Posted in Advent devotions, Devotions

Advent devotion: The Offspring

“Live and in person” Advent devotion for November 29, 2020. Read Genesis 3:15 and Psalm 85.

Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

The consequences of the first disobedience and fall into sin are immediate and varied. The man and the woman cover their nakedness, hide from the presence of God in the garden, and make excuses for their behavior. But the effects of sin will go much further, affecting families and relationships, what it means to work the ground to produce food, and making life finite. After all that, you will die. Or as God puts it, “to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:16-19).

Before all that, though, God addresses the serpent, whom John will identify as the devil and Satan in Revelation. He condemns the serpent saying, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock, and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go and dust you shall eat all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:14). God goes on to say, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” In other words, you’re now the enemy. That hostility will span generations, “between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).  One day an offspring, a descendant of the woman will step on the head of the enemy, an image of victory over an opponent.

One of the first things I do when I see a bug in the house is step on it. Problem solved. Well, most of the time. I once stepped on a wolf spider whose babies scattered in all different directions! It’s not always as easy as it seems.

A descendant of the woman, Jesus of Nazareth, stomped on the head of Satan and won a decisive victory over sin, death and the devil’s power. But it wasn’t easy. The Son of God, live and in person, experienced the same struggles of life that we do. When He showed up, it seemed like the demons came out of the woodwork like swarming insects (or arachnids). His ministry quickly took Him to the cross, a Good Friday death, and a Sunday resurrection that swallowed up death forever.

From “way back when,” God intended to come and take care of the problem Himself, live and in person. The eternal Word would indeed become flesh to not only live among us but overcome death for us, too.

A virtual doctor’s appointment might be able to prescribe something for your sore throat. But you’ll need the hands of a surgeon to take out those tonsils. Or a visit from a pest control person to really take care of those spiders. And a Savior, live and in person, to give us life.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing gospel promise wrapped up in Your condemnation of the serpent so long ago. Thank You for the fulfillment of that promise in the birth, life death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Posted in Devotions

“Avenging the blood of his servants”

2020 “By His Blood” Lent devotion #46

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”  (Revelation 19:1-2) 

I’ll bet you’ve seen some of those big soccer games where the stands are full of thousands of fans, waving giant flags and singing songs to encourage their team. When the final horn blows and the game is over, their victory shouts are even louder! 

Take that image and picture the great multitude in heaven, cheering for the Lord’s victory over “the great prostitute,” finally making her pay the price for all the faithful who lost their lives to the powers of sin, death and Satan. But like any victory, this one was hard fought. It took the ultimate sacrifice by Christ to win that salvation. He was the servant of all, whose holy, precious blood and innocent suffering and death led to his glorious and powerful resurrection, the ultimate victory of all time. 

When we sing our songs of praise together in worship, we can and ought to imagine that multitude singing right along with us! While the earth might indeed be corrupt and believer’s lives are on the line, he always has the last word. “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,” and nothing is ever going to separate us from his love! 

We win! Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord, for the best victory of all! Amen. 

Our Lenten journey comes to an end with this devotion. Thanks for traveling along with me. The many, many references to blood have given me a change to think deeply about our Lord’s amazing love for us, his plan of salvation for us, and the eternal life we have in him! I hope you’ve been blessed by such thoughts as well. 

Posted in Devotions, Lent

“Conquering by the blood”

2020 “By His Blood” Lent devotion #42

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11) 

Who has been conquered? The dragon. AKA the serpent. AKA the devil. AKA Satan, the accuser and adversary himself! Praise God! He’s been wreaking havoc ever since he got the chance to speak in the garden, play with Job’s faith, tempt Christ and prowl around like a lion. It’s about time!

The secret to victory has always been and will always be the same: “the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Our Lord’s death and resurrection has taken away the sting of death, which is sin (1 Cor. 15:16). Our sin has been paid for, we are forgiven, and we are free from the schemes of the devil. The testimony of that truth, from the law to the prophets to the wisdom literature gives us the victory. The testimony of the eyewitnesses, the gospel writers, the men who spoke from God moved by his Spirit provide the power to save us!

This is such a powerful yet basic Christian truth. Why, then, is it so easy to forget? Why is it so easy to drift into thinking that we’ve lost, that the powers of evil have overcome, that we don’t stand a chance?
Maybe, just maybe, you’ve haven’t been consuming enough of God’s Word. Maybe you have stuffed yourself with news feeds, social media, fake news and rumor. Maybe you just aren’t getting your minimum daily requirement of the scriptures. 

Here’s my prescription. First, read your bible. Every day. Yes, every day. First thing. Before you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or newspaper. Hear from God first, and let him set the tone for every other bit of information you take in. 

Second, read your bible. Read the fun parts (like Ehud stabbing the fat king in Judges). Read the boring parts (like the sacrifices in Leviticus). Read the racy parts (like the Song of Solomon). Read the challenging parts (like sell everything you have and give to the poor). Read the scary parts (like the beasts of Revelation). Read the sad parts (like the passion of our Lord in the gospel). Read the challenging parts (like the admonition to tithe in Malachi). Read the really challenging parts (like don’t get divorced). Read the crazy parts (like talking donkeys). 

Third, read your bible. Every inch of it will point you to the perfect, blameless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. By his blood, shed on the cross, you will conquer. You’ll come out on top. You’ll be victorious. 

And you know what? You will have a testimony, a story to tell!

Thank you, Lord, for the win! Amen.