Advent Journal 2017

The Promise Advent Journal

Please select the date of reading you would like to see.

1st December 2nd December 3rd December 4th December 5th December 6th December 7th December
8th December 9th December 10th December 11th December 12th December 13th December 14th December
15th December 16th December 17th December 18th December 19th December 20th December 21st December
22nd December 23rd December 24th December        

 


 

Friday 1st December

In his Encyclopaedia of Biblical Prophecy, J Barton Payne itemised 127 Messianic predictions involving more than 3,000 Bible verses, with a remarkable 574 verses referring directly to a personal Messiah! These incredible promises formed one of the most central themes of the Old Testament: the coming Messiah.
The word ‘Messiah’ or ‘Anointed One’ (or in Greek, ‘Christ’), 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. He is the One that God distinctly identified many years ahead of His arrival on earth, as Acts3:18 affirms: ‘But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets saying that his Christ (Messiah) would suffer (NIV). 
Likewise, according to 1 Peter 1:11, the Old Testament prophets predicted “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (NIV). 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.


Saturday 2nd December

Here are some of the definite clues about his coming that God gave 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 a house, starting with King David, that will last forever (2 Samuel 7:16)
• He would be called “Wonderful Counsellor”, 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 (Psalm16:10)
• 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 recognise as the One they pierced, causing bitter grief (Zechariah 12:10)


Sunday 3rd December

The promise worth waiting for.

Genesis 21:1 says, “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised.”
When Sarah first heard of this promise in Genesis 18:12, she laughed to herself in disbelief because she was well past the age when she could have a baby. She laughed to herself, but the Lord heard her and challenged her as to why she laughed. Sarah lied and said that she didn't laugh, but the Lord said 'You did.'
After the promise came true, Sarah laughed again, only this time her laughter was one of pure joy. She exclaimed, “and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
Don't let go of your hope even though you might have been waiting for ages.


Monday 4th December

The prophecies about the Messiah were not a bunch of scattered predictions randomly placed throughout the Old Testament, but they form a unified promise-plan of God, where each promise is interrelated and connected into a grand series comprising one continuous plan of God. Thus, a unity builds as the story of God’s call on Israel, and then on the house of David, progresses in each part of the Old Testament.
However the eternal plan of God also had multiple fulfilments as it continued to unfold in the life and times of Israel. For example, every successive Davidic King was, at once, both a fulfilment in that day as well as a promise of what was to come when Christ, the final One in the Davidic line arrived. Each of these successive fulfilments gave confidence that what was in the distant future would certainly happen, because God was working in the fabric of history as well. And although the promise was made to specific persons, such as Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David, it was cosmopolitan in its inclusiveness. What God was doing through Israel and these individuals was to be a source of blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3).


Tuesday 5th December

Franklin Graham writes:- 
“Some insist that the Messiah whom Christians revere is not the same one that the Jewish people also look forward to meeting. Some years ago I had the opportunity to be part of a televised debate with a rabbi who is a Jewish New Testament scholar around the question, ‘Is Jesus the Messiah?’ The rabbi explained the Jewish point of view: ‘Evangelicals believe the Messiah has two comings: one at Christmas and one at His second coming. We Jews believe He will only come once, at a time of peace on earth just as the prophet Zechariah declared in Zechariah 12-14. Since we still experience wars, Messiah has not yet come.
I responded, ‘It says in Zechariah 12:10 that “They will look on me.” Who is speaking here?’ 
He replied: ‘The Almighty, of course.’
I responded, ‘It says, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced.” How did He get pierced?’ He answered that he did not know. I said ‘It was at Calvary.’ He did not counter with any further argument.
The Bible is saying that on the future day of His Second Coming, Jews and Gentiles will personally see the One who was pierced for the sins of the world. In other words, that ‘future day’ will not be the first time they have seen Him. So even the Old Testament, it turns out, anticipated two comings of the Messiah: one at His birth and another when He comes again as triumphant King at His Second Coming.
What would this world be like without the Messiah? What would Christmas be like without the fulfilment of all those ancient promises and the prospect of Messiah’s coming yet once more as King of Kings and Lord of Lords? His arrival has made the difference between light and darkness itself. Think what His triumphal appearance once more will mean to this world. Everyone, including all of nature itself (Romans 8:20-21), will let out a burst of Praise such as has never been heard: Here comes the King Himself, our Lord and our Saviour! Joy to the World!”


Wednesday 6th December

God sometimes uses donkeys

Numbers 22 records the remarkable story of Balaam’s donkey.
Balak, the king of the Moabites, commanded Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites, but God told him not to, so Balaam refused.
Balak insisted and told Balaam that he would reward him handsomely if he cursed them.
What happened next seems to be a contradiction because in verse 20 God told Balaam to go with the Princes who were sent by Balak, asking Balaam to go with them in order to place a curse on the Israelites.

When Balaam saddled his donkey and went with them, God was angry and sent an angel to stand in the way. It seems that God knew what Balaam was really thinking, and that he would eventually succumb to Balak’s wishes.

The poor donkey saw the angel but Balaam didn't. The more the donkey tried to avoid the angel, the more Balaam hit the animal. Eventually in verse 28 the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and so it complained at Balaam’s actions.

A wonderful reminder that God will bring about His promises even through a donkey.
God then goes on to use Balaam by speaking the truth directly to Balak. Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfil? I have received a command to Bless; He has blessed and I cannot change it. No misfortune is seen in Jacob, no misery observed in Israel. The Lord their God is with them; The shout of the King is among them”


Thursday 7th December

The testimony of Joshua.

Right at the end of Joshua's life he said farewell to the leaders.
During his speech he reminded them of what the Lord had done.
He then concluded by saying, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”

God keeps His promises! Just as He was faithful to Joshua, He will be faithful to you. Even though there were thousands of generations to come before God the Father would send us His Son, God's ways and His timing are perfect. Whatever God has promised you, keep hold of that promise for He is faithful.


Friday 8th December

The King is coming!

We can look back at all of the many promises found in the Old Testament that speak of the coming of Christ. Some of the promises are prophecies that describe Jesus in fine detail. Isaiah 53:5 says “ He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
God the Father was seldom quiet about His promise. The bible is indeed a book full of God’s promises. 
The King is coming again!
Jesus promised that He would return, and even though two thousand years have passed, He calls us to be ready today. Let's remind ourselves of the most important things in life. Sometimes we get side-tracked or distracted from what really matters.


Saturday 9th December

Learning to rejoice in His promises.

Psalm 119:162 says, “I rejoice in Your promise like one who finds great treasure.”
When the Lord promises you something and it takes time before anything happens or when He tells you to do something without you fully understanding why, it is so important to rejoice in the waiting.
As we wait let's rejoice and trust Him because His word is true, He will deliver the promise. Galatians 3:14 challenges us to take hold of God’s promises by faith. “So that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Praise Him in the waiting, Rejoice in a time of anticipation.


Sunday 10th December

For to us a child is born; to us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6)
When we read theses verses we know to whom God is referring – to our Messiah. However, at the time of the prophecy it wasn’t clear at all, but people were expecting someone who would deliver them from the oppression they were suffering.
I wonder whether Mary connected this prophecy with the visit of the angel Gabriel to her that special day. I wonder how she coped in the ‘aftershock’ of the moment when Gabriel left and everything appeared ‘back to normal’ – as if nothing supernatural, life-changing, amazing had happened; but everything had changed. A baby was coming into the world that was going to grow up to govern… but to govern what/who? Prophecies can be specific but usually leave a lot of unanswered questions surrounding them, especially about ‘when’. Gabriel’s visit to Mary came several hundreds of years after Isaiah’s prophecy and people could easily have forgotten God had used Isaiah to foretell his plans. The Jews were looking for someone to deliver them out of the hands of their oppressors, therefore a mighty leader in the physical sense, but they had misunderstood God’s plan.
A baby brings hope, a promise of new possibilities through one little child who, one day, will have the potential of bringing hope to birth among those they live with and around. We know in hindsight that Jesus was born not just having the potential but the absolute ability under God’s direction to lead the Jews. However, His purpose was not to lead the Jews from the Roman oppressors but back to a right relationship with God, understanding God’s values; changing hearts of flesh to love (Ezek 36:26).
What an amazing God we have. His plans and His timing are perfect. He is faithful to His promises, but we need to understand His timing is not ours (2 Peter 3:8,9).
By the time Jesus entered His ministry there had been so many lesser laws added to the Ten Commandments that life had become in large measure a life of obedience to the myriad of laws rather than a loving covenantal relationship of a Father with His children.
Prayer: Father I thank you for your written Word, and especially the way the thread of your workmanship can be seen throughout the history of your people. Please help me to understand your covenantal love as it continues today and live in it.


Monday 11th December

Wonderful Counsellor Isaiah 9:6-7

There is a kingly title given to the Messiah. We learn that as a king - the King - he will govern his people in ways that are beyond our human understanding. We know that Jesus taught sometimes in plain language and also in culturally relevant parables. Today we have that same guidance that comes when we ask the Holy Spirit to teach or guide us. It goes beyond our earthly use of ‘wonderfully’ into the ‘supernatural’ in the way we sense or hear wisdom/guidance that we know does not come from us. God uses various means – sometimes our dreams, a picture or words. Once when I was praying for wisdom for how to handle a situation when I was quite angry about what a person had said to me I heard the word ‘mercy’ come through. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear but I knew God was guiding me as to how to respond to them. It is that same royal government that is epitomised by Isaiah of ‘Wonderful Counsellor’.
Phillips Brooks once wrote, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” That way we will always need to ask the Wonderful Counsellor for His help, and He will be faithful in providing for our needs.
Prayer: Father I am so grateful that Jesus, our Wonderful Counsellor, taught his hearers your wisdom. Thank you that through your Holy Spirit within us that same wisdom and guidance is also available to us and that you long to hear us ask for your help.


Tuesday 12th December

 

God keeps His promises.

In 2 Samuel 7 David, now that he had rest from his enemies, decided to build a temple for the Lord. God told him that it would be his son that should build it instead. God told him in verse 11, “The Lord declares to you that the Lord Himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever.”
Many years later Solomon in 1 Kings 8:20–21 declared, “The Lord kept the promise He made: I have succeeded David, my father, and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel.”
Just as God was faithful to David He will be faithful to you too!


Wednesday 13th December

 The Lord is faithful to all His promises.

Sometimes it is easier to believe that God is faithful to others but not to ourselves. We might exclude ourselves because we recognise that the Lord knows all about us, and because we let Him down He will somehow not include us personally.
The Lord is faithful not because of anything we have done (or have not done), but because ‘He is Faithful’. It is part of His nature and one of His wonderful attributes. Just as He has been faithful to others He WILL be Faithful to you.

In Psalm 145:13 David declared, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving towards all He has made.”
Give thanks today for His faithfulness and love.


Thursday 14th December

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise.

In 2 Peter 3:3 we read, “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” He promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’.”
Verse 8. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
The saying ‘a watched kettle never boils’ is so very true! So often the real problem is not with God but with our impatience and doubting nature. The Lord teaches us to trust and be patient in the waiting and see His promises unfold.


Friday 15th December

 A Promise of Peace & Power

Romans 4:18 tells us that ‘against all hope’ Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations … Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead … Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He promised.
When He promises something, He provides the means to achieve it. We are weak but He is strong, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. It is when we trust Him and believe His word that we rest in a place of perfect peace. It is when we entrust our weakness into His hands that He is able to endue us with His power.


Saturday 16th December

I will send you what my Father has promised.

In John 14:16 Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth.”
Jesus went on to say, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
We live in the fulfilment of the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples. The Holy Spirit is the promise that Jesus spoke about. He is our Counsellor, He leads us into truth and He is our comfort. When we lack wisdom He is the one that we seek.
The wonderful promise is a constant companion and friend, who we listen to and follow. ‘God is with us.’


Sunday 17th December

 Paul encouraged the Corinthian church by saying in 2 Corinthians 1:20,
‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.’
Jesus is our promise, and all of God’s promises are firm and reliable in Him.
We have all been let down by someone at sometime in our lives, but God is faithful and stands by His promises.

Jesus promised that He would never leave or forsake us, and His promise to put His Spirit in our hearts is the constant witness of what is to come.


Monday 18th December

In Luke 2:25–38 We hear about two people who had waited many years for the promise to arrive.
One was a man called Simeon who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.
When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God saying,
“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.”
The other was a prophetess named Anna. She was very old, she never left the Temple but worshipped day and night, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Two people who waited and received the Promise.


Tuesday 19th December

Preparing to meet the King!

If I were ever to receive an invitation to meet the Queen I am absolutely certain that I would prepare well! I would think about what to wear and what to say and the protocol of what should and should not be done in the presence of royalty. I have had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Princess Anne, and thought a great deal about how to prepare. By the way, Princess Anne is a remarkable person with so much humility and sensitivity.
What about preparing to meet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Are we ready? What shall we say? What will He say? We can only imagine with great anticipation the glorious splendour of His Majesty, the awe of being ushered into His magnificent presence.
Let us prepare to meet the wonderful promise of God.


Wednesday 20th December

God is with us – Immanuel.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”
Matthew in his gospel picks out this amazing promise uttered nearly 750 years earlier when he says, 1:22, ‘All this took place to fulfil what the Lord said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel – which means, “God with us”.’
As we approach the last few days of Advent, we give thanks for God’s precious promise of the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
We look forward to the ultimate fulfilment of the promise of Immanuel as described in Revelation 21:2.

“I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem,
coming down out of Heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed
for her husband. And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling
of God is with men, and He will live with
them.’”


Thursday 21st December

 

 A very personal promise

When Angel Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth, he first said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary’s immediate response was that she was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
Her reaction makes me question whether she recognised that Gabriel was in fact an angel or just an ordinary person speaking strangely to her. However, she soon realised that Gabriel was no ordinary person as he told her what was to come.
How would you react if God met with you and gave you the news that He would use you in such life changing circumstances?

Both Mary and Joseph were given a very personal promise and a great responsibility. What was to happen to them would not only radically change the course of their lives but completely revolutionise the history of the world.
Mary was right to be ‘greatly troubled’, for her future was now not going to be ordinary or predictable. Her worries however were overtaken by pure joy as she went on to praise God with a song that we now know as the Magnificat.
Luke 1:46–55. Take a few moments to open your bible and rejoice with Mary at such an amazing promise.


Friday 22nd December

 

Mighty God

There is a children’s song ‘My God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing that He cannot do’. It takes a great deal of faith to trust it to be true.
How easy it is to limit God by our own human lack of expectations. Yet we read in Jer 32:18 that He made the heavens and the earth by the power of his outstretched hand (see Genesis 1). He helped the Israelites win battles, when God helped Moses fight the Amalekites (Ex 17:8–16) and the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6:2). He told Abraham he was going to be a father of nations (Gen 15:4,5). We also read that God’s purposes far outweigh anything that we could ever dream or imagine (Eph 3:20) – going far beyond our expectations. Whatever God said He had the power to accomplish – how amazing!
Jesus lived and moved in this realm of being Mighty God too during his ministry. A woman was healed by just touching his cloak, Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus were brought back to life and 5,000 people were fed from five loaves and two fishes, and much, much more.
Can you think of a time in your life when God proved himself as ‘Mighty God’ to your circumstances?
Prayer: Father, it is so good to understand that your kingly names are not empty and meaningless. You have the power to accomplish all your purposes and I ask that you open the eyes of my faith to see the wonders you are working today.


Saturday 23rd December

Luke began his gospel by saying, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye-witnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you.” Just as with Luke, we too are witnesses of the wonderful promise. The joyous responsibility is given to us too that we might share the message and gift of God that has been handed down to us.
It is vital that we carefully investigate everything from the beginning in order that we might fully appreciate and receive all that God has promised to us in Jesus.


Sunday 24th December

God’s Promise – Numbers 23:19–20

“God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfil?
I have received a command to bless;
he has blessed, and I cannot change it.”

The time has come: no more wondering when the King will come. We have finally completed our journey through Advent – the time when we await Immanuel – God with us.
Our reading says that God is unable to lie, so what He promises His people can be depended upon – it would happen. Nothing or no one is able to hinder God from doing that. An omnipotent God and not a human manipulator is the determiner of history.
It is said that huge oak trees from little acorns grow and that huge bushes from minute mustard seeds grow, but the whole Christian faith – so far 2017 years, began the day Jesus was born to a young girl, far from home and with no place to stay. That is how God’s promise of a Messiah was fulfilled. The songwriter, Sydney Carter, put it like this:
“I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth:
At Bethlehem I had My birth.”
So, today is the day we remember God’s faithfulness in bringing fulfilment to his biggest promise – that from King David’s family would come a baby, born to be King of the Israelite Nation, not as a political leader as the world expected, but as God promised, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (Is 9:6–7). He would be despised and rejected (Is 53:3), punished for our sins, given the purpose of teaching, healing and releasing people, all in the name of His loving Heavenly Father. This is Immanuel, who we remember today.
Prayer: Thank you Father that you are a faithful God, never turning from your promises. We give you our special thanks today for bringing your wonderful promise of your Son to be our Messiah at your appointed time and place. Through Him we learned your ways; through His death on the cross we receive the forgiveness of our sins and new life in your Kingdom. You are everything to us and we praise your name. Amen.