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Advent Means Love

December 24, 2023 | John 3:16 | christmas

Above all else Advent, which means arrival or coming, is about God’s love coming to us! You see, that’s what motivated the greatest gift ever given. It was God’s love. Yes, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths, but more than that, He was wrapped in God’s love. As the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave.” What did He give? He gave us Jesus.
As the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isa. 9:6). And as the angels proclaimed, “Unto you is born this day” (Luke 2:11). Jesus is God’s gift of love to us… to you!

So, God has given us this gift. It’s for you. It’s got your name on it. But it’s not really yours until you open it and receive it for yourself.

Advent Means Joy

December 17, 2023 | 1 Peter 1:3-9 | christmas

Isn’t “joy” supposed to be what the Christmas season is about? Isn’t it why we say, “Merry Christmas?” The Advent season is an invitation for us to consider the promise of joy found only in Christ. In Peter’s first epistle, he encouraged the dispersed believers throughout Asia Minor to find their true joy in Christ. We can find our true joy in Christ.

Advent Means Peace

December 10, 2023 | John 14:27-28 | christmas

Where is the peace we are promised in the Christmas story? Today’s news is filled with stories of war. As the prophet Jeremiah said, “People are saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace.”

Are you at peace today? Do you have a deep, abiding, quiet sense of peace? Or are you struggling with anxiety and a sense of disquiet and disorder? The Advent season is an invitation for us to consider the promise of peace found only in Christ. God’s peace is more than the absence of hostility. It is a divine state of tranquility and well-being, with God, self, and others. In the gospel of John, he reported how Jesus gave His disciples a promise of peace in Him at the last supper the night before His crucifixion. We can have this peace that Christ alone can give.

Advent Means Hope

December 3, 2023 | Titus 2:11-14 | christmas

At Jesus’ first advent, He was proclaimed as “Savior.” As the angels announced to the Shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11). In His second advent, He will return as King and will gather all those as Paul says who “have longed for His appearing.” We live now between the two advents, the two comings… waiting… in anticipation of Christ’s return.

Do you remember the sense of anticipation you felt when you were a child at the approach of Christmas Day? Many today live lives of hopelessness. They don’t really have anything to look forward to. The Advent season is an invitation for us to step back from the busyness of our daily lives and to slow down and remember that Jesus has come and that Jesus is coming again. God has given us reason to hope, but our hope is not dependent on a wishful feeling. Our hope is in the person of Jesus! In the book of Titus chapter 2, the apostle Paul reminded his disciple Titus that the hope he had in Christ was a blessed hope. We can be reminded that the hope we have in Christ is a blessed hope.

Rediscover the Story

December 24, 2022 | Luke 2:1-14 | christmas

Everyone loves a story. And the best stories are worth telling over and over again.

What story are you telling yourself this Christmas. Is it a story about your past? Past mistakes you’ve made? Past hurts you’ve experienced? Or maybe it’s today’s story? So many of us get discouraged and even depressed at this time of year. Maybe there’ll be an empty seat at the Christmas dinner table this year? You’ve lost a loved one and Christmas won’t be the same? Or maybe it’s because we’re telling ourselves the wrong story. What if there’s a better story? In Luke’s gospel, an angel of the Lord invited the shepherds to come and be part of Christ’s story. The Lord still invites us to be part of Christ’s story.

Rediscover the Worship

December 18, 2022 | Matthew 2:1-12 | christmas

What is worship? It’s whatever you value or love the most. It’s what you spend your time, talent and treasure for as your greatest source of significance and security. That’s worship. It’s whatever or whoever you ascribe the greatest worth to. Ironically Christmas might be the most difficult time of the year to truly worship God because we are tempted to put more of our affections on material things and spending money.

Don’t you feel the tension? Don’t you feel the pressure to spend more money than you have in order to give your kids everything on their list? You want everyone to be happy and you want to be happy, so you spend, spend, spend… And the more you spend, the less it feels like Christmas. Or what it’s supposed to mean. In the gospel of Matthew, the story of the birth of Jesus is told within the political backdrop of the times. From the beginning there was a battle between worshiping the true King and the false king Herod that had usurped His Throne. The challenge for us is to remove our worship from the false king and to put our worship on the true King, Jesus Christ.

Rediscover the Mystery

December 11, 2022 | John 1:1-18 | christmas

Do you have sense of mystery this Christmas season? Or have you lost the sense of mystery you had as a child? Wouldn’t you like to rediscover the sense of mystery this Christmas?

Some of life’s greatest mysteries have to do with origins. Like the origin of the universe, or the origin of life, or of intelligence. But why would we consider such mysteries at Christmas? The gospel according to John opens up with one of the most amazing and mysterious prologues in the Bible. For in John’s gospel, he revealed the mystery that Jesus Christ was the Son of God come in the flesh. We can rediscover the mystery of Christmas by considering what John revealed about Jesus.

Rediscover the Anticipation

December 4, 2022 | Isaiah 9:1-7 | christmas

Do you feel a sense of anticipation as Christmas approaches? For many, Christmas has become just another secular holiday, albeit the biggest of all holidays. But rather than having a sense of happy anticipation, some have a sense of dread or complacency. But remember when we were children? Christmas was so mysterious and wonderful then. Wouldn’t you love to rediscover the anticipation of Christmas?

What’s your perspective on Christmas this year? Has inflation limited your Christmas giving? Maybe you lost your job and don’t know how to have Christmas for your family this year? Perhaps you recently lost a loved one and there’ll be an empty seat at your Christmas dinner this year? Or your family has gone through a divorce and Christmas has gotten too complicated? Or maybe all the focus on shopping and spending has sapped your joy? I have good news. There’s a better way. Let’s rediscover Christmas together this year!

In Isaiah 9, the prophet proclaimed a word from the Lord concerning the coming of the long anticipated Messiah. We can rediscover the anticipation of Christmas by looking back in faith at Christ’s partial fulfillment of that prophecy by His first coming and looking forward in hope for His soon return.

A Simple Story

December 19, 2021 | Luke 2:1-20 | christmas

Don’t you feel the tug towards something more simple? The Christmas season has become so chaotic and busy. Don’t you long for less chaos and more meaning? Something less fleeting and more lasting? Don’t you think Christians ought to know how to celebrate Christmas best? It seems that the world should be at our door at this season, but we’ve lost our distinctiveness. We’ve joined the world’s celebration instead of inviting them to ours.

Let’s go against the consumer Christmas culture this year by focusing less on giving presents and more on being present. Let’s get back to the simple story about Jesus.

A Simple Response

December 12, 2021 | Luke 1:26-38 | christmas

Every invitation deserves an RSVP, a response. Christmas invites us to respond to this word: the Son of God, the Savior, Christ Jesus has come. And He is coming again. This is what we mean when we speak of this Christmas season, this season of Advent. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” Advent speaks of the incarnation and the return of Christ Jesus. He has appeared and will appear again.

How will you respond? People respond in different ways. Some come to faith immediately. Some reject believing outright. Some go through a long season of searching and stumbling before finally believing, while still others remain skeptical or even apathetic their whole lives. Don’t you wish you knew how to respond?

Let’s look at the story of Mary’s simple response of faith to God’s Word to consider our response.