Jim and I don’t usually have a special devotional emphasis for the advent season, though we certainly did when our children were at home. It really helped us keep our priorities straight and to focus on Christ. (I remember the year that I thought a great Christmas card would be ‘Born to Die.’ I was outvoted.)
But today we began to read a free e-book devotional offered by John Piper at Desiring God Ministries. (Download your own copy of Good News of Great Joy).
I was struck by one of the first statements:
“Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.”
Oh, that we might all see the need for a Savior. I know that it took me literally years to understand this truth. I went to church. I memorized creeds, though I surely didn’t understand them. I partook in communion. All the while comparing myself to others — well, at least I’m not that bad. I haven’t killed anyone, actually. Surely God, if he’s real, would not send me to hell. I saw myself as a pretty nice person, all in all. I volunteered to work with children. I took part in community events and was an encourager. Parents trusted me with their children even for whole weekends. Goodness. People liked me. Certainly I was on the path to heaven. What loving God would turn me away?
And then came the day in my 30s when I was suddenly struck by the reality that I indeed am a sinner. And I am in desperate need of a Savior. The Savior. And not only did I need to confess my sins to Him, ask for His forgiveness for offending HIM and then receive His righteousness on that day, but I need to repeat the process over and over again. Not to be saved over and over again, but I need to confess my sins daily. Hourly. If not more often! I want absolutely nothing to interfere with the relationship with my heavenly Father. As parents we know that we always love our children — but there are times when our relationships are strained…and remain strained until issues are addressed. Sins confessed. It’s like that with God, too.
I thank God every day for rescuing me from myself. I thank Him that He never stops loving me and that He uses even me to reach other people, imperfect as I am.
I am thankful that I was taught, with regard to my former way of life, to put off my old self [as good as I thought I was], which was being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of my mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
I am thankful for the Holy Spirit that both convicts and empowers me to confess, throw off, put on, move forward.
And I pray for those who have not yet put the pieces together. May the indictment come so that each of you may truly delight in Jesus this season and forever.