If JOY had a Price Tag...It Would Read, Free to Those With This...
With all the Covid restrictions this Christmas season, maybe, just maybe, there is a silver lining splitting through the dark clouds of gathering gloom. Could it be that God wants us to sloooooow down? Could it be in the hush, not the rush, in the stillness not the scurry, in the presence of God we find the present?
The gift of advent has rendered my type A personality, the Martha in me, to slow, to still, to invite silence. Each morning as I read and meditate on the advent Scriptures a metamorphosis unfolds. Joy leaks into my soul one silent moment at a time.
Advent candle number two is the "Bethlehem Candle," and it symbolizes faith.
Seven hundred years before Christ was born the prophet Isaiah proclaimed these words. Is. 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
As I read these words, I think about what it must have felt like for the scared young woman—Mary to be pregnant out of wedlock, and for a man of integrity—Joseph (no more than a boy himself) to marry her despite the unusual circumstances. All this, so the fulfillment of prophecy could come true in Matthew 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call Him Immanuel"—which is translated, "God with us."
Mathematically speaking, what are the odds that one baby would have prophetic words spoken over Him proclaiming He would come out of Bethlehem, Egypt and be called a Nazarene and it all came true? Just the fulfillment of those three prophecies by three different prophets would create staggering odds, not to mention the many others.
- Micah 5:2 Says the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Matt. 2:1-6 Prophecy fulfilled. (The place Jesus was born.)
- Hosea 11:1 says the Messiah will come out of Egypt. Matt. 2:13-18 Prophecy fulfilled. Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt for Jesus' safety. He came out of Egypt as prophesied.
- Is. 11:1 Refers to the Messiah as a Rod or a Branch which are messianic terms. (Same word as Nazarene) Matt. 2:23 Prophecy fulfilled. Jesus lived in a town called Nazareth fulfilling that he would be called a Nazarene.
It took faith for those prophets of old to proclaim what would take hundreds of years to materialize, just as it takes faith today to live in a world where Santa Claus, and commercialism have usurped the true meaning of Christmas. Where Covid invites the world to embrace fear, or in my case anger that my "normal" has been messed with.
D.L. Moody says it best. "Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it; so is bread, but you have to eat it; so is water but you have to drink it."1 His point is that faith does not happen by osmosis. I have to inhale faith, so I read the word of God to encourage it. I pray and commune with God to practise it. I live my life in the hope that others will see Jesus and be inspired to taste of it. Increasing faith in God is the key to joy. It is that dangling price tag on that must have gift…free to the faithful.
"Oh Come All Ye Faithful, joyful and Triumphant"
There is a direct correlation between joy and faith.
This second candle of faith is aptly named, we need faith to celebrate Christmas with joy no matter what the circumstances.
Light your second candle—the candle of faith as you listen to this beautiful rendition of Oh Come All Ye Faithful by Melodie Malone. The video has nothing to look at so close your eyes and lift your voice in worship. May God bless this your second week of advent with increased joy as you prepare a sweet fragrance of surrendered soul to the spirit for our dear Jesus. Don't forget to read the following scriptures daily and breathe in faith which leads to joy.
Martin Luther said, "You have as much laughter as you have faith." I pray, "increase my faith Lord Jesus."
Here are your daily readings for this second week of advent. Please note all the prophecy. Pause. Ponder. Pray. Joy will be your reward.
• Monday—Isaiah 11: 1-10
Isaiah foretells the arrival of our beautiful Jesus verses 1-4, but also foretells of the Messiah's glorious return yet to come when He establishes the Kingdom of God (verses 5-10).
• Tuesday—Micah 5:2-5a
I love this prophesy of the coming Messiah as a babe in Bethlehem…One who shall feed His flock and bring peace to the soul.
• Wednesday—Zechariah 6:12-13
God the Father (Lord of Hosts) prophesies of the Man whose name is the BRANCH (Jesus) of a time far beyond the baby in the manger… a time when Jesus will sit and rule on His throne. At Christmas it is good to see beyond the babe and look with eyes of faith in anticipation to our coming King.
• Thursday—Malachi 3:1-6
There are three mentioned in this passage. "I (the LORD) send My messenger, (John the Baptist) And he will prepare the way before Me. (Jesus) This Scripture is fulfilled when John the Baptist cries out the message of Jesus as Savior. (Matt. 11:7-11 & John 1:6-8)
• Friday—John 1:1-8
The deity of Christ is explained. Jesus is the Word. Jesus was there at creation. Jesus is deity for the Word was God. We also see that all things were made through the pre-incarnate work of Christ. Before Jesus ever came as a babe in the manger, He created mankind. The fulfillment of yesterday's prophecy is documented in this passage…hundreds of years later.
• Saturday—John 1:9-18
The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us (incarnation)…full of grace and truth and we are therefore given the right to become children of God if we receive Him…accept Him as our Savior. How amazing.
• Sunday—Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist comes as prophesied, and he preaches and prepares the way for Jesus.
All Scripture is taken from the NKJV
Scripture references for the daily readings supplied by biblestudytools.com and the descriptions by me.
1 Dwight L. Moody, The Way to God (New York: Cosimo, Inc.,2005), 53.
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