Coming up to them at that very moment she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel. Luke 2:38
Are you a couponer? I like to watch the shows with extreme couponers who get to the end of their shopping trip and pay under $50 for several hundreds of dollars of groceries. In order to have success they have to search out coupons, spend time clipping and organizing them and in the end corralling the products to redeem with the coupons. Without the effort of the person redeeming the coupons they would be worthless pieces of paper.
Because of our sin we should be worthless to God. We can’t approach Him in our own power because He is perfect and we are not. So why even try, right? Wrong.
God sent us a Redeemer in His Son Jesus. At the end of Luke chapter 2 we learn about a prophetess named Anna. When Jesus was a few days old Joseph and Mary went to the temple to present Him to the Lord Anna was there. She was a devout woman who worshiped at the temple night and day. When she saw Jesus she knew He was the one they had been waiting for. This child was the one who would redeem all who trust in Him from their sins. Anna told anyone who would listen that this baby was who they were waiting for.
Jesus came to give value to God’s sinful people. God loves each person He created and is saddened when we sin.
Yes, that means YOU have value in God’s eyes. He created you and me to match up to a personality, skills and gifts that fit us perfectly. Because we are so valuable to God He wants to draw out our value through the gift of His Son.
Just as extreme couponers must put effort into getting value from their coupons God put a great amount of effort into redeeming His people. God gave up His Son for a time, sending Him to earth to be born as a baby and live a perfect life so that when Jesus died on the cross His life was redeemed for ours. His birth was the beginning of redemption for us.
As you redeem your coupons, whether paper or digital and get their full value from them please remember the value you have to God. He gave up His Son so that your value can be redeemed.
As it is written, “See, I lay in Zion a stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 9:33
Not many suspected the child who laid in the manger was the rock spoken about in the prophecies. The angels proclaimed the birth of a Savior and the shepherds spread the news. The magi came from far away to see this newborn king. Even Saul was interested in the birth—but not for the right reasons.
I wonder how many forgot about Jesus after that night in Bethlehem. Did the shepherds who came to see Him and invited others to share in their happiness believe years later when Jesus was a man who would make His way to the cross to die for their sins?
How many times have you stumbled over a rock? Often when that happens it’s because we didn’t see it. We’re walking along enjoying the scenery or visiting with our companions, not looking around for things in our path when suddenly we find ourselves on the ground—perhaps with a new perspective?
This is exactly what Scripture tells us to those who trusted in their good works for their salvation. Many in Jesus’ day believed their righteousness was gained because they followed the rules. If they check the shoulds and ought-tos off the list they are a shoe-in for Heaven. After all, isn’t God looking for obedient children?
Jesus came to give us a different perspective. He taught that faith in Hi gives us the assurance of salvation. God wants us to obey out of love and not because we fear we’ll lose our spot in Heaven if we mess up. He wants us to know that we have no righteousness on our own but through the sacrifice of Jesus.
While those who try to be made right through their works will stumble on Jesus, the Rock who is the only way to eternal life those who trust in Jesus will stand on the Rock and never stumble over it. When we who believe stand before God we will not be put to shame. He will welcome us just as the shepherds and others were welcomed to the manger.
For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Tis the season for deliveries! Mail and parcel delivery drivers work overtime to deliver Christmas cards and packages filled with gifts. Neighbors and friends deliver cookies and other goodies to each other, and hopefully we deliver extra gifts and meals to those in need. Christmastime is filled with deliveries.
At that first Christmas the angels delivered the news of the Savior, Jesus who had been born to deliver us from something from which we can’t deliver ourselves—our sins. Oh we usually have good intentions and try to live a good life, but we fail. We mess up , failing each day to live the life that’s good and pure—perfect enough to get us into Heaven.
One of the dictionary definitions of deliver is “to set free or liberate”. How does it feel when you are caught in sin? When you’ve done something you shouldn’t whether intentionally or unintentionally? I know for me there is often a heaviness that weighs me down or a knot in the pit of my stomach reminding me that I really messed up. No matter how much I try to set it aside in my mind or conquer it with my own strength I fail. It is only when I ask for God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus that the weight is lifted and I feel free.
I think sometimes as Christians we forget that we need a
Deliverer. We want to be strong enough in our own power to overcome the evil in this world. We can be like stubborn children who don’t want their parents to help them with a struggle. They want to do it on their own but they just can’t. Eventually they must give in and allow someone to do it for them. This is the truth of why we need a deliverer.
It’s always fun to see someone coming with a delivery for us at Christmastime. Knowing others care about us enough to send us a gift can warm our hearts and bring us joy. But the joy we find in each earthly delivery cannot compare to the joy of knowing Jesus, our Deliverer—born to set us free and give us new life in Him.
I saw Heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. Revelation 19:11
Dogs are called man’s best friend—a faithful companion. Dogs are always there for you, waiting by the door for you to get home and tagging along wherever you’ll let them. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood you are in, your dog will always love you and always be glad to see you.
What about you? Do you think of yourself as faithful? Are you someone people can depend on to be there for them? Can you be counted on as a friend, co-worker or church member to be available when needed and do what you say you’ll do?
No matter how faithful we try to be there are times when every human will let others down. That’s part of our human, sinful nature. We are not perfect and will fail at one time or another.
There is only One who is faithful without fail. Jesus is the only human who never sinned and will never go back on His word. Hebrews 3:2 tells us that Jesus was faithful to the One who sent Him just as Moses was faithful to all of God’s house. Throughout the gospels we see Jesus’ faithfulness as He taught His disciples and gave them the promised gift of the Holy Spirit after He returned to Heaven. Jesus always did what He promised and was true to His word.
Do you know the faithfulness of Jesus in your life? When you look at the baby in the manger of nativity scenes do you see more than a tradition? Do you see your Savior and King?
Jesus can be depended on. If you haven’t put your trust in Him there’s no time like today. If you experience His faithfulness in your life share it with others so they can experience the Savior who is faithful and true and will always follow through on the promises of His word.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
Bread is one of the simplest forms of food and in its basic form is found all around the world. Whether it’s a light, yeasty delicacy or in its unleavened form of a pita or tortilla, mixing flour with a few other ingredients gives us bread. For some it is an addition to a table overflowing with good food. For others it is the only thing they have to sustain them.
When the Israelites escaped from their slavery in Egypt they had to go through deserts to get to the land God promised them. Deserts are pretty barren, and no food was to be found. God heard the cries of His children for food and they awoke one morning to manna—a bread-like substance that had fallen from the sky. This manna was not just a bland floury substance but a sweetened wafer that could be made into other food to give the people strength and maintain their health. It was this manna that sustained them on their journey.
In today’s scripture from John 6 the people are asking Jesus what is required to do the work God requires. Jesus tells them that they must believe in the one God has sent. He goes on to remind them that it was not Moses who sent the bread from Heaven but God who gives true bread.
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. John 6:33
When the people heard this they asked that this is the bread they be given from now on.
Jesus goes on to tell them that He is the bread of life, come down from Heaven not to do His own will but the will of God who sent Him. (v 38)
Jesus was sent to sustain our spirits just as bread sustains our bodies. If we believe God sent Jesus to complete us we will have all we need to do the work God requires. Without this bread of life our spirits will starve.
What an incredible gift sent from Heaven on that first Christmas. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to be the Bread of life—with Him we will never hunger for the things of this earth but be filled and satisfied with His love.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone. Psalm 118:22
What’s the first rule when constructing a building you want to stand for many years? Make sure you have a good foundation! Without sure footing the building can be shaky and its future uncertain.
The cornerstone is the first stone laid in a foundation. It is the stone that all the other stones are set in reference to. If the cornerstone isn’t set properly or on a firm foundation none of the other stones laid will be secure either.
Scripture speaks of Jesus as the Cornerstone. He is the first one at God’s creation of the world and all of creation was set in reference to Him.
As we see in Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, from the first news of His birth there were those who opposed Jesus and wanted to kill Him. Earthly rulers were threatened by Him and the news that Jesus was born King of the Jews. Throughout His ministry as Jesus taught God’s truth, healed the sick and even brought life back to people who had died many did not believe Jesus was sent from God and was the One who they should follow to have eternal life. They rejected Him, even though He is the one who sits at the right hand of God.
A strong foundation with a well-set cornerstone is important with every building yet those who build in locations prone to earthquakes or on sandy or shifting ground are critically aware. The foundations in those areas need to be dug deeper and reinforced more strongly than those with solid ground beneath.
What a great comparison this is to our lives. As we go from day to day in a world shaken by terrorism and random acts of violence combined with hurricanes, earthquakes and deadly wildfires we must be keenly aware of where the foundation of our lives are being set. If we put our trust and hope in the circumstances around us or on human capabilities we will always see our world crumble at some point. People let us down and circumstances are uncertain. If we put our hope and trust in Jesus we will always find a firm foundation under our feet.
In my life Jesus is always the one constant. I can depend that He will remain the same no matter my circumstances. I have hope in a world full or uncertainty because I know I can depend on the words of Jesus in scripture that He will never leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) I have seen this proven in my life over and over as my earth is shaken.
I pray the same for you today. As we draw closer to Christmas may each of us draw closer to Jesus, the Christ and make Him the cornerstone of our lives!
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the father in our defense—Jesus Christ the righteous One. 1 John 2:1
When things are tough it’s always better to have someone by your side. Whether we are trying to get a job or promotion, get the best medical care or ask for leniency when we’ve done wrong it makes a difference to have someone to advocate for us and help others see the best in us.
Have you ever experienced this? Perhaps as a child you and your siblings stood together in front of a parent or other adult to explain behavior or ask for forgiveness and a lesser punishment. Maybe one of you stood in the place of another, willing to take the punishment for him or her.
As humans we are sinful by nature and our sin keeps us from having fellowship with God. He is perfect and cannot allow any sinfulness into Heaven. But God loves His children so much He wanted to make a way for us to enter Heaven in spite of our sin. God had to have a perfect substitution who could stand in our place.
That substitution was Jesus.
Because Jesus was the substitution for our sin He is also our advocate. When we sin and then ask forgiveness Jesus stands between us and our Holy Father so that God sees the perfect substitution of Jesus instead of our sin.
Because Jesus is our Advocate we are also justified—declared or made right in the sight of God. Some define being justified this way—it’s just as if we’d never sinned.
When we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas we are celebrating so much more than the nativity scene we recreate each year. We are celebrating our substitute—our Advocate, knowing that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord He will stand in for us, allowing us to some day spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
This is good news indeed!