Advent Reading Day 9: Jesus is the Lamb of God (Part 2)

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. -Romans 3:31-34 NLT

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. -1 Peter 1:18-21 NLT

Nothing- please hear me again- nothing can separate us from the love of God! The love of God compelled Him to send Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus took the punishment of our sins on the cross.

John the Baptist declared Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” Have you ever wondered why he didn’t shout “Here is Jesus- the Messiah, or the Son of God or the King of kings?” John declared Jesus as the Lamb, an innocent victim who was here on earth to become a bloody sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus as the Lamb of God was not a cute cuddly stuffed animal. He was an innocent victim who died because He loves us. Because of His perfect sacrifice, He set us free. Our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are cleaned, our sins are washed as white as snow. There are no barrier’s to God’s love.

Jesus came as a baby to the earth to a poor family, grew up to be a carpenter’s son learning the trade and then at age 30, He began His ministry. Jesus never sinned, yes, I know for some that is hard to believe, but remember, He was truly God, yet truly human. Jesus was indeed the perfect sacrifice. When He was on that cross, He gave His all for us so we can have eternal life. That’s how much God loves us!

We don’t hear much about the blood of Jesus today which is honestly sad because it is the message of the Gospel. We cannot be saved without the blood. The blood of Jesus sets us free. His blood brings healing from the inside out. His blood washes away our sins.

Today, praise Jesus for His blood. He gave every last drop of blood for you and for me. When you look at a Christmas tree, remember the sacrifice on Calvary, and when you look at the manger, remember the reason Christ came. There is power in the blood, the blood from the perfect Lamb of God!

Prayer:

Jesus, it’s not easy to think about your sacrifice, especially of the blood. Your blood cleanses me. Your blood sets me free. Your blood washes me white as snow. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you for being the perfect Lamb of God. As I go about the Advent season, may I always remember why you came. You are the perfect gift of love. Thank you that nothing can separate me from your love. Help me to shine your love to everyone I meet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study:

Romans 8:31-36; Genesis 22:6-13; Revelation 17:12-14

 

Advent Reading Day 8: Jesus is the Lamb of God (Part 1)

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. -Isaiah 53:7 NLT
 
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” -John 1:29-31 NLT
 
Those who know me know how much I love sheep. I actually collect them in different forms- coasters, stuffed animals, ornaments, etc. Sheep are known for their wool, their simplicity, and lambs are known for frolicking in the fields. Lambs represent purity, simpleness, and innocence. The first lambs that were slain for their blood were in Exodus when the Israelites were to leave Egypt. They had to take a lamb, the firstborn without any defects, raise the lamb, then it had to be killed for the blood. The lamb became a part of the family, imagine the feelings of having to slaughter their prized pet. They then took the blood and smeared it on the doorposts of their homes so when the angel of death passed by the Israelites was saved.
 
Lambs were the main animals sacrificed – one in the morning and one in the evening (Numbers 28:1-8) and the offering was doubled on the Sabbath. Lambs were also sacrificed on the first day of the new month, Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur- Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Lambs represented the purity of the person who offered it, it represented the desire to offer their own lives to God.
The phrase “Lamb of God” was only found in John’s Gospel. Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb in Revelation. In Revelation, He is known as the Lamb who was slain, rose again and will live victoriously. Because of His ultimate sacrifice, we are saved and cleansed. The New Testament also calls us lambs as we follow Him.
 
Jews no longer sacrifice lambs because the temple was destroyed. However, they still place a lamb shank bone on a Seder plate as a reminder of the sacrifice. Christians recognize the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb as a part of the Passover.
 
When we pray, we pray to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was the firstborn, Son of God, perfect, without blemish, innocent, simple and pure. God sacrificed His only Son, the Lamb of God so we can be saved and live eternally. As you think of the nativity scenes and you see the lambs surrounding Jesus, remember Jesus as the Lamb of God who came to give His all for you and for me.
 
Prayer:
Jesus, Lamb of God, words are not enough to say thank you for your sacrifice. You gave your all so I could live. I no longer have to sacrifice animals for my sins because you took all the sins of the world upon you as you died on the cross. As a lamb who follows you, help me to be pure. Wash me with your precious blood and make me white as snow. I desire to be more like you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
For further study:
Exodus 12:2-47; Numbers 28:1-8; Revelation 5:6, 9-10

 

Advent Reading Day 7: Jesus is the Christ/Messiah

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. -Matthew 16:15-17

“Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” -Acts 2:36

We are very familiar with the title of Christ for Jesus and even the Messiah. Messiah means the “anointed One” or someone who has been set apart for a special mission. His mission is to bring the world back to God through the power of His love.

The Jews longed and waited for their Messiah to come. Prophecies declared that He would come to save them. The New Testament declares Jesus as the “anointed One” at least 530 times. Jesus wasn’t anointed with oil like David and the priests were, however, He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit when He was baptized. When Jesus was on the earth, the Jews wanted Him to be the King and overthrow the Roman authority. Jesus did not want to be thrown into this political trap so he avoided the title of Christ/Messiah until right before His death when the high priest asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Living God?” and Jesus answered, “I Am.” Yes, He was indeed King and still is, however, His anointing was not to be an earthly King but as King of the eternal kingdom.

Peter recognized that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (Matthew 16). However, he wanted Jesus to be more- to be the Messiah he wanted. Peter didn’t want Jesus to die and told Jesus this should never be (after all He is the Messiah). Jesus knew He had to die to save humanity from sin and death but Peter wanted Jesus to take care of things then and there. Jesus doesn’t usually do quick fixes because He desires to see transformation in our lives from the inside out. We don’t always get what we want, but Jesus always blesses us with eternal blessings.

Jesus is the Anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah. He was anointed to bring our salvation. His kingdom is not of this earth, it is eternal. Praise the Messiah for coming to save you and me.

Prayer:

Jesus, Messiah, the Anointed One, I praise you for coming to die on the cross for me. That’s the message of Christmas, You giving up everything so that I may live eternally with You. Thank You for salvation, thank You for the resurrection so I may rise with You when You return. Please forgive me for the times like the Jews and Peter I want You to be what I want You to be and grant all my desires. Your kingdom is not of this earth. I don’t understand all Your ways, but I trust You. You care about my soul, my eternity. Help me to see You as the true Messiah, the one who came to set me free from sin and death. Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

For further study:

Isaiah 52; Matthew 16:13-23; Acts 2:22-24, 32-38; 2 Corinthians 1:18-23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

 

Advent Reading Day 6:  Jesus is the Bread of Life

“Yes, I am the bread of life!   Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.  Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” -John 6:48-51 NLT

Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means “house of bread.”  Bread was a staple part of Israel’s diet and is ours today.  Bread was also used in different acts of worship.  It was given as a first fruit offering or a peace offering.  The twelve loaves of unleavened (without yeast) bread (Bread of the Presence) symbolized the covenant between God and his people.  This bread was placed in the temple sanctuary next to the Most Holy Place as a constant reminder to the priests that it was God who fed and looked after the 12 tribes in the wilderness.  Bread was consumed at the last supper representing Christ’s body.

Jesus spoke of Himself as the bread of life after he had fed the 5,000.  The bread that was given was made out of barley (John 6:13).  Barley loaves were made by the poor, it wasn’t the wheat bread of the rich.  But Jesus distributed it among everyone and they ate to their fill.  After everyone was filled, rumors started roaming around the crowd.  They started remembering the stories of manna that fell from the sky to feed their ancestors thousands of years before.  They began to think maybe Jesus could indeed be their Messiah.

However, they wanted to make him King.  Jesus knew what was going on in their hearts and he left to a more secluded place.  His disciples caught up with Him and Jesus began to teach about the true meaning of the Bread of Life.  The bread He gives does not spoil like the manna did.  If we eat of His flesh, we will never be hungry again.  Yes, those words may sound gruesome, but please read on.

It’s easy to fill ourselves up on things of this world- money, success, comfort, pleasure, fame, fortune… but none of these things really satisfy our hearts.  Jesus longs to fill us with His presence.  If we feed on His Word, take time in His presence, things of this world will not matter so much.  Ask Jesus today to help you feed on Him- his life, his Word, his promises.  Tell Jesus you are hungry for more of Him.

Prayer:

Jesus, this world has a lot to offer me.  I can have all the riches of this world but none of them can satisfy my spiritual hunger except you.  Jesus I am hungry for you.  I want more of you.  I want to be filled with your presence, your life, your peace and your joy. Satisfy me with your body, the bread of your holy presence.  Nourish my soul today.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study:

John 6:1-14,22-58; Psalm 78:24-25; Isaiah 55:1-2; Luke 22:7-22

 

Advent Reading 5:  Jesus the Prince of Peace (Part 2)

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!  -John 20:19-20;26-27 NLT

Jesus spoke the familiar words “Peace be with you” to his disciples when he saw them after his resurrection.  He didn’t rebuke them for betraying him or running away when he needed them.  He blessed them instead with shalom, peace.  A week later he greeted Thomas with the same words- “peace be with you.”  He knew that Thomas struggled with his faith, yet Jesus didn’t condemn him, instead he then invited Thomas to touch his wounds to see that he indeed was alive to help his unbelief.

The wounds of Jesus brings us peace.  Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world that brings division, strife, anxiety, and pain.  He took on pettiness, self-righteousness, bickering, anger, gossip, jealousy, lies, child abuse, slavery, drunkenness, rape, murder, adultery, and much more. Because he took those things upon himself while on the cross, he made a way for us to be healed and forgiven.

Jesus says to us “shalom aleichem,” “peace be with you.”  Peace with you in your relationship with God.   He has forgiven you; He is the Prince of Peace.  That peace can be yours if you allow him to live in your heart.  Then clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12-15).  Allow your life to speak shalom to those you meet today.  Greet others with “shalom aleichem,” as you do you will be imparting blessings into their lives.  Jews greet each other this way, what a wonderful blessing to share!

Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for taking my sins upon the cross.  Thank you for bringing peace into this world.  I admit life around me is crazy and I sometimes forget about your peace. I try to live life my way and I realize I cannot do this on my own. Help me to rely on you and put on your clothes of peace.  As you spoke the words of peace to the disciples instead of condemning them, help me too to forgive others that may have wronged me, help me to forgive even myself and may your peace indeed rule in my heart.  Jesus help me to speak blessings of peace into those I meet today.  May my life be an example of your shalom.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

For further study:

Colossians 3:12-15; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 32:17-18; Philippians 4:4-9

 

 

Advent Reading Day 4:  Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Part 1)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” -Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV

Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom).  We all desire peace, especially in a world ravaged with war and injustice.  The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom” which means so much more than just the word peace.  Shalom means health, satisfaction, wholeness, safety, well-being, prosperity and completion.  Jesus came to bring peace to our world.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:14 that Jesus is our peace.

Shortly after Jesus was born, the angels declared “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).  The Greek word for peace is “eirene.”  The New Testament talks about peace being more than the absence of conflict.  Peace comes through Jesus.  Peace brings healing not just physically but emotionally and mentally- healing from the inside out (Mark 5:34). Salvation brings peace- we have peace when we give our lives to Jesus because Jesus forgave us and gave us peace through His precious blood.

To live in peace is simply living in His presence. When we have peace with God, we have peace with others and ourselves.  Often, we pray the Lord’s prayer and in that prayer,  we ask that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  His kingdom one day will be established meaning wars will cease and those who belong to Him will enjoy shalom- health, wholeness, well-being, and safety.

Prayer:

Jesus, we live in a world ravaged with war, sickness, pain, and injustice.  Isaiah prophesied that you would come as the Prince of Peace and your peace will have no end.  Please allow your peace to reign on earth as it is in Heaven.  Establish shalom in my heart today.  As I spend time with you in your presence, help me to be at peace.  Whatever is keeping me from enjoying your peace, please remove those things. No matter what faces me today help me to live peacefully with others and with myself.  May I be a reflection of your peace.  Amen.

For further study:

Isaiah 9:1-7; Luke 1:67, 76-79; Luke 2:14; Mark 5:34

 

 

Advent Reading Day 3: Jesus is the Light of the World

“God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony.   John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.  The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” -John 1:3-9 NLT

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” -John 8:12 NLT

Jesus is the Light of the world. The phrase Light of the World is only used by Jesus twice when speaking of Himself and once for His disciples.  He calls us to reflect His light to a dark world.  Whoever believes in Christ becomes like Him reflecting light in a dark world.

The Bible uses a lot of images that relates to light- pillars of fire, burning lamps, consuming fire, etc.  Jesus is the Divine Light; His light is so powerful that it cannot be overcome by darkness, sin, and death.  Light was created by God when the earth was yet void.  Over and over again, God is seen as light: the psalmists talk about God being wrapped in light as in a garment, Moses shone with God’s light when he came down from the mountain full of glory and Jesus shone with brightness in His transfiguration.  Revelation states that in heaven there will be no need for the sun to shine for the glory of God gives light and Christ is His lamp.

Christ came as a Light of the World.  He desires us all to know Him and believe in Him.  He desires us to have His presence living in us.  When He does, we will also shine His light. Those who do not know Him are still walking in darkness.

As Light, Christ will bring justice for those who are oppressed, mercy to the suffering, healing to the sick, strength to the weak, hope for the hopeless.  Christ was so determined to bring us to His light that He spent 9 months in the darkness of His mother’s womb in order to be one of us.  He then suffered in darkness on the hill of Calvary.  Christ came as Light, He is Light and He will return as Light.  When He returns the veils of darkness will be gone and everyone will know He indeed is Lord of all!

Prayer:

Jesus, Light of the World, our world is so full of darkness.  People cannot see you as they are blinded and do not know the truth of your love.  Even I was once in darkness.  Forgive me for my blindness and unbelief. Help me to see your light, help me to follow you. During this Advent season help me to shine your light and glory. May others see your light and want to know you as their Lord and Savior. Shine Jesus, Shine, fill this land with Your glory, blaze Spirit blaze, set our hearts on fire!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

For further study:

Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 60:2,19-20; 1 John 1:5-7; Matthew 5:14-16: Revelation 21:22-27