The Advent Season begins four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. The season provides an annual reminder that Jesus, the Christ, has come and is coming again. The word, advent, comes from the Latin “adventus” and means “coming”.
Advent marks the beginning of the Church Year. Helping us remember God’s plan for our salvation. He began the work of salvation by sending His Son, our Savior, Jesus. He was born of a virgin, laid in a manger, worshipped by shepherds, and visited by Magi from the East. During this season, we celebrate the GREAT good news, Jesus has come.
Advent also serves to remind us that Jesus is coming again. His second Advent is yet before us. We anticipate his return, participating in his mission, seeking the salvation of those who have not yet begun to follow him.
We enter this Advent season, following the cycle of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. There will be daily devotional readings and a daily devotional thought. We hope you will take some time to read God’s Word, reflecting on its application, and prayerfully committing yourself to live for Jesus, our present and coming King, in Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
Booklets will be available at the building each Sunday. Additionally, you will be able to find the daily devotional on our Church website and Facebook page.
Celebrating His Coming—Pastor Bob
Against All Hope
Hopelessness: a feeling of utter impossibility; a sense of helpless despair, resulting from a bleak situation.
When confronted with a hopeless situation, we most often respond with a sense of helplessness. We ask ourselves and others around us, “What can we do?” and, we answer the question by saying, “Nothing, absolutely nothing!” Then, we sit down on our hands and look to the sky above and cry!
Abraham had left everything to follow God’s call to a new land, where he and his offspring would live and flourish. God had led him to this distant Canaan, and he had put down roots, waiting for the children God had promised. He waited, Waited, WAITed, and WAITED! No children were born, not even one! But, though he wavered in his waiting, and tried to take steps to remedy the situation his own way. Still, he trusted God to keep his promise. When the messengers came to Abraham in his old age and told him, he would have a son, by his wife, Sarah, also past child-bearing age. He believed God’s promise. His hope was in God, and God alone. God kept his promise, Isaac was born. Abraham’s hope was rewarded! (for the whole story, read Genesis 12-22)
Advent is about hope. Hope that God will keep his promise. Hope that Messiah will come. Hope that Jesus is coming again, and soon! Like Abraham, let us hope against hope in the Lord!
1 John 3:1-3
Hope to Become
I remember the day each of our children were born. Childbirth never became “old hat”. Each birth was new and different from the other. There were new challenges to be faced. There were new opportunities which presented themselves. New futures which beckoned us forward.
We did not know what our children would become as they grew into maturity. We dreamed: Our son, the professional basketball star; our firstborn daughter, the scholastic, noted author; our second born daughter, the world-renowned classical musician. We talked to God about them, confessing our desire that they would know him and serve him.
None became what we dreamed for them. Yet, God has blessed, as our children have each given themselves up to serve him, following Jesus. This is better than any of our “dreams” for them. All three are married, with children of their own. Who would have dreamed it? “See what great love the Father has lavished on us!”
What do you suppose God has dreamed for you? What are his hopes for your life? Do you believe God has plans for each one of us? I believe he does. He planned for his Son to come into the world he created and save it (and us) from the ravages of sin and death.
God invites us, this Advent season, to put our hope in him. He invites us to make ourselves ready for his appearing.
Hope: Our Anchor
There is a song, written by Hal David: Promises, Promises, written for the Broadway musical of the same name, the chorus contains these lyrics:
“Oh promises, their kind of promises, can just destroy a life
Oh promises, those kind of promises take all the joy from life
Oh promises, promises, my kind of promises
Can lead to joy and hope and love
The words would fit the message of the writer of Hebrews. He would agree, there are promises that hurt and damage and destroy; there are promises that bring joy and hope, love and life.
The first kind of promises are those which are made, but go unkept. People promise all manner of things: “I will see you at 8”, then, they never show up; “The check is in the mail”, then, payment never comes; “…til death do us part”, then, they are gone. These promises leave us empty and dying.
The second kind of promises are those which are made, and kept! “I will see you at 8”, and there they are, ready to go. “The check is in the mail”, and the next day it arrives. “…til death do us part”, and 60 years later…
We can anchor our lives to God’s promises. He keeps his word! Paul says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are YES in Christ” (2 Cor. 1:20). This Advent season we anchor our hope in God’s YES!
In This Hope
Do you have a “bucket list”? You know, one of those lists of things you want to do, and places you want to visit; no, you have to do and must visit before you kick the bucket. If you don’t have a “bucket list”, do you have a “wish list” of places to visit and things to do?
I had always wanted to visit Europe. It was one of those things on my “wish list”. This pre-dated a bucket list by several years. Then, a friend of mine gave me the chance to go to Romania to teach Church History to Bible Students. I would be there for just under three weeks, teaching, traveling, and sharing life with missionaries, Jon and Margaret Scott. I jumped at the chance to go. As the day of the trip approached, I kept wondering if something was going to come up preventing my going. The wait was almost more than I could bear. The day finally came, I stepped on board the plane and began my long awaited journey. It was everything I had hoped for and more.
Things have changed, now. I no longer hope to go to Romania. I have been there. Now, I am hoping for a trip to Spain, to visit my daughter and son-in-law (and grandson, too). Longing to see them doing the work God has prepared for them.
Advent season reminds us of the hope of our salvation. Because Jesus came and died for us, visibly expressing God’s love for us, we experience salvation. Now, we eagerly await his coming again, to take us home to be with him forever. Come soon, Lord Jesus.
1 Peter 1:3-9
New Birth into a Living Hope
Eugene Peterson, in his translation, The Message: What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven–and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all–life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him–with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
“We’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for”… “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope.” I have met many “older” saints, who tell me, “I cannot wait to meet Jesus!” They mean it, too, not in an odd or morbid way, but in a hope-filled way. I want to live my life saturated with the hope of Jesus appearing. I want this day to be lived for his return. This Advent season make each new day, the Day of his appearing!
Our Blessed Hope
The first week of Advent is coming to a close. We have spent the week reflecting on the HOPE we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. This hope is based in what God has done: “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“ (John 3:16). God has made a way for our salvation, it is done!
The hope we celebrate, “Our Blessed Hope” is something God is doing: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:12, 13). We participate in this work of Grace. God invites us to allow him to put us to work, using our gifts, talents, and strengths to bring God’s good news to people far and wide. We have a Great Commission to deliver, work and ministry to perfom, being Jesus’ hands and feet.
Finally, the hope we celebrate, “Our Blessed Hope” is something God is yet to do: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7). We wait for our final salvation. We hope to hear our Savior speak our name: “Well done, my good and faithful servant, welcome home!”