Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent Journal Day IV: The Servant Waits For The Master

The Christmas season is supposed to be a time of joy, but for many it is a hard time to endure. Today’s news illustrates how tough life can be; what could bring a mother to take the life of her two young children and herself? Depression and discouragement abound just as much if not more than the magic of the season. Your situation may not be on that level of human suffering, but many things vie for our attention. The to-do list grows exponentially, the calendar fills quickly with parties and events, the checkbook does not reconcile with the dreams and hopes that Christmas is supposed to bring.

The Lord wants more for us during this season; He wants us to look to His coming with joy and expectation; not through gloomy eyes. The Psalmist proclaims:

I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ Psalm 122:1 NASB

This Psalm is not about going to church on Sunday, though many interpret it as such. This is a Psalm of Ascent, a liturgy for Jewish Pilgrims going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts of Israel. Not only are they celebrating the festival, they are so celebrating that their feet are in the gates of Jerusalem. Arriving in Jerusalem at the Temple was a very joyous occasion. What Jerusalem was to Israel is what the Church and the holidays she celebrates, should be to believers. Even if times are hard and discouraging, we should approach them with joy; joy that we have the privilege of remembering Christ’s coming over two-thousand years ago, and His Future Advent.
The psalmists often found themselves discouraged because of trials or circumstances which surrounded them; yet they still called upon the Lord for help:

To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us. Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us, for we are greatly filled with contempt.  Our soul is greatly filled with the scoffing of those who are at ease, And with the contempt of the proud.

In ancient times, a servant stood dutifully awaiting a command from the one she served. She did nothing but watch the hand of her master. When the master needed the servant, they would raise their hand to summon the servant. That is the picture the psalmist paints here: he will do nothing but look to the Lord for help. He overcame every distraction, every circumstance and cried to God for help and waited on Him; his hope was solely in the Lord. This is what we should do when we become discouraged and trodden down with the commercialism and secular hype of the holidays. Hope in Him. Look to the Lord for His grace; He is faithful to answer. What other time of year can you hear walking through the mall, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! Glory to the newborn King!  Look for every drop of grace from the Father, and cultivate a grateful heart, and you will find joy in the season and have hope for the arrival of the coming King. 

To read the entire Advent Journal click here: 
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent Journal Day III: Scriptures of Hope

The first candle in Advent represents hope. This is a season of hope. The headlines tell us that the world is hopeless; but God gives us a different story. His Word is full of His promises, and His faithfulness; a Refuge of Hope. Below are some Scriptures that I read today reminding me and encouraging me to have Hope in Him. He is my strength. Read and meditate on these passage and gain strength for your soul.

So the helpless has hope, And unrighteousness must shut its mouth. Job 5:16

Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Job 13:15 

For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. Job 14:7 

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24 

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness. Psalm 33:18 

For I hope in You, O LORD; You will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 

And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7 

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5 

 My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5 

But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. Psalm 71:14 

Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Psalm 119:116 

I wait for the LORD , my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. Psalm 130:5 

O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. Psalm 130:7 

To read the entire Advent Journal click here: 

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent Journal Day II: An Advent Poem

The season is upon us Advent is here
I hope for the day that You will appear
You came to earth to dwell among
Immanuel, God with us, Heaven’s Song

Lord we prepare our hearts to receive You
You are the hope of Israel, and our hope too
God our Savior, the promised One from old
The Word from the beginning, arrival foretold

We will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace 
The angels deliver the message, our joy will never cease
The Christ Child has arrived goodwill toward all men
Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Our joy is full amen!

For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son
We were all sinners, lost, gone astray, undone
A stable in Bethlehem received the Holy Child
Not in pomp and circumstance, but meek and mild

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away our sin
The radiance of God's glory and the image of His being, 
The sinless Servant and Redeemer wrapped as a baby boy
Glory to God in the highest, it is good news of great joy
in the city of David, born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

Piper Green © 2016

To read the entire Advent Journal click here: 

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Journal Day I: A Theology of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is over. Today marks the beginning of Advent. Those of you who have read my entries over the past few years, know that this season is hard for me; I don’t enjoy Christmas. I am purposed to enjoy Christmas this year, but not for the commercialism and hype of the season, but to know Christ deeper. As I anticipate Christmas day, and celebrate the advent of Jesus Christ, I will seek Him every day and hope to experience Him in a new and fresh way. I desire to be thankful, not just at thanksgiving, but the whole year through. I need to cultivate a thankful heart; to create a theology of Thanksgiving. Thankfulness does not just appear in our hearts, we must cultivate it, practice it. Though I was raised in liturgical churches, I have never celebrated Advent. I have a couple of wreaths I set out for decoration, but don’t practice the liturgy. This year I want to write my own. This is the purpose behind this Advent journal; to cultivate my own worship, and I pray that it inspires you to do the same.

Thankfulness does not always come easy in the face of hurt, loss, and disappointment. The pain screams to drown out any hope of joy, yet we have the Light of the world and a journey to a manger, to break any threat of darkness. God is so faithful; if you can think of nothing to be thankful for remember that Jesus was beaten and bruised to redeem us because His love for us was too great. He could not even fathom spending an eternity apart from you; He could more easily fathom the Cross. If He does nothing else for me—I am forever awed at this act of love. Thanksgiving may be over, but our thanksgiving to Him should not rest. Advent is the arrival of the Light of World to give us light on our path and to break through the darkness in our lives. Seek for the Holy Child every day until He comes. Cultivate thanksgiving, find joy, feel His peace, and keep your eyes on Jesus—For He is why we celebrate.

When we truly prepare for the coming of Christ, He fills us with Hope; the Hope that He came once and the Hope that He will come again. Prepare for His coming and be ready. The Messiah was the Hope of Israel; and He silently crept into our chronos in the quiet of the night—in the humble surroundings of a stable to humble Jewish parents. His only coronation audience—cows, sheep, donkeys, a few frightened shepherds, and a glorious choir of God’s angelic host. He left the presence of the Father to dwell among us—Immanuel. The first Advent has come, fulfilling all that the Old Covenant promised.

Today begins the Advent season celebrating that fulfilled promise, with the lighting of the first candle—the ‘hope’ or ‘prophecy’ candle. It also represents our hope that He will come again. We hope in His coming, the promise that dripped like honey off the lips of our Savior, His prophetic promise that He will return. He came once; He shall come again. 

So let’s enter into this season of Advent with thanksgiving; entering into the courts of the Most High with joy that He promised to redeem us from the moment Adam and Eve fell into sin, and He kept that promise—for He is faithful that promised.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2 

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100

To read the entire Advent Journal click here: 

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