Dec 12 2020

 Exceeding Great Joy.

At Jesus' birth, God is making wizards into worshipers.  If such sinners as these can approach the Christ and fall down in worship, so may all - so may we.

Father in heaven, as we come and we wait in this Advent season, we long to be appropriately joyful and triumphant. We do not want to be chipper or emotionally thin or triumphalistic. Nor do we want to underappreciate the glory of your own Son coming among us. Father, grant that we may be more like the magi—that we rejoice, and do so exceedingly, and with great joy. And give us, in such joy, rooted in the security of your own Son, the wherewithal to endure the waves of pain that will come or are already upon us. Great joy does not mean no sorrows. But it does mean you have prepared us for them and will keep us in them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 12 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 11 2020

 The Irony of the Epiphany 

The chief priests and scribes know the answer to the wise men's question "Where is the Messiah to be born?"  However, they did not act on this information.  Dirty shepherds leave their flocks.   Pagan astrologers traverse afar.  Meanwhile, the religious leaders, full of inside knowledge and Bible jargon and pat answers, don't bother to make the relatively short journey to Bethlehem.  Biblical training does not guarantee that our hearts incline toward worshipping the true king.

HERE is a song by Sovereign Grace Music entitled We Will Seek You 

Wise men saw a starry sign  

And left their homes behind for You

We too have seen the Morning Star

And hope has filled our hearts anew

So like the wise men we will come

Father, here, almost halfway through Advent, we check our hearts. Advent is not for the mere increase of knowledge. Advent is for adoring your Son. Remove whatever barriers in us are keeping us from falling to our knees with the magi. Forbid that we would stand idly by, puffed up in our seeming knowledge, yet unwilling to come and worship. Save us from the traps of man-made religion and its pride, and give us the humble desperation of worshipers who don’t pretend to be worthy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 11 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 10 2020

 We Three Kings from Orient Aren't.

God calls out for himself, and his son, worshipers from the most unexpected of places.  Not only would God graciously draw Gentile sinners to himself and permit them to come near to his son, but he would provide eternal salvation for astrologer-sinners like these three men, and sinners like us too, through the willing death of that very child they came to honor.

Father in heaven, we remember that we were at one time separated from Christ, alienated from your people and strangers to your covenants, having no hope and without you in the world (Ephesians 2:12). But now, O God, in Christ Jesus, we who once were far off, like magi, have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Christmas is a tribute to your grace, not our deservedness. Advent marks your coming in Christ to pluck us from our sin, and only then our coming to Christ to bow the knee in worship. He came not to call the righteous but sinners. We own our rebellion and many failures and gladly bow before your Son. In his name, we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 10 in The Christmas We Didn't Expect

HERE are other Advent posts 


Dec 9 2020

Hark, The Long-Lost Verses Sing

Hark!  The Heard Angels Sing (verses 1 through 3)

Hark!  The Lost Verses (verses 4 and 5)

Come, Desire of nations, come 
Fix in us thy humble home 
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed 
Bruise in us the serpent’s head 

Now display thy saving pow’r 
Ruin’d nature now restore 
Now in mystic union join 
Thine to ours, and ours to thine 

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface 
Stamp thy image in its place 
Second Adam from above 
Reinstate us in thy love 

Let us thee, tho’ lost, regain 
Thee, the Life, the Inner Man
Oh! to all thyself impart 
Form’d in each believing heart

From Day 9 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 8 2020

The Arrival of Great Joy

Christ's coming is not simply an occasion for joy but for GREAT JOY!
This great joy is for all people.
This great joy endures the many trials and sufferings we face in this age.

At Jesus' birth, the good news of GREAT JOY was brought to the shepherds (Luke 2:10).

And the angel said to [the shepherds], “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.

When the wise men found Jesus, they rejoiced exceedingly with GREAT JOY (Matthew 2:10).

When [the wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

At the resurrection, the women departed the grave with GREAT JOY (Matthew 28:8)

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples

Right after the Ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem with GREAT JOY (Luke 24:52).

And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 

Jesus is our GREAT JOY, in the manger, on the cross, and at the right hand of the Father.  

Father in heaven, we thank you for the great joy of Christmas. The coming of your Son, for us and for our salvation, is indeed a cause for great joy—and he himself the greatest of all joys. Father, stir in us in this Advent season a joy in Christ that is increasingly high and wide and deep enough to endure the many trials and sufferings we face in this age. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 8 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 7 2020

Glory to God In the Lowest

Glory to God in the lowest.  The angels announced this good news of great joy to shepherds, men living near the lowest rung.  Jesus was not only announced to lowly shepherds, he came as a child to lowly accommodation.

"The shepherds returned, GLORIFYING & PRAISING GOD for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."  Luke 2:20

Christmas is not about the worth and goodness of humanity but the mind-blowing mercy and glory of God.

Father in heaven, make us more like these shepherds, glorifying you through our joy in you, and praising you through our words and witness in the world. We don’t want to pretend to be strong and wise and noble. We acknowledge our lowliness and marvel that you sent your Son from the heights of heavens to the lowliest of earthly accommodations to announce and accomplish this good news of great joy. In his name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 7 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect


Dec 6 2020

The Word Became Flesh

Jesus is fully human.  Advent is a ripe opportunity for reflecting on not just the easy parts of the incarnation but also the uncomfortable and challenging aspects of what it means that our Lord is fully human.  Jesus took on a human body to save us.  

Father, these truths are past finding out. We follow where your word leads, but we don’t pretend that our mere human experience can make full sense of it. But as we look at your unique and spectacular Son, the one God-man, we marvel. What a Savior, brother, and friend. This man is indeed worthy of our worship, and as God, he will be the focus of our happy praise forever. In his majestic name we pray. Amen.

Quotes from Day 6 of The Christmas We Didn't Expect