Advent Devotionals - Week 2

Dec 13, 2019

Day 13 (December 13)

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region(Matthew 9:27-31).

“Do you believe that I am able?” Jesus asked the two blind men. We must also answer this question.

“Do you believe that I am able to do THIS?” Here is an even harder question to answer. To believe that Jesus is abstractly able is different than believing He is able to do this particular impossible thing I am facing right now.

NOTE: If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:

Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.

Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.

Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.

Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.


Day 12

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee (Mark 1:23-28).

People were amazed not only by Jesus’ words but by His authority in announcing the good news that the way things had always been was not the way they would always be.

When have you been amazed by Jesus’ teaching? Today might be a good day to spend a few minutes remembering some of those moments.

 

NOTE: If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:

Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.

Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.

Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.

Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.


Day 11

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them (Isaiah 11:1-6).

Here is a vision from Isaiah. It begins with a tree stump — a cut-down, dead thing. But it also includes a green shoot, a powerful promise of life and hope. What signs of life and hope do you see today?

This vision of the coming Messiah promises that he will not judge as humans do, with their eyes and ears, but with justice. We are led to imagine a world in which justice and peace are perfectly paired by the coming of Jesus.

Isaiah’s vision includes a scene in which wolves and lambs peacefully coexist. If predatory animals can be changed in their very nature then so can people!

NOTE:If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:

Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.

Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.

Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.

Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.


Day 10

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them” (Matthew 8:1-4).

Large crowds followed Jesus but here He stops to listen to a man who was completely excluded from this — or any — crowd because of his disease.

“Lord, if you are willing, you can …” This is a prayer of great desperation and great faith. What is your impossible prayer today?

NOTE: If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:

Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.

Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.

Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.

Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.


Day 9

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:12-17)

The call of Jesus is always simple — “follow Me” — but it also always requires action on our part. It can take us to places and situations which require courage and faith, but Jesus is always there with us.

Sick people need a doctor. Sinful people need a Savior. We can point them to Jesus who can both heal and save.

NOTE: If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:

Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.

Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.

Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.

Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.


Day 8

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked (John 3:1-9).

John seems to have very carefully worded his description of Nicodemus. On one side, he is a Pharisee (his religious party affiliation). On the other, he is a member of the ruling council (his status in society). But in the middle, the place where he meets Jesus, he is simply a man, a person with a question. It may be that is the only way any of us ever have an authentic encounter with Jesus.

Have you ever noticed how the birth and ministry of Jesus prompt so many people to wonder “how can this be”? Jesus is not afraid of our questions.

NOTE: If you’ve never practiced a lectio divina style reading of scripture, here are the basic steps:

Read: Read through the scripture once or twice. Don’t rush. Reading out loud might help you go slower and hear in a different way. Some electronic Bibles will even read the passage for you. No matter how you read/hear, take your time and let the words sink into your thoughts.

Meditate: As you think about the scripture, something might “jump out” at you. You might notice a word or a phrase that seems to be important to you right now. If so, take a minute or two and just let that word stay in your thoughts. Turn it over in your mind a time or two. Even if nothing seems especially important, ask yourself what God might be saying to you through His word.

Pray: Whatever God is saying to you, or inviting you to do, is a subject for prayer. Ask Him to help you understand and/or obey.

Contemplate: Sometimes we think that when we say “Amen” our prayer is over. Instead, why not carry the scripture with you throughout the day? As you go through your activities today, carry the scripture with you. Let it run through your mind while you drive, work or shop. You might even want to return to the same scripture at the end of the day and see if there is a further encouragement or invitation for you there.


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