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Advent 2019 Devotional – December 5

PRAY:

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
(Luke 1:38)

READ:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible
and invisible whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all
things have been created through him and for him. He himself
is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17

Hark! The herald angels sing! Wow! Can you imagine! Put yourself in the sandals of those shepherds; see and hear heaven’s angels celebrating! Or, try and imagine a teen girl in backwoods Nazareth as the angel Gabriel suddenly manifests right before her! Those are needed and vivid reminders to today’s secular culture that an invisible dimension fills the cosmos and is as real as the visible world. The two dimensions interlace as the physical world is permeated by the supernatural. These “invisible” things created by Christ are as real as the “visible”, even though beyond our five senses.

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible would open eyes to a world filled with invisible beings, angels, powers, and the great hosts of heaven. These are either the spirit beings who behold God in worship or the fallen ones turned inward on themselves in that ancient and great rebellion. These are the holy angels who kept their blessed first state and the unholy ones who fell, becoming the powers of darkness in the cosmos. Even the rebellious powers and rulers had Christ as their Creator. They are actors in the grand cosmic drama of evil and God’s reconciliation of the world through Christ.

Scripture show the angels as rich and complex in variety as the animals in the seen world. God created an invisible world as diverse and varied as the seen world. In today’s scripture we learn of hierarchies of angels named “thrones”, “dominions”, “rulers”, “powers”.

For Paul, these various angel ranks

“were unseen forces working in the world through pagan religion, astrology, or magic, or through oppressive systems that enslaved or tyrannized human beings.” (N. T. Wright, The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and to Philemon)

It becomes clear that these unseen forces are at work through the idolatrous spirit of emperor worship and the Roman gods, an empire spread by crushing power.

Paul sees in social and political structures a spiritual dimension at work, reminding the Ephesians:

“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness…” (Ephesians 6:12).

Yet, in today’s scripture Paul would put to rest any fear of these unseen powers, assuring believers that no power, visible or invisible, operates independently of Christ’s sovereign rule: “for all things have been created through him and for him.” So what that the mighty Caesar had once put a whole world in motion with his census! He was unwittingly setting the stage for Messiah to be born in Bethlehem!

Take a moment now to put yourself in the shepherds’ sandals to hear the angel’s proclamation:

“Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Put yourself in Mary’s place and hear the words of Gabriel:

“Do not be afraid…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:30, 31).

Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid for whatever you face! God’s got the whole world, visible and invisible, in His hands!

PONDER:

  • Why do people not give more thought to the workings of spirit powers/angels for good or evil in the world?
  • What are some practical implications for you that Christ is greater than allspirit powers/angels?

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You will bring water from rock for the community.
Numbers 20:8

We take our name from the Bible’s story of the archetypal Exodus journey during which the people of God came to a place in the desert wilderness where there was no water. Yet, it was there in a hostile wilderness that they experienced God’s provision of water for them and leadership into a new future. We trust in a God who still provides, renews and leads His people.

Rooted in the Word

We are a ministry of Christian renewal rooted in the Living Word, Jesus Christ, as He reveals Himself through His Written Word, the Bible. Through the Written Word we encounter the Living Word in the incomprehensible wonder of His love. We are mindful that knowledge, even of the Bible, “puffs up” while love “builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We engage the Scriptures seeking to love more and know more of love. We purpose to search out God’s Word with both our minds and our hearts.

Ecumenical in Outlook

We honor all followers of Christ who have gone before us, and all who are among us now. We have much to learn and receive from all who have a lived experience of God’s transforming love. By reaching out to embrace the universal Body of Christ we strive to balance orthodoxy (right belief) and right living (orthopraxy).

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.
(Rupertus Meldenius, 1582 – 1651)

Experiencing the Living God

We thirst to know God and not just to know about Him. We long for a living experience of God. We believe that God breaks into our world on the holy ground of His Word, and seek through His Spirit a living encounter with Him there. We daily aim to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:30).

The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbor in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being. Amen.
—Fursey of Yarmouth, 6th century Irish monk

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