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Advent 2014 Devotional, December 2

Advent 2014 Devotional, December 2

advent2014For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
II Corinthians 8:9

“What have we grown-ups forgotten about God, that children have not?”

That question was put to 7,000 children, five to eight years of age, in one of the largest studies ever conducted of children’s ideas about God. Open-ended questions put to children from various faith backgrounds showed that children are more similar in their views about God, rather than dissimilar, regardless of their faith tradition. When asked what they thought grownups had forgotten about God, the children’s most frequent replies were: “God loves everybody”, “God is always with us”, and “Jesus is real”. (For more on this survey of children, see Catherine Stonehouse, Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey) Those little hearts and minds found some good words for beginning to receive God’s “indescribable gift”. May we become like little children!

Today’s Scripture text reminds us oldsters that God does love everybody, that He is always with us, and yes, that Jesus is real! Here is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” No one can describe His riches, and no one can describe His poverty. He was rich because He was God; He became poor because He was God. All the fullness of the Godhead was in Him, by whom, and for whom all things were made.

The outpouring of His grace did not begin at His cross, or even the manger; it began when God purposed to lay aside His glory to take on our humanity and absorb to Himself all the evil and grief of our world. Jesus came to meet us where we are, to bring us where He is. He gives us Himself. He gives us His place with Father and Holy Spirit. He came down from glory, not for heaven’s sake, but for ours. All of this is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is God’s gift for all, undeserved, unearned, and unmerited.

Yet, I still struggle with God’s free, unmerited grace. There is something within my proud self that wants to earn grace, wants to deserve grace, wants to win grace. But deep down I know that I can’t! “God’s goods are not for sale; you can’t buy them with money or good deeds. God’s doesn’t make deals. God gives.” (Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge) God asks simply for us to receive!

Rather than imagining that I might earn or merit the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Bible commentator William Newell describes the grace-filled mind: “To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret…To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.” (Romans Verse by Verse)

By the way, when the 7,000 children were asked, “Is there a special secret God is trying to tell people? If so, what is it?”, the children’s “overall” response was, “God loves us” and “Love other people”. That’s a secret worth telling!

REFLECTION

  • Do you struggle with the riches of God’s grace being free, unearned, and undeserved? If so, how?
  • Can you say with Robert Newell: “I expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more my lack of worth”?
  • Take a few moments to talk with God about your reflections.

The Daily Receiving Prayer

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. The pride I have worn for my 75+ years continues to keep me from loving as God loves. I pray this Christmas I will be indwelled with His spirit and feel that love for more than my family. God, show me how.

  2. The refrain of a song I heard a number of years ago helps me to realize my “grace state”. It is…”Grace keeps giving me things I don’t deserve….Mercy keeps withholding things I do.” It’s the ongoing nature of grace/mercy in that refrain that sticks with me. Thanks, Tim, for the honest, Spirit-directed writing that you share with us.
    In Jesus’ love,
    J.E. Lindner, Camelback Bible Church

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