“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
The fifth Advent candle is Christ. He is the light of the world because He came into the world from heaven to spread the light of God to all. He not only spread the light, He entered into believing hearts to make his creation full of light. It reminds me of one candle being the source of light for hundreds of smaller candles. Each one burns as brightly as the one before, filling the room with its glow. I am one of those candles, lit by Him the moment I believed and He entered my heart.
In the year to come, as I have for the past 37 years, I will let this little light of mine shine so others can find their way to Him. A beloved hymn says: ” Let the lower lights be burning! send a gleam across the wave! Some poor struggling, fainting seaman you may rescue, you may save.”
“You are the light of the world…let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14,16
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14
During my growing up years in the sixties and seventies, the Vietnam War was raging. Every night on the news a body count was given. Today there are wars and uprisings all over the world. There is no peace on earth, even during this Christmas season. So what is the peace that Jesus brought to earth when He was born? It is the peace of the heart that trusts Him completely.
What if life has knocked me sideways and left me on the road battered and beaten? What if the things I hoped for never came? What if instead of getting better, circumstances got worse? It doesn’t matter. The gift of God’s peace is still mine if I trust Him. I lay my life at His feet and rest, confident that all things are under His control . This is how far I’ve come in the last few weeks. I can look forward to 2014 with joy.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3
Who could have imagined the sweet baby Jesus on the cross? The babe of Bethlehem grew up into a full-grown, perfect, and sinless Man, the only One fit to die for the humans He created. He was aware of this all of His life. But He also saw beyond the cross to the joy. I’m certain this joy centered in His Father and the multitudes He would bring to glory. God tells us to consider Him Who endured… Why? So we won’t faint and lose heart when we are buffeted by trials of many kinds. We have access to that same joy this season and all seasons, no matter what opposition and pain we have to endure.
Today and everyday, when it hurts so bad you cannot even speak: Consider Him.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord’.” Luke 2:10-11
I wonder how those who waited for the birth of the Messiah expected Him to come? Many were probably looking for a man to deliver them from the tyrannical government of that day and usher in a new kingdom where Israel ruled. Instead, God’s promised Deliverer was a helpless babe! Those who had faith in God’s promises rejoiced at His birth. Anyone looking for a man was disappointed. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither His ways our ways. God is the Creator of “out of the box”!
This gives me great comfort. God does not think like me. He does not do things the way I do them. He knows more than I do and He created me. So why not trust Him with all the hard things in my life and let Him figure out how to work through them? Then I will rejoice when the unexpected appears because I believe He keeps His promises, no matter what.
“Rejoice in the Lord always.” Philippians 4:4
My favorite Christmas gift when I was growing up was the Fisher Price dollhouse. My imagination went wild with this house, as I lived out the perfect family life through the little people. My dream was to live in a house with a second floor! I thought that was a sign that you were rich.The sight of that house brings back precious memories of hours of play.
The giving of gifts is a pleasurable tradition of Christmas. We want to see the eyes of our loved ones light up and feel the warmth of their joy when they unwrap something they truly wanted. Are gifts the measure of love or are they an obligation? Whatever our reasons for giving are, God had only one to give His Son: unconditional love. It’s a gift that will keep on giving.
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…”
God is love. What could be higher than that? Love needs to be expressed, and He did, by giving His Son to an agonizing death on the Cross. But before His death could occur, He had to come into the world in human form and live a pure, sinless life. Celebrating the love of God this Christmas, we cannot forget why He came in human flesh. While we decorate our houses, send our cards, shop for gifts, go to parties, and watch the Christmas movies, let’s never forget that sweet, innocent baby we celebrate grew into a Man to die for us and give us life. Red and green are recognized as Christmas colors. They represent life-one given (red) and one received (eternal life). The Babe born a King became a sacrifice and now we bow in adoration before Him.
“Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
“And there was a prophetess, Anna…She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” Luke 2:36-37
Anna lived in the presence of God. She sought Him daily through prayer and fastings. She was a prophetess, who took the messages of Jesus to the masses. I wonder if she had any doubt that God would keep His promise of the Messiah? If she did, the doubt quickly vanished in the presence of the One Who gave it. She fasted, but her soul was filled with the delights of heaven. She didn’t have time to fret and wonder. She listened to God’s words and took them into her heart. She left the temple only to spread the word, that the Savior was born. What a waiting room! What a God Who keeps His word!
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31, Amplified
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke 2:25
The first candle in the Advent wreath symbolizes anticipation. Simeon’s life was wrapped in the promise of the consolation of Israel. God had also made him a personal promise that he would see the Lord’s Christ before his death. He looked for him with the anticipation of a child waiting for his parents to come home with a special gift. Spirit-filled, he went into the temple and was able to hold Israel’s Hope in his arms. God blessed him that day with a double fulfillment to a double promise. He could truly rest in peace.
So, what does my waiting room look like? Am I living a devout, righteous life? Do I look with anticipation for the Lord’s working in my life, confident that He will keep His promises? Then my waiting room is full of worship, praise, and joy. That’s the kind of waiting I want to do this Christmas season.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
When I was a teen I longed for friends, but was too shy to even approach someone. Laura approached me and we quickly became friends. One Friday afternoon when school let out she made an off-handed statement that I took to heart. She said that MAYBE she and her boyfriend would stop by and pick me up for a night out. That evening I got ready and sat on the sidewalk in front of my house to wait for them. Darkness fell. They never came. I was devastated.
Why is it so hard to believe God will do exactly what He says He will do? I am sure it’s because most times we have a lengthy wait between the promise and the fulfillment. In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet was given a word to publish, though it would not be fulfilled right away. “3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.” God did fulfill this vision. He fulfilled the promise of a Savior after many centuries. He will fulfill His vision for my life. That I can count on.
” Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” Psalm 27, Amplified Bible
During the long wait for the Messiah, I wonder how the Jewish people were able to hold on and still believe? They had hope, a hope put in their hearts by God with a promise. The promise didn’t have an expiration date, nor would God forget. The first candle of the advent candles is “Hope, anticipation”.
What about me this Christmas season? Yes, I am waiting for the fulfillment of promises I’ve held onto over the months and years. Does that mean God isn’t going to keep His promises? As I contemplate the coming of the Messiah and look at other instances in the Bible when a promise was long in coming, I answer with a resounding NO! His Word to me is: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6. On this I rest.
Am I looking forward to Christmas with no gifts under the tree? Yes, I am. I already have the gift of life. This gift causes worship to rise in my heart.
More to come!