December 5, 2011 Devotion Sharing (What Child is This?)

Submitted by Steve K. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Place yourself on the scene in that Bethlehem stable.  A group of shepherds come running, terror and joy in their eyes, wildly crying out news of the Angel’s message.  The natural question that arises is: “What child is this?”

Highlight words in the following passages that answer the question “What child is this?”

Luke 2:8–12

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

What is the significance of the identity of Jesus to you personally?

Jesus being the “Savior” is personally meaningful for me, because I was once lost and in desperate need of a Savior.  I’m reminded of how lost I was in my in my sinful, self centered perspectives.  I was so convinced that I was the victim of everyone else’s faults and shortcomings.  I felt entitled to everyone’s pity and for everyone to put up with my obnoxious demands for attention and arrogant assertions.  I was just so full of myself, and there was very little room in my heart to care about others.  In fact I drove people away from me with my self-centeredness, which often left me lonely and painfully insecure.  Always feeling out of place and a misfit.  I’m so thankful that Jesus came to save me from my pathetic self.  He had saved me from my sins and had given me a new life in Him that’s full of love for God and other people.

It’s also very meaningful for me that Jesus was not only my Savior, but my Lord, because I would’ve been a poor captain of my own soul.  In fact every time I had tried to usurp Jesus’ reign over me, I consistently found myself running amuck in sin and self-imposed misery.  A misery that would ruin me and those around me, and so I’m thankful that Jesus is my Lord for He alone knows how to rule over me and properly govern my desires, thoughts, emotions and actions.  He keeps me from thinking foolish, unproductive thoughts, so I can keep be more other centered and focused on the things that will bring glory to God and bring blessings to others.

Lastly, I see Jesus appearing in the form a of a helpless baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger as a sign of how He has come to be with even the lowest of the low in society.  This is personally significant for me as I see how unworthy I am to approach him with all my sins that are so repulsive to see in the face of such a pure and holy expression of love.  Seeing what a filthy sinner I am, I’m encouraged to know that Jesus came in a way that tells me that I too can approach him and claim Him to be my Lord and Savior.

Submitted by Greg D. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

What is the significance of the identity of Jesus to you personally?

Jesus is my Savior, Christ, and my Lord.  He is first my Savior.  This small child that entered the world in a dirty manger ended up being the answer to my sins.  In my life, my default solution to any problem in my way is to try harder, work more furiously, put more time and effort into it.  And it has gotten me pretty far in life, gotten me through college, served me well in my career.  But when it comes to the sins I face each day, when it comes to struggling with my flesh, when it comes to trying to sanctify the very way I think and see this world and other people, when it comes to trying to deny myself and actually put others first, I find my effort does not get me nearly as far as I would like.  I find it inadequate.  And I certainly cannot fix the wrongs already done to others, or undue the damage of sin in my life.  It is then I realize I need a Savior, someone more powerful needs to come down and take away my sins, cover my weakness.  I look at God’s perfect standard laid down and I realize there is no way I could ever measure up.  So Jesus is my Savior.  My only hope, my only chance at eternal life.   Every time when I fail in trying to fight my sins, Jesus is there to give me forgiveness and another try, strength to go on.

[…]

Lastly, Jesus is Lord.  Looking at this small child in a manger, in such “mean estate” I am sure Jesus looked anything but Lord. The hymn remarks this baby is “the king of kings, salvation brings.”  The shepherds must not have known what to make of it.  The wise men must too have been surprised.  That God Himself, the one who fashioned the world should be in a dirty stable, born in about as lowly conditions as one could find.  But this is our God, this humble God is my Lord.  It means he gets the keys to my life, he gets to sit in the driver’s seat, it means He decides the dates and times of my life, what I can and cannot handle, what I should receive and what should be taken away.  It means everything, job, where I live, marriage, ministry, future, all of it is now God’s to decide.  That I cannot cling to the small dreams and hopes I had for my life, and I can take nothing for granted.  I am a person who naturally takes things for granted, who seems to overlook the good and can only see what is lacking or difficult in my life.  But through the eyes of Jesus as my Lord, I need to be a lot more focused on what I do have, what God has provided for me up to this point, and less worried about when I will get over a certain sin, or know more about my future.  I get so bent out of shape when my schedule does not work out, when my day does not go according to my plan, and much more when life does not go according to my plan.  But the day I became Christian I gave up the role as planner of my life over to Jesus my Lord, so I need to go back to that, to live each day with humble, grateful trust in my God.

Isaiah 9:6–7
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Reflect on the titles that are given for the prophesied Messiah.  In what ways have they been fulfilled in Jesus Christ?   What human need does each of the titles meet? Which title is most meaningful to you?

Submitted by Michelle Y. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

The title that is most meaningful to me is that of “Everlasting Father.”  All my life I have been searching and longing for love.  I tried to find this love in things of this world, but I was always left feeling empty and hollow.  The gospel tells me that God is my “Everlasting Father” and by extension, this means that I am God’s daughter.  It means that I am cherished and valued in God’s kingdom, and that I am accepted and loved for who I am.  Also, this title ministers to be the most because God’s relationship with me is everlasting and nothing can alter or change it.  I often fear that my sins would separate me from God, but here I am reassured that my relationship with God is eternal, unchanging, and forever.  I am thankful for this new status and identity that I am given, that I am no longer rejected, condemned, unwanted but instead called beloved daughter.

Submitted by Dennis P. from Gracepoint Riverside

For me, the most meaningful title that is given to Jesus is that of Prince of Peace, because for most of my life until coming to know Christ I experienced everything but peace. I was constantly stressed out trying to out-compete other people in my classes and though I worked so hard to forge my identity through academic success, I was left with a gnawing sense of loneliness that prevented me from having peace all throughout my high school years. It was only after I finally surrendered my life to Christ and invested in Christian community that I really started to feel that sense of peace and I’ve been able to let my guard down and live a life filled with true peace and joy. I’m reminded of all the fun times I had living at Dana House my senior year, and how it felt so easy to just walk into another room on the second floor and strike up a conversation with one of my peers. I really grew a lot closer to a lot of people during that time and experienced a peace as I was able to open up and share… I’ve continued to experience this kind of closeness here in Riverside with my peer Howard and increasingly with the other staff brothers. I’ve been able to experience this sense of peace through all the warm times of hanging out and sharing at Steve and Eunice’s house and the home where the single brothers live. God has clearly been my Prince of Peace, and I am so thankful for the kind of life he has put me in now because I know I am clearly undeserving of it.

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