2019 Advent Devotions

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Dec 11, 2019 - The Bethlehem Candle: Micah 5: 1

“And you O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a leader who will govern my people Israel.”   When Jesus was born the population of Bethlehem was 1,435 people.  It was considered a village, not even a city.  A wide spot in the road.  Blink and you will miss it.  One would think that a mighty king would come from Rome, Athens, or at the least Jerusalem.  Why Bethlehem?  Paul tells the church at Corinth that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men.   As Damon Runyon said, “The race doesn’t always go to the strongest and the fastest, but that sure is the way to bet.”  But God picks what the world, in its wisdom, will think is weak.  Even money should have been bet on Goliath but it was a kid shepherd who got the KO.   How much greater, how much sweeter when the “underdog” pulls off the victory.  Nothing worthwhile should have ever come out of Bethlehem.  Nothing but one of the greatest kings the world has ever seen and one who was the King of kings, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.  Not bad for a wide spot in the road.  Amen.

Dec 10, 2019 - The Bethlehem Candle: 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 7: 16  “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.”  Having reconciled with God, David wants to build a “house” for God.  A house in which people may come to worship God, to offer sacrifice to God, to hear God’s Word.  David’s ego got in the way.  He was going to do something for God.  As if God needed David’s help.  But instead God makes a promise to David and to the world.  From the “house,” the lineage, of David will come a king.  A King so great and so wonderful that the world will forget about David.  A king whose rule would bring, Peace, Justice, and Mercy to all people whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, young or old.  A king who would rule not for a decade, or a score, but forever.  We pray for, we look forward to that day, when that King will sit upon the throne.  Amen.

Dec 9, 2019 - The Bethlehem Candle: 1 Samuel

I Samuel 17:12  “Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons.”  If there is one person who stands out in the First Testament, it is David.  He is indeed the “golden boy,” the greatest king in the history of Israel, and a real power broker in 1,000 B.C.  When David sinned he sinned boldly, but when he repented, when he turned to God, he turned to God totally.   He is the perfect example of how low a person can go, and yet be forgiven by a gracious and loving God.  After he had Bathsheba’s husband put to death to cover up his extramarital affair with Bathsheba, David turned to God and prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”  When David fell from grace he knew to return to God.  It was his trust and faith in God that took him from Bethlehem, the town of his birth, to the capital city of Jerusalem, and world prominence.  Let us know when to turn to God and ask for his forgiveness.  Amen.

Dec 7, 2019 - Prophecy Candle: Jeremiah 31:34

“…for they shall all know me…says the Lore; for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.”  If confession is good for the soul, absolution is even better for the soul.  The only words sweeter to hear than “I love you,” are the words, “I forgive you.”  To have a broken relationship restored is so satisfying that words cannot describe it.  But if forgiveness is sweet how much sweeter to hear, “I will remember your sin NO MORE.”  The evil things we have thought, said, or done will no longer hang over our heads.  It is like wiping the black board  What was there is no longer there.  What was there is like it never even existed.  Forgiveness is not only saying, “I forgive you,” but it is also saying, “I will never hold it over you.”  The Messiah will not only forgive us, but will make sure that our sins are totally erased from all memory.  Amen

Dec 6, 2019 - Prophecy Candle: Psalm 16:10

“For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.”  Many of the religions that have been practiced over the years all proclaim many of the same basic principles.  But it is only the Christian faith that boldly proclaims that the dead shall be raised to a new life.  Here we see that God’s Messiah will not die.  Instead after death he shall have a new life; a resurrected life.  Some will say, “Well that’s good for Jesus, but what about us?”  The answer is in Romans 6.  If we die with Christ, we shall certainly rise with Christ.  Faith in Christ is the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul declares that “Jesus is the first fruits.”  In other words, just as Christ was raised from the dead to a new and eternal life, so we too shall be raised to a new and eternal life because of our faith, our trust in God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ.  Christ’s resurrection is the down payment on our resurrections.  Amen.

Dec 5, 2019 - Prophecy Candle: Isaiah 61:1

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release the prisoners.”  We are all familiar with the “I have good news and bad news jokes” that were popular many years ago.  So, what is the good news that the Messiah brings.  Simply this, God loves you.  God wants you as His children.  God forgives you and promises you eternal life.  But if that is not enough the prophet says, he will heal the broken hearted.  Illness, death, separation which have crushed us will be ended and we will be made whole once again.  The dead will rise, illness will no longer exist and those separated from us by death will be reunited with us.  We will be freed from our bondage to sin and death.  We will no longer be slaves to sin and death because by Christ’s death and resurrection we are free from the oppression of sin and death.  The promise of the old spiritual will come to pass, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”  Amen

Dec 4, 2019 - Prophecy Candle: Isaiah 7:14

“The Lord himself will give you a sign.  Look a virgin is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”   In Luke 1: 34 when Mary receives the Word that she will bear a son she asks, “How can this be since I am a virgin.”  The importance of the issue of virginity is important because the father of the Messiah would be God.  The word Immanuel is Hebrew/Greek and it means “God with us.”  If the Messiah is God in a human being, then God must be the father.  In every other religion known to man the gods were always up there, out there somewhere.  The gods knew nothing about the human condition.  The gods were above humans, they knew neither joy or sorrow, happiness or love.  They were disconnected entities whose major function was to disrupt the lives of people.  But with the coming of the Messiah, “God with us,” we see a God who cares.  A God who is involved with His creation.  A God who becomes one of us so He knows, so He experiences all the things that we experience.  God can only relate to us if he is “One with us.”  A God who gives up the glory and the majesty of heaven to suffer death, even death on the cross.  Yes, God is with us.  Amen.