Archives For Advent

EFCA Advent Devotional 2015
Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation
Series Theme Text: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) 

Advent: Week Four

A Cradle, A Cross, and A Crown: Consummation (John 20; Revelation 21) 

We now come to the end of our advent series, so it is fitting that we address the final part of the story of the Bible, the consummation. As we do so, let’s briefly review.

The Story 

We began “in the beginning” when God created all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Adam and Eve, the culmination of God’s creative handiwork, were created in the imago Dei, the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). They were created to “work and keep,” to worship and obey God (Gen. 2:15). They were in a unique relationship with God. However, they sinned when tempted by Satan (Gen. 3), which affected them and all their progeny, who are now fallen, i.e., spiritually dead (Gen. 3:14-19; Rom. 5:12-21), along with all of creation (Rom. 8:19-23). “But God” in his grace and mercy promises an offspring would come from Eve (Gen. 3:15) who would crush the head of Satan (Rom. 16:20), overcome the effects of sin and bring new life (Jn. 17:3). This is redemption, the third major part of the story. The final part of the story consists of the consummation.

Redemption 

Before we address the consummation, we return to our advent theme passage of Scripture. With the biblical story now in mind, Jesus and his statement become clear.  

In the farewell discourse (Jn. 13:31-16:33) Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). And later in this section, our theme verse, Jesus says something similar: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).  

The world is in a fallen state. It is broken. Life in this world consists of tribulation. This hardly needs to be stated because it is everyone’s universal experience. The world offers no solution, which explains why the peace offered by the world is transient, and not true, real or lasting peace (cf. Jer. 6:14; 8:11). This peace is what Jesus came to provide. This is redemption. One does not have to remain in the fallen state in the biblical story. One can, in and through Christ, enter into the story of redemption to become part of the story of the redeemed (Col. 1:13-14).  

To continue reading, please go to pages 13-15 here.

 

EFCA Advent Devotional 2015
Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation
Series Theme Text: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Advent: Week Three  

A Birth, Glory and Peace: Redemption Experienced (Luke 2)

The tension between the reality of the fall evidenced in sin and punishment, and the promise of redemption is a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures. It was evident in God’s curse after the fall of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:14-19), with the promise of the offspring, the protevangelium, stated in the midst of the curses (Gen. 3:15). Isaiah informed us of this truth, and affirmed the promise of a son, whose name would be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. This son would be the king whose reign would be forever and over all, and his kingdom would be marked by peace, justice and righteousness (Isa. 9:1-6). 

Israel, and all nations, were waiting for this son who would establish a kingdom and rule on the throne of David. King after king failed. At the closing of the Old Testament canon, God again promises he will send Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5-6; this text picked up by Luke [1:17] as a reference to John the Baptist). And then it appeared God became silent. (And even though God was silent, he was not absent or removed. His sovereign and providential plan was moving toward fulfillment.) For 400 years there was no word from the Lord. Finally, when “the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). The Messiah’s forerunner was John the Baptist. When he came on the scene, the silence was broken. At this time in redemptive history, not only did God speak again, this time through John the Baptist, but he also spoke finally and definitively in the Son (Heb. 1:1-2).

Let’s situate ourselves before proceeding. Jesus states that in this world we will have tribulation, but in him we have peace because he has overcome the world. In order to understand Jesus’ statement, his person and work, we need to understand the story of the Bible. That is briefly outlined above. In our study of Jesus’ statement in the context of the whole Bible, we have moved from creation, the fall, and are now in the major section referred to as redemption. As noted previously, this is promised immediately after the fall, and moves toward fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. All of the details in redemption, writes one, “draw lines toward the greatest turning point of all in salvation history: the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah.”

Today we look at the beginning of this culmination, the birth of Jesus. This is the reality of Christmas that we celebrate, and there is, indeed, much to celebrate. We will look at the birth of Jesus and a few of the events and people surrounding it.

To continue reading, please go to pages 10-12 here.

EFCA Advent Devotional 2015
Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation
Series Theme Text: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Advent: Week Two  

From Tribulation to Peace – The Prince of Peace: Redemption Promised (Isaiah 9) 

In the early chapters of the Bible, the storyline is established: God created all very good, yet Adam and Eve sinned when tempted by Satan, and because of this sin they, and all their progeny, lived with a sentence of death and condemnation. Sin distorted and destroyed God’s very good creation. But God would restore and renew through the promise of an offspring as pronounced in the first mention of the gospel, the protevangelium 

Biblical Framework: Conflict Experienced and Peace Promised 

This explains the biblical framework of the conflict between sin, strife and tribulation and the peace promised by God and experienced by humanity through his ordained means. For the people of God, the time between the fall and God’s curse, and the promise made by God of life and the destruction of Satan and sin being fulfilled, seemed interminably long. Time and again, offspring would serve as a king, and one would wonder if this would indeed be the king through whom the enemy would be crushed and peace and blessing would once again be attained. But the number of those who served in this role as king matched the number of failures ultimately to fulfill God’s promise. The enemy had not been crushed and peace and blessing had not been attained.  

There is only one way back to the Edenic experience with God, and it would only be through God’s ordained means. Any and all other means would result in death. God’s people wondered, had God reneged? Had he forgotten his promises? Was there any hope? 

To continue reading, please go to pages 8-9 here.

EFCA Advent Devotional 2015

Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation

Series Theme Text: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Advent: Week One

From Very Good to Enmity, Pain, Curse and Banishment: Creation and the Fall (Genesis 1-3)

In our last devotional, which focused on our theme verse for advent, we learned three important truths. First, there is tribulation in this world. Second, Jesus is our peace, and the peace he provides is not like the peace the world gives. Third, the response to Jesus is captured in Thomas’ confession of faith that he is the Lord and God, and since our prayer is to see and savor the Savior, we join the confession in declaring, my Lord and my God.

But if we are to understand the person and work of Christ, the culmination of the story, we need to understand the whole story. We need to go back to the beginning of God’s creation and the subsequent fall of Adam and Eve. This is vital to understand if we are to grasp the story of Christ and Christmas.

To continue reading, please go to pages 6-7 here.

EFCA Advent Devotional 2015

Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation

Series Theme Text: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Advent Devotional Theme

The Peace Christ Promises

Our advent devotional theme comes from Jesus’ words at the conclusion of his farewell discourse. Jesus says to his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). If we are to understand these words of Jesus, it is important to understand who he is.

To continue reading, please go to pages 4-5 here.