Advent Joy

Looking past the bling of the baubles, lights, and all that sparkles in the shops at this time of the year, there is a message that brings great joy. This response is not just some passing emotion, it is the opening of a deep well within whose source is divine, and that ministers to our soul, as it speaks of freedom home, and healing. The most amazing truth is that this joy is a gift from our Lord, who fills us with it by His Spirit, and it provides such strength as we focus on its source.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

(Luke 2:8-15)

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

(Nehemiah 8:10b)

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Advent – Footsteps to Glory

Feet drawn without ceasing to a Babe in a manger, in a small town away from the notice of many. Yielded, focussed, some run, other tread wearily, but steadfastly. Those who intentionally make this journey know they have an encounter with much more than their minds can comprehend, the long promised manifestation of the glory of God, Immanuel. The Bible would tell us even many year before the birth of Christ other set out to meet this saviour…but their time passed before He arrived (and brought them home). And here we are today making this same pilgrimage to our figurative Bethlehem, to meet with the Christ child, and the host of heaven’s praises. And yet, like those two thousand years ago, we know this meeting is not the end goal, rather just a way point to our eternal destiny which Jesus has prepared for us. And so we continue this walk, drawn on by the glory of God.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

(Luke 2:4-7)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

(Matthew 2:1-2)

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

(Luke 2:15-16)

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

(John 14:1-6)

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Advent – Follow

The lateen, it seems to be such a comforting light. One that is easy to follow, as it speaks of home, and warmth. A special heavenly light was something three wise men were also drawn in to due to its strange, but comforting glow. It was a sign sent from the ages that pointed to the birth of the greatest King. Advent is a good time to reflect on which light we are following. As they say, not all that glitters is gold, and there are things that seek to distract from the path of peace and eternal life. But there is a true Light that leads us to eternity and transformation, and as we earnestly seek Him, by His loving grace He will expose the false lights, and guide us by His presence to our destiny.

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

(Matthew 2:9-10)

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

(Revelation 22:16)

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

(John 1:6-9)

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

(2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

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Advent – Reflections of the Future

Advent, the season we prepare for the arrival of Immanuel, God with us, our Lord, Jesus Christ. As we ponder the miracle of the virgin birth, and the complete contradiction of Almighty God appearing as a babe, can we imagine how two thousand plus years ago, they prepared for His arrival? Could they remember the prophecies of old, and what did they expect? History reveals many were not prepared, and certainly misunderstood that the Christ must first come as a Servant King, seated on a donkey, before coming again as the all conquering King of kings, seated on His white warhorse …coming from heaven that all may see.

Are we ready, or will we make the same mistakes? He has revealed the nature of His return, and calls us to reflect on the future, to make way for Immanuel.

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;

To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

(Luke 1:76-79)

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

(Matthew 1:20-25)

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

(Acts 1:9-11)

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

(Matthew 24:30-31)

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Advent – The Light of Hope

Eternity’s Light, the flame of life, looked from heaven, and moved with the Father’s love, came to us who dwelt in darkness to reveal the path of hope. He now calls to us to carry our lamp of Christ for others to see, and with the strength of His Spirit, awake and let our lives burn brightly as we await the return and fulfilment of hope’s Light.

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.

(Isaiah 60:1-2)

Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

(Isaiah 49:6)

[The words of Jesus Christ]

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

(Matthew 25:1-13)

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

(Romans 13:11-14)

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Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,

Whose hope is in the Lord his God,

Who made heaven and earth,

The sea, and all that is in them;

Who keeps truth forever,

Who executes justice for the oppressed,

Who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.

(Psalms 146:5-7)

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True words

Psalms 121:1-2

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

Luke 21:27-28

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

John 12:30-32

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Mark 13:35-37

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

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