The story of the coming Messiah, who was to save his people, began in Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as God had forbidden. They were deceived by the serpent, Satan, and then cast out of the garden lest they eat of the tree of life and suffer in their sins for eternity. God cursed the serpent and proclaimed there would be enmity between the offspring of Satan and hers. Her child would crush Satan’s head and Satan would bruise his heel. This is the first prophecy of a coming redeemer who would defeat Satan. The Amplified translation gives us some good insights into who is who and what will be accomplished. “And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”
Why start Advent here? There needed to be a compelling reason for God to send His Son to earth to live among mortals and died. John 3:16 gives us God’s motivation for this sacrificially act. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Christmas story is all about God’s great love for us. His great desire is to restore the relationship He had with mankind before sin entered the world. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we are filled with a sinful nature and prone to wander, God loves us and desires to restore man unto himself. Christ came to accomplish this. He was the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
So as we begin our journey through Advent, we need to remember it is because God loved us and desired a relationship with us that He sent Jesus. What a loving God to fix our problem of sin through His own sacrifice.
Do you have friends, neighbors and loved ones who do not have faith in God or even know of Jesus? How can that cause me to be thankful? Worried and concerned for their eternal fate is more like it. However, Isaiah 55:6-9 holds facts about God Almighty that will create thankfulness in the midst of these troubling thoughts.
Isaiah was writing a message to the future Israelites who would become captives in Babylon. He was imploring them to remember God and return to the Lord as He alone can satisfy. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;” Isaiah 55 verse 1. He continues with his call to return in verses 6-9 giving them and us profound hope and thankful hearts.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9
Why would these verses cause us to have hope, creating thankfulness in our hearts? 1- verse 7 God promises to freely forgive anyone who turns to Him and forsakes his sinning ways. 2- God promises to have mercy on them by not giving them what they deserve for their sins, but treating them with grace and love. These two things bring us hope for our loved ones and friends that do not know Jesus. We know that God is waiting and promises forgiveness and mercy towards anyone who comes to Him! God will not change His mind and decide their sins were to numerous or egregious. God is unchanging and we can depend upon Him as He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8.
Why include verses 8-9 in this discussion as they are not part of the promise of forgiveness?Verses 8 and 9 explain to us the fact that God does not think or act like us. He is does not harbor hate, grudges, or resentments. We cannot think or act like God as it is not in our nature, but it is in His! This is something to be thankful for too. God is above us and His way of dealing with people and circumstances are not anything like ours. How many times have you seen God answer prayer in amazing, out of the box, ways! I am thankful that He my merciful, omnipotent God and that His ways and thoughts are greater than mine.
Let these promises of mercy and love for the lost fill you with hope as you continue to pray for the salvation of those you know who do not know Jesus as Savior. Let the knowledge of God’s ways being so unlike our own cause you to be thankful for Him and fill you with Hope.
Our Stream of Water this week is from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. This is a powerful portion of scripture as it answers the questions so many unbelievers ask, “How can you believe in God? How can you believe all that ‘stuff’?” Verses 18-19 tell us the cause of this problem, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” The unbeliever sees the truths of God, the cross and the resurrection as foolishness. No one or nothing can change this until they encounter God himself and turn to Him. God will continue to thwart their foolish plans and continue to woo sinners unto himself. God desires that all come to know Him and that none should perish! (2 Peter 3:9) Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers to keep on preaching and giving out the truth of the gospel. Because when the unbeliever opens themselves to God, they can experience His love and power in their lives. As believers we know the truth of verse 25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” By far, God is stronger and wiser than any thing, circumstance or person we will ever encounter and wiser than all He has created.
Knowing God is wise, why would He give the message of hope and salvation to us to give out? Why us? How did we become plan A for making Him known to the world? Verses 27-28 give us part of His reasoning “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. ” God did not want anyone to boast about ‘saving the world’. He chose to use the weak, us as frail flawed humans, so that when we accomplish things for Him we will know for sure that God is the one who enables, provides and directs. God wraps up this discussion through Paul in verse 30-31, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Only Jesus, the perfect sinless Son of God could save us. Through Him we receive His righteousness, sanctification and redemption for ourselves and all those we pass on the message of the gospel. We cannot brag about doing the Lord’s work, winning people to Christ or saving anyone. It is all Christ working through us.
May the truth of God’s Word cause you to continue giving out the gospel confident in God’s ability to save any who will turn to Him.
Entire passage: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 “
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Today’s verse comes from Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah was a prophet to the nation of Israel in approximately 700 B.C. who had a message of repentance. He warned of coming judgement if they did not turn from their worship of idols. He also focused on the coming day of the Lord and the rejoicing that would bring. He proclaims that God is in our midst, He will save and that He loves and rejoices over each of us with singing. What a wonderful message of hope and reassurance for today. We know Jesus came showing that He saves, loves, cares, protects, holds us in His hands and rejoices over us with gladness. Let His gladness and love sink into your soul, filling you with thanksgiving and hope. Knowing that God rejoices and sings over me, a sinner, gives me great hope and creates in me a thankful heart. Knowing He alone will quiet my heart gives me peace.
Be filled with thanksgiving in knowing you are loved and that your Savior, Jesus, is rejoicing over you today!
In Chapter 2 Paul begins with a lengthy description of the sinful state of the Ephesians (and us too) prior to becoming believers. Before telling them of the riches they have through their faith in Christ, he drives home the point- they were totally, irrefutably sinners. It is important to realize the state where we began and by grace no longer belong! Ephesians 2:1-3 “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.”
The truth of our sinful nature is all throughout scripture. Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Psalm 51:4 “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say,and your judgment against me is just.”
Jeremiah 30:15 “Why do you protest your punishment—this wound that has no cure? I have had to punish you because your sins are manyand your guilt is great.”
John 8:24 “That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
These are just a few verses that confirm the sinful state of man without God’s intervention. But for the grace of God…. I would still be there. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am no longer a slave to sin and will not suffer God’s wrath.
Today as you consider your former self, prior to faith in Jesus, give thanks for His grace in saving you. We are still subject to sin’s influence from within our selves and from the world’s ways around us, but through Christ we have the power to reject sin and walk with Him. Praise God!
How do you go about focusing on Christ as your Savior? Christ is our example, our brother, our Lord, our guide, intercessor…. but what about Savior? Focusing on Jesus as Savior will increase your love and devotion for Him.
Here are a few verses that point us towards Christ and all He has done for us in saving us. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God so loved us, even as sinners, that he sent Jesus to redeem and save us through His death on the cross. Imagine a love that great as to sacrifice your son for you and me! 1 Peter 2:24-25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Christ died on the cross so that we might live wholly, complete and be presented blameless before God. He willingly gave Himself to save us! He healed us in His death from our sin and unrighteousness. Now instead of wandering in a world of sin, we are kept and looked after by the great Shepherd who looks out for our souls. What a wonderful picture of our loving God and Savior.
Today as you meditate on Christ, your Savior, think about all He has done for you personally. Where would you be today without your Savior? What would your future be like? We, as believers, have much to be thankful for in having a wonderful Savior in Jesus the Christ.
Luke 2:15-20 “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The shepherds had a glorious encounter with angels that prompted them to go and seek the child born in Bethlehem. Their second encounter that day was seeing their Lord and Savior in the flesh, the one that had come to earth to save mankind. Luke 2:11 was the glorious message they had received, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” People were amazed when they heard their message and Mary treasured what they said and stored it away in her heart. They all had personally encountered the Savior, Jesus.
God showed the world their Savior and proclaimed his work on earth even at this humble beginning. God reached down and rescued sinners from the penalty of death and hell that our sin deserves. We cannot save ourselves from sin because we are dead in our sin. God had a plan from eternity past to save His children fully from sin- from the penalty, power and presence of sin. He sent His Son to live the perfect life we cannot live and die in our place for our sin. Savior Jesus took all the punishment for our sin and saves us completely.Romans 5:8reminds us of God’s motivation for sending His Son and our true condition, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I love the explanation of why and how God did what He did in Titus 3:4-7 “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Through faith we reap the benefits of His love, eternal life, His righteousness in our lives, the indwelling Holy Spirit, His grace, mercy, hope and become heirs with Christ. We know and serve an amazing Savior. Thank you Jesus.
What do you do with the message of Jesus the Messiah, Savior who is the Christ? Are you excited, awed and motivated to tell everyone of your Savior? As you go through your day, think about the message the shepherds received. Ask yourself, what am I doing about the Savior who is Christ the Lord? Am I telling others of His wonderful love, salvation, hope and eternal life? If not, why not? Christ is the reason for this season as His is the message of Hope for all mankind. Spread the word!
In Luke 2:8-14 angels from heaven appear to humble shepherds out tending their flocks.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
I cannot even imagine the awe and wonder that must have filled the shepherds. Seeing glorious heavenly beings, shining before them praising God and giving them the good news of the birth of their long awaited Savior, Messiah and Lord. They were even told where this glorious event took place, in Bethlehem. As Luke describes the scene he said the ‘glory of the Lord’ surrounded them. I can well imagine their fear at seeing such a radiant sight, but again the angels told them not to fear. God wanted them to rejoice at this glorious announcement not be overcome with fear.
Where do you see God in this event? In the heavenly angels appearing, the fact that the angelic beings spoke to the human shepherds, that the timing was perfect in announcing the birth of the Savior, that the angels knew exactly where Jesus was born and the angels radiated God’s glory around them. Truly it was a miraculous event that showed God’s glory. God’s glory is the total of all God’s attributes. God displayed His glory in the beauty and wisdom of His creation. Throughout history, God has revealed His glory to His people through His power, mercy, grace, judgement, holiness, love and every other attribute. In the Old Testament we see His glory symbolically represented by fire in a cloud. His glorious presence came to dwell in the Tabernacle and then the Temple as God came to dwell among His people. The Lord Jesus Christ reveals God’s glory completely. The angels were announcing the arrival of God’s glory in human form, His Son, Jesus. Hebrews 1:3 tells us “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Isaiah had a vision of the throne room of God in Isaiah 6:3 he describes the scene, “And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Ezekiel also recounted his vision of heaven in Ezekiel 3:12 “Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing.” God is always surrounded by His glory and radiant power. Amazingly for us, in Jesus is revealed the fullness of God’s glory and we can know Him and experience His glory in our lives.
Knowing God is glorious scripture tells us that we can see His glory in His creation. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Knowing that Jesus reflects God’s glory means that having Jesus’ Holy Spirit indwelling us gives us the power to bring glory to God by doing His work. Hebrews 13:21 “ equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
May you glimpse God’s glory in nature and in the working of Christ in your life.
Let Psalm 95 speak to your heart today as you worship the Lord this Sunday before Thanksgiving. Think about God, who He is and why He alone is worthy of praise.
Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. He provides salvation. 2 Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. 3 For the Lord is a great God, He is completely Sovereign. a great King above all gods. 4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth He is creator God. and the mightiest mountains. 5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.
6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, He watches over and cares for us. the flock under his care. We belong to Him.
Praise God for His love, sovereignty, omnipotent power, creating all things, protecting, watching and caring for us. We are so blessed that we belong to Him.
Have a great day rejoicing and being thankful in His presence.
God refers to himself in the Old Testament as Your Savior in Isaiah 49:26 and 60:16. In both cases His name is linked to prophesy in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem when the Babylonians came and destroyed it and took the people off to Babylon. The city was held under siege and the people suffered greatly, at one point even resorting to cannibalism. Isaiah’s words were to be ones of encouragement that God will be evident in the dealings of His people. Isaiah 49:26
“I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Again in Isaiah 60:16
“You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
The people of Israel were to know that in both hard and good times God will be with them, He will be their Savior, Redeemer and Mighty One. We can be encouraged like they were that God alone is God, He is our Redeemer and has plans for our redemption through Christ His Son, and He alone is the Mighty One from generation to generation. The prophet pointed out specifically that God is your Savior and your Redeemer. He is a personal God who loves each one of us and wants to have a relationship with us. He desires that we accept His Son as Savior and open our hearts to His redemptive plan.
Here are a few verses to mediate upon today as you consider your Savior and Redeemer. 1 Corinthians 1:30 “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” and Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
May Jesus be your Savior and Redeemer today bringing you hope and assurance of salvation!