2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Christmas Day- December 25

PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen. 


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 
John 3:16-17 

“Joy to the world!” For sure! Let’s celebrate! I am so glad that we are not living in Boston in the 1600’s when the Massachusetts Bay Colony banned the celebration of Christmas. For those early settlers that meant no feasting, gift-giving, merry-making, or even taking the day off from work. Cutting through the glitz and glam of a season now increasingly secular and commercial, we have so much to celebrate on this day in Immanuel’s coming to be with us! 

The reason for celebration and joy is obvious in today’s scripture containing one of the most familiar verses in the Bible: John 3:16. We see it on a bumper sticker, a sign along the highway, on a banner at a baseball game right behind home plate. It is the wondrous Good News that is Christmas! 

The construction of this verse in the original Greek text stresses the intensity of God’s love: “God so loved the world.” It is not just that God loved the world, but that God “so loved” the world. God could not contain His love, could not hold it back! 

Strikingly, the Greek word translated “world” is cosmos that in John’s Gospel signifies people as alienated from God and hating Jesus (John 7:7; 15:18-19; 17:14-16). And yet, it is the world, or cosmos, that God loves, a world of people resisting His love and fighting against Him. The apostle Paul writes about this inexhaustible love of God for a world hostile to Him: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). 

This little Immanuel, lying in a manger, will grow up to “taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9) and become “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Yes, that’s the whole wide world! “However I may drag myself away from God, I cannot drive Him away from me, and that however little I may care for Him, or love Him, or think about Him, it does not make one hairs-breadth of difference as the fact that he loves me.” (Alexander Maclaren, Exposition of Holy Scripture

“God so loved the world that He gave” — God has done His part! “That everyone who believes in him” — this is our part! And that means “eternal life”! God longs for us to believe in His redeeming love, so that we might forever be with Him. After all, that is why Immanuel came. This is the meaning of Christmas: God longs to be with us now and forever. Joy to the world! 

CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within. 

REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me. 

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb,
veiled in flesh the Godhead see; 
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell, 
Jesus, our Immanuel. 
(Hark! The Herald Angels Sing) Charles Wesley 

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