Posted: Dec 25, 2017
Categories: Advent

GOOD NEWS (Day 23)

Have you ever felt really down, and then the phone rang and you received some good news?   Even if only for a few moments — you felt lifted.  Good news has the power to do that. Our Christmas word for today is GOOD NEWS.

Christmas is good news! Luke 2:10 says, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people” (NLT). Good news . . . Great joy . . . All people. Let’s walk through this verse from the end to the beginning.

At the end is “all people.” There is something that God wants to do for all people. There is not a person whom God doesn’t love. God wants to do something in the life of every person that you meet today. Whatever the circumstances of your life, God wants to do something for you.

What he wants to do is give you great joy! There’s that word that we’ve come across again and again in our look at the words of Christmas. Joy is not happiness. It might bring happiness, but it is something far deeper. Happiness depends on the happenings of your life; it’s like a thermometer that goes up and down depending on your circumstances. Joy is more like a heater; it sets the temperature of your soul in a way that’s above your circumstances. Joy is the no-matter-what assurance that God is for you, God will never stop loving you, God has a purpose for you on this earth, and God will pour out his blessings on you in eternity.

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Posted: Dec 24, 2017
Categories: Advent

LORD (Day 22)

The word of Christmas we are focusing on today is the word LORD.

Let’s go back to the verse we read a couple of days ago. In Luke 2:11, the angel announced to the shepherds, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (ESV). What does it mean to say Jesus is Lord? Lord is not a word we use in everyday language. But it is an important word for worship. In the Bible, the word Lord means the person with supreme authority, the master. In our day, we might use the terms, owner, boss, or CEO. The lord is the one who is in charge.

Lord is a title God uses for himself over seven thousand times in the Old Testament. So these Jewish shepherds knew the angel was announcing the birth of a divine person. This was no mere baby. He wasn’t even simply of earthly royalty. This baby, this Messiah — the Christ — was God himself!

Probably the most important passage about Jesus’ Lordship in the Bible is in Philippians 2. It describes his divinity, his incarnation, his suffering, his exaltation, and his Lordship over all creation. The Bible says,

For he, who had always been God by nature, (divinity) did not cling to his prerogatives as God's equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man (incarnation). And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal (suffering). That is why God has now lifted him so high, and has given him the name beyond all names (exaltation), so that at the name of Jesus "every knee shall bow", whether in Heaven or earth or under the earth. And that is why, in the end, "every tongue shall confess" that Jesus Christ is the Lord (Lordship), to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:6-11 PHI).

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Posted: Dec 23, 2017
Categories: Advent

SAVIOR (Day 21)

The word of Christmas we are looking at today is the word SAVIOR. When the angel came to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, the angel made this announcement, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 ESV).

What did Savior mean to God’s people in that day? Their concept of salvation was different from what most Christians think today. It was actually much, much bigger; and it seems to me that we have lost some of the richness and hope in the way we talk about salvation today.

If you ask most believers what it means to say Jesus is my Savior, they will say that Jesus saved them from their sins, saved them from God’s judgment, and saved them from hell. All of that is true. In fact, in Matthew 1:21 the angel told Joseph, “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (NIV). And Romans 5:9 says, “Since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation” (NLT).

So we are saved from our sins and we are saved from God’s judgment. And if that is all it means to be saved, that certainly is more than we could ever deserve. We will never be able to thank him enough. Your salvation—your forgiveness and certainty of eternity in heaven—is secure in Christ your Savior. And of course that is the most important aspect of salvation. But there is even more blessing wrapped up in our salvation. And for that, we have to look to the Old Testament.

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Posted: Dec 22, 2017
Categories: Advent

FAVOR (Day 20)

The word of Christmas we are focusing on today is the word FAVOR. When the angel greeted Mary in Luke chapter 1, he said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you.” That phrase, “highly favored,” is the Greek word, charitoo, and it means graced with grace, enfolded with an abundance of favor, and made acceptable. The word is found only two times in the whole Bible. The first time, it describes Mary. The second time it is used, charitoo describes you. In Ephesians 1, the Bible says, We praise God for the glorious grace that he favored us with and by which he made us accepted in the beloved. 

What happens to highly favored people? The angel explained it to Mary. He said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 NIV). The phrase, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you” also appears just twice in Scripture. And just like the phrase, “highly favored,” the first time it’s about Mary, and the second time, it’s about you. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8 NLT).

The same Spirit-power that was promised to Mary, the highly favored one, at the conception of Jesus, was passed on to us, the highly favored ones, by Jesus at the conception of his church.

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Posted: Dec 21, 2017
Categories: Advent

BELIEVE (Day 19)

Our Christmas word for today is BELIEVE. It is through belief in Jesus that Christmas becomes more than just shopping and sentiment. I’d like to look back at the first Christmas, at two people who each heard a message from an angel. One chose not to believe, and the other decided to believe. We learn a lot about belief from the contrast between Zechariah and Mary.

Zechariah didn’t believe.

The father of John the Baptist was told by an angel that his wife Elizabeth would have a child in her old age. His first response was to ask for more proof, and so the angel Gabriel said, “But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time” (Luke 1:20 NLT). Zechariah was a priest in God’s temple, one who should have been a prime example of trust in God. Now, he must endure months of it being obvious to all that God has stopped his speech. It is almost certain that he lost his ability to serve as a priest in the temple because of this handicap.

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