Thursday, December 27, 2018

Advent Devotional for Christmas Eve


Through Advent 2018 we have studied God’s messages as brought to us by prophets of the Old Testament, centuries before the birth of Jesus, and by angels of the New Testament as promised to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph, and as proclaimed by angels to the shepherds.  No matter when the messages were delivered, and no matter whether delivered by prophets or angels, the messages from God are essentially the same:  on a particular day in the city of David, God is sending a savior who will bring peace, love and the promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him.  Tonight, if we stop for a moment and reside in the quietness and awe of worship, we have a sense of anticipation, of His coming, and of the peace of His being with us and in us.  Yesterday we considered the prophet’s call for us to come to Him and we rejoiced in the fact that He bids us come to Him.  Tonight, we anticipate His birth, the time when He came to us- to be God and man with us and in us.

 God’s promises were confirmed by the prophecy of Micah in chapter 5, verses 2-4 as follows:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
   out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
   whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”
3   Therefore Israel will be abandoned
    until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
    and the rest of his brothers return
    to join the Israelites.
4    He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
   And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.

In writing about these verses, theologian John Piper tells us “Bethlehem is scarcely worth counting among the clans of Judah, yet God chooses to bring his magnificent Messiah out of this town. Why? because Bethlehem is small -- God chooses something small, quiet, out of the way, and does something there that changes the course of history and eternity. We can’t say, “Well, of course he set his favor on Bethlehem, look at the human glory Bethlehem has achieved!” All we can say is, “God does nothing in order to attract attention to our accomplishments; he does everything to magnify his glorious freedom and mercy.” Similarly, God chose a stable so no innkeeper could boast, “He chose the comfort of my inn!” God chose a manger so that no wood worker could boast, “He chose the craftsmanship of my bed!” He chose Bethlehem so no one could boast, “The greatness of our city constrained the divine choice!” And he chose you and me, freely and unconditionally.”

“The deepest meaning of the littleness and insignificance of Bethlehem is that God does not bestow the blessings of the Messiah — the blessings of salvation — on the basis of our greatness or our merit or our achievement. He does not elect cities or people because of their prominence or grandeur or distinction. When he chooses he chooses in order to magnify the glory of his own mercy, not the glory of our distinctions. Therefore let us say with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest!” not glory to us, but glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

As we worship here in the quiet anticipation of the birth of our glorious Savior, let us open our hearts to the vastness of God’s love, and the fulfillment of His promises in Christ among us.

Heavenly Father
Thank You for the fulfillment of Your promises in the Birth of the Savior.  Tonight, as we anticipate the wondrous celebration of His birth, we come seeking You who alone can equip and dwell in us so that
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
we are strengthened to do the work of Christmas by radiating Your light and glorifying You and reflecting Your peace, Your grace and Your love.

No comments:

Post a Comment