Advent 2016 Week 3

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” —Matthew 1:18

G.K. Chesterton, a famous Christian author, wrote, ‘Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator’.  When we talk about courage in the realm of Christmas we often talk about Mary.  Mary was with child because of the Holy Spirit, she was carrying the savior of the world, or she gave birth in a stable.

But I am often struck by the idea that Jesus was the courageous one.  Jesus was the one who left a perfect relationship, who left glory, who left the riches of heaven, to become a crying baby.  The pictures of the birth of Jesus and the songs we sing sometimes give us a very sanitized version of the world Jesus came into.

However, scripture reminds us that he was born in a manner not worthy of king, into a world that was threatened by his appearing.  Jesus, came into our world, courageously on His first night, and that courage remained until His last!

Today:

What area of your life do you need courage?  Take a moment thanking God that He has given you the power of the Holy Spirit to live out gospel courage.

If you have children:

Ask them what courage is.  Ask them to consider how Jesus displayed courage.  Take a moment and pray with them and thank Jesus for His courage.

27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

Have you ever asked yourself in a situation, ‘What would Jesus do?’  I’ve often struggled with that phrase.  Jesus was God.  I am not.  So how am I going to be able to do what Jesus did.  In fact, if you think about it, there is really only one person in all of history who lived the Christian life the way it was supposed to be lived…   Jesus.

So, if Jesus is the only one who ever did it, is it even possible for us to live that life?

Paul, in his letter to the church in Colosse answers that question with an emphatic ‘Yes!’  You see Jesus breathes life into us by giving us Himself.  The hope for us overcoming sin, living the Christian life, isn’t in our own efforts, it’s in having the Spirit of Christ reside in us and live the Christian life through us.

This Christmas season and as we prepare for the New Year, let’s stop trying to be better Christians and thank God for the hope for us living the Christian life has been given to us by His Spirit.

Today:

Thanks God for the Holy Spirit that lives in you.  Ask God to give you the wisdom and knowledge the let the Spirit live the Christian life through you.

If you have Children:

Ask your child how a light bulb works.  What makes it be bright?  Electricity.  If the light bulb doesn’t let the electricity do its work, how useful is the light bulb?  Encourage them with the idea that the Holy Spirit lives in us to produce light and help them be the person God created them to be.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22

What is the best gift that you have ever received?  I remember when I was in 7th grade and so excited about the Nintendo game system that I received for Christmas.  There wasn’t anything special that I did to receive the gift, I just asked for it and unwrapped it and then spent the next couple of years enjoying it.

When Jesus departed this world He left His disciples with a gift that was unlike any other, Himself.  He left each one of them with the Holy Spirit and the beauty is that for every person who puts their faith in Jesus He offers that same gift, the Holy Spirit.

Today:

Take a moment to thank Jesus for the Holy Spirit who lives in you.  Thanks Jesus for the great gift that He has provided.

If You Have Children:

Ask them what was the greatest gift they have received or could receive in the future.  Encourage them with the truth that God gives gifts too, and one of those gifts is the Holy Spirit.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22

In the season of Advent we anticipate and look forward to the second coming or arrival of Jesus.  The question become then, what, as a follower of Jesus are we called to do until He returns?  In the gospel of John Jesus declares, ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ (John 20:21).

The wonder of Advent reminds us what we are sent to declare, that Jesus the messiah has come, and this is what we are sent to do, to declare that message with our actions and our words.

Today:

Take moment to worship Jesus for His coming into our world, for when we are moved by the first advent of Jesus it will inspire us to speak more of it.

If you have children:

Ask them who is someone that they know that needs to know that Jesus the messiah was sent into our world.  Take a moment and pray for that person.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22

Advent means arrival.  For the church we celebrate the season of Advent for two reasons, we celebrate the first arrival of Jesus and anticipate the second arrival of Jesus.  Over the next three days I want to focus on three things that Jesus encouraged His disciples with as he departed from them.

The first thing He offered them was peace.  The peace that Jesus offers is not a peace that is absent from trouble or problems, the disciples were about to have plenty of those.  The peace that Jesus gives and offers is a peace that transcends circumstances.  It’s an experiential peace that comes from being in the presence of God.

Today:

Take a moment and ask God to give you His peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

If you have children:

Are your kids to describe peace.  Ask them where they would like there to be peace in their lives.  Pray with that God would give them peace.

19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” — Matthew 1:19-21

Have you ever considered why Jesus was born of a virgin?  Why ‘that which [was] conceived in her [was] from the Holy Spirit’?  One of the most significant reasons is mentioned by the angel of the Lord in verse 21, ‘for he will save his people from their sins’.

There is a difference between us and Jesus in our births.  When we are born, we are born with a sin nature.  There is nothing we can do about it.  Every baby born since Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son, was born with a sin nature… except one.  Jesus was born without this nature, because he was not born of man, but born of the Holy Spirit.

That is significant because it is the only way that Jesus could be without a sin nature, and therefore save his people from their sins by taking on the penalty of their sins.

Today:

What emotion does this stir in you?  Thankfulness, curiosity, wonder?  Take a moment to worship Jesus for His advent into our world.

If you have children:

Ask them to describe how Jesus is like us (i.e. he laughs, dreams, eats).  Ask them to describe how Jesus is not like us (i.e. did not sin, mediate between us and God).

 

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” — Matthew 1:18

What is the role of the Holy Spirit?  At one of the most significant moments in our world, it was the Holy Spirit who created literal life in Mary.  This is such a beautiful mystery, that Mary was pregnant with the Savior of the world, and it was the Holy Spirit who created life in a virgin.

Have you ever considered, that in a similar way, when we put our faith in Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit who brings us to life?  A miraculous new life in us was born.  We have become a new creation.

As we celebrate the birth of our savior, let’s remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit has worked in our lives to create a new life also.

Today:

Take a moment to think about being a new creation.   Think about the joy and excitement that accompanies new life.  Ask God to remind you of the beautiful mystery of when He brought you to life through the Holy Spirit.

If you have children:

Ask them what they think it is like to be a newborn baby.  What do you think they feel, see, and experience?

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