Advent Devotion 17 – Do this in Remembrance of Me

Today’s Reading – Luke 21-24

cross and mangerLuke 22:19-20 – And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (ESV)

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  We rejoice in the fact that our Savior has come into the world.  We sing songs and read passages from the Gospels that tell us some of the details of Jesus’ birth.  We have Nativity scenes in our homes that depict the blessed event.  The centerpiece of this story is a beautiful little baby lying in a manger. Continue reading

Advent Devotion 15 – Advent and the Tragedy of Newtown

Today’s Reading – Luke 13-16

As I sit here this morning, I have the images from yesterday’s tragedy in Newtown, CT running through my mind.  It is early and everyone is asleep except my six year old daughter who sits next to me on the couch as I type this devotion.  I can tell you that in light of yesterday’s events, my daughters are being held tighter today. All of us recognize how dark and depraved our society can be, but events like yesterday’s tragic school shooting where 20 children ages 5-10 lost their lives, remind us just how deep the evil can be.

In the midst of tragedies like Newtown, where do we find hope? Though we cannot fully understand they “why” in situations like this, God gives us tremendous hope through His word in times like this.  The following is an adaptation of John Piper’s article following the 9/11 tragedy.  His original article can be found here. Continue reading

Advent Devotion 13 – Shadows

Today’s Reading – Luke 5-8

Luke 1:79 – to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (ESV)

shadowsRecently I found myself being startled awake to the sound of screaming from the other side of the house.  As the father of two girls, ages 6 and 4, those moments can be quite alarming.  As I stumbled my way through the dark house and entered my 6 year old’s room, she was extremely upset.  There is a bulletin board on the back of her door, on which we hang pictures she has drawn or crafts she has made.  Her night light is just to the right of the door, and as it shines it’s dim light across the door, the papers on her bulletin board cast a shadow on the wall.  As she lay in her bed looking at this shadow, fear began to creep into her little mind.  Why? The darkness was preventing her from seeing that what was hanging on the board was nothing to cause fear.  When I discovered the source of her fear, all I had to do was turn on the bedroom light.  Immediately, she recognized there was nothing to fear, because the shadow and darkness was gone. Continue reading

Advent Devotion 8 – The Season for Sowing

Today’s Reading – Mark 1-4

Mark 4:13-20 – The Parable of the Sower Explained

I can’t think of any other time of year when there is more “seed” sown than Christmas.  When we read this passage from Mark that explains Jesus’ parable of the sower, we see that the “seed” is the “the word” or specifically the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Though Christmas has been extremely secularized, it is still Christmas and the ultimate reason we celebrate is the birth of Christ and the redemption He came to bring to all of mankind.  Just think how beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas is to so many. Every year, that special is broadcast, and sweet little Linus reads the birth account from Luke. At that moment, millions who have tuned in are exposed to the “seed.” Yet, even though the landscape of our culture is inundated with Nativity scenes and television specials that speak to the true meaning of Christmas, it is ignored by so many each year. In fact, as you read the headlines during this time of year, you will see sad stories of those attempting to remove Nativity scenes from town squares, and people renaming their Christmas tree a “holiday tree” to spare them from even mentioning the name of Christ this season.  Why? I believe we see the answer in Jesus’ parable of the sower. Continue reading

Advent Devotion 7 – The Gift on His List

Today’s Reading – Matthew 25-28

Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

If you have children, there are probably some Christmas lists floating around your house during this season. I have been told the older they get, the more elaborate and expensive the list becomes. My girls have yet to reach the phase where their requests would require a second mortgage on my home to attain. They’re actually pretty content little girls. This year’s big surprise is a dollhouse I am building for them. As I read this morning, I began to wonder what would be on Jesus’ Christmas list. Continue reading

Advent Devotion 5 – Why He Came

Today’s Reading – Matthew 17-20

Matthew 20:26-28 – It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (ESV)

I can remember as a child when I would get a piece of paper and a copy of the Sears catalog and work my way through the pages of the toy section making my list of the things I hoped to receive at Christmas.  When our family would gather to celebrate, gifts would be piled high under and around the Christmas tree.  I would scan the massive pile and hope that the biggest gift under the tree had my name on it.  I was all about myself. Continue reading

Advent Devotion 4 – True Treasure

Today’s Reading: Matthew 13-16

Matthew 13:44 – The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (ESV)

The Christmas season in America is dominated by consumerism.  Forecasts for 2012 indicate that spending associated with the holiday season will reach approximately $69 billion.  No matter the status of our economy, people are going to spend their money during this time of year.  We all have experienced the excitement of watching loved ones open the gifts we have purchased for them.  It can honestly become addictive, especially when it comes to our children.

As exhilarating as giving gifts can be, we also have experienced the reality that the excitement over those gifts quickly fades. Before long, there is another “latest and greatest” available that makes our once awesome toy not so awesome anymore…(ahem…iPhone 5 anyone?) Why do we allow ourselves to continually be duped? We’re addicted to the buzz of new “stuff.”  We see the newest gadget, trend, or toy and something inside us snaps.  We go to great lengths, especially at Christmas, to provide these things for those we love, only to discover that by March they don’t even remember what you bought.

I have nothing against the exchange of gifts at Christmas time.  In fact, I really enjoy giving gifts to those I love.  However, we must be careful to remember that earthly treasure carries no eternal value.  I once heard a friend of mine say, “the possessions you cherish today will be sold by your kids for pennies on the dollar.”

In the midst of this Advent season, we must always remember that true “treasure” is not found in the latest Wii console.  No one would sell all they have to possess a video game system.  However, in Matthew 13:44 Jesus describes to us a treasure that is worth all we have and more.  The Kingdom of Heaven is the treasure that will last.  This treasure was made available to us when, 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born, lived, died on the cross, and was raised again.  So, during this Christmas season, let us not be distracted by the earthly treasures that rust and become moth-eaten.  May our attention be focused upon the One who came to provide the true treasure of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and eternal life through His shed blood.

Prayer of Reflection: Father, in the midst of this season where the giving of gifts can easily slip into the driver’s seat of our attention, please help us remember where our true treasure is found.  Thank you that, in Christ, we have the only treasure that will last, and it is worth more than all we have.  Let us live and give this season in light of this truth.

Rest in Jesus,

Andy

 

Advent – Awaiting His Return!

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (ESV)

This morning as I sit on my couch staring at a fire in the fireplace in the middle of a beautifully decorated house for the Christmas season, I find that my affections are stirred toward my Heavenly Father! In the middle of a season that has been overtaken by the consumerism of America that attempts to lure our focus away from the true “reason for the season” it is times like this that remind me that we have a true reason to celebrate!

I have been spending time with my family focusing on Advent this year and what it means for us in the midst of what has become such a hectic season. “Advent” is the season of celebration that leads up to Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming”. Throughout the Old Testament, the Jews reflected on the promises they had heard from the prophets about their Savior that had been promised to them as early as Genesis 3. These promises were fulfilled in the little town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago as a baby was born. This was not what most expected, but it was part of God’s beautiful plan of redemption.

For Christians today, we are no longer looking for a Savior to come, but a king to return. We know that He will return and make all things new again. In doing this, He will establish His Kingdom and do away with sin and death once and for all. This is the promise to which we look today. This is the reason we have for celebrating!

So in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, remember that we celebrate the promise of God that was fulfilled in a stable over 2000 years ago! But we also reflect upon our eager anticipation of the promise that has yet to be fulfilled…. He’s coming back for us!!!

God with Us!

I recently heard a piece of musical poetry titled “God with Us” by the musical group Folk Angel (featuring Isaac Wimberley).  The words are so powerful as they describe our soon returning King Jesus!  I have the video posted below.  I hope you are blessed by this as much as I was.

Click here to be taken to the Folk Angel website where you can purchase a copy of their new album Comfort and Joy.  

Rest in Jesus!!