FULLY ALIVE!

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


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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Keeping promises is important; many consider one’s word a measure of one’s worth – one should be “as good as his word.”

As controversial as the recent US presidential campaign and election were, that President-Elect Trump may be reneging on some of his campaign promises is even more controversial and upsetting for many. CNN reports that Trump is open to keeping parts of Obamacare intact despite repeatedly vowing on the campaign trail to “repeal and replace” the program. He also appears to be walking away from his promise to “shutdown” Muslim immigration to the US. We all remember his promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and convict Hillary Clinton – a promise that spurred his supporters to chant, “Lock her up” during the campaign rallies. Post-election, Trump says, regarding investigating Hillary, “It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought.”

Repealing Obamacare, shutting down immigration or investigating Clinton might all be viewed less significant at present than the keeping or breaking of promises.

Dr. Melissa Ritter, a psychologist-psychoanalyst with the William Alanson Institute, wrote, “There are a number of commonly understood reasons promises are broken, including that our feelings, capacity, or circumstances have changed over time. The fading of romantic love for one’s partner is emblematic of this—what once was is no more. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the birth of a child, falling in love, and developing illness, to list but a few, are all events that can shift our feelings and consequent behavior—often monumentally. We may no longer have the capability or willingness to keep a specific promise, or it may no longer benefit those concerned to do so.” In short, people change and circumstances change, so promises are broken.

Christmas is a season when many people experience disappointment and heartbreak because of broken promises. Someone will not give the promised gift. Another will not receive a promised gift. Someone will not keep the promise to visit. Another will break a promise to join someone for dinner. Someone will break a promise to go shopping, lend money, wrap the presents, put the bicycle together, babysit the kids… A lot of promises will be broken – some for “good” reason, others “just because.”

Thankfully, Christmas is also a time when one of the greatest promises was kept – God’s promise of a Messiah. In fact, with the birth of Jesus, many promises were kept.

  • God promised that the Messiah would be the seed of a woman and would crush the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15). Scripture tells us that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was born to the virgin, Mary, and on the cross He crushed the head of Satan.
  • Scripture records that He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2).
  • He would come from the seed/offspring of Abraham and would bless all the nations on earth (Genesis 12:3), and He would have a throne, a kingdom and a dynasty, or house, starting with King David, that will last forever (2 Samuel 7:16). Matthew begins his Gospel: “A record of the origin of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac…” and continues on until “…and Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

These are but five examples of promises kept. That alone is amazing as many of us struggle to keep just one promise. Remember Dr. Ritter’s research?

Here’s what I want you to take away from this week’s message. Our God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Psalm 33:4). In fact, 2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us that all His promises are “Yes.” The Berean Study Bible writes it this way: “For all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible writes, “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him” and the Weymouth New Testament writes, “For all the promises of God, whatever their number, have their confirmation in Him.”

Matthew Henry notes in his commentary of 2 Corinthians 1:20 that a good man will not change his promise “unless for weighty reasons,” but “nothing can render God’s promises more certain;” He gives them to us “through Christ” and “assures us they are His promises.” You will note that even a good man may have reason enough to step away from his promises, but God is faithful, and always answers His promises with “Yes!” This, writes Henry, “makes Christians firm in the faith.” We can be confident that our God is Who He said He is, that He will do what He said He would do and that we are who He said we are in Him!

Rejoice this fourth Sunday of Advent. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:4-5); hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).


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First Sunday of Advent

According to Bible Gateway, there are 5467 divine promises in the Scriptures. Other sources say there are fewer, and one says there are more than 7000. Regardless the number, be assured, we are a people of promise.

For centuries, God promised and prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only true hope for eternal life. Christmas is the time that we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that He would send a Savior.

Today marks the beginning of Advent – the season leading up to Christmas. Advent begins four Sundays before December 25. This year Advent spans November 27 through December 24. This is a wonderful time to look back, look inward and look ahead.

What are we looking back to? 1 Peter 1:10-12 helps us understand:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

We look back to remember the thousands of years that God’s people, our ancestors, were anticipating the coming of the Messiah, the Christ, God’s Salvation. Though many foretold the coming, none knew the day nor the hour nor the person nor the true magnitude of the grace to come.

Why are we looking inward?

In addition to being the start of the new church year, Advent is a reminder to prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus’ coming -not His first, but His return. We look inward introspectively, deep into our own hearts and minds, to prepare ourselves to stand before Him. We search for that which separates us from Him and seek His forgiveness and His help that our hearts and minds might be filled with Him and our hands might be about His business.

To what do we look ahead?

We look to His coming again! In the New Testament anticipation of Christ’s return is a constant theme. As followers of Christ we, too, should look forward to His return. We should long for His return – our blessed hope (Titus 2:13), long to see our Savior from heaven – the place of our citizenship (Philippians 3:20) and long to receive our crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award… to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).

I once read that “real” Christians “really” look for His return because He is real, and He really is returning.  Are you looking?


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Lord, You Said

Think your kids are too young to understand your grown-up conversations? Think again. They not only hear what you are saying, they will repeat it – often at the worse time possible (like in front of your mother-in-law or at school). And very often, they repeat your own words to you.

“Mom, you said…”

“Dad, you promised…”

While moms and dads sometimes have selective amnesia failing to remember what they said or promised, there is nothing God loves more than keeping His promises. He waits for us to take Him at His word – His word which contains literally thousands of promises waiting to be claimed in faith. Promises like Psalm 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” and like 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

God stands ready and waiting for you to ask Him about Isaiah 40:29 (“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.”) and Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”) And when we stand on His word, He stands by His word, faithful to keep every promise. You have to claim them. You have to know them. You have but to say, “Lord, you said…”

THIS WEEK search the Scriptures for God’s promises. Which do you need to claim? Pray them keeping in mind Psalm 84:11 (“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”) Praying is standing on the promises of God. If you take God at His word, you will experience the joy of knowing that He keeps His word.

You Said (Hillsong)                                                                                                                                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEpaG4VlBcA

Standing on the Promises of God  


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Beyond the Clouds

It rained today.

It rained yesterday.

It rained the day before.

I’m not fond of rain. It messes with my hair. It messes with my shoes. It messes with my mood.

James 1:17a (NASB) says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” Amidst this soggy season and my soggy mood, God gave me a good and perfect gift. I saw it while driving in the rain. A blue patch peering out from behind the dark, ominous clouds that loomed above as rain poured down.

Have you ever seen that? Just a little patch of blue peeking out from behind the gray of storm clouds. Though I was hurrying to class, I pulled over and tried to capture photos with the camera on my cell phone. They didn’t come out so great, but the image is forever etched upon my grateful heart – this reminder of God’s great love and that He is always there, just beyond the clouds.

Now the only thing that beats one gift is two gifts!

God gave me a second gift during the afternoon drive home. The sun had come out, so I enjoyed a surprisingly dry and breezy walk to my car. But during the 59-miles journey home I experienced a little sun, then an immediate and heavy downpour, more sun, some dark clouds which changed gradually to fluffy white clouds, then a quick shower and more sun and finally another downpour for the last 5-8 miles. All along my route conditions changed.

So what was the gift? It was this second reminder of God’s faithfulness through the storms of life. Just as I experienced sun, downpour, clouds and showers during my drive, so it is with life. We have sunny seasons, cloudy seasons and seasons of rain. But He does not leave us in one season. We pass through.

He is with us, and He will not leave or forsake us Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV).

A gift for you may be found in Deuteronomy 30:9 (NIV) which promises, though your season may be stormy, He will, again, delight in you.