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Devo

Devotional

Our congregation, pastors, and staff write devotionals to help us experience the seasons of Lent (before Easter) and Advent (before Christmas) more fully. They are posted below with the most recent on top and do not post until the season begins.

Wednesday, December 25 | Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 2:3
Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 9:6
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;
  and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Matthew 1:21–23
She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”

DEVOTION by Pastor Drew Sams
A very joyful and merry Christmas to you as you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. As you have journeyed with the broader Bel Air Church family during this Advent season, you have also journeyed with followers of Jesus around the globe who have chosen to interrupt the normal speed and pace of their lives to reflect on the fact that God has come to us, and dwelt with us, and given us new life.

These selected passages in Isaiah (written many hundreds of years before the Gospel according of Matthew), reveal to us what God is going to do before God does it and how we can join God at work. Not only does Isaiah 9:6 reveal the memorable truth that “a child has been born for us….and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” but Isaiah 2:3 reveals the response many will have when “many peoples shall come and say, ‘come, let us go…that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” Additionally, Matthew 1:21–23 is a direct quotation from Isaiah 7:14 where this child shall be called Emmanuel which means, “God with us.”

The birth of Jesus is the incarnation of God AND the invitation from God.

It is the fullness of God present in Jesus AND it is the fullness of a vibrant life that we can participate in.

It is a joyful event in the past AND it is a joyful experience in the present.

On this day, the day we have chosen to set aside as the celebration of our Savior’s birth, choose to embrace the Son of God again in your life. Consider the invitation for Jesus to “teach you his ways” and the resolve to “walk in his paths.” Reflect on the authority resting on the shoulders of Jesus who alone is qualified to be your Lord, Savior, Counselor, and King. Marvel at the wisdom of God through Isaiah to look ahead and the wisdom of God through Matthew to reflect back as they wrote down everlasting Truth despite centuries of distance between them.

MY CHRISTMAS MEMORY:
Now that Erika and I are parents, we are intentionally creating memories for our boys Judah (7) and Barrett (2) that focus all the joy and celebration of Christmas towards Jesus. Conversations about presents, Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and food all are seen in light of the overarching truth that Jesus is the reason for the season. For example, we talk about Saint Nicholas who was a follower of Jesus and bishop of the early Church who gave to the poor and needy. In a season that seems to have become about “what you get” for Christmas, we talk about “what we give” for Christmas like Saint Nicholas and most of all, like Jesus who gave his all for us and gave his all for the world!

Tuesday, December 24 | Christmas Eve

Abiding
Luke 2:20
The shepherds returned, glorying and praising God for all that they had seen, as it had been told to them.

DEVOTION by Esther Sherrod Watkins
The final scene in this passage is the shepherds climbing back up the hill. These simple men having satisfactory evidence of the truth of the good tidings which had a divine influence upon their own minds, returned to the care of their flocks, glorifying God for what he had shown them and for the lasting and unchanging blessing they had received.

These men became instruments for God by telling the news to all who would hear. Thus, the glory of God and the happiness of the people were promoted. Hallelujah! What praise! They glorified and praised God that the promised Savior, their glorious king was now born. They rejoiced that their long-awaited Lord was born for them and for all. Songs of peace, of infinite joy, days of celebrating, and days of contentment and days of thanksgiving were upon them. God brought good news to the poor and humble.

The shepherds, sometimes despised by their countrymen, were the first recipients of Jesus’ birth. Therefore, since God does not show favoritism, then neither should we. Jesus is the expected Savior, Messiah, Master, Lord – God in our midst. With wise, willing, and abiding hearts, let us vow to work to build Christ-like towers, strong, glowing and everlasting, for others far and wide to find. Rejoice! No other king has been born, so deserving of our praise and undying love!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, what an amazing night the shepherds must have had! To have a glimpse of your Heavenly glory, to hear a mighty army chant your praise, to see the Messiah-child, to listen to the angel recite his glorious titles – Savior, Messiah, Lord. Thank you for letting us once again hear the story. Write it large and indelibly in our hearts that we, too, will become fervent Good News Carriers. In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Amen

In a season where it’s so easy to become enwrapped in commercialism, and what each present might mean, it’s quite refreshing to reflect upon the greatest gift of all – God’s son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins so that we might have eternal life. I see no problem with celebrating the birth of Jesus by the giving to others and the receiving from others to emulate his love and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). However, we must not forget what we really should be celebrating which is the marvelous gift that our Father has given us in sending His son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been reminded many times that Christ is reason for the season. Celebrate Him in worship, song and praise! In your hearts, allow Him to abide. Allow Him to become your everlasting, enduring and abiding – ROCK!

MY CHRISTMAS MEMORY:
My brother and I grew up in a Christian family and a Christian environment. My father died when I was three, and my brother was a baby. Afterwards, we spent most holidays on our grandparents’ farm in Hermanville, Mississippi. At Christmas, an everlasting tradition was reading the story of the birth of baby Jesus on Christmas morning, which my brother and I enjoyed hearing our grandpa read. Moreover, the scriptural story would be read before the presents from Santa were opened. Grandpa explained that without the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus could not have been so generous.