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EP Express Advent Devotionals '23 (Week 2)

Updated: Dec 12, 2023



Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,


Warmest greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!


As we enter the season of Advent, the Presbyterian Express team joyfully presents to you a series of Advent Daily Devotionals. They are written by contributors from various EP churches, and they reflect on the manifold dimensions of Advent, and its rich implications on our lives. This is the 2nd week of Advent Devotionals


The devotions run from Mondays to Fridays, starting on 4th Dec and ending on 22nd Dec. They will be sent out in weekly batches, with 3 batches in total. They will be uploaded on Sunday, before the start of the week.


May God’s word speak to us afresh about Jesus, the Word made flesh! O come let us adore Him!


Pr Lionel Neo Presbyterian Express

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ADVENT DEVOTION DAY 6 – 11th Dec 2023

Title: In God’s Good Hands

Bible Passage: Luke 2:1-7; Micah 5:2


At the time of writing, my friend was contemplating whether to attend a mission event publicized to him some time ago. Later that day, he received a phone message requesting prayers for a father-daughter pair embarking on a short-term mission trip. Unbeknown to my friend, both the father and daughter would be going for the same mission event that very night. As soon as my friend found out about this, the dots instantly connected-at precisely the prescribed time, God had put the people and programmes in place for the panning out of His plan.


Backtracking to Nativity some two millennia ago, on the surface, Christ’s birth at Bethlehem was not so much of a coincidence than it was a convenience. For if Caesar Augustus had not issued a decree calling for a census (Luke 2:1-3), Joseph would not have travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to his ancestral home in Bethlehem the town of David, together with his beloved betrothed (Luke 2:4-5). Although Mary’s accompaniment was largely redundant since the registration did not require her attendance, it was logically convenient given the last trimester of her pregnancy, albeit itself an inviting source of criticism.


But taken place at Bethlehem Christ’s birth must, in order that the prophecy of old be fulfilled. In retrospect, the imperial edict of Rome and the wagging tongues of Nazareth led Joseph and Mary all the way to Bethlehem, sealing the birthplace of Christ (Luke 2:6-7; Micah 5:2).


All in all, what seemed a natural course of action when the time came for baby Jesus to be born at Bethlehem at full term, belied the unseen hands of God orchestrating the greatest birth ever. Put differently, the first Christmas was never a random, mistimed event contingent on virgin Mary’s labour. When one connects the dots, one cannot miss the hands of God: God performs through people, politics and programmes to present His purposes and plans in His perfect time. Everything is in God’s good hands!


Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, may I never miss the hands of God in the hustle-bustle of Christmas. May I ever trust in God’s perfect plan and time than turn to the plotting of man. Help me to surrender myself and my life situation into Your good hands. In the name of the Holy Trinity, I ask and pray. Amen.


Pr Koh Chao Rui

Bukit Batok Presbyterian Church


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ADVENT DEVOTION DAY 7 – 12th Dec 2023

Title: A Saviour For Lowly People

Bible Passage: Luke 2:8-12


In the Christmas story in Luke 2:8-12, we notice that there were some shepherds. The Bible says that they were near the manger where a new baby was born.


One of the greatest joys in life is to experience the arrival of a new baby in the family. When my first baby girl, Kirstie, arrived at Thomson Medical Centre many years ago, my wife Carol and I were so excited. It was a big thing because she is our first child and the first grandchild in both families. In her first month, we officially announced it to all our relatives and friends by giving them each a box of fruit tarts.


But nowadays, this is how new fathers announce the arrival of their newborn; they do it on their Facebook or Instagram:


Greetings, family and friends of #wongtan, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It brings us great delight to introduce to you a newborn, the firstborn of #wongtan, weighing 3.4kg at birth, and took his first breath at 1750hr on this day, the 17th of March 2023. His name is John Wong.


So, when we get a baby, we want people to know, we send out fruit tarts, and post on Facebook or Instagram. We want people to know; it’s good news.


And in this Christmas story, we have a very proud father who wants people to know the good news. The proud Father was not Joseph; the proud Father was God. He sent His angel to announce His Son’s birth to a group of lowly shepherds, “Good news! A Saviour’s been born, Christ the Lord.” And you know Christmas is good news when you see these terms used on the baby boy: Saviour, Christ, Lord.


The shepherds went to see this child. In those days, the shepherds were lowly people. When God chose to announce the birth of his son, He decided to bring that announcement from the highest heaven to the lowest earth. God announced the birth of his baby to the lowly shepherds because He sent Jesus to those who need a saviour. Jesus later said, “Those who are strong and well have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick.”


This was what Jesus had come to do: lift weak and lowly people into the highest place in heaven. You may feel you are ordinary or a nobody, but you are the one Jesus came for. Remember: God chooses humble lowly people to fulfil His purposes.


Prayer

O God, teach us to be humble and lowly, that we may recognize our limitations and your grace. We pray for the poor among us, and that you help us to be your channel of blessing to them. Amen.


Rev Dr Henry Wong

Covenant Presbyterian Church


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ADVENT DEVOTION DAY 8 – 13th Dec 2023

Title: God’s Best Gift Ever!

Bible Passage: Hebrews 1:1-2a


My wife happens to be one of those who likes to save the best for last. For example, when enjoying a bowl of prawn noodles, she will finish everything and leave the prawns for last – saving what she considers the best till the end!


In Hebrews 1, we see God’s best is saved for last. We are told that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4). The day that Jesus came was the best day for all mankind!


Jesus was different from the prophets who proclaimed God's message. He did not only carry God’s Word – He was God’s Word personified. He was what the writer of John’s Gospel described as, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)


The prophets were merely channels through whom the divine Word was communicated. They could only tell what they saw and heard. Jesus was God Himself - He fulfilled everything that God said and promised through the prophets.


In 2007, Jack Straw, the then Foreign Secretary in the British government, became one of the few leaders left in parliament who had the courage to stand up for his Christian faith. He criticised greeting card companies for removing the word “Christmas” and replacing it with the word “Season’s Greetings”. The minister went on to emphasise that what is celebrated on December 25th is not the season but Christ’s birth!


Christmas is God saying to us that He loves us, and He has a gift for us. Because Jesus is God’s best gift ever, you and I are left with only two options – either we reject Him or receive Him. To receive Him is to believe in Him and to trust Him for salvation.


May the Lord give us the grace to respond wisely!


Prayer

Dear God, you are the Giver of every good and perfect gift. You have not withheld any good thing from us. You have sent your best – Jesus Christ – to save us! Make us realise how much we need Him. May our response today be that of deep gratitude and a strong desire to live for Him and to serve Him. Amen.


Rev Goh Yong Kuang

Glory Presbyterian Church


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ADVENT DEVOTION DAY 9 – 14th Dec 2023

Title: What Child Is This!

Bible Passage: Isaiah 9:6-7


Amidst the uncertainties that loom over our future, 2023 stands as a year of profound change and turmoil. From the war in Ukraine to conflicts in Israel and the relentless onslaught of natural disasters, the world seems fraught with challenges. Throughout history, the quest for an ideal civilisation persists, yet it is evident that mere mortals, even with the noblest intentions, have never and will never achieve this elusive goal. It is impossible.


In the midst of these tribulations, the haunting strains of the hymn "What Child is This?" resonate. Penned by William Chatterton Dix in 1865, this hymn poses a rhetorical question in its first half, with the resounding answer emerging in the second half. In the form of a baby, God Himself has come to rescue humanity, and the triumphant refrain declares, "This, this is Christ the King."

Remarkably, 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah received a message of hope from God. In a tumultuous era when the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria, Isaiah prophesied that a true king would come to restore the people.

This child, born in a humble manger, serves as a poignant reminder of Jesus' earthly nature. The King of Kings embarked on His earthly journey in a modest wooden structure, exposed to the elements, amidst animals and their waste, beneath a bright star. Why, then, was this child born to us? His birth heralded great joy for Israel, signifying a blessing not only for His parents but for the entire world.

Isaiah's vision of the Messiah depicted God as both divine and human, sovereignty and servitude, rulership and sacrifice. It would take several hundred years for humanity to comprehend the intricate harmony of these seemingly conflicting identities, ultimately realised in the person of Jesus Christ.


Reflections

  1. As you sit in God's presence within this story, what questions arise in your heart? What responses do you yearn to express to God?

  2. Reflect on how your life is influenced by the anticipation of the birth of a baby named Jesus, meaning "God saves."


Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your unwavering nature and faithfulness to your promises, regardless of how long the wait. Thank you for your sacred presence, guiding us and revealing your truths. Amen.


Rev Tan Cheng Huat

Hope Presbyterian Church


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ADVENT DEVOTION DAY 10 – 15th Dec 2023

Title: To Us A Child Is Born, To Us A Son Is Given!

Bible Passage: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7


The prediction of a normal birth is less than 9 months. Isaiah’s prophecy was written 700 years before Jesus was born!


Isaiah’s prophecy would make sense for his readers. Galilee of the Gentiles/Nations – This volatile border area will enjoy honour in the future as the shadow of death gives way to the light (verse 2). No king was good enough to fit the divine qualities as this “child” (verse 6).


He would be:

Wonderful Counsellor – Israel’s kings were guided by famous prophets. This king ruler needs no counsellor because He Himself is the wisest Counsellor.

Mighty God – Israel’s God is expected to fight and win battles for them. Battles were aplenty in the Old Testament.

Everlasting Father – This signifies the paternal benevolence of the Ruler over a people whom He loves as His children.

Prince of Peace – It refers to the well-being (Genesis 29:6), freedom from anxiety (1 Samuel 1:17) and harmony (Isaiah 11:6) as well as to cessation from war (Leviticus 26:6). It can also mean being reconciled to God (Isaiah 53:5; see also Numbers 6:26).


Jesus fulfilled the prophecy as follows:

Jesus’ first ministry was in Galilee, signifying His intent to include many nations in the scope of the good news (Matthew 4:14-16).

Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23).

The entire world/universe is upon Jesus’ shoulders (Colossians 1:17).

The words of this Wonderful Counsellor span throughout all histories, for all ages and all genders. No person can equal the counsels of God’s Word. (John 1:1).

His power and authority could be seen in the way He controlled nature, healed the sick, and raised the dead.

In the gospels, we read about Jesus as the Son of God, Son of Man, a brother, even as a friend. We see in John 14:9, 11 - “... Whoever has seen me has seen the Father… Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me… ” Jesus works in perfect tandem with the Father. He represents the Father to us.

Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Unlike the kingdoms of this world, His is underscored by peace. We see in John 14:27 - “... my peace I give to you… ”, similarly as in John 16:33 and John 20:21.


We are the recipients

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given”. To us, Jesus is given! What a privilege and honor!


Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your beloved Son. Lord Jesus, thank You for taking the form of a child, then fulfilling all these responsibilities so perfectly to make salvation complete. Amen.


Rev Rodney Hui

Katong Presbyterian Church


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