Friday, December 15, 2017

December 15

December 15
Ornament with crown

Yesterday we hung the ornament with a shepherd’s staff.  We talked about David being a shepherd and how Christ is also our Shepherd.  Today our ornament is the crown.  We will be talking about David again, but this time we will talk about David as King and how Christ is our King!  

Our first reading for today is from 2 Samuel 5:1-4.  
 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.’” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

There are three things I want us to remember from today’s devotion:
Number One:  Christ came from the line of David.
Number Two:  David spoke of the coming of Christ.
Number Three:  David himself is a picture of Christ.  

First, Christ came from the line of David.  Matthew 1:1 says, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  David is included in our Jesse tree because Christ is one of his descendants.  

David is also included in our Jesse tree because he spoke about the coming of Christ.  Many of his Psalms are actually talking about King Jesus!  In Acts chapter 2, Peter quotes David and then explains this to the Jews:  

27 Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
28 ‘You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’

29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.  (Acts 2:27-31)
Jesus Himself even talks about this in Matthew 22:
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They *said to Him, “The son of David.” 43 He *said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying,  44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet”’? 45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?”
Christ would come from the line of David, but David had placed his hope in this coming Lord and King.  
Third, King David is a picture of Christ.  The Bible describes David as being a man after God’s own heart.  Jesus is the perfect picture of a man wholly devoted to God’s will above His own.  
In John 4:34, Jesus says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”  
The ornament is a crown, and a crown reminds us that Christ is not just a king like David, but THE King.   
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11, NASB)

Let’s close our devotion with the hymn, “Joy to the World.”  (#274)
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing.

December 14

December 14
Ornament with Shepherd’s Staff

Today’s ornament is the Shepherd’s staff.  Before he was king, David was a shepherd, and being a shepherd was not an easy job.  We know he spent much time outdoors in all sorts of weather.  Protecting sheep could be a lonely, dangerous job!

This shepherd David wrote a Psalm about the Lord based on his experience as a shepherd and his knowledge of sheep.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2   He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3   He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4   Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6   Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

In the Old Testament, there are many references to the Messiah as being a type of shepherd and the Jews being like sheep.  In the New Testament, Jesus is compared to a shepherd many times.  John chapter 10 is a wonderful illustration of this.  

Jesus says,   11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:11-18, 27-28)
We are just like sheep needing the care of a Shepherd.  We must run to Him, and he will not turn us away, because he is the GOOD Shepherd.  
As we prepare to celebrate the coming of our good Shepherd, we can be thankful that we not only have the Old Testament words and pictures which point us to our coming Savior, but we also have the very words straight from our Savior Himself!  
Jesus tells us to come to Him, and he will not cast us out.  A sheep off on his own is vulnerable to all sorts of danger- Sheep need their shepherd for safety, care, and protection.  In the same way, we are vulnerable and exposed without the covering of our Good Shepherd.  As we hang the ornament with the shepherd’s crook, let’s remember that Jesus is our Good Shepherd.  
The words to the hymn “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” are a great closing:
Saviour, Like a shepherd lead us, Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us; For our use Thy folds prepare;
Blessed Jesus!  Blessed Jesus!

Thou Hast bought us, Thine we are.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December 13

December 13
Ornament with horn dripping oil

Today’s ornament is a horn dripping oil.  Do you know why someone would have a horn dripping with oil?  It was used to anoint people, or pour oil, to symbolize the person being set apart.  Today we are going to talk about Samuel, and how God worked through his life.

First of all, tell me everything you know about Samuel:
(Hannah’s son; heard God’s voice; speak Lord, for your servant is listening, told Eli his sons were wicked; priest when Saul was king; hacked Agag to pieces; told Saul kingdom had been ripped from him; anointed David as next king)

Our reading for today is from 1 Samuel 16:1-13:
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.” 4 So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” 5 He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”
12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
Samuel is not in the list of Jesus’ descendants, but this ornament is included in most lists of Jesse Tree ornaments.  Can anyone guess why?  Because God used Samuel and his ram’s horn of oil to anoint the king, foreshadowing the coming King, our Messiah.
Samuel went against King Saul by traveling to Bethlehem, but he was guided by faith and obedience.  The scene is like that of a fairy tale.  The oldest, most handsome sons are paraded by.  Surely God would choose one of the oldest or biggest or strongest!  Each time, God says, “Not this one.”  After SEVEN sons go by, Samuel asks, “Is this all?  Is there another son somewhere?”  David, the youngest, was not even invited to the sacrifice; he was left in the field to tend the sheep!   
Once again, God chose an unlikely candidate for His work.  David was the youngest brother, and honor usually went to the oldest.  He was still a boy, and he was a shepherd!  
This is a reminder that God does not see as we see.  We tend to look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart.  David’s heart wasn’t perfect, but God did see the same faith which was present in Rahab and Ruth and Abraham.  It was credited to him as righteousness.  

Raising his horn, Samuel pours the thick oil over David’s head, ceremonially and spiritually consecrating this child for God’s holy work.  A shepherd king was anointed, symbolizing the future Shepherd King, the Ancient of Days.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12

December 12                                                         
Ornament with Sheaves of Grain
Today we will be hanging an ornament with grain on it.  Can anyone take a guess about what we are going to discuss?

When Naomi’s husband and sons had died, she had no choice but to return to her home of Bethlehem.  Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth saw something different in her.  Something real enough that compelled Ruth to leave her home country and make a pilgrimage to a foreign land.  Remember, Ruth couldn’t go get a job and provide for her mother in law, and she knew that she was not signing up for an easy task.  However, Ruth decided that it was worth it and told Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”  

They returned to Bethlehem from the land of Moab, and Ruth would have been known as the foreigner with Naomi.  She had not had any sons before her husband died, and now she needed a kinsman redeemer, someone who would provide for her needs and care for her.  

She went to work in the barley fields gathering grain, and one day she began working in the field of Boaz.  He noticed her and offered her water, protection, and extra grain.  When Ruth questioned his kindness toward her, he replied,

“All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.  May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”  (Ruth 2:12-13)

When Ruth related the events of the day to Naomi, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was actually a close relative.  Naomi instructed Ruth on what to do next.  Ruth went to the threshing floor late one evening, uncovered Boaz’ feet, and lay down.  When he awoke, Ruth told him who she was.  This was Boaz’ response:

10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. (Ruth 3:10-11)

Ruth went to Boaz humbly, not with demands, and he covered her.  A closer relative was not interested in having Ruth for his wife, and so Boaz became Ruth’s kinsman redeemer.  

They were married, and Ruth and Boaz became the parents of a son named Obed.  Obed grew up to be the father of Jesse, and we know that Jesse grew up to be the father of King David!

During this season of Advent, we remember Ruth and Boaz not only for being part of Jesus’ family tree, but also because it is a good time for us to think about our need for a Kinsman Redeemer.  Just like Ruth, we need a Redeemer.   Not to take care of our physical needs, but one who can give us a covering of righteousness and take care of our spiritual needs.  

In the same way Boaz showed compassion to Ruth and covered her, Christ does not turn away those who see their need and come to Him in faith and humility.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

As we hang the ornament with the grain and think about Ruth and Boaz, let’s rejoice in preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who came to this earth as a man in order to become OUR kinsman redeemer!  

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11

December 11
Ornament with Scarlet Cord

Today, as we add the ornament with the scarlet cord, we will talk about God’s faithfulness to a woman named Rahab.  Rahab was not a “good girl.”  In fact, she was a lady living in Jericho who made her living on immorality.  We find her story in Joshua chapter 2, and I am going to read the entire chapter today... it is too exciting to leave anything out!  

2 Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. 2 It was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued them on the road to the Jordan to the fords; and as soon as those who were pursuing them had gone out, they shut the gate.
8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, 13 and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19 It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought them all along the road, but had not found them. 23 Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”
The men kept their promise and rescued Rahab and her family.  

Matthew chapter 1 is a long list of the descendants of Jesus.  Listen to Matthew 1:5, Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.”  

Do you remember who Jesse was?  He was the father of King David!  Not only was Rahab rescued, but one of the spies named Salmon married her, and Rahab became the great-great-grandmother of King David.  God is faithful; He rescued a woman out of sin, made a new life for her, and put her in a royal family.  Not just any royal family, but THE royal family!

God chose to put a woman who was not a Jew by birth and who was known for leading an immoral life in Jesus’ family tree.

In the same way He saved Rahab, God rescues us through Christ.  Rahab was a citizen of a wicked city and part of an idol-worshipping culture.  She was an immoral woman, but because of her faith and putting her faith into action, (Remember, she had to hang the cord from her window) she was converted, became a citizen of a different kingdom, and made into a beautiful bride.  

In this same way, Jesus gives us new hearts, new desires, new life, and a new family.  When we repent and place our faith in Christ, we become the bride of Christ and part of God’s royal family, with a good and perfect King ruling over us.  As we hang the scarlet cord ornament, let us remember that God sent His son to this earth to rescue sinners like Rahab and all of us, and no matter how bad or “good” we think we are, Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient.  

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 10

December 10                                                
Ornament with Tablets
Today we will be hanging the ornament with the tablets.  I bet you all can guess the topic for today’s devotion!  The Ten Commandments!
In the third month after the amazing flight to Egypt, the Israelites came into the wilderness of a place called Sinai, and they set up camp in front of Mt. Sinai.  In Exodus chapter 20, verses 1-17, we read what God spoke to Moses:  
Then God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
During several devotions we have gone over our questions and answers, which we call “catechism.”  I think it will be helpful to use those catechism questions to help us with today’s devotion.   (*If your family is not familiar with the Catechism for Boys and Girls, you can just turn the questions and answers into sentences.)
Q: How many commandments did God give Moses on Mt. Sinai?                 
A: 10 Commandments
Q: What are the ten commandments sometimes called?           
A: God’s moral law
Q:  What do the first four commandments teach?             
A:  Our duty to God
Q:  What do the last six commandments teach?             
A:  Our duty to our fellow man
Q:  What is the sum of the ten commandments?        
A:  To love God with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself
Q: Who is your neighbor?      
A:  All my fellow man is my neighbor
Q: Can any man keep these ten commandments perfectly?             
A:  No mere man, since the fall of Adam, ever did or can keep the ten commandments perfectly.
Q: Of what use are the ten commandments to us?                 
A: They teach us our duty and show us our need of a Savior.
That last line is the key to understanding why we would hang an ornament with the ten commandments.  We can never perfectly keep the law of God, and yet we are held accountable to the law of God.  God’s law, which is both in our hearts and in writing, points us to our need for Christ.  
As we see that we can NEVER measure up to God’s standards, we must NOT become more determined to try harder... NO!  We must see that Christ is the only One who has kept the law, and we must be found in Christ and covered with His righteousness to be right with God.  
After we become Christians, do you think we can just live any way we want, since we can’t keep the law perfectly?  NO!  God’s moral law used to be a burden on our back, but now it is a guide in our hand, pointing us to our continual need for Christ and helping us know how to best honor him with our lives. 

As we think about the ten commandments, let us remember just how much we need the Savior for whom we are waiting!   

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December 9

December 9
Ornament with Door Frame (Passover)

To set the scene for today’s devotion, we are going to speed through a large section of history.  God used Joseph to preserve the nation of Israel during time of famine.  The Israelites moved to Egypt to be with Joseph and received a welcome from Pharaoh.  Years and years passed.  

What Joseph had done for Egypt was long forgotten, and now all that could be seen was a group of people who posed a threat to the Egyptians, for they were many in number.  This group of people, the Israelites, was enslaved, and now it seemed that they would never inhabit the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The fate of the Israelites seemed to be sealed when Pharaoh had all of the male infants thrown into the Nile River!

God always keeps His promises, and He protected a certain Hebrew baby from this cruel fate.  It was Moses!  God chose Moses to deliver His people from Egypt.  

Moses and Aaron had gone to Pharaoh several times begging him to “Let my people go!”  Several times Pharaoh had refused (or agreed and then changed his mind), and God had sent various plagues to the Egyptians.  Finally, God was ready to deliver His people from Pharaoh.
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.
28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
29 Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.” (Exodus 12:21-32)
This is really just the beginning of an amazing rescue that involves crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years...   But today’s ornament is the door frame with drops of blood on it.  
Yikes!  An ornament with drops of blood on it!?  Why would we pick THAT to put on our Jesse Tree?  What could that possibly have to do with Christmas?
Well, really, it has everything to do with Christmas! In Hebrews 9, the writer tells us that the Old Testament priest was to sprinkle the tabernacle and all the vessels used in worship with blood and that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission (or removal) of sin. He then writes that sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament was a hint or shadow of the time when Christ's blood would be shed.
Christ’s blood, sprinkled on the cross when He was crucified, did (and does!) what the blood of bulls, goats, lambs, and doves could never do - it cleanses our hearts from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
For the Christian, the blood of Christ is figuratively sprinkled on our hearts and the judgment of God passes over us for all eternity.

At the Passover in Egypt, the Death Angel could not enter into a home that had the blood sprinkled on the doorpost. Today we CAN enter - not into death but into eternal life when the blood of Christ has been sprinkled on our hearts. That is why the true Christian can joyfully sing "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel's veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains" (William Cowper). What a great song to sing at Christmas! Let's sing it now.

Friday, December 8, 2017

December 8                                                  
Ornament with Coat of Colors
Today’s symbol is the multi-colored coat.  I am sure you can guess the main character in today’s devotion!  We are going to talk about the experience of a man named Joseph, and how God used him to preserve the nation of Israel.  

Joseph had many brothers, but he was the favorite of his father Jacob.  The entire family knew this, and the brothers were not very kind to Joseph.  One day Jacob sent Joseph out to check on his brothers, and they hatched a plot to get rid of him.  They threw him into a pit, sold him into slavery to the Midianites, and the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer.  

The Bible goes on to tell us that the Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man.  Even though he was put in jail at one point because of false accusations, the Lord did not forget him.  

When Pharaoh had a dream which no one could explain, Joseph was summoned.  God revealed the meaning of the dream to Joseph, and Joseph explained to Pharaoh that famine was coming.  Joseph proposed a way to store up reserves and prepare for this famine, and Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the whole operation.    

When Joseph’s father Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons to buy grain for their family.  Joseph recognized them, and after a time he revealed himself to his family.  
Here are our key verses for today’s Advent devotion:  
16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:16-21)

This history of Joseph can point us to Christ in several ways.  
The Jews in Jesus’ day were just like Joseph’s brothers.  When they had Jesus crucified, fulfilling many Old Testament prophecies about the way in which our Savior was to die, they did NOT mean it for good.  They were trying to get rid of a problem, just like Joseph’s brothers were trying to get rid of a problem.  
Little did either group know, this was all part of God’s plan for preserving His people.  God used Joseph as part of His plan to physically preserve His people from starving, and God used Jesus to preserve His people from the death that is a result of sin.  
Also, it is helpful to notice HOW Joseph’s brothers went to him.  They did not come demanding their rights, but they came HUMBLY, confessing their sins, begging forgiveness, and placing themselves in a position of servanthood.  
Likewise, when we see that our only hope is God’s grace and mercy that comes through Christ alone, we must go to him humbly, confessing our sins, begging forgiveness, and placing ourselves in a position of servanthood.  
In addition, the bible tells us that Joseph spoke kindly to his brothers and promised to provide for them.  (Remember, these are the same brothers who hated him and sold him into slavery, because that would be more profitable than just killing him.)  
How is this similar to the way that Jesus deals with us?
We are sinful people who have chosen to place ourselves against God.  Christ calls us to Himself, with kindness and promises to provide for us spiritually.  When we see that we have no hope other than Christ, we must run to him humbly in repentance.  Just as Joseph received his brothers with forgiveness, Christ does not turn us away.

Jesus promises in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”