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Advent 2018 Devotional—December 5

Advent 2018 Devotional—December 5

PRAY

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

READ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not
one thing came into being. What has come into being in him
was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines
in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

Sometimes people tell me they don’t believe in God. I often respond: “Tell me about the god you say you don’t believe in, because I might not believe in him either!” Then I delight in telling them the good news about God as He is revealed to us in the Word, Jesus Christ! For in Jesus there is life and in Jesus there is light overcoming the darkness. He is the perfect revelation of what God is like, for He is the eternal Word who “was with God, and the Word was God.”

The apostle John writes the words in today’s text as a devout monotheist, a believer in the one true God. From the time John could talk he had prayed the Shema, the faith statement of Israel. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, NIV).

As John walked with Jesus and experienced His life, death and resurrection, he came to know Jesus as the one true God he had worshipped for so long. As a first-person eyewitness to Jesus, John wrote about “what we heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life… and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us” (1 John 1:1-2). The divine life and love of the Trinity has come down and is given to us in Christ Jesus. “He is the Son of God sent to this world of ours by His heavenly Father to reveal to us what He experiences from all eternity in His intimate life with the Father.” (George Maloney, Entering into the Heart of Jesus) Jesus is the Word, the perfect expression to us of the Father’s love for us.

Everything Jesus does, He does for us. The Son of God does not come to exalt or promote Himself since He shared in the glory of the Father from the beginning (John 17:5). Rather, Jesus comes to share with us the very life and glory of God. He comes to make you and me nothing less than sons and daughters of God (John 1:12), so that we “may become participants in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). He comes to make us participants in the eternal circle of love in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

How do you react to being told you are loved? In my work with individuals and couples I often see people who have difficulty in receiving love. For various reasons they run from love. They seemingly can’t let love in. Sometimes they are afraid of being hurt if they let someone love them. The reasons for not accepting love are seemingly legion, but, sadly, the way we love each other often distorts how we see God’s love. Throw in all the legalism and guilt trips and we can have a difficult time letting God love us just as we are!

Knowing how hard it would be for us to accept God’s unconditional, enduring, self-giving love, Jesus prayed for us: “Righteous Father… I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25a, 26). That is love! That is intimacy! Having also drawn you close to the Father’s heart, Jesus prays for you to know that the Father loves you as He loves His own Son!

Now let’s take this a step further: not how do you react to being told God loves you, but how do you react to being told that God wants you to love Him? For you see, God really does love you! God is crazy about you, and longs for you to love Him in return. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, because He would rather die than live without your love! “He [God] sent his Word, his only Son, by whose taking flesh to be born and suffer on our behalf, that we might come to know for how much man counts with God.” (Augustine, Sermons, 57:13)

When someone tells you they don’t believe in God, you might want to tell them about the love of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ, the Word!

PONDER

  • Who is the God I believe in?
  • What would it mean for me to trust in what I believe?

PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP

For a moment hold your PALMS DOWN in a symbolic gesture of letting go to God your worries for the day, the busyness of the season, and expectations of the way the holidays ought to be. Release all of these concerns to God.

Next, hold your PALMS UP as a symbolic gesture of receiving God’s gifts, provision, and guidance for today.

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