FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Third Sunday of Advent

Confession. I’m not good at waiting.

I’m working on it. Have been. For at least…well, let’s just say, a lot of years!

This is one (just one) reason I am always both amazed and encouraged when I read of the promises of a Messiah to the people of Israel.

First, the promise. Through his trickery and scheming, Satan had brought a curse upon Adam, Eve and their offspring. Adam and Eve’s sin separated them and their offspring from God. More than a millennium before the birth of Jesus, God, knowing man’s proclivity to sin, promised One would come, seed of the woman, and He would bring Satan’s destruction and man’s deliverance (Genesis 3).

Then, the anticipation. Surely it began with Adam and Eve when the Scriptures tell us that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (Genesis 4:1a). Was this the seed? Was this the Savior?  Through the years the Jews anticipated the promised Messiah – a savior who would restore the former glory of Kingdom of Israel. From the Mosaic Covenant (The Old Testament), we know that God kept His promises, thus the Jews rightly and wisely expected and anticipated the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy. Surely with each struggle, each war, each captivity, the Jews anticipated their coming Savior. Their rabbis, scribes and Jewish priests had taught them that the Messiah would not just come but would overcome their enemies. Surely many women wondered if their seed would be the Savior.

Finally, the wait. Daniel, the prophet of the Biblical book of Daniel, prophesied the year of the Messiah’s arrival saying that the Messiah would come 483 years after the orders would be given to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Keep in mind that by the time we get to Daniel’s day, hundreds of years have already passed since God’s promise to Adam and Eve.  Still, they waited.

They waited, yes!  But they waited in anticipation, expecting, attentive and in hope. They did not wait passively with crossed fingers; they did not just endure their hardships. They had set their sights on a promise from their faithful God. Theirs was a posture of waiting.

Ours, too, is to be a posture of waiting.

In one of his sermons, John Henry Newman wrote, “We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simply to love, but to watch; not simply to obey, but to watch; to watch for what?  For the great event – Christ’s coming!”

So what exactly is our posture of waiting? It is those actions Newman noted between the “watching.” We are to believe, to love, to obey.

Advent is a yearly reminder, a yearly opportunity and a yearly invitation to check our posture.


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Who You Gonna Run To?

DISCLAIMER…SPOILER ALERT…EXCUSE…whatever you want to call it.  I am telling you up front, there is yet another Alvin Slaughter song linked to this message.  I don’t know what it is or why it is – maybe I am in my Alvin Slaughter CD Season of Life.  Nevertheless, stop right here, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKhejMWTJPo, listen to the song then come back.

Imagine the following scenarios.

  1. It’s an exciting time in your life. You’ve been working on your advanced college degree, and graduation is just around the corner.  Already you’d begun interviewing for new jobs, and you just snagged one of your dreams.  You begin a new job, graduate and (here’s a bonus) celebrate Christmas – all in a matter of weeks.  You come home to share the good news with your spouse and find a note on the kitchen counter.  It reads, “I don’t think I want to be married anymore, so I’ve moved some things out.  I’ll be in touch.”
  2. You’re tired, but who isn’t these days, so you just keep pushing; things are bound to slow down soon and you’ll get some rest. You get a note in your inbox that you need to telephone your doctor’s office, so you do during your break.  Reception transfers you to the nurse who tells you – over the telephone – that your lab results didn’t look good.  “Actually,” she says, “it looks like you have Cancer.”
  3. Home from the hospital. Alone in bed.  Healing from surgery.  Other people might consider it a bad thing, but this is a good time for you to catch up on your rest, think some things through and craft a new vision and plan for your life – between naps because the Percocet has you drifting in and out of sleep.  The phone rings.  It is the IRS.  They have some questions about your past six tax returns.

Can you imagine?

My question for you, despite whichever scenario you imagined, “What do you do?”

Let’s see.

Scenario 1:  Call a Divorce Attorney?  Phone a girlfriend?  Watch Oprah and Dr. Phil?

Scenario 2:  Get a second opinion?  Google your symptoms?  Start saying your Good-byes?

Scenario 3:  Contact an online loan counselor?  Buy boxes and schedule a moving company?

Perhaps a better question is, Who do you run to?  (Yes, I know it should be To Whom do you run?)

Often we choose from those mentioned above – attorneys, girlfriends, Dr. Phil, Google – or others like them.

John 16:33a (NIV) says, “…In this world you will have trouble…” There is not one of us who cannot testify to the truth of this Scripture. But do you know the truth of the rest of this Scripture? There is encouragement. There is hope. There is a promise. There is a command. There is very present help. We are told to “take heart” because our Lord has “overcome the world.” If we are obedient and look to Him, the source of our help (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).

Girlfriends are great. I know, I have been blessed with the best. I’ve called a few attorneys and moving companies in my lifetime, and I wish that I had stock in Google. I’ve even watched a couple of episodes of Dr. Phil. But I want the truth of my life to be that when in times of “trouble, pain and fears,” I run to the Lord. Not crawl. Not walk. Not as an afterthought. Not after I have consulted all those other sources.

First. Immediately. Naturally. Readily. Faithfully. Expectantly.

Always.

Lord, I run to you.

Because I didn’t have to imagine those scenarios.