Here is today’s calendar (for information on today’s Calendar piece, click the picture below):
December 5th | Separation from God
Please read these Bible Verses first; they are in two easy-to-understand translations, the Message and the New Living Translation, that are side-by-side so you can pick which column/version makes most sense to you. It only takes a minute!
Bible Background: Isaiah tells us that because of our sins, we are cut off (separated) from God. But God told Isaiah that He would send the Redeemer to buy us back! A Redeemer is someone who recovers ownership (or sets something free) by paying a price. Notice that Isaiah mentions the word “Covenant”! The Covenant is that God’s Spirit will always be with us. In other words, we will no longer be cut off from God. So the Redeemer came to pay a price so we would no longer be separated from God: that’s one goal of covenant, to put us back into relationship!
Bible Study Question: Read Isaiah 52:1-3 and compare this prophecy with what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Titus 2:11-14, Hebrews 9:11, 12. What price did Jesus pay to buy us back and how should that affect how we live?
Today’s Devotional: God put up an “angel wall” in front of Eden so Adam and Eve couldn’t eat from the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve could no longer walk with God in the cool of the day: their Sin had cut them off from Eden and God. The real wall between the First Humans and God started when Adam and Eve hid from God. It wasn’t that God couldn’t get to them; it was that they had rejected Him by disobeying His command. Adam and Eve’s former relationship with God was effectively dead; He would continue to help and guide them, but without the former intimacy and ease that had been enjoyed in the garden.
God still longs for humanity to be restored to that former condition and already had a plan: He destined His Son to be sent to earth at Christmas so He could restore us to Himself. He gave Adam and Eve a clue about this plan when He slaughtered an innocent animal to create clothing for them, as we saw yesterday. Jesus, our Sacrifice, is also our Redeemer! He paid His own blood as the price for our forgiveness and tore down the wall that separated us from God with His bare hands on the Cross! He drew near to us so we could draw near to Him.
Application: This Christmas, we need to remember that being “cut off” from God is not a feeling. Because we can’t see God we tend to rely on feelings. Emotions are sometimes involved in spiritual experiences, but they are not the substance of them. God doesn’t need any help being conjured up; He is quite capable of making Himself known whether it is through worship or while driving to work! We forget that God is a real, autonomous Person. I think we are guilty of childish thinking: just as small children assume that Teachers live in schools and remain in suspended animation while school is out, we forget that there is more to God than our own thoughts and feelings.
When you think about it, the claims of Christianity sound rather odd: upon a genuine confession of faith in Jesus, God’s Spirit comes to dwell in a person–a Person within a person–to lead that individual into all truth. Think about it. Having another Person inside you, guiding you. Not your thoughts alone, His thoughts challenging and inspiring you. Not your desires, his desires nudging you in a different direction than you would usually go. Not your made-up version of God’s voice inside your head, His own voice resonating in your innermost being and bringing dramatic change or empowerment. That’s invasive, and yet to the believer, totally welcome and wonderful and not in the least bit creepy or spooky.
You can’t make God up, and neither can I. Because God is real and not imaginary, we can no more generate Him between those interactions than we can in them. It is easy to believe God is with us when we feel His presence in worship, have our hearts opened to receive Biblical teaching, feel His Spirit at work in us as we minister His love to others…but what about the “gaps”? The days when we mess up and feel no more redeemed than a toad? The seasons of hardship and difficulty when prayer after prayer seems to be going unanswered? When worship is dry and prayer is a battle to stay awake and think of the words to say?
It is quite normal to feel that God is not with us. But feelings are deceiving! If we are followers of Jesus, God is always with us by the power of His Spirit: we should never doubt this, no matter how we feel. If you believe Jesus, God the Son who came fully in the flesh at Christmas, died on the cross and was resurrected, and have confessed that this same Jesus is Lord, then that same resurrection power that raised Him from the dead is at work in you whether you feel it or not.
The busyness of Christmas can leave an empty, anticlimactic feeling especially if we are struggling in other areas of our lives. We are both physical and spiritual beings; one very much affects the other. It is easy to project our physical experiences onto our understanding of spiritual reality, but our physical experiences are temporary and often misleading. Many people feel they are OK with God when life is going very well for them: yet they are not OK with Him at all, but running away from Him at full tilt and abusing their blessings! Many people feel they are rejected by God when they haven’t been because life is difficult and they are depressed; yet the truth is that God forgives us the moment we genuinely ask Him to and He is close to the brokenhearted.
It is important to rely on what the Bible says because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit who is steady and constant: I AM WITH YOU, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE. Make that an assertion of your faith this Christmas, even if you feel alone, swamped, and distant from God. He is with you if you have put your faith in Jesus. If you haven’t put your faith in Jesus, know that He is near to you and will reveal Himself to you if you are willing to believe that He IS and that He is a REWARDER of those who seek Him relentlessly 🙂
Prayer: “Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to buy me back from Sin. I am so amazed that He would give up his own life to redeem me! He broke down the wall that separates me from You: I am so grateful. Please speak to my heart and send me the Holy Spirit so we can always be together. In Jesus’ Name; Amen.”
Family Activity: If your relatives were taken captive, would you be willing to pay the same price Jesus did to save them and bring them back home? How much would you be willing to redeem them for? Write a story about your family being taken captive (by pirates, the abominable snowman, an international ring of jewel thieves, the IRS…); explain how you pay a great price to rescue them and give them freedom.
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