Friday, December 24, 2021

Advent Words Day 27 ~ Word

Day 27: Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.John 1:1-4

As much as I love the traditional detailed Christmas story in Luke’s gospel, I also love how John shares the Christmas story – the story of the incarnation – God became man. The Word became flesh. This is the great mystery and wonder and truth of Christmas! God took on human flesh, becoming fully like us, and dwelled among us.

In these opening verses John tells us so much about who Jesus is:

He is eternal – with God from the beginning.

He is divine – the Word was God.

He is Creator – through him all things were made and in him was life.

In the beginning God spoke Creation into being. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Throughout the Creation story in Genesis we are told that God spoke words and from those words the created things came into existence. God spoke and it was done.

Now God speaks to us through His Son, the Word become flesh.

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.Hebrews 1:1-3

John continues in his gospel:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

The Word became flesh and dwelled among us, he became the promise of Isaiah 9:2 – Immanuel, God with us, God dwelling among us, God eternally present with us and in us.

And John also tells us that Jesus is God’s glory revealed. God in human flesh made visible and fully known. In his first letter John gives further testimony to who the Word is:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.1 John 1:1-2

Jesus is the one who is life, the source of life, and the one who reveals life. He is the Word of God – both a person and the message of God. The revelation of God, fully human and fully divine.

Today is the last word in the Advent Words Challenge. Feel free to continue to share you creative response on social media using #adventwords2021 or in the Words Challenge Facebook Group.  

Thank you for joining me through the Advent season and have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Advent Words Day 26 ~ Immanuel

Day 26: Immanuel

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”- which means “God with us”. Matthew 1:22-23


"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Revelation 21:3


Advent is a season that reminds us that what we long for down deep is God’s presence with us. We wait and we long and we look for it.  From the beginning of Matthew's Gospel through the New Testament until we reach its end in Revelation, the Incarnation - God came down to us - is the fulfillment of God's promise of His presence with us.


In fact, the story of the whole Bible is about God wanting to dwell with His people. From the beginning God created a place where He could be present with His people. In Genesis 3:8, it says that God would walk in the Garden of Eden among Adam and Eve. But then sin separated them, and us, from God. From that point on God's presence was found in His holy temple or tabernacle (Exodus 25:8 Deuteronomy 12:4-14). Later in history the Jewish Rabbi's would refer to the temple or tabernacle as the "Shikinah Glory". Shikinah coming from the Hebrew word for dwelling.


Ultimately though, God had a still greater plan to dwell with and be present with His people. He promised one who would be born and called Immanuel - God with us.


“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14


Matthew tells us that the one promised is Jesus (Matthew 1:23). John goes even deeper saying that God through Jesus "became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14). The Greek word John used for dwelling is skenoo which means tabernacle or dwelling.  So, John literally says that God "tabernacled" among us through the incarnation of His Son.


Through faith in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross, we have the promise of God's presence with us forever.


“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ...In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:13, 21-22


Through Jesus Christ God not only dwells with us, but He dwells in us through His Spirit.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.”  John 14:16-17


“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20


“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:9-11


God's people, collectively as the church and individually, are now the dwelling place of God, His tabernacle!

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16


“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19


We are yet promised an even greater presence with God in the New Jerusalem. John paints a picture of that heavenly dwelling with God.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Revelation 21:3


“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Revelation 21:22-23


Glory to God in the highest ~ Immanuel has come! God is with us!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Advent Words Day 25 ~ Messiah

Day 25: Messiah

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31

Near the end of his gospel, the Apostle John states very clearly his purpose for writing his gospel: that those who read it “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah”. John, throughout his gospel, has laid out the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and wants to make sure his readers are very clear on what they believe. He wants to make sure that they understand the truth about who Jesus is and that they understand fully what results from believing in Him. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, and believing in Him – in His name, the Messiah – brings believers life, abundant and eternal life.

Let’s make sure we understand as well. What exactly does it mean that Jesus is the Messiah? The Greek word used in this verse is actually ‘Christos’, which is Christ. The word Christ in Greek means “the anointed one”. The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word for anointed one ‘mashiach’. So, Messiah and Christ are both synonymous for the anointed One. In our culture we often think of Christ as the second part of Jesus’s name – Jesus Christ. But it is actually a title, Jesus the Christ – Jesus the Anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah.


Why is Jesus called the Messiah? Throughout the Old Testament, and more specifically by the Prophets, God promised to send a king, one who would be anointed by God to deliver his people. Over time the Hebrew people began to anticipate that this Messiah would be a king who would bring military and political domination that would free them from bondage and rule by foreign nations.


Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah describes his purpose and ministry:


“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn.”
Isaiah 61:1-2

In Luke chapter 4:14-21, we see Jesus stand in the temple and read this same passage from Isaiah 61, announcing that he is the One of whom these words are spoken.

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21

God anointed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus, as the Messiah, fulfilled Israel’s anticipation of an anointed One who would deliver them. Jesus would spend his ministry giving the disciples the true understanding of the Messiah’s rule, to deliver us from our sins.

John also points out that Jesus, the Messiah, is the Son of God, the personal presence of God in our midst, and that our belief in Him brings life. The Messiah’s purpose was to bring life to God’s people. Life is one of the main themes in the gospel of John. John points out throughout his gospel that in Jesus Christ we have life:

Abundant life in Christ in this present age. Life that is full of meaning and purpose. Life that contains joy and peace and love. Life that is unburdened by the weight of guilt and shame over sin.

I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Spiritual life through Christ. Life filled with the Holy Spirit.

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Eternal life with Christ.

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:15-16

 I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

We, who believe in the name, have life in, though, and with Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Advent Words Day 24 ~ Light

Day 24: Light

"The people walking in darkness

    have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

    a light has dawned."

Isaiah 9:2

A light has dawned.

Long ago Isaiah prophesied that there would be a Messiah who would come and open the eyes of those living in darkness and bring them into the light. Those who are spiritually blind would be able to see. When the apostle John spoke of the incarnation in his gospel, he proclaimed:

“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” John 1:9

John and the other gospel writers point to Jesus Christ as the one who is the light, the one who spiritually illuminates. Earlier in his gospel John had said that in Jesus was life and “that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus himself said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Light illuminates, it reveals. At my church we have a Christmas Eve service that ends in candlelight. The room is darkened as we sing Silent Night, slowly as the candles we are holding are lit, the room begins to brighten until it is fully shining by the end of the song. We who are Christ followers, “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), are also called to be light, to imitate Christ with our words and our deeds and reveal Christ to those around us.

“…let your light shone before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Light came into the world in the beginning when God spoke and said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Light and life came into our lives with the incarnation of Christ, the light of the world. God’s presence is the everlasting light of the redeemed in heaven,

The city [the New Jerusalem] does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of gives it light. and the Lamb is its lamp.” Revelation 21:23

“Advent is not about pretending darkness is not real; it is about knowing that light always overcomes darkness (Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16) and that in the New Heavens and New Earth the light of Christ perpetually shines (Revelation 21:22ff). Advent reminds us that perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18). Advent invites us to begin life anew by turning our backs on the darkness and welcoming the coming light, in hope, peace, love, and joy…we are a people who constantly look to the east in a hope-filled search for light. Advent shapes us into people of hope, love, joy, and peace. We look for the holy in the ordinary, we are in search of Emmanuel—God with us. We are followers of the Messiah who spoke light into the universe and then used the light of stars and angels to proclaim his presence in a manger.” Rev. Dr. Greg Mamula

Because the light of the world has dawned on us, we use candles to guide us through the four Sundays of Advent until we come to Christmas, when we light the Christ candle. Jesus is the light of the world!

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Monday, December 20, 2021

Advent Words Day 23 ~ Holy

Day 23: Holy

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

Isaiah’s repeated use of the word holy reveals that God is infinitely holy. He is above all else and sacred in every way. Throughout the Bible we are told that God’s name is holy. In the biblical world one’s name embodied one’s character. So holy is who God is. Every part of His character flows from His holiness. His love is holy love, His faithfulness is holy faithfulness, His justice is holy justice, and on and on. Holy is who God is. Holy is His name.

Throughout the Bible God’s creation and His deeds point out His holiness.  Mary expressed this in her song of praise in Luke 1:46-55.

“…for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.Luke 1:49

The expression of God’s holiness in His deeds and in His creation is expressed in Psalm 105:1-5, just one of the many times this is expressed by the Psalmists.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.”


The whole earth is full of His glory, holy is His name, glory in His holy name!


The Bible also says that not only is God holy, but He calls His people to be holy as well. His people live out His holiness.


“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”  Leviticus 19:2


“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16


“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14


Our response to God’s holiness is to live as His holy people revealing His holiness to the world.


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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Advent Words Day 22 ~ Love

Day 22: Love

“God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.I John 4:8-10

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent and the theme for today is love.

Our first Scripture reading tells us that God is love. Love is at the very core of His character. Love is who God is. Because He is love, all that He does is motivated by His love. Because the Bible says that we are the object of His love, He choose to act out of His love for us and sent His Son into the world to redeem us and give us the gift of life – abundant life in the present age, eternal life in the future. This is God’s greatest gift of love for us and God sending His Son into the world – the incarnation – is the love we celebrate during the Advent season and Christmas.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.Titus 3:4-7

God’s love is not a feeling, it’s an action. It is because of His love for us that He did not give sinful man what they deserved but, rather, He acted out of love and mercy and gave sinful man salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ. Love is an action, and we are called throughout the New Testament to imitate God’s love in our daily life. Out of love God seeks us, but He doesn’t force us into a relationship with Him. He bids us to respond to His love. When we love each other and act in love, motivated by God’s love, we help the world see who God is. God is love.

“Great love can be talked about, deep passionate love can be expressed verbally or even written down, but love expressed in action proves that it actually exists.” ~Paige Clayton

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Advent Words Day 21 ~ Ponder


Day 21: Ponder

I have published today’s devotion before, but I could not think of a better way to express today’s word than with these words.

"Great are the works of the LORD;

they are pondered by all who delight in them.

Glorious and majestic are his deeds,

and his righteousness endures forever.

Psalm 111:2-3


Luke 2:1-20 tells the story of the birth of Jesus. We read in this passage that Joseph and Mary had to travel late in her pregnancy to go to the town of Bethlehem for a mandatory census. While in Bethlehem Mary goes into labor and her baby, Jesus, is born. Because they had not been able to find a room to rent, they had to use a stable. And so, Mary wrapped baby Jesus in cloths and placed him in a manger.


On that same night an angel of the Lord, shining with God's glory, appears to some shepherds at work in the fields. "Do not be afraid." He tells them. "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." At this news a "great company of heavenly host" appear. I imagine that they fill the sky and light it up as if the sun were shining. The angels begin to praise God.

"Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on

whom his favor rests"


The shepherds immediately take off for Bethlehem and find Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, just as the angel of the Lord had said. They spread the word the angel of the Lord had given them, that this baby lying in a manger is the Savior. He is Christ the Lord, the promised Messiah. All who heard this were amazed. The shepherds eventually returned to their home "glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard".


Stuck in this passage, right before the story ends, is one sentence with Mary's response to these events:

"Mary treasured up all these thing and pondered them in her heart."

We have a clue to what Mary was treasuring and pondering in her heart. We have the events recorded by Luke in chapter 1 that reveal that Mary herself had been visited by an angel of the Lord. The angel had revealed to her the very things he revealed to the shepherds, so their words were not news to her, but rather confirmation. She had given birth to a king! Mary pondered the great, glorious and majestic works of the Lord. She reflected on them and treasured them in her heart.

"The Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name." Luke 1:49



A line from the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty comes to my mind,

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do…


I read about Mary's response, and I think, "I want that kind of faith.” The kind of faith that immediately sees God's hand at work in every situation. A faith that is at rest in knowing that God will do as He has promised. Me, I probably would have focused on my circumstances, looking for a solution, and then turning to God in prayer once I had exhausted all my own resources. But if you read chapters 1 and 2 of Luke, you see Mary, time after time, looking to the Lord and praising Him for His work in her life. You don't see a shred of doubt, not a glitch of worry or anxiety. She doesn't fret over her circumstances, or even try to manage them on her own. Mary is focused on God. For that kind of faith, I think that Mary must have had a life that was filled with the Scriptures. And she alludes to that in her song in Luke 1:46-55, referencing the mighty works of the Lord in the past, in Israel's history. She would have heard in the temple the prophecies of the coming Savior, the Messiah - the One that was hoped for. When the angel came to her, she believed. I want Mary's kind of faith. I believe this is the role of the scriptures in our lives. I can read Mary's story and witness her faith and from it I can have hope. God used this young, humble teenage girl to birth the Savior of the world. Mary's faith in believing what God says he will do encourages me and is my example of how-to live-in faith and in hope.


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Friday, December 17, 2021

Advent Words Day 20 ~ Mercy


Day 20: Mercy

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
    the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
    in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Luke 1:67-79

This passage of Scripture in Luke’s Christmas story is known as Zechariah’s Song. Today we will take a deeper look at Zechariah’s story. Yesterday we saw that Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist, who would be the one who was sent to prepare the way before the Lord. Scripture tells us that Zechariah was a priest and descendant of Aaron, that he was elderly, and that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had been unable to have children. One day Zechariah was lighting incense in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared. The angel told him that Elizabeth would be pregnant and bear a son, who they were to name John. This son would be "great in the sight of the Lord" (Luke 1:15) and he be used by God. Scripture says of him:

"He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”            Luke 1:16-17

Zechariah had a hard time believing the angel, and because of his unbelief the angel told him he would be silent and unable to speak. He remained silent until the day of the birth of his son. We are told by Luke that Zechariah was then "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:67) and his first words after months of silence were to sing the words of his song in Luke 1:68-79. 

The angel of the Lord had spoken to Elizabeth as well, and she and Zechariah knew that Mary carried the Son of God, they knew their son's role would be to prepare the people for the Lord's coming. In his joy at the birth of his son, Zechariah praised God for the mercy He had shown them ~ not only mercy for them personally in bearing a child, but mercy for God's people as well, in sending the Savior. 

This Savior is the One sent by God to bring salvation. The One who had been promised from the kingly line of David. The One who would fulfill the promise made to Abraham that all the nations on earth would be blessed. The One who would rescue God's people from bondage and fear. The One who would enable God's people to serve Him "in holiness and righteousness".

 Zechariah's son John would be used by God, "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High". The prophet of the Most High would prepare the people for the Son of the Most High. John would make clear to the people that God's mercy had come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. "Because of the tender mercy of our God" salvation has come! Light has come! Peace has come! Zechariah's song gives us the story of God's mercy to His people in the gift of His Son.

Ephesians 2:4-5 show us that this gift of God’s mercy is prompted by His love.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

Our sin kept us far from God, dead to Him. But God did not punish us as we deserved, rather, in mercy, out of love for us, He made us alive again through Christ, our Savior.


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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Advent Words Day 19 ~ Prepare


Day 19: Prepare

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 3:1

 In the ancient days of the Old Testament, prophets were the messengers of God who would share the words of the Lord with the people. Many of those prophets spoke and wrote of a coming great king who would bring justice and reward the righteous. He would be a king who would reign in righteousness and peace.

The prophet Malachi promised the people of Israel that a messenger would come that would prepare the way for the Lord, who would prepare the way for the great king. In ancient days when a royal procession was traveling a messenger would go before them announcing their arrival and removing any obstacles from the road they were to travel on. He prepared the way before the king.

It is believed that Malachi was the last prophet of the Lord before the birth of Christ, a span of 400 years in which God was silent. Then in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read the story of Zechariah, a priest, who we learn was childless. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he would have a child, and that child would “go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)

We learn later in Luke 1 that Zechariah’s son was John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66) and then Luke tells us that “Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied:

 “…And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” Luke 1:76-77

John the Baptist was the one Malachi (and also Isaiah – Isaiah 40:3-5) spoke of, the messenger who would prepare the way before the Lord by preaching repentance to make hearts ready to receive the Messiah. Jesus himself would announce that John the Baptist was the one who fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi and Isaiah. (Luke 7:27). John prepared the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Notice that Malachi 3:1 also speaks of another messenger – “the messenger of the covenant”. The promised Messiah will bring the new covenant promised by God (Ezekiel 36:25-28, Jeremiah 31:31-34). Jesus told us that he was the messenger of the covenant – a covenant written with His blood. We remember and celebrate our repentance and salvation when we prepare our hearts for communion.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” By Mary Brack Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28

Advent is a season of preparation, preparing our hearts to receive the coming king and to proclaim His coming to the world around us.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room.
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Advent Words Day 18 ~ Rejoice


Day 18: Rejoice

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2

“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.” Luke 1:46-50

While thinking about what direction to go in with today’s word, it struck me that the words of the past three days – joy, peace, promise – serve as a foundation for today’s word, rejoice. Joy is our response to God’s love and His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Peace is ours because of our restored relationship with God through Christ.  Remembering God’s fulfilled promises to those who have faith in Christ – salvation, eternal life, the Holy Spirit – gives us reason to rejoice!

This is exactly what we see in today’s Scripture passages. The Psalmist is full of gratitude to the Lord. His gratitude results in a desire to tell all about the wonderful deeds of the Lord. And it all results in a choice by the Psalmist to rejoice in the Lord.

Mary also looks at all the ways God has been active in her life – being chosen to bear the Messiah, the favor God has found in her, and the mercy He shows His people – and she also shares His wonderful deeds and chooses to rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoicing is a response of faith. Rejoicing comes out of a life that is dependent on God and from one who knows firsthand the peace of God. Rejoicing is a choice we make to respond to who God is and to all that He has done. Rejoicing is an intimate response to God that comes from a deep and intimate faith from one who is content because of the grace and love of God. It is living our life in the joy of the Lord.

The great thing about rejoicing is that we can live in joy despite our circumstances. Because joy comes from a deep abiding faith in God that results in peace and contentment, to rejoice is to make the choice to put joy into action. Rejoicing is not a feeling, nor is it dependent on feelings.  It’s dependent on faith. Despite our feelings and despite our circumstances we can still rejoice because we belong to the Lord, because He loves us, because He holds us close to His heart. We don’t deny our feelings, even the ones that may overwhelm us such as anger, despair, depression, sadness, sorrow, etc. The Scriptures are full of messages and examples of people experiencing these feelings and hard times, yet God’s people can choose to find joy in the Lord in the midst of these feelings and circumstances. This is abiding, joy-filled faith.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always
.” Psalm 105:1-4

Rejoice! Our Savior has come!


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