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  • “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) and everyone went to their town to register.
    So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Gal-ilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be mar-ried to him and expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
    And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
    Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
    “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
    May the blessings of Peace, Love, Hope and Joy
    be with you and your loved ones this Christmas.
  • Jesus
    “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. “
    There are so many titles associated with Jesus our Savior (that’s one.) Titles are bestowed. Titles often have a reference to some specific work, or place, -example: Duke of Nottingham.
    But a name – that’s more personal. And that’s how Jesus wants us to know him, as someone personal, not just someone with an important or impressive title behind his name.
    Jesus.
    Conceived in Mary, as foretold by the angel. Son of man. Son of God. Savior. But not someone distant, not a president or prime minister with all the power and none of the intimacy. This is a Savior and leader we can know and trust and confide with our most personal desires, our best wishes and our most embarrassing failures.
    Jesus.
    The name of someone we love because he first loved us.
    Let us pray – Lord you are our creator, and our Savior, and our helper within the great mystery of the Holy Trinity. Lord we give thanks for Jesus, for his life as son of man, for his death on the cross, for the salvation that comes only through his blood. Amen
  • Light of the World
    “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. “
    When I was young, my family would have summer cookouts at a pond fenced off the far side of our pasture. There would be swimming, and horseshoe pitching, softball and frisbees. And in the evening, card playing on the picnic table by the light of a Coleman lantern.
    That lantern was a marvel to me, with the little cloth mantels that glowed so bright that I had to shade my eyes – and yet somehow they did not burn up. My uncle would hang the hissing lantern from a roof beam of our little pond cabin and the light would shine far out across the pond. As the evening wore on, moths and gnats would circle the light, tapping against its glass chimney.
    When we see Jesus as the light of the world we often turn to him, only seeing him as those moths and gnats saw only the lantern light. Yet Jesus tells us that His light is provided so we will not walk in darkness – in other words, we should not just be staring at his beautiful, illuminating light. We should be using it to walk out into the world and do his work.
    Let us pray – Lord, your blindingly beautiful light draws us to you. Lord give us the faith to trust in your light as we dispel the darkness, sharing your light with everyone we meet. Amen
  • Prince of Peace
    “For to 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.
    A few weeks ago, I read a cute Thanksgiving devotion that spoke of the frantic meal preparation giving way to the peace of pie. I liked the imagery; once the turkey is carved, the prayer said, the meal served…once everyone is settled but still not stuffed, then comes dessert. The peace of pie.
    “Peace” has different meanings to different generations. Protestors in the 1960’s used “peace” both as a rallying cry and a challenge to others who did not agree with their agenda. Saying the word did not inevitably bring in the circumstances of peace.
    Jesus is Prince of Peace to a kingdom this world cannot understand. His kingdom is not here, yet Jesus offers his peace to us – a peace the world cannot give. We experience his peace when we repent, when we can accept that he can and does forgive our sin.
    Let us pray – Lord you give us a peace that passes all human understanding. Thank you Lord, for your gift of Jesus, our Prince of Peace. Amen
  • Wonderful Counselor
    “For to 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 “
    Of all the titles bestowed on Jesus in Isaiah’s prophesy, this is my favorite. A counsellor is a person “trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems.” If Jesus had no other titles, I would gladly keep him in my life for just this purpose.
    And Jesus is no ordinary counsellor. The title “wonderful” goes beyond our everyday understanding. His wisdom is full of wonder, reaching beyond the grasp of our worldly knowledge.
    Of course, sometimes we question counsel that we cannot fully understand. We like to know how situations will turn out, and we always want them to end in our favor. Trusting the counsel of our wonderful counsellor who is, was, and is to come, that is a daily challenge in our life.
    Let us pray – Lord, let me turn to you in counsel when I cannot understand my life. Even more, give me the patience to wait for your counsel and the faith to trust in you. Amen
  • Son of God
    “Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”
    Naming a son be a big responsibility. There is the family name to consider, and names of the grandfathers, and balancing a sense of family pride with the encouragement for the son to find his own identity.
    The race driver Al Unser, sometimes called “Big Al” passed away earlier this month. I was a young boy when he won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1970, starting from the pole and leading 190 of the 200 laps. Big Al won the race 4 times.
    His son, Al Unser Jr, sometimes called “Little Al” is almost my age. He’s known to a different, younger generation of race fans for winning the Indy 500 twice.
    Jesus was given many names in prophesy before he was born. In Matthew 14 he comes to the disciples walking across the stormy waters, and then he calms the storm. At that moment he could have claimed any name for himself, but the disciples saw in him not just the power of God, but the total dedication to the Father in his teaching and in his actions. “Truly,” they said in worship, “you are the Son of God.”
    Let us pray – Jesus, may every generation know and worship you as Son of man and Son of God. In this wonderful mystery is our salvation, given only through you. Amen

  • Christ—Christos [Greek] “The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
    “Christos” – that is how you say, “Christ” in Greek.
    For the people of Jesus’ day, to proclaim someone as “Christ” would be even greater than saying, “President of the United States” for us today.
    The title “Christ”, held ultimate importance!
    This scripture story also tells us the woman said, “when Christ comes, he will explain everything to us.”
    In our humanness, we SO want to be in control of our life, yet, submitting our life to Christ brings freedom. While we cannot understand all things, we can put all our trust in Jesus who truly does. We know the Messiah came; we have proof! And we know he is coming again.
    Christ! Hallelujah! Amen!

  • Savior
    “ Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
    What do you think when you hear the word “Savior”?
    The dictionary definition says 1) A person who saves, rescues or delivers. A title of God, especially of Christ.
    The Biblical definition says 1) One that saves us from danger or destruction. 2) One who brings salvation—specifically Jesus.
    Yes, that is exactly what Jesus does. He saves us from danger and/or destruction. All we need to do is ask him [Jesus] to be in our heart and to believe. Jesus is our Savior who will protect and save us.
    Wishing you a very blessed Christmas.
  • Bread of Life
    “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
    In this passage Jesus is comparing himself to food which we need to stay alive. He is saying that we need food (bread) for life but we also need a relationship with him to survive spiritually.
    Later in Jesus ministry when he sat with his disciples at the Last Supper, he compared himself to bread again when he broke a loaf and offered it to them with these words. “This is my body, boken for you.” He was telling the disciples that he would be giving up his life so that they and all who believe might live an eternal life.
  • King of the Jews
    “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
    Many generations before Jesus’ birth it is written in the Old Testament that the Jewish people had a rocky relationship with God. God had chosen them as his “treasured possession” but the people became tired of this relationship and demanded an “earthly” king.
    Eventually God annointed King David and it is through his blood line that Jesus was born. When Jesus was born the Wise Men saw the star and had heard the prophesies. They knew that Jesus was the prophesied “King of the Jews”.
  • Messiah
    “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).“
    Who is your ‘go-to’ person? The one you call first when you just have to share some news? That’s how excited Andrew was when he understood that he had found, “THE MESSIAH!” The promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied about for hundreds of years.
    Can you imagine Andrew’s heart-pounding, breathless, couldn’t-get-to-his-brother-fast-enough – excitement!
    We also know Jesus is the Messiah. Does your heart pound with that realization? Share the excitement not only with your ‘go-to’, but with ALL your family and friends. Jesus came to us, he was real here on earth, and he is coming again. MESSIAH!
    Oh Wonderous Jesus, it is a miracle that you want me – indeed, each and everyone one of us to know you. When you come again the world will proclaim your Glory. Let me proclaim it now, with breathless excitement to those within my reach of influence. Amen
  • Nazarene
    “and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
    Are you a Hoosier? Born in Indiana? That is exactly why one of the names of Jesus is “Nazarene”. It is where he grew up. Where his family was and the people who knew him as a boy. It seems to be human nature to put an identifier on someone to help us relate to who they are.
    What label do you wish to be known by? Hopefully “Christian” or “Christ-Follower” is at the top of your list. If we are willing to truly own that identifier, it will become the guide by which we live all aspects of our life, and the most important legacy we can leave for our family.
    Jesus, the Nazarene. I want to identify with YOU and honor you with my life. Amen
  • Alpha and Omega
    “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
    We SO admire success stories. Often those in the spotlight of success will share that it took literally years and endless hours of hard work to get to that pinnacle. So true, starting a project is one thing, seeing it to completion is sometimes ‘something else’. Sadly there are many more “I quit” stories than “I stuck it out to the end” ones.
    While here on earth as ‘Son of Man’, Jesus never quit on his mission. Even before time began he has been part of the triune God-head, and he will be present thru eternity – Alpha and Omega.
    His love ’blanket’ is big enough for all of us. What assurance! NO other ’god’, religion, sect, no NOTHING ELSE can truthfully make that claim – only Jesus. Believe it.
    Dear Jesus, Alpha and Omega, cover me with your love forever. Amen
  • Son of David
    “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:”
    One thing I’ve always appreciated about living in in a small town/rural community is how the question, “Who is that?” gets answered. You’re going to get more than a person’s name. You’re going to learn a piece of that person’s history. i.e. “That’s Joe, his Dad worked for… his sister did…, he used to live near Sam, but then he moved to that house over there.” Yes, in a small community, it’s likely a LOT of folks know a LOT about you.
    Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus connects the history of the Bible, to Jesus our Savior through his earthly father Joseph, to King David – hence the title, “Son of David”. It IS just one more way we have authentication of Jesus Christ our Lord as truly Son of God, Son of Man, and “Son of David”.
    We can be assured, each of us is fully known just as intimately to Jesus. Before we were conceived, all the way through our years on this earth. We should have faith and make our legacy known as a follower and believer of Jesus Christ.
    Jesus, Son of God, Son of David, Savior of the World, to be known by you is a blessing. Help us go forth to teach others about you. Amen
  • Lamb of God
    “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
    How do you picture Jesus when he is called, “the Lamb of God”? Vulnerable? Small?
    When I was a child we had sheep on our farm. Occasionally a baby lamb would be rejected by its mother or be so weak it would have to be bottle fed so it could live.
    It is puzzling to you to understand how our Jesus can be a ‘Lamb’ and also have the power to take away the sins of the world as our Savior?
    Answer: Jesus willingly became the sacrificial “Lamb” to erase our sinfulness before God. That is not weakness, that is the strength of pure love.
    Jesus, your ultimate love overwhelms us. May my life reflect to others your love for me so I may love them. Amen

 

 

Smyrna Advent messages are funded in part through Thrivent Financial.