Advent: Week Three, Joy!

As we continue in our Advent season, so far, we have looked at Hope and Faith during weeks one and two. This Advent week, the focus is on joy and what better payoff for one’s hope and faith than joy! A truth evident in Luke 2:

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20)

The shepherds were praising God because they found Mary, Joseph, and Jesus after being told by an “angel of the Lord” that the Messiah, Savior, and Lord was born.[1] Initially, their response was terror, but instantly they were calmed with this good news of Jesus’ birth. Still, seeing is believing.[2] Until they saw, they would rely on their hope and faith.[3]

Continue reading “Advent: Week Three, Joy!”

Advent: Week Two, Faith!

Image result for advent faith

Faith can be challenging! Faith is rough when we don’t know how long our faith must sustain us. Faith is even more robust when we struggle to see if we’ve heard from God rightly. Despite these and other challenges, there are some certainties with faith too. Christmas then reminds us that the object of our faith should always be Jesus. 

In Luke 2:25-38, we meet Simeon, who received word from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until the coming Messiah. Today if we heard someone make that kind of claim, we’d consider such a person arrogant and pretentious. Yet, Simeon’s proclamation was to confirm the Lord’s coming than elevate himself. He displayed a show of faith. 

This Christmas, there will be a lot of emphasis on important things. Yet, are these essential things, be they local traditions, family traditions, new traditions, friends, gifts, etc., yet, how are they pointing to Jesus? How are they enhancing our faith than self?

If we are honest, for many of us, Jesus is not the object of our faith enough during Christmas. Yes, we might attend Christmas services, but we’re too caught up in the culture’s concept of Christmas. That’s not to say we should avoid cultural traditions, but we should remember that no matter how great our traditions might be, Jesus is better. 

Looking back then to Simeon, why not start a new tradition. One where – like Simeon – we marvel at God’s faithful plan to ensure His Son would be born. The Son, who is the promise to all humanity. A birth that began a chain reaction of wonders from earthy ministry, to Cruxificiton, to Resurrection, and the birth of His Church. 

If, then, God can ensure Simeon’s confidence would be rewarded due to His faithfulness to the Lord, then let’s start a Christmas tradition where we faithfully trust God more. A faith that remembers His plan for us through Jesus every day, no matter our circumstances. 

This Christmas, don’t seek to “check off” a Christmas Eve service as an obligation. No, extend your faith to worship the birthed Savior with others both in and out of the church. Doing so, I bet you’ll worship Jesus in more profound and more faithful ways, who again, is better!

Growing our worship is a great tradition to start during Christmas. A tradition based on faith in the greatest gift of all, Christ! His plan would not be thwarted years ago with Simeon or others. Therefore, worship Him each day because his plan won’t be prevented in your life, especially when He remains the object of our faith! 

Advent: Week One, Hope!

Hope is a loaded term these days. From politics to generic inspirational use, hope can now mean many things to many people. Defining hope with such diversity is not bad; after all, the opposite is dread. Since then some family and friends face sorrow during the Holidays; hope is dread’s alternative. Furthermore, since our culture uses hope so often, we Christians can speak about the greatest hope of all much easier: that hope being, Jesus Christ

Luke 2:11 reminds us, “Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” [1]

Two-thousand years ago, the world was in a period with little hope. God’s chosen people, Israel, had not heard from the Lord for over 400 years. This timeframe was known as the “Silent Years.” It was a dark period…until Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior was humbly born in a manger at the town of Bethlehem. 

As Jesus aged and matured, His ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, the nature of Christ’s hope made more sense. In Romans 15:13, the Apostle Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

From Romans 15:13 and many like it, today, we know that when we trust in the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, we receive hope, joy, and peace. A hope, joy, and peace that comes from God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Together, they are three-in-one, and our belief in Christ sustains our hope yesterday, today, and forevermore. 

We need no longer live today in silence or darkness. Instead, we should live with hope because the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born 2000 plus years ago, not just in the flesh, but forevermore! 

[1]All verses used in this post are from the New International Version 2011.

Thanksgiving…Dark or White Meat?!?!?

No matter you Thanksgiving tradition, with time it can be better!!!

One decision often made every year is, “Do you want white meat or dark meat?”

Most people know that dark meat is not as good for you as white meat, but if you have white meat as dry as some families cooking, you smother it with gravy anyway. This result brings you back to the question, “Do you want white meat or dark meat?” Some people genuinely love white meat. Others want the dark meat, the legs, and thighs of the turkey. Life doesn’t always give us the choice, but we can choose how we consume what our circumstances give.

Life is filled with white meat moments and dark meat moments. Ultimately, our outcome matters on the response we give – not in what we consume because life sometimes brings darkness even if unwanted – we must then choose how we will process what life brings. There are dark meat moments like,

  1. Traumatic moments in your family history. 
  2. Remembrances where Thanksgiving brings the reminder of the loss of a loved one.
  3. Prior years of isolation than celebration.

No matter your circumstances, there our lives could contain white meat hopeful moments. Perhaps then…if you give it time, better looks more like:

  1. Seeing an old family create a new foundation because they’ve seen them as family all along!
  2. Developing a new tradition with a future family!
  3. Celebrating a one-week-old marriage with that new family!
  4. Your past trauma being overshadowed by the proximity of your marriage anniversary, which brings joy!
  5. Watching traditions passed to the next generations as they make family recipes better than prior ages!
  6. Lifelong memories of spending Thanksgiving with friends for the moment, but more importantly, for eternity!
  7. Embracing memories together where no family or friends are present, just another!

Those closest will know the examples are a list from my life. Over the years I’ve had some dark meat Thanksgivings. While I could go into more detail over my negative experiences, know that over the last decade though I’ve had many more white meat and hopeful Thanksgiving seasons. Simply put: hope exist for you, trust me!

You might not have much to be thankful for this year, but it won’t always be that way. Until then find the gratitude this year to push you towards better years, no matter how bad your circumstances might seem. Hope is necessary to work though our dark reminders. Eventually our toil will bring celebration. Therefore, know this truth: God is a God of redemption, period.

God then can use people and circumstances to redeem one’s past towards a future hope and a present joy. In other words, no matter the trauma of your past, be thankful for what you have now, while you hope for the future joy of tomorrow!

How, then, will you choose to embrace what God has given you – no matter your circumstances – on Thanksgiving?

Remember, for most; we are far better off than most around the world. Our worst day is someone else’s best day. Rejoice then in what God has given you than what you wish He could provide you!

Either way, you are blessed beyond most; that’s reason enough to be thankful! Be it dark or white meat experiences in your life, God can and will redeem if we are patient enough! Embracing such a hope leave no “bone” to pick with anyone, but a wishbone of joy to give to all!

Trust me, it…does…pay…off!!!!!!

 

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