Anticipation

As early as Genesis 3:15 our Creator promised the human race a way out of our mess of disobedience. The anticipation begins…. He promised to send a savior to crush the enemy, the deceiver. When Jesus showed up in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago, some understood, and many were still deceived.

Anticipation of our only true hope

Anticipation of our only true hope

So what is different now? We are on the other side of the Cross of Easter and the in filling of Pentecost. We can truly celebrate the joy of the coming of our long-expected savior. The lights, the decorations and the presents and the ‘Christmas spirit’ full of joy and giving are all intended to point us to the gift of God, the only one who can save us from ourselves.

1. Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

2. Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne. *

Thank you Jesus for coming. I do not understand how God became man. I do know, however, the difference the presence of Your Spirit makes in my life every second of every day. Thank you for Your unending source of hope, joy, peace, and fulfillment. Continue to teach me to look to You for these and to receive them with the same unmerited favor they are given so freely to all who choose You. Amen

*Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, The United Methodist Hymnal Number 196

 

What Are We Waiting For?

Every one of us might answer the question “What are we waiting for” differently at first. But with a pause for reflection we can probably all quote a long time favorite movie of mine Miss Congeniality, a comedy that revolves around a beauty pageant. Deep down we really all do want “World Peace” as unrealistic as it seems today. The universal heart cry for world peace is where Christmas comes in! This season of the Church calendar is called Advent or “Coming.” At some level everyone is waiting for peace on earth. There are many ways people attempt to find it, but Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

Signs of life and hope.

Traditional Christmas plants, signs of life and hope.

As we approach Christmas my prayer is that we de-stress about attempting to please others agendas, and attempt to focus on who were are with and why they are important. My family has gone through many iterations of de-materializing and refocusing.

We have tried years of no gifts at all, and have had years with an abundance of gifts from generations of family and everything in between. As we accept each other, wherever we are in life – geographically (together physically or not) spiritually, financially, intellectually, professionally… – we relax and remember why we celebrate. Jesus, God incarnate, came to seek and save us, the lost.

Peace seems best found, so far, in just being together. Food is probably the other constant=}.

A challenge I make to myself that I hope you will consider too: Whatever your traditions, take some time each day to pray for peace. First, in our own hearts, then in our family, town…. Jesus did come to bring peace, but remember too that he promised things will get worse before they get better. (Matthew 10) So seek His calming presence in the midst of the preparations. Don’t lower expectations for joy, but consider shifting them from the material to inviting the presence of the Prince of Peace into the celebration. Celebrate how Jesus came to seek and save the lost, first as a helpless baby that we remember on December 25th, then by defeating Satan with His death and resurrection. Only God….

Where Are You Going? And How Are You Getting There?

Sometimes I feel like I wonder what God is up to and I question: His plans; my ability to understand; and my willingness or ability to follow them. I may also be tempted to question God’s character. Granted my days of all out wrestling with my Creator are largely behind me. Been there, done that and I know who wins every time! So now it’s more of a “Really God!?!” then giving up, more than wrestling.

Some acts of obedience initially feel like crashing on the rocks.

Some acts of obedience initially feel like crashing on the rocks.

By trial and error I have learned to give up and obey because when I am led to do things I do not understand, I find the goodness of God is just waiting for me to notice Him in the process and result. I can tough it out working at something under my power, like these people in the row-boat, or I can let God direct and fill my sails.

My power or or The Spirit's?

My power or The Spirit’s?

When we go with the flow of the Spirit of God we may find high seas for a time, but eventually we find smooth sailing in the presence and the power of our Divine Creator.

Let the Spirit fill your sails

Let the Spirit fill your sails

How do you get there? We relinquish control to the One who loves us most, our Creator. We do not stop thinking or praying, but we let the Holy Spirit gently lead. We can ask questions, but know, we do not always get complete understanding or the answers we may want…eventually we just have to follow His lead by faith. Some times are easier than others.

How do we know it’s God? The short answer… it lines up with what the Bible teaches, and with wise counsel from God-fearing people. Not everyone will have the same viewpoint all the time. That is when we dialog in prayer knowing only we can discern, with and before God, because it is between our Creator and each individual. I can not tell you God’s will for your life because it is not my life. The process is one that helps grow us to spiritual maturity.

Where are you going? What do you want? “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” PS 37:4 If you want to do the will of God, rest assured God will not let you miss it and he will provide all you need to see it through. “He who calls is faithful and He will bring it to pass.” 1 Thes. 5:24 He has already provided you with the indwelling of Holy Spirit.

Rest in these promises of the word from: Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”
Proverbs 23:18 “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
This is my prayer for you from Ephesians 1:17-19 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might”