Thursday, December 12, 2019

PREPARING OUR HEARTS

“But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.”  (1 Peter 3:15 NET Bible)

In the same manner that we clean and prepare our homes in anticipation of the arrival of welcomed guests and family members this Christmas season, let us also prepare our hearts in anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Christ, our most honored and eagerly anticipated guest, desires to meet with us in hearts prepared for His arrival. So eager is He to meet with us that He offers to help us with our spiritual housecleaning, working with us; creating a resting place for Himself within our hearts.

-- Katherine Walden


#4734

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A SPECIAL PREPARATION

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14)

It was not suddenly and unannounced that Jesus came into the world. He came into a world that had been prepared for Him. The whole Old Testament is the story of a special preparation… Only when all was ready, only in the fullness of His time, did Jesus come.

-- Phillips Brooks in “The Consolations of God: Great Sermons of Phillips Brooks”


#4733

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS

“Don’t be afraid!” [the angel] said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior -- yes, the Messiah, the Lord -- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”  (Luke 2:10b-11 NLT)

Computers are amazing. I [remember discovering] Google Earth that connects to the Internet and begins with a digital picture of the earth on the screen. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can zoom in on a country. A few more clicks and you can zoom in on a state, on a city, on a neighborhood, on a street, and eventually, even on a house. The entire program was put together using data and pictures collected by satellites that orbit the earth. It is an amazing thing to start with the globe and slowly zoom in on virtually any location around the world.

Reading Christmas Day Scriptures is like Google Earth in reverse. We start a specific focus on an overcrowded inn, one with a small stable in the back where a birth is taking place. We back up a little further, and we discover all this is happening in a town called Bethlehem, not far from the outskirts of Jerusalem. A few more clicks and we realize that we are in Israel during the time of Roman occupation. A few more clicks and we see the entire globe affected by the events in the city of David; but in this case, there are a few more mouse clicks to go. With an additional click, we begin to cross more than geographical boundaries and see the world before Jesus' time, during Jesus' time, and stretching into the world of future generations to come. What took place in Bethlehem that first Christmas has global implications for all people, at all times, in all nations.

-- Kevin Baker in “Hail the Heaven Born”


#4732

Monday, December 9, 2019

A HUMBLE BIRTH

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:11)

Politicians compete for the highest offices. Business tycoons scramble for a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. Armies march and scientists study and philosophers philosophize and preachers preach and laborers sweat. But in that silent baby, lying in that humble manger, there pulses more potential power and wisdom and grace and aliveness than all the rest of us can imagine.

-- Brian D. McLaren


#4731

Friday, December 6, 2019

REPENTANCE - THE RESPONSE TO GRACE

“The time promised by God has come at last!” [Jesus] announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”  (Mark 1:15 NLT)

The more deeply one enters into the experience of the sacred the more one is aware of one’s own personal evil and the destructive forces in society. The fact that one is alive to what is possible for humankind sharpens one’s sense that we are fallen people. The awareness of sin is the inevitable consequence of having met grace... This grace-judgment dynamic reveals that the center of Christian life is repentance. This does not mean that the distinguishing mark of the Christian is breast-beating. Feeling sorry, acknowledging guilt, and prolonging regret may be components of the human condition, but they are not what Jesus means by repentance. Repentance is the response to grace that overcomes the past and opens out to a new future. Repentance distinguishes Christian life as one of struggle and conversion and pervades it, not with remorse, but with hope. The message of Jesus is not “Repent,” but “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.”

-- John Shea in “A Star at Its Rising: Advent Meditations”


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