Devotions on John 1:1-18–John 1 5
December 18-24, 2017
Monday, December 18, 2017–John 1 5
“In him was life, and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:4).
The second chapter of Genesis contains a beautiful picture of creation. The writer of this chapter pictures God as a craftsman. God scoops up a pile of dirt and forms it into the shape of a man. The mound of dust, though, does not live until the creator God bends down and breathes the breath of life into the man.
In a similar manner, God incarnate brought life with him when he entered the world and our lives. The life God brings is more than physical, it is also abundant (John 10:10). It is a life lived in relationship with the God of creation—the life God created us to live.
This is the season when we celebrate God’s gift of love and life. We rejoice that through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus we have been filled with life and our lives have been changed from the mundane to the holy.
Lord, “Breathe on [us], Breath of God, fill [us] with life anew, that [we] may love the way you love, and do what you would do.” Amen (“Breathe on Me Breath of God” by Edwin Hatch.)
Tuesday, December 19, 2017–John 1 5
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).
Jamar was enjoying the latest Star Wars movie, “The Last Jedi,” when he caught a flash of light out of the corner of his eye. Distracted he realized that someone hadn’t turned off the cell phone and had received a call. The phone must have been on vibrant because it didn’t ring, but the light was enough to detract from the movie. Jamar marveled at the power of light. His mind wandered back a few decades when, as an amateur photographer, he developed his own film. In the darkroom, the smallest amount of white light could ruin both film and prints. Light destroys darkness.
Some people would say that we live in a time of darkness. There are times when it appears that the darkness is growing and causing the light to grow dim. God’s promise, however, is that the light has already appeared and the darkness has not overcome it and will not be able to do so in the future. We have reason to hope and not despair.
Empowered with that hope, we live boldly. We allow the light to shine brightly in our lives and to radiate through our words and actions as we stand against the injustice and evil around us.
“Shine, Jesus, shine Fill this land with the Father’s glory/ Blaze, Spirit, blaze, Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow Flood the nations with grace and mercy/ Send forth Your Word, Lord And let there be light.” Amen. (“Shine, Jesus, Shine,” by Crystal Lewis.)
Wednesday, December 20, 2017–John 1 5
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John” (John 1:6).
The story of humankind’s salvation is replete with flesh and blood actors. Mary was the first character to come on the stage (at least in Luke’s gospel). She was followed by Joseph, the man to whom she was engaged. There were Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents and of course, John the Baptist himself. John emphasizes this amazing truth—that God chooses to work with men and women in order to accomplish God’s purposes—when he records that John was sent from God.
The Lord has continued to use people to proclaim the good news of Jesus and to share God’s love and grace throughout the centuries. God is still doing it today. As followers of Jesus, God fills us with God’s Spirit, empowers us and sends us into the world. Angels don’t have this calling—we do. In spite of our imperfections, limitations and struggles, God’s Spirit touches the lives of others through us. We are part of the salvation history that began so many millennia ago.
“Joy to the world! The Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy.” Amen.
Thursday, December 21, 2017–John 1 5
“He was in the world … yet the world did not know him” (John 1:10).
Ian’s nephew, Kelsey, was staying with him and his family for a few weeks during the summer. He stood outside the baggage claim area looking for a fifteen year-old Kelsey, whom he had not seen for five years. Ian remembered Kelsey as a skinny, tow-head blond waif. There was no one fitting that description in the baggage area, however. As the passengers dispersed, Ian did notice a young man who stood about 5’ 6,” with a mop of brown hair and swimmer’s build. “That couldn’t be Kelsey, could it?” Ian thought to himself.
The world didn’t recognize the incarnate God because they were looking for someone else. The search was on for a powerful god who worked impressive miracles and granted blessings of comfort and abundance. Such a god was nowhere to be found. Our search is just as fruitless when we look for a similar god. Instead, we discover God among us when we look for a God of love who doesn’t prevent bad things from happening to good people, but rather walks with people through the hard times. We can recognize God in the struggle for justice and in efforts to comfort those who grieve, to provide for those in need and to strengthen the weak and helpless.
God is with us today. We will see God when we are alert and have an accurate description of God.
Lord, open our eyes–refresh us and renew us and thus empower us to service of you. Amen.
Friday, December 22, 2017–John 1 5
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Leslie couldn’t believe it. At ten years-old she was nearing the age of being almost “unadoptable.” Her CPS records indicated that she was very intelligent, but also strong willed, rebelled against authority and was aloof. Having been passed from foster home to foster home, Leslie had become withdrawn, unmotivated and had been entertaining thoughts of suicide. Suddenly Leslie found herself welcomed into a family and adopted by them. It was almost too good to be true. Leslie found herself repeating the phrase, “I have a family and I have a home.”
It is amazing that God comes to us and claims us as God’s own. We become members of God’s family and have the ability to call ourselves “Children of God.” This isn’t meant to be a term of exclusion but rather a celebration of inclusion. The God of steadfast love, overwhelming grace and unconditional forgiveness has granted us the privilege of approaching God with the boldness that children approach their parents—knowing we will never be turned away and will always be embraced by God’s love.
Thank you, Lord, for making us your own and calling us your children. Amen.
Saturday, December 23, 2017–John 1 5
“Who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).
Babies do not make the decision to be born and to begin life. Birth and life are gifts. They do have some say on how they use those gifts, but life always remains a gift.
In our arrogance, we may sometimes entertain the thought that we found God and decided to live in a relationship with God. Upon reflection, we realize how confused this perspective is. Looking back on our lives, we can see how God has drawn us into a relationship with God. Perhaps we had parents who brought us up in the Church, or co-workers that shared their faith with us. There were times, both good and bad, that the Holy Spirit used to nudge us closer to the God who created us. In many ways, God’s grace touched us and transformed us. Now, living in a relationship with God and calling ourselves Children of God, we rejoice in the gift that God has given us.
Your gifts of love and grace are precious to us, Lord. Thank you. Amen.
Sunday, December 24, 2017–John 1 5
“And the word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).
The Church has designated December 25th for the celebration of his birth. Tradition holds that Mary gave birth to her first born son in a stable in a small town called Bethlehem. His parents, Mary and Joseph, were a poor, young couple. Angels announced his birth to shepherds on a nearby hillside. A star proclaimed his birth to several astrologers in lands to the east. We may quibble over the historical accuracy of these beliefs, but the fact remains that God took on human form and lived among us. Today we sing a multitude of Christmas carols relating truth.
Though Jesus ascended into heaven, God still lives among us. Each of us are temples of God’s Spirit and that same Spirit lives and moves in the fellowship of believers. We are never alone and God has promised never to be separated from us. We have much to celebrate today and every day.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Jesus. Happy birthday to you.” Amen.