From the NAB: Advent Devotionals Wk. 2

From the NAB: Advent Devotionals Wk. 2

December 16, 2019

The North American Baptist Conference is publishing a devotional for each day of this Advent season.  We are pleased to share the devotionals from this past week.  Please visit the Conference website for additional details by visiting www.nabconference.org/articles
Originally published by the North American Baptist Conference. 
 

Introduction
From the beginning of Genesis to the end of John’s revelation, the names used to describe, worship, or talk about God are varied, but each of them is a window into the different characteristics and facets of His person.  Advent is a celebration of the arrival of the Messiah, who, against all expectations, was born of a virgin from a small town in Judea. Beginning December 1 and running through Christmas Day, we will be sharing short devotionals that examine the different names and titles that God has taken for Himself throughout Scripture.
 

Advent Day 8 (12/8/19): Shepherd
by Michael Benson

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)
(Revelation 1:8 NLT)

Psalm 23 is undoubtedly the most famous—and among the most beloved—of all the psalms. It is short, the prose is beautiful, and it is full of comforting imagery of God as a shepherd who takes care of us in the midst of the darkest valleys. This reference to God as a shepherd is not unique to Psalm 23; it can be found throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Since God is so closely associated with the image of a shepherd, and since many of the prominent leaders of the Bible—Abraham, Moses, David, and others—were at one time shepherds, it makes sense that the first people to hear of the birth of Jesus would be a group of shepherds watching over their flocks.
Read full devotional.


Advent Day 9 (12/9/19): Alpha and Omega
by Michael Benson

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8 NLT)

Jeanne Calment was born in France in 1875. She survived two world wars, met Vincent van Gogh, and lived a generally leisurely lifestyle. She died in 1997 at the age of 122, having lived the longest documented life in modernity. Compared to Methuselah, who Genesis tells us lived to be 969 years old, Jeanne Calment was still quite young. Yet both of them pale in comparison to God Himself. Even taking into account the everlasting life that comes from a relationship with Jesus, there is no similarity between God’s longevity and ours.
Read full devotional.

 

Advent Day 10 (12/10/19): Everlasting Father
by Michael Benson

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9–11 NLT)

When Rick Hoyt was 15, he told his father that he wanted to participate in a benefit run for an athlete who had been paralyzed. The biggest obstacle to this was that Rick was also unable to walk, having been born quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy. His father, Dick, agreed to run the race while pushing Rick in his wheelchair for the entire five miles. Afterward, Rick told his dad that he didn’t feel handicapped when he was running, so the pair began running more races. For the past forty years, they have run more than 1,100 races together, including triathlons and marathons, as well as biked/run across the entire United States. This is fatherly love on display; Dick sought the best for his son, even if that included running hundreds of thousands of miles to help him feel more able-bodied. How much more is God’s love for us!
Read full devotional.


Advent Day 11 (12/11/19): Holy Spirit
by Michael Benson

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34–35 NLT)

Throughout the Bible, we see God’s Holy Spirit at work. He is often seen as wind, fire, or a cloud descending on or filling God’s chosen. Prior to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon those in positions of authority—such as a prophet, priest, or king—or those who were given a task from God—such as the craftsmen who built the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. Mary finds herself a member of this second group after a visit by Gabriel. Despite her marginal status within the community—or possibly because of it—she is chosen by God to bear the Son of God, which includes the Holy Spirit coming upon her.
Read full devotional.


Advent Day 12 (12/12/19): Advocate
by Michael Benson

“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.” (John 16:5–11 NLT)

In the late 1970s, juvenile court Judge David W. Soukup realized that he was given the task of making a life-changing decision for a three-year-old child who had suffered from child abuse, but there was no one present in the courtroom available solely to speak on the child’s behalf. Everyone else had other motivations that were also in play. Out of this realization grew an organization called Court Appointed Special Advocates, which matches volunteers with children in cases of abuse and neglect so they can speak up for them in court, providing a voice to the voiceless and guiding these children through the process.
Read full devotional.
 

Advent Day 13 (12/13/19): Priest King
by Michael Benson

The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.”
The LORD will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
you will rule over your enemies.
When you go to war,
your people will serve you willingly.
You are arrayed in holy garments,
and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.
The LORD has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
(Psalm 110:1–4 NLT)

The nobility of Western Europe in centuries past ascribed to an idea known as the divine right of kings, which claims kings derive their authority from God, not the people. As similar concept was true of ancient Mesopotamia. According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, “The king of a city, region, or empire was thought to have a special relationship with the gods and to be an intermediary between the world of the divine and the earthly realm,” though the priests were still responsible for the rituals and religious services. However, there is at least one instance where this separation of roles did not exist. After a battle where Abraham rescued Lot and a host of others who had been captured, they are met by Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He was a priest king.
Read full devotional.


Advent Day 14 (12/14/19): Wonderful Counselor
by Michael Benson

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:6–7 NLT)

In one of the early Bugs Bunny cartoons, Elmer Fudd is unsuccessfully hunting the eponymous rabbit when Bugs breaks the fourth wall to speak to the viewer. While motioning toward Fudd, he says one word: “Nimrod.” Bugs is sarcastically comparing Elmer Fudd to the renowned hunter from Genesis 10, but instead most young viewers only grasped that Bugs was making fun of Fudd, so very quickly the word nimrod moved from meaning “hunter” to “idiot” in American English.
Read full devotional.