December 15, 2014

The Gift of Joy

Devotion for the Week...

This is the third week of Advent. Click the links to read my devotions for the first two weeks of Advent, The Gift of Hope and The Gift of Peace.
This week we light the Joy candle. A few years ago, I read a book by Dan Schaeffer called In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas, which I would highly recommend. In it, he asks, "Have you ever asked yourself what good news could affect all people equally, regardless of race, sex, income level, or location?" He goes on to say, "Initially, I thought of a cure for cancer. Surely that would be good news for all people. But then I realized that not everyone has cancer...So while a cure for cancer would be good news for those affected by cancer or for their loved ones, the benefits don't affect everyone equally."  He also considers the end of war and of poverty, but again concludes that while it would be wonderful news for those affected, it would not be good news for everyone.

So what is good news for everyone? Well, the answer is recorded in the Christmas story that we so often read. "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12).
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. 

That, right there, is the only good news that is equally good for 'all the people.' Not only the shepherds the angel spoke to, or the people of Bible times, or the early church, but all the people  anywhere, ever!

We all needed a Savior. We all needed someone who could bridge the gap between God and us, because we could not do it for ourselves. None of us would ever claim to be perfect, to have never done a single thing wrong. We know full well that we are not perfect, and our wrongdoing opens up a chasm that keeps us separated from a perfect, holy God. Jesus came to bridge that gap. With His death on the cross, Jesus took our place, paying the penalty of death for our sin and offering us His perfect righteousness.

There is nothing we need do to qualify for this gift, nothing we could possibly do to be worthy of it, and yet Jesus offers it to us freely. All we need to do is accept it, believing that His death paid the penalty for our sins.

All the people who have ever lived have done wrong and need a Savior. Jesus came to be that Savior, and that is good news of great joy for all people.

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