A Christmas devotional – Celebrate Immanuel!

If you wanted to tell the greatest story ever told what would you emphasize as a writer? As I reflected on the introductory thoughts by Eugene Peterson before each of the gospels in his translation, The Message, it became clearer to me what each writer was trying to get across. It also became a comfort as I considered what that emphasis meant on a personal level. How is the gift of Immanuel – God with us conveyed in each case?

Matthew – God has been at work a long time – a master plan – we are in the middle of this plan – we are not accidental or incidental – Christ’s birth gives us meaning, orientation, connection to past and future.

Mark – doesn’t even talk about the birth – gets right down to business – God is here and he is on our side, he is passionate to save us – we can live in reality with hope.

Luke – as the only non Jewish New Testament writer, Luke the outsider shows how Jesus came to include all who were previously excluded from the “in club” – women, the poor, the racially different (the Samaritans), and those of lower status (shepherds). Jesus came to make all of us belong and fit in and breaks down all earthly and man-made barriers.

John – emphasizes the word – creation is spoken into existence, God speaks salvation into existence through the person of Jesus, Jesus speaks to us and invites us into a relationship with him. Are our words back to him “ I believe – I want to live in relationship with you?”

The words of hope and comfort in summary from these four gospels are:

We are part of God’s plan – he has a plan for each of us.
God is passionate to save us – we live in hope.
Through Jesus we are made to belong and are here to extend that gift to others.
The Word most of all wants relationship with us. How are we responding?

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
John 1:14 in The Message.

Prayer:
Jesus,
Thank you for coming to be with us, for giving us hope now and for the future, for including us, for desiring a relationship with us – how can we begin to say thanks for these unbelievable gifts.

You have been and promise to be with us through all our trials and the brokenness of this world – thank you for being with us, for being our comfort. Despite the worst that this world can hand us, we thank you for the deep down joy we know from knowing you and living in hope. Amen!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Christmas devotional – Celebrate Immanuel!

  1. Amos

    you know….I only have 4 blogs bookmarked (that’s up from 3 5 minutes ago–and no, I didn’t just add yours). Probably a low number for a 22 year old. but yours is one of them. not like I ever post or anything. but I just thought you’d want to know that your’s is one of them.

  2. Dan Beerens

    Thanks – I am honored! Thanks for writing.

  3. Ali

    When the Message translation came out, I didn’t know how to take it. It seemed like the writer was taking the beauty out of what was trying to be said. I ended up purchasing the Message and have used it more times than I can count. I use it more as a supplement than actual devotional tool. I read the NIV translation when I am doing devotions and many times I will go back and reread the same verses in the Message translation. It has allowed me to interpret the bible for myself and I really appreciate what you had to say about it. It was extremely interesting and I was able to get a better idea of what the author is trying to convey. Thanks so much!

  4. Leanne Koetje

    I think that the message is a wonderful tool for new Christians. It is in simpler language than the KJV, which has thee’s and thou’s. I believe that it is a good tool to look on when your normal translation is hard to understand, and you need something in a language that it more used today. It is sad though to think that we have had to move from translations because of how fast the world is changing. Change is good, don’t get me wrong. For me it is very hard, but do you think that we as Christians are changing too much to conform to the world?

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