children and everything he owned to be taken from him, Job speaks one of the sweetest sentences in all of scripture. “I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”

About the time of Job, there was a man in the land of Ur whose name was Abraham.  Now Abraham was childless but he was given a promise by God that he would have a son and that through that one son would come descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens and that through him all the families on earth would be blessed.

Hundreds of years later in the land of Moab, a widow named Naomi suffers the tragic loss of her only two sons.  Bringing her daughter-in-law, Ruth, with her, she travels back to her hometown of Bethlehem.  There Ruth meets Boaz, a kinsman-redeemer, who marries her in order to restore the family line, which is exactly what happens through the birth of their son, Obed, the grandfather of David.

It is of this very place that the prophet speaks in Micah 5:2-5:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,   from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,                                 whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days . . .                                                               And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,                                      in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And they shall dwell secure,                    for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.  And he shall be their peace.”

Truly, it would be in this very place that the very Redeemer spoken of by Job would first stand upon the earth.

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!                                                                   Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.                                                         Yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;                                                                     the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

(After singing O Little Town of Bethlehem, list to Handel’s Messiah selection “I know that my Redeemer liveth…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 12: Rahab’s Rescue

Read Joshua 2 and Hebrews 11:31

You have to wonder what Rahab’s family must have been thinking as they hunkered down in her apartment watching those mysterious Israelites circle around their city of Jericho. “Here they come again, Rahab. I don’t know what they’re doing but I’m getting worried. Are you sure we’re going to be okay in here?” It probably took a lot of convincing on Rahab’s part to get her family to believe that by tying a scarlet cord in her window they would be protected from the mass destruction we read about in Joshua 6.

Perhaps it took the same kind of faith for the Israelites themselves to trust that the blood of the lamb they had smeared across their doorframe would protect them from the plague of death striking the Egyptians in Exodus 12. In either case the Lord had provided a means of escape from certain death through a scarlet sign marking the bearer as His own.

Romans 5:9-11 describes how we are saved both from the wrath of God and justified by the blood of Christ who died for us. The blood He shed marks us as His own, justified, saved and reconciled to God.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

That is cause for rejoicing indeed!

“Rejoice, ye pure in heart, rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your festal banner wave on high, the cross of Christ your King.”

(After singing Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 11 – The Lion of Judah

Read Genesis 49:8-12 and Revelation 5

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with the seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “ Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,

and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me,

“Weep no more;

Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,

the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders

I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain,

with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp,

and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,

for you were slain,

and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’

and the elders fell down and worshiped.

(Normally I would insert a hymn to sing here and a selection from Handel’s Messiah to listen to but just as there was nothing I felt I could add to that reading by way of commentary, I feel silenced by way of worship.  I too, can only think to fall down.)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 10: Jacob Have I Loved

Read  Genesis 28:10-22 and Hebrews 11:20,21

“Is God unjust?” asks the Apostle Paul in Roman 9:14. It was a rhetorical question to be sure, but when we read the story of Jacob, Paul understood the conclusion we might be tempted to draw.

Jacob, the beloved. How could God say, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Were those unjust words? Paul says no. “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.” Could not this knowledge be the source of Jacob’s worship as he leaned over his staff while blessing Joseph’s sons?

Jacob, the heal-grabbing cheater. He who had connived and contended from birth— into birthrights, into marriage, into wealth, who had striven with God Himself, earning a new name in the process— this Jacob-turned-Israel, at the end of his life must have pondered in awe the mercies of the Lord. Until his dying day, we see Jacob summoning his own strength and power and will, and yet all along it was God who acted in mercy to fulfill His promises to this offspring of Abraham and not to his brother. Every one of God’s promises to Jacob was fulfilled; the land, the offspring, God’s presence, His keeping, and His bringing back. Were not these fulfilled promises on Jacob’s mind as he leaned over his staff in worship when blessing Joseph’s sons?

Jacob —the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and Isaac, the buyer of birthrights, the receiver of Isaacs blessing, of God’s blessing, the giver of blessings to his sons and to Joseph’s— in the very act of blessing his descendants, leaned on his staff in worship. Was he perhaps reminded of the one promise he had received that had yet to be fulfilled? That in him and his offspring “shall all the families of the earth be blessed?”

Jacob, the worshipper. Why did the writer of Hebrews introduce this new detail of Israel’s life story? The striving, contending, heal grabbing cheater, at the end of his life once more summons his strength, this time to bless his descendants. But Israel’s strength is spent. He leans on his staff in worship of the only One in whom he, and all we who contend with God, can find true rest. In the promised descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through whom all families on earth would be blessed, Jesus Christ, the Lord.

“Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”

(After singing Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Thou art gone up on high…” and “The Lord gave the word…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 9 – Isaac Sees God Provide

Read Genesis 22 and Hebrews 11:13-19.

It’s one of the most disturbing accounts in scripture. A man is told by God to take his only son and sacrifice him on an alter. And the man does it. Well almost.  Just as the knife is raised the man is stopped before the slaughter begins.

What kind of God would tell a father to do that? What kind of God would let him almost carry it through?  The image of a father sacrificing his son is too horrific to even understand.  But the horror of our rebellion against our loving, holy Creator required exactly that kind of a sacrifice.  We like to think of the cross as a thing of beauty, a means of bringing us the eternal life that we sometimes deep down inside think we deserve.  But such a punishment could only be demanded for crimes of the worst magnitude.

When Abraham, with knifed hand upraised, looked back and saw the ram caught in the thicket, he was looking back at a promise given generations earlier that an offspring of Eve would crush the head of the enemy.  But that victory over sin and death would come at an unimaginable price.  God Himself would have to provide the perfect sacrifice and the only one who could qualify would be His Only Son.

In perfect obedience Jesus Christ, offspring of Abraham, would lay His life down on the alter.  And in perfect holiness and love, God the Father would slay Him through the hands of the very sinners Christ was dying to save.  That was the promise of that Moriah mount fulfilled on Calvary’s hill.  “Abraham called the name of that place, ‘THE LORD WILL PROVIDE;’ as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss                                                          to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing,                                                                                                          To God and to the Lamb, who is the great ‘I Am,’                                                                    While millions join the them, I will sing.”

(After singing What Wondrous Love Is This, listen REALLY LISTEN TO Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold the Lamb…”, “He was despised…”, “Surely He hath borne our griefs…”, and “All we like sheep…”)

Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 8: The God of Abraham Praise

Read Genesis 15:1-6 and Hebrews 11:8-12

Does anyone else find it remarkable that all Abraham does is believe and the Lord declares him righteous? God appears to this virtual pagan and basically says 3 things: “Fear not,” “I am your shield,” and “Your reward shall be great.” Abraham then responds like this: “Keep your reward,” “I have no kids,” “My heir is a servant,” and “It’s your fault.” But God gives him this amazing promise anyway, that his offspring would be numbered like the stars in the heavens. Abraham actually believes him and BOOM! Just like that he’s counted as righteous. God then seals His promise with a covenantal ceremony, which Abraham sleeps through.

The point I’m trying to make, and which Abraham continually proves through a series of moral foibles, is that Abraham’s righteousness, depends 100% on God’s declaring him such. God didn’t have to provide a way of redemption for Abraham or for us. When certain angels rebelled, He didn’t work up a plan of salvation for them. And according to James 2:19, even the demons believe that God is one! But James continues that Abraham believed God and it was credited it to him as righteousness, and not only that, he was called God’s friend!

Obviously, there are 2 kinds of belief here. There’s a knowledge of God that according to Romans 1:19-21, everyone on earth possesses, and there is a saving faith that James makes clear is evidenced by the fruit it bears in the life of the believer. How does one kind of belief produce the fruit of good works and one kind only lead to the shuddering of the demons? Is it not because of the declaration of righteousness by God?

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t feel all that comfortable resting on my own belief in God as the means to my salvation. God has to declare me righteous and the way He does that is through the perfect sacrifice of His own Son, the very Son that would be born through Abrahams family line. It’s through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that I can say with Abraham and the writer of today’s hymn, “He by Himself hath sworn, I on His oath depend.”

“The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love.
Jehovah, Great I Am, By earth and heaven confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred name, Forever blest.”

(After singing The God of Abraham Praise, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “For unto us a child is born…”)


Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 7: Shem Finds God Faithful

Read Genesis 9:1-19 and Isaiah 54:9,10

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

After getting caught  in a lightening storm while backpacking in the High Sierra, my brother started taking clouds very seriously. One glimpse of a distant puffy white apparition, and inevitably he would be packing up and heading down the mountain. His caution was certainly warranted and reminds me very much of how Noah’s family must have felt the first time they saw clouds gathering again after stepping forth onto a deluge devastated earth.

Prior to the flood, Earth’s water canopy had maintained a rather greenhouse-like atmosphere, likely void of stormy weather. Imagine the trauma when the floodgates opened and all that water came crashing down. Not to mention the visual manifestation of God’s wrath when those 8 survivors saw the world as they had known it, utterly changed by the seismic activity of the fountains of the deep bursting forth. It must have been with fear and trembling that they first stepped forth on that ruined, yet remade earth.

But God in His mercy, with great compassion, placed a bow in those ominous clouds; a bow not pointed at the earth in perpetual wrath, but hung up as it were, in a posture of peace. This was their reminder that when the fearful clouds came and the rain started falling again, that it would not be for the destruction of but for the nourishment of the earth. What a comfort the sight of that rainbow must have been for Noah’s family ever after!

Perhaps stormy weather has you, like the weeping prophet of Lamentations 3:12, feeling that God had “bent His bow and set me as a target for His arrows.” But the rainbow helps us all call to mind  verses 21-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

And dear friend, the rainbow only tells half the story. Did you know that from a heavenly perspective a rainbow is actually a complete circle? Because of the angle of the light shining through the water droplets combined with the slope of the earth we only see half the circle, or a bow. But since the advent of flight people have been able to capture images like the one linked here, which has been God’s perspective all along! We see the promise. He sees the fulfillment of it in Christ. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

“As I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” —Isaiah 54:9,10

(After singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “There sound is gone out…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

 

Day 6: Noah Found Favor In The Eyes Of The Lord

Read Genesis 6:5-7:24 and Hebrews 11:7

“Noah’s Ark, Noah’s Flood, Lot’s of Water, Lot’s of Mud.” So reads the rather simplistic title of one of our favorite children’s books by John Morris of Institute for Creation Research. But the flood was so much more than that, wasn’t it? The flood wasn’t just a means of God’s judgement for the total depravity of mankind on earth, it was an instrument of His mercy. God used the flood not just to destroy the earth but to recreate it anew. And He promises to do the same again. When Christ returns, He will once more make all things new. Our hymn for today is taken from the following poem by Horatius Bonar and looks forward to that time.

“Come, Lord, and tarry not,
Bring the long-looked-for day;
Oh, why these years of waiting here,
These ages of delay?

Come, for Thy saints still wait;
Daily ascends their cry:
‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come’;
Dost Thou not hear their cry?

Come, for creation groans,
Impatient of Thy stay;
Worn out with these long years of ill,
These ages of delay.

Come, for Thy foes are strong;
With taunting lips they say,
‘Where is the promised advent now,
And where the dreaded day?’

Come, in Thy glorious might;
Come, with Thine iron rod;
Disperse Thy foes before Thy face,
Most mighty Son of God.

Come, and make all things new,
Build up this ruined earth;
Restore our faded paradise,
Creation’s second birth.

Come, and begin Thy reign
Of everlasting peace;
Come, take the kingdom to Thyself,
Great King of Righteousness.”

(After singing All Things New, Listen to Handel’s Messiah by clicking on the following selections “All they that see him…” “He trusted God…”)


Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 5: After Methuselah, Judgement

Read Genesis 5:25-27 and 1 Peter 3:18-23

Methuselah has the impressive distinction of being the oldest man on earth. He lived more days than any other person and in so doing proved the kindness and patience of our Lord.
Methuselah’s name means “after me comes judgement.” Methuselah’s grandson was Noah. 1 Peter 3:20 says that “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” Indeed His patience waited 969 years before He judged the world with water during which time He worked a plan of salvation for mankind through the safe passage of 8 people on a boat.

1 Peter 3:18 speaks of God’s broader plan of salvation for mankind. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Each day of our life is a testament to God’s kindness and patience. Each passing day can be THE day of salvation for those who trust in Him to provide safe passage from death unto life.

“Day by day and with each passing moment,
strength I find to meet my trials here;
trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
gives unto each day what He deems best—
lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
mingling toil with peace and rest.”

(After singing Day by Day click tolisten to Handel’s Messiah on the following selections “Then shall be brought to pass…” “O death…” “But thanks be to God…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 4: Enoch Walked With God

Read Genesis 5:12-24 and Hebrews 11:5,6

In the second to the last book of the Bible, we read this obscure quote by the ancient prophet, Enoch, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all and to convince all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-16).

Just seven generations from the creation of man, Enoch is already warning the ungodly of the coming of the Lord. These people are ungodly, their deeds are ungodly, their speech is ungodly and in sharp contrast to them we have Enoch, who simply “walked with God and was not found, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). So how was it that Enoch came to walk with God and so escape the judgement of all the ungodly sinners around him? Hebrews 11:5,6 explains it this way, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for who ever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

In other words, unless we have been granted the faith to believe that God really is who He says He is, nothing good we do will ever please Him. We’re in the same boat as all those ungodly sinners. And in that case the second Advent of Christ is NOT good news. But if we confess that we really are who He says we are, ungodly sinners, and trust Him to save us from His judgement, we can walk in fellowship with Him as Enoch did and also not see death. God has granted eternal life to ALL who believe and that eternal life starts now!

“When we walk with the Lord,
in the light of His Word,
what a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will
He abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.”

Jude ends with this beautiful benediction, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

(After singing Trust and Obey click below to listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold I tell you a mystery…” “The trumpet shall sound…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

 

Day 3: The Calling Out of Seth’s Time

Read Genesis 4:25-5:11 and Romans 10

By the time Adam and Eve’s son, Seth, had his own son, people were quite aware of their perilous condition and thus began to call on the name of the Lord. All hail the power of that name! Romans 10:13 promises that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Verse 9 further instructs us that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is good news indeed! Verse 15 quotes Isaiah 52, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Back then it might have been feet that carried good news like that from one person to another, but today we have so many other means. We can pick up the phone and call someone on the other side of the planet. We can open up our laptops and publish a blog post and within seconds a hundred friends can read the good news: “Jesus is Lord!” “Our God reigns!” “You CAN be saved!”

“Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed of the fall;
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.”

(After singing All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “How beautiful are the feet of them…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 2: In Adam’s Fall, We Sinned All

Read Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-21

So here’s the bad news. The creatures God made in His own image committed cosmic treason against their Creator and the whole world was thrown into a state of ruin and death. Now every person who would ever be born would be born with a sinful, rebellious nature and after death face eternal punishment at the hands of a just and holy God.

But “Joy to the World!” There’s Romans 5:18!

“Just as the trespass of one led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

Jesus came for that one act of righteousness. His purpose from manger to grave was to pay the penalty for the rebellion brought into the world by that one man, Adam. Just think of the gift offered to us in the words of Romans 5:17!

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Joy to the world indeed!

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.”

(After singing Joy to the World,” click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “Since by man came death…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 1: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Read Genesis 1 and Hebrews 1:1-12

Followers of my past blogs would know that I always start the school year with Genesis chapter 1. Whatever it is we’re studying— science, history, math, language— it all has it’s beginning right there in those first few words of scripture, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

In Hebrews 1:2,3 we read that everything that was created was created through Jesus Christ and that it is He who upholds the entire universe by the word of His power. Put that thought side by side with the baby in the manger!

The writer of today’s hymn captured it well with the following words:

“Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Ever more and ever more!

O that birth forever blessed,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Ever more and ever more!”

Our reading in Hebrews 1 ends with this quote from Psalm 102,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

The same Lord, through whom the universe was created, who holds it all together by the word of His power, is the same Lord who became a helpless babe, lived a perfect life, offered Himself up through death on a cross as a sacrifice on our behalf, rose powerfully from the grave and ascended to His rightful throne in Heaven. This same Lord is coming again to judge the living and the dead. There will be a second advent just as surely as there was a first. Do you rejoice in His coming? “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

(After singing Of the Father’s Love Begotten, click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Unto which of the angels…” and “Let all the angels…” Note: some versions of the Messiah, namely those produced/performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do not contain these selections)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.