Free Advent Ebook

The season of Advent begins November 27 this year, leading up to Christmas. 1

I love Advent because it helps us remember how long humanity waited for a Savior.

It emphasizes the glorious miracle of Jesus’ coming into the world that He created.

This ebook collects together the devotional thoughts that I posted during Advent last year, revised and edited.

I’ve hoped to provide a brief sweep through the entire Bible’s storyline, showing how the crucial the Advent of Christ is. Thus, the first devotion begins in Genesis 3, and the final one ends in Revelation 22.

Click here or on the book cover to download the ebook.

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Introduction to Genesis 25-36

Genesis is the book of beginnings.

The first eleven chapters reveal how the world and humanity began and fell into sin, and chapters twelve through twenty-four displayed how God began to enact His plan of global redemption through the family of one man, Abraham. God pulled Abraham from his family, took him to a foreign land, and promised to bless him and all the nations of the earth through him. We know from God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 that a Serpent-Crusher was coming into the world to restore the pre-sin blessings of Eden. Thus, God promised Abraham that the Serpent-Crusher would come through him, as the seed that would bless all the families of the earth. Humanity’s redeemer would be from Abraham’s family.

This promise seems fitting when we consider Abraham’s life. Of course, he committed his fair share of sin (i.e. selling away his wife to save his own skin… twice…), but in general, Abraham appeared to be the model of a godly life, especially in regards to faith. God asked Abraham to do some truly incredible things, yet Abraham did them without hesitation. Abraham was the epitome of how to trust God, earning him the title, the man of faith (Gal. 3:9).

From Abraham to Jacob

The same cannot be said of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. Being the second born to his twin brother, Esau, Jacob was not entitled to the blessings of the firstborn, but that did not stop him from claiming them. In an act of blatant deception (encouraged by his mother), Jacob pretended to be Esau before his blind father, Isaac, in order to steal Esau’s blessing. Of course, this was after Jacob had already talked Esau into trading away his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. Then, after fleeing from his brother, Jacob marries two sisters and takes their two maidservants as his concubines. This leads to a massive amount of family drama of which Abraham’s Hagar fiasco was but a taste. And Jacob brings it upon himself by blatantly favoring Rachel above his other wife, Leah.

If Abraham’s life was dotted with lapses into sin, Jacob’s life is littered with foolish behavior and deceitful intent. In fact, it would not be without merit to liken Jacob to a gunslinging outlaw in Westerns. In Western films, the gunslinger trope is typically a semi-nomadic outlaw with a questionable moral code of his one, fighting for his own survival. Jacob certainly fits that description. Throughout these chapters, he struggles to get ahead then runs for his life from those whom he angered. In fact, the Western similarity only significantly falls apart when considering that Jacob had none of the courage of a typical gunslinger; instead, Jacob was marked by fearfulness, insecurity, and anxiety. His life is one great struggle that he continuously attempted to run from.

Indeed, in light of these things, Jacob seems to the opposite of his grandfather. Where Abraham boldly trusted God, Jacob feared at every turn. This can be seen throughout the story when God is always referred to as the God of Abraham and Isaac. In Genesis 28:13, God speaks to Jacob saying, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.” Jacob later repeats this language in 31:42 to Laban, “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” Likewise in 32:9, Jacob prays to God saying, “O God of my father Abraham and the God of my father Isaac…” Through most of the story, Jacob tentatively serves God as the God of Abraham and Isaac.

Wrestling with God 

Everything changed in Genesis 32:22-32.

There Jacob found himself preparing to face Esau for the first time since he ran away. His uncle, Laban, was still behind him in a less than agreeable mood. So he was pressed between two enemies, and in an attempt to calm Esau, Jacob had sent presents for his brother and all his servants and family ahead of himself. So it was nighttime. Jacob would meet Esau in the morning, and he was all alone.

Suddenly a mysterious man appears and begins wrestling with Jacob. The two men struggle throughout the night, until the man demands Jacob to let him go. Jacob responds by demanding a blessing first. The man agrees, but not without dislocating Jacob’s hip first, giving Jacob a permanent limp for the rest of his life. Jacob soon concluded that this man was more than he seemed saying, “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered (32:30).”

Jacob wrestled with God, and God spared him.

God renamed Jacob as Israel, and in the next chapter, we see Jacob erect an altar called El-Elohe-Israel, which means God, the God of Israel. Jacob now claimed God as his God, not merely the God of his father and grandfather. God became personal to Jacob. And though Jacob appeared victorious in his wrestling match with God, his permanent limp would forever ensure that he could not continue his modus operandi of fleeing from danger. Jacob was now physically forced to trust in God. The very best of Jacob’s tenacity was displayed in his struggle with God, only to realize that he was completely weak and defenseless before him.

The story of Jacob is one of pride, fear, and the fight to survive. Most societies equate pride in one’s own achievements and survival of the fittest with the best of humanity; however, Jacob’s story strips away the vainglory of these notions, revealing the underlying fear beneath. Like Jacob, our lives are one massive struggle for blessing and survival, and we pride ourselves in capturing them through sheer determination. However, true blessing can only be found in surrendering to God. Jacob’s life became full only after God physically wounded him, so too God will often destroy our pride that we might find our comfort and rest in Him.

Copyright© B.C. Newton 2016

Come, Lord Jesus | Day 35

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.  (Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

We now close our season of Advent with the final words of the Bible. Though being created good, the world was devastated by the sin of humanity, but even from the beginning, God promised to fix everything. He promised to send the Messiah, the serpent-crushing descendant of Abraham and David.

We have seen that Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies, decisively defeating sin by His death and resurrection. Then before ascending to heaven, Jesus promised to return, ushering in our eternal lives with Him.

This may be an obvious statement, but it’s worth saying: things are not perfect. The world is broken, fallen, and still in sin. We only need to watch the news to be reminded that things are not as they should be.

It is, therefore, important for us to understand that while Jesus’ saving work was entirely accomplished by His death and resurrection, His renewing and remaking work will not be fully seen until His return.

In many ways, we hopefully wait for Jesus’ second coming to make our faith sight. Though the decisive battle was won, we are still longing for the final battle against sin and death to be fought.

Yet our waiting is not to be spent staring up at the sky (Acts 1:11); instead, we are to faithfully live out the Jesus’ Great Commission to us.

Thus, we expectantly pray along with John: “Come, Lord Jesus!”


Since Christ will return without warning, do you live in such an obedient and faithful way that you can expectantly pray alongside John: “Come, Lord Jesus!”?


 

The Ascension | Day 31

While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up to heaven. (Luke 24:51 ESV)

Especially for the disciples, Jesus’ life on earth must have been quite a bumpy ride. At Jesus’ call to follow Him, each left his previous way of living to follow Jesus around the country side, hoping that He was the promised Messiah. Christ’ crucifixion seemed like a total defeat since even the Messianic King could not reign from the dead. The resurrection then was a miracle of the highest order and led to a renewed belief that Jesus is the Serpent-Crusher. But after being with them awhile longer, Jesus ascended into heaven, promising them that He would one day return.

When compared to the cross and resurrection, Jesus’ ascension is often overlooked; however, great theological significance lies therein. In John 14, Jesus tells us much about life after His ascension. Having told His disciples that He would be leaving, He proceeds to tell them that He is going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3). Jesus’ imagery would have recalled in the disciples’ minds a fiancé leaving to prepare his home for his bride-to-be and promising to return for her when he finished.

Obviously the imagery only goes so far. For example, it would be ridiculous for us to conclude that Jesus has yet to return because He isn’t finished preparing heaven yet. Instead, Jesus is assuring us, as His bride, that He will return to us and that by His ascension to heaven He prepared the way for us also to be with the Father for eternity.


Read Luke 12:13-21, and consider whether you live in light of Christ’s eternal provision or for the hope of earthly treasure.


 

It Is Finished | Day 29

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 ESV)

Christmas means nothing without the cross.

Indeed, it is a miracle that Jesus was born of a virgin, fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies, and healed the sick, yet without the His death, none of it would have mattered. As the Messiah, Jesus came to defeat sin and death; however, Jesus could not save us from sin without first paying the price of our sin, which is death. If God simply overlooked our sins, He would cease to be just.

Jesus, therefore, satisfied the mercy and the justice of God.

Though He was without sin, Jesus faced death in our place. He absorbed the serpent’s venom, becoming the sacrificial king of Isaiah 53. Christ suffered the wrath of God in order that we might know the grace and mercy of God. This means that we are only saved from God’s wrath by Jesus’ atoning death.

If the entirety of our salvation is dependent upon Jesus’ death, its sufficiency is of the utmost importance.

Should there be one sin that Jesus did not atone for or if there is one drop of God’s wrath not satisfied, we will be undone.

Thankfully, such is not the case.

Instead, Christ proclaimed that His work is finished. Jesus’ blood is entirely sufficient for our redemption and justification.


Are there still areas of your life where you strive to earn God’s favor apart from trusting in the finished work of Christ?


 

The Kingdom of Heaven | Day 27

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. (Matthew 4:23 ESV)

After Jesus’ baptism, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to fast and be tempted by the devil for forty days. Though the devil offered to Him glory and fame, Jesus triumphed over temptation, relying upon the Scriptures. In overcoming temptation, Jesus begins His ministry by preaching the same words of John:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (v. 17).

Verse 23 is Matthew’s summation of Jesus’ earthly ministry: He healed diseases and afflictions while teaching and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.

To give clarification, gospel means good news. Thus, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

What sort of good news could this be?

As the Messiah, Jesus is the Serpent-Crusher of Genesis 3, He is the blessing to all nations from Abraham, and He is the eternal King from David. As we read in Isaiah and Daniel, this King is far more than merely human.

He is a heavenly King; He is God.

Thus, being God with humanity, Jesus proclaimed the good news that God’s kingdom was now invading earth and that all of the promises of old were coming to fulfillment.

As the God-King, Jesus proclaimed the good news of Himself. He is the gospel, the hope in Whom Abraham, Moses, and David waited. And in healing the sick, Jesus displayed physically what He came to do spiritually, which was push back the curse of sin and death.

Jesus established His kingdom to end sin’s reign over the earth.


Remember today the reason for Christ’s birth: He came ultimately to die as an atonement for our sins, and with His resurrection, He crushed the power of sin and death decisively.


 

Week 4 | Introduction

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1 ESV)

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 ESV)

OPENING THOUGHT

Millennia passed since the Christ, the Serpent-Crusher, was first promised in Genesis 3, but God did not leave humanity without hope. Through men like Moses, Isaiah, and Daniel, the LORD continued to give greater detail on how the Messiah would be recognized. For men like Abraham and David, God even promised that the Savior would be their offspring and descendent. Yet in spite of these divine messages, it would be understandable to find each generation a little less hopeful in the coming King than the previous ones, and after 400 years of God being silent since speaking through Malachi, it seemed that people were losing hope.

But at the proper time, the King was born. Though Israel was little more than a blip on the radar of the world that was the Roman Empire, God caused the most spectacular event of all history to occur in an insignificant town in an insignificant country. In fact, we will still divide our dating of human history around this monumental event.

This week our readings will focus upon the unthinkable miracle of God becoming man. Through the virgin birth, the Serpent-Crusher officially steps into humanity with the purpose of proclaiming the good news of His kingdom, healing the sick, and ultimately defeating the problem of sin.