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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

God So Loved...

In preparation for Christmas, I have been reading some Advent and Christmas devotionals. This morning, as I was reading one, I heard a voice in my head saying, "God so love the world." That phrase kept repeating and it got me thinking. That is the reason for Christmas. God loved us so much the He sent His Son to earth in the form of a tiny baby.

As I reflected on this, scenes from the life of Jesus on earth starting playing in my head. It hit me that, throughout that time, our enemy Satan tried very hard to prevent Jesus from accomplishing His mission--to free us from the bondage of our sin and restore our relationship with God. Satan knew that this was Jesus' mission and could see the writing on the wall. If Jesus fulfilled what God sent Him to do, not only would we be freed from sin, but he would be defeated. So, the enemy of our souls tried his best to prevent it from happening.

First, he tried to create scandal by preventing Joseph from taking Mary as his wife because she was with child. Joseph planned to quietly divorce Mary. But, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to calm his fears and explain that the child Mary was carrying was the Son of God. In obedience to God, Joseph took Mary as his wife (Luke 1:18-25). Scandal prevented, Satan thwarted,

When Jesus was born, Satan tried using King Herod to end Jesus' mission. Herod had learned of Jesus' birth and knew that the prophecies spoke of a new King who would be born. Realizing that Jesus was that King, Herod tried to preserve his own reign by having the child killed. But, once again, an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream, warning him about Herod's plot. Joseph took Jesus and Mary and fled to Egypt (Luke 2:13-18). Catastrophe averted, Satan thwarted again.

Years later, when Jesus began His ministry, Satan decided that he would take it into his own hands to destroy Jesus' mission. When Jesus had spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness, Satan appeared to Him. Knowing that Jesus would be weak and hungry, Satan tried to tempt Him. Temptation had worked with Adam and Eve in the garden, so Satan, the father of lies, must have figured it was worth another shot. But Jesus leaned on God's word and resisted Satan's attempts (Matthew 4:1-11). Temptation avoided, Satan thwarted yet again.

Then came the day of the cross. Satan likely rejoiced, watching with glee as Jesus was tried, beaten, scorned, and then nailed to a cross to die. When Jesus gave up His last breath, Satan probably thought he had won. After all, Jesus was dead. But, the enemy's celebration was cut short three days later when Jesus, the Son of God, our Savior and Deliverer, rose from the grave. We were freed from the bondage of our sin. Mission accomplished, Satan defeated!

Thank You, Lord, for this reminder that the joyous event we celebrate on Christmas, the birth of Your Son, is ultimately about the cross. It's about Your great love for us that was shown by giving Jesus to die for us while we were sinners and totally undeserving of it. In Jesus' name. Amen!
 

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