December 28th: Jesus

 

Jesus, There’s Something About That Name

 Reference Matthew 1: 21

Suggested Advent Reading Luke 2: 21-35

 

     If you are a parent, how long did it take you to name your children? If I remember correctly, Bob and I took quite some time researching names, family trees, and even the book Beyond Jennifer & Jason:  An Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby! Apparently, Mary and Joseph didn’t experience this dilemma.  In our scripture reference, an angel tells Joseph to name the child Jesus during a dream. Fortunately, Mary received the same heavenly instructions in Luke 1:31.

      Why is His name so important? The name Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation” and “to deliver, to rescue.” His name is directly tied to His identity and purpose. Again, in Matthew 1:21 (ESV), “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” This name choice achieves two goals. It affirms Jesus as the savior, and it lets us know that the name was not selected at random. According to Luke 2:21, the name was given to Him before He was conceived the womb!

      Think about it. As scripture, songs, and hymns attest, there’s something about that name, a name above all names! We even pray in His name. His name helps us see Him more clearly so that we can know Him better.

      How can we become more like Jesus? How can we reflect His character today?

 

Prayer:  Lord,

As we unwrap and reflect on the names of Jesus, help us to share this precious gift with the world so that others will know Him and be saved through Him.

In the powerful Name of Jesus, Amen

Submitted by Mitzi Keithly

December 27th: King of Jews

 Matthew 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

 

      Our passage for Advent brings us an interesting revelation about our Lord’s hand in the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.  To the Jews, He proclaimed the birth with a herald of Angels and a heavenly chorus, but to the Gentiles, their leading was a sign.  The star in the east that stirred the hearts of these Gentile leaders, astrologers and wise men, it brought them on a long journey to find the one who had been foretold to them who would be the “King of the Jews”.  We do not see this phrase used of Jesus until His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (fulfilling Zec 9:9-10) and at the time of His crucifixion when Pilate had this name put above Him on the cross.

      We do not know exactly how old Jesus was at the point the wise men arrived, but it must have been after His presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem where Simeon and Anna made astounding proclamations about Him.  Joseph took the family immediately to Egypt after the magi came to worship him and left. (Some have suggested it could have been longer based on Herod’s act to murder boys in Bethlehem, two and under.)

      This revelation to Herod and then to the chief priest and scribes stirred up resentment in Herod. We are not told about the reaction of the Jews, but they should have been searching further in the Scriptures for this “King of the Jews” and what had been foretold.  There are literally dozens of Old Testament prophesies regarding the coming of a “King” to the Jewish people. (E.g. Psalm 2:6, Isa 9:6, Jer 23:5, 33:17, Ezek 37:24) We know they would reject His coming.

      The first few chapters of Matthew and Luke give us very interesting timelines and insight into the activities of the times in and around Jerusalem.  Prophecy was being unfolded before their eyes and hearts were being stirred with these new revelations.  As the life of Jesus would unfold and then His ministry begin, we get continuing insight into this Sovereign King.  But we first get a look at Jesus as Savior.  Now is our time to look to our Savior King, King of King and Lord of Lords for our hope and our future.  To God be the praise and the glory. Amen.

 

 

Submitted by Ollie Thomas, Parkway Member

December 26th: Jesus Christ the Savior

      I find history fascinating.  In my quest for historical truth, I have found one event, one birth and one man who truly impacted our foundations, changing the morals and values of entire societies and social structures.  No matter how hard people, powers and principalities have tried, His name and teachings have never been blotted from our history.   Thousands of years before being born, chosen people memorized and recited the Old Testament  prophecies; including hundreds about his birth and life. Each one came true. What was the probability of this occurring?  He had to be born from the correct family lineage, in a specific location, under a special star, at the right time of year, and to a virgin whose betrothed    husband could have left her because of the circumstances.  To come true; celestial time, world events and human generations all had to align perfectly allowing  Luke ‘the physician’ to record this short, easily read, but powerful sentence that fulfilled years of anticipation:

Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

      Jesus Christ, God, born of woman and fully human, steps onto the world stage and   during the next 33 years He changes everything for all eternity.  Whether you adore or   despise, acknowledge or reject Him it makes no difference, your life has been impacted by this one man, the Savior

      Webster defines a savior as a person who saves someone or something from danger or harm.  Rich or poor, educated or ignorant, clean or dirty, man or woman, we all share one unique trait I call the ‘human experience’.  I define it as the personal life experiences we each enjoy or endure every day. It is simply complex: full of fun, delight, and adventure; yet    contains hardships, despair and desperation.  Think of your own experiences.  Do you   remember crying in the night in quiet desperation and sorrow? Have you held the hand of a loved one whose eternity was in question?  Have you been separated from a child you dearly loved?  Did you witness an event that cannot be erased from your mind? Have you  committed an act you feel cannot be forgiven? Were you in that dark hole, trembling with fear, not knowing if you would see the next day? Each of us needs a savior.  The Savior will give you hope, forgiveness, strength and ultimately save your soul from eternal danger and harm. 

Think about the world in which we live and contemplate the major events of the past;   humanity needed Him desperately.  We needed to be saved and He wanted to save us!  It is why He was born.  It is why He died.  He is the hope of all nations and people. It is why Luke called Him our Savior, Messiah and Lord.

      The Advent and Christmas season is a celebration of the birth of your Savior, Jesus Christ, who provided all humanity with hope and the free gift of eternal life with Him.  It is a time to celebrate, praise and reflect on Him.

      Just take a minute, do it right now and read the lyrics and listen to the song “Mighty to Save”.

 

Submitted by Assistant Scout Master, Neill Moore

Troop 200, Parkway Presbyterian Church

December 25th—Christmas Day: Messiah

      “Messiah” is the English translation of the Hebrew word mashiach, which means “anointed one.” The Hebrew word for Messiah comes into the Greek as christos, from which we get the English word Christ. The Jews of Jesus’ day stumbled over their expectations of what the Messiah would be like. They expected that the Messiah would be a leader like Moses and especially a King like David. An earthly King and law giver, who would lead his people to liberation from the Roman oppressors, setting up his earthly kingdom. We too have hopes and expectations of the Messiah that are not Biblical. Hopes like he’ll make our lives healthy, wealthy and constantly prosperous. And therefore we struggle when trials and difficulties come.  How about you? What are your expectations of the Messiah this Christmas season? Are they biblical expectations?

      There was a story many years ago in the San Jose Mercury News that told of a Christening by a very wealthy European family. The guest’s coats were carried to a bedroom and laid on the beds. This was a big deal gathering. After some time of partying, they were ready for the christening ceremony and someone asked, “Where is the baby?” The nurse was sent upstairs to look but couldn’t find the baby! After several minutes’ someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds, and after a frantic search the little child was found smothered under the wraps of the guests. The main reason why they had come had been forgotten, neglected, and finally destroyed! This Christmas many will get so busy doing fun Christmasy stuff that we’ll entirely forget about the reason for the season…the coming of the Messiah who came to take away the sins of the world.

 

Submitted by Rev. Adel Thalos, Transitional Pastor

December 24th: Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6.  For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; and the government is upon His shoulder; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

 

     Without Christ, our sinfulness puts us at odds with God. “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Our faith in Christ and His sacrifice brings us into a relationship of eternal peace with God, a peace which cannot be taken away. (John 10:27-28)

     Our eternal peace is the true fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace” as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6 but it does not end there. This eternal peace puts us into relationship with the Holy Spirit, whose work in our lives yields fruit of “love, joy and peace”, among other things. (Galatians 5:22-23) These fruit should be evident to those around us as we relate, in love, joy and peace, with each other, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom God calls us to “a unity of purpose through the bond of peace”. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Peace on earth is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the eternal peace we have with God because of the sacrifice of Christ, the Prince of Peace.

 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

 

May you and your family experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can  understand, and may it guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

 

Submitted by Charles Kicker, Elder

December 23rd: Son of God

 

Luke 1:35 New International Version (NIV)

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.”

 

      What a stunning thought that on a quiet night in Bethlehem the message delivered to Mary by the angel Gabriel would be fulfilled. I am overwhelmed with awe and wonder when I try to contemplate a God who can hold the universe in His hands choosing to humble Himself and take on the form of man. In her advent book Ann Voskamp says it beautifully, “The Son-King, Jesus, who laid out the paths for all the stars, chose to fold himself up small and lie in the space of Mary.”

      One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Silent Night”. I especially love the verse that says,

“Silent night, holy night

Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth”.

 

      The gift of Jesus is the expression of God’s pure love. Oh that this realization may fill our hearts in such a way that we must lift up our voices and share. There is no greater gift than the Son of God!

 

 

Submitted by Suzanne Benton

December 22nd: Immanuel

     Was the Christ Child Named Immanuel According to Scripture?

 

The name Immanuel in reference to Jesus is written in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah.  The virgin birth is foretold in Is. 7:14 where the prophet records: “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”

      This prophecy is fulfilled and is again recorded in the New Testament by  Matthew 1:22-23, as the apostle adds the following phrase to the words from Isaiah: “which means God with us,” following the name “Immanuel.”  Scripture does not say, however, that the Messiah’s name would actually be Immanuel.

We can find many titles throughout the Bible for the Lord because people during  different times, in both the Old and New Testament, called the Lord God by various names.  Isaiah refers to the Messiah in Is. 9:6 when he says: “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  However, none of these titles could be stated as the actual name of God’s Son, although these were descriptions used in referring to Jesus.   The book of Luke reveals that an angel told Mary that Jesus “shall be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32).  Three verses later (1:35), the angel states “the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”.  Neither of these was His name.  One of the most     important Messianic passages in Jeremiah is found in vs. 23:6 and in vs. 33:15-16: “This is the name by which He will be called:  The Lord our Righteousness.”  His righteousness was brought to us in exchange for our sin, for all those who believe.  But, it was not His name.

Thus, when Isaiah says (many centuries before His birth), that Jesus would be called “Immanuel”, it means that He is God and that He dwelt among us during His earthly life, and that He is now always with us.  Jesus is the incarnate God, living among us, making His    dwelling among us.  (John 1:1,14)

He did not come as an angel or a spirit who appears from time to time.  He came with human flesh, enduring all the worldly temptations, and ultimately suffering a painful death in payment for our sins.  No other religion can give the comfort and hope He offers.

 

Submitted by Billy Saville

 

 

 


December 21st: Bread of Life

John 6:44-51 New International Version (NIV)

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.    51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

 

     How many of you love an amazing roll with lots of garlic and butter?  We all have our favorite foods and make many choices each day on healthy vs. unhealthy foods.  Once we taste the sweetness of a delicious cake or treat, we tend to long for it again, even if we know it is not the best choice.  Similarly, we know that Jesus is our Bread of Life sent from Heaven. Sometimes in life we get sidetracked on our walk with Jesus, just like we do with our daily diet.  Jesus is our diet or bread that we need for life. This Bread doesn’t have an expiration date like foods we purchase at our local stores, nor does it come in short supply.  Instead, this Bread is far greater. Jesus, our Bread of Life, has no expiration date.  When we have faith in Jesus and believe in Him, he promises us that we will never be hungry again.  

     So what does this mean?  Do we just have to say we believe in Jesus once for Him to be our Bread of Life and then we can enjoy our earthly daily bread?  No, when we BELIEVE, it is ongoing, we must keep on believing. Jesus is the true manna, the miracle provider of Bread from Heaven!

     So what does this look like at Parkway?  I remember many years back to a Wednesday Night Women’s Bible Study opening night.  We were introducing ourselves. When it came to one lady, she said her name and she was excited to come on Wednesday Bible Study to be fed, both Spiritually as well as with our meal that evening.  What does your Spiritual food look like? Maybe it is Sunday worship or Sunday School, it could be you are feeding others through your service, or maybe enjoying the richness of our studies outside of worship.  

     Jesus wants us to be in continued growth and enjoying his Bread of Life.  As we are approaching Jesus Birthday, I ask you to ponder what your Spiritual diet looks like today and pray for God’s guidance to help you continue your journey of enjoying Jesus’ Bread of Life.  What Spiritual food do you plan to add in the upcoming year? We all need life and must continue to go to Jesus in Faith.  As we delight in Him, we will always believe in Him.   Let us all set our daily focus on our eternal Bread. Jesus calls each of us to BELIEVE!

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray for each person reading this devotion that they may assess their spiritual food and place their focus on the Bread of Life in the upcoming year.  Please let each member of Parkway and our extended family, know how special each of them are and that your loving arms always comfort them.

In your precious name, Amen.

 

Submitted by Suzie Dominique

December 20th: Cornerstone

 

      At least once a week I watch my sweet preschoolers build huge towers and castles.  And, at Christmastime, they construct stables.  They use their fine motor skills and dexterity to stack them as high as they can get them.  All the while, the blocks are a little off center, turned, and sometimes, just don’t match up.  You know what happens.  They show their weak spots and tumble down.  Let’s face it, most preschoolers typically get excited over them toppling over.  Yet, on occasion, I will have a precious little face in tears because their handiwork has fallen.  My typical response is a reminder that it is preschool and we can do it again, because we just have to keep building and trying to make it a little stronger.

      Well, why did they fall down?  For some, it’s purposeful.  Remember, my students  are preschoolers!  For others, it’s a matter of learning that with every great tower, you need a strong corner block.  In this case, we will call it the cornerstone.  A cornerstone is the stone that forms the base of a building or two walls; it’s a firm foundation.  All other stones are set in reference to it.

      Isaiah 28:16

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”

      With any stable building or firm life, we need one key element, the cornerstone.  Jesus is the key building component of the life.  He is our Cornerstone.  He sets the direction so that our structure can be straight and true.  He is the foundation of our church, our stronghold.  Rest in His love.

      It’s not a traditional Christmas song, but I encourage you to reflect on the lyrics to this song, Cornerstone.

 

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

 

Christ alone, Cornerstone

Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love

Through the storm

He is Lord, Lord of all.

 

Jesus, in you and through you as our Cornerstone, be with us this Christmas.  You are the Cornerstone of Christmas—Lord of all.    Amen.

 

Submitted by Sara Creager, Deacon

December 19th: Jesus Christ:  Mediator

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind,

the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5)

 

     The term mediator connotes a person who is actively engaged in seeking a resolution between two parties with irreconcilable differences.  Synonyms include intercessor, conciliator and peacemaker.  A mediator must be able to understand the truth or reality of both party’s       positions in a dispute and navigate a resolution.  Christ is unique in his ability to represent both God and mankind.  Scripture informs us that Jesus was fully God and fully human.  He is fully cognizant of the holiness, righteousness and glory of God while being able to understand the hopeless desperation of a fallen humanity. 

      In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, we see one of the few references to the term mediator found in scripture.  While the NIV renders the phrase, “There is one God and one mediator” the sense in the original is that Paul is being very exclusive and intentional in his use of the term.  It might be better rendered, “There is ONLY one God and ONLY one mediator.”  Only Jesus could reconcile a fallen humanity to a holy God.  Jesus himself says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

      In Acts 4:12, Peter declares, “Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

      The greatest gift whose coming we celebrate at Christmas was the ONLY mediator that could ever reconcile a fallen humanity to God. 

 

Father God, your love is greater than our ability to comprehend.  It is your desire that all would be saved and you provided the only means through which that might be accomplished – Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

Submitted by Joe and Debbie Negley, Elder

December 18th: Jesus, The Gate

John 10: 7-10

 

      On the gameshow, “Let’s Make A Deal”, Monty Hall used to ask contestants to choose from “door number 1, 2, or 3.”  If they chose correctly they would walk away with a great prize like a new car.  But if they chose incorrectly, they would win something like a live goat, or all of the bananas they could carry.

      As we reflect on this passage of Scripture we are told by Jesus Himself that there is only one door (gate) for us, and for every human being, and He is that door.

      In Biblical times, good shepherds would bring their sheep into the fold (an area walled off by stone or thorny branches) where the sheep could rest in safety for the night.  There was only one way into and out of the fold, and that was the gate (door).   If there was no actual door, the good shepherd would lay his body across the doorway—both to keep his sheep safely inside and to be prepared to fight off any who would try to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (10:10)

      The sheep cannot enter the fold by any other way.  They cannot climb over the wall.  The only way to find safety and rest is to enter through the one and only gate.

      The gate not only served as the way to come in to safety, but also as the way to abundant life (10: 10).  When morning would come, the good shepherd would take the sheep out of the fold and into the pastures he had scouted out ahead of time to give them nourishment, refreshment, and life.

      During the Christmas season we tend to focus on the “Let’s Make A Deal” type prizes, and hope that we will get to keep doors 1, 2, and 3.  This Advent, may we instead find true peace and contentment knowing that Jesus is THE Good Shepherd (10:11, 14); that we are HIS sheep; that He lays down His life serving as the one and only “gate” by which we enter into His protective care, and through which we pass into the abundant life—here and now, as well as in the life to come.  May we find rest in the knowledge and experience of His tender care, protection, and provision.

 

***If you want to learn more, read Phillip Keller’s book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.

 

 

Submitted by Matthew Bullard , Director of Christian Education

December 17th: Horn of Salvation

    

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom

I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2, ESV

 

      The name Horn of Salvation has a very special place in my heart. Although this name of Jesus didn’t come to me in a pretty package, I will be forever thankful that I was able to unwrap this particular name of my Savior Jesus.

      I first learned what it meant for Jesus to be the Horn of my Salvation during one of the   darkest seasons of my life. We had lived in Georgia for about a year. Daisy was going through the “terrible threes”, Doug was traveling a good bit for work, the excitement of moving to a new

place had worn off, and I was feeling alone and overwhelmed. One particularly trying day, it hit

me hard that our home was now fourteen hours away from the family, friends and church

community I had always relied on. Depression and anxiety overwhelmed me, and I began a four

year battle for my sanity. During those dark days, God led me to Psalm 18. What a treasure!!

I learned that HE was the one I needed to rely on; the only one I needed in life’s tough battles.

While family and friends are certainly a gift from God, it is God alone who will bring us out of

our troubles and into a broad place. It is He who will rescue us, because He delights in us!

(Psalm 18:19, paraphrased) After all, it is God who sent His Son Jesus to earth to be the Horn of

our Salvation in living flesh. That tiny baby born so long ago would grow into a man who would

willingly offer up His own life so that we could be rescued from the cords of sin and death that

encompassed us. (Psalm 18:4-5, paraphrased) Now THAT is a gift worth unwrapping!

 

Submitted by Jen Bucknell, Deacon

 

December 16th:  Christ our Redeemer

 

“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins”, declares the LORD.

Isaiah 59:20

 

      I can’t ponder the thought of Christ as my Redeemer without thinking about my own sin and how short I fall from what God intended us all to be.  For something to be redeemed, it  implies a wrong or transgression of some sort.  It is the making right of that wrong by paying a price, a ransom, the bringing back of something that was lost or taken away, returning to its intended state.

      That is who Jesus is as our Redeemer.  Without him we are lost and separated from the  righteousness of God.  Through his birth, life, death, and resurrection that relationship can be restored if we choose to accept him as our Lord and Savior.  The consequence of our sin is death, but through his redeeming act on the cross, he put himself in our place.  He took the burden of our sin as his own, through his suffering and death, to make the ultimate sacrifice, make amends, and liberate us from the wages of our own sin. 

      However, Jesus as our Redeemer goes far beyond his suffering and sacrifice.  Luke 24:21 tells us of the conversation between two believers traveling down the road to Emmaus with Jesus, three days after the crucifixion.  They did not recognize him and said “but we had hoped he was the one who was going to redeem Israel”.   Without the resurrection, their hopes of a Redeemer were gone.  But, his resurrection assures us that he has conquered death once and for all and that we now have the opportunity to join him in eternal life. 

      To get a full picture of Christ’s redeeming act, I invite you to ponder the lyrics of the hymn “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”.  The entire song paints a beautiful picture of the           redeeming love of our God through his only begotten son.  However, the final stanza very   poignantly tells us:

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom

 

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for your redeeming love for us.  You saved us from our world of sin and gave yourself freely as a sacrifice, to offer us eternity with you. Lord let us not overlook our disobedience and rebellion when we offer our gratitude for the enormous price you paid for our redemption. Amen.

 

Submitted by Carol Hempker

December 15th: The Way

 

      Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.   John 14:6

 

I like what R.C. Sproul says in his article “The Way, the Truth, the Life” in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier, about Jesus as the Way. He says, “The truth that Jesus is the way to God echoes His claim to be the Door of the Sheep in John 10:7–9. There is only one God and He has only one kingdom with only one entrance—Jesus Christ. Only those who rest in Christ alone for salvation will enter heaven. This message was controversial and offensive to the pluralistic pagan culture of the first-century Roman Empire, and it is perhaps even more so today. If we shrink back from declaring it, however, we are sinning against our neighbors, for what could be a worse transgression against them than to know the only way to eternal life and yet not tell them about it?”

God loves us so much that he gives us a Way to him and he calls us to love our neighbors in the same way. Share Christ with someone for the holidays; it’s the best gift you could share.

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son to us to be the Way to return to you. Please remind us to lovingly share Jesus with others during this season and all year around. Amen.

 

Submitted by Jackie Mills, Deacon 2019 

December 14th: Man of Sorrows

Scripture … Isaiah 53, selected verses

 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,

    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

 

11 After he has suffered,

    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,

    and he will bear their iniquities.

 

      As we journey through the Advent season together in reflection on the names of Jesus,  the scripture of Isaiah 53 does not resonate as a positive and uplifting Christmas              devotion.  Perhaps this is best fit for the Lenten season to discuss the prophecy of these   verses.  I encourage you to read all of Isaiah 53 during your time today that is set aside for this devotion.

       We are not blind to the fact that sorrow can occur to anyone at any time.  For Robin and I, the middle of this season is a remembrance of a mother taken to the Kingdom far too soon for us (in our minds).  The years don’t make it easier, just less obvious to the ones around us.  Each year we surrender more to His plans for us and allow His glory to revealed by   helping others.

       Jesus understands the pain and sorrows that we go through in our days.  For some, this season has more pain and sorrow as we remember those that are not with us for the first time or those that have not been with us for many years.

       I encourage you today to look at a Christmas light or a flickering candle … and while you are seeing that light, pray ever so earnestly for those that are in sorrow or pain in this      season.  Pray that they will see the light of life, the one who suffered to be like us, the one who justifies us, the one who bears our iniquities, and the one who will call us home to the     Kingdom where there is unending joy forever and ever. 

 

Prayer … Lord, let your Spirit comfort those that sorrow in this season.  Let them feel your joyful presence in their lives.  Amen.

 

Submitted by Tim Still, Elder

December 13th: Servant

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:10-12

      All of Isaiah’s gifts as a prophet and a poet are displayed in the fourth of the  Servant Songs.  Language that employs rare words for Old Testament prophecy and lyrics that express the deepest of human emotions come together in a Song of    Suffering that tells of the meaning of Christ’s death and its significance for the world.

      In the first Servant Song, Isaiah introduced the Servant of the Lord to us by His ultimate mission “As a light to the Gentiles” (Isa.42:1-9).

      The second Servant Song added the insight that He would feel human discouragement, “I have spent My strength for nothing and in vain” (Isa.49:1-13).

      Suffering becomes part of the Servant’s role in the third Servant Song when He testifies, “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting”(Isa.50:4-9).   While the fact that the Servant must suffer is revealed in these first three songs, the reason for His suffering is still unknown.  Full explanation is given in the fourth Servant Song under the appropriate title, “The Sin-Bearing Servant.”

      It goes beyond our human understanding when we read“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him…put Him to grief…[and] make His soul an offering for sin” (Isa.53:10)    We find it difficult to understand how (God the Father) can find pleasure in the suffering of His Servant.  However God’s pleasure is His good purpose to bring    redemption to the world despite the unfaithfulness of Israel and the rejection of His Servant.  The suffering of the Servant, then, is a necessary means to a purposeful end, and In Christ both Jews and Gentiles are made one, “For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph.2:18)   

      At this time of Christmas joy, may we remember the true reason for the Infant Jesus coming into our world as one of us, only to become the ultimate sin-sacrifice as promised to Adam & Eve in the Garden so long ago.

      As Christians we have been given Grace…..God’s Riches AChrist’s Expense!

 

Submitted by Norm and Barbara Tameling, Deacon

December 12th: The Arm of the Lord

Read: Isaiah 40:9-11

10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he 
rules with a mighty arm. Isaiah 40:10

 

     Jesus is the Sovereign Lord.  He demonstrated this with His victory over Satan, sin and death.  Conquering these three demonstrated His sovereignty. 

This Sovereign Lord rules with a “mighty arm.”  Raw power is a frightening thing. Yet, Christ is kindly.  Human goodness, in our own strength, goes sour. His goodness never fails.

 

Character of His Mighty Arm

“He tends his flock like a Shepherd.”  Our God shepherds us throughout life steering, guiding, standing among us, singing over us in trying times, looking ahead to take us to “green pastures and still waters.” 

“He gathers the lambs in his arms.”  Jesus takes special care with weakest members until they mature.  He gathers them close when they cannot stand, cannot follow, and cannot keep up with the pace.

“He carries them close to his heart.”  Jan tells of a time when she visited her grandparents in WV during a flood.  They had to walk over the river on a narrow bridge beneath which there were frightening turbulent waters.  She has a tender memory is of her grandfather taking her into his arms, holding her close to his chest, and carrying her across.  This is how our God carries us in times of great distress is we will trust Him.

“He gently leads those that have young.”   No one is more vulnerable than those who care for others as a ewe cares for her young.  Responsibility weakens us, delays us, and may be overwhelming.  All who care for others have the promise that Jesus is there to lead. 

“O Sovereign Lord Jesus, teach me today to be practical in my prayers and to yield to your gracious care.” Amen

 

Submitted by Derrel Emmerson, Member of Parkway

December 11th: 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.’” John 8:12

 

     Lights are synonymous with the season.  The twinkle of busy streets seem a little brighter with posts adorned with Christmas lights, my home feels more cozy with the glow of a lit tree, and events are planned around seeing thousands of bulbs filled with color (or not) formed into shapes and objects that put a smile on faces of all ages.  It’s one of my favorite memories with my Mamaw.  As a little girl, I would ride with her to different neighborhoods to see countless houses covered in lights.  We would ooh and ahh over the bushes covered in colors, remark at the effort of all those lights way high in trees, and when they moved?...oh the amazement.  This was especially true when they had a full nativity set (those were her favorite).  As an adult it was the one Christmas tradition that I could take her to enjoy, at 89 years of age with a failing memory and limited physical ability, as well as my own daughters with equally matched excitement.

 

     This year will be different.  This year my Mamaw will celebrate her first Christmas with Jesus.  We will still maintain our tradition here on earth this year, with the passenger’s seat notably empty.  But Mamaw isn’t missing the lights this year.  At all. Jesus says time and time again in scripture that He is the Light. (John 9:5, John 12:46, Luke 2:32)

 

     Webster defines the word light as “something that makes vision possible.”  It is a   reminder that, especially during this season that holds an extra bit of twinkle, it is only through the Light of the World that we are able to see clearly.  May our Christmas    season be filled with clear sights and a vision that views all things through the Light of the World.  It is through Him that we have been given the ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ.  It is also the Light that makes darkness flee.  Do you know the Light of the World?    How can you share His love with someone who may be living in darkness this  Christmas season?

 

Submitted by Erica Shaddix, Parkway Preschool Director

December 10th: Jesus is the MORNING STAR

Genesis 15:1-6, Revelation 22:16

 

     The season of Advent is a time of anticipation of a coming event. Anticipation is a form of faith and faith ” is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”, as was written in Hebrews.  We see in Genesis that Abram (Abraham), who was a wealthy man, exhibited an extreme leap of faith in a covenant with God that God would provide his heir. At the time Abram and his wife Sari were elderly and childless. Through several encounters with God, Abram’s name was changed by God to be Abraham promising Abraham that he would be “the father of many nations”.  In chapter 21 of Genesis we see the arrival of that heir, Isaac, to Abraham and Sarah, just as God promised. All through the Old Testament we see God’s promises to be the God of the Israelite nation if they will obey Him, but, they keep falling away. The blood line continued, just as God promised, all the way through the Old Testament through many, many years and generations later called David’s Royal Line to the baby boy born in Bethlehem on what we call Christmas.

 

     In the New Testament we see that God sent his Son, the Messiah, born man, but still wholly God, to take away the sins of the world.  This promise is offered to EVERYONE who will believe that He is truly the one and only Son of God and He came to save us from our sin. The four gospel books describe the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus while he was on earth. The letters Paul wrote plus other books more fully develop this Good News that it is for ALL people. We see near the end of the final book of the Bible (Rev. 22:16) that He is our MORNING STAR.

  

Submitted by Tom Harrell, Elder

 

 

 


December 9th: The Promised Prophet

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 & Luke 24:19

 

      We read in Deuteronomy that God promised to give his people a prophet and that he would put his words in his mouth. In fact, God gave his people many prophets as the years went by. They were instrumental in guiding the nation of Israel and establishing the church by sharing the truth from God. Jesus Himself came as prophet; sharing the Father’s truth with the Israelites and the gentiles. The Holy Spirit is still our prophet today. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:13-15, “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

 

Lord, we thank you for being a promise keeper; for continuing to reveal your truth to us through your Spirit. We thank you for the gift of Christ, who makes a way for us to receive your truth. May the love we show and the truth we speak to others today, reflect the love and truth of your kingdom. Amen.

 

 

Submitted by Jackie Mills, Deacon