Anticipation

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Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.  (Psalm 96:11-13)

 

The birth of the Savior brings with it the promise of restoration. For the believer in Christ, the restoration begins at once. Our hope is realized and still, yet to come. For the fields and the forests, the birds and the antelope, the oceans and ice fields, anticipation rules. Their anticipation of restoration must continue until our centuries long Advent is complete. We pray Lord that you don’t tarry.

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Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13)

As Paul expresses in this effusive prayer springing up out of nowhere in his letter to the Thessalonians, may love abound. Our celebration of Christmas differs from the secular day of red and green. We celebrate the greatest love, that of the Father giving us His Son out of his mercy. Pray that this same love for others causes you to burst into prayer midday for the lost that surround us. Pray that our hearts might be so attuned to the broken heart of God that we seek holiness for those that He seeks holiness from.

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        “ ‘In those days and at that time
         I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
         he will do what is just and right in the land. 
        In those days Judah will be saved
         and Jerusalem will live in safety.
         This is the name by which it will be called:
         The LORD Our Righteousness.’  (Jeremiah 33:15-16)

Be the bearers of that righteousness in the world until the Lord returns. Judgment is not ours, but the call and ability to bring justice to the suffering is. Extend a hand, be the gospel message.

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May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

Our celebration this week will include in most cases the exchange of gifts. Step back. Don’t look upon this as a chore or expectation. Ask yourself if you are giving out of love. Put yourself into the exchange just as your salvation is given with the mercy and love of the Lord.

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Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)

The final rushing days of anticipation are near, our day of celebration close at hand! Temptation calls its siren song to push things along in our own power. Forget about patience! Take what is rightfully yours, instead of waiting patiently on the timing of the Lord to reward your perseverance.

Stand firm and persevere through circumstance confident in the promised return.

 

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Faithfulness Despite Appearances–Fourth Sunday in Advent 2010

imageOur Advent meditations have to do with an event that none of us were present for. The life and death of our Lord passed before our era and, despite numerous predictions, His return has yet to come. Our entire system of faith is rooted in the apologia that supplements our intellect and the discernment provided by the indwelling Spirit who tells us that we can trust in the words recorded long ago. Every Christian since that day at Golgotha has had to trust the beliefs passed from one to another through the centuries. We trust in the work of Christ by faith alone.

Every Christian since that Friday afternoon has lived in a world of chaos. The dimensions of this chaotic environment have varied from era to era and person to person. Many have looked upon the severity of their trials or the universality of evil and pointed to these as proof that God does not exist. Many of us might be tempted to believe them when we see the horrors that man visits upon man or in the death and loss caused by natural events. Disease surrounds us, getting stronger in some cases. Limited resources threaten the existence of many. Pregnant women are run down and left for dead in the intersections of our cities. Evil abounds.

Joseph looked upon his pregnant fiancée tempted to act on appearances. His scriptures provided a way out for him and he loved Mary enough that he planned to divorce her quietly. By all appearances, her story was incredible–almost unbelievable–and yet, at the prompting of an angel, he remains faithful.  He trusts the word of God provided for him, despite outward appearances.

There is subtle encouragement in the angels words to Joseph, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife” (Mt 1:20). God does not command him to stay with Mary. Instead, the angel tells him not to be afraid, that despite what things may seem to be all will turn out well. These words echo for us as well.

This Christmas may not be the best time in your life. You and your family may be facing difficulties. It may be the first holiday without a family member at home. Your faith may be being tested to the very limits of your endurance. Despite appearances, there is reason to celebrate. Christians, you know the end of the story. You know that God has proven faithful to his promises time after time through history and He will continue to be faithful until the end of this history. Trust Him, do not be afraid. Celebrate your Savior.

 

Grace and peace to you.

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Magnificat–Third Sunday in Advent 2010

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Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

The Physician alone records this effusive greeting (Luke 1:45) from Elizabeth to Mary. The Virgin has accepted reality of her calling and has the first encounter of its outworking in the effect that the Divine child in her womb has on His brother in Elizabeth. As the Spirit moves, Mary is overcome and speaks these words,

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” (1:46-49)

As your celebration of the Lord’s birth comes one week closer, it is an excellent time for you to reflect on your life and compose your own Magnificat. Despite the fact that struggle and persecution and trouble may be your companions this year, God is mindful of the state of His servant. Whether you are enjoying providence or lack, Jesus knows where you walk and He is mindful of your limp. Good or bad, rich or poor, in sickness or in health, God knows our lives and has them well under control despite what we may see immediately in front of us. For this alone, the Spirit within raises praise in our hearts and minds. We can take this opportunity to be as effusive as Elizabeth, as expressive as Mary. Let your Magnificat glorify the Lord so that others may see the blessings in your life.

Grace and peace and joy to you.

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