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Advent 2020

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COVENANT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ADVENT DEVOTIONAL 2020 NOT THE MESSIAH THEY EXPECTED For to us a child is born to us a son is given and the government will be on His shoulders And he will be called Wonderful Counselor might God Everlasting Father Price of Peace Isaiah 9 6 717 Elm Street Cincinnati OH 45202 www covfirstchurch org 2020 all rights reserved

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COVENANT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ADVENT DEVOTIONAL 2020 NOT THE MESSIAH THEY EXPECTED For to us a child is born to us a son is given and the government will be on His shoulders And he will be called Wonderful Counselor might God Everlasting Father Price of Peace Isaiah 9 6 717 Elm Street Cincinnati OH 45202 www covfirstchurch org 2020 all rights reserved

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Table of Contents Introduction 1 Monday November 30 Not The Messiah They Expected 2 Tuesday December1 John 21 4 Wednesday December 2 John 20 5 Thursday December 3 John 19 6 Friday December 4 John 18 7 Saturday December 5 John 17 Pat Durst 8 Sunday December 6 His Love Reaching 9 Monday December 7 John 16 Michael Ludwig 10 Tuesday December 8 John 15 12 Wednesday December 9 John 14 Dustin Ellington 13 Thursday December 10 John 13 14 Friday December 11 John 12 June Holly 15 Saturday December 12 John 11 16 Sunday December 13 Born to Die 17 Monday December 14 John 10 David Heath 18 Tuesday December 15 John 9 David Heath 19 Wednesday December 16 John 8 Pat Durst 20 Thursday December 17 John 7 Russell Smith 22 Friday December 18 John 6 Russell Smith 23 Saturday December 19 John 5 Margaret Heidenreich 24 Introduction The songs of David the Psalms and the words of the Gospels have outlasted most constitutions and articles of government The Psalms continue to sing their way into our lives and the lives of our children and our children s children The Gospels have enlightened our lives with salvation they have given us words of truth to live by words of guide comfort encourage and teach us This Advent Season we will explore the Gospel of John in our daily devotionals Using a slightly unconventional method we will start at the end of John and work our way forward until Christmas Eve when the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us We will be searching to find the Messiah although the Messiah we may see is Not The Messiah They Expected This devotional invites you to look through the eyes of the people who came face to face with Jesus the Messiah who heard the words He spoke who lived with and learned from Him but rarely saw Him as the true Messiah As in years past we have invited members and friends of Covenant First to help us examine the Scriptures As you read the designated chapter and reflect on each day s devotional it is our hope that you will look for and find Jesus the Messiah the Savior and the Friend May you be reminded of the personal and positive impact the Son of God has on your life and the lives of those around you Laus Deo Praise be to God Sunday December 20 God s One and Only Son 25 Monday December 21 John 4 Marney Weis 26 Tuesday December 22 John 3 Jack Weis 27 Wednesday December 23 John 2 28 Thursday December 24 John 1 29 Friday December 25 One Solitary Life 31 Note There are no devotionals for the Sundays in Advent December 6 13 and 20 We encourage you to use the writings songs and Scripture provided in this devotional booklet for your meditation and prayer If not otherwise specified the author or contributor is Randy Page Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 1

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Table of Contents Introduction 1 Monday November 30 Not The Messiah They Expected 2 Tuesday December1 John 21 4 Wednesday December 2 John 20 5 Thursday December 3 John 19 6 Friday December 4 John 18 7 Saturday December 5 John 17 Pat Durst 8 Sunday December 6 His Love Reaching 9 Monday December 7 John 16 Michael Ludwig 10 Tuesday December 8 John 15 12 Wednesday December 9 John 14 Dustin Ellington 13 Thursday December 10 John 13 14 Friday December 11 John 12 June Holly 15 Saturday December 12 John 11 16 Sunday December 13 Born to Die 17 Monday December 14 John 10 David Heath 18 Tuesday December 15 John 9 David Heath 19 Wednesday December 16 John 8 Pat Durst 20 Thursday December 17 John 7 Russell Smith 22 Friday December 18 John 6 Russell Smith 23 Saturday December 19 John 5 Margaret Heidenreich 24 Introduction The songs of David the Psalms and the words of the Gospels have outlasted most constitutions and articles of government The Psalms continue to sing their way into our lives and the lives of our children and our children s children The Gospels have enlightened our lives with salvation they have given us words of truth to live by words of guide comfort encourage and teach us This Advent Season we will explore the Gospel of John in our daily devotionals Using a slightly unconventional method we will start at the end of John and work our way forward until Christmas Eve when the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us We will be searching to find the Messiah although the Messiah we may see is Not The Messiah They Expected This devotional invites you to look through the eyes of the people who came face to face with Jesus the Messiah who heard the words He spoke who lived with and learned from Him but rarely saw Him as the true Messiah As in years past we have invited members and friends of Covenant First to help us examine the Scriptures As you read the designated chapter and reflect on each day s devotional it is our hope that you will look for and find Jesus the Messiah the Savior and the Friend May you be reminded of the personal and positive impact the Son of God has on your life and the lives of those around you Laus Deo Praise be to God Sunday December 20 God s One and Only Son 25 Monday December 21 John 4 Marney Weis 26 Tuesday December 22 John 3 Jack Weis 27 Wednesday December 23 John 2 28 Thursday December 24 John 1 29 Friday December 25 One Solitary Life 31 Note There are no devotionals for the Sundays in Advent December 6 13 and 20 We encourage you to use the writings songs and Scripture provided in this devotional booklet for your meditation and prayer If not otherwise specified the author or contributor is Randy Page Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 1

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Monday November 30 2020 Not The Messiah They Expected Here are some of the definite clues about this coming that God gave in the Old Testament One of the central themes of the Old Testament is the prediction of the coming Messiah J Barton Payne in his Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy itemized 127 Messianic predictions involving more than 3 000 Bible verses with 574 verses referring directly to a personal Messiah Needless to say prior to the birth of Jesus God began to give His people an enormous amount of specific information about Jesus life and ministry The word Messiah or Anointed One is taken from Psalm 2 2 and Daniel 9 25 26 The term took its meaning from the Jewish practice of anointing their priests and kings But this term was applied in a special sense to the future Ruler who would be sent from God to sit on the throne of David forever In the New Testament Messiah is translated from the Greek Christos as Christ Jesus poses the question in Matthew 16 13 16 Mark 8 27 29 and Luke 9 18 20 Who do you say that I am Simon Peter answers You are the Christ the Son of the living God He is the One that God distinctly identified many years ahead of His arrival on earth as Luke affirms in Acts 3 18 But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets saying that His Christ Messiah would suffer Likewise according to 1 Peter 1 11 the Old Testament prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow The Messiah s coming was not a secret left in a corner but the repeated revelation of God to His people in the Old Testament The Messiah would be the seed offspring of a woman and would crush the head of Satan Genesis 3 15 He would come from the seed offspring of Abraham and would bless all the nations on earth Genesis 12 3 He would be a prophet like Moses to whom God said we must listen Deuteronomy 18 15 He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah Micah 5 2 He would be born of a virgin Isaiah 7 14 He would have a throne a kingdom and a dynasty or house starting with King David that will last forever 2 Samuel 7 16 He would be called Wonderful Counselor Mighty God Everlasting Father Prince of Peace and would possess an everlasting kingdom Isaiah 9 6 7 He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey righteous and having salvation coming with gentleness Zechariah 9 9 10 He would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities Isaiah 53 5 He would die among the wicked ones but be buried with the rich Isaiah 53 9 He would be resurrected from the grave for God would not allow His Holy One to suffer decay Psalm 16 10 He would come again from the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man Daniel 7 13 14 He would be the Sun of Righteousness for all who revere Him and look for His coming again Malachi 4 2 He is the One whom Israel will one day recognize as the One they pierced causing bitter grief Zechariah 12 10 Yet as we will see during our devotional readings this Advent season Jesus walked among us for 33 years and the majority of the people did not realize who He was because He was not the Messiah they expected Let s see who we can find Continued on page 3 Pg 2 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 3

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Monday November 30 2020 Not The Messiah They Expected Here are some of the definite clues about this coming that God gave in the Old Testament One of the central themes of the Old Testament is the prediction of the coming Messiah J Barton Payne in his Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy itemized 127 Messianic predictions involving more than 3 000 Bible verses with 574 verses referring directly to a personal Messiah Needless to say prior to the birth of Jesus God began to give His people an enormous amount of specific information about Jesus life and ministry The word Messiah or Anointed One is taken from Psalm 2 2 and Daniel 9 25 26 The term took its meaning from the Jewish practice of anointing their priests and kings But this term was applied in a special sense to the future Ruler who would be sent from God to sit on the throne of David forever In the New Testament Messiah is translated from the Greek Christos as Christ Jesus poses the question in Matthew 16 13 16 Mark 8 27 29 and Luke 9 18 20 Who do you say that I am Simon Peter answers You are the Christ the Son of the living God He is the One that God distinctly identified many years ahead of His arrival on earth as Luke affirms in Acts 3 18 But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets saying that His Christ Messiah would suffer Likewise according to 1 Peter 1 11 the Old Testament prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow The Messiah s coming was not a secret left in a corner but the repeated revelation of God to His people in the Old Testament The Messiah would be the seed offspring of a woman and would crush the head of Satan Genesis 3 15 He would come from the seed offspring of Abraham and would bless all the nations on earth Genesis 12 3 He would be a prophet like Moses to whom God said we must listen Deuteronomy 18 15 He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah Micah 5 2 He would be born of a virgin Isaiah 7 14 He would have a throne a kingdom and a dynasty or house starting with King David that will last forever 2 Samuel 7 16 He would be called Wonderful Counselor Mighty God Everlasting Father Prince of Peace and would possess an everlasting kingdom Isaiah 9 6 7 He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey righteous and having salvation coming with gentleness Zechariah 9 9 10 He would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities Isaiah 53 5 He would die among the wicked ones but be buried with the rich Isaiah 53 9 He would be resurrected from the grave for God would not allow His Holy One to suffer decay Psalm 16 10 He would come again from the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man Daniel 7 13 14 He would be the Sun of Righteousness for all who revere Him and look for His coming again Malachi 4 2 He is the One whom Israel will one day recognize as the One they pierced causing bitter grief Zechariah 12 10 Yet as we will see during our devotional readings this Advent season Jesus walked among us for 33 years and the majority of the people did not realize who He was because He was not the Messiah they expected Let s see who we can find Continued on page 3 Pg 2 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 3

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Tuesday December 1 2020 John 21 Wednesday December 2 2020 John 20 Even though we are starting with the last chapter in John I would like to welcome you to the first in our 2020 Advent Devotional series John begins this chapter with the words Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples It is my prayer that Jesus would again appear to you in a very personal way through the words of John s Gospel and the words of each daily devotional In our second daily devotional of the Advent season we not only find the Messiah but we also see the very purpose for which John wrote this Gospel in verse 31 These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name Even though Jesus had already appeared to the disciples twice they were not sure they would see Him again Thus Simon Peter and six of the other disciples returned to their comfort zone on a fishing boat It is unclear at this point whether they would resume the duties given them by the Lord or return to their roots thinking that all had been lost When they saw someone on the shore they didn t know who it was and they were not expecting to see Jesus because they were no longer looking for Him He had told them what He expected of them be fishers of men He had left them with marching orders yet they returned to their roots Recognition Finally John recognizes the stranger on the shore is Jesus He takes care of a psychological need by helping them catch more fish He takes care of a physical need by preparing them a meal He meets a personal need by serving them individually Jesus is alive and is here to meet our needs Restoration Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times on the night that Judas betrayed Jesus It is interesting that in restoring Peter Jesus asks him three times Do you love Me Each time Peter responds with the words You know that I love You Then with each response Jesus tells him to feed and take care of His sheep Renewal Jesus had renewed their vision and purpose by once again showing Himself alive and saying Follow Me In this chapter John relates the stories of four individuals that have a personal interaction with Jesus Mary Magdalene Peter John himself and Thomas Mary Magdalene personally knew of Jesus power Luke 8 2 relates the story of Jesus casting seven demons out of Mary She was traveling with Jesus by the time He raised Lazarus from the dead Luke 11 Jesus had told them Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days John 2 19 Mary arrived at the tomb on the first day of the week while it was still dark so she must have been excited to get there We are not sure if it was out of anticipation curiosity or grief We do know that Mary visited the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus lying in the tomb Her excitement turns to grief when she finds that His body is missing Through the thread of the story she encounters two angels and a person she assumes to be the gardener She had not found what she was looking for Instead she found a Messiah she was not looking for He was alive and standing there speaking with her Then we get to experience her joy and reaction after she realizes He is alive She immediately goes and tells others Mary may not have been looking for the right thing in the right place but there are two important things to note 1 Jesus is alive and 2 He will meet you where you are Take a look at Jesus interactions with Peter John and Thomas in this chapter What were their reactions Why do you suppose they were not expecting to find an empty tomb Where do you look for Jesus Have you ever encountered Jesus when or where you were not expecting to Our journey of faith parallels this story of Peter and the disciples Recognizing who Jesus is being restored to walk in newness of life and having our vision and purpose in life renewed by the fact that Jesus is alive and by His words Follow Me Where are you on this journey Recognition Restoration or Renewal Pg 4 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 5

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Tuesday December 1 2020 John 21 Wednesday December 2 2020 John 20 Even though we are starting with the last chapter in John I would like to welcome you to the first in our 2020 Advent Devotional series John begins this chapter with the words Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples It is my prayer that Jesus would again appear to you in a very personal way through the words of John s Gospel and the words of each daily devotional In our second daily devotional of the Advent season we not only find the Messiah but we also see the very purpose for which John wrote this Gospel in verse 31 These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name Even though Jesus had already appeared to the disciples twice they were not sure they would see Him again Thus Simon Peter and six of the other disciples returned to their comfort zone on a fishing boat It is unclear at this point whether they would resume the duties given them by the Lord or return to their roots thinking that all had been lost When they saw someone on the shore they didn t know who it was and they were not expecting to see Jesus because they were no longer looking for Him He had told them what He expected of them be fishers of men He had left them with marching orders yet they returned to their roots Recognition Finally John recognizes the stranger on the shore is Jesus He takes care of a psychological need by helping them catch more fish He takes care of a physical need by preparing them a meal He meets a personal need by serving them individually Jesus is alive and is here to meet our needs Restoration Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times on the night that Judas betrayed Jesus It is interesting that in restoring Peter Jesus asks him three times Do you love Me Each time Peter responds with the words You know that I love You Then with each response Jesus tells him to feed and take care of His sheep Renewal Jesus had renewed their vision and purpose by once again showing Himself alive and saying Follow Me In this chapter John relates the stories of four individuals that have a personal interaction with Jesus Mary Magdalene Peter John himself and Thomas Mary Magdalene personally knew of Jesus power Luke 8 2 relates the story of Jesus casting seven demons out of Mary She was traveling with Jesus by the time He raised Lazarus from the dead Luke 11 Jesus had told them Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days John 2 19 Mary arrived at the tomb on the first day of the week while it was still dark so she must have been excited to get there We are not sure if it was out of anticipation curiosity or grief We do know that Mary visited the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus lying in the tomb Her excitement turns to grief when she finds that His body is missing Through the thread of the story she encounters two angels and a person she assumes to be the gardener She had not found what she was looking for Instead she found a Messiah she was not looking for He was alive and standing there speaking with her Then we get to experience her joy and reaction after she realizes He is alive She immediately goes and tells others Mary may not have been looking for the right thing in the right place but there are two important things to note 1 Jesus is alive and 2 He will meet you where you are Take a look at Jesus interactions with Peter John and Thomas in this chapter What were their reactions Why do you suppose they were not expecting to find an empty tomb Where do you look for Jesus Have you ever encountered Jesus when or where you were not expecting to Our journey of faith parallels this story of Peter and the disciples Recognizing who Jesus is being restored to walk in newness of life and having our vision and purpose in life renewed by the fact that Jesus is alive and by His words Follow Me Where are you on this journey Recognition Restoration or Renewal Pg 4 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 5

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Thursday December 3 2020 John 19 Friday December 4 2020 John 18 He would have a throne a kingdom and a dynasty or house starting with King David that will last forever 2 Samuel 7 16 The Messiah as defined by Samuel is in stark contrast to the events of John 19 What we see in this chapter is certainly Not The Messiah They Were Expecting The Messiah was to live forever and rule a kingdom not die on a cross with the words It is finished Religious leaders arrest Jesus and take Him to the high priest for questioning Peter follows behind and denies knowing Jesus After holding their own hearing the Jews press charges against Jesus in the Roman court I have always enjoyed the frankness and honesty of these thoughts Oswald Chambers shared in his devotional book My Utmost for His Highest The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr His death was not something that happened to Him which might have been prevented His death was the very reason He came Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us That contradicts the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ It makes the Cross unnecessary and the redemption much ado about nothing God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death We see Jesus for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor Hebrews 2 9 The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ It is finished John 19 30 That is the final word in the redemption of humankind Anything that lessens or completely obliterates the holiness of God through a false view of His love contradicts the truth of God as revealed by Jesus Christ Never allow yourself to believe that Jesus Christ stands with us against God out of pity and compassion or that He became a curse for us out of sympathy for us Jesus Christ became a curse for us by divine decree John 3 16 17 Our part in realizing the tremendous meaning of the curse is conviction of sin Conviction is given to us as a gift of shame and repentance it is the great mercy of God Jesus Christ hates the sin in people and Calvary is the measure of His hatred Some days alarms don t go off cars won t start and nothing goes as planned But those mishaps pale in comparison to moments when we lose a job lose our spouses or lose our health to an incurable illness Our future is unforeseen The scene in John 18 is an unimaginable disaster Jesus is betrayed by one of His closest friends He is arrested and bound by a band of officers and soldiers then interrogated and treated like a criminal Seemingly everything had gone wrong For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world John 18 37 But in reality everything was going according to plan John makes it clear that Jesus was not a victim of circumstance but in complete control Jesus foretold these events He turned himself over to them knowing all that would happen to Him John 18 4 and He declared to Pilate For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world John 18 37 How could Jesus continue to submit to the situation He trusted in God s perfect plan In the same way Jesus trusted in the goodness of the Father despite His circumstances we can trust that God is in complete control over every aspect of our lives Even when events are outside of our control we can rest assured that God is graciously orchestrating everything for our ultimate good Romans 8 28 Today thank God for His goodness and His authority over all circumstances Ask Him to help you remember this truth in the face of any difficulty What can you learn about Jesus from this chapter How does knowing God is in control of all things change how you see the difficulties in your own life I have finished the work which You have given Me to do John 17 4 Pg 6 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 7

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Thursday December 3 2020 John 19 Friday December 4 2020 John 18 He would have a throne a kingdom and a dynasty or house starting with King David that will last forever 2 Samuel 7 16 The Messiah as defined by Samuel is in stark contrast to the events of John 19 What we see in this chapter is certainly Not The Messiah They Were Expecting The Messiah was to live forever and rule a kingdom not die on a cross with the words It is finished Religious leaders arrest Jesus and take Him to the high priest for questioning Peter follows behind and denies knowing Jesus After holding their own hearing the Jews press charges against Jesus in the Roman court I have always enjoyed the frankness and honesty of these thoughts Oswald Chambers shared in his devotional book My Utmost for His Highest The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr His death was not something that happened to Him which might have been prevented His death was the very reason He came Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us That contradicts the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ It makes the Cross unnecessary and the redemption much ado about nothing God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death We see Jesus for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor Hebrews 2 9 The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ It is finished John 19 30 That is the final word in the redemption of humankind Anything that lessens or completely obliterates the holiness of God through a false view of His love contradicts the truth of God as revealed by Jesus Christ Never allow yourself to believe that Jesus Christ stands with us against God out of pity and compassion or that He became a curse for us out of sympathy for us Jesus Christ became a curse for us by divine decree John 3 16 17 Our part in realizing the tremendous meaning of the curse is conviction of sin Conviction is given to us as a gift of shame and repentance it is the great mercy of God Jesus Christ hates the sin in people and Calvary is the measure of His hatred Some days alarms don t go off cars won t start and nothing goes as planned But those mishaps pale in comparison to moments when we lose a job lose our spouses or lose our health to an incurable illness Our future is unforeseen The scene in John 18 is an unimaginable disaster Jesus is betrayed by one of His closest friends He is arrested and bound by a band of officers and soldiers then interrogated and treated like a criminal Seemingly everything had gone wrong For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world John 18 37 But in reality everything was going according to plan John makes it clear that Jesus was not a victim of circumstance but in complete control Jesus foretold these events He turned himself over to them knowing all that would happen to Him John 18 4 and He declared to Pilate For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world John 18 37 How could Jesus continue to submit to the situation He trusted in God s perfect plan In the same way Jesus trusted in the goodness of the Father despite His circumstances we can trust that God is in complete control over every aspect of our lives Even when events are outside of our control we can rest assured that God is graciously orchestrating everything for our ultimate good Romans 8 28 Today thank God for His goodness and His authority over all circumstances Ask Him to help you remember this truth in the face of any difficulty What can you learn about Jesus from this chapter How does knowing God is in control of all things change how you see the difficulties in your own life I have finished the work which You have given Me to do John 17 4 Pg 6 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 7

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Sunday December 6 2020 His Love Reaching Saturday December 5 2020 John 17 Following Jesus death resurrection and ascension the disciples must have reflected very carefully on everything He had said to them while they were together John paid special attention to record His words at the Last Supper chapters 13 17 including Jesus prayer all of chapter 17 While talking with the Father Jesus made five key petitions for Himself the disciples and those who would follow Him because of the testimony of these 11 men that would include you and me Although all five petitions reveal His heart perhaps the most relevant to the Church in this season is His prayer for our unity in the unity of the Father and Son There is no human person organization movement philosophy or worldview that can offer what it takes to unify us He alone can unite us to Himself and one another We must seek and depend on Him to empower us to give up our lesser differences focus on what we have in common and willingly lovingly walk with our brothers and sisters in Christ The forces of evil work in multiplying nefarious ways to separate us from one another Jesus prayed not to take us out of the world but to keep us in His name and to keep us from the evil one He also prayed for the Father to sanctify us in His word the truth By calling on His name and regularly washing our minds and hearts with the Word we can resist the temptation to separate Right from the beginning God s love has reached and from the beginning man has refused to understand But love went on reaching offering itself Love offered the eternal we wanted the immediate Love offered deep joy we wanted thrills Love offered freedom we wanted license Love offered communion with God Himself we wanted to worship at the shrines of our own mind Love offered peace we wanted approval for our wars Even yet love went on reaching And still today after two thousand years patiently lovingly Christ is reaching out to us today In His prayer we see that our magnificent Messiah is our model for communication and intimacy with the Father our loving caring affirming best Teacher who is concerned for our well being success and safety the One who understands this world evil and our tendency toward disunity He knows what we need most and that is what He prayed Right through the chaos of our world through the confusion of our minds Jesus clearly stated His purpose for our being one in Him so that the world will know and believe that the Father sent Him and loves them The impact of our witness how deep and far and wide the reach of the Gospel depends on us being a diversely united body Since He is not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance our first and foremost responsibility is to gain and maintain oneness in Jesus Christ His love is still longing His love is still reaching right past the shackles of my mind And the word of the Father became Mary s little Son And His love reached all the way to where I was He is reaching longing to share with us the very being of God Gloria Gaither What step will you take today toward walking in unity with Christ and a Christian brother or sister from whom you are separated Where or when have you seen or experienced a positive response to the Gospel because of the person people perceiving loving unity in the Body of Christ Pg 8 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 9

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Sunday December 6 2020 His Love Reaching Saturday December 5 2020 John 17 Following Jesus death resurrection and ascension the disciples must have reflected very carefully on everything He had said to them while they were together John paid special attention to record His words at the Last Supper chapters 13 17 including Jesus prayer all of chapter 17 While talking with the Father Jesus made five key petitions for Himself the disciples and those who would follow Him because of the testimony of these 11 men that would include you and me Although all five petitions reveal His heart perhaps the most relevant to the Church in this season is His prayer for our unity in the unity of the Father and Son There is no human person organization movement philosophy or worldview that can offer what it takes to unify us He alone can unite us to Himself and one another We must seek and depend on Him to empower us to give up our lesser differences focus on what we have in common and willingly lovingly walk with our brothers and sisters in Christ The forces of evil work in multiplying nefarious ways to separate us from one another Jesus prayed not to take us out of the world but to keep us in His name and to keep us from the evil one He also prayed for the Father to sanctify us in His word the truth By calling on His name and regularly washing our minds and hearts with the Word we can resist the temptation to separate Right from the beginning God s love has reached and from the beginning man has refused to understand But love went on reaching offering itself Love offered the eternal we wanted the immediate Love offered deep joy we wanted thrills Love offered freedom we wanted license Love offered communion with God Himself we wanted to worship at the shrines of our own mind Love offered peace we wanted approval for our wars Even yet love went on reaching And still today after two thousand years patiently lovingly Christ is reaching out to us today In His prayer we see that our magnificent Messiah is our model for communication and intimacy with the Father our loving caring affirming best Teacher who is concerned for our well being success and safety the One who understands this world evil and our tendency toward disunity He knows what we need most and that is what He prayed Right through the chaos of our world through the confusion of our minds Jesus clearly stated His purpose for our being one in Him so that the world will know and believe that the Father sent Him and loves them The impact of our witness how deep and far and wide the reach of the Gospel depends on us being a diversely united body Since He is not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance our first and foremost responsibility is to gain and maintain oneness in Jesus Christ His love is still longing His love is still reaching right past the shackles of my mind And the word of the Father became Mary s little Son And His love reached all the way to where I was He is reaching longing to share with us the very being of God Gloria Gaither What step will you take today toward walking in unity with Christ and a Christian brother or sister from whom you are separated Where or when have you seen or experienced a positive response to the Gospel because of the person people perceiving loving unity in the Body of Christ Pg 8 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 9

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Monday December 7 2020 John 16 development first takes a commitment to following the purpose but then a continual reevaluating of which way you must go to reach that purpose At the end of this chapter the disciples say Yes Now you are speaking plainly and I m sure their ears perked up when Jesus said He has already conquered the world This is the kind of Messiah that they were hoping for Can we encourage Jesus to keep acting more like that Just like the early Bob Dylan proverb You don t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows the rushing spirit breath of God is blowing on us all the time We don t need lots of certainties to move forward today But we must pay attention in the moment Seek to hear that Spirit of Truth the gift of the Messiah we find in Jesus But throughout the rest of the chapter Jesus keeps telling them that He won t be around visibly to lead them That can t be right The disciples want someone there to speak plainly so they can easily follow and maybe even standardize exactly the right way and the wrong way to do things That sounds like me That sounds like most people I know When we first moved to the West African country of Niger it was hard for me to get out of the habit of asking people for the weather forecast During the rainy season it seemed like a natural conversation piece to ask what the weather was going to be like today or this week But I kept hearing that nobody knows what the weather will be later only God That makes it a lot harder to plan what supplies you need or activities you ll do if there s always the danger of a downpour I need a good meteorologist to rely on But not even seasoned Nigerien farmers would venture to predict the weather patterns for me A bit unexpectedly Jesus promises to send a Helper for the situations when the disciples didn t have Him to follow visibly the Advocate the unseen Spirit of Truth who is there for us even now as we long for something clear and visible and easy to follow Why does it have to be someone that is unseen but guiding Not plain but always true Maybe because Jesus also has many things to tell us that we cannot bear right now Sometimes we need to be trusting and flexible enough to listen to the Spirit of Truth in the moment because maybe we can t take His guidance until then The more I work with the church in Niger to help train people in cultivating physical and spiritual development the more I see that it never happens in a simple easy to follow formula This Continued on page 11 Pg 10 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 11

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Monday December 7 2020 John 16 development first takes a commitment to following the purpose but then a continual reevaluating of which way you must go to reach that purpose At the end of this chapter the disciples say Yes Now you are speaking plainly and I m sure their ears perked up when Jesus said He has already conquered the world This is the kind of Messiah that they were hoping for Can we encourage Jesus to keep acting more like that Just like the early Bob Dylan proverb You don t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows the rushing spirit breath of God is blowing on us all the time We don t need lots of certainties to move forward today But we must pay attention in the moment Seek to hear that Spirit of Truth the gift of the Messiah we find in Jesus But throughout the rest of the chapter Jesus keeps telling them that He won t be around visibly to lead them That can t be right The disciples want someone there to speak plainly so they can easily follow and maybe even standardize exactly the right way and the wrong way to do things That sounds like me That sounds like most people I know When we first moved to the West African country of Niger it was hard for me to get out of the habit of asking people for the weather forecast During the rainy season it seemed like a natural conversation piece to ask what the weather was going to be like today or this week But I kept hearing that nobody knows what the weather will be later only God That makes it a lot harder to plan what supplies you need or activities you ll do if there s always the danger of a downpour I need a good meteorologist to rely on But not even seasoned Nigerien farmers would venture to predict the weather patterns for me A bit unexpectedly Jesus promises to send a Helper for the situations when the disciples didn t have Him to follow visibly the Advocate the unseen Spirit of Truth who is there for us even now as we long for something clear and visible and easy to follow Why does it have to be someone that is unseen but guiding Not plain but always true Maybe because Jesus also has many things to tell us that we cannot bear right now Sometimes we need to be trusting and flexible enough to listen to the Spirit of Truth in the moment because maybe we can t take His guidance until then The more I work with the church in Niger to help train people in cultivating physical and spiritual development the more I see that it never happens in a simple easy to follow formula This Continued on page 11 Pg 10 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 11

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Tuesday December 8 2020 John 15 Wednesday December 9 2020 John 14 Since my retirement in May of 2015 one of the hobbies I have pursued is horticulture My education for horticulture began in February of 2016 with a landscaping class at the Cincinnati Zoo Prior to that time all I really knew was that grass was green and it needed to be cut and occasionally watered and fertilized Since those initial classes I have done much to increase my knowledge of horticulture I assure you that at this point I am by no means an expert I have learned a lot about flowering plants and pruning At the beginning of John 14 Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them in His Father s house And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and will take you to Myself that where I am you may be also And you know the way to where I am going These days when I read John chapter 15 I have a completely different understanding than I did just a few years ago Pruning is absolutely required to produce a beautiful plant that is flowering and flourishing The dead flowers and stems use up energy that is vital to the plant If those flowers and stems are pruned away that energy can be used to produce new growth and more blooms Oftentimes I think the main focus of John 15 is producing more Christians as a sign of producing more fruit Although that could certainly be considered a part of it please keep in mind that we can only plant the seeds and water much like Paul and Apollos in 1 Corinthians 3 6 It is God working through the Holy Spirit who gives the increase The planting and watering take many forms and I think those forms are found in Galatians 5 22 The fruit of the Spirit is love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self control These are measurable attributes that we can see if we are producing fruit in our own lives Folks will see Christ in our lives through this fruit and want to be a branch attached to Jesus Christ the Vine There is one more good plant comparison to be made here Grapevines have main vines and lots of branches I have seen main vines that are four inches or larger These vines can have several branches and those branches produce more branches Given enough time a grapevine that is growing in a tree can cover the tree with foliage thereby keeping the tree s leaves from doing their job of producing energy for the tree It can also attach itself so securely to the tree that it cannot be pulled out and will eventually kill a large tree As detrimental as it can be to a tree it is a great example of Jesus being a strong vine producing strong branches and lots of fruit Are you attached to the vine of Jesus Christ Do you see the fruit of the Spirit flourishing in your life Are you planting seeds and watering Pg 12 2020 Advent Devotional This last part befuddles Thomas who assumes that Jesus has spoken literally as though He has told His disciples directions but left out key turns and the destination Thomas responds to Jesus honestly Lord we do not know where You are going How can we know the way Thomas is a good model for someone who s unsure Be honest come out and say what s not clear This gives Jesus a chance to clarify I am the way and the truth and the life No one comes to the Father except through Me 14 6 Jesus has spoken of the way to the Father And it s not about taking a left then a right and then another left It s all about going through Jesus When we come to Jesus we have found the way to the Father and our way to the Father s house This isn t quite enough for Philip however who replies Show us the Father and we ll be satisfied Have I been with you all this time Philip and you still do not know Me Jesus goes on Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father In both situations with Thomas and Philip they had particular questions and hoped Jesus could give them an answer or point them in a direction To their surprise Jesus points to Himself He Himself is the answer and the way As we approach the end of a difficult 2020 we may have some questions too including queries about personal direction Scripture tells us the deepest and fullest answer to our search for direction is not any particular path but a person Jesus Christ Himself We find our way in Jesus Himself Advent is a time of hopeful waiting for Jesus return even in a world that seems to have gone far astray Jesus begins John 14 saying Do not let your hearts be troubled And He ll say before the chapter ends Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid 14 27 In between Jesus promises that He will come and He shows us that He Himself is our way Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 13

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Tuesday December 8 2020 John 15 Wednesday December 9 2020 John 14 Since my retirement in May of 2015 one of the hobbies I have pursued is horticulture My education for horticulture began in February of 2016 with a landscaping class at the Cincinnati Zoo Prior to that time all I really knew was that grass was green and it needed to be cut and occasionally watered and fertilized Since those initial classes I have done much to increase my knowledge of horticulture I assure you that at this point I am by no means an expert I have learned a lot about flowering plants and pruning At the beginning of John 14 Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them in His Father s house And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and will take you to Myself that where I am you may be also And you know the way to where I am going These days when I read John chapter 15 I have a completely different understanding than I did just a few years ago Pruning is absolutely required to produce a beautiful plant that is flowering and flourishing The dead flowers and stems use up energy that is vital to the plant If those flowers and stems are pruned away that energy can be used to produce new growth and more blooms Oftentimes I think the main focus of John 15 is producing more Christians as a sign of producing more fruit Although that could certainly be considered a part of it please keep in mind that we can only plant the seeds and water much like Paul and Apollos in 1 Corinthians 3 6 It is God working through the Holy Spirit who gives the increase The planting and watering take many forms and I think those forms are found in Galatians 5 22 The fruit of the Spirit is love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self control These are measurable attributes that we can see if we are producing fruit in our own lives Folks will see Christ in our lives through this fruit and want to be a branch attached to Jesus Christ the Vine There is one more good plant comparison to be made here Grapevines have main vines and lots of branches I have seen main vines that are four inches or larger These vines can have several branches and those branches produce more branches Given enough time a grapevine that is growing in a tree can cover the tree with foliage thereby keeping the tree s leaves from doing their job of producing energy for the tree It can also attach itself so securely to the tree that it cannot be pulled out and will eventually kill a large tree As detrimental as it can be to a tree it is a great example of Jesus being a strong vine producing strong branches and lots of fruit Are you attached to the vine of Jesus Christ Do you see the fruit of the Spirit flourishing in your life Are you planting seeds and watering Pg 12 2020 Advent Devotional This last part befuddles Thomas who assumes that Jesus has spoken literally as though He has told His disciples directions but left out key turns and the destination Thomas responds to Jesus honestly Lord we do not know where You are going How can we know the way Thomas is a good model for someone who s unsure Be honest come out and say what s not clear This gives Jesus a chance to clarify I am the way and the truth and the life No one comes to the Father except through Me 14 6 Jesus has spoken of the way to the Father And it s not about taking a left then a right and then another left It s all about going through Jesus When we come to Jesus we have found the way to the Father and our way to the Father s house This isn t quite enough for Philip however who replies Show us the Father and we ll be satisfied Have I been with you all this time Philip and you still do not know Me Jesus goes on Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father In both situations with Thomas and Philip they had particular questions and hoped Jesus could give them an answer or point them in a direction To their surprise Jesus points to Himself He Himself is the answer and the way As we approach the end of a difficult 2020 we may have some questions too including queries about personal direction Scripture tells us the deepest and fullest answer to our search for direction is not any particular path but a person Jesus Christ Himself We find our way in Jesus Himself Advent is a time of hopeful waiting for Jesus return even in a world that seems to have gone far astray Jesus begins John 14 saying Do not let your hearts be troubled And He ll say before the chapter ends Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid 14 27 In between Jesus promises that He will come and He shows us that He Himself is our way Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 13

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Thursday December 10 2020 John 13 Friday December 11 2020 John 12 Jesus washes His disciples feet and they share one last meal together Jesus warns Peter about the separation to come but Peter doesn t understand The 6th of Nisan A D 30 Passover One week before the death of Jesus a huge caravan of pilgrims had arrived in Jerusalem thousands of Pharisees were there too Excitement rose as each family located their perfect lamb to celebrate the Passover We ve all had to wrestle with forgiveness We can t escape hurt feelings or being wronged and neither could Jesus In John 13 Jesus models forgiveness in a way that doesn t allow us to hold grudges He is sitting at the table with His disciples fully aware that Judas is about to betray Him and Peter to deny Him Jesus forgiveness extends beyond simply saying I forgive you Forgiveness is not just something He says it s something He puts into action Jesus kneels and serves them as He washes their feet including Judas and Peter He makes no exceptions He offers His forgiveness to everyone no matter what they have done or will do It s easy to read this chapter and be amazed that these men sat at the table with Jesus then turned their backs on Him Yet Jesus offers forgiveness to men like this Thank goodness He does because we are the same as the men at the table We commune and fellowship with Him but because of our sinful nature we turn our backs on Him by our sins of commission and omission But Romans 8 confirms to us that nothing can separate us from the love of God and that Jesus is alive and continues to intercede for us at the right hand of God the Father Because of this Jesus tells His disciples and us I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you John 13 15 That kind of grace cannot stop with the one who benefits from it we must extend that same kind of grace Colossians 3 13 reminds us to bear with each other and forgive one another if any of us has a grievance against someone Forgive as the Lord forgave you One last facet of forgiveness is that sometimes we have to learn to forgive ourselves Peter was able to do this Judas was not Have you accepted Jesus forgiveness in your own life Are there things you can t believe Jesus would ever forgive you for To whom in your life do you need to extend forgiveness How can you express forgiveness to that person today Pg 14 2020 Advent Devotional Word had spread of the miracles of Jesus especially the resurrection of Lazarus Fascinated by these tales the crowd hearing that Jesus was entering the city ran to meet Him to see the Man behind these tales and the dead man walking The Pharisees followed to collect enough damning evidence against Him to kill Him Ah but this day was much more this was the day set in heaven a day of fulfillment of many prophecies from the Scriptures This was the time for Jesus to reveal Himself as God s Messiah The events of this day were full of the prophecies of God s Messiah Daniel 9 24 26 Zechariah 9 9 2 Kings 9 13 Psalm 118 25 26 Habakkuk 2 11 Matthew 3 9 When the people spied Jesus riding towards the city upon a donkey they strewed their garments upon the road and waving palm fronds cried Hosanna Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord and Blessed is the King of Israel Jesus was troubled because it was clear the people of Israel were seeking a political savior a warrior king The Pharisees anticipated a Messiah like them one who would be for Israel only an exclusive local god not a God for the whole world During Jesus visitation the people failed to recognize Him as their long awaited Messiah 1 10 11 Their value of Him 30 pieces of silver did not match the value Mary of Bethany put upon Him with her gift of a true heart that we find in the beginning of this chapter The Pharisees obsessed with purity of their race avoided anything to do with the world and misread God From the beginning God made it clear His mission was to the whole world the Son came into the world to save the world chapters 1 and 3 All four Gospel writers record the celebration of Jesus entry into Jerusalem Twice recorded means something is very important Trice very very important Four times stop and listen up This is the ultimate Behold the Lamb of God Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 15

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Thursday December 10 2020 John 13 Friday December 11 2020 John 12 Jesus washes His disciples feet and they share one last meal together Jesus warns Peter about the separation to come but Peter doesn t understand The 6th of Nisan A D 30 Passover One week before the death of Jesus a huge caravan of pilgrims had arrived in Jerusalem thousands of Pharisees were there too Excitement rose as each family located their perfect lamb to celebrate the Passover We ve all had to wrestle with forgiveness We can t escape hurt feelings or being wronged and neither could Jesus In John 13 Jesus models forgiveness in a way that doesn t allow us to hold grudges He is sitting at the table with His disciples fully aware that Judas is about to betray Him and Peter to deny Him Jesus forgiveness extends beyond simply saying I forgive you Forgiveness is not just something He says it s something He puts into action Jesus kneels and serves them as He washes their feet including Judas and Peter He makes no exceptions He offers His forgiveness to everyone no matter what they have done or will do It s easy to read this chapter and be amazed that these men sat at the table with Jesus then turned their backs on Him Yet Jesus offers forgiveness to men like this Thank goodness He does because we are the same as the men at the table We commune and fellowship with Him but because of our sinful nature we turn our backs on Him by our sins of commission and omission But Romans 8 confirms to us that nothing can separate us from the love of God and that Jesus is alive and continues to intercede for us at the right hand of God the Father Because of this Jesus tells His disciples and us I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you John 13 15 That kind of grace cannot stop with the one who benefits from it we must extend that same kind of grace Colossians 3 13 reminds us to bear with each other and forgive one another if any of us has a grievance against someone Forgive as the Lord forgave you One last facet of forgiveness is that sometimes we have to learn to forgive ourselves Peter was able to do this Judas was not Have you accepted Jesus forgiveness in your own life Are there things you can t believe Jesus would ever forgive you for To whom in your life do you need to extend forgiveness How can you express forgiveness to that person today Pg 14 2020 Advent Devotional Word had spread of the miracles of Jesus especially the resurrection of Lazarus Fascinated by these tales the crowd hearing that Jesus was entering the city ran to meet Him to see the Man behind these tales and the dead man walking The Pharisees followed to collect enough damning evidence against Him to kill Him Ah but this day was much more this was the day set in heaven a day of fulfillment of many prophecies from the Scriptures This was the time for Jesus to reveal Himself as God s Messiah The events of this day were full of the prophecies of God s Messiah Daniel 9 24 26 Zechariah 9 9 2 Kings 9 13 Psalm 118 25 26 Habakkuk 2 11 Matthew 3 9 When the people spied Jesus riding towards the city upon a donkey they strewed their garments upon the road and waving palm fronds cried Hosanna Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord and Blessed is the King of Israel Jesus was troubled because it was clear the people of Israel were seeking a political savior a warrior king The Pharisees anticipated a Messiah like them one who would be for Israel only an exclusive local god not a God for the whole world During Jesus visitation the people failed to recognize Him as their long awaited Messiah 1 10 11 Their value of Him 30 pieces of silver did not match the value Mary of Bethany put upon Him with her gift of a true heart that we find in the beginning of this chapter The Pharisees obsessed with purity of their race avoided anything to do with the world and misread God From the beginning God made it clear His mission was to the whole world the Son came into the world to save the world chapters 1 and 3 All four Gospel writers record the celebration of Jesus entry into Jerusalem Twice recorded means something is very important Trice very very important Four times stop and listen up This is the ultimate Behold the Lamb of God Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 15

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Saturday December 12 2020 John 11 Sunday December 13 2020 This passage includes Jesus conversation with Martha just before He raised Lazarus from the dead This was the last sign Jesus performed in John s Gospel Since we are reading the chapters in reverse order working our way back to one we will see other signs between now and the wedding at Cana in chapter two John refers to Jesus miracles as signs because he understood them to point to a greater truth than the miracle itself In these few verses Jesus directs Martha s attention beyond the physical raising of her brother toward a much greater miracle Lazarus was lying in a tomb He had been there four days and no doubt a certain amount of decomposition had already set in see 11 39 Lazarus was not unconscious He was not in a coma He was not brain dead Blood was no longer pumping through his veins Biological processes had ceased He was beyond hope of recovery When Jesus stood at the tomb and called Lazarus come out 11 43 Lazarus was completely incapable of obeying of his own volition It would take a work of God to restore life give him ears to hear and the ability to get up push the stone away and leave the tomb At the time these words and actions would have seemed incredible How could Jesus even as a great teacher claim to be the resurrection and the life How could even a prophet of God claim to give life to the dead Here was living proof that Jesus the Christ had power over death But more than that if Jesus truly is who He claimed to be then He can give life to all Just as Jesus raised Lazarus both physically and spiritually and Jesus Himself rose physically from the grave in Christ we too are reborn Though dead in sin we are raised to life spiritually And one day when Christ returns we will be raised to new bodies joining with our spirits in eternity 1 Corinthians 15 50 56 This is the heart of Christianity It s not about rituals and works trying to earn God s favor It s about God s grace poured out upon a sinful undeserving people None of us could ever do enough to repay the debt of our sin But Christ died for the ungodly the dead in spirit that we might be raised to spiritual life And one day we will be like Him no longer subject to the frailties of the flesh assailed by sin and a sinful world but made new in eternity Do you see parallels between physical death and spiritual death in this chapter Do you see parallels between physical life and spiritual life in this chapter Born to Die They never knew a dark night Always had the Son s light on their face Perfect in glory broken by the story Of untold grace come that day Majesty had come down glory had succumbed now To flesh and bone In the arms of a manger in the hands of strangers That could not know just who they hold And the angels filled the sky All of heaven wondered why Why their King would choose to be Be a baby born to die And all fell silent for the cry of an infant The voice of God Was dividing history for those with eyes to see The Son would shine from earth that night And the angels filled the sky All of heaven wondered why Why their King would choose to be Be a baby born to die be a baby born to die To break the chains of guilt and sin To find us here to pull us in So we can join in heaven s song And with one voice around the throne All the angels filled the sky And I can t help but wonder why Why this King would choose to be Be a baby born for me be a baby born Be a baby born to die Songwriters Jason David Ingram Jeffrey Stephen Norman Born to Die lyrics Peermusic Publishing Universal Music Publishing Group Pg 16 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 17

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Saturday December 12 2020 John 11 Sunday December 13 2020 This passage includes Jesus conversation with Martha just before He raised Lazarus from the dead This was the last sign Jesus performed in John s Gospel Since we are reading the chapters in reverse order working our way back to one we will see other signs between now and the wedding at Cana in chapter two John refers to Jesus miracles as signs because he understood them to point to a greater truth than the miracle itself In these few verses Jesus directs Martha s attention beyond the physical raising of her brother toward a much greater miracle Lazarus was lying in a tomb He had been there four days and no doubt a certain amount of decomposition had already set in see 11 39 Lazarus was not unconscious He was not in a coma He was not brain dead Blood was no longer pumping through his veins Biological processes had ceased He was beyond hope of recovery When Jesus stood at the tomb and called Lazarus come out 11 43 Lazarus was completely incapable of obeying of his own volition It would take a work of God to restore life give him ears to hear and the ability to get up push the stone away and leave the tomb At the time these words and actions would have seemed incredible How could Jesus even as a great teacher claim to be the resurrection and the life How could even a prophet of God claim to give life to the dead Here was living proof that Jesus the Christ had power over death But more than that if Jesus truly is who He claimed to be then He can give life to all Just as Jesus raised Lazarus both physically and spiritually and Jesus Himself rose physically from the grave in Christ we too are reborn Though dead in sin we are raised to life spiritually And one day when Christ returns we will be raised to new bodies joining with our spirits in eternity 1 Corinthians 15 50 56 This is the heart of Christianity It s not about rituals and works trying to earn God s favor It s about God s grace poured out upon a sinful undeserving people None of us could ever do enough to repay the debt of our sin But Christ died for the ungodly the dead in spirit that we might be raised to spiritual life And one day we will be like Him no longer subject to the frailties of the flesh assailed by sin and a sinful world but made new in eternity Do you see parallels between physical death and spiritual death in this chapter Do you see parallels between physical life and spiritual life in this chapter Born to Die They never knew a dark night Always had the Son s light on their face Perfect in glory broken by the story Of untold grace come that day Majesty had come down glory had succumbed now To flesh and bone In the arms of a manger in the hands of strangers That could not know just who they hold And the angels filled the sky All of heaven wondered why Why their King would choose to be Be a baby born to die And all fell silent for the cry of an infant The voice of God Was dividing history for those with eyes to see The Son would shine from earth that night And the angels filled the sky All of heaven wondered why Why their King would choose to be Be a baby born to die be a baby born to die To break the chains of guilt and sin To find us here to pull us in So we can join in heaven s song And with one voice around the throne All the angels filled the sky And I can t help but wonder why Why this King would choose to be Be a baby born for me be a baby born Be a baby born to die Songwriters Jason David Ingram Jeffrey Stephen Norman Born to Die lyrics Peermusic Publishing Universal Music Publishing Group Pg 16 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 17

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Monday December 14 2020 John 10 Tuesday December 15 2020 John 9 The Good Shepherd and the Son of God Will the Messiah Bring Fear or Faith Dibo was just told the Christmas story for the first time in his own language but he uniquely put himself into the story When we asked him What did the shepherds do after the angels announced the birth of the baby He quickly replied They did not do anything because they thought it was a trick to steal the sheep Often we hear the phrase in the fullness of time in reference to Christ s coming God had provided the Roman Peace the Roman roads and a common Greek language to help with the advance of the Gospel It is beautiful how the message of the Scriptures crosses cultural types and compels us to God whether we have a strong sense of guilt and need God to cleanse our conscience Western a strong fear of evil spirits and need God s power and deliverance Animist or a strong sense of shame and need God to reconcile us back into His family many cultures especially Asian In today s passage John places two very different identities of Jesus next to one another that of the Good Shepherd and that of being the Son of God Although John was just a fisherman he was not haphazard in constructing his narrative Obviously the Jews looked for the Messiah the Son of God but the idea of the Messiah being a shepherd might not seem very strong but it is Psalm 23 Isaiah 40 11 Jeramiah 23 3 6 31 10 Ezekiel 34 11f 37 24 I wonder if political oppression caused the Jews to focus on military redemption and suppressed their humiliating role as dumb sheep Jeremiah 49 50 brings out that God s people are sheep and need His protection In Isaiah s Suffering Servant passage 53 we have a rare but vivid picture of Messiah s pain We all like sheep have gone astray each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all Isaiah 53 6 There are so many ironies in the Scripture In the book of Hebrews Jesus is both the Great High Priest and the sacrifice Here in John 10 He is the Good Shepherd but He is also the Lamb of God John 1 29 Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads v3 gathers vs4 leads to good pasture vs9 but sacrifices His life for the sheep vs11 and protects them vs28 30 John is not subtle he never lets us off the hook He wants us to believe and trust Jesus fully John 20 31 When John says And many who were there believed in Jesus vs42 he is challenging us to believe and recognize His voice vs3 4 As we anticipate Christmas another irony is that the shepherds Luke 2 8f were among the first to welcome the Great Shepherd If we put ourselves in the Christmas story like Dibo will we strive to be a shepherd or a wise man or be content to be one of His sheep Pg 18 2020 Advent Devotional There is also the beauty of Scripture itself but sometimes we don t see it because it is organized like a sandwich instead of linearly With no highlighters or bold print John arranged the verses and dialogue of John 9 to highlight his main point in the center A Jesus questioned by His disciples Who sinned and reply vs1 5 B Jesus dialogues with the blind man vs 6 7 C Neighbors and Pharisees dialogue with the blind man vs 8 17 D Pharisees dialogue with the blind man s parents vs 18 23 ask him of age said his parents because vs 21b 22a the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ he was to be put out of the synagogue v22b because of this his parents said that of age ask him vs 23 C Pharisees dialogue with the blind man vs 24 34 B Jesus dialogues with the blind man vs 35 39 A Jesus questioned by Pharisees Are we blind and reply vs 40 41 In this chapter John is not highlighting the miracle as spectacular as it is but the key phrase bolded in the center John wants his audience to believe John 20 31 but he is not shy to say that fear is an obstacle to trusting Jesus John 7 13 12 42 Fear is a large backdrop to our Advent story Mary applied faith over a fear of being stoned for being pregnant and unwed Joseph applied faith over the fear of shame the magi applied faith over the fear of possible robbery en route to honor the Christ child Mary and Joseph applied faith to the fear of going to Egypt But Herod never got over his fear and missed the opportunity of a lifetime What are you fearing Can you apply faith and celebrate the Prince of Peace Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 19

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Monday December 14 2020 John 10 Tuesday December 15 2020 John 9 The Good Shepherd and the Son of God Will the Messiah Bring Fear or Faith Dibo was just told the Christmas story for the first time in his own language but he uniquely put himself into the story When we asked him What did the shepherds do after the angels announced the birth of the baby He quickly replied They did not do anything because they thought it was a trick to steal the sheep Often we hear the phrase in the fullness of time in reference to Christ s coming God had provided the Roman Peace the Roman roads and a common Greek language to help with the advance of the Gospel It is beautiful how the message of the Scriptures crosses cultural types and compels us to God whether we have a strong sense of guilt and need God to cleanse our conscience Western a strong fear of evil spirits and need God s power and deliverance Animist or a strong sense of shame and need God to reconcile us back into His family many cultures especially Asian In today s passage John places two very different identities of Jesus next to one another that of the Good Shepherd and that of being the Son of God Although John was just a fisherman he was not haphazard in constructing his narrative Obviously the Jews looked for the Messiah the Son of God but the idea of the Messiah being a shepherd might not seem very strong but it is Psalm 23 Isaiah 40 11 Jeramiah 23 3 6 31 10 Ezekiel 34 11f 37 24 I wonder if political oppression caused the Jews to focus on military redemption and suppressed their humiliating role as dumb sheep Jeremiah 49 50 brings out that God s people are sheep and need His protection In Isaiah s Suffering Servant passage 53 we have a rare but vivid picture of Messiah s pain We all like sheep have gone astray each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all Isaiah 53 6 There are so many ironies in the Scripture In the book of Hebrews Jesus is both the Great High Priest and the sacrifice Here in John 10 He is the Good Shepherd but He is also the Lamb of God John 1 29 Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads v3 gathers vs4 leads to good pasture vs9 but sacrifices His life for the sheep vs11 and protects them vs28 30 John is not subtle he never lets us off the hook He wants us to believe and trust Jesus fully John 20 31 When John says And many who were there believed in Jesus vs42 he is challenging us to believe and recognize His voice vs3 4 As we anticipate Christmas another irony is that the shepherds Luke 2 8f were among the first to welcome the Great Shepherd If we put ourselves in the Christmas story like Dibo will we strive to be a shepherd or a wise man or be content to be one of His sheep Pg 18 2020 Advent Devotional There is also the beauty of Scripture itself but sometimes we don t see it because it is organized like a sandwich instead of linearly With no highlighters or bold print John arranged the verses and dialogue of John 9 to highlight his main point in the center A Jesus questioned by His disciples Who sinned and reply vs1 5 B Jesus dialogues with the blind man vs 6 7 C Neighbors and Pharisees dialogue with the blind man vs 8 17 D Pharisees dialogue with the blind man s parents vs 18 23 ask him of age said his parents because vs 21b 22a the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ he was to be put out of the synagogue v22b because of this his parents said that of age ask him vs 23 C Pharisees dialogue with the blind man vs 24 34 B Jesus dialogues with the blind man vs 35 39 A Jesus questioned by Pharisees Are we blind and reply vs 40 41 In this chapter John is not highlighting the miracle as spectacular as it is but the key phrase bolded in the center John wants his audience to believe John 20 31 but he is not shy to say that fear is an obstacle to trusting Jesus John 7 13 12 42 Fear is a large backdrop to our Advent story Mary applied faith over a fear of being stoned for being pregnant and unwed Joseph applied faith over the fear of shame the magi applied faith over the fear of possible robbery en route to honor the Christ child Mary and Joseph applied faith to the fear of going to Egypt But Herod never got over his fear and missed the opportunity of a lifetime What are you fearing Can you apply faith and celebrate the Prince of Peace Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 19

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Wednesday December 16 2020 John 8 The scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus to trap and discredit Him to have grounds to accuse Him so they could regain honor as the rightful religious leaders of Israel They dragged a woman whom they had caught in adultery to the Temple where Jesus was teaching Underestimating Jesus astuteness they set her in front of Him and posed their question If He contradicted the Law of Moses by letting her go free they could accuse Him of being unjust If He condemned her to death they could show Him to be an enemy of the Roman government which alone had the authority to carry out a death sentence and perhaps say He was not merciful Have you ever been shamed publicly accused unfairly or used abused for another person s benefit Jesus is willing and able to remove that hurt and shame and to restore you Have you ever shamed accused unfairly or used abused another person in order to gain honor a higher position or some earthly benefit Jesus is willing and able to change your heart and restore you The woman shamed publicly in the center court of the Temple probably thought this religious leader before whom she had been set would seal her doom Everyone knew she deserved the penalty for adultery death Jesus who has many ways to teach proved Himself shrewder than anyone expected He stooped down to write in the dust with His finger When the scribes and Pharisees persisted in asking their question He straightened up and agreed that the penalty of the Law should be carried out by those who had committed no sin Jesus stooped down to write in the dust a second time Accusers now accused by their own conscience the scribes and Pharisees had nothing to say Admitting by their departure that they too had sinned they left without gaining their purposes and without repentance Straightening up again Jesus noticed there were no more accusers certainly not Himself the One who came to save rather than condemn He removed the woman s shame healed her emotionally relationally and spiritually then instructed her to go and sin no more Here she experienced His grace and truth Here she received the compassion forgiveness life that she longed for but hadn t known where to find Jesus displayed His humanity humility and divinity Bowing to write in the dust Jesus showed that He had lowered Himself to live among us and understand us completely Straightening up He illustrated His right and righteous ways of living Continued on page 21 Pg 20 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 21

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Wednesday December 16 2020 John 8 The scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus to trap and discredit Him to have grounds to accuse Him so they could regain honor as the rightful religious leaders of Israel They dragged a woman whom they had caught in adultery to the Temple where Jesus was teaching Underestimating Jesus astuteness they set her in front of Him and posed their question If He contradicted the Law of Moses by letting her go free they could accuse Him of being unjust If He condemned her to death they could show Him to be an enemy of the Roman government which alone had the authority to carry out a death sentence and perhaps say He was not merciful Have you ever been shamed publicly accused unfairly or used abused for another person s benefit Jesus is willing and able to remove that hurt and shame and to restore you Have you ever shamed accused unfairly or used abused another person in order to gain honor a higher position or some earthly benefit Jesus is willing and able to change your heart and restore you The woman shamed publicly in the center court of the Temple probably thought this religious leader before whom she had been set would seal her doom Everyone knew she deserved the penalty for adultery death Jesus who has many ways to teach proved Himself shrewder than anyone expected He stooped down to write in the dust with His finger When the scribes and Pharisees persisted in asking their question He straightened up and agreed that the penalty of the Law should be carried out by those who had committed no sin Jesus stooped down to write in the dust a second time Accusers now accused by their own conscience the scribes and Pharisees had nothing to say Admitting by their departure that they too had sinned they left without gaining their purposes and without repentance Straightening up again Jesus noticed there were no more accusers certainly not Himself the One who came to save rather than condemn He removed the woman s shame healed her emotionally relationally and spiritually then instructed her to go and sin no more Here she experienced His grace and truth Here she received the compassion forgiveness life that she longed for but hadn t known where to find Jesus displayed His humanity humility and divinity Bowing to write in the dust Jesus showed that He had lowered Himself to live among us and understand us completely Straightening up He illustrated His right and righteous ways of living Continued on page 21 Pg 20 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 21

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Thursday December 17 2020 John 7 Friday December 18 2020 John 6 When we think of Jesus talking about living water we usually think of His encounter with the woman at the well However this passage shows us that Jesus also loudly promised that all who came to Him would receive rivers of living water flowing from within them When Jesus feeds the five thousand He is extraordinarily popular They come for His teaching and the wonders that He works But He slipped away from them before they could push Him into being their figurehead king Jesus knew that crowds are fickle their shouts of praise quickly turn to catcalls of derision In both instances the reference to living water refers to the promised Holy Spirit Jesus promises that through faith in Him His followers would receive the Holy Spirit And from the Spirit we receive comfort guidance instruction empowerment and companionship When the crowds find Jesus on the other side of the lake He urges them to look beyond physical sustenance and focus on spiritual nourishment The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world And then He makes the climactic statement I am the bread of life Jesus proclaims this message in the Temple at the culmination of the Feast of Tabernacles This is an interesting contrast with the woman at the well where He talked privately with her speaking directly to the needs of her heart Here in chapter 7 Jesus issues a general call If anyone is thirsty Even more interesting is the timing The Feast of Tabernacles was a joyous party like celebration filled with singing entertainments and merriment There was also plenty of pageantry including the water libation ceremony Each night of the festival a priest would fill a container from the pool of Siloam and then lead a processional up to the Temple Along the route people would be singing and celebrating Three giant candlesticks in the Temple court were lit which people could see throughout the city They would hear three blasts from a great shofar ram s horn trumpet Like all of Jesus other I am statements in John s Gospel this one points back to the Old Testament when God tells Moses I am that I am Exodus 3 14 These statements subtly testify to Christ s divine nature But the people in the crowds begin to grumble These are the crowds of Galilee where Jesus had grown up They know Jesus family they know His roots Perhaps they wondered if He was getting too big for His britches Jesus pushes the point even farther making statements about eating from His flesh and blood This began to sound like crazy talk to the crowd Some disciples left Him The drawing of water from Siloam had great significance That was the water with which kings were anointed That was the water that was referred to in Isaiah 12 3 when the promised Messiah would joyfully draw water from the wells of salvation The miracles amazed the crowds and drew a lot of attention But when Jesus bears down on deep spiritual truths many fall away We re not so different in our era Our attention is easily captured by big talk impressive spectacle and free trinkets But begin to talk about what it means to actually commit our lives to Christ and our eyes glaze over and we begin to look for something more interesting When Jesus issued His call to come receive living water He was calling those who would hear to come follow Him for He is the fountain of life and joy He is the fulfillment of the all the festivity of the Feast of Tabernacles He is the long expected one Peter however points us to hope When Jesus asks if even the twelve want to leave Peter says Lord to whom should we go You have the words of eternal life Peter understands that fullness of life is found in more than material abundance Fullness of life is enjoyment of the Spirit which only the divine Son of God can give As we enjoy the festivity of the Christmas season let us remember that Jesus fills those who thirst for God s power in their lives Let us cultivate our thirst for the Holy Spirit Let us look to Jesus as the one who satisfies Yesterday we pondered how Jesus quenches our spiritual thirst Today we meditated on our spiritual hunger The unifying theme is that Jesus satisfies Jesus fills and Jesus nourishes Let us endeavor to keep returning to the words of Jesus wherein we find nourishment for life everlasting Pg 22 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 23

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Thursday December 17 2020 John 7 Friday December 18 2020 John 6 When we think of Jesus talking about living water we usually think of His encounter with the woman at the well However this passage shows us that Jesus also loudly promised that all who came to Him would receive rivers of living water flowing from within them When Jesus feeds the five thousand He is extraordinarily popular They come for His teaching and the wonders that He works But He slipped away from them before they could push Him into being their figurehead king Jesus knew that crowds are fickle their shouts of praise quickly turn to catcalls of derision In both instances the reference to living water refers to the promised Holy Spirit Jesus promises that through faith in Him His followers would receive the Holy Spirit And from the Spirit we receive comfort guidance instruction empowerment and companionship When the crowds find Jesus on the other side of the lake He urges them to look beyond physical sustenance and focus on spiritual nourishment The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world And then He makes the climactic statement I am the bread of life Jesus proclaims this message in the Temple at the culmination of the Feast of Tabernacles This is an interesting contrast with the woman at the well where He talked privately with her speaking directly to the needs of her heart Here in chapter 7 Jesus issues a general call If anyone is thirsty Even more interesting is the timing The Feast of Tabernacles was a joyous party like celebration filled with singing entertainments and merriment There was also plenty of pageantry including the water libation ceremony Each night of the festival a priest would fill a container from the pool of Siloam and then lead a processional up to the Temple Along the route people would be singing and celebrating Three giant candlesticks in the Temple court were lit which people could see throughout the city They would hear three blasts from a great shofar ram s horn trumpet Like all of Jesus other I am statements in John s Gospel this one points back to the Old Testament when God tells Moses I am that I am Exodus 3 14 These statements subtly testify to Christ s divine nature But the people in the crowds begin to grumble These are the crowds of Galilee where Jesus had grown up They know Jesus family they know His roots Perhaps they wondered if He was getting too big for His britches Jesus pushes the point even farther making statements about eating from His flesh and blood This began to sound like crazy talk to the crowd Some disciples left Him The drawing of water from Siloam had great significance That was the water with which kings were anointed That was the water that was referred to in Isaiah 12 3 when the promised Messiah would joyfully draw water from the wells of salvation The miracles amazed the crowds and drew a lot of attention But when Jesus bears down on deep spiritual truths many fall away We re not so different in our era Our attention is easily captured by big talk impressive spectacle and free trinkets But begin to talk about what it means to actually commit our lives to Christ and our eyes glaze over and we begin to look for something more interesting When Jesus issued His call to come receive living water He was calling those who would hear to come follow Him for He is the fountain of life and joy He is the fulfillment of the all the festivity of the Feast of Tabernacles He is the long expected one Peter however points us to hope When Jesus asks if even the twelve want to leave Peter says Lord to whom should we go You have the words of eternal life Peter understands that fullness of life is found in more than material abundance Fullness of life is enjoyment of the Spirit which only the divine Son of God can give As we enjoy the festivity of the Christmas season let us remember that Jesus fills those who thirst for God s power in their lives Let us cultivate our thirst for the Holy Spirit Let us look to Jesus as the one who satisfies Yesterday we pondered how Jesus quenches our spiritual thirst Today we meditated on our spiritual hunger The unifying theme is that Jesus satisfies Jesus fills and Jesus nourishes Let us endeavor to keep returning to the words of Jesus wherein we find nourishment for life everlasting Pg 22 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 23

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Saturday December 19 2020 John 5 Sunday December 20 2020 God s One and Only Son Many Christians lack understanding as to why Jewish people do not see Christ as the Messiah It seems they are kind of missing the point if they read the same thing we read and think that He is not There was an expectation that the Messiah would come riding into the city and make a big show of it However that s not what we read in the Gospels In fact John stands out because Jesus spends much more time talking about who He is than in any of the other Gospels When we read John 5 we see v 9 that Jesus healed the man at the pool on the Sabbath That was considered to be work and was seen as unlawful We see the Jewish religious officials telling him It is the Sabbath and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed But where is Jesus Not standing around to get fame and glory for what He had done No He disappeared without showing off or telling everyone who He was There are two significant things in this account First Jesus did something that was deemed unlawful and He didn t make a big deal out of it Second throughout the rest of the chapter Jesus tells His disciples about Himself Here He explains that the Father sent Him and that He has come to bear witness about what the Father has done We can learn two things from this chapter that may not be obvious upon first reading The first is that we should not be legalistic and forget our purpose The Jewish leaders told the man who was healed that he was in the wrong because he was working on the Sabbath If we take a Sabbath this does not mean that we should sit on the couch all day and do nothing We should make it a time to worship and to focus on Christ s saving work This might include service The second thing that we can learn about is humility One of the reasons that Christ wasn t the Savior that the people in the first century were looking for was He came in a humble state In verses 3047 we see Christ s humility He says that He has come to bear witness to the one who sent Him He s not here to talk about how amazing He is or to talk about how wonderful His work has been We can learn from this to point back to God in everything that we do Our work our service our leisure and our rest should all bring glory to God God deserves all of the credit A selection of Scriptures Hebrews 1 1 3 Philippians 2 6 11 Colossians 1 15 20 Isaiah 9 6 7 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets With the cries of a baby a child was born to us a son was given With those cries God broke four hundred years of silence and spoke to us by His Son The Son is the radiance of God s glory He is the image of the invisible God the firstborn over all creation Yet the Son did not consider Himself equal with God His attitude was that of a servant He was made in human likeness and found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross In doing so He reconciled all things to Himself He made peace through His blood shed on the cross The obedient Son is the head of the body His church He is the beginning and the first resurrected from among the dead The government whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities is on His shoulders and in everything He has supremacy God has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him a name that is above every name He is called Wonderful Counselor Mighty God Everlasting Father Prince of Peace At the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father Heavenly Father today I commit to praise you Help me to lay down my pride and humbly serve you in all I do Amen Pg 24 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 25

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Saturday December 19 2020 John 5 Sunday December 20 2020 God s One and Only Son Many Christians lack understanding as to why Jewish people do not see Christ as the Messiah It seems they are kind of missing the point if they read the same thing we read and think that He is not There was an expectation that the Messiah would come riding into the city and make a big show of it However that s not what we read in the Gospels In fact John stands out because Jesus spends much more time talking about who He is than in any of the other Gospels When we read John 5 we see v 9 that Jesus healed the man at the pool on the Sabbath That was considered to be work and was seen as unlawful We see the Jewish religious officials telling him It is the Sabbath and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed But where is Jesus Not standing around to get fame and glory for what He had done No He disappeared without showing off or telling everyone who He was There are two significant things in this account First Jesus did something that was deemed unlawful and He didn t make a big deal out of it Second throughout the rest of the chapter Jesus tells His disciples about Himself Here He explains that the Father sent Him and that He has come to bear witness about what the Father has done We can learn two things from this chapter that may not be obvious upon first reading The first is that we should not be legalistic and forget our purpose The Jewish leaders told the man who was healed that he was in the wrong because he was working on the Sabbath If we take a Sabbath this does not mean that we should sit on the couch all day and do nothing We should make it a time to worship and to focus on Christ s saving work This might include service The second thing that we can learn about is humility One of the reasons that Christ wasn t the Savior that the people in the first century were looking for was He came in a humble state In verses 3047 we see Christ s humility He says that He has come to bear witness to the one who sent Him He s not here to talk about how amazing He is or to talk about how wonderful His work has been We can learn from this to point back to God in everything that we do Our work our service our leisure and our rest should all bring glory to God God deserves all of the credit A selection of Scriptures Hebrews 1 1 3 Philippians 2 6 11 Colossians 1 15 20 Isaiah 9 6 7 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets With the cries of a baby a child was born to us a son was given With those cries God broke four hundred years of silence and spoke to us by His Son The Son is the radiance of God s glory He is the image of the invisible God the firstborn over all creation Yet the Son did not consider Himself equal with God His attitude was that of a servant He was made in human likeness and found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross In doing so He reconciled all things to Himself He made peace through His blood shed on the cross The obedient Son is the head of the body His church He is the beginning and the first resurrected from among the dead The government whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities is on His shoulders and in everything He has supremacy God has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him a name that is above every name He is called Wonderful Counselor Mighty God Everlasting Father Prince of Peace At the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father Heavenly Father today I commit to praise you Help me to lay down my pride and humbly serve you in all I do Amen Pg 24 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 25

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Monday December 21 2020 John 4 Tuesday December 22 2020 John 3 This encounter takes place in Samaria at the site of Jacob s well The reason Jesus and His disciples were even passing through hostile Samaria was to facilitate the shortest return to Galilee from Judea Nicodemus a Pharisee member of the Sanhedrin and a seeker In the dark of night he seeks out Jesus who he acknowledges has a special relationship with God as manifested in His teachings and miraculous acts Nicodemus comes with an open heart to learn Jesus immediately takes the lead differentiating between the secular world and the Kingdom of God The Kingdom of God requires a spiritual birth to be born of the spirit for citizenship They had celebrated Passover in Jerusalem and then spent time preaching and baptizing in the surrounding countryside It was the noon hour when they arrived at the well and being fatigued Jesus sat down there while His disciples went into town to purchase food A Samaritan woman arrived to draw water and He asked her for a drink She was startled that a Jewish man would even speak to a Samaritan woman much less drink from a utensil that a Samaritan had used The cultural divide was deep political and religious This woman s tarnished life had brought her to the well in the midday heat to avoid social sanctioning from the other women Instead of being shunned by this Jewish man she received from Jesus everything her heart and soul had ever yearned for His gifts included a spring of living water welling up to eternal life a clear revelation of her past an understanding that God is spirit and must be worshiped by everyone in spirit and in truth Jesus astounding declaration when she acknowledged that Messiah was to come I the one speaking to you I am He Then Jesus reveals Himself and His purpose in 3 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life Jesus has revealed Himself as the Son of God who is to make the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation The gift is presented it just needs to be unwrapped by belief in the name of God s one and only Son Nicodemus has gone from anticipation of a secular Messiah who would lead the people of Israel to meeting the true Messiah in the Kingdom of God Did he recognize what just happened or did he walk away in a state of confusion His search for answers was fulfilled beyond belief if he truly experienced the spiritual birth John leaves us some hints of the outcome for Nicodemus in John 7 50 and 19 39 How do you think Nicodemus processed his meeting with Jesus Did he believe If you were Nicodemus how would you have processed the revelation that Jesus presented We know she received His gift of eternal life because the disciples returned at that moment and she abandoned her physical water jug to bring the townspeople to meet the One who told me everything I ever did and many Samaritans believed saying Now we have heard for ourselves and we know this man really is the Savior of the world How have you unexpectedly encountered Jesus in the ordinary routines of life How when and where do you spend time with Jesus How often do you take your eyes off worldly distractions to nourish your spirit and then share that nourishment with others Pg 26 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 27

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Monday December 21 2020 John 4 Tuesday December 22 2020 John 3 This encounter takes place in Samaria at the site of Jacob s well The reason Jesus and His disciples were even passing through hostile Samaria was to facilitate the shortest return to Galilee from Judea Nicodemus a Pharisee member of the Sanhedrin and a seeker In the dark of night he seeks out Jesus who he acknowledges has a special relationship with God as manifested in His teachings and miraculous acts Nicodemus comes with an open heart to learn Jesus immediately takes the lead differentiating between the secular world and the Kingdom of God The Kingdom of God requires a spiritual birth to be born of the spirit for citizenship They had celebrated Passover in Jerusalem and then spent time preaching and baptizing in the surrounding countryside It was the noon hour when they arrived at the well and being fatigued Jesus sat down there while His disciples went into town to purchase food A Samaritan woman arrived to draw water and He asked her for a drink She was startled that a Jewish man would even speak to a Samaritan woman much less drink from a utensil that a Samaritan had used The cultural divide was deep political and religious This woman s tarnished life had brought her to the well in the midday heat to avoid social sanctioning from the other women Instead of being shunned by this Jewish man she received from Jesus everything her heart and soul had ever yearned for His gifts included a spring of living water welling up to eternal life a clear revelation of her past an understanding that God is spirit and must be worshiped by everyone in spirit and in truth Jesus astounding declaration when she acknowledged that Messiah was to come I the one speaking to you I am He Then Jesus reveals Himself and His purpose in 3 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life Jesus has revealed Himself as the Son of God who is to make the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation The gift is presented it just needs to be unwrapped by belief in the name of God s one and only Son Nicodemus has gone from anticipation of a secular Messiah who would lead the people of Israel to meeting the true Messiah in the Kingdom of God Did he recognize what just happened or did he walk away in a state of confusion His search for answers was fulfilled beyond belief if he truly experienced the spiritual birth John leaves us some hints of the outcome for Nicodemus in John 7 50 and 19 39 How do you think Nicodemus processed his meeting with Jesus Did he believe If you were Nicodemus how would you have processed the revelation that Jesus presented We know she received His gift of eternal life because the disciples returned at that moment and she abandoned her physical water jug to bring the townspeople to meet the One who told me everything I ever did and many Samaritans believed saying Now we have heard for ourselves and we know this man really is the Savior of the world How have you unexpectedly encountered Jesus in the ordinary routines of life How when and where do you spend time with Jesus How often do you take your eyes off worldly distractions to nourish your spirit and then share that nourishment with others Pg 26 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 27

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Wednesday December 23 2020 John 2 Thursday December 24 2020 John 1 In the opening parts of this passage we see Jesus His mother Mary and a few of the disciples in public life at a celebration and Jesus is there and involved The wedding ceremony would certainly have included some dedicated devotion to God but the main purpose of the day was to celebrate life happiness and love Jesus didn t stand on the outside with a look that said When you finish with these trivial passing pleasures come see Me about what is important and eternal He rejoiced He shared and He lived Well we have made it to Christmas Eve We have reached the last shopping day the last day of preparation and almost that last hustle and bustle of the season Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Christ the Messiah We will also celebrate with friends and family and in this year of the pandemic those celebrations may look different This does not suggest we spend a single moment of our life with our eyes off of Christ but many serious Christians need to do a better job of living a life of joy In Your presence is fullness of joy at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore says David in Psalm 16 11 Granted this is speaking about true joy being in the presence of God but is it possible to be in God s presence and filled with His joy while attending a common social gathering Rejoice in the Lord always Again I will say rejoice Philippians 4 4 This is a great verse about rejoicing in times of trial but it s also our challenge to live a life characterized by joy a joy which others can see and are drawn to In the middle of this celebration Jesus mother came to Him with a problem They have no wine Oh no It s difficult for us to understand the significance but in a culture where hospitality is so highly valued it would be a disgrace to the entire family to run out of wine Mary may have been close to the wedding family because she felt great compassion and went to Jesus for help She wasn t sure how Jesus would help but she knew He could Jesus said to the servants Fill the jars with water so they filled them to the brim Then He told them Now draw some water out and take it to the master of the banquet They did so and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine Through the faithful obedience of the servants a group of people were blessed with a miracle Imagine if the servants hadn t had the faith to take a step of obedience Jesus doesn t just want to perform miracles in your life He wants you to be a part of them He loves us so much He desires to be with us every moment and listen to every need There will always be places and things we should avoid but let s remember the joy of His presence and learn to share His joy simply by the way we live As we approach the celebration of the birth of Christ as well as church and family celebrations this week it is important to remember that it is okay to have joyful celebrations Pg 28 2020 Advent Devotional In biblical terms Christmas Eve although not thought of in that sense at the time is the day we think of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to pay their taxes Along with that most mundane of all tasks something happens in Bethlehem that would forever change the course of humanity John s account of these events is much different than that of Matthew Mark or Luke John begins his Gospel with a series of declarative statements about the deity of Christ In contrast to the other Gospels John begins his Gospel in eternity past Matthew portrays Christ as the King and begins with a genealogy to prove His Davidic lineage Mark presents Christ as a Servant as he opens his Gospel with the public activity of Christ as a servant Luke emphasizes the humanity of Christ and begins with a lengthy description of the events that led to the birth of Christ John begins his Gospel in eternity In the beginning This opening statement is a repeat of the opening statement of the Septuagint or Law When time began the Word was already in existence was the Word logos in Greek This unique name for Christ occurs only four times in the New Testament as a name John 1 1 John 1 14 I John 1 1 and Rev 19 13 and is only used by John the Apostle Since words reveal the thoughts of one person to another Christ as the Eternal Word is a revelation of God to man The Word was with God and the Word was God and He came to dwell among us as a light The Word was not the Ruler King or Temple Builder the people sought and certainly was Not The Messiah They Expected John the Baptist with his appearance and lifestyle was not the type of person that would normally introduce a King But he was born for the purpose of crying out Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world Nathaniel asks Could Jesus of Nazareth really be the Messiah This would almost seem like stereotyping or racism in today s vernacular Yet after a very short conversation he recognizes Jesus Christ as the Son of God and King of Israel Continued on page 30 Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 29

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Wednesday December 23 2020 John 2 Thursday December 24 2020 John 1 In the opening parts of this passage we see Jesus His mother Mary and a few of the disciples in public life at a celebration and Jesus is there and involved The wedding ceremony would certainly have included some dedicated devotion to God but the main purpose of the day was to celebrate life happiness and love Jesus didn t stand on the outside with a look that said When you finish with these trivial passing pleasures come see Me about what is important and eternal He rejoiced He shared and He lived Well we have made it to Christmas Eve We have reached the last shopping day the last day of preparation and almost that last hustle and bustle of the season Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Christ the Messiah We will also celebrate with friends and family and in this year of the pandemic those celebrations may look different This does not suggest we spend a single moment of our life with our eyes off of Christ but many serious Christians need to do a better job of living a life of joy In Your presence is fullness of joy at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore says David in Psalm 16 11 Granted this is speaking about true joy being in the presence of God but is it possible to be in God s presence and filled with His joy while attending a common social gathering Rejoice in the Lord always Again I will say rejoice Philippians 4 4 This is a great verse about rejoicing in times of trial but it s also our challenge to live a life characterized by joy a joy which others can see and are drawn to In the middle of this celebration Jesus mother came to Him with a problem They have no wine Oh no It s difficult for us to understand the significance but in a culture where hospitality is so highly valued it would be a disgrace to the entire family to run out of wine Mary may have been close to the wedding family because she felt great compassion and went to Jesus for help She wasn t sure how Jesus would help but she knew He could Jesus said to the servants Fill the jars with water so they filled them to the brim Then He told them Now draw some water out and take it to the master of the banquet They did so and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine Through the faithful obedience of the servants a group of people were blessed with a miracle Imagine if the servants hadn t had the faith to take a step of obedience Jesus doesn t just want to perform miracles in your life He wants you to be a part of them He loves us so much He desires to be with us every moment and listen to every need There will always be places and things we should avoid but let s remember the joy of His presence and learn to share His joy simply by the way we live As we approach the celebration of the birth of Christ as well as church and family celebrations this week it is important to remember that it is okay to have joyful celebrations Pg 28 2020 Advent Devotional In biblical terms Christmas Eve although not thought of in that sense at the time is the day we think of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to pay their taxes Along with that most mundane of all tasks something happens in Bethlehem that would forever change the course of humanity John s account of these events is much different than that of Matthew Mark or Luke John begins his Gospel with a series of declarative statements about the deity of Christ In contrast to the other Gospels John begins his Gospel in eternity past Matthew portrays Christ as the King and begins with a genealogy to prove His Davidic lineage Mark presents Christ as a Servant as he opens his Gospel with the public activity of Christ as a servant Luke emphasizes the humanity of Christ and begins with a lengthy description of the events that led to the birth of Christ John begins his Gospel in eternity In the beginning This opening statement is a repeat of the opening statement of the Septuagint or Law When time began the Word was already in existence was the Word logos in Greek This unique name for Christ occurs only four times in the New Testament as a name John 1 1 John 1 14 I John 1 1 and Rev 19 13 and is only used by John the Apostle Since words reveal the thoughts of one person to another Christ as the Eternal Word is a revelation of God to man The Word was with God and the Word was God and He came to dwell among us as a light The Word was not the Ruler King or Temple Builder the people sought and certainly was Not The Messiah They Expected John the Baptist with his appearance and lifestyle was not the type of person that would normally introduce a King But he was born for the purpose of crying out Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world Nathaniel asks Could Jesus of Nazareth really be the Messiah This would almost seem like stereotyping or racism in today s vernacular Yet after a very short conversation he recognizes Jesus Christ as the Son of God and King of Israel Continued on page 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We cheated in our devotional this year We read the ending first and spent the next 23 days looking for and revealing Christ the Messiah Hopefully we learned more about Him through a number of personal accounts and His encounters with people We had the chance to see Him as He made His dwelling among us in everyday life and relationships He may not have been the Messiah we expected but He has been revealed to us by the Word of God We have seen His glory the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father full of grace and truth John 1 14b Friday December 25 2020 One Solitary Life He was born in an obscure village the child of a peasant woman He grew up in another obscure village He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher He never had a family or owned a home He never set foot inside a big city He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born He never wrote a book or held an office He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness While He was still a young man the tide of the popular opinion turned against Him His friends deserted Him He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial He was nailed to a cross between two thieves He only had one piece of property While He was dying His executioners gambled for his coat When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave Praise God it did not end there Nineteen centuries have come and gone Today He is the central figure for much of the human race All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this One Solitary Life JESUS The Christ The Living Son of the Living God Joy to the World A child has been born in Bethlehem to take away the sins of the World Although the author is frequently cited as unknown this poem is actually attributed to James Allen Francis and is found in the public domain Pg 30 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 31

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We cheated in our devotional this year We read the ending first and spent the next 23 days looking for and revealing Christ the Messiah Hopefully we learned more about Him through a number of personal accounts and His encounters with people We had the chance to see Him as He made His dwelling among us in everyday life and relationships He may not have been the Messiah we expected but He has been revealed to us by the Word of God We have seen His glory the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father full of grace and truth John 1 14b Friday December 25 2020 One Solitary Life He was born in an obscure village the child of a peasant woman He grew up in another obscure village He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher He never had a family or owned a home He never set foot inside a big city He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born He never wrote a book or held an office He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness While He was still a young man the tide of the popular opinion turned against Him His friends deserted Him He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial He was nailed to a cross between two thieves He only had one piece of property While He was dying His executioners gambled for his coat When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave Praise God it did not end there Nineteen centuries have come and gone Today He is the central figure for much of the human race All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this One Solitary Life JESUS The Christ The Living Son of the Living God Joy to the World A child has been born in Bethlehem to take away the sins of the World Although the author is frequently cited as unknown this poem is actually attributed to James Allen Francis and is found in the public domain Pg 30 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church Pg 31

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A special thank you to Randy Page for coordinating and organizing this devotional and to Pat Durst for proofreading and fact checking all content Pg 32 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church 717 Elm Street Cincinnati OH 45202 513 621 4144 covfirstchurch org Genita Heidenreich Church Administrator Andrew Hackett Organist Yolanda Ortiz Parker Music Director

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A special thank you to Randy Page for coordinating and organizing this devotional and to Pat Durst for proofreading and fact checking all content Pg 32 2020 Advent Devotional Covenant First Presbyterian Church 717 Elm Street Cincinnati OH 45202 513 621 4144 covfirstchurch org Genita Heidenreich Church Administrator Andrew Hackett Organist Yolanda Ortiz Parker Music Director