ADVENT DEVOTION | THE VIRGIN BIRTH

Today’s Advent Devotion comes from Dayle Tate. Check back each day for a new devotion.

 

It seems that many people find the virgin birth to be unbelievable. If they find it plausible, they often think of it as unique, special, but unimportant. It can be treated like an interesting side fact of the incarnation. Yet, if we dig a little deeper, the revelations that come because of this aspect of Jesus’ birth can be mind-boggling!

There are those, of course, that deny its reality. Not only is it discounted, but its declaration is denounced as some kind of effort to present Jesus’ birth as supernatural. I sort of thought Jesus coming and being born as one of us was supernatural anyway.

Let me begin by asking this question: Have you ever thought it was completely unfair that all of us are born into sin just because one man, Adam, sinned? Why are we all cursed (We had no choice in this)? Why is the whole world under bondage to sin? Paul, the apostle, wrote:

Ro 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned––“

And,

Ro 5:18 “Therefore, as through one man‘s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation…”

We are all born into the world, a cursed world, into sin because of Adam. I know many like to blame Eve and certainly she deserves blame; however, when it comes to sin nature being passed on, it all falls on Adam.

Why is that the case? Why is Adam charged and not Eve, by the apostle’s writings? There is a well-known law found in Genesis, it is call the law of the seed (Gen. 7:14). According to Genesis, everything reproduces after its own kind; this is accomplished through the seed. The seed of mankind is in the male, not the female. It is the male’s seed that passes on sin nature to each succeeding generation until our day.

We should be grateful that the woman does not pass on sin nature, as in being born into sin. We all know that sin natured mothers can manage to pass on sinful patterns, family curses, and bad or abusive issues and even genetic problems, but not sin nature. The mother contains the egg, but not the seed.

Why should we be grateful? God, in His foreknowledge, anticipated our every need. One of the greatest needs is our redemption. Since the mother does not pass on sin nature, Jesus can be born fully human, but without sin. The virgin birth accomplished this vital part of our salvation. Jesus had to be one of us, but without sin. The simple truth is that everyone fathered by a human male is born into sin nature. Jesus was not fathered by a human male, but He was born of Mary. This provided the way for the human race to be atoned for, through the legitimate and completely human substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

This explanation not only magnifies the importance of the virgin birth, it may help explain why it is that there is no salvation for the fallen angels.

Heb 2:16 “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.”

God can become one of us through Mary without becoming like us in sin nature (I imagine that is not possible for fallen angels). Adam therefore, is responsible and why we are all born into sin. On the other hand, this also explains how it is that through one man, Jesus, we can all be born again. It was one man who got us into this problem; it is one man, Jesus Christ, who gets us out. The second verse from Romans continued:

Ro 5:18 Therefore, as through one man‘s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man‘s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

Many have wondered how it is possible that through one person’s sacrifice the whole world can be saved. Well, if it is unfair that because of Adam’s sin, we all become sinners; then, it seems quite justifiable, that through one man’s righteousness we can all be saved. God set it up prior to our existence knowing that we (Adam) would fall. He provided a way to save us long before we would need it. I don’t think that God was taken by surprise when Adam and Eve fell from grace. He had planned for Jesus to save us before the foundations of the world.

Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…”

It Includes Authority & Righteous Dominion Restored!

Just as important and as much included in the virgin birth explanation, is the fact that God is working His plan of salvation without taking away our dominion. When God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, He meant it (It was His idea). He wanted us to rule and reign with Him. The virgin birth makes a way for God to become man, legally. What this means is that Jesus’ offering of Himself is valid and based completely within the dominion He gave humanity. That dominion includes the self determination of every human being—we have choice. God didn’t take away our dominion to save us. He actually restores righteous dominion through Jesus being born into all of us. We are restored to the authority and grace we lost at the fall. This is why when we pray, declare, and call for the will of God to be done in Jesus’ name, it works.

Rom. 5:17 “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis added)

 

Dayle Tate is a past member of the Delanco Camp Board of Directors and is currently pastor of Lord of Lords Bible Community Church in Waretown, NJ.

ADVENT DEVOTION | A SEASON OF WAITING

Today’s Advent Devotion comes from Jennifer Nieves. Check back each day for a new devotion.

What are you waiting for?  Are you waiting for the next big thing to happen in your life? Are you waiting for Christmas and the promise of that gift you’ve been asking for?  Are you waiting for your birthday and the chance to finally get your license? Are you waiting for the summer and for Teen Camp?

Ever feel like camp is “home”?  Do you ever find yourself wishing you could just be there with your friends and people around you that live out faithful lives and leave all the distractions, hurt and pain behind?

In Isaiah 35 we read about what Israel is waiting and wishing for.  They are in exile, far away from their home. They are yearning for the joy that will await them, if they could just get home.  And more than just the physical comfort of the familiarity of Jerusalem, they are hopeful for the promise of goodness when God returns and rights the wrongs of the world.

Advent is a season of waiting.  First, we wait upon the celebration of Jesus coming in the form of a baby, to become the Savior of humanity.  This is the reason we parallel in this season waiting for Christmas morning and the joy of opening gifts, just as Christ was THE gift that first Christmas. The second waiting; however, is the waiting for the next time Jesus will appear. For the promise that he will “wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying. For the old order of things [will] pass away”.  (Revelation 21:4)

But that time is not yet.  There is a promise, but we live in the waiting.  And in the waiting there is difficulty, there is mourning and death.  There is all the hard stuff that comes with waiting: confusion, anxiety, uncertainty.

The song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” came to my mind this morning as I thought through what it means to wait.  

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Just as in Isaiah 35, the lyricist focuses on the call for Israel to “rejoice”.  Rejoice?  In the captivity? IN the waiting? In the confusion, the anxiety, the uncertainty? Rejoice?  How do we do that?  By focusing on the promise and not the problems.  No, we can’t ignore the reality in our lives. But we can choose how we approach difficulty.  We can change our outlook to think about the hope of tomorrow and the hope of God making all things new.  In fact, even more than hope, we can be a part of what it means to bring that Joy to the earth, to the brokenness of creation and humanity.  If we live in a way that rejoices, even in the midst of hardship and waiting, we change the game.  We live in a way that encourages others. Perhaps even help them to see that there are things to rejoice about.  

How can you wait well today? What does it look like today to rejoice, with all of the things in your life just as they are?  Will you rejoice today?

 

Jennifer has served Delanco Camp as Teen Camp Dean for over a decade. She works as a high school math teacher in New York. 

TUESDAY TESTIMONY | CHAD BLATHERWICK

Today we continue our weekly Tuesday Testimony post where we are having campers, staff and parents share their story about how God used Delanco this summer in their lives. If you would like to share your story email dan.ulrich@delanco.org.

Hello, my name is Chad Blatherwick. I am the Assistant Pastor and Youth Pastor at Sicklerville United Methodist Church. I have been attending Sicklerville UMC for the past 12 years and have been on staff the past 2 years. Six years ago I was asked to help out at Delanco Camp for Middler Camp. I was not too familiar with camp and was unsure of what to expect. The moment I set foot on the camp grounds I could truly feel God’s love and presence all around me in a unique and special way. Needless to say, I was absolutely blown away and I have been serving at Middler camp every year since then. I have made lifelong friends at camp and have met some of the most wonderful people in the world.

I have so many fond memories of camp and the impact it has made on my life. I started that first year as a counselor and have made the transition to teacher, dean of men, and most recently, the evangelist. Each and every year I think it can’t get better, yet it always seems to. On a personal note, my favorite memory was when my wife told me four years ago at the chapel in the pines that we were going to be having our fourth child, Annika. It was a very special moment that was made even more special being at camp.

Perhaps the moment that stands out to me the most happened this past year. After our evening service and altar call, some of our campers stayed to pray while most were dismissed to go get dressed for night games. One of our guy counselors came back into the tabernacle with tears in his eyes and said he couldn’t believe what he just saw. Apparently the boys, yes the boys, had gone back to the dorm and formed a circle and were praying very deeply for one another. They did this on their own, with no prompting. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, God works at Delanco Camp. When I used to hear people say their life was changed at Delanco Camp I didn’t understand the full impact, until I experienced it. Delanco Camp has, and will continue to, change and transform lives through the love of Jesus!