Without End: An Advent Devotional – Day Twenty-five

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . .

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. . . .

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. . . .

Jesus came in the form of a babe, grew and lived and loved among us in the form of a man. He came declaring the grace and truth of the Father, the very Lord of all creation. And in His presence here with us, He declared: I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Belief in that simple statement births the most miraculous of gifts — the gift of salvation into the very body of Christ. United as one with the King of kings. The incredible presence of Christ within us, come to stay. Forever.

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God– children born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God. – John 1:11-13

The presence of Immanuel — God with us — is exactly that.

With us.

If you have joined me on this journey through Advent, I thank you for doing so, and I hope you have somehow been encouraged by at least a portion of the words you’ve read throughout the past twenty-five days. When I started this journey, I was a bit extremely nervous since I generally like to plan and outline and re-plan and re-outline. . . well, you get the idea. Each day has been a step of faith for me as I came empty-handed before God and asked Him to meet me here. Perhaps that is the very reason God urged me to write these devotional thoughts in the first place, so He could remind me of His faithfulness in not only coming to earth through Jesus in human form, but so I would see Him coming to me still. Every morning, He again showed Himself as Immanuel — God with me.

Each day I found Him here reminding me of the privilege of His presence. A privilege I too often neglect, which is why celebrating Advent in this way has been so special for me. I’ve taken the time to travel the worn path to Bethlehem’s stable again and again throughout these last few weeks, and I’ve allowed myself to experience anew the wonder of the Word made flesh for me. Following the angels’ greeting from the manger to the cross, I’ve accepted the invitation to come and drink freely from the well pouring forth from Savior’s reserves. He is so very gracious and kind in sharing with the likes of me.

I hope you have found Him, too. In your day to day tasks, and in the season’s rush toward Christmas, I pray you have made your way to His manger. That you have opened your eyes and your heart to experience the amazing gift of Christ come to you. And I hope we both continue to do so. That we stay close to Savior’s side and linger long in His presence, not taking our rights to His kingdom for granted.

I hope we will look to Him each day for our “daily bread,” as we gain nourishment from the Bread of Life Himself. I pray we will remember this incredible secret of Christ in us, and truly experience the hope of the glory He brings to each moment of every day. And I hope we will always be thankful for His coming, and that we’ll continue to look for it. To look for Him.

I pray we will long for the One who was, long before all time began. The One in whom all of creation was made and holds together. The One who is with us here in the messy and the mundane of everyday life. The One who will come again to make all things new and regenerate a heaven and earth in which we will live with Him forever.

I hope we will always remember to never forget.

That we will fix our gaze solidly upon Jesus — the One who humbled Himself, taking on the form of human man and submitting to an agonizing death on the cross for you and me. This Jesus is the King of all the earth, but He emptied Himself for us. Becoming a servant to make His enemies friends with God, He gave up His divine privileges for the privilege of calling us His beloved. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might be called the children of God.

And that is what we are . . .  all because of Who He is.

Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christmas came more than two thousand years ago, but Christmas still comes every day in our hearts. The gift of Immanuel is here to stay. The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, still lives within us now. And one day He will again return to Jerusalem to stand upon its heights and make Himself known once more.

When that day comes, every eye will see His glory and know that He is Lord.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. . . .

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely. . . . 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

May the gift of Christmas come be yours today and all year through!

Advertisements

The Witness of Withness: An Advent Devotional – Day Twenty-one

It’s presence that makes a relationship.

God seems to get that. In fact, it’s the very reason Jesus was sent to earth. Born of an unwed, virgin teenager, He came to the lowliest of men so that every person, from every station in life, would have opportunity to have a relationship with Him.

In Matthew 1:23, Jesus was fittingly christened Immanuel – which means, God with us. Divine nature uniting with human nature. Salvation come to earth at the mere mercy of God alone, through the precious gift of His Son. Redemption found at the foot of a bloody cross. Intimate relationship offered with the rending of temple’s veil at the fingertips of the Almighty.

Immanuel came to show us the goodness of our Father and to bring freedom to those who lived in captivity. A freedom grounded in justice, mercy, and humble adoration of the One who teaches us the meaning of them all.

Micah 6:8 states: He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

While this thought implies a good directive, without the final three words, I can’t help but think we are missing the fullness of its true exhortation. And perhaps, along with the missing words, we are missing out on the only way to fully live the suggested actions, as well.

With your God.

It’s those final three words in Micah 6:8 that pack the punch — the gift of our presence offered back to the Giver of Life.

The action God requires of us is not paying a price for the pardon of our sin; that was already signed, sealed, and delivered by Jesus’ blood dripping down Calvary’s cross. Rather, it is the gift of love itself. A gift that cannot be conjured by mere human effort, but one that naturally emits from having a relationship with our Savior. It is a love produced as we offer our very lives into His keeping, committed to walking with God. Embracing His character and living lives exemplified by justice, mercy, and humble thanksgiving.

John 1:14 tells us the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (emphasis mine).

Jesus the Christ.

Immanuel –- God with man. God in man — uniting us by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Through the preaching of His word. With the healing of His hands. By the promised and living Savior in our midst.

Immanuel – the most holy and intimate fellowship between God and man imaginable.

As we walk the course of our lives, let’s not forget to include those final three words of Micah 6:8. Act justly… with your God. Love mercy… with your God. And walk humbly… with your God.

This Christmas may we wrap our hearts around the presence of Immanuel, and offer the gift of our own in return. Let’s not only celebrate the wonder of God with us but invite Him to celebrate the gift of us with God.

After all, it’s presence that makes a relationship.

img_5920FOR REFLECTION
Are there areas in your life you find yourself withholding from God? Are there people to whom you are tempted to deny justice or mercy? Today would be a good day to humbly admit those struggles and to take them before the throne of grace. God is so utterly in love with you, my friend, and He wants to release you to walk in the fullness of His love — with Him and toward others. Ask Him to intervene on your behalf today. You will find He is gracious enough to do so.

Where Spirit and Dust Collide: An Advent Devotional – Day Nine

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

In fulfillment of prophecy, the Messiah descends to bridge this union of dust and Divine. Jesus turns toward, arises with compassion, stands near and with. He comes among His people to thwart the lies of Satan with the realness of a Savior’s existence. Here — in our midst.

But He doesn’t enter with the fanfare and pomp reminiscent of earthly kings. He does not descend as a conquering warrior in ways that are familiar to men. When you look at it from the stance of human logic, there’s really nothing to make one think a babe born one night in a nondescript Israeli stable was anything other than the infant son of a humble carpenter.

If a room is dark enough, even those with perfect vision will struggle to see.

Although all of Israel was looking and waiting for a Messiah, the darkness of living in Satan’s domain had blinded them to God’s ways. Most could not fathom the simpleness of Jesus’ entrance into mankind’s dwelling. Yet still He came. Knowing He would be misunderstood and overlooked, rejected and denied by the very ones He came to rescue. But come, He did . . . with eternal plans in hand.

Plans to reclaim His own and to reestablish His kingdom in the likes of you and me. Mixing Divine with dust of the earth. Molding, shaping, creating. Making and remaking. Bringing forth beauty from this combination of dirt and Spirit breath.

Jesus Christ brought life into death’s confines, shattering the shadows of darkness with the light of His presence come — again and again.

And still.

Here in our lives today.

This is the gift of Christmas past, present, and future.

This is the gift of Immanuel — God with us.

FOR REFLECTION:
God has set eternity in our hearts, but sometimes we forget. We forget, but we still know. This Christmas, let’s make remembering the truth of Jesus come to earth the focus of our holiday celebration. After all, remembering God’s word isn’t merely calling to mind some fantastical stories; remembering is recalling reality. Take time to read the account of Jesus’ birth as told in Luke 1- 2:20, then thank God for the reality of a Savior come to you.

december10%2c2011%2cisaiah7-14