Genesis 3:8-13; Ephesians 2:11-22
For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14, ESV
Today’s advent reading moves us from the theme of hope to the theme of peace. Genesis 3:8-13 and Ephesians 2:11-22 teach us that God pursues us, even when we sin against Him. Our sin leaves us with no hope of gaining peace with God (Eph. 2:12). But, through Jesus Christ, we can have peace because He is our peace (Eph. 2:14)! Here is the great promise of Ephesians 2:13-14 – that through Jesus Christ we gain peace with God and are brought near to Him! Through sin we are separated but through Jesus we are brought near to God and made right with Him. The result of gaining peace with God is two-fold: First, we become members of the house of God (Eph. 2:19; John 1:12; Rom. 8:15-17). Second, we become a house of God (Eph. 2:22; 1 Cor. 6:19). There is no hostility between God and His children.
Posted in Advent, Christmas, Deeply Rooted Devotion, God, Jesus, sin
Tagged Advent, Christmas, gospel, Jesus, Peace, sin
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV
How would you describe the Christmas story in one word? Could you? The Christmas story in one word is Jesus and the gospel in four words is Jesus in my place. Jesus is the grace of God. Jesus is the love of God. Jesus is the power of God. Jesus is the majesty of God. Jesus glory of God. Jesus is God. God speaks to us through Jesus. In these last days it is through Jesus that God spoke, revealing Himself. It is through Jesus that God revealed His grace, love, power, majesty, and glory. It is through, and because of, Jesus that we are able to have forgiveness of our sins. So, as you go about your holiday activities, parties, gift-giving and gift-buying, remember that at the center of what we celebrate about the Christmas season is a reality that changes everything: the gospel is a person, and His name is Jesus. Seeing the gospel as Jesus opens us to the reality that Jesus deserves our full loyalty and surrender. The realization that Jesus is the gospel brings us an invitation to become children of God (John 1:12) and to grow up as His children (5:11-6:2).
Praise God for revealing Himself through Jesus. Ask the Spirit to keep your focus on Christ and to provide spiritual growth.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV
One of my roles, as one of the pastors at my church, is that of a substitute teacher. If a Sunday School teacher is unable to teach their class on an upcoming Sunday, they might call me to ask me to teach in their place. On Sunday I will stand in front of their class to do something that their teacher cannot do on that day. Today’s advent reading reminds us that we all need a substitute. Jesus, who knew no sin, came to this earth and took on flesh to be our substitute on the cross. Why? So that we might know and be come the righteousness of God!
Praise Jesus for being your substitute on the cross.
Ask the Spirit to guide you in knowing and becoming the righteousness of God.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:5, ESV
We know, all to well, the impact of broken things. When your car breaks down, you have to figure out alternate ways to get where you need to go. When a child’s favorite toy breaks, they have to find a new one. When brokenness rears it’s ugly head between two people, reconciliation has to be pursued. Christmas reminds us that the only hope for broken people was a perfect Savior. The incarnation of Jesus Christ reveals that there is no way that we can fix our own brokenness. Jesus came as the ultimate rescuer. The hope of Christmas is that there is a solution to our brokenness. But, confessing and repenting of our sins is the only way that we can fully know and enjoy this hope. There is no hope without God (Ephesians 2:12).
Accept the fact that you’re sinful, confess your sin to the Lord, so that you may fully enjoy and know the hope of Christmas this year.
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgements are true and just;” Revelation 19:1
I didn’t know it as a child, but Noel means Christmas. I sang ‘The First Noel’ and other Christmas songs as a child, but learned many of the meaning of what I was singing later in life. The Christmas story is full of angels singing. They came and sang about the salvation, glory, and power of God. Salvation is our deliverance of sin because of Christ’s death on the cross. Glory is high honor and when we glory in something, we delight in it. Power is influence and ability. God is omnipotent, having infinite power. There is nothing more glorious than Jesus exerting His power to bring salvation to us.
The angles sang of these things at His birth. We sing of these things now. And, we will join the angels in singing of these things for all of eternity.
Sing a Christmas song out loud today. Maybe in the car, in your office at work, or with your family. As you sing, let your mind and heart dwell on the words you say.
“And he shall be their peace…” Micah 5:5a
What is a promise? Ultimately, a promise is assurance given that someone will do something. A promise is a declaration of what will happen. And, a promise leaves people in a state of expectant waiting.
In our reading today, Micah promises that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Isaiah promises that Jesus would be born of a virgin. Genesis promises that Jesus would be born as a descendent of Abraham. In other places throughout the Old Testament, Jesus is promised to be called out of Egypt. Jeremiah promises that Jesus would be born in the midst of extreme human suffering. And there are so many more promises made that Jesus fulfilled!
The birth of Jesus provides proof that God keeps His promises. He did what He said that He would do. He still does what He says that He will do. The confidence that we have in God to fulfill His promises leaves us with a peace in our hearts.
Spend some time praising God for His perfect timing. Praise God that, in His promises, he gives us a glimpse of what He will do. Praise God for doing what He says that He will do.
Specifically praise God for fulfilling the promises made in the Old Testament regarding Jesus Christ. Thank Jesus for bring peace to your heart.
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2, ESV
One of the things we see when we look to Jesus is a willing attitude. He willingly came to the earth He created. He willingly gave up Himself on the cross. He willingly rose to new life and walked out of that grave. He willingly ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. He willingly sent the Holy Spirit to live inside all of His followers. He willingly intercedes for us today. He willingly forgives sin.
The sin that we were born into, the sin in our hearts, makes us unwilling. You and I struggle with an unwilling attitude. We can unwillingly sacrifice our time, tithes, or talents to serve others. We can unwillingly gather with our church family to worship our Savior. We can unwillingly read God’s Word, pray, and abide with Him. At times, we unwillingly fight against sin. And, at times, we unwillingly do what is right.
Jesus willingly came to this earth to do difficult things listed above, and more, because He loves us. Therefore, a willing Jesus is the only hope for an unwilling sinner like you and I.
Praise Jesus for His willingness to come at Christmas, die on the cross, and rise from the grave. Praise Him for His willingness to continue to love you today.
Examine your life to see where you express an unwilling attitude. Ask the Lord to give you a willing attitude in these specific areas.