EP Express 2022 Advent Devotionals - Week 3
Dear brothers and sisters
Greetings in our Lord’s Name. The Presbyterian Express is very excited to share with you a series of Advent devotion readings written by our very own ministers and preachers. The devotions run from Mondays to Fridays, starting on 1st Dec and ending on 24th Dec. They will be sent out in 3 weekly batches.
May you be blessed as you walk with the Lord and during this Christmas season.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Elder Phoa Luh Sy
Advent Devotion Day 13 – 19th Dec
Title: Candle of Love
Passage: John 1:6-13
Our church practises the traditional lighting of the Advent Candles during the Season of Advent and Christmas. One of the candles is the Candle of Love.
In their old age God gave to Zechariah and Elizabeth a son called John. This loving couple was very grateful for what God had given them, this special gift of life and John served the Lord when he grew up. He started his ministry in the desert and spoke to the people bravely, denying his own comforts and was prepared to die for what he believed.
John taught that we should share what we have with others, treat each other kindly and show God’s love. He did this because he cared for people and wanted them to repent and find God’s forgiveness. He preached and called out to those who would confess their sins. When these people readily stepped into the River Jordan to repent, he baptised them – the baptism of Repentance.
We witness that John the Baptist grew up strong in spirit and prepared people for the coming of the Lord. He pointed sinners to Jesus, the Light of the World. Jesus said “I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT) Jesus taught us He is the Light of the Truth and points us to the Light of His Word and assures us His Light of Everlasting Life.
In places of darkness, we take a lighted candle to dispel the darkness or overcome our fear of dark forces. Believers who see the True Light of our Lord Jesus will not walk in spiritual darkness or easily fall into evil temptation. We need to bring the Light of Jesus into the darkness of sin that engulfs the hearts and souls of those who have yet to know Jesus. This is the reason we need the Light of Jesus. For those who reject Jesus’ invitation will not receive this Light of Truth and Salvation which is given freely to them.
As Christmas draws closer day by day, and as we look at the light of the Candle of Love, let us not forget to emulate the work of John the Baptist to reach out to our loved ones and friends and share with them the Christmas love story. We hope to bring them to Christ to receive the Christmas gift of salvation.
Help us God to be like a candle shining in a dark place, pointing to others to the True Light of our Lord Jesus. Emmanuel. Amen.
Rev Eric Ang
Sembawang Presbyterian Church ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Advent Devotion 2022 Day 14 – 20th Dec
Title: Finding Our Silent Nights
Bible Passage: Mark 1:35
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.”
“Silent Night” is a well-known Christmas carol which tells of the peace God brings upon the earth with the birth of Christ the Lord. The hymn was originally written by an Austrian Catholic priest, Joseph Mohr, in 1816. One version of the story explained that Mohr was inspired to write the hymn when he went for a walk and witnessed a quiet and peaceful winter-laden town.1
It isn’t hard to imagine that a beautiful scenery of tranquillity could inspire one to proclaim praise and worship before God. Many Christians travel to places of nature such as lakes, sea sides, or high mountains for breath-taking views which stir personal reflections and draw them closer to God.
It is comforting to know that our Lord Jesus did the same from time to time. Several times in the Bible, we read how Jesus departed from others so that He could spend time in solitude and in prayer. Mark 1:35 is one of such verses. The context around Mark 1.35 recounted Jesus’ busy ministry – from calling and leading disciples (vv16-20), to teaching (vv21-22), to casting out demons (vv23-26), to healing (vv30-34), to preaching (vv38-39) and more healing (vv40-42).
Yet, sandwiched between the narrative of Jesus’ seemingly hectic ministry, verse 35 tells us that Jesus took time for a getaway to a desolate place where He prayed. It was in the stillness and quiet of the night that Jesus found peace in drawing away from others and drawing close to God. It was such regular practice of “silent nights” that must have fuelled Jesus and emboldened Him to press on in His ministry. One could not underestimate the significance of such quiet moments which reassures us of the Holy Spirit’s presence, and motivates us to live for Christ through our daily journey of life.
This Advent season, may we learn from Jesus to find time for our own “silent nights” of solitude getaway; and may we in our “silent nights” experience comfort and hope through the Holy Spirit, and be inspired to proclaim praise in glory to our Father.
Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!
~ “Silent Night” stanza 2
Rev Jackson Wan
Ang Mo Kio Presbyterian Church
Advent Devotion Day 15 – 21st Dec
Title: We Have Come to Worship Him!
Passage: Matthew 2:1-2
Many portrayals of the Nativity scene include farm animals, hay, and the manger. Joseph and Mary are seen looking at baby Jesus sleeping in the manger. There may be shepherds and magi at the scene too.
Now that we mention the magi, how did these magi or wise men come to know that Jesus the King was born? Some scholars think that the diaspora Jews, probably in Persia, spoke about the promise that God made to David. Perhaps, a familiar passage from the Old Testament was often recited and remembered, “A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). The diaspora Jews would have understood that it pointed to the coming of the deliverer, the Messiah. Interestingly, Jesus referred to Himself in similar language, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16).
Scholars believe that the magi were well-versed in astronomy. These Persian astronomers linked the phenomenon of the bright star to the birth of the Jewish promised Messiah or King. However, the magi did not know exactly where Jesus was born. They followed the bright star and came to Jerusalem. After enquiry with king Herod, they were led by the bright star to Bethlehem where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were. There they presented their gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense and worshipped Jesus. The gifts were external, but their worship was internal, from hearts that acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah or King of the Jews! According to the Scriptures, the Jews believed the Messiah to be divine.
Now, do you see the link in the overly familiar Christmas story, between the star, magi, Scriptures, and worship? Let me put it in these questions:
First, will you and I on this Christmas and henceforth, be like the star that shone brightly and bravely, bearing witness to Christ? Will you and I shine brightly and bravely, distinct from all the myriads of other stars (voices), that those who see and hear us, will be led to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world?
Second, will you and I witness with our lips and lives to people like the magi who are without the Scriptures (Truth of God)? With only natural revelation, they are left to figure out with their own knowledge, knowing something but never quite sure about the exact and empowering Truth of God. With the help from the Scriptures (God’s revelation), the magi managed to locate Jesus the Messiah.
Third, will you and I do more than just bringing people to church? Instead, let us bring them to faith in Christ, which is evidenced in their extravagant worship of Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The magi remind us that Christmas calls us to extravagant worship (offering of gold, myrrh, and frankincense) that can only come from believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Without faith or belief, our Christmas celebration is just commotion, without the Centre or Focus, Jesus Christ.
Dear God, in this Advent and beyond, help us to be a witnessing star, living and leading people to faith in Jesus the Messiah, worshipping Him extravagantly! In Christ’s Name, amen.
Rev Peter Chan
Bethany Presbyterian Church English Congregation
Advent Devotion Day 16 – 22nd Dec
Title: The Birth That Brings Both Hope and Fear
Passage: Matthew 1:22–23 (ESV)
The angel said: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”
The birth of Jesus was a “repeat” fulfillment Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah spoke of a virgin giving birth to a son during his time, it was a sign given to the faithless King Ahaz. The people of Judah were living in fearful times because of the Syrians. King Ahaz was presented with an opportunity to turn fear into faith by trusting in the Lord’s word that Syria would not last. All Ahaz needed to do was to put his trust in God and avoid making alliances with Assyria. But because of the king’s disobedience and refusal to trust in God, the prophecy that could have been a comforting assurance became for Ahaz a prophecy of judgment. The birth of a son confirmed that Judah would be taken into exile. The promise that “God with us” would be experienced only by a faithful remnant.
If Jesus’ birth was a repeat or the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, what is its message? God was finally fulfilling His promise of putting a faithful king on David’s throne. When this happens, God is with us, because this King is the Son of God. Now the call issued is this: with Jesus as King, will you turn fear into faith?
Will you heed, for example, Jesus’ call not to worry but to seek first God’s rule and all things that you need will be provided by your heavenly Father? Will you quit trusting the work of your hands and the wealth you have amassed? Will you choose not to be fearful of people who may deride and mock you or censure you for standing up for what is right? Will you choose not to give in to the fear of those who can only kill the body? Will you choose instead to be fearful of the One who can destroy both body and soul? Will you choose to surrender your fear of uncertainties in this world because Jesus has promised to be with us to the end of the age?
The birth of the Saviour addresses our fears. It issues a call to turn fear to faith. Yet it also warns us of the kind of fear that causes us to reject and distrust God. Such kind fear is seen in King Herod who when he heard of the news of Jesus’ birth was gripped with fear — the fear of losing his power and position to God’s rule. His fear led to his rejection of Jesus, as seen in his plot to kill the child Jesus.
We see that same fear among the Pharisees and scribes. The Pharisees were envious that Jesus’ celebrity status was going off the charts while their own popularity would wane. Such fear led the Pharisees to reject Jesus, slander Him, and in the end plot His death.
The promise that “God is with us” can be both good news and bad news. To King Ahaz, it was a sign of judgment because he refused to believe that God was with them. To Herod and the Pharisees, it was bad news for their self-preservation. Yet to Isaiah and the faithful remnant, it was an assurance of God’s presence that though they would be exiled, a day would come for their return. For us today, it presents an opportunity to turn over our daily fears and uncertainties to faith in the Son who promises never to forsake or leave us until He returns to welcome those who believe in Him into His kingdom.
This side of heaven will be filled with uncertainties. But we can find certainty, hope, and relief from fear because a Son has been born. Thank You God for the birth of Jesus which reminds us of the promise that God’s kingdom will come in its fullness. Amen.
Rev Adrin Munoz
Adam Road Presbyterian Church
ADVENT DEVOTION DAY 17 – 23rd Dec
Title: From Reverence to Reasoned Response
Passage: 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."
Some of us might have a treasured heirloom inherited from previous generations that we revere and hold with sentimentality. When asked about it, we likely would be glad to share the story behind the heirloom we treasure.
The verse in 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us that the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ is the greatest Gift that one can receive. Jesus Himself is infinitely more worthy of our reverence than any heirloom or treasures that we possess. And gifts kept to oneself have less purpose and significance than gifts that are shared and can be perpetuated.
As we once again reflect on and revere Christ this Christmas season, may it lead to a natural and organic outflow with keenness to share about Christ’s love. Some of us may be currently struggling with difficult circumstances - be it loneliness, strained relationships, financial stress, illness, or being maligned. The context around 1 Peter 3:15 was that of believers being persecuted. Peter encouraged them to hold steadfast to the hope they have in Christ, especially of His return and ultimate deliverance despite their suffering.
The hope we exhibit despite facing challenging circumstances could attract non-Christians to our faith in Christ. Global issues including geo-political tensions, economic challenges such as inflation, and the Covid-19 pandemic dragging on provide contrasting backdrop on how we as believers soldier on with steadfast and assured hope in Christ. May we be sensitive to opportunities to share the Gospel of Hope, the Gospel of Love, the Gospel of Reconciliation to the lost around us.
Hope has appeared in the flesh in Christ, and we hope once again for His triumphant return to renew all of Creation and deliver His children. The Gospel of Salvation is the reason for our hope living in a sinful and broken world. In multi-religious Singapore, there is freedom to share our faith to non-Christians, even as we are careful not to impose our religious belief on others. We certainly have the freedom to share our faith, our stories/testimonies with gentleness and respect. The many religious public holidays we have in Singapore provide great opportunity for inter-faith dialogue, with some common ground, but also distinct differences that allow for better understanding.
So let us not cling selfishly to the greatest Gift in the world that God has given to mankind. Let us freely live out and speak of the Hope, Love, and Light come down flowing from our reverence of Christ. Let us perpetuate the Gift that keeps on giving, not just this Christmas season, but in and out of season.
Our Heavenly Father, we praise You for the work of Your Son Jesus, the Hope of the world. Holy Spirit, help us to revere Christ, to be ever ready with respectful and reasoned response for the hope we have in Him, and to reflect His love in the good or bad, that others may see the image of Christ in us. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Pr Timothy Ho
Bukit Batok Presbyterian Church
Advent Devotion Day 18 – 24th Dec
Of turkeys, Santas and reindeers.
Another round of yuletide “musts”,
Which mask our forever Christmases,
with anything but Christ Forever.
One more year without Jesus,
Who has come in singular humble birth
to save us from our many sins of pride.
How dare we,
go on sinning without care of offending God,
without sorrow for harming loved ones?
Another year without Jesus,
Born in the meekness of an animal trough,
so that we will not be consigned
to the meanness of death.
How can we
go on dying helplessly?
One more year
of saying teary goodbyes,
to beloved grandpas & grandmas,
of bidding heart-breaking farewells
to irreplaceable dads & mums,
of reminiscing sadly
about endearing family & friends?
How dare we face
another unavoidable death,
without the undeserved birth of Jesus?
of existing aimlessly,
of celebrating shallowly,
of feasting greedily,
of accumulating mindlessly,
of winning cunningly,
of warring endlessly
in our hearts and lands.
How dare we face
of living so proudly
That I will not live another
Year, Day and Moment
without Jesus Immanuel, God's gracious offer
of redeeming love.
Only through simple faith in Christ Forever,
will we experience
love, joy and peace.
And bring a hard stop to
our endless Christmases
without Christ. Amen.
Rev Christopher Chia
Adam Road Presbyterian Church