Monthly Archives: November 2012
It is the season of anticipation, expectation, eagerness and HOPE. As Christians we call the four Sundays prior to Christmas as Advent. We are eagerly awaiting Christ’s birth. I started a small Advent Bible study with Good Morning Girls today and was reading through several Bible passages that they provided.
Jeremiah 33:14 says,
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
God tell us in Isaiah 60:19b, “… the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” We won’t need the sun and the moon for our light. When we have God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in the depths of our heart, we will be filled with a light that will never go out. We anticipate that promised light first through the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate at Christmas, and second for His promised return.
I love the verse in Romans 15:13 that says,
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.
But it wasn’t until I started reading about the HOPE we have during the season of Advent that I realized, or at least remembered, that this verse of hope-filled blessing comes after Paul is telling the Romans that Christ came for Jews and Gentiles. Paul reminds them of the promise from Isaiah, “The root of Jesse will come (King David’s father), even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Then Paul reminds those of us not born of Jewish ancestry, that God is the God of hope because He has promised to send The Way of salvation to all people.
As I read all these verses on God’s plan of salvation from the first sin recorded in Genesis throughout the His Word, I was reminded of an article by Patrick Wood, Beyond His Hand. Wood talks about Sacred Remembrances as gifts from God’s Word that help us in our daily walk. The Israelites had countless opportunities to remember the way God provided for them — parting the water, manna and quail from heaven, water from the rock, sandals that never wore out in 40 years, and so much more. These reminders could help shape the Israelites’ faith when they faced the giants in Canaan, but sadly the Israelites didn’t remember how God cared for their needs and answered their prayers.
During Advent we are encouraged to look back on the promises in God’s Word of the promised Savior. We often look at four key words – Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy in the countdown to celebrating Christ’s birth. This week is traditionally the week that focuses on Hope. Hope is defined as: “to cherish a desire with anticipation; or to expect with confidence.” As Christians we have the HOPE of a life forever with God where there is no more weeping, pain, destruction, chronic illnesses, loss of life, and so much more. We expect with confidence the hope of life everlasting through the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Wood encouraged his readers to focus on the Sacred Remembrances from God’s providence in our lives to help us in the tough times, the times when despair and hopelessness take over. We need to remember the time we took off half an hour late only to find ourselves sitting in an hour traffic jam as an accident that happened a little earlier was being cleared off the road. We need to remember God’s provision of medications that help deal with an illness. We need to rejoice in the friends and family that come along side of us to encourage us when we are struggling with loss. Wood even encourages his readers to create a timeline of your life where you definitely saw God’s hand over the years and let those “landmarks” help convince you of the confidence you have deep within from God. These Sacred Remembrances help us see not only what God has done, but who God is – faithful, caring, giving, loving, gentle, gracious, merciful, the Great Physician …
In order for you to have that HOPE that is truly an expectation filled with confidence that Jesus Christ has come and will come again, take time to read God’s Word. Put His truths in your heart. Dwell on the Sacred Remembrances of ALL that God has done for you in your life and in the lives of those you love.
I encourage you to take the challenge I will take for myself this week. Go to your Bible or http://www.biblegateway.com and search the many passages that have the word HOPE in them.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Thanksgiving Day in America is filled with holiday traditions – time with family and friends, an abundance of good food, football, games, walks. It is often time together with loved ones. For some the day begins by going to church to thank God for all He has blessed us with. It was established by our founding fathers as a day that was set aside for us to give thanks to our Creator and God for the abundant blessings He has lavished on us from the material things to His providential care.
Dr. Charles Stanley was talking about our needs recently and said,
“Don’t be mistaken: there’s nothing wrong with having an awareness of our present needs. But too often we allow them to become the focus of our lives. The result is that our hearts become blind to the bounty all around us – a blessing far greater than blue skies, the beauty of creation, or the food it provides; something more essential than clothing, income, or a roof over our heads. It’s the provision of God Himself, and His constant presence among us.”
After reading these words I saw some of the news stories about Black Friday now becoming Black Thursday. I understand that some people really enjoy getting together with family and friends and hitting the early morning shopping sales experience after Thanksgiving. But it seems to me that we are focusing more and more on the THINGS of Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of the WHO and WHY of these two holidays. Thanksgiving is becoming more about time to spend money shopping for the perfect gifts and Christmas has become more about giving the right gift and making people happy. Those things in and of themselves aren’t wrong, but somehow we’ve lost the WONDER AND AWE of Christmas. We are focused too much on THINGS and not enough of God’s precious gift to us of His Son to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. Thanksgiving becomes more about strategies for what stores to hit and when in order to get the most bang for our buck instead of taking time to Thank God for all He has done for us.
Whether it is God’s providential hand keeping a truck from rolling completely over and drastically injuring the driver, or having a surgical procedure available to help an irregular heart become regular. Whether it is groceries dropped at the door of someone in need, or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment who feels like a burden only to tell them you’ve been in their shoes. You understand how they feel and are so grateful to be able to pay it forward. Maybe it is just the eagles soaring above you as you go for a walk under beautifully blue skies. Or it may be the hug you receive from your 9 year old grandson whom you never thought would make it when he was born at 2 1/2 pounds. It may be the peace of God in your heart as you meet with someone you’ve had conflicts with in the past and realize God’s grace has provided incredible healing.
A while back I wrote how worshiping God changes us to being more like Him. With the renewed advertising campaigns to buy and spend more and more this holiday season, it seems to me that Pastor Jack Hayford’s statement – “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the one being worshiped,” is very true. Instead of worshiping God and being changed into His image. Too often we are worshiping the almighty dollar and the
happiness it might bring. If that is the case and we are worshiping material things, does Hayford’s quote mean – When we worship material things we are changed into the image of those things we are worshiping? Given the amount of advertising and news coverage over changing the shopping day and getting prepared for the holiday sales, it really makes me wonder. I heard of people who will have been camped out in line in front of a store in Wisconsin for a week by the time the store opens for the sale. Do we, do I, come close to having that type of anticipation and time for God?
I have been challenged to intentionally give God some serious time to thank Him for ALL HE has done for me. He has blessed me, my family and my friends abundantly more than we could ask or imagine. So much more than money can buy. I pray you are able to take time to reflect on and thank God for His love and grace He lavishes on us during this Holy Season.
Our son has served in the United States Air Force since 1997. I have 3 nephews in the military. Our son-in-law was in the Marines. My father served in the Army. We have many young people who have crossed our lives who are currently serving and countless people who have served over the years. We have seen first hand the sacrifices family and friends have had to make while their loved ones serve here in the United States and abroad. However, we count our blessings very much as those dear to us have not had to deal with major injury or loss.
Watching testimonials and tributes to those who have served particularly in recent years – young lives who have been dealt devastating injuries – physical and mental – I find myself in tears. As actors tell the stories of Veterans who have lost limbs, suffered traumatic brain injury, or deal with PTSD, my heart grieves for the altered lives each one of those men and women have to deal with. Their families and friends. Dreams shattered. Expectations unmet. Loss after loss. A “new normal.” The emotional scars. Surgeries. The residual loss of family and friends who can’t take the loss or the changes in the individual and walk out of their lives. And those who never come home.
What an incredible honor to live in a country where people are willing to sacrifice so greatly for their country and the freedom of others.
It is truly a blessing to know that God knows the number of hairs on our head and knows who each one of us are. He knows who the veterans are. He knows where our loved ones are. He knows what they need. He knows because He loves us so much He sacrificed His Son for our eternal life and freedom. He loves and cares for those who are wounded, lost and dying.
Praising God for the dedication and service of the men and women of this country. And REJOICING in His sacrificial gift so we may have complete forgiveness and freedom from our sins ~ Faye