ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Advent Devotions from John's Christmas Story

Updated on April 12, 2017
I put up my Christmas Tree on the first day of Advent
I put up my Christmas Tree on the first day of Advent | Source

The Christmas Story in the Gospel of John

Very few look to John's gospel to find the story of the birth of Christ. After all, Linus Van Pelt made famous Luke's rendition, and if we want to find the details of the Magi's visit, we look to Matthew's account. But in the first chapter of John, this apostle that Jesus loved tells about Christ's birth in the cryptic way that John often writes.

This page will at the first section of the fourth gospel throughout the four weeks of Advent. Beginning with the first verse of John and going through verse 18, we'll explore this unorthodox Christmas story.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Jesus is the Reason for the Season | Source

Introduction to Advent

Logos means speech and reason. That Greek word is used over and over in the first chapter of John, and each time it refers to Jesus.

It doesn’t take a schooled theologian to know the Christmas story can be found in the first two chapters of Matthew as well as the world’s favorite version in the first two chapters of Luke. But personally, I have come to also enjoy John’s version of the Christmas story found in John 1:1-18.

John wrote his gospel through an entirely different lens than the rest of the gospel writers. Most theologians agree that the other three gospels were written relatively soon after Jesus rose, but John wrote much later, at least thirty-five years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and perhaps as many as sixty years after the Holy event. So, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” sheds new light on the coming of the Messiah, a light that has inspired me, and one that I want to share with you.

I want someone else to discover the truth of the season, to find Christ in the midst of the hustle and bustle. I hope these words that inspire me to keep focused on the One who gives me life will inspire someone else. I pray that they might be words of inspiration to you!

The First Week of Advent

The Candle of Beginnings

Source

The First Sunday of Advent

In the beginning was the Word . . .
John 1:1a

Today is the first day of Advent, so if you are lighting candles, you will light just one. If the room is even remotely dark, this single candle won’t be very bright, but tonight is just the beginning of Advent. Every week it will get a bit brighter, but today we’re at the beginning.

John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word . . . “ For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that the word “Word” in the first chapter of John comes from the Greek work “Logos.”

As I mentioned in the Introduction, I was inspired by a new Bible that explained the word “Logos” a bit. The information I gleaned was that in the Greek Logos generally referred to the SPOKEN word. And this aha moment immediately brought to mind Genesis 1:1-3: “In the beginning God created . . . And God said . . .”

Five times in that first week on record God spoke, and His Spoken Word brought the world as we know it into existence. One might say that God spoke and Jesus brought the world as we know it into existence. Many think it’s the gospels that record Jesus’ first activity here on earth, but John reminds us that Jesus was there in chapter one of Genesis.

As we consider the first coming of the Savior of the world, let’s be thankful that Jesus was not just a baby in a manger; He was there at the beginning as Creator. Today, on the first day of Advent, we will start at the beginning, because “In the beginning was the Word.”

The First Monday of Advent

The Word was with God . . .
2 He was with God in the Beginning
John 1:1b & 2

The Son of God was given flesh and life about 2000 years ago. We celebrate that event on a day we call Christmas. But Jesus was there with God as He created.

“In the beginning. . .” Anyone whose read much of the Bible can’t help but hear the first words of Genesis in John’s opening statements. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning . . .” and goes on to tell the story of the Old Covenant. I wonder if John used the same words because he was introducing the New Covenant. John says, “In the beginning . . .” and goes on to tell us how the New Covenant has come out of the Old Covenant.

Part of the beauty of a relationship with God is that He promised to tell us everything from the beginning. In Isaiah 46:10 God said, “I made known the end from the beginning.” Jesus was there with God from the beginning, and in Genesis 3:15, the Creator Father and the Creator Jesus gave us a glimpse into the New Covenant when He told the serpent who was the liar, the devil, that the woman’s offspring, Jesus in the flesh, would one day crush his head.

Christ has always been. He was with the Father at creation. He was in the Spirit that was hovering over the waters we read about in Genesis 1:2. He was the author of the Old Covenant and the sacrifice of the New Covenant. Jesus was the “Logos,” the spoken Word at the beginning, revealed to humanity in a manger in Bethlehem out of God’s great love for His created.

The First Tuesday of Advent

. . . and the Word was God. 3 All things were made by him,
and nothing was made without him.
John 1:1c & 3

John may have been the most eloquent of New Testament writers. Today we read the third part of John’s triune description of the “Word”. In a very poetic fashion, John tells us that this baby that we are celebrating was there at the beginning, was always with God and has always been God.

But John isn’t telling his readers something new. From the first chapter of scripture, God gave His people hints that He was bigger than one personality could hold. In Genesis 1:1 and throughout the Old Testament, our Creator told the writers to use the Hebrew word Elohim to say “God.” There are more than seventy Hebrew words for “god” the Almighty could have used, but He told Moses to write the plural word Elohim rather than El or any of the other singular forms of god.

And so we see the Father’s first clue to His people that He was more than just a singular entity. By calling Himself Elohim at the very beginning, the Creator was giving us a peek into the Triune God we now know. Jesus was part of Elohim at the very beginning.

And if that hint wasn’t enough, in Genesis 1:26 we see more of Jesus. “Let us make man in our image.” God could have said me and my, and no one would have questioned it. But Jesus and the Holy Spirit were there, creating humans with the Father at the very beginning, and out of love for us, he chose to begin to reveal Jesus to His people on day one.

Christmas isn’t the day we celebrate Jesus’ creation. It’s the day we celebrate a part of Elohim clothing Himself with human flesh and revealing Himself to the world. So today as we light our candle, praise Jesus that He is God. He has seen the world from the very beginning, and despite everything he had seen throughout the ages, He was still willing to come into the world as a baby so that we could truly know Elohim.

The First Wednesday of Advent

“. . . I am the beginning and the end,
my own hand laid the foundations of the earth . . “.

Isaiah 48:12-13

This is that time of the year that people often begin their search for Jesus. The picture of that baby in the manger with shepherds and cattle all around seems to inspire the world to look for the Savior. But God has given us glimpses of His Son throughout history.

In these few verses from Isaiah, we’re reminded that what John said was true, “In the beginning was the Word.” Our Creator was reminding Israel that He was not only there at the beginning, He WAS the beginning. And we can be sure that the Bethlehem Baby was there at creation, because if we turn to the back of the book we find Jesus Himself repeating these ancient words, “I am the beginning and the end” in Revelation 21:6 & 22:13.

It’s fitting that Christianity has set the first Sunday in Advent as the beginning of the Christian calendar. But Jesus in the manger is only a small part of who the Prince of Peace is. The Baby Jesus is important to our humanness. His birth reminds us that our Savior knows exactly how we feel because He came to earth in the most humble of circumstances.

Jesus said, “I am the beginning and the end.” Stop and consider the vastness of that statement. We have a hard time wrapping our brains around the span of beginning to end. We understand a baby and a life spanning only 30 some years. But to comprehend that that same baby has always been and will be throughout eternity is beyond us.

Now, if you light a candle, picture that flame bringing light throughout the centuries. Remember that the one that laid the foundations of the earth is the beginning and the end . . . as well as a baby in a manger.

The First Thursday of Advent

The virgin will give birth . . .,
and will call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

Today’s reading is one of the most famous prophecies in scripture. Matthew showed us the fulfillment of these words in his first chapter and defined the word for those of us who don’t know Hebrew. Immanuel means, “God with us.”

We light a candle and read these snippets during the Advent Season to celebrate the coming of our Savior, but it’s good to remember that Jesus didn’t necessarily “come” to earth as much as He was “revealed” to humanity. That’s what John’s “Christmas Story” shows us.

“[From] the beginning . . . the Word was God.” Thousands of years following creation, the Triune Creator chose to come and be with the created by sending the “Son” part of His Trinity to be “God with us.” Jesus birth was more than God giving us a gift. It was God revealing Himself to us. It’s through the life of Jesus that we can truly know who God is without the warped rules and ideas that humans have added to His image throughout the years.

Christmas should be more than the birthday of our Savior. Christmas should be a celebration of a Creator who wants us to know Him personally. He wants to be with us like He was with Adam and Eve at the beginning, walking with us, talking with us, allowing us to understand the fullness of His love. As we walk through advent this year, keep in mind that Jesus has been around since the beginning. Be reminded that He was there, being God, at creation, and now He wants to be God with us.

The First Friday of Advent

For to us a child is born . . . ,
And His name shall be called . . . Mighty God
Isaiah 9:6-7

Isaiah didn’t get to see Jesus, but the prophet knew that one day a baby would be born who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This passage from Isaiah is a favorite Christmas prophecy. Frederick Handel even used it for one of the pieces in his famous work, “Messiah.”

Once again, we see that Jesus coming as an infant should not have been a surprise to God’s chosen people. Over and over the Omnipotent gave fair warning that He was personally coming to make Himself known to His people. And this time, our Creator gave us a glimpse into the Trinity.

God told Isaiah that the Infant would be the “Wonderful Counselor,” and in John 14 Jesus introduced His disciples to the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Counselor who was unleashed on Pentecost. Isaiah was told that the Baby would be called Everlasting Father, a title that Jesus also shared in John 14 describing the nature of Yahweh. And finally, Isaiah tells us that the wee One will be the Prince of Peace, the kind of peace that John 14 tells us can only be found in the Baby who came to become King.

Today as we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas, however; let’s focus on the Baby being called Mighty God. Jesus was the fulfillment of these words from Isaiah. His birth allowed God to walk among humans. His coming to earth made it possible for us to have a relationship with the Almighty.

The First Saturday of Advent

I will make known my Holy Name . . .
the nations will know that I, the Lord, am the Holy One . . .
Ezekiel 39:7

This verse is what Christmas is all about, God making known His Holy Name. God wants His Creation to know who He is, His nature and His Name.

As we close the first week of Advent, it’s important to begin to ask ourselves, “Do I really know who God is?” If Jesus came to reveal the truth about the Father, have we taken the time to learn that truth?

In the beginning . . . In the beginning, Adam and Eve walked with God. They talked with Him and could have learned everything there was to know about who God is and what He expected. But the father and mother of humanity thought they knew better than God. And basically that’s what all sin is. It is acting like we think we know better than God. Those first earthly parents spoiled the relationship, and the further humanity got from creation, the more distorted their picture became of the One who had created them.

But Jesus came to mend that relationship, to bring into focus that image that had become distorted. Jesus came to be God with us. In the beginning Jesus was there. He was with God, and He was God. Jesus was with God in the beginning. So the more we know Jesus, the better we know God. As we more fully understand the nature of the One who was born in the manger, we are blessed to build a relationship with our Heavenly Father who made a way and wants us to know Him by Name.

The Second Week of Advent

The Candle of Light

28 days of Advent Devotions

The Word Became Flesh: Daily Devotions for the Advent Season
The Word Became Flesh: Daily Devotions for the Advent Season

These 28 Advent devotions are based on the first verses of John, a Christmas story few count. These short daily readings explore the Word, His origins, His Light and His Life. They can help you put Christ back into your Christmas by focusing on Him all during Advent.

 

The Second Sunday of Advent

In Him was . . . the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness . . .
John 1:4-5

The Baby that came to reveal God to the world also came to be the light. John tells us that within this Child we can find the light that shines into the darkness.

God knew that humans would have a problem with darkness. In the opening verses of Genesis, we find that the first thing God spoke into existence was light. And according to Sheila Walsh in her book “The Shelter of God’s Promises,” lamp oil was more important to those who lived in the first century than food. People would have gone hungry rather than be without light. She also pointed out that the pillar of cloud that God sent during their wilderness wanderings was also a pillar of fire by night. She called it a huge night light. God understands that in the darkness lurks the unknown, the eerie, the stuff that causes fear; so our Heavenly Father came to us in human form as a baby to illuminate the darkness and dispel the fear.

We don’t know for sure the date that Jesus was born, but as I said in the introduction, the early church chose these cold, dark days of December to be the time we celebrate the Light. As the daylight dwindles to a little more than nine hours (even less if you live north of New York City), we long for the sunny hours of Spring and Summer. Christmas, in the midst of that darkness is meant to remind us that Jesus came to give us, and even BE, the Light.

Plus, our Savior wasn’t born just to dispel the darkness, but overcome it. In First John 1, we are told that in Him there is no darkness. I was recently shown a picture of a burning candle. Behind the candle was a shadow, but only a shadow of the candle itself. Not the light. Jesus is like that.

Even the best things here on earth cast a shadow. No matter how wonderful we try to be, we will always have that little bit of darkness, like a shadow, haunting us. But in Jesus, there is no darkness. Like the light of our candle, the light that is Christ doesn’t even have a shadow.

In Jesus Christ is the light of all mankind. He came to be my light as well as your light. He came to give us hope and dispel fear. He was born to be light in a dark world, and the darkness will never be able to overpower it.

The Second Monday of Advent

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light . . .
Isaiah 9:2

This beautiful piece of Hebrew poetry ends with “On those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.” Like most prose from the Bible, just in case you didn’t understand the author in the first line, he says it again in the second. Likewise, just in case His people hadn’t figured out that God was planning to visit, He told them again. And for those who weren’t sure whether or not Jesus was the fulfillment of this verse from Isaiah, our Savior makes it clear in John 8:12 when He says, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus was born to bring light into our darkest times.

Christmas can be difficult for some folks. For those who are alone, their friends’ family gatherings can be a harsh reminder of their status. Those who have family can be overwhelmed with preparations or the thought of having to face those people that the only thing they have in common is a grandparent. Either way this season of physical darkness can also be a time of spiritual and emotional darkness.

But Jesus came to bring light when we are in the midst of those dark times. His birth marked the beginning of a time when we can experience His light no matter how dark the world around us becomes. Much like two dim candles in a dark room can make all the difference in the world, allowing Christ to be our Light can change our deep darkness into a place of warmth and beauty, a place with plenty of light.

The Second Tuesday of Advent

. . . John came as a witness . . . to the light.
John 1:6-8

Even John Son of Zebedee, knew that the Christmas story is not complete without remembering John the Baptist. Luke shares the details of Zechariah’s meeting with Gabriel even before he retells Mary’s story. Not only did God give us clues to His gift of Jesus Christ long before He arrived, the Old Testament gives us hints of John the Baptist’s arrival too!

Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 tell us that God would send a messenger ahead of Jesus to prepare the way. In Malachi 4, we’re told this messenger would come in the Spirit of Elijah, and so John did. Dressed in camel hair, the clothing of a prophet, he brought a message of repentance that the religious leaders didn’t like. However, this same message prepared many more hearts for Jesus’ coming. John came just like the Old Testament predicted.

He was a cousin of Jesus, yet he didn’t think he was worthy to be Jesus’ lowest servant. And though he lived a very short life, John spent his limited time telling people that the Light was among them. It’s John the Baptist who prepared Andrew to be one of the first of Jesus’ apostles, and it’s John who kept pointing people to Christ and away from himself.

The season of Advent may be the easiest time for Christians to be “witnesses to the Light.” Most of the world celebrates Christmas, even if they don’t really know the One who came to be the Light. So, as we perhaps watch two flickering flames today, let’s consider how we can reveal the light in the darkness that is around us. How can we, like John the Baptist, “testify concerning the light, so all may believe”?

The Second Wednesday of Advent

The true light that gives light to everyone
was coming into the world.

John 1:9

Jesus is the True Light that gives light to EVERYONE. Advent, the weeks that the world calls the Christmas season, can be very dark for a lot of people. I don’t mean the lack of daylight; although for those living in emotional darkness shorter days don’t help. I’m talking about the darkness caused by stress and loneliness. I pray if there are any very young ones reading or hearing this, they don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.

The good news is that Jesus came to disperse every kind of darkness. If you are using candles as you read, turn out every lamp, allow the two flames to be the only light in the room. Just as two small flickers can give us enough light to read, Jesus is enough light to bring us out of any darkness this world or our own thoughts can take us into.

There are many things that will claim to be the light, especially this time of year. Toys and gifts offer joy. Commercials featuring early morning coffee promise peace. Television advertising will attempt to sell you hope, love and more. But only Jesus can bring the true light, the kind of light that dispels every darkness, bringing true peace, hope, joy and love.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the season, but this year let’s make sure we are following the light. As we spend time focusing on the Baby in the manger, remembering that the Wee One came into this world to be the light, our world will become brighter. Because John tells us that the light we find in Jesus is the kind that the darkness cannot overcome.

The Second Thursday of Advent

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles
that my salvation my reach the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 49:5-7

Jesus came into this world to be the Light, to shine into the darkness and be a brilliance that could not be overcome. And something that disturbed a few of the ancients, was the news that Jesus did not come just for God’s people, the nation of Israel, but all people, even the Gentiles.

The story we read on Christmas is a beautiful picture of how God intended to make the Christ a light that would reach to the ends of the earth. You see, despite all of the warnings God gave about what our Savior would be like, the people of Jesus’ day were looking for a king. They expected the Messiah to be of noble birth, and they anticipated finding Him in a palace. That’s why the Magi went to Herod first. They were sure the king of the Jews would know where the Ultimate King of the Jews could be found.

But God did what He always does; God did what humans would never suspect. He sent His Son to the least noble of parents to be born in the most ignoble of places. The only ones who received the birth announcement were shepherds, the lowliest of professions, and a bunch of foreigners. We call them Wise Men, but to Mary and Joseph, they would have been Gentiles.

It was only a short time after Jesus’ death that His story began to spread. At that time Ethiopia was thought to be the “end of the earth.” So when Philip told his story to the Ethiopian, a Gentile, as the eunuch headed back to serve his queen, the other apostles may have thought of this passage from Isaiah. (Acts 8:26-39)

Christmas is one of the easiest times to share the story of Jesus. Even people who don’t normally go to church have nativity scenes and know about the Baby in the manger. They just need us to share like Philip. They need us to tell our story, to help them see how the Baby was God’s greatest gift of love who came to bring light into the darkness and salvation to the ends of the earth.

The Second Friday of Advent

The Lord . . . will make you a covenant for the people,
a Light for the Gentiles, . . .
Isaiah 42:5-7

The Messiah being a light for the Gentiles should not have been a surprise to the first Christians. In today’s scripture reading the Savior is again called “a Light for the Gentiles.” But in this passage God told His people that the light would also create a new covenant agreement for all people, even the Gentiles.

Blood was the seal of the first covenant, the agreement between God and man we read about in the Old Testament. God was very clear that without blood being shed there was no forgiveness of sins. So for thousands of years, the people of Israel sacrificed cows, bulls, sheep, even doves, to make atonement for their sins, but no matter how many animals they brought to the temple, they knew they’d need to bring one more tomorrow. The blood of the old covenant was a constant reminder that they could never be good enough to make up for Adam and Eve’s mistake.

But then comes Christmas. Jesus came into the world to make a new covenant. In fact, Christ’s words at the Last Supper echoed His Father’s description of the sacrifice in Exodus 24; both said the “blood of the covenant.”

Mary could never have imagined that it was her Son who would fulfill the Isaiah 42 prophecy. Even after His death, after He had clearly called His blood the “blood of the new covenant,” those who knew scripture best still couldn’t believe that a Baby whose family came from Nazareth was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise.

Clue after clue in the ancient scriptures told them what the Messiah would be like, but when He finally arrived, those who’d been looking for Him didn’t want that kind of Light.

What kind of light are you looking for this Christmas? What promise from God are you waiting for Him to fulfill? Jesus came into the world to dispel the darkness for those who were being shut out by God’s chosen. He came to be the Promise Keeper, the Agreement, the New Covenant. He was born to be the Light.

The Second Saturday of Advent

Arise, shine for your light has come . . .
Isaiah 60:1-3

The second verse of today’s scripture says, “Darkness covers the earth . . .” If we didn’t know better, we might think Isaiah knew what the world would look like in the 21st century. The tragedy is that most of the world doesn’t even realize it’s living in darkness.

Have you ever been sitting in a room, perhaps watching television, and suddenly you discover you’re sitting in the dark? You didn’t even notice the sun was going down, and by the time you discover it, you’re glad the TV emits a bit of light. The world condition is the same way. The darkness has gradually over taken, and until we step into the light we often don’t even notice just how “thick” the darkness is. As we finish this second week of advent we are reminded once again, that for Christians, our light has come.

You see, that’s the heart of our Christmas celebration. We have something that the world doesn’t. Those who’ve chosen to live according to the world’s standards are living in a “thick darkness.” Most don’t even know it. However, the people of God can rejoice because “His glory has appeared over us,” and we’ve been invited to “come into Jesus’ light.”

Our light has come, and those who follow Christ can be called people of the light. Our challenge during this season comes from these short passage found in Isaiah. It’s up to us to get up and shine, let His light shine through us. When we shine, even on those days when we don’t feel very bright, we are sharing the love of Christ and introducing this dark world to His glory, His brightness, His beautiful light.

The Third Week of Advent

The Candle of Life

The Third Sunday of Advent

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:4

It’s fitting that we celebrate the birth of “life” in the middle of this cold, lifeless season. As the world around us lies dormant, Christ is our reminder that even in the most listless seasons of our existence, there is the hope of life.

The candles we light during this third week of advent brighten the room even more than the two we lit last week. Their flame reminds us that Jesus is the light, but John tells us they should also remind us that Jesus said He is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) as well as “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) We find true life in Jesus.

Last week we read the end of this verse focusing on the fact that Jesus is the “Light.” He came to shine into the darkest part of our lives and bring joy and peace. But even more than all of the fruit of the Spirit, our Savior came to bring life, to be the life.

As Christians we are blessed to have the “life,” not just at Christmas, but year round. He is shining His blessing on us, and we are aware that it’s His Life that gives us light, hope, in the midst of the darkest, even the most lifeless time of year. He brings life because He IS life.

As we move into these final days before our Christmas celebration, consider where it is you are looking for life. Does your life reflect the light of all mankind? Take a minute today to make sure you are ready to celebrate the birth of the One who gives us the light we need to survive the darkness, the Savior, the baby who IS life.

The Third Monday of Advent

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our own image . . . So God created humans . . . and God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:26-31

As I contemplated the fact that, according to John, Jesus is the Spoken Word, and Genesis tells us our Creator SPOKE everything into existence, these verses from the first book of the Bible all of a sudden jumped off the page at me like never before.

In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at Jesus as the spoken word, and the light. This week we are reminded that Jesus is the life. It is well known that Jesus came to give life. In John 10:10 our Savior said, “I’ve come to give life . . . to the full.” Genesis 1 reminds us that the Savior who came to be the life gave us life.

I think the most remarkable thing about today’s revelation is the fact that after five days of speaking things into existence, God chose to “make” and “create” humans. With everything else the Omnipotent said, “Let there be,” and it was. With humans, our loving Father reached down and formed us. He made us, and then said it was very good.

As long as they obeyed, those humans that were specially made had life. They ate every day from that tree that provided that life. But it didn’t take long for the humans He created to turn their back on the One who loved them more than they could imagine and give up that “life.”

So God made a plan. On the day that Adam and Eve ate that fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, giving up the fruit from the Tree of Life, the One who forms us and knits us together set forth a plan to send the Giver of Life to His creation to restore them. God wants us to have that life so badly that Jesus traded His throne in heaven for a bed of straw.

From the beginning humans were created for life, for abundance and blessings, the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve threw it away, and for generations, true life was unattainable. But then came Jesus. The One who gave life “in the beginning” came to earth to give new life. The original “Giver of Life” revealed Himself to the world as a baby, an infant who would grow to once again bestow “life” on those who dare to trust in His Name.

Today as you study the light, remember that the original light came to give life. He planned you, made you and formed you. And best of all He loves you. That baby loves you enough to die for you so that you could be restored to that “Adam and Eve relationship” with God and know true and abundant life.

The Third Tuesday of Advent

. . . to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children . . . born of God.
John 1:12-13

You might say that Adam and Eve were “born of God.” They had no earthly parents. God picked up dust and made Adam, and then took Adam’s rib to create Eve, and so the two were “born,” born in a supernatural kind of way.

Six thousand years after Adam and Eve, we read of another supernatural “birth,” an extraordinary nativity that gives us reason to celebrate Advent and Christmas. And today our heavenly Father is still bringing about supernatural births. Many would like to deny this phenomenon; just like they deny the Messiah. But those who believe in Jesus Christ have the right to be born supernaturally.

Christmas is an exciting time because it’s the day we celebrate God’s introduction of new birth to the world. As a result of Jesus coming into the world, when we trust in His death and resurrection to make us righteous, we are reborn. We become children of God, born supernaturally like Adam and Eve.

Today as we stand in awe that the Creator of the Universe chose to call us His children, let’s consider what kind of kids we are. Are we obedient offspring bringing honor to our parent? Or are we rebellious, maybe the kind of children who never call or visit? We are blessed to be called children of God, honored beyond what we deserve to have been named a co-heir with Christ. I think a good birthday present for Jesus this year might be to make sure we’re acting like we’re part of the family, attending family functions, obeying the Father and remembering always that we are children, born of God.

The Third Wednesday of Advent

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:1-5

No advent celebration is complete without reading from the book of Revelation. You see, as we said at the beginning, the word advent comes from the Latin, “to come.” We believe that Jesus came as a baby to walk on the earth and die for our sins. So advent is the celebration of His coming. But more than that, we believe that He promised to come again to take us to heaven to live with Him forever, making advent a time of remembering His promise!

As we contemplate the life that Christ came to bring, the beauty of becoming children born of God, it is good to take a moment to remember that Jesus Christ came to make us new. Second Corinthians 5:17 promises, “If anyone is Christ, he (or she) is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.” John saw the fulfillment of that promise when Jesus was sitting on the throne, ruling in heaven, The Word said, “I am making everything new!” Right now, at this very moment, every person who has accepted Christ’s sacrifice to cover sins is being made new. Little by little, bit by bit, we are slowly being made into all that God created us to be.

Paul understood that if his hope in Christ was only for this life, he was in sorry shape (1 Corinthians 15:19). In the same way, if our celebration of Advent and Christmas ends on December 26, people should feel tremendously sorry for us.

But the good news is the gift that Jesus gives doesn’t expire or break. It doesn’t wear out, and we can’t outgrow it. It is the perfect gift because it is the gift of life, new life. And because He says He is “making” everything new, it’s a gift that is constantly working in us. What we do with this gift of newness is our present to Christ.

Christmas is less than ten days away. You’re probably finished shopping (or wish you were), but what will you give to the One whose birth we are celebrating? There are many songs and poems that tell us to give ourselves to the Christ Child. Will you do that this Christmas, even if you’ve done it before? And will you give Him permission to give you a makeover . . . to make you new?

The Third Thursday of Advent

16 Out of his fullness
we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
John 1:16-18

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is the celebration of our right to a new birth. And it is the celebration of the birth of grace.

It’s not that grace wasn’t found before Christ came to the earth. When we read the Old Testament, we see evidence of God’s grace all over the place. He clothed Adam and Eve and cared for them despite their disobedience. He spared Cain and marked him as one to be saved even after the man killed his brother. God allowed the Canaanites to remain in the Promised Land until their evil had reached its fullness instead of wiping them out early. It’s God’s grace that led the rebellious Israelites into that Promised Land, and His grace that sent a Messiah to a nation that had turned their backs on their Creator more times than we can count.

But Jesus came to bring a new grace. He came to reveal the Father to those rebellious people. It is humbling when you consider that Jesus left Heaven, a place of perfection and eternal peace, to come to earth, be born in the depths of poverty and live and die in the midst of disgrace and pain. That is an entirely new kind of grace, one that had never been seen before.

It is one thing to forgive those who don’t deserve to be pardoned, but an entirely different concept to come and live among those same “criminals” to demonstrate love and let them know your true character. But that’s what Jesus did, and that is the picture of the new grace.

Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect on God’s grace. As we get and give gifts that are not earned or deserved, we are reminded that we cannot earn and do not deserve the beautiful gift of the Sovereign Lord’s grace. No matter how hard we try, we will always fail to meet the standard of perfect holiness that God requires. So God says we don’t have to. Christmas is our reminder that because of His grace, Christ has paid the price. Our only obligation is to love Him. And He reminds us if we love Him, we will obey Him.

Christmas is growing close. In fact, it’s close enough now that you may already have exchanged a gift or two with friends or family whom you won’t be able to spend the official holiday. With every bow and ribbon, every gift bag and pretty paper, consider God’s grace. It is His gift to you . . . a gift that came when the Christ child was born . . . but a gift that is given every day, even, and especially, when we don’t deserve it.

The Third Friday of Advent

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
Ephesians 2:1-8

Gifts and Christmas are almost synonymous. Many years ago Christmas was a much simpler celebration. Gifts weren’t necessarily expected, and a lot of times they were handmade. In many families, no one would have expected more than one or two gifts, and one of them may have been a candy cane or a baked good. But in the 21st century, children expect Santa to bring several gifts with parents and family adding to the pile. How might our Christmas celebration change if we shifted our focus away from presents to the beauty of the gift of grace?

Throughout Advent this year, we’ve looked at several gifts, the gift of all things created and the gift of a God who loves us so much He wanted to come to earth as a human to show us. We looked at the gift of Jesus as our light even in the darkest of times, as well as our life, giving us more than just breath in our bodies, but also meaning and blessing. So, it’s fitting in these final days before Christmas we ponder God’s grace for a few days.

Like we said yesterday, grace is the goodness we get that is undeserved. We don’t deserve to have a creation that’s not only functional but also beautiful to look at, yet that’s what God gave us. We definitely don’t deserve to have a Creator who walked among us. And having an almighty God, in the form of Jesus Christ, die for us is nearly unthinkable.

As you open your presents in the coming days, I pray each one will remind you of God’s grace. Just like we don’t deserve that favor from our family and friends wrapped in pretty paper and bows, we don’t deserve God’s gifts of love and mercy. We don’t deserve to have Him come to us as a baby who grows up to be a sacrifice. But the fact we don’t deserve it makes it grace, a gift from God.

The Third Saturday of Advent

18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God
and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1:16-18

Grace in place of grace. That’s how John describes Christmas in verse 16. Not many see those words as a description of our winter holiday, but if you think about it, that’s what the celebration is all about.

Verse 17 reminds us of the first grace, the law. To those of us who know Jesus, the law doesn’t seem to hold much grace. But it was that law that set the Israelites apart and made them children of God. Moses told the people, and Paul reminded them, that it was through the law that people were made right with God.

Early on, though, a problem developed. Not even one generation managed to live under the grace given in the law. As we look back at the whole of history, we can see that God created us for relationship. When humans turned their back on that relationship and longed for rules to help them be right, our Creator gave them what they thought they needed. When they longed for a human king to help them keep the law, the Almighty graciously answered that cry.

The Bible tells us that none of that worked to help us in our walk with the One and Only King. So our King sent the second grace, John describes it as grace in place of grace, Jesus. Because He is God, Jesus is in closest relationship with God. And our Heavenly Father sent Jesus, or as we learned earlier, came to earth as Jesus, in order to restore that relationship.

What a gift! The Creator of the universe wants to be in relationship with you and me. He wants to make Himself known to us. Matthew called Him Immanuel to let us know that God’s greatest desire is to bring us back to the friendship He had with humans in the Garden of Eden. Just like He walked with Adam and Eve, the Perfect Father wants to walk with us. I hope you will say to yourself, “The Perfect Father wants to walk with ME.”

We began this week reminded that Christ came to be our life, to make us new and recreate us into the image of the Holy Trinity. As we finish this last full week before the big day arrives, let’s praise God that Jesus came to give us life, to help us have friendship with the Father and to make the truth of God known to us!

The Fourth Week of Advent

the Candle of Truth

The Third Sunday of Advent

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:4

It’s fitting that we celebrate the birth of “life” in the middle of this cold, lifeless season. As the world around us lies dormant, Christ is our reminder that even in the most listless seasons of our existence, there is the hope of life.

The candles we light during this third week of advent brighten the room even more than the two we lit last week. Their flame reminds us that Jesus is the light, but John tells us they should also remind us that Jesus said He is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) as well as “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) We find true life in Jesus.

Last week we read the end of this verse focusing on the fact that Jesus is the “Light.” He came to shine into the darkest part of our lives and bring joy and peace. But even more than all of the fruit of the Spirit, our Savior came to bring life, to be the life.

As Christians we are blessed to have the “life,” not just at Christmas, but year round. He is shining His blessing on us, and we are aware that it’s His Life that gives us light, hope, in the midst of the darkest, even the most lifeless time of year. He brings life because He IS life.

As we move into these final days before our Christmas celebration, consider where it is you are looking for life. Does your life reflect the light of all mankind? Take a minute today to make sure you are ready to celebrate the birth of the One who gives us the light we need to survive the darkness, the Savior, the baby who IS life.

The Fourth Monday of Advent

He was despised and rejected . . . familiar with pain . . .
and we didn’t even notice Him.
Isaiah 53:1-3

Isaiah said it would happen, and last night we read John’s record of the fulfillment of the prophet’s words, “He came to His own, but they wouldn’t accept Him.” (John 1:11) Unfortunately, it’s still happening today.

Around the world people are scurrying about taking care of the last minute preparations for Christmas without even noticing the guest of honor. I’m guessing because you are reading this and perhaps lighting a candle (or four), you’re trying to live above the standards of the world to make sure that you aren’t even accidentally rejecting Christ and His perfect, beautiful gift.

This week, more than any other, we are focused on a tiny baby lying in a manger. We have romanticized the feeding trough (that’s what a manger is) and the dark cave-like stable Mary and Joseph found in the overcrowded Bethlehem. Luke tells us there was no guest room available, no room in the inn. Not one person in that small town could make room for a very pregnant woman and her husband. Yes, the Son of God was rejected even before He was born.

If we want to give Jesus the best present this year, we will make sure to “notice” Him. We’ll watch for Him in the faces of those we go to church with as well as the ones we pass in the mall. We’ll look for Jesus in the worship services we attend, our work places, parties and celebrations. We are Jesus’ own if we’ve accepted Him as our Savior, and we want to do better in the 21st Century than they did in the first. Christ, help us to notice you wherever you are and whatever you do, even if you’re in a place as unlikely as a dirty, stinky barn.

The Fourth Tuesday of Advent

7 For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17

A quick reading of the Old Testament will show that the law, God’s first grace, was impossible to carry out. For a couple thousand years the nation of Israel tried to live by the Ten Commandments proving over and over that all by ourselves, humans just can’t be righteous.

So God sent His Son, Himself. To demonstrate just how desperate He was to have a relationship with His creation, God came in human form to bring grace, to be truth.

In the beginning . . . that’s where we started our advent celebration. In the beginning there was a perfect relationship between God and the first humans. He walked with them often in the Garden of Eden, talked with them face to face. And even after Adam and Eve messed it all up, God still loved them.

Jesus came to bring truth, and one of my favorite truths about my Holy Father is that I cannot mess anything up so badly that He will stop loving me. Adam and Eve’s story is just the first that shows that truth. Jesus coming to earth is not the last, but it is the best.

Moses gave the law, the thing that revealed our inability to be good enough for God. Jesus brought grace and truth. And the truth is Jesus is proof that God loves us even though we can never be good enough.

The Fourth Wednesday of Advent

Jesus answered, “The reason I was born . . . was to testify to the truth.”
John 18:37

In John’s first chapter, we read that Jesus came to bring grace and truth. Later Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth,” and just before He gave His life, the Savior told Pilate He was born to testify to the truth. I’m not sure how many ways God can show us He loves us, but despite His hundreds of attempts, there are still many who don’t understand the truth of the Father’s love.

Throughout the centuries since God created humans in His own image (one of His first signs of love), the truth of God got a bit distorted. It’s not that He didn’t tell His people over and over again about His unfailing love and mercy. In Jeremiah 31 He told His people He loves with an unending love, and the Psalms are full of praise for God’s mercy and undeserved forgiveness. Somehow, though, by the time Mary and Joseph walked on the earth, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were much better at sharing the wrath of God and defining the rules. Legalism was the religion of the day.

Then out of nowhere comes the Truth. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day didn’t like it much, and those who listen to the voice of the enemy today can’t hear it. But Jesus was born to share it . . . the truth. And the truth is we are loved by God, He has always wanted a relationship with His created, and He is just waiting for us to accept the forgiveness He has already given.

Jesus tells us, and John reminds us, Christmas is all about Jesus coming to bring grace and truth. Mary’s baby came into the world so that we might understand the truth about the Trinity. The Sovereign King doesn’t want to be mysterious and elusive, He wants to be a Father we can relate to, pouring out mercy and grace and bringing us truth about how much He loves us.

© 2015 Lynne Modranski

What are your Advent Traditions?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Quite an insightful perspective on the Christmas Story in the Gospel of John. I expect that the devotionals will be very interesting.