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Saturday, December 31, 2011

12/31/11-Wrapping up- New Blog to start 1/1/12

I am starting a new blog for the 2012 year about faith hope and love. 
The three really go together.

Our world tends to be enthralled by post-modernism's call to "just get along" (aka Rodney King syndrome).   Often I hear that it really doesn't matter what you believe, and you can pick cafeteria style what you want to believe.  All of us do that to a certain extent (Christians differ on secondary things- like amillenialism, postmillenialism, premillenialism).  But the basics and essentials bring us together.
Believing in anything, it seems, is under attack today. 

But the secondary effect of not believing is not having ultimate meaning.  "Why are we here?" cannot truthfully and meaningfully be answered if we do not have a God who made us for a purpose.

Without purpose, we lose motivation for ethics.  If the only ethic is "not to get caught", then it puts a burden on the police to make more laws and send out more cameras and officers.  But all morality cannot be legislated either.  Being kind instead of selfish is hard to "catch." 

Maybe others say the ethic is to "do no harm."  But why?  If we are just a bunch of atoms thrown together by accident, what difference does it really make?  If some say, "We should do no harm lest others harm us", does this mean the only ethic is to avoid harm/pain/uncomfortableness?   If so, then the main reason for living is our comfort- which I find to be quite uncomfortable.  Such comfort can easily slide into another form of selfishness. 

But if we have a God who lovingly made us for a purpose- and calls us to be what we are made to be- people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control- then we have a reason for behaving selflessly- with kindness (in short- love).

More than that- we can have hope.  It is hard to have hope for the future if we have no meaning in the present.  Faith and love foster hope- and hope in turn encourages us to have faith and not give up when pain/harm/discomfort comes.  Hope also encourages us to stick with love as the better way through the fights, misunderstandings, miscommunications, poverty, sickness, sorrow, or the pride that comes with riches/health, and temporary happiness. 

Without faith hope and love, the anti-trinity of fear superstition and selfishness grow.  As faith has decreased in our society- superstition and fear have increased. 

Faith hope and love are a trinity of sorts that encourage each other.  Hope without faith is optimism with no reason.  Love without faith is nice but misses the calling and accountability of God.  God calls us to love others- even when they are our enemies- or even to turn the other cheek in self-sacrifice.  This is hard (if not meaningless) without faith.  So in 2012 I will be writing a blog on faith- throwing in love and hope whenever possible.  I will start out using the Westminster Shorter Catechism as an outline, and will re-translate it in 2012 English.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

12/25/11- Merry Christmas!

12/25- Day 29- Simeon’s Prophecy- A Sword will Pierce your soul as well Luke 2:29-35
Light all the candles including the Christ candle.

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:29-35)

(Simeon the Righteous Alexey Yegorov 1830-40)

Thoughts: This was the first prophecy recorded after the birth of Jesus.  Joseph and Mary were bringing Jesus to the Temple to dedicate their firstborn son and offer a sacrifice in His stead.  Simeon was a godly man, but was not known as a prophet.  He was waiting for the Messiah to come, and God had told him that he would see the Messiah before his death.  The prophecy about the Christ is that he would cause the falling and rising of many of Israel.  It is a bringing down of the powerful (falling), and a lifting up of the humble (like Mary and Joseph and some fishermen).  The pride and know-it-alls in their faith (the priests and Pharisees) would fall, but the common people who sought God with their heart would rise.  But the dagger at the end of this is that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart too.  It was not a physical blade, but a double-edged blade of conviction and sorrow. She would come to believe in her son, and she would feel the piercing sorrow of watching him suffer as a sacrifice.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to humble myself and allow you to penetrate my heart with your presence and love.

Friday, December 23, 2011


12/24- Day 28- The Angel’s prophecies-  Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:26-38
Light four candles.  If lighting them in the evening, you may also light the Christ candle.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:20-21)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.  (Luke 1:29-37)

(The Annunciation Paolo Matteis  1712)

Thoughts: The angel Gabriel proved a prophet- being a messenger of the Messiah.  He predicted that the Messiah would come through Joseph, and Mary.  All the prophetic predictions about the Messiah were narrowing down to within a few months.  It was becoming very clear exactly what God wanted, and how He was going to bring His son into the world- through a common couple and as a baby.  God was announcing His plan becoming real right then- which was a shock to Mary and Joseph.  The time waited for and predicted for centuries was coming to reality. God comes to us in smaller ways, but often in surprising ways to accomplish His plans.  Our response should be as Mary’s- may it be to me as you have said.  On Christmas Eve, we rejoice that God accomplishes His plan for our salvation.

Prayer: Lord, may your plan be accomplished in me.  May I accept your Son, your salvation anew.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/23- Day 27- Light four candles.
 The Messiah would suffer for our sins and raised- Isaiah 53; Matthew 27, 28

(Isaiah 53) 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
(Isaiah 53 selections)

(Vouet 1622)

Thoughts: Isaiah foresaw that the Messiah would not come in triumph without also suffering.  So much of Christ’s suffering is illuminated in these verses and in Psalm 22- so much so that some think Jesus simply tried to duplicate what was said.  But Jesus had no control over being pierced  (Jn. 19:34), or having his clothes gambled for, or being given a grave with Nicodemus.  Isaiah foresaw the Messianic sacrifice- atoning for sin. Isaiah also foresaw that after his suffering and being assigned a grave he would see the light of life (a reference to the resurrection- vs. 11).  The amazing thing is that the Creator suffered because of our sins.  It is hard to get our head around this kind of love and grace.  In some ways Jesus came to suffer and die.  He said at the beginning of his ministry, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Christ came to suffer for us that we might have our iniquities borne away.

Prayer: Your deep, amazing love, O God, strengthens me.  Help me to live a grateful life because you came and died on my behalf.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12/22/11 Advent 26- The Messiah Prophesied to be Betrayed

12/22- Day 26- Light four candles.
 The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver- Ps. 41:9; Zech. 11:2; Mt. 10:4; 26:15

9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me (Psalm 41:9)

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

15 and [Judas] asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)

I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me…Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes it is you.” (Matthew 26:21,25)

 (Judas betrays Christ with a kiss)

Thoughts: Betrayal is a terrible act in life.  Dante had Brutus as well as Judas in the depths of hell because of their betrayal of someone who trusted them.  Judas betrayed Jesus with a sign of love- a kiss.  Jesus predicted the betrayal early on in his ministry, and predicted it through Judas at the table of the Last Supper.  The Bible says that Satan entered Judas when he went to the Pharisees agreeing to money (30 pieces of silver) to betray Jesus, and that Satan also entered him at the Last Supper.  Betrayal is ultimate evil.  The opposite is loyalty and faithfulness.  Let God find us faithful and loyal this Christmas.

Prayer: Help me to be loyal to you, O Lord.  Keep me from betrayal and shaming you by my actions or words.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12/21/11- Advent Day 25 - Messiah is to be Rejected by His people, but a Light for the Gentiles

12/21- Day 25- Light four candles .
The Messiah would be a stumbling block for the Jews and Light for the Gentiles Ps. 118:22 (1 Pt. 2:7);
                            Isa. 60:3; Acts 13:47-48

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalm 118:22- quoted in 1 Peter 2:7)

1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3)

47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47)

“My eyes have seen your salvation… a light to the Gentiles.” (Luke 2:30-32)

(Simeon prophesying Jesus as the light for the Gentiles).

Thoughts: We already saw on day 3 that God’s plan was to bless all peoples through the choosing of Abraham.  Jesus is the means to that blessing.  In His ministry Jesus healed non Jews, evangelized Samaritans, and told parables of the Good Samaritan to open the way to the Gentiles.  The Jews would not be the only ones to know about God- the way would be open to “whosoever believed.”  God is God of all the earth.  For those who wished for only a small group of pure Jews to know God (like the Essenes or Saducees) then Jesus was a huge disappointment.  We too are called to be lights to the world- testifying to His great Light.

Prayer: May I be a light to those around me, pointing to your true light.

Simeon's Song: "Now That I've Held Him in My Arms" Michael Card

12/20/11- The Messiah Prophesied to Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey

12/20- Day 24- Light four candles . The Messiah would Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey- Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:35-37

9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

  35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
(Luke 19:35-37)

(Palm Sunday procession- James J. Tissot)

Thoughts: A sign that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of David, was how he entered Jerusalem.  He came not on a war horse, but a humble colt.  People were looking for a Messiah who would come on a donkey according to Zechariah's prophecy.  Luke records the miracle of the disciples finding a donkey at the right time and place (Lk. 19).  Jesus rode the colt that no one had ridden before- he tamed the donkey- as He tames us!  When God exalts us, let us seek not to relish in it, but to seek humility in the midst of praise.

Prayer: Lord, give me grace to be gracious and humble even when others want to exalt us.

Here is a great site of messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus- listed by book:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12/19/11- Messiah Prophesied to Teach in Parables

12/19- Day 23- Light four candles.  The Messiah would teach in parables Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:34

1 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— 3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
(Psalm 78:2)

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”  (Matthew 13:34)

(Jesus teaching in the Temple- James J. Tissot)

Thoughts: Even the method and manner of Jesus’ teaching was prophesied.  Jesus was a master story- teller, and he most often used a parable to tell the story he needed to hear.  Telling a story in a parable much like telling a story in a ballad or song- it is more easily remembered.  The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Talents are simply literary masterpieces.  Jesus accommodated his stories to put them on the same level his hearers were on. So we should keep the faithful message but tell it using the means available to us (the web, facebook, blogs, dvd, new kinds of song etc.) to get the life-saving parables out to others.

Prayer: The message is more important than the medium.  Give me a heart to tell others your good news.

Today I found a list of messianic prophecies.  It is really encouraging:

(The Good Samaritan- Aime Moret 1880)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12/18/11-Messiah Prophesied to Heal

12/18- Day 22- Light four candles.
The Messiah shall have a ministry of miracles- Isaiah 35:5,6; Matthew 9:35 (John 11:43-47; 21:25)

3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  (Isaiah 35:3-6)

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:35-36)

(Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus- Carl Bloch- d. 1890).

Thoughts: God is the Great Physician.  He is the One who made us- every molecule and atom of us.  He knows us by name and knows what is going on before the MRI or CAT Scan or biopsy is taken. God does not just care about our souls and our minds.  He also cares about our bodies.  Jesus showed that clearly when He came.  The Messiah brings spiritual and physical relief.  This is a sign of God’s love and compassion breaking upon our hurt and problems.  He heals people because He is compassionate for them.  In turn, we are called to do all we can to help people who are in need.  We are his hands and feet now. 

Prayer: Give me compassion, Lord, for those who are sick around me.  Give me a heart like yours that cared for those who were hurting whether they were clean, dirty, multiple or single problems.  Let me be patiently kind and compassionate toward them. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

12/17/11- Messiah to be from Galilee

12/17- Day 21- Light 3 candles. The Messiah shall be “from” Galilee- Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-17

1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;  (Isaiah 9:1-3)

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:12-17)
(Sea of Galilee- taken by author)

Thoughts: God gives hope to humbled areas that He hasn’t  forgotten them.  So God comes to us and lifts us up when we humble ourselves in His sight.   Galilee had been ripped apart by the Assyrians.  Isaiah was giving them hope of honor one day.  God gives us hope in our humility. 

Prayer: In my humility, give me hope, O Lord.

(John the Baptist- da Vinci 1512)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12/15/11- The Messiah to be Concerned for the Temple

12/15- Day 19- Light the first 3 candles (the third is the pink/joy candle).
 The Messiah shall be concerned with the purity of His Temple Psalm 69:9; John 2:15,16

9 for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.(Psalm 69:9)

15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15-16)

Jesus chasing the Moneychangers out of the Temple John 2:15,16- Raymond Balze)

Thoughts: Jesus was not simply and just a nice guy.  He also was concerned with putting things right.  The people were weighed down by laws, and bribes.  They had the appearance of law but it was wrong-headed.  They were legalistic about little things but were not getting their hearts right with God.  Jesus was concerned with the Temple as the House of God.  He taught there, His disciples gathered there.  He was concerned that the house of prayer not be turned into a den of thieves.  We too should be concerned that the church be pure and holy for it is the Holy One’s church. 

Prayer: This advent, make me holy.  Give me a concern and a desire to pursue holiness and purity in the way I speak, think, and act toward you and others, Lord.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12/14/11- Advent Day 18- Messiah to be Filled with the Spirit

12/14- Day 18- Light the first 3 candles (the third is the pink/joy candle).
The Messiah shall be filled with the Holy Spirit- Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16,17

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2)

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4:18-19)

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

(Tree of Jesse- Commissioned by James IV of Scotland 1510-20)

Thoughts: The Spirit of God rests on Jesus who is of the line of Jesse.  Jesus began His ministry claiming an anointing of the Holy Spirit.  The word “Christ” means “anointed one.”  Anointing was a symbol of calling.  Sometimes people were anointed to do certain tasks or fill certain offices (1 Kings 19:15-18).  But anointing is also a symbol of blessing and smoothness.  Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of things fitting right without squeaking or yanking.  When God blesses us with His Spirit- things seem to go smoothly and rightly- the way they are designed to be.  Perhaps in the rush of Christmas shopping, cooking, decorating, and parties maybe you feel exhausted more than blessed.  Seek God’s Spirit to make the way smooth before you. 

Prayer: Bless me Lord this advent, that I might be a blessing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

12/13/11- Advent Day 17 The Christ Prophesied to be a King

12/13- Day 17- Light the first 3 candles (the third is the pink/joy candle).
 The Messiah shall be a King- Psalm 2:6; Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 27:37

6"Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." (Psalm 2:6)

5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. (Jeremiah 23:5)

37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Mt. 27:37)

(Christ the King stained glass at Melkite Church in Rosalinde Massachusetts).

Thoughts: The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks “How is Christ a king?” the answer is 1) in subduing us to himself, 2) in ruling and defending us; 3) in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.  The prophets forecast that He a righteous and just king will one day rule and do what is right- in contrast to the evil rulers.  Jesus’ said that he was a king (Mt. 27:11), but his kingdom was not of this world (Jn. 18:36).   Jesus’ kingdom is not ruled with tanks and guns but rules over the hearts of people.  In the American Revolution the Presbyterians had a saying, “We have no king but Jesus.”  The ultimate authority for what is right or wrong is His.  When we rebel against Him and His way we are doing nothing but hurting ourselves for He made us.

Prayer: Lord, keep me from rebelling against you.  Help me to listen and serve you as my King.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12/12/11- Messiah Prophesied to be a Priest

12/12- Day 16- Light the first 3 candles (the third is the pink/joy candle).
 The Messiah shall be a Priest- Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 3:1

4The LORD hath sworn and will not repent: "Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:4)

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.  (Hebrews 3:1).

(Jesus the Savior- St. Catherine’s Monastery Mt. Sinai)

Thoughts: John Calvin summarized the work of Christ as prophet, priest and king- the three anointed offices in the Old Testament.  Jesus brought all three together which is not easily done.  David was a prophet who wrote many Psalms and a king, but not a priest.  Uzziah was a king who tried to be a priest and received leprosy for overstepping his bounds.  But Jesus is all three.  Yesterday’s devotion spoke of his being a prophet, and tomorrow’s of his being king. Hebrews speaks eloquently on the priesthood of Christ.  A priest is a mediator between human beings and God.  The priest prayed for the people (interceding for them), while He sacrificed for them to reconcile them to God.  But the priest also spoke to the people about God.  Christ is the ultimate high priest for He is both God and human.  He understands both and brings both together. The ultimate sacrifice He made was not of many animals but the ultimate sacrifice of Himself on the cross to pay for our sins.  Luke’s genealogy (supposedly through Mary) goes back to Levi the father of priests (3:29).  While Hebrews points out He is a priest forever and ever of the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:6).  He is a priest not only to the Jews, but also to any who would believe in Him.  This advent we should remember that Christ came to build a bridge for us to God as His priestly work.

Prayer: Forgive me and my family of our sins this advent Lord.  Grant us a clean heart and peace with God and each other. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12/11/11- The Messiah is Prophesied to be a Prophet

12/11- Day 15- Light the first 3 candles (the third is the pink/joy candle). The Messiah shall be a Prophet Deuteronomy 18:18; Matthew 21:11 (Lk. 7:16; Jn. 4:19; 6:14; 7:40)

18I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:18)

 11And the multitude said, "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." (Matthew 21:11)

(“Transfiguration”- Raphael 1516- with the prophets Moses and Elijah)

Thoughts: Moses, at the very beginning of the nation of Israel foretold of the ultimate prophet (Deut. 18:18 above).  McDowell says that the Jewish scholar Maimonides in a letter to the community of the Jews in Yemen denounced a messiah pretender by saying: “The Messiah will be a very great Prophet, greater than all the Prophets with the exception of Moses our teacher…His status will be higher than that of the Prophets and more honorable.”  When John the Baptist came, people asked him if he was “the prophet” (Jn. 1:21).  Jesus spoke forth the Word of God as a prophet would.  In fact, Jesus is greater than any prophet in that He Is described as the Word (or emanation) of God incarnate- the Word made flesh (John 1:1,14).  Before Jesus’ sacrificial death (which he had predicted in many times and places) Moses and Elijah- two of the greatest prophets- met with Him to encourage Him on.  Jesus also predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple (Mt. 24:2; Mk. 13; Lk. 21) within a generation of his death.  This happened in 70 AD.  But Jesus not only predicted, He also taught amazing words of grace, love and beauty.  The voice from heaven gave good advice, “This is my Son whom I love, listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5).

 Prayer: Lord you have a message for me.  It is found in your very person.  Help me to have ears to hear and listen to your voice.

Friday, December 9, 2011

12/10/11- Messiah to be Called "Immanuel"

12/10- Day 14- Light the first two candles.  The Messiah shall be Called Immanuel- God with us- Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23

14Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel  (Isaiah 7;14)

23"Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel" (which being interpreted is, "God with us"). (Matthew 1:23)

(“Nativity” Giorgione 1507)

Thoughts: Immanuel is a title of Jesus, not the name of Jesus. It means "God with us."  Jesus was to be God in the flesh.  But He was recognized in His miracles, in His loving teaching, in His manner of life as God in the flesh.  Thomas fell at His feet and cried, “My Lord and My God!”  In Isaiah the child, Immanuel, born at the prophet’s bidding, was a sign of God’s care and deliverance from the enemies of his people (at the time the armies of Syria and Israel).  But the ultimate deliverance is for all people.  It is deliverance of sin and the punishment due for sin.  Have you ever felt at Christmas time that God was just “with” you.  Have you experienced nearness of God?  God’s presence with us is a sign of His care and blessing. 

Prayer: Lord, you are God come down- God with us.  Thank you for coming down for us to deliver us.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

12/9/11- The Messiah is Called "Lord"

12/9- Day 13- Light the first two candles . The Messiah shall be called the Lord Psalm 110:1; Luke 2:11; Matthew 22:43-45

The LORD said unto my Lord, "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." (Psalm 110:1)

11For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

43He said unto them, "How then doth David in the Spirit call Him `Lord,' saying, 44`The LORD said unto my Lord, "Sit Thou on My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool"'? 45If David then call Him `Lord,' how is He his son?"  (Matthew 22:43-45)

13Ye call Me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am.  14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet.  (John 13:13-14)
(The Lord washing the disciples’ feet- Ford Madox Brown d. 1893)

Thoughts: Jesus is worthy of our humbling ourselves- kneeling before Him- sa He is Lord.  Yet He also humbled Himself before us- washing the feet of the disciples- and washing away our sins by His sacrificial death on the cross.  He is Lord of lords as well as King of kings, and is worthy of our allegiance and worship this advent.  If we recognized we were in His presence, and how much He did for us, we would rarely let anything get in the way of our worship of Him.

 Prayer: Lord I bow before you, for you are Lord. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12/8/11- Prophecy that the Messiah Would Be Presented with Gifts

12/8- Day 12- Light the first two candles. Presented with gifts- Psalm 72:10; Mathew 2:1,11

8He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. 
9They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust.
10The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. (Psalm 72:8-10)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, 2saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."… 11And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts: gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1,2,11)

(Byzantine Mosaic-early depiction of Magi 565 Ravenna Italy)

Thoughts: This was applied to Solomon- but also to the Messiah.  The ones who lived in Seba and Sheba the Sabeans, lived in Arabia (Nezikin, JM).  The wise men were considered “men of the east” by most scholars noted for their soothsaying (Is. 2:6).  Arabia was also called the land of the east (Gen. 25:6), and the presents they gave were products of that area.   (JM p. 174). 
     This indicates to us the kingship of Christ and that He is worthy of our worship and our gifts.  Wise men still seek Him. That is a saying we should not forget.  Christ is worthy of all that we are, because He sacrificially came and sacrificially died for our behalf- for our good.  In gratitude to God and inspired by the Spirit, we should come and worship and give to Him.

Prayer: Lord you are worthy of our time, talents, and gifts.  Help us not to take you for granted.

(Sarcophagi stone work in Rome 4th cent depicting magi bearing gifts)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12/7- Day 11- Light the first two candles.  Born in Bethlehem- Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7

 2"But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto Me He that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, (Matthew 2:1)

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, unto the City of David which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) 5to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child. 6And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And 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 2:4-7)

(Nativity Painting In Bethlehem Church of the Nativity)

Thoughts: Bethlehem is a small town outside large Jerusalem.  It is a little bit like Chapin- about 20 miles away from the big city.  Not much was expected to happen here- but out of this small country town came both David and Jesus.  The ironic thing is that God used a decree issued by the greatest human emperor ever thousands of miles away to accomplish his purpose.  Caesar Augustus said everyone must go to their hometown to be counted in order to be taxed.  This was not an uncommon practice, but that it happened when Mary was about to be delivered- and that she went made the prophecy not only become figuratively true, but literally true.  Micah was a contempoary with Isaiah around 700 B.C. when he prophecied this amazing and specific prophecy.  It was so specific that when the wise men came looking for the Messiah- the Prince to be born the scribes pointed them to Bethlehem (Mt. 2).  God often takes the small and insignificant and lifts it up for His purposes.  David the shepherd killed Goliath.  Jesus the humble conquered the world.
Prayer: O little child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray.  Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.