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Merry Christmas!

Your name is like perfume poured out.
(Song of Solomon 1:3 niv)

 

Today, you have celebrated the birth of Christ.  Let’s take another look at why the name of Jesus is precious.

First, crucially, His name is the source of our salvation.

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

 

Undeniably, the name of Jesus is supreme.

No other name is recognized like the name of Jesus.

 

To our great comfort, Jesus’ name is strong and secure.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe. (Prov. 18:10 nkjv)

Nancy Wolgetmuth tells us why the name of Jesus is so sweet:

And joy of joys, the name of Jesus is always sweet. Though it is saving in power, supreme in rank, strong in reliable protection, and totally secure in its endless duration, the name of Jesus remains sweet and delicious on the lips, soothing and peaceful on the heart. His name is indeed “like perfume poured out.” And I hope the scent is evident at every turn in your home or wherever you may find yourself on this Christmas Day.

John Newton (1725–1827), the British slave-trader turned Jesus lover and pastor is best known for penning the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Another of his hymns, though not a carol, expresses what’s on my mind as we close this brief moment together today.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds And drives away his fear.
Dear name! the rock on which I build, My shield and hiding place,
My never-failing treasury, filled With boundless stores of grace!
Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, Accept the praise I bring.

I pray you have had a blessed Advent season and a glorious Christmas day!

This should finish out your Advent 2019 kit, “Away In A Manger.”  I hope you have enjoyed it!  I would love for you to share any Layouts from this kit!

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Advent 2019 December 24

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14)

Some of you may remember the famous Christmas Eve Apollo 8 moon orbit, in 1968.  The crew had made revolutions of the moon and transmitted live video feed seen around the world.

Something memorable about this broadcast we may not experience on national television today, was the astronauts taking turns reading Genesis 1:1-10, as pictures of the moon’s surface flickered on screens.  What an exciting time!  James Irwin, an astronaut who actually walked on the moon in 1971, in his book, More Than Earthlings: An Astronaut’s Thoughts for ChristCentered Living:

 “God walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

This is a quote from today’s devotional by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, “Consider Jesus.”

The One who inhabited heaven’s ivory palaces allowed Himself to be born of woman in a borrowed cattle shed. He who flung the stars into space made His lowly bed underneath them. The omniscient God humbled Himself to learn to walk and talk as a child; the eternal Word of God learned to read.

The One who fed His people with manna in the wilderness chose to become hungry. The Creator of oceans allowed Himself to experience thirst. He who never sleeps became weary. The great Helper of humankind became helpless and dependent.

Why?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

As you treasure this special, expectant day, whether alone or with your loved ones, as you close your eyes tonight on a year’s worth of busyness and a lifetime’s worth of Christmases, pause to marvel at what your Creator has done. Unwilling for you to remain enslaved any longer to sin and time and memories, He interrupted the unbroken rhythm of the calendar with a Christmas Eve for the ages. Bridging a distance far greater than the vast expanse between the earth and the moon, He did so much more than just leave us feeling nice and warm inside. He actually made it possible for us to become a new creation.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).

This is Christmas.

Here is today’s portion of the Advent Kit:

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Advent 2019 December 23

Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?
(Judges 13:18)

 

“Throughout this Advent walk together, we’ve found Jesus to be a lot of things. We’ve considered His cross, His deity, His humanity, His humility. We’ve seen His love and compassion, His power and glory. We could say so much, and all of it would be true. Each little slice of understanding, were we to delve deeper, would provide a spiritual feast of insight and truth. But ‘wonderful’ serves us well as a shorthand way of communicating what could take forever to describe.”

This was from today’s devotion in “Considering Jesus,” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

She also shares an incident in the life of Charles H. Spurgeon.  In a series of sermons, preaching on the names of Jesus, having come to the description, “wonderful,” he told of this intensely personal experience.

When Spurgeon was just 22 years old, on a Sunday, he was preaching at Surrey Music Hall, to a congregation of about fifteen thousand.  Someone in the crowd shouted, “Fire!”  Through the chaotic mass of people trying to get out of the hall, many were injured and seven killed.  Spurgeon fell into depression, something he had struggled with throughout his life.  Even prayer became difficult, and he was fearful to engage in this daily practice,

Walking alone, in a friend’s garden one day, as he was sorting out his depressive thoughts, in his mind came the name of Jesus.  He recalls, “I stood still. The burning lava of my soul was cooled. My agonies were hushed. I bowed myself there, and the garden that had seemed a Gethsemane became to me a Paradise.  His name has been from that time `Wonderful’ to me.”

As Wolgemuth shares,

“Wonderful. Marvelous. Extraordinary. Beyond understanding. Bundle up all the remarkable, amazing things you know and hear and sense and imagine when you think on the name of Jesus. And if ‘wonderful’ is all that comes out, it is wonderful enough indeed. You may feel frustrated to the point of despair at times, unable to grasp all the things you wish to understand about Jesus. But if you were asked today to explain who He is, I think ‘Wonderful’ would please Him. Wonderful says a lot.”

Today’s devotional has brought to mind an old song by Roger Strader:

WONDERFUL NAME, JESUS

Mary was the first to hear it, Name that came from Heaven above;
Name that raises souls from darkness, This the only name worth singing of.
Wonderful name, Jesus.
The name angels sang, the night all Heaven rang,
Wonderful name, Jesus.

Heaven touched His name with glory, Precious name of Jesus, Our King.
In God’s Word is told the story, Of this Wondrous Name the angels sing.
Wonderful name, Jesus.
The name angels sang, the night all Heaven rang,
Wonderful name, Jesus.

 

This is today’s part of the Advent Kit:
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Have a super blessed day!

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Advent 2019 December 22

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
(Hebrews 4:15)

Many times, you may feel Satan knows your very weakness and is specifically pointing temptation toward you.  According to Scripture, there is no temptation you can experience that isn’t “common to man.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

It is comforting to me to know that I am not the only one dealing with my temptations. It is also comforting to know God will provide a way out so the temptation can be endured.  I can rest in the fact that Jesus, Himself, experienced temptation and he did it without sin.

I have heard that because He experienced temptation He understands when we give in to it.  Jesus is an example of being tempted and yet coming through the temptation without sin.  In response I often hear, “Yes, but He was God.”  Jesus didn’t use His Divine power to overcome His human limitations.  He really did hurt, cry, die, and yes, feel temptation.  Here is an excerpt from “Consider Jesus” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth:

 “He still retained His divine power, of course, but He lived His perfectly sinless life as a man, as one of us. How? By doing what we can do. By depending on the Holy Spirit. Jesus used the same resources in defeating sin that are available to us today as human beings.

The same book of the Bible that attests, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38), also reports that Jesus said to His followers, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). So when you see Jesus loving unlovable people, you see Him doing it with the Spirit’s power. When you see Him choosing to remain silent in the face of others’ insults, He is doing it with the Spirit’s power. In each of His reactions to the assault of both everyday and more intense temptations, you’re seeing how you, too, can respond when faced with your own most powerful temptations.

Wrap your mind around that. Jesus has given you the Spirit that was given to Him. The record of Jesus’ earthly life is intended to be “an example, so that you might follow in [the] steps” of this One who “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21–22). Not only has He shown you that He understands what it’s like to face temptation; He has also shown you how to live “without sin.'”

This is today’s part of the Advent Kit:

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Advent 2019 December 21

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
(Matthew 11:29)

 

In ancient Greco-Roman history, humility and meekness were not considered virtues.  These were not words used to describe leaders, whether in government, religion, or community.  In comparison, the example and teaching of Jesus was revolutionary.  We see many examples in the Gospels, of Jewish leader rejecting Him as the Messiah.  The Jewish people must have had an image of the expected Messiah, as a majestic military leader who would set up Israel as a world power.  Jesus was vastly different than this ideology they held.

This was Wolgemuth’s explanation in today’s devotion:

 “For Jesus to elevate humility into something positive and desirable clashed like plaids and stripes with the aspirations their culture had built into them. And Jesus didn’t simply live and teach humility’s importance as one of a cluster of godly character traits; He rightly understood it as the root of every virtue. Just as human pride had been and continued to be the root of every sin, just as pride had severed our relationship with God going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, humility was presented by Jesus as foundational to reversing what had been lost in the Fall.

“Lowly in heart” is how Jesus accurately described Himself.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” is how He measured humility’s value (Matt. 5:5).

“He who is least among you all is the one who is great,” He taught His followers (Luke 9:48) in absolutely upside-down, totally backward fashion from what they’d always thought and experienced.

And the cross, for all the ways we try capturing it in thought and word, is the living and dying epitome of humility in action.

Instead of loud boasting and pumped up pride, Jesus showed His greatness by showing His humility, even to the cross.

This is today’s part of the “Away In A Manger” Kit:

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Advent 2019 December 20

It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
(Matthew 4:4)

How many Christmas memories are associated with food?  From holiday parties, fellowships, and family gatherings, there are several opportunities each year, to indulge in holiday treats.

During this time, we often don’t feel hungry, but we take just one more goodie, or one more helping of something yummy.  Even if we feel “full” we may take “just one more.”  It is about wanting what we want, the temptation of it all.

Satan, tried to appeal to the humanity of Jesus, when tempting Him in the wilderness. You can find this in Matthew 4:1-11. First, he tried to tempt the physical appetite.  Jesus had been fasting for 40 days.  Satan first tempted with bread. The question for Jesus wasn’t “do I want the bread?”  The question was, “Who is in charge?”  This is a quote from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in “Considering Jesus:”

 It’s the question of Will I surrender to God’s lordship in my life, or will I insist on running things myself?

By the time we see Jesus in Gethsemane, praying those earnest, heartfelt words, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), we’re witnessing fruit from an entire life of complete, glad, wholehearted, consistent surrender to His Father. As aweinspiring as His willingness to endure the cross sounds, it actually just follows the trajectory He’d set with each day He lived on the earth.

“The Son can do nothing of his own accord,” Jesus said early in His ministry, “but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). “I have come down from heaven,” He later told His disciples, “not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). He elaborated on this theme again and again: “I do as the Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29).

While following the example of Jesus isn’t easy, it is simple.  We should remain obedient and surrendered to the Word of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Here is today’s part of “Away In A Manger.”

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Advent 2019 December 19

You made him for a little while lower than the angels.
(Hebrews 2:7)

This is a segment from today’s devotion about the name of Jesus. This is by Nancy Wolgemuth.

“Let’s remember that Jesus the Son is from above, dwelling in heavenly places, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:21). Remember, too, that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11 NASB).

That’s who Jesus is—incredibly, eternally, exclusively powerful above every created being in heaven and earth. And yet He submitted Himself to the human practice of being given a name. This One “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph. 3:15) bowed Himself low enough to be given a name common to His historical era, a version of the Hebrew name Yeshua, or Joshua. He who holds all dominion and authority allowed an earthy, nondescript carpenter to “call his name Jesus.”

Stand back in amazement today at this wonderful truth: the Son, though equal with the Father, willingly submitted Himself to the Father’s authority. He who created all things—of whom it is accurately said, “Without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3)— willingly placed Himself in a position of receiving.

This is today’s part of the Advent Freebie:

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Advent 2019 December 18

Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high, who humbles himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?
(Psalm 113:5-6 NKJV)

In today’s devotional from “Consider Jesus,” Nancy Wolgemuth shares the story touching of Father Damien.  Perhaps you have heard of this Belgian priest who lived in the 1800s.  He was a missionary who accepted an assignment in the leper village of Molokai, Hawaii.  Father Damien lived in this village working and loving these outcasts for sixteen years.  He learned there language, helped in their community, ate with them, embraced them, and  interacted with them.  The people began to thrive and feel the joy of living.

On a Sabbath day, about a decade into this ministry, as Father Damien was addressing his congregation, he made the statement, “we lepers.”  After living in such close contact with them, he too, had become a leper.

Christ, came to this filthy, sinful earth to minister to, serve, and save wretched, offensive, unclean sinners like us.  Here is Nancy’s thoughts:

God has come into our pitiful, putrid village. He has become one of us. This One who must humble Himself to even “behold the things that are in the heavens”—imagine that!—has stooped immeasurably further. If even the glories of heaven are a step down from what He had been experiencing at each divine moment of His eternal existence, picture Him choosing to come and live here among our dust and grime and smells and pollution . . . with us lepers.

Can you imagine how David must have felt when he was ruminating on this thought from Psalm 8:3-4

 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

We can only look up.  Jesus not only looked down, but He came down.  He became like us and lived among us, loved us, served us, ministered to us.  He came to know us and care for us.  Consider Jesus and celebrate Him during this season.

This is today’s part of the Advent Freebie.  I hope you enjoy.

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Advent 2019 December 17

At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
(Luke 2:21)

We read only few scenes from the childhood of Jesus.  One account was when Jesus was only eight days old.  Circumcision was a command God had given to Abraham in Genesis 17, for the Jewish people.  All Jewish males were required to be circumcised at 8 days of age.

In modern days, much has been said about circumcision being non-elective surgery.  However, it was so much more.  During the days of Moses, it was understood that the circumcison represented a circumcision of the heart, where fallen people are reminded by this physical sign, to “cut” themselves away from their sin.  Jesus, had no sin, so why would he need this reminder?  He went through this fairly serious cut, which was not necessary for Him for two reasons.  One, his parents were making sure their first born son was meeting the requirements of the law.  He was obeying the command for Jewish newborns.  He could not have been recognized as the “Son of David” or the “Seed of Abraham” without this.   Next, the circumcision fortells of His crucifixion. This is how Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth so eloquently puts it:

“But then beautifully, redemptively, Jesus’ circumcision also foretells His suffering, His willingness to shed His own innocent blood. It was only a few drops at this point, but this procedure was already a picture of the blood that would one day flow down His body as He paid the staggering price for your sins and mine.

And so against whatever cloth or wrapping Jesus lay upon when His skin felt its first incision, we see a faint shadow of the cross. We see Him as a baby, barely a week old, submitting Himself to an ordinance needed not for Himself, but for others. For us. This child who had no sins to be cut away was already suffering sin’s consequences.

It’s one of the reasons why He needed to be made in human likeness. It’s why His humanity matters as much as His divinity. It is why He came. And it is once again why we worship Him as we consider Jesus this Christmas.”

This is today’s part of the Advent freebie:

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Have a super, blessed day!

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Advent 2019 December 16

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7)

I will just admit it, I am emotional.  We all have emotions.  Often , the days before Christmas can be some of the most emotional: panic, pressure, overwhelmed by the to do lists.  Possibly, you could face sadness and depression during the holidays, due to loss or changes.  You could be on a feeling of high anticipation or it could be dread.  Whatever your emotions may be during this season, remember that Jesus fully relates and understands.

As we saw from the list of Scripture yesterday, that pointed out his humanity, Jesus was emotional.  Look at this quote from Wolgemuth in today’s devotion:

“He cared for outcast lepers and for needy multitudes, for a widow who’d just lost her son.
He marveled at things like the unblinking faith placed in Him by a tough Roman centurion.
He rejoiced at the opportunity to bring hope and healing to hurting people.
He grieved at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, at the thought of Jerusalem rejecting her Messiah, and at the Last Supper with His closest circle of friends, where He was “troubled in his spirit” (John 13:21).
He even grew angry at the hypocritical religious leaders and the opportunistic merchants defiling the temple.

The only difference between Jesus’ emotions and ours, in fact, was in how He handled them. We’re prone to squander our emotions on the wrong things, to let them spill out uncontrollably, to let them take the lead in our responses and decision making rather than supporting our true convictions.

Jesus, however—though acquainted with all the ways we’re tempted to overreact—always expressed His emotions in a wholesome, balanced, godly way. And because of the righteous alignment of His heart, He was moved to emotion most by those things that moved the heart of God.”

As Christians, we want to conform to the likeness of Christ.  We do not have to hide our emotions, in this conformity.  Being emotional, if handled in love and godliness, is not wrong.  If emotions were wrong, Jesus would not experienced them.  He knows pain, joy, want, and agony.  Most of all, He is comfort and compassion when you are experiencing these same emotions.

I pray we can feel His comfort, calm, and compassion during this busy season.

 

Here is today’s part of the Advent Freebie:

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If you have been following along and downloading each day, this is what your kit will include.  If you have missed any, feel free to go back and download each day’s part.  The download links will be available for the month of December.

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I pray you are seeing blessings each day of Advent.