01 Dec

Jesus Is the Answer – Hope

 

Advent - Jesus Is the Answer

This week we begin our season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the Advent season, we keep in mind both “advents,” both “visits” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

Our theme this year is “Jesus Is the Answer.” This week we focus on Read More

24 Dec

Hope of the Nations – Lord

Advent Lord

This week we continue the season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas.  Our theme this year is “Hope of the Nations,” and we are thinking on the world-wide hope found in Jesus Christ.  We’re meditating on the ideas of light, life, liberty, love, and Lord.

We focus this week on “Lord.”  We read in Philippians 2:8-11:

8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Reflection

This week we light the CANDLE OF LORD.  Jesus Christ came on a mission.  Phase one of that mission, which we celebrate here at Christmas, was to take on flesh.  As our text says, He appeared as a man, and indeed was a man.  Phase 2 was to be completely obedient to the Father.  Jesus Christ never sinned and literally earned heaven.  Phase 3 was to die for the sins of mankind, which He did excruciatingly on a cross.  Phase 4 was to be resurrected from the dead to live forevermore.  Mission accomplished!

And what did Jesus get in return for His work?  He got a great reward from His Father.  He was exalted to Lord of the universe.  He and His name would be the only pathway to the Father and would be full of glory.

Even now, He is Lord, but many refuse to acknowledge His lordship.  Friend, the truth is that one day, every single person who will ever live will bow their knee to Jesus in surrender to His Lordship.  Many do so joyfully in this life and will experience the glories of Heaven, but those who continue in rebellion against God until the day they die will bow their knee with great sorrow because when they stand before God in judgment, Jesus’ lordship will be vibrantly clear to them, but it will be everlastingly too late.  They will have missed their only opportunity, this one life, to surrender to Jesus.  Only Hell awaits them.

Friends, we pray that no person will face that heartbreak.  Believe on Jesus as your Savior and Lord today.  He came for you.  Now, will you come to Him?  If you will, it will be the merriest Christmas ever!!

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

17 Dec

Hope of the Nations – Love

Advent - Love

This week we continue the season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas.  Our theme this year is “Hope of the Nations,” and we are thinking on the world-wide hope found in Jesus Christ.  We’re meditating on the ideas of light, life, liberty, love, and Lord.

Our focus this week is on love.  We read in Ephesians 2:1-7:

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

Reflection

This week we light the CANDLE OF LOVE.  It’s clear from Scripture that we are unlovely.  We’re by nature and by action death-ridden rebels chasing our worldly appetites around.  We’re wretches deserving of wrath, but something greater than our wretchedness forestalls God’s wrath, namely God’s love.  We’re unlovely, but God is love, and He has set His affection on us!

It’s love that saw our death and depravity and worked to make us alive and righteous.  It’s love that pursued rebel hearts and won them to adoration and obedience.  It’s love that changes our destination from the pits of hell to the very thrown room of God where Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand.  God’s love for humanity is a powerful force!

It was love that caused the Father to give the Son to the world, and it was love that motivated the Son to voluntarily take on flesh and dwell among us until His death, resurrection, and ascension.  The cross is a sure sign of God’s love, but so is the manger.  This Christmas season, may you marvel at the depth and intensity of God’s love!

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song

10 Dec

Hope of the Nations – Liberty

 

This week we continue the season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas.  Our theme this year is “Hope of the Nations,” and we are thinking on the world-wide hope found in Jesus Christ.  We’re meditating on the ideas of light, life, liberty, love, and Lord.

Our focus this week is on liberty.  We read in John 8:31-36:

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.

36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.


Reflection

This week we light the CANDLE OF LIBERTY.  One of the worst realities in the world has to be the reality of being a slave—being held under physical bondage by another such that we must do against our will what we are commanded to do.  The Bible talks a lot about bondage, not just physical bondage but also the more harmful spiritual bondage.  The Bible makes clear in Romans 7:14 that as sinners we are born sold into spiritual bondage to sin.  Here in the John passage that we just read, we read that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  There are physically free people walking around everywhere who are spiritually enslaved, and to make matters worse, they don’t even realize it!

Jesus came promising freedom, liberty.  Jesus said, “Be my student so that you will know the truth, and that truth will set you spiritually free.”  That same promise is still offered today, and it’s offered to all of the world—China, Norway, Canada, Peru, Australia, India, Iran, the United States of America, and every other nation in between.  All who will turn from sin and believe on Jesus will know the fullness of spiritual liberty, but all who do not will remain a slave.

God the Son who is Jesus the Christ took on flesh and dwelt among us so that we might be emancipated.  This Christmas, may every person in the world experience freedom in Jesus, but especially you here today, may Jesus the Liberator make you free indeed.

04 Dec

Hope of the Nations – Life

This week we continue the season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas.  Our theme this year is “Hope of the Nations,” and we are thinking on the world-wide hope found in Jesus Christ.  We’re meditating on the ideas of light, life, liberty, love, and Lord.

Our focus this week is life.  We read in Romans 6:23:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Reflection

This week we light the CANDLE OF LIFE.  God created us perfect and pure with only life before us, but the great cosmic tragedy of Adam’s sinful fall in the Garden of Eden brought down a curse upon all of creation, which meant that life was no longer before us, only death—physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death.

Adam as the federal head—the representative head—of all humanity earned death for all of humanity when he sinned against God, and as a result we are all born guilty, born with a sin nature ready to sin as Adam sinned as soon as we are developmentally capable, and born into a world that encourages us to sin.  As a result, death is surely what awaits all of humanity.

But praise be to God!  He didn’t see fit for His special creation in humanity to suffer death.  Therefore, He, as a free gift, gave His son Jesus to live righteously for humanity and to die horribly for humanity.  On the third day after Jesus’ death, Jesus rose victoriously over death to live forevermore.  Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God can say to the world, The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  He can also say that whosoever believes on Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life.

Friends, every one of us has death and life before us.  In this Advent season, may you and the entire world choose life by trusting in Jesus, the giver of life, as Savior and Lord!  There is life in no other.

27 Nov

Hope of the Nations – Light

This week we begin our season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas.  Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah.  In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate His first coming at Christmas.  The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.”  In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

Our theme this year is “Hope of the Nations.”  Traditionally in the Advent season we would focus on the topics of hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ, but as we think about Jesus Christ being the Hope of the Nations, this season we’re going to focus on the world-wide hope found in Jesus Christ.  We’ll meditate on the ideas of light, life, liberty, love, and Lord.

This wekk, we focus on light.  We read in Matthew 4:12-17:

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;

13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.

14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

15 “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—

16 “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

Reflection

This week we light the CANDLE OF LIGHT.  The world is in spiritual darkness, but Jesus has come that all the world may have light.  It’s so important to realize the geography of the Matthew text above.  Jesus of the Jews ventured into the land that Isaiah called Galilee of the Gentiles.  According to the Bible, the world is divided into two major people groups—the Jews and the Gentiles—and the light of the Jews didn’t just shine on the Jews.  It has shone on the entire world, both Jews and Gentiles.  It’s not just the Jews that God desires to see saved and reconciled.  God desires the whole world—all tribes, tongues, nations, and peoples.  And, that only happens through the light of Jesus Christ, who is the Hope of the Nations.

We who are in Jesus Christ have been given the light, and now we have the great opportunity and privilege to pass it on throughout the world of darkness.  If you’ve not received the light, I invite you today to trust in Jesus Christ as your savior, that you may escape the spiritual darkness.  And, for those who already have the light, may you shine the light of Jesus near and far, at home and abroad!

26 Dec

How Long, O Lord? – Christ

 

This week we continue the season of Advent by lighting the 5th and final candle, the Christ candle.  Our 2011 Advent theme is “How Long, O Lord?” and each week we’ll be looking at a passage of Scripture that focuses on the Second Coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Our text this week comes from Revelation 22:6-7:

  • And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

This week we light the Christ candle.  What a perfect morning to talk about Jesus Christ coming again on the morning when we celebrate Jesus Christ coming the first time.  The first time there was no room in the inn.  The first time He was born a babe.  The first time He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  In all lowliness Jesus came the first time.  But, when Jesus Christ comes again, it will not be in lowliness.  He will come in might and justice and power.  The first He came bringing peace to all who will call on the name of the Lord.  But, when Christ comes again, He will be bringing destruction to all who love their sin more than God, to all refuse to call on the name of the Lord.

Friend, this Christmas week, would you receive the gift of Jesus Christ?  He was long-awaited the first time, and He’s long-awaited now.  Just as Mary was pregnant with child until the time was full for Jesus to appear the first time, Jesus Christ is now waiting until the fullness of time to appear again.  And He tells us in Revelation 22:7, And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.  To the believer and follower of Jesus Christ, this is great news.  To the unbeliever and rejecter of Jesus Christ, this is a warning.  How long, O Lord?  “Quickly!” He says.

May all believe on Jesus so that they will be ready when Jesus comes again!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!