A couple of years ago, I wrote out a self-published e-book of Advent Devotions. You can still buy it from Amazon.com here: Advent Reflections. However, I’m going to re-use the whole thing for daily blog posts here on the blog this year.
Hymn numbers are from the 2008 Baptist Hymnal/Worship Hymnal from Lifeway.
“For unto us, a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NRSV)
The work of God through Jesus Christ was not merely for Him to come and remind us that He is the rightful King of Creation because He did the creating. He did not come just to check up on the spiritual portion of His kingdom, nor to merely reclaim the throne in Jerusalem. His time on earth was not spent to establish supremacy over other earthly kings. In fact, the only encounters with earthly kings and governors were disastrous: Herod the Great initiated the slaughter at Bethlehem, Herod Antipas does nothing, and Pontius Pilate orders Him crucified.
His work here was not simply to reclaim those titles. He was and remains the King of Kings. He came for a specific purpose that could not be accomplished through any other means. He came for you. He came for me. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15 NIV) This is one of Paul’s “trustworthy statements” that I believe he intends for Timothy and Titus to remember, teach, and apply to themselves. It’s a trustworthy statement for me to say: Christ Jesus came to save sinners, and I am the worst sinner. If I approach life with that attitude, I will ever remember the grace shown me and be ready to extend that grace.
He came to save sinners. Yet sinners are not saved merely by His coming. One can parse down to the finest point what the precise order of God’s work in saving sinners is, but it requires His coming and our surrendering. If you are counting on Jesus merely showing up to save you, it does not happen that way. Neither does it happen that you will work your way to Him.
He came that Bethlehem night to reach you. He came that you would recognize Him as King of you. That you would come, as the Magi and the shepherds, and worship. He came for you. All of what He went through was so that you would know His glory and so that you might come to Him. There is much about the price He paid: His death substituting for ours, His resurrection proving His divinity, and His ascension to power forevermore.
But today, encapsulate it here: at the manger, the baby waits. He made the trip to save you. What will you do about it? Bring Him gold? Why? In the back of the Book, we see that He uses the valuable things of this world to walk on: the extraordinary is pavement in eternity. Do you believe that? Read Revelation 21:21. The streets are made of gold.
Because the treasure of Heaven is Jesus and the presence of God, and that treasure was paid out to redeem you. Will you surrender to His kingdom? It is not for the faint of heart: it is for the fainting heart that can go no further. It is not for the self-sufficient: it is for the insufficient one who will turn to the sufficiency of Him.
If Advent passes and you have drawn no closer to the King of Kings who is also King of You, then the season is wasted. No matter what else happens, this much is critical: let Christmas not find you another year older and not a penny richer. Let Christmas find you older, certainly, but far richer in spirit and relationship with your King than it ever has before.
Scripture Passage for the Day: Revelation 21:6 (NASB95)
“Then He said to me, “It is done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the beginning and the end.
I will give to the one who thirsts
from the spring of the water of life without cost.”
Hymn for the Day: O Come, All Ye Faithful #199
Prayer: Father God, Creator-King, I have a problem. And that problem is me, most of the time. I am not often willing to release the rule of my own heart and my own life to You. I am more than ready that You rule over others, over this world, over suffering and disease, but I am not so ready that You reign over me right now. I recognize that I must stop this and change my direction. Without this, I know that I make light of Your work, of Your atoning death and Your glorious resurrection. Jesus, help me live in active obedience to You as my King. In Your name, for Your glory I pray, Amen.