A Christmas Inheritance

Galatians 4:4-7

What’s your inheritance? What does that question make you think of? Maybe what you’ll receive when a relative dies. Maybe what you’ll leave behind to your relatives when you die: a house, car, jewelry, furniture, heirlooms, etc. Inheritances are important things. Even at a young age we may already scope out some of the things we will get. Maybe we even feel guilty for looking forward to inheriting them. I know when my Grandpa passed away, I was excited to inherit all I had asked to inherit: his Bible. I was even more excited to find it worn, tattered, and marked up. Continue reading “A Christmas Inheritance”

Stop It Already, It’s Christmas

For about as long as there’s been Christmas, there’s been people trying to use it and this Child. This has manifested itself in a variety of ways, but in the end it’s all the same thing: law or lawlessness (which is really more law). Today the festival draws near. With the sunset we sing some of the Christian Church’s most solemn, moving, beautiful hymns. We read the poetry of the incarnation. We hear the prophets and evangelists call us. All of this, too, is to one end: God is here, in flesh, for us! Continue reading “Stop It Already, It’s Christmas”

Beautiful Feet

Isaiah 52:7-10

When most of us think of beautiful feet, we think about size, proportion, grooming and painting. Isaiah could care less about any of that. The feet in our text are beautiful because of what they bring: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” St. Paul quotes these words in Romans (10:13-15): “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Continue reading “Beautiful Feet”

Blessed Is the Fruit of Her Womb

Luke 1:39-55

How many of us when we get something new or accomplish something even rather insignificant can’t help but prance like the peacock with feathers in full regalia? How often aren’t pastors like myself a little too concerned with the number of “nice sermons” we get after the service? How often don’t we as a church body look for glory in numbers, good press, or some other visible sign? We all want to be members of the body of Christ, but who here seeks to be the parts that go unseen and lack glory? Mop the hall, mow the lawn, stuff the mailbox—I won’t get in Forward in Christ or the bulletin for that, give me something a little more visible and worthy of my talent. We are by nature arrogant, superficial, hams for attention. It didn’t take long for any of my preacher’s kids when they wer little to figure out they’d rather shake hands with me after church than sit unseen or unheard. Continue reading “Blessed Is the Fruit of Her Womb”

Now Don’t Lose It

Hebrews 2:1-4

“Now don’t lose it.” Remember Mom speaking those words to you when you were young? It was almost always after she had placed some treasure in your hands. Mom had entrusted you with it. It was her gift to you. And now you had one task: don’t lose it. It probably bothered you that she felt the need to say it, but, then what happened? If you’re like me, more than once you lost it. The Father has placed a treasure in our hands, or, rather, in our ears. He has entrusted to us such a great salvation that it is almost unimaginable that we should allow ourselves to lose it.

God has brought you to the holy ark of the Church, and He says, “Don’t drift away.” Be careful, because if you’ve ever drifted away from something, you know it happens gradually. You are resting on your air mattress out on the lake, soaking in the sun, listening to some music, when, twenty minutes later, you look up, and, oops, you’re in the middle of the lake. Don’t drift away. It starts simply enough. A compromise, a second-guess, an unwillingness to stand up in a little matter, and, before you know it, you’ve not only drifted from the ark, but lost sight of it. And, even then, all may not seem lost. Surely you can paddle back. But it turns out it’s not so easy, and every misstep that led to this quandary receives its just retribution.

Consider again the treasure placed in your care. Consider again the marvelous ark to which you’ve been brought, rescued from the choppy waters and hopelessness of this life. It’s only when you appreciate what you have and where you’ve been brought that you will be determined to hold on and not drift away. God wouldn’t have given you this treasure if He wanted you to lose it. God wouldn’t have brought you to safety if He wanted you to drift into danger. No, God did these things because He loves you. Let that love compel you.

We know ourselves, though, don’t we? We wouldn’t have needed grace if we were great at keeping our words, maintaining our focus, and holding on to what matters most. No, we are easily broken and easily break. We tune out, drift out, fall away. That’s the beauty of the gospel, though. We don’t grow out of our need for it. In fact, we grow into it. We don’t need Jesus less at ninety than at nine. We aren’t less a sinner at forty than we were at twenty-four. The sins change, our bodies change, times change, but our need remains the same. Thankfully, so does Jesus.

God’s gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit Himself are yours, and all of them point you to Jesus, grab you by your ears, anchor you. Christmas is drawing near. Our celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord draws nigh. Even so, the distractions grow, the stressors increase. God is speaking, though, amidst all of it. It’s easy for us, prone as we are, to drift, to lose, for our hearing fade.

That being true, nevertheless, and in spite of our weakness, His promises sound forth and as ever ring true. The Jesus who comes is Jesus for you, your Savior. I’ll tell you again, like Mom used to, “Don’t lose it.” But I won’t leave it there, because Jesus doesn’t. Let me tell you as well, “He has no intention of losing you.” You are His One, His treasure.

Wade Johnston

For more content like this, check out the podcast, blog posts, and devotions at www.LetTheBirdFly.com.

For more on Advent, check out our first pass at the season or our second, most recent, pass.

For more writing by Wade, you can find his books here and more blog posts here.

God Grant Us Ears and Take Us by Them

Acts 3:22-26

God grant us ears. God take us by them. Faith come from hearing and we live by faith. “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.” Jesus is that Prophet. Jesus is the Word of God Himself. And what does the Father tell us at Jesus’ Transfiguration but to listen to him? Continue reading “God Grant Us Ears and Take Us by Them”

Wrapped up in Christ

Colossians 1:15-23aa

You are holy and blameless. Hard to believe, isn’t it? We know we are anything but, and we’re right. We have done what is wrong and failed to do what is right. And that is why Christ came. That is why the very image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, became the firstborn from the dead. He is the Head, but what is a Head without a Body? And that is where the holy and blameless things comes into the picture. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and not only to dwell, but to reconcile us to himself by making peace by the blood of His cross. Continue reading “Wrapped up in Christ”

More Than What Could Have Been

Haggai 2:1-9

In their weakness, God told His remnant to be strong, not because the outlook was bright in the eyes of the here-and-now, but because through eyes of faith they could see God’s work as good as done. Be strong! I don’t know what your horizon looks like now, but I do know that God says to you, “Be strong!” Why? God is with you; God is on your side. His Spirit remains in your midst, dwelling in you as His temple through faith. Will God not protect, preserve, and prosper His temple, His sanctuary? Continue reading “More Than What Could Have Been”

God’s Expectant Temples

Zechariah 2:10-13

Zechariah was a prophet in Judah around the time the temple was being rebuilt. God’s people had suffered the destruction of all they held dear, exile, and less-than-human treatment by their enemies. All this was because of their sins, their rebellion against God’s covenant with them and His warning to them through the prophets. Now Zechariah was sent to encourage God’s people as they were reestablished in the Promised Land, as God renewed His promise of protection and peace, mercy and redemption. Israel did not build the temple overnight. It was a long promise, as God’s promise took flesh, not in a flash, but with each bang of the hammer and sling of the ax. They were in need of constant encouragement. Continue reading “God’s Expectant Temples”