Advent: Joy

Advent is about the coming of Christ. The coming of Immanuel – God with Us.  Because of Immanuel God with us:

We have hope. We have hope because of despite what junk is in our past through Christ we can have a future. We have hope that no matter what is happening now we have a Heavenly, Father who wants the best for us and has a plan. We have hope of a future reward.

We have peace. Peace that is not contingent upon our current circumstances.  A peace rooted and sustained by Immanuel – God with Us.

We can experience unconditional love. Love that God demonstrated in a radical revolutionary manner. He sent His son to provide hope, peace, love and joy to his enemies. He reached out to us despite of our actions.

We can have true joy.  Joy that is not based upon our present circumstances.  A joy founded on the coming of Immanuel – God With Us

 

Advent: Love

At the heart of Advent is a radical revolutionary demonstration of God’s love for us. God created us for a relationship with him. Unfortunately, human reasoning and pride got in the way and derailed God’s plan.

In His  great love and mercy God relentlessly sought out his people who repeatedly rebelled and turned away.  God created  pathway to redemption and restoration by sending His son to Earth.

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16-18 ESV

Jesus is Immanuel – God With Us

When Love Was Born by Mark Schultz

Advent: Peace

Peace seems to be elusive.  We live busy, stressed out lives, especially this time of year. There are a million things to do, presents to buy, events to attend and guests to entertain. It is hard to find even a moment of peace.

Our nation has just endured  one of the most divisive  presidential elections in its history. Police have become targets of violence. Many cities have experienced demonstrations and riots in recent months. It seems that our country  is on the edge and peace is nowhere to be found.

Internationally we are facing a growing threat of terrorism. As the unrest in Syria continues the refugee crises multiplies. Each day brings another disaster. There is no peace.

There is hope. Peace can be found even in a tumultuous  world. We have peace because long ago Christ came into our world.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   Isaiah 9:6

We have peace because of God’s radical demonstration of love. We have peace be Jesus is Immanuel – God with us.

Making Room for Christmas

This has been bouncing around in my head all day and I’ve just haven’t gotten around to writing. Actually, I started thinking about it a couple of days ago. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. Normally, I enjoy decorating for Christmas. A couple of months ago the Big Guy and I moved from Florida to Texas. Things have been busy and we still have boxes in part of the living room and one of the bedrooms. Last week as I was prepping for Thanksgiving and trying to figure out where to put the Christmas decorations it was obvious a lot of the clutter had to go to make room for the Christmas things. What seemed like a gigantic mess with a  little bit of work was quickly organized to make room for the Christmas things.

As we prepare for Christmas, it is easy to get caught up in all of the shopping, cooking, decorating and other activities and leave out the real reason for Christmas. This Christmas take time to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. Focus on the important things and not all of the stuff. Maybe this means doing less or changing priorities.

How Many Kings by Downhere

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe after all we’ve projected
A child in a manger

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mothers shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for?

Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn savior
All that we have whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for his honor and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he’ll suffer
Do you believe, is this who we’ve waited for?
It’s who we’ve waited for

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

All for me
All for you
All for me
All for you

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

All for me
All for you

Emmanuel

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:8-24

Emmanuel by Love and The Love & The Outcome

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Christmas Stuff

When I was in grad school there was a house near campus that had an eclectic Christmas display. It started out with a normal light display. One year the residents didn’t take the Christmas lights down. Instead they added seasonal decorations throughout the year. They would just leave up the previous seasonal/holiday decorations. Eventually the entire yard became a huge mash-up of lights and “holiday” themed inflatables. I think one year I even saw live animals. The most notable was the Easter bunny next to the Shepherds in the nativity scene.

Many times I think we are like that yard. It is easy to  focus on all of the stuff of Christmas. Christmas time is one of my favorites. I enjoy the music, gift giving and other special things. It is easy to become busy buying gifts, decorating,  parties, special events. It doesn’t happen maliciously but somehow the Easter Bunny ends up in the nativity scene. (Yes, I know the Wise men don’t historically belong in the Nativity scene but that is another post.)

My challenge this year is to not lose sight of the meaning of Christmas during Advent:

  • To make a conscious effort to take time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas not just the stuff of Christmas.
  • To reflect God’s love and not channel the Grinch.
  • To take time to enjoy family and friends.
  • To celebrate the first Christmas gift.

Performed by Relient K

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 NIV

Are You Ready?

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I had intended to write this yesterday or even earlier today.  Unfortunately, I’ve had a hectic weekend. Normally, I cram my Saturday with taking care of things I can’t do during the week. Now I’ve added all of the Christmas extras. It is easy to focus on the activities and Christmas preparations and forget the real reason for the season.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (New International Version)