Advent 1, Monday, December 1, 2014
Read: Isaiah 40:1-8
Isaiah writes, in verses 3-5, that we are to “clear the way, lift up every valley, make every mountain low, and make the rough ground a plain, then the glory of the Lord will be revealed.” John the Baptist refers to this passage to describe his mission as the messenger who comes before the public appearance of the Messiah. During his ministry, he called people to repent, that their sins might be forgiven.
This season, Advent, is a great opportunity to examine our own hearts to determine if we have left in us any obstacles that might hinder the reign of our King and Savior Jesus. We are invited to have receptive hearts to the Good News that the Christ is Come!
He is our HOPE… the message of the Cross is the message and the power for our Salvation! Let us make ourselves ready to meet Jesus in each new day.
Advent 1, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Read: Acts 3:17-26
The unbelievable had taken place. A man, crippled from birth, had been miraculously healed by faith in Jesus. There he was, standing by Peter and John, whole. How had it happened? What did all this mean? Here was a chance to drive home their guilt in his horrible death.
But, instead, Peter tells them of God’s grace. He gives them the promise of God’s “free generosity”. They had failed to see Jesus as God’s promised One. They had not wanted to believe that God would do things this way. They had put to death the very One for whom they had so long waited. But God, in His grace was ready to forgive, if only they would confess their sin, repent, and believe. The promise, the HOPE of God’s blessing was for them. He was waiting to “turn them from their wicked ways.” Even though their sin was great it was forgivable.
This Advent, we are reminded of our HOPE. Jesus comes to save us from our sin. No matter what we have done… he is ready to forgive, to bless, and to renew us in our hour of need. John Newton wrote:
“Thus while his death my sin displays In all its blackest hue; Such is the mystery of grace, It seals my pardon, too.”
Advent 1, Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Read: Exodus 20:7
The Advent season provides us with a great opportunity to remember the importance God places on His name. Too often, we hear God’s name used carelessly, or worse as a curse or swear word. God saw fit to include proper use of His name in the commandments—right along with “there is only one God” and “do not murder”. Although the commandment referred to “Yahweh”, the specific name for God originally given to Moses; I think we can safely extend the intent to any name for God—like Lord, Jesus, and Christ. But why did God include this commandment in the top 10? As I have pondered and prayed about this, I have come to this conclusion: it has to do with respect.
A proper understanding of who God is and a proper reverence toward him is crucial to the whole Christian experience. Carless use of God’s name can undermine that experience—that relationship. Breaking what some would consider a “minor” commandment can easily act as acid to our faith. I guess that is why proper use of God’s name, meaning “God, when we say, ‘God’”, is so important. Our HOPE is in GOD!
Advent 1, Thursday, December 4, 2014
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through…. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”
I was a freshman in college when I sensed the Lord calling me into fulltime Christian ministry. I HAD OTHER PLANS! I wanted to work as a social worker or a college professor. The very thought of being a pastor, of standing in front of a group of people from Sunday to Sunday and preaching, frightened me. For a couple of years, I tried to avoid the call of God. I tried to convince myself that I had misunderstood the message, that there were other ways to minister, that somehow, God was mistaken when He called ME! But the awareness of God’s call remained. I could NOT escape it.
Finally, after two years of misery and running from God, I gave in to His call. I promised to obey. I still did not believe that I, of all people, could be a pastor. I was still frightened at the prospect of preaching. So, that evening, I asked God to give me a verse that promised his help. The verse he gave me was 1 Thess. 5:24—”The One who calls you is faithful, he will do it.”
This Advent, we are reminded our God is faithful. He keeps his word. We can place our hope in Him. Jesus is God’s personal GUARANTEE!
Advent 1, Friday, December 5, 2014
Read: 1 John 2:24-25
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.”
Whenever John writes about remaining, he means more than just “staying”. He means “to set up residence” in someone or something. We are being called to let the Word of God set up residence in our hearts and lives, to LIVE in us. The Word is to become a part of us, an expression of who we are as a person. The Word is not an “add-on”, an accessory to our life, it is be integral to us.
While is Seminary, I took a class on Comparative Religions. A part of our experience was to attend the worship services of the religion we chose to study. I studied the Sikh religion. An Eastern Indian faith related to the Hindu religion. Each Sunday, they shared a common meal. It was laced with curry. After being with them, the smell of curry poured from my pores. I literally smelled like a Sikh.
Jesus’ followers are to be so filled up with God’s Word that is pours from our pores. People who are in our vicinity should be able to “smell” Jesus on our lives. He is our HOPE… LET HIM POUR OUT OF US!
Advent 1, Saturday, December 6, 2014
Read: Revelation 5:9-12
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.”
The first angelic chorus sang out the good news of God’s plan for our salvation. It was marvelous what God was doing. All people everywhere have had forgiveness of sins offered to them. God’s own Son had come to bring redemption and reconciliation. That continues to be the great good news of Christmas.
Another angel chorus is singing. Its song regards the finished work of our salvation. Jesus has overcome Satan, sin, and death. The forces of evil can no longer defeat those whose trust is in the Lord Almighty! Bethlehem’s babe has grown up to be the Crucified and Risen Christ. He is worthy of all praise!
Let us join the angel chorus and sing the victory song of the Lamb of God! Join in the Hallelujah! Our HOPE made real!
The devotionals, for the 1st week of Advent 2014, were written by Pastor Bob Russell…