The foretold Messiah: A devotion by singer-song writer, Graham Kendrick
The prophet Isaiah had the most unpopular job imaginable - to call a rebellious nation back to the ways of God, warning them of dire consequences if they didn’t return. Worse still, God told him they wouldn’t even listen to him.
Yet, on the back of the ominous wave of warnings he delivered, there suddenly rides a shining hope of rescue, the promise of a day when a great light would burst upon people living in darkness.
How would this rescue plan begin? It would begin with a child:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
These words are read in Christmas services across the world year by year, but their familiarity can mask how extraordinary God’s ways are.
We put our hope in the strongest. God chooses the weakest. We favour the greatest with the biggest resources. God chooses the least with the emptiest pockets.
In fact, and this is the stunning truth at the heart of the Christmas story, God chooses to be that weak and vulnerable child, to become one of us, to experience all the mess and squalor of a broken world in order to rescue it from the inside.
God’s wonder in song
Some years ago I tried to express some of the wonder of this in a song:
A world awakes all unaware
Of what the night did bring
A mother’s pain a baby’s cry
New life begins
While Bethlehem slumbers
In shadows so dark and deep
What child is this in manger laid
That dazzled shepherds seek?
Whom heaven adores yet earth ignores
Helpless and weak
Most ancient of mysteries
Stirs in the chill of these streets
O world awake!
Shake off the night
A greater dawn is breaking
A brighter Sun
Heaven’s pure light
To set the world on fire
God in flesh appearing
Heaven and earth are touching here
Receive him now
As you would welcome
A new-born child
God has not ceased to choose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, or the weak, lowly and despised things of the world to shame the strong and the proud. It is happening right now, hidden away in the disregarded Bethlehem’s and Nazareth’s of our day.
Thank you from Graham Kendrick
Thank you for sponsoring a child through Compassion. It continues to be a beautiful way in which God’s love reaches out through us to make new beginnings for families who are walking in the darkness of poverty.
Years ago, I remember hearing the then President of Compassion International Wess Stafford speak of how he dreamed that one day a former sponsored child would rise to become prime minister of their nation. I would not be surprised if that happens. Something has begun in the lives of these precious children and their families and eternity alone will reveal where it will end!
Meanwhile, our hope for the future is in the promise that ‘the government will be upon his shoulder’, that the hidden kingdom that began with a baby’s cry in the back streets of a village in Judaea will finally be revealed. Every tear will be wiped away. All things made new.
A Kenyan Nativity
The incredible salvation plan: A devotion by Compassion writer, Agnes Wilson
There’s something extraordinary about Christmas. Forget the gifts and good will towards men. Forget even the Christmas dinner many of us will share.
Before the first shop sold their first Christmas gift, and the first custard poured over pudding, there was a baby who would one day save me, and millions of others.
A tiny baby, in a lowly stable, was the start of God’s incredible salvation plan for the world.
It was C. S. Lewis who observed:
“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”
And it’s true. Christmas was the day the Word – Jesus – became flesh and dwelt among us. John’s Gospel opens with:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus – who was there when stars were flung into space, when water and land separated, and night and day were created – left heaven to live with us.
The shadow of the cross at Christmas
And that baby would one day grow to know and understand human frailty. He would one day endure pain beyond this world for the sake of all who love and follow Him.
Just as Billy Graham once explained:
“The very purpose of Christ's coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.”
When I was a child, I was blinded by the presents and sweets. I didn’t see the true meaning behind the day of celebration.
Christmas was a great day because I received toys, clothes, and everyone was happy. My family went out of their way to make me, and my sibling, feel special.
It’s only now, as a parent and a Christian, have I realised there is also a sadness behind the joy. I’ve come to understand that beyond the manger, there is a crown of thorns and a cross.
Twenty years after my decision to follow Jesus, I still can’t help feeling sorry for what will come, and deep gratitude for the gift of salvation God bestowed on the world, and on me.
The free gift
Christmas offers us a free gift. Not one earned by works or merit. There is a reason why people rush around to find the perfect gift for each other in the lead up to this day.
But as Robert Flatt highlights:
The giving of gifts is not something man invented. God started the giving spree when He gave a gift beyond words, the unspeakable gift of His son.
I encourage you, in the busy-ness, stress, and joy of this Christmas season, to look to Jesus and find out more about what this child came to do. Please open that gift from God and enjoy it. Love and treasure it.
The impact of the Gospel on Compassion’s work
Thank you so much for your support of this ministry. Your prayers and faithful giving are changing lives – not only now, but into eternity.
In a small village hidden in the mountains of Thailand, children can barely contain their excitement for Christmas.
Each Christmas, there is a large gathering at the local Compassion project, where more than 400 children and their families gather to play games, receive sponsor gifts, sing carols, and pray together.
Kamonchanok, mother of three, says:
“Christmas is meaningful to me because Jesus came as my saviour, healer, and counsellor. My children are always excited for Christmas; they get up so early in the morning—before the sunrise! We are looking forward to hearing Jesus' story again.”
Christmas is a remarkable time. A time for family and the laughter of children. But we at Compassion believe it’s also a time for Jesus. The birth of the Messiah who saves!
Join us in prayer
For people around the world to embrace the true hope of Christmas found in Jesus
For a joyful Christmas season for children in all our projects in 25 countries – despite the challenges they may face
For light to conquer darkness, love to break indifference, and peace to abound this Christmas