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Peace, Love, & Joy | The Confidence of Redeeming Hope | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 4 of 27 | December 3, 2019

For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done.” – John Piper (pg. 5)

The confidence of redeeming hope, is a beautiful wellspring of eternal courage. This is a unique brand of courage that only the faithful possess, after drinking from the fountain of life (Jn 4:14). Zechariah much like everyone else showed evidence of a disbelieving heart, upon the visitation of the angel Gabriel. (Lk 1:20) But only when he had witnessed the full proof divine work in his life, words of thanksgiving and prophesy flowed from his mouth. (Lk 1:68-71)

There is an interesting thing about Zechariah’s speech that Piper has pointed out. He notes, “filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming of the Messiah that he puts it in the past tense.” (pg. 5)

This is the nature of divine hope – that the believer believes that it has already been granted, even before it has been done. And how apt it is, that the Apostle Paul further clarifies this: “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory.” (2 Cor 1:20, NLT) This is a hope that is not peculiar to Zachariah alone. This is a hope that is evident in everyone, whose lives God has touched. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1, ESV)

The birth of Christ, our Messiah, was a confidence building – hope securing visitation for the Patriarchs of our faith. If we profess to believe, yet are unable to live the reality of this hope in the past tense, how unfortunate that would be. Perhaps, it is unfortunate. Let us pray, and seek this divine visitation personally in our lives. For Christ has open the door for us to plead for such mercy. Let us not weary another day. Let us seek and ask, to receive this life affirming hope in us. “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:24, ESV)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God

Peace, Love, & Joy | Mary’s Magnificent God | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 3 of 27 | December 2, 2019

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” Luke 1:46-48 (ESV)

One of the many temptations while reading the Christmas story is the desire to glorify Mary to the status of a saint. But we should avoid that, because it isn’t true. We learn that, upon the visitation of the Angel Gabriel, Mary’s response was that of fear. And, fear upon heavenly visitation, (if we map through the scriptures) is the quintessential characteristics of a fallen-sinful human being. This characteristic is evidently seen in the Garden of Eden. The way Adam and Eve respond to God before and after falling in sin is marked by (a) ‘being willfully obedient to Him’ to (b) ‘hiding away from Him in fear’. (Gen 3:8, 10) In addition to her fearful response, we also learn that she doubted the heavenly message. And so, the angel instructs her to go see her relative Elizabeth; to make it clear in her head that with God ‘everything is possible’. (Lk 1:36-38) And it was so, only then, when she sees her barren relative bearing (herself) a child of promise, she began to believe. But the ultimate transformation of her unbelieving heart only occurred when she heard herself being referred as blessed by Elizabeth. (Lk 39-45) After which, we witness her glorious song of praise, now famously known to as The Magnificat. (Lk 1: 46-55) The point I am trying to make here is that: Mary was just another sinful human being like you and me, who was made blessed by the grace of God. The highlight of Mary’s life isn’t how saint-like Mary is – but how magnificent our God is.

I want to make here, a couple of notes on Mary’s response; which I find are important indicators of the change God works in our lives. But before that, I want to briefly discuss the meaning of the word humble here.

The word humble is derived from a Greek word tapeínōsis. It is a feminine noun. In its literal sense, it means feeling/made depressed. But it is here used in its metaphorical sense, meaning spiritual abasement. In other words, the word humble here means – leading one to perceive and lament his moral littleness and guilt.[1] So, when Mary says, the Lord has looked on my humble estate, she is saying, the Lord has had mercy over my iniquities – my sinful life. See, this humility is completely different from the non-biblical understanding of the word, wherein, being humble is seen as ‘consciously being modest’ to gain favour. People often think humility is a moral exercise. But that isn’t so – that is arrogance, thinking you’re wise enough to compel God to bless you, on account of your moral strength.

Now, coming back to the matter. The two points I wanted to make were:

  1. Mary knew of her humble estate. Reprobates aren’t aware of their depraved condition. (Rom 1:22, Pro 26:12) Being aware of one’s sinful state, and the need to be saved comes only with divine revelation. Mary demonstrated that.
  2. Mary accepted her humble estate. She wasn’t just aware of her inadequacies. She demonstrated her need of a saviour by accepting her failing condition.

When we look at Mary’s life, we see how miraculously God has preserved her life, for the glory of God and fulfillment of His divine plan. From being arranged to marry a man whose genealogy traces back to Abraham, to being the woman who fulfills the prophesy YHWH made to Eve, and finally, being called blessed throughout the generations. Indeed, her life is a remarkable one, just because the Creator of Heaven and Earth chose to look into her humble estate. Let us pray and hope, that just as Mary found divine favour, may YHWH find us favourable as well, when He looks down on us this Christmas.


[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5014


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way

Peace, Love, & Joy | Prepare the Way | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 2 of 27 | December 1, 2019

What John the Baptist did for Israel. Advent can do for us. Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared.” – John Piper

It is hard to associate advent to John the Baptist. The former invokes festivity, and the later, somber piety. But both, ideally ought to hold the same meaning. John was tasked ‘to make ready for the Lord a people prepared’ (Lk 1:16-17, ESV). Advent, essentially means arrival of the awaited. And the way the Bible treats it, is by the word of repentance to prepare us for the Lord. (Mk 1:5) Why? The Apostle Luke notes, ‘to turn … the disobedient to the wisdom of the just’. (Lk 1:17, ESV)[1]

The following are four important points to ponder upon, as a way of observing advent:

  1. First, we need to accept our need of a Saviour. Because otherwise, Christmas has no meaning. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mk 2:17, KJV) Piper puts this point promptly, “Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight”. (pg. 1)
  2. Second, engage in somber self-examination. We can never repent, until the grace of God enlightens us of our sins. So, we seek earnestly, the heart of repentance in prayer (more so, especially in this season when we are together with our close ones). We should employ the heart of festivity in encouraging one another in growing closer to God, by making repentance a communal effort. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24, ESV)
  3. Third, build godly anticipation. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13, ESV) We ought to learn to build godly anticipation in the advent season; based on biblical hope of new birth – of fruitful Christian lives. “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (Js 1:18, ESV). The anticipation of celebrating Christmas shouldn’t be clouded by the prospects of exceeding worldly merriment.
  4. Fourth, be scripture-saturated. All the above three points we have discussed cannot become a reality in our lives until and unless we are fed well by the word of God. Piper advices, be much in the scripture, for the word of God is a great fire (Jr 23:29) that not only lights up our lives, but keeps us warm through the darkest of nights. (pg. 2)

As we enter the month of December, let us prepare our hearts in accordance to the Word and Will of the LORD, who comes to birth us anew. Let it not be in us, that He finds no room. Let the manger be in our hearts this year. (Lk 2:7)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy“.


[1] To understand the context of why the scripture is referring to people as “disobedient” see the sub-section “peace” in the Introduction.  


Read the previous entry in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas