Kissed by a Prince (Advent Devotion) - Thursday, December 27

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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

I was talking to a young Inupiaq lady recently who has been struggling with her Christian identity. Like the apostle Paul, she lamented, "I thought I had my bad behavior in hand. But lately, I have found myself hurting the people I love most. Then, I feel terrible and don't know if I can undo the damage I've done. I try to pray but I don't know if God can love me when I continue to fail so badly. I feel so much self-hatred."

Close to the house where I grew up, there was a pond surrounded by a marshy area. In the spring, the night was alive with choruses of frogs and toads singing to impress one another.

I think before we come to know Christ we are kind of like that; happy to participate with other frogs and toads doing what frogs and toads do, without much thought of the consequences.

But when we are "kissed" by our Prince of Peace, Jesus, with the knowledge of our salvation, our eyes are opened to the swampy conditions we had been content with for so long. When the Holy Spirit and the Word of God start their hard pruning, our lives are opened to a new reality, one filled with painful choices and changes we do not expect. We come face to face with the law. Then the devil, the enemy of our soul, uses the law to condemn and deceive us so that we lose sight of the saving grace of the Gospel.

Like Paul, we all cry out, "Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom. 7:24). Paul also gives us the answer: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Rom 8: 2) There is absolutely NOTHING that can separate us from His love for us. "It is Christ who died, who is the at the right hand of the God, who indeed is interceding for us." (Rom 8:34)

It is important that we hold tight to these promises and encourage others to do so, too. It is true that we are all frogs and toads, and the post-Christmas lull can cause us to forget, but we who are now alive in Christ have a Prince who has rescued us and promises us peace for today and hope of eternal life with Him. With whatever croaky voices we have been given, let us sing His praises everyday!

Father, we are sometimes beside ourselves when you give us a glimpse of our need. In humility, we thank you for your love in sending Jesus to save us from our sin. Help us hold tight to the faith you have given us, to complete our journey, as we look forward to our Savior's return. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Rosemary Sternbeck, Fairbanks, Alaska