Monday, 24 December 2012

December 24th - Jesus is Emmanuel

Jesus is Emmanuel
Isaiah 7:14; 33:22

Emmanuel - God with us."What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home." (Joan Osborne)

Christmas. We celebrate the birth of a baby, not the arrival of a mighty power. (Though, if you've ever spent any time with a baby, then you'll know you don't have to be big and strong to be powerful!) The coming of another human being, not a heavenly army. An everyday event, not a great spectacle. And yet, each of those were happening simultaneously. While a young woman gave birth to a helpless babe, angels sang and a star moved. Peasants and wise men came looking for him. And God was on earth.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

December 23rd - Jesus is the Light of the World

Jesus is Light of the World

John 1:1-14

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5 TNIV)

Light guides.
Light dispels darkness.
Light reveals.
Light helps things grow.
Light shows things as they really are.
Light cheers us.
Light warns.
Light highlights.
Light breaks through.
Light reflects.

Jesus is the Light of the World. Amid all kinds of darkness, we celebrate the birth of Light.

"Dear God, thank you for your Son"

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

December 18th - Jesus is Lord

 Jesus is Lord

Exodus 20

Jesus is Lord. So easy to say. But what does it mean?

"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

I can confess it with my mouth, but if I do not understand, then how can I believe it in my heart?
The 10 Commandments - Jesus is Lord
"And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:1-3)

If Jesus is God, then He is Lord. He is the Supreme Ruler of all. There can be nothing and no one above Him. In every decision, every thought, every action and word, Jesus must come first, before our families, our friends, our jobs, our money, our free time, our Christmas presents!

"Dear God, help us to put you first this Christmas. Help us to remember why we are celebrating."

Monday, 17 December 2012

December 17th - Jesus is Wisdom

Jesus is Wisdom

Proverbs 8

"And as Jesus grew up, he increased in wisdom and in favour with God and people." (Luke 2:52)

Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom, and makes clear statements about Wisdom's role in Creation:

I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 
when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 
when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world     
Jesus is Wisdomand delighting in humankind. (Proverbs 8:27-31)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

December 16th - John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Luke 1:39-45, Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. They quite possibly spent much time together growing up, and perhaps knew each other really well. Jesus grieved when He heard about John's death. Even before they were born, John recognised who Jesus was. He leapt in his mother's womb when the pregnant Mary approached. There can be no argument that John was merely brought up thinking that Jesus was special - his spirit recognised his God before they even met in person!
John the BaptistIt is difficult to acknowledge that someone you grew up with is better than you, more important, more special, and yet John willingly got down on his knees before Jesus. He reccognised God and responded to Him, acknowledging that he was not worthy even to touch his feet. Interesting to note that when Jesus was grown, He bent to clean the feet of others unworthy of touching Him.
John said of Jesus: "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30)

Listen to the following song, written by Matt Redman, and meditate on what it means for Jesus to increase and us to decrease:
You Must Increase

"Dear God, help me to recognise you and respond to your presence. Enable me to become more like you. You must increase; I must decrease, Lord."

Saturday, 15 December 2012

December 15th - Mary


Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38

What a brave woman Mary was. She risked being an outcast, and even being stoned to death, in order to be a part of God's plan for the world. She was the perfect example of obedience to bring up Jesus to also follow His Father's plan. I wonder how much she understood about what God asked of her. The Bible account doesn't tell us whether the angel told her more about the plan, or the sadness she would face, but the young virgin bowed to God's will and agreed to follow Him. The following link will take you to a beautiful song about Mary and her journey with Jesus:
"When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God."

"Dear God, help me to say, 'Yes,' to you, so that I can share in your plan for the world."

Friday, 14 December 2012

December 14th - Joseph


Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph the CarpenterJoseph was chosen to be Jesus's earthly father. He agreed to bring up a child who everyone around them would have presumed was illicitly conceived, either through Mary's infidelity or through Joseph's premarital indiscretion. Either way, Joseph would have been the subject of a fair bit of gossip and perhaps pity. However, God revealed the truth to him. The child Mary was carrying was God's son. Not Joseph's, but not the son of any other man either.

Amid the gossip, the pity, the looks down noses, Joseph could be secure in the knowledge that he had been chosen to care for, bring up and teach God's own Son. What an honour. What a huge responsibility.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

December 13th - Solomon


1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28

SolomonThe people of Solomon's kingdom were more important to him than riches and power. When God offered him anything he wanted, Solomon chose wisdom, that he might be a better king and ruler for his people.

At Christmas we celebrate God coming to earth; a new King was born whose wisdom is infinite, and whose love for His people is greater even than Solomon's.

Solomon built the temple - Jesus is the temple.

"Dear God, help me to be wise and make good decisions."

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

December 12th - David


1 Samuel 17:12-51

David was a man after God's heart. He trusted his God to keep His promises.  He stood up to Goliath, secure in the knowledge that God plus one is the majority, and by defeating him, David saved the Israelites from slavery. He was courageous and strong and trusted in God for deliverance and victory. And he loved God deeply.

Star of DavidAt Christmas, we celebrate freedom. Jesus's birth prompted great celebration in Heaven. The angels sang to announce His birth, because it was the beginning of our release from the bonds of sin. It can be hard to remember amid all the parties and presents and family strife that Jesus is at the centre. We need to chase after God's heart and Christmas is a perfect time to start chasing.

"Dear God, help me to have a good and kind heart, and help me to be brave."

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

December 11th - Jesse


1 Samuel 16:1-13

JesseJesse is almost a non-character. He is a shepherd and the father of eight sons; the father of the future king. But we know nothing else about him. He isn't powerful or famous. He doesn't perform any great feats. And yet he is chosen to father a king. And to be the root of the prophecy about the promised Messiah.

Parenthood can be a lonely road at times. We're on our own, even when well supported. Our decisions, our actions, will affect our children's futures. The responsibility is huge. There are daily screw ups. Constant feelings of guilt, worry, terror! If I do this, will she end up like that? Am I ruining her prospects? Should she be doing this, that or the other by now? I hope I will one day be rewarded by seeing that my parenting has paid off, that I have brought up a strong, generous, kind and clever woman of God. That she will be a credit to me.

Monday, 10 December 2012

December 10th - Samuel


1 Samuel 3

Samuel was another longed-for son. In gratitude for hearing her prayers for a son, Samuel's mother, Hannah, dedicated his life to God. Samuel grew up in the Temple, serving God. He heard God's voice. God spoke through Him. Samuel was with God. In Jesus we have Emmanuel - God with us. We can all hear God, all have a relationship with Him, because Jesus came to earth and lived like us.

Dear God, let me hear you when you call.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

December 9th - Moses

MosesExodus 2:1-10

There are so many similarities in the stories of Moses and Jesus. Matthew's Gospel draws many of these parallels out. Both were babies under threat of death from their rulers; both found safety in Egypt; both were given huge, terrifying missions by God; both were destined to lead people to freedom.

"Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) Christmas is the time to give thanks that God cares about us so much; that He loves enough to become like us and do what we can't to save us. Jesus grew like us, but was aware that His Heavenly Father had a bigger plan.

How do we respond? We can make sure our Christmas celebrations aren't entirely materialistic. We can use the time when we remember a birth and the threat to a baby's life as a time to speak out against the daily threats to unborn babies' lives. We can try to make the lives of those around us more pleasant and easier, and give from our plenty to those who have little.

"Dear God, let me have the courage to do what you ask of me and help me to bring freedom to all of your children."

Saturday, 8 December 2012

December 8th - Joseph


Genesis 37:23-28; 45:3-15

JosephToday's symbol is a multicoloured tunic, representing Joseph and the great love his father had for him. There are a number of ways in which Joseph could be compared to Jesus. At Christmas we are celebrating the arrival of God's son, whom He would refer to as beloved. And, like Joseph, Jesus was betrayed by those closest to him, sold for silver coins. Yet both forgave those who had harmed them.

Friday, 7 December 2012

December 7th - Jacob

Jacob's LadderToday we read Genesis 25:19-34; 28:10-22. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, met with God in a dream and learned that the promise made to his grandfather would be fulfilled through his line. God would bless all people through Jacob. Upon waking from the dream, Jacob announced, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16)
My favourite advent hymn is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Advent is the time of waiting, hoping for the arrival of God in human form. Jesus was called Emmanuel, which means 'God with us'. At Christmas we celebrate God coming to earth to be with us, humbling himself to walk amongst us and be like us. He would no longer just be found in one place; He would no longer be unapproachable - in Jesus we find our personal, universal God, and we can be with Him anywhere and everywhere.

"Dear God, help me to see that the whole world is your home."

Thursday, 6 December 2012

December 6th - Isaac


A ramIsaac was a long awaited child. Abraham and Sarah were old, and despite God's promise of descendants, they struggled to believe they would ever become parents. When Isaac was born there must have been absolute delight and happiness - his name means laughter, after all. So when we read in Genesis 22:1-14 how God asked Abraham to sacrifice his precious son, it's impossible to understand how Abraham was able to trust God in that situation. He must have believed God's promises so strongly that there was no doubt that God would provide in some way, which He did with the ram in the bush.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

December 5th - Abraham


Genesis 12:1-3 is where we find God's promise to Abraham. The promise is that Abraham will have descendants too numerous to count, and that through him all people will be blessed.

Genesis 15:5Fast forward to Jesus, a descendant of Abraham. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the one who would fulfil the second part of God's promise: Jesus, through His death and resurrection has enabled all people to be blessed, if they choose to follow Him.

This advent we can think about ways in which we can bless others. Inviting people for a meal; sharing the good news of Jesus; praying for someone; giving to charity. There are so many ways to share the blessings we have received.

"Dear God, help me to be a blessing to others."

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

December 4th - Noah

Noah's ArkNoah

The story of Noah is found in Genesis 6-9. We discovered a number of parallels between Noah and Jesus, the first being that they were both good at carpentry!

God used both for salvation: Noah brought a physical salvation for his family, the animals and the future of humanity through building the Ark; Jesus brought spiritual salvation for all who believe in Him through His death on the cross.

Monday, 3 December 2012

December 3rd - Fall of Man

Fall of Man

Forbidden Fruit
Forbidden Fruit
Whether we believe that Adam and Eve were real people, or representations of the whole human race, we cannot deny that somehow sin entered the world. The first people on earth disobeyed God, and everybody since has followed in their footsteps. From a very young age the forbidden is attractive. My fifteen month old daughter will approach the coffee table and look at me, shaking her head, before putting her hand on the mug that was supposed to be out of her reach. She knows she's not supposed to, but goes for it anyway.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

December 2nd - Adam & Eve

Adam & Eve Jesse Tree decoration
Adam & Eve
Adam and Eve

Today's reading comes from Genesis 2:7-24, where we see God creating man and woman. God says that it is not good for the man to live alone, which is why He creates woman to be his helper and companion. We humans are made for each other, not just as couples, but as friends, families, communities. We cannot exist alone; we must rely upon others and, in turn, allow them to lean upon us.
We remember also that it was through Jesus that we were created, and yet He chose to become like His own creations.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

December 1st - Creation


Beauty of CreationWe went for a walk at a nature reserve today, so that we could take some time to enjoy God's creation. And it really was beautiful. The sun hung low in the sky, casting a golden glow upon the water. The bare trees swayed gently in the breeze, dark against the frosty sky. The air was bitterly cold, making my ears tingle and adding a necessity to holding the hubby's hand, for I had forgotten my gloves. There's something thrilling about the cold of winter. It makes me feel more alive, though I did envy B, wrapped up in the sling, snuggled against Daddy's chest. When I see the natural world, I find it difficult to understand how anyone could fail to see the hand of the Creator in it all.