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Weekly Devotionals

Hope in Immanuel

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[a] (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:22-23

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:12-15

The necessity of sacrifice seems harder and harder to accept in a world that seems to be increasingly self-focused and divided. Being self-sufficient and independent – able to get things done without the help of others – is very empowering to most of us who have been taught to be self-reliant. Furthermore, modern technology is making it easier to not have to rely on others and this may be part of the reason why it is becoming harder and harder to understand that sacrifice is needed for there to be love and unity in relationships.

Many Bible stories speak of the beauty of sacrifice but the one that want to br focusing our attention on the most in the upcoming season of Advent is the one made by the Living God in becoming one of us in the person of Jesus.

As we see in the two verses for today, Jesus came to be with us and have a friendship with us – to walk with us in our struggles and to help us overcome our imperfections and mistakes. He lived among us as a loving friend who was willing to die for us so that we may have new life.

Jesus asks us to love one another as He loved us but too often we don’t really think that we can put this into practice in our modern, every day lives. Yet those of us who have seen people make sacrifices for others can say that we have witnessed resurrection power! I have known a person who donated bone marrow to a friend with Leukemia and also a person who gave up their career to care for a sick friend so that their friend could recover. Although it wasn’t an easy process, the sacrifice that was made brought life and hope not only for those who actually received the care and support but also all those who knew them and heard their stories.

Sacrifices transform the character of both the one who makes it and the one who receives it, giving both new life and new perspective. Although the journey is hard, God’s presence helps us to endure and witness transformation. We can always have hope when we remember Immanuel – that God is with us and we are not alone.

I pray that as we enter the season of Advent that we will be a community that does not shy away or be in fear of making a sacrifice for another, know that God will be with us and will be guiding the way.

Have a blessed week!