Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Seventh Day of Christmas

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”—Luke 2:7.

It was needful that it should be distinctly proven, beyond all dispute, that our Lord sprang out of Judah. It was necessary, also, that he should be born in Bethlehem-Ephratah, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by his servant Micah. But how could a public recognition of the lineage of an obscure carpenter and an unknown maiden be procured? What interest could the keepers of registers be supposed to take in two such humble persons? As for the second matter, Mary lived at Nazareth in Galilee, and there seemed every pro­bability that the birth would take place there; indeed, the period of her delivery was so near that, unless absolutely compelled, she would not be likely to undertake a long and tedious journey to the southern province of Judea. How are these two matters to be arranged? Can one turn of the wheel effect two purposes? It can be done! It shall be done! The official stamp of the Roman Empire shall be affixed to the pedigree of the coming Son of David, and Bethlehem shall behold his nativity. A little tyrant, Herod, by some show of independent spirit, offends the greater tyrant, Augustus. Augustus informs him that he shall no longer treat him as a friend, but as a vassal; and albeit Herod makes the most abject submission, and his friends at the Roman court inter­cede for him, yet Augustus, to show his displeasure, orders a census to be taken of all the Jewish people, in readiness for a contemplated taxa­tion, which, however, was not carried out till some ten years after. Even the winds and waves are not more fickle than a tyrant’s will; but the Ruler of tempests knoweth how to rule the perverse spirits of princes. The Lord our God has a bit for the wildest war horse, and a hook for the most terrible leviathan. Autocratical C├Žsars are but puppets moved with invisible strings, mere drudges to the King of kings. Augustus must be made offended with Herod; he is constrained to tax the people; it is imperative that a census be taken; nay, it is of necessity that inconvenient, harsh, and tyrannical regulations should be published, and every person must repair to the town to which he was reputed to belong; thus, Mary is brought to Bethlehem, Jesus Christ is born as appointed, and, moreover, he is recognised officially as being descended from David by the fact that his mother came to Bethlehem as being of that lineage, remained there, and returned to Galilee without having her claims questioned, although the jealousy of all the women of the clan would have been aroused had an intruder ven­tured to claim a place among the few females to whom the birth of Messias was now by express prophecies confined. Remark here the wisdom of a God of providence, and believe that all things are ordered well.” C.H. Spurgeon, sermon, “No Room for Christ in the Inn”

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Irritable Guests
“Christmas dinner, as described by a modern minor poet, would almost certainly be a study in acute agony: the unendurable dullness of Uncle George; the cacophonous voice of Aunt Adelaide. But Chaucer, who sat down at the table with the Miller and the Pardoner, could have sat down to a Christmas dinner with the heaviest uncle or the shrillest aunt. He might have been amused at them, but he would never have been an­gered at them, and certainly he would never have insulted them in irritable little poems. And the reason was partly spiritual and partly practical; spiritual because he had, whatever his faults, a scheme of spiritual values in their right order, and knew that Christmas was more important than Uncle George’s anecdotes; and practical because he had seen the great world of human be­ings, and knew that wherever a man wanders among men..., he will find that the world largely consists of Uncle Georges. This imaginative patience is the thing that men want [that is, “lack”] most in the modern Christmas.” ―G.K. Chesterton, “Chaucer and Christmas,” Illustrated London News, December 26, 1931

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Fifth Day of Christmas

"Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given." Isaiah 9:6

The sentence is a double one, but it has in it no tautology. The careful reader will soon discover a distinction; and it is not a distinction with­out a difference. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” As Jesus Christ is a child in his human nature, he is born, begotten of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary. He is as truly born, as certainly a child, as any other man that ever lived upon the face of the earth. He is thus in his humanity a child born. But as Jesus Christ is God’s Son, he is not born, but given, begotten of his Father from before all worlds, begotten—not made, being of the same substance with the Father. The doctrine of the eternal affiliation of Christ is to be received as an undoubted truth of our holy religion. But as to any explanation of it, no man should venture thereon, for it remaineth among the deep things of God—one of those solemn mysteries indeed, into which the angels dare not look, nor do they desire to pry into it—a mystery which we must not attempt to fathom, for it is utterly beyond the grasp of any finite being. As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp him he could not be infinite: if we could understand him, then were he not divine. Jesus Christ then, I say, as a Son, is not born to us, but given. He is a boon bestowed on us, “For God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son into the world.” He was not born in this world as God’s Son, but he was sent, or was given, so that you clearly perceive that the distinction is a suggestive one, and conveys much good truth to us.” ―C.H. Spurgeon, sermon, “A Christmas Question.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fourth Day of Christmas

“There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won. All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only hangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance or fading vapour from the exultant explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago. But the savour is still unmistakable, and it is something too subtle or too solitary to be covered by our use of the word peace. By the very nature of the story the rejoicings in the cavern were rejoicings in a fortress or an outlaw's den; properly understood it is not unduly flippant to say they were rejoicings in a dug-out. It is not only true that such a subterranean chamber was a hiding-place from enemies; and that the enemies were already scouring the stony plain that lay above it like a sky. It is not only that the very horse-hoofs of Herod might in that sense have passed like thunder over the sunken head of Christ. It is also that there is in that image a true idea of an outpost, of a piercing through the rock and an entrance into an enemy territory. There is in this buried divinity an idea of undermining the world; of shaking the towers and palaces from below; even as Herod the great king felt that earthquake under him and swayed with his swaying palace.” G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Third Day of Christmas

“They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” —Matthew 1:23.

Those words, “being interpreted,” salute my ear with much sweet­ness. Why should the word “Emmanuel” in the Hebrew, be in­terpreted at all? Was it not to show that it has reference to us Gentiles, and therefore it must needs be interpreted into one of the chief languages of the then existing Gentile world, namely, the Greek. This “being interpreted” at Christ’s birth, and the three languages employed in the inscription upon the cross at his death, show that he is not the Saviour of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As I walked along the quay at Marseilles, and marked the ships of all nations gathered in the port, I was very much interested by the inscriptions upon the shops and stores. The announcements of refreshments or of goods to be had within were not only printed in the French language, but in English, in Italian, in German, in Greek, sometimes in Russian and Swedish. Upon the shops of the sail-makers, the boat-builders, the ironmongers, or the dealers in ship stores, you read a polyglot announcement, setting forth the information to men of many lands. This was a clear indication that persons of all nations were invited to come and purchase, that they were expected to come, and that provision was made for their peculiar wants. “Being interpreted” must mean that different nations are addressed. We have the text put first in the Hebrew “Emmanuel,” and afterwards it is translated into the Gentile tongue, “God with us;” “being interpreted,” that we may know that we are invited, that we are welcome, that God has seen our necessities and has provided for us, and that now we may freely come, even we who were sinners of the Gentiles, and far off from God. Let us preserve with reverent love both forms of the precious name and wait the happy day when our Hebrew brethren shall unite their “Emmanuel” with our “God with us.”  C.H. Spurgeon, sermon: “God With Us”

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Second Day of Christmas

“It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten. It has been created in our minds by Christmas because we are Christians, because we are psychological Christians even when we are not theological ones. In other words, this combination of ideas has emphatically, in the much disputed phrase, altered human nature. There is really a difference between the man who knows it and the man who does not. It may not be a difference of moral worth, for the Moslem or the Jew might be worthier according to his lights; but it is a plain fact about the crossing of two particular lights, the conjunction of two stars in our particular horoscope. Omnipotence and impotence, or divinity and infancy, do definitely make a sort of epigram which a million repetitions cannot turn into a platitude. It is not unreasonable to call it unique. Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet.” G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Christin's Quote Book

  • Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied. – Mark Twain
  • Learning music by reading is like making love by mail. – Lucianno Pavorotti
  • Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living are to the dead. – Aristotle
  • Learning hath gained the most by those books which the printers have lost. – Thomas Fuller
  • A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation. – Howard Scott

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The First Day of Christmas

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”—Luke 2:14.

It is superstitious to worship angels; it is but proper to love them. Although it would be a high sin, and an act of misdemeanour against the Sovereign Court of Heaven to pay the slightest adoration to the mightiest angel, yet it would be un­kind and unseemly, if we did not give to holy angels a place in our heart’s warmest love. In fact, he that contemplates the character of angels, and marks their many deeds of sympathy with men, and kindness towards them, cannot resist the impulse of his nature—the impulse of love towards them. The one incident in angelic his­tory, to which our text refers, is enough to weld our hearts to them forever. How free from envy the angels were! Christ did not come from heaven to save their compeers when they fell. When Satan, the mighty angel, dragged with him a third part of the stars of heaven, Christ did not stoop from his throne to die for them; but he left them to be reserved in chains and darkness until the last great day. Yet angels did not envy men. Though they remembered that he took not up angels, yet they did not murmur when he took up the seed of Abraham; and though the blessed Master had never condescended to take the angel’s form, they did not think it beneath them to express their joy when they found him arrayed in the body of an infant.

How free, too, they were from pride! They were not ashamed to come and tell the news to humble shepherds. Methinks, they had as much joy in pouring out their songs that night before the shepherds, who were watching with their flocks, as they would have had if they had been commanded by their Master to sing their hymn in the halls of Caesar. Mere men—men pos­sessed with pride, think it a fine thing to preach before kings and princes; and think it great condescension now and then to have to minister to the humble crowd. Not so the angels. They stretched their willing wings, and gladly sped from their bright seats above, to tell the shepherds on the plain by night, the marvellous story of an Incarnate God. And mark how well they told the story, and surely you will love them! Not with the stammering tongue of him that tells a tale in which he hath no interest; nor even with the feigned interest of a man that would move the pas­sions of others, when he feeleth no emotion himself; but with joy and gladness, such as angels only can know. They sang the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, “Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.”  C.H. Spurgeon, Sermon: “The First Christmas Carol”

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Under the Floor of the World

“This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; who still drive their cattle into such holes and caverns at night. It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravanserai had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passers-by, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born. But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God also was a Cave-Man, and had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously coloured, upon the wall of the world; but the pictures that he made had come to life.” G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

No Room in the Inn
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” ―Luke 2:1-7

Prayer
Our God and Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us. Thank You for speaking so clear and loud, and for revealing Yourself to us. You spoke to us in our weakness and now, the joy of the Lord is our strength, for we now rely upon You great power. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the paths for Your Only-begotten Son: that we may worthily serve Him with grateful hearts by the grace of Your coming to enlighten our darkened minds. Assist us by Your might, so that by Your grace and merciful kindness we may swiftly receive the salvation that our sins impede. By the coming of Christ You have given peace. Amen.

Advent Action
Find a baby to hold, and as you hold that child reflect upon the fact that this is how God came into the world in order to save us. Consider the power of this amazing paradox that the infinite and eternal God was embodied in a single infant for our sake.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Call His Name Jesus

“Jesus did all that is included in the great word ‘save.’ He did not come to induce us to save ourselves, or to help us save ourselves, or to enable us to save ourselves. He came to save us. And it is, therefore, that His name was called Jesus—because He should save His people from their sins. The glory of our Lord, surpassing all His other glories toward us, is just that He is our actual and complete Savior; our Savior to the uttermost. Our knowledge, even though it be His gift to us as our Prophet, is not our Savior, be it as wide and deep and as high as it is possible to conceive. The Church, though it be His gift to us as our King, is not our Savior, be it as holy and true as it becomes the Church, the bride of the Lamb, to be. The reorganized society in which He has placed us, though it be the product of His holy rule over the redeemed earth, is not our Savior, be it the new Jerusalem itself, clothed in its beauty and descended from heaven. Nay, let us cut more deeply still. Our faith itself, though it be the bond of our union with Christ through which we receive all His blessings, is not our Savior. We have but one Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Nothing that we are and nothing that we can do enters in the slightest measure into the ground of our acceptance of God. Jesus did it all. And by doing it all He has become in the fullest and widest and deepest sense the word can bear—our Savior. For this end did He come into the world—to save sinners; and nothing short of the actual and complete saving of sinners will satisfy the account of His work given by His own lips and repeated from them by all His apostles. It is in this great fact, indeed, that there lies the whole essence of the gospel. For let us never forget that the gospel is not good advice but good news. It does not come to us to make known to us what we must do to earn salvation for ourselves, but proclaiming to us what Jesus has done to save us. It is salvation, a complete salvation, that it announces to us; and the burden of its message is just the words of the text—that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” B.B. Warfield, The Power of God Unto Salvation

One Mediator
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” ―1 Timothy 2:3-7

Prayer
O Lord, our God, we acknowledge that You alone are the initiator and worker of our salvation. We cannot save ourselves, nor can we assist You in saving us. We are the blessed objects of Your mercy and grace. Clearly, Christ demonstrated His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. Father, in gratitude for Your work of salvation, we commit ourselves to serve You with gladness in this new week, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with You; proclaiming the good news of Your salvation from day to day; declaring Your glory among the nations and Your wonders among all peoples. For You, O Lord, are great and greatly to be praised. Amen.

Advent Action
Make a list of three people who are in need of salvation and offer up special pray for them. As you have now prayed for them, seek an opportunity to speak to them about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Humbled and Exalted Christ

The incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection are inseparably connected. When God became a man He knew why He did so, and He knew where He was headed. The incarnation began the journey to the agony of the cross and the victory of the resurrection. And so, when we think of Advent, it should be far more than a cute baby and a Christmas card scene of the nativity. The nativity must be seen in its full context. It’s this context that brings the good news of salvation. The way up is down. This is the beginning of Christ’s humiliation: God—born as a man—in an obscure stable. He slipped into the world through the back door. In due time, the Father would exalt Him above all creation and declare Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks:

Q27:  Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?
A27:  Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.


Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

Coming in the Likeness of Men
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” —Philippians 2:5-11

Prayer
Lord Jesus, we are grateful that You, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, humbled Yourself for our sakes. You condescended to reach us that we might be lifted up with You to everlasting glory. Work in us and teach us to be humble so that we might be exalted in due time. Amen.

Advent Action
Acknowledge your gratitude (verbally our in writing), to three people who have helped you get where you are (parents, grandparents, friends, pastor, etc.). Let them know that you are blessed by their help and are dependent on the kindness of others like them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Point of a Spear

“We, with our modern democratic and arithmetical presuppositions would so have liked and expected all men to start equal in their search for God. One has the picture of great centripetal roads coming from all directions, with well-disposed people, all meaning the same thing, and getting closer and closer together. How shockingly opposite to that is the Christian story! One people picked out of the whole earth; that people purged and proved again and again. Some are lost in the desert before they reach Palestine; some stay in Babylon; some becoming indifferent. The whole thing narrows and narrows, until at last it comes down to a little point, small as the point of a spear—a Jewish girl at her prayers. That is what the whole of human nature has narrowed down to before the Incarnation takes place. Very unlike what we expected, but, of course, not in the least unlike what seems, in general, as shown by nature, to be God's way of working.” ―C.S. Lewis, “The Grand Miracle”

Little Town of Bethlehem

2     “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
     Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
     Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
     The One to be Ruler in Israel,
     Whose goings forth are from of old,
     From everlasting.”
3    Therefore He shall give them up,
     Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
     Then the remnant of His brethren
     Shall return to the children of Israel.
4    And He shall stand and feed His flock
     In the strength of the Lord,
     In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
     And they shall abide,
     For now He shall be great
     To the ends of the earth;
5    And this One shall be peace. ―Micah 5

Prayer
O Lord, our God, we acknowledge that You alone are the initiator and worker of our salvation; we cannot save ourselves, nor can we assist You in saving us. We are the blessed objects of Your mercy and grace. Clearly, Christ demonstrated His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. While we were enemies, You reconciled us to Yourself through Your Son. Amen.

Advent Action
Initiate a conversation with a stranger, showing an interest in them, their family, their career, etc. Don’t forget to pray for them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pre-Existence of Jesus Christ

Let’s back up—if Jesus came, He must have existed before He came. It’s vital that we interpret His life in the light of His pre­-existence. You and I had our beginning at our physical conception. This is not the case with Jesus. You will remember that Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). The Incarnation was not simply the birth of a great man. Instead, it was the only-begotten Son of God entering into human conditions. “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7). Therefore, in Jesus Christ we must constantly realize that we are face to face with not simply a good man, but rather the God-man.

Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

In the Beginning
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” ―John 1:1-5

Prayer
O Ancient of Days, we stand firm, for Your eternity is the strong ground of all our comfort. You are eternal, O God, and You have the right to our perpetual service and You deserve our honor and obedience. In devoting ourselves to You, we serve Him that is, that was (and had no beginning), and that is to come (and shall have no end); by Whom all things have their being, and Who has both eternal knowledge to remember our service, and eternal goodness to reward it in Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Amen.

Advent Action
Sit silently for ten minutes (mark your clock), and meditate on the brevity of earthly your life as compare to the eternal life that Christ brought to His people. He had no beginning and will have no end. You had a beginning, but will live as long as God does in Christ.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Probable or Improbable?

“Now, if one asks whether that central grand miracle in Christianity is itself probable or improbable, of course, quite clearly you cannot be applying Hume's kind of probability. You cannot mean a probability based on statistics according to which the more often a thing has happened, the more likely it is to happen again (the more often you get indiges­tion from eating a certain food, the more probable it is, if you eat it again, that you will again have indigestion). Cer­tainly the Incarnation cannot be probable in that sense. It is of its very nature to have happened only once. But then it is of the very nature of the history of this world to have hap­pened only once; and if the Incarnation happened at all, it is the central chapter of that history. It is improbable in the same way in which the whole of nature is improbable, because it is only there once, and will happen only once. So one must apply to it a quite different kind of standard.”  C.S. Lewis, “The Grand Miracle”

The Word Became Flesh
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” ―John 1:14-18

Prayer
O Lord of creation, we praise You for the miracle of the Incarnation; that the Lord of glory became flesh and dwelt among usGod and man in one personthe only Mediator between us and You. As we remember His coming help us to focus our hearts on Him and to show others His light. Amen.

Advent Action
Give an anonymous gift to someone; and stranger or an acquaintance or a friend in need. Don’t let them know that you were the one giving it. Let it be a sort of “minor miracle” and blessing for them.

Christin's Quote Book

  • A man is not necessarily intelligent because he has plenty of ideas any more than he is a good general because he has plenty of soldiers. – Sebastian Chamfort
  • What is hard to endure is sweet to recall. – Unknown
  • Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius. – Arthur Conan Doyle
  • To the one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To the one without faith, no explanation is possible. – Thomas Aquinas
  • Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Baldwin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why Are You Here?

We usually have reasons for going to the places we go to. For example, we go to the mall to shop or to church to worship. While there may be secondary reasons why we go to certain places, we usually have a primary reason that moves us to go. As we celebrate Advent—the coming of Jesus—we should ask: What’s so important about the coming of Jesus to the world? What was His mission? Why did He come? The Bible gives us a straightforward answer to these vital questions: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners...” (1 Tim. 1: 15). The whole Christmas story is centered in this purpose. Many have misunderstood or misrepresented His reason for coming because they have misunderstood or misrepresented who He is. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). “He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets’” (Matt. 16:13-14). We now have the “baby” Jesus, the “sweet” Jesus, the “nice” Jesus, the “good teacher” Jesus, the “good example” Jesus, the “historical” Jesus, and Jesus the “myth.” We have any number of false ideas about who Jesus is and therefore, false ideas concerning why He came into the world.

Jesus knew that people were prone to this and so He warned them (throwing a curveball): “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:34-38). If we fail to see the real Jesus and the real purpose of His coming, as so many have failed to do, then we may as well forget celebrating His birth; there would be nothing to celebrate. Many men are born every day—even men we might call “good men”—but we don’t sing “Joy to the World…” If we come to understand who He is, then we will also come to appreciate why He came. Then we will have reason to celebrate.

Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

Enemies in Your Mind
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” ―Colossians 1:21-23

Prayer
O Lord, we confess that Jesus is Lord, and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Had He not been sent by Youhad He not condescended and come for uswe would have justly perished in our sins. We praise You for so great a salvation and rejoice over such a wonderful gift! Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Great Campaign of Sabotage

“Enemy-occupied territorythat is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed...and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Then Comes the End
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Prayer
Our God and Father, we acknowledge that by His grace and power Christ defeated sin, which is the greatest enemy of our souls, and that He completed that work by defeating the final enemy, which was death. We also recognize that there are many other enemies of the gospel, of the Church, and of Christ Himself, and that our Lord and King has conquered and defeated them all. When He comes, He rules. Amen.

Advent Action
If you have not done so already, make the decision once-and-for-all that you will always attend church as one who has enlisted in the service of the Lord. This is not a weekly decision, nor one that is made on each Sunday morning. Make it once, make it firm, keep your oath. By doing so, you begin each week renewed in your focus to seek first His kingdom while also being better equipped for the sabotage of the enemy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Seeking Relief

As we seek relief in our Lord Jesus Christ we must begin at His birth. Not only does the Bible tell us that He was made man like us, but that He so emptied Him­self and that He was barely recognized among men. He was a lowly or humble man. There was nothing but a stable and a manger to receive Him. Therefore, we know God’s goodness since He willed that His Son should be humbled for our sakes. The Lord of Glory—Creator of all things—condescending to us.

We should notice that from the time of His birth, He was in such a place that when we seek Him we don’t need to look far to find Him. This is why He willed to be subject to every humiliation and was rejected by men. We should therefore learn to be little ourselves, in order to be received by Him. Big things impress men, while God seems to take pleasure in the small, poor and humble things. It makes sense that there should be conformity between the Head and the body. When we know what we really are, then we may offer ourselves to our Lord Jesus Christ in true humility and then He will recognize us and acknowledge us as His own.

Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

The Word Became Flesh
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:14-18

Prayer
Give us true humility before You and before men, O God. Our inclination is to be proud, self-seeking, and promoting our own image and reputation. Give us insight into our own sinful hearts, and enable us to see how dependent we are upon Your grace. If we are proud, even secretly, or subtly proud, You will oppose us. Enable us to bow humbly before You in the attitude of our hearts. This alone will give us true humility toward our fellow men. May we all humble ourselves before You. AMEN

Advent Action
Secretly (before God) perform a household task that no one likes to do (e.g., clean a toilet, scrub the shower, rake the leaves, etc.). 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10th Anniversary

(Guest Post by Aaron Booth)

video

It has been a pleasure and a blessing to be married to Amy for the last 10 years. Your worth is far above rubies, and because of you I have no lack of gain.

The Way Things Work Now

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the Sons of God. We do not know...how things would have worked if the human race had never rebelled against God and joined the enemy.... You and I are concerned with the way things work now.” ―C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Adoption as Sons
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. ― Galatians 4:1-7

Prayer
Father, by Your gracious provision You have redeemed us from our bondage to the world, wherein we were guilty and condemned under Your holy law. Not only did You set us free from that bondage but went far beyond our rescue by adopting us and making us Your sons and heirs through our Lord Jesus Christ. You have given us Your Spirit and welcomed us as children. We praise You and thank Your for Your marvelous grace. Amen.

Advent Action
Write down three things that you have in your life that you probably would not have had Christ not come for you and made you his child and heir. Give thanks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's It All About?

People are losing the power to enjoy Christmas through identifying it with enjoyment. When once they lose sight of the old suggestion that it is all about something, they naturally fall into blank pauses of wondering what it is all about. To be told to rejoice on Christmas Day is reasonable and intelligible, if you understand the name, or even look at the word. To be told to rejoice on the twenty-fifth of December is like being told to rejoice at quarter-past eleven on Thursday week. You cannot suddenly be frivolous unless you believe there is a serious reason for being frivolous. G.K. Chesterton, “The New War on Christmas,” G. K.’S Weekly, December 26, 1925, Quoted in Brave New Family

The Fullness of God
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15-20

Prayer
Lord, the Advent and Christmas stories are so deep, their symbols are so rich, and carry such potential for nourish­ing our faith. Prevent us from adulterating the message with so many cultural accumulations that we lose sight of the heart of Christmas as worship.

Advent Action
Chesterton insisted, “There is not anything that signi­fies nothing.” Look through your home, noticing some of the main Christmas symbols (Advent calendar and wreath; tree and ornaments; colors of green and red; lights, candles, foods, and traditions). If you have access to the Internet or a public library, research the roots of several of the Christmas symbols or rituals that are most important to you and your family in order to provide a deeper understanding of their meaning. If you cannot discover their true origin, assign a meaning that gives spiritual significance to how you desire to honor the coming of Christ. In the next few days, integrate what you have learned into your prayers.

[From: Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our Joy and Comfort

It is our joy and comfort to be united with the Son of God. Do you comprehend what this means? He is our Head—we are His body. From Him we receive our life, our salvation and all good things. In fact, our condition would be incredibly miserable if we were not protected and maintained by Him. We might not recognize it at the moment, but a miserable condition can lay hidden for some time, or we might rationalize the miserable condition away. However, we could not reach up to God, unless Jesus Christ first condescended to us, and He has already approached us in His birth when He clothed Himself in our flesh and made Himself like us. We couldn’t have our current position in Him, Who is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, unless He first stooped down to us. He was made a real man and assumed a condition in common with us. This is why, when He is called the only “Mediator between God and man.” The term “very man of very man” applied to Him. Also, because He is “very God of very God,” He is called “Emmanuel,” that is, “God with us.”

Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

In the Likeness of Men
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Prayer
O Lord, we were unable to save ourselves when you sent Your Son into the world. He humbled Himself for our sakes that we might be exalted in Him. Even as we groped for Him, yet He was not far from us. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27-18). Indeed, He opened our eyes and turned our hearts that we might lay hold on Him; indeed that we might  be united to Him in every way; in His death and in His resurrection. We praise Your for Your saving grace! Amen.

Advent Action
Jesus condescended to usHe became one of usthat He might speak to us in our language. In order to remind ourselves of His reaching down to us, let each of us find a child to commune with. Read them a story, ask them questions, and grant them your undivided attention.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christin's Quote Book

  • Nothing is easier than to keep a secret: there needs no more but to shut one’s mouth. – Unknown
  • ‘Tis not the drinking that is to be blamed, but the excess. – John Selden
  • If we escape punishment for our vices, why should we complain when we are not rewarded for our virtues? – John C. Collins
  • Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together. – Oscar Levant
  • To endeavor to forget anyone is a certain way of thinking of nothing else. – Jean de la Bruyere

One Grand Miracle

“The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own uni­verse, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.”  ―C.S. Lewis, “The Grand Miracle”

God With Us
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” ―Matthew 1:18-23

Prayer
O Lord, when we were without Christ we were without hope. We were in need of the extraordinary; we were in need of the One Grande Miracle. The incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ rescued us from our helpless condition. Through Him we were delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13). Since He descended, we are now enabled to ascend. Thank You Lord for being with us!

Advent Action
Since we have been made a part of the Body of Christ, we now represent Him to others. Look around you and consider who might be in need of some fresh hope and encouragement. Look for an opportunity to be with them in fellowship, hospitality or even conversation. Don’t forget to pray with them and for them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grateful

The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth? G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Gratitude for Sheer Existence
O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good
things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.
Psalm 104:24, 27-30

Prayer
Lord, perhaps we are not happier right now because we live life without gratitude. We fret frenetically about what we do not have, thus poisoning our appreciation for what we do have. If we were more attentive to the miracles of legs, hands, eyes, ears, and breath—more alert to our very life—perhaps then we could begin to fathom the gifts of sweets and slippers and give proper thanks. Thank you, God, for everything.

Advent Action
If you keep a journal, list the chief four or five things for which you are grateful today. Now imagine that this day were the only day you were granted to live: what would you most appreciate? Demonstrate your grati­tude through some creative act offered to God. Sculpt, draw, or paint a picture; write a poem or story; dance or sing a song. As you allow this act of worship to flower, remember, it is not the quality of the finished product that counts, but your expression of love from a sincere heart. God receives our gifts as we would from our own wide-eyed children. If appropriate, display your finished work somewhere prominently in your home where you can reflect on it as a grateful offering to God.

[From: Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton]

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Opened From the Outside

In the sixteenth chapter of Acts we have two examples of Christ initiating salvation, which is the very thing He said He came to do (i.e., “to save sinners”; 1 Tim. 1:15). In the case of Lydia we read: “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized…” (Acts 16:14-15). A few verses later we read the story of how God miraculously opened the prison doors at Philippi, which led to the drama of the conversion of the jailer and his household. “Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:29-34). Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis for his role in rescuing Jews during WWII said: “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” 
Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

Set Free
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ―Romans 6:17-23

Prayer
O Lord, we too were imprisoned in our sins, and by Your truth, You set us free. We were redeemed by Your blood; bought with a price. Therefore, we acknowledge that we are not our own but now belong to You. Thank You for coming to rescue us, to shake the earth and open the prison doors; to do what we could not do for ourselves. Amen

Advent Action
Seek out someone who is shut in or alone. Go visit them or take them out for a ride or walk, remembering that Christ came to you when you were alone and in need, and He set you free.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Terrifying Drama

So that is the outline of the official story—the tale of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when He submitted to the conditions He had laid down and became a man like the men He had made, and the men He had made broke Him and killed Him. This is the dogma we find so dull—this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero.

If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of te­dium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. Dorothy Sayers, Creed of Chaos

Not Worthy of Me
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” ―Matthew 10;24-39

Prayer
We are thankful, Father, that You sent Your Son to intervene, not only in human history but also in our personal history. As we remember all Your mighty acts, along with Your gracious work of redemption, we also see how men have resisted, indeed, how we have resisted. Nevertheless, Your work of salvation has prevailed. Thank You for dramatically changing the course of our lives and the life of our family. Amen.

Advent Action
Recount stories of how following Christ has dramatically impacted your life and the life of your family. Discuss how your life (or lives) would be different if Christ had not come for you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Expect Nothing, Enjoy Everything

It is commonly, in a somewhat cynical sense, that men have said, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.” It was in a wholly happy and enthusiastic sense that Saint Francis said, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall enjoy everything.” It was by this deliberate idea of starting from zero, from the dark nothingness of his own deserts, that he did come to enjoy them. G.K. Chesterton, Saint Francis Of Assisi

The Gift of God
This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Prayer
Lord, our days are short, but we have done nothing to deserve even the few years of life that you give us. Teach us to be grateful for small things—food and drink and work—by remembering your servant Saint Francis, who truly expected nothing and enjoyed everything he had.

Advent Action
Each time you sit down to eat today, pause a little longer than you normally do. Meditate on the words from Eccle­siastes, “it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment.” Allow yourself to fill with thanks, to be thank-full.

[From: Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Camel and the Needle

I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle. I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel. But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest—if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this—that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy....There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Nothing Is Impossible With God
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the king­dom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Mark 10:23-27

Prayer
Jesus, you spoke hard words about the rich young ruler. We confess that we are too much like him; together we form a camel train trudging toward the tiniest needle, its speck of an eye. How can we hope to pass through into the kingdom of God? We rely on you, God of the Impossible, and not ourselves. Make us into what you would have us be.

Advent Action
Once when she was asked how much money a person should give away, Mother Teresa answered that we should give until it hurts—and then give some more. You can imagine what a camel would feel like trying to squeeze through the eye of the needle. Perhaps our giving should create commensurate pain. Take a moment and think about the charitable giving that you have done this year. What more can you give away, even after it hurts you?

[From: Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Man of Delicate Sensibilities

God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him. Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane. Otherwise we should have missed the great lesson that it is by his will alone that a man is good or bad, and that feelings are not, in themselves, of any im­portance. We should also have missed the all-important help of knowing that He has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin. If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage, that would have been for many of us almost the same as His not being incar­nate at all. C.S. Lewis

Sympathizing With Our Weakness
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ― Hebrews 4:14-16

Prayer
O Lord, we are so thankful that, in Your infinite wisdom, You sent us a Savior who is like us and can sympathize with our weakness. We know that He has been where we have been yet without sin, and that as our High Priest He now intercedes for us. It is a great comfort and help to know that we may come boldly to the throne of grace. AMEN.

Advent Action
Find an opportunity to interact with a little child, entering into their world, and seeing things from their perspective. Play with their things; talk their talk; experience their world. They will quickly bond with you and feel comfortable in your presence. In a way, this is what Christ does for us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Glory of Genealogy

Matthew 1 sets before us a summary of God’s glorious covenant faithfulness. This is what we celebrate in every season but especially in the season of advent. People who do genealogical research on their family are sometimes known as “genealogy buffs.” It’s nice for people who like that sort of thing, but different hobbies may hold more interest for others. Nevertheless, God views genealogy in a far more significant light. The Bible loves genealogy, because the Bible loves the concepts of covenant and of community. We’re connected to those behind us, and we’re connected to those ahead of us. People are often bored with their own genealogy, much less someone else’s. Yet the inspired, living word of God does not do what we are tempted to do—it doesn’t skip over the genealogies—it goes on and on and on. The genealogical record is a scrapbook of faithfulness i.e., God’s faithfulness. No matter the sins or intentions of men, the purposes and promises of God stand.
Pastor Randy Booth, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nacogdoches, TX

Son of David
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” Luke 1:31-32

Prayer
Father, we give you thanks for adopting us into Your family, as the Church is the household of God and we have been made members by Your grace. We are grateful for the faithful brothers and sisters who have gone before us and delivered the gospel to us We pray that You would enable us to be likewise faithful as we pass the gospel down to those who come after us. Amen.

Advent Action
Take a look at your own genealogy (as far as you can). Did you come from a long line of believers or are you an example of God’s intervening grace? In either case, you have much to be thankful for. Ask your parents or grandparents to give you some additional background information on your family history. Don’t forget, as a Christian, your covenantal family history is in Christ. You are part of the family of God.