Advent 2019

Arrival of Love

Yesterday was the last Sunday of Advent.  The Sunday of LOVE.

Before Christ’s first arrival, most of humanity had a warped image of who God was.  Even today, a lot of us perceive the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament to be two different personalities.  The God of the New Testament is one full of LOVE and grace.  While the God of the Old Testament seems merciless and wrathful.  But the truth is they are one in the same.

Right smack dab in the middle of the Old Testament Nehemiah says,

Over and over again, we see our loving Father extend forgiveness, grace, and compassion to His children, Yet, they did not perceive Him this way.  The oppression of the Law had given His children a misconception of who God was.  Rather than viewing God as the loving Father who wanted a beautiful parent and child relationship with them, they saw Him as a tyrannical leader whose wrath was to be feared.  And mercy after mercy, their view did not change.

This misconception of God’s character, I believe, is one of the reasons He decided to leave His throne in heaven and come be Immanuel, God with us, in the human form of Jesus. 

With Jesus first arrival we, humanity, saw God the Father, on earth with us.

While here with us, we saw the LOVE of God demonstrated in Jesus everyday life, in the gentle way He spoke to the adulteress, showing grace instead of condemnation.  We saw His LOVE in the way He tenderly acknowledged the woman who was an outcast because of her blood issue, calling her daughter.  We saw His LOVE in the way He empathized with the heart Father of a dying child and comforted him with the words, “she will be well,” then brought her back to life.  We see His LOVE in the way He showed affection for the little children that other adults were trying to shoo away.

With Jesus first arrival He showed us LOVE

I like the way The Message Bible describes God’s LOVE in the opening verse of Ephesians 5:1-2.  “Mostly what God does is love…”, meaning everything thing He does, He does out of LOVE for us.  And His LOVE spares no expense but LOVES extravagantly!

And now we wait and remain in His LOVE with confidence that we will be saved from wrath on the day of judgement and be declared righteous by His blood.

We wait in His LOVE with expectancy of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life in His presence forever.

We wait for His second coming and the extravagant LOVE that we will experience when Immanuel, God is with us, in tangible form forever and ever.

In this final week of Advent, the week of remembering God’s LOVE for us as we wait in between His first and second arrival…

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

Nehemiah 9:17 – They refused to listen and did not remember your wonders you performed among them.  They became stiff-necked and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.  But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, and you did not abandon them.

John 14:11 – “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.  Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

Romans 5:8-10 – But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. 

Ephesians 5:12 MSG – Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.  Love like that.

1 John 4:16-17 – And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.  In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgement, because as his is, so also are we in this world.

Jude 1:21 – keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.

Ephesians 3:17-19 – and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

* Think About It:

Grab your journal and writing utensil, snuggle up under your favorite blanket in your favorite spot and take some time to think on the word “love”.  Think on how extravagantly God loves us and how He showed us His love throughout His word.  Record how you’ve felt the love of God in your life this Christmas season.

Blessings to you this Christmas and Advent season!

Advent 2019

Arrival of Joy

JOY.  Isn’t it good news that JOY is the theme of this third week of Advent?!  And we can take great JOY in the importance of that word “all” in the tenth verse of Luke chapter two.

Before Jesus came, God’s presence dwelt only within the Holy of Holies in God’s temple that the Israelites constructed for Him.  And only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies.  And, he could only enter one day a year, on the Day of Atonement.  So, only one person could be in the direct presence of God one day out of the year.

But with Jesus first arrival, that all changed!  Because Jesus came to be Immanuel…God with us! Us is a plural word.  He came for all of us.  Just as He told Abraham He would.

With Jesus first arrival, He created a way that we could all be in God’s presence forever.  It was actually with his final moment…

It was in this miraculous moment, when the hand of God tore the temple veil, that made it possible for Him to dwell with all of us.  Because we all became a temple for God to dwell within.  Making it possible for Him to be with us always.

This is the good news of great JOY that the angels proclaimed that night to the shepherds.  That God came in the form of a baby so that He could make a way to be with us always.  He would dwell within our very hearts, meaning that we are always in His presence because His presence is within us!

Guess what all!

Fullness of JOY!  And while He was here Jesus said…

With His first arrival Jesus gave us His JOY, and He filled us so full that we could remain in JOY while we wait for second arrival!

We wait with inexpressible and glorious JOY in our hearts because we are receiving that which we hope for, the salvation of our souls.

We wait with JOY in our hearts for when we will see Him again and our JOY will be made complete.

We wait with JOY in our hearts for the day that we are able to stand in the presence of His glory, without blemish and with great JOY to God our Savior.

During this third week of Advent, may we meditate on all that Christ did for us with His first arrival and rejoice with exceedingly great JOY, like the wise men did when they saw the star that shone over Bethlehem.  While we wait for His second arrival…

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

Luke 2:10 ESV – And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Genesis 12:3 – I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Matthew 27:51 – Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

Psalm 16:11 ESV – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

John 15:11 ESV – These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

1 Peter 1:8-9 – Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 17:13 – Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them.

Jude 1:24 – Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy

Romans 15:13 ESV – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

* Think About It:

Isn’t it wonderful to think that Jesus’ very own JOY remains in us?!  Think on the word “joy” today and journal what it means to you that Jesus’ joy is within you so that your joy can remain full.  And then, write down what is making you joyful this Christmas and Advent season.

Blessings to you this Christmas and Advent season!

Advent 2019

Arrival of Peace

There’s something serene and tranquil about an evening during the Christmas season, sitting in a room with only the warm glow of Christmas lights shining through the darkness.  Those warm Christmas lights bring warmth and PEACE to my soul. 

PEACE.  That is the theme of this second week of Advent.    

When God created the universe, He created it to work together in a symbiotic relationship. A mist came up from the ground to water it.  A river flowed and watered Eden.  Plants and trees were provided for animals and humans and in return, humans took care of them.  Creation was at PEACE and worked in harmony for the good of all.

The moment Adam and Eve took a bite of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden they experienced something they had never felt before.  They experienced the absence of PEACE.  In its place was now shame and fear.

In that moment everything changed.  No longer would man walk with God in the garden.  No longer would creation live in peace with one another.  No longer would creation work towards the good of all.  Now, the earth would continue to experience shame and fear. 

Our Heavenly Father never meant for us to experience these feelings.  Shame and fear are dark feelings.  And in that darkness, we experience the absence of PEACE and lose sight of the Light.  We lose sight of Jesus and the truth that He is our light. 

Throughout God’s word we see Him or His angels speaking PEACE into the hearts of people with the words “do not fear”.  We see it surrounding the story of Christ’s first arrival, when Gabriel appears to Mary, he tells her…

When the angel appears to Joseph to calm his heart, he says…

When the angel appears to the shepherds keeping watch over their sheep in the field by night, he says…

With Jesus first arrival the angels appeared saying “Do not fear,” and they went on to sing…

It was just as Isaiah said…

Our Light had come!  And with this Light we would know great peace on earth!  And before Jesus left this earth, He said…

And while we wait for Jesus second arrival our Heavenly Father sent us the Wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to remind us during dark times that we don’t need to be fearful.  To remind us that God is with us.  To remind us to rest in the PEACE that comes only from the Light of the world.

We wait with PEACE in our hearts for when the Bright Morning Star will come with a scepter and crush the head of the serpent and tear down the oppression and shame of sin.

We wait with PEACE in our hearts for when there will no longer be any curse, but creation will once again work together in perfect harmony.

We wait with PEACE in our hearts for when God is with us forever and the darkness of fear is no more and His glory illuminates us, and the Lamb is our Lamp.

This second week of Advent take time to sit in the warm glow of Christmas lights and let PEACE fill your heart. And as you bask in their warm peaceful glow, may you remember all the prophetic words that have been confirmed through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  And may that knowledge set your hearts at PEACE, with a PEACE that only God can provide.  A PEACE like…

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

John 1:1-5 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.

Genesis 3:7-10 – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

Luke 1:28-30 – And the angel come to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman!  The Lord is with you.”  But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.  Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

Matthew 1:20 – But after he had considered these things, and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV) – “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Isaiah 60:1 – Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you.

John 14:26-27 – “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all the things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”

1 Peter 1:19 – We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Revelation 22:16 – “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches.  I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

* Think About It:

Grab your journal and sit in a darkened room lit only by the glow of your Christmas lights and think on the word “peace”.  Record in your journal what that word means to you during this Advent season as you put your trust in the Lord and remember that He is the Bright Morning Star, the Light of men.

Blessings to you this Christmas and Advent season!

Advent 2019

Arrival of Hope

This Sunday we lit the candle of HOPE. Hope is the theme of this first week of Advent. It is with expectant hope that creation stood in wait of Isaiah’s prophecy of a child that would save us. A child named Immanuel. God with us. And it is with hope that we anticipate His second arrival. When Immanuel God will be with us once again.

I believe that it was always God’s desire to be with us.  To walk amongst His creation.  His beloved children.  But with the bite of fruit, came a sweet, but bitter taste.  The taste of sin.

This sin separated us from God, but God gave us a promise of hope, that He would once again walk amongst us.  This time God would come in human form.   A tiny baby named Jesus.

Not only did God walk amongst us in the human form of Jesus, but He also had a plan to do away with the religious mindset and legalism which lead to His people carrying a heavy and oppressive burden of guilt, shame, and unworthiness.  Jesus confirmed Isaiah’s prophecy that He would shatter this oppressive yoke, and offered us the gift of HOPE

With His first arrival, Jesus came as Immanuel. God with us.  Out of love, He came to take away the burden of earning our salvation, and His gift of life offered us a place beside Him in Heaven.

And now we wait.  We eagerly wait in HOPE with anticipation of His second arrival for what we cannot see but what we know will surely come. 

We wait in HOPE for when the sufferings of this present time are no longer.  When creation itself, will be set free from bondage and our bodies redeemed.

We wait in HOPE for when every tear will be wiped from our eyes.  When death, grief, crying, and pain will be no more,

We wait in HOPE for His second adventus.  His glorious entry!  We wait for our Immanuel…when God will be with us forever and ever.

This first week Advent may we wait and put our hope in His Word.  Let us remember the gift of HOPE that He gave us with His first arrival and the HOPE we eagerly await in His promise that He will be with us once again. 

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign:  See, the virgin will conceive, have a son and name him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:21-23 – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:  See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.”

Isaiah 9:4-7 – For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod of their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian.  For every trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire.  For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders.  He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end.  He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Romans 8:24–25 – Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees?  Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.

Revelation 1:7 – Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.  And all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.  So it is to be.  Amen.

Revelation 21:3-4 – Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:  Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them.  They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

Psalm 130:5 – I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word.

* Think About It:

Think on the word “hope” and record in your journal what that word means to you during this Advent season as you put your hope in the Lord and the promises of His Word.

Blessings to you this Christmas and Advent season!