Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent

Welcome to the third week of Advent!

Tradition holds that the third week of Advent is about the joy and peace we find in the Messiah, with Mary, the mother of Jesus, being our example. We finally begin to see the the connection from seeing our need for a Savior to discovering and sharing the news of that Savior to beginning to see some of the rewards of following the Savior.

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And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. -Luke 1:38

But those rewards rest on our response to what God has done.

(This is not to claim that we can do anything to earn salvation. This is also not the place to have a major soteriological debate [hash out matters and merits of salvation, i.e. over Calvinism, Arminianism, and the like]. Please enjoy the thoughts today, and head over to the Proverbial Thought Extra Facebook page if you want to dialogue with us, or you can leave a respectful comment.)

Contrary to what many teach today, God will give us more than we can handle. It encourages us to rest in Him, trust that He knows what He is doing, and let His power flow through us by the Holy Spirit.

Case in point, young Mary – who is yet to be married to Joseph at this juncture in the story of Christ – is told she is to carry the Son of God and give birth to Him.

Think about it: a young female, not yet married, in a society that limits what women can do with a religion that shuns the sexually impure, being told she is about to be pregnant. She is risking being ostracized by family and friends, thought a liar and a slut, and severely limiting her prospects for the future.

And how does she respond to this news?

“I am the Lord’s servant.”

How willing are we to be willing to the call of God?

We do not have to carry the baby Jesus to term, but we are tasked with carrying His Gospel to a fallen world.

We do not have to risk being labeled liars, but we risk being ridiculed for believing a man is God in the flesh, was killed, and came back to life.

We may not have to risk family and friends thinking we are crazy and abandoning us …

Actually, yes, we do.

Such is the cost of believing in and following Jesus. It may even cost us our lives.

If we want to find the joy and peace that comes with following Jesus, we first must be willing to actually follow Jesus. With all that it may cost us.

Emmanuel, thank You for coming to save us. Give us the resolve to pursue you throughout the world, or even to our literal neighbors and family.

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Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 7

Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands. -Isaiah 42:10-12

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For many, calling out sin may not seem like the most important part of Advent and wonder where more of the joy is.

When you discover you are under punishment and then someone takes the punishment for you, you would naturally be quite happy.

When looking at John the Baptizer, it can be easy to forget that he was preacher of righteousness . . . which includes praising God!

Let this be a reminder to us that, yes, we are to call out sin where we see it, and, yes, we are to show people who Christ is and what He has done for us, but we should also show the world the joy that comes in being the redeemed of the Lord.

We sing a new song, a song of our salvation and gratitude to our Savior, and we should sing them for the world to hear and learn. They can help to point to Jesus while teaching the faithful to worship with all of our being.

Heavenly Father, give us a new song, and teach us to share it with the world.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 6

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. -Luke 3:15-18, KJV

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Just as John and Paul had people wonder if they were the Christ or a son of a god, we should be setting the example “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12) and in good works “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

They may begin thinking we are divine, but just like John and Paul, we should be quick to point them back to Jesus. We do good works because “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), the One who came to earth and out of His love sacrificed Himself for us, and we are merely unworthy servants of Christ.

But this must also come with the warning that you must believe in Him, or you will be removed in the age to come.

There is no good news without first revealing the bad news of our sinful condition. But when we come to see our need for the coming Savior, it will lead to joy and praise of His return as we see the peace brought through His life, death, and resurrection!

Our world today is longing for peace, someone who can save them from the perils we face. They have an expectation that either things will get better or get worse.

May we be ready to respond to expectation and humble enough to point to the One who is coming.

Cleansing Creator and Savior, thank You for saving us. Please give us a heart for the lost, to preach righteousness and salvation, the peace of Christ; and give us a boldness to share the gospel.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 5

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: -Isaiah 29:13, KJV

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We must be careful how we handle the Word of God. I mean both senses of the term:

  • How do we handle Scripture? Do we read into it what we think it says? Do we read passages out of context or claim promises never meant for anyone but to whom they were made? Do we use Scripture to condemn everyone who disagrees with us or to keep people “in line”? All the while we say, “God is great. I love God.” But we are keeping God in a nice, tidy box that we can control.
  • How do we handle Jesus? Do we treat Him like a monster? Do we treat Him as if He is aloof? Do we treat Him like a genie or vending machine, expecting Him to grant all of our wishes and desires, especially when we ask/demand them? Do we treat Him like a doting grandmother, thankful for the gifts He gives, but ignoring Him most of the time? All the while we say, “Jesus is great. I love Jesus.” But we are using Jesus to control others or only get what we want.

John lived in the wilderness, ate bugs and honey, and only had one outfit. He did not tolerate using God and His Word incorrectly, but he did point us back to the wonder of God’s works, as Isaiah did:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. -Isaiah 29:14

We cannot forget that though we rebel against God in many ways, even as we call on His name, He does marvelous things: Most importantly, He came to save us from our rebellion and make us more like Himself. We can try and reason Him away, twist His words and actions, but He is come and has made Himself known. And we cannot stand against Him.

And when Jesus returns, we shall be made like Him – holy, blameless, and glorified, able to give Him all glory for eternity.

Lord, help us to come to Your Word humbly and correctly, to align our thoughts and emotions with Yours, to follow Your will and not our own.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 4

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. -Matthew 3:7-9, KJV

It is not enough to come from a Christian (or Jewish) home.

With Jesus’ first Advent, it was mostly the religious leaders who refused to change, because they “knew it all” about faith.

As we await Jesus’ second Advent, it is not enough to have grown up in church or attend church regularly. It takes repentance and a willingness to actually listen to the teachings and commands of Jesus, to show love and compassion to others and commitment to God’s truth.

Do not trust in your ancestry or upbringing. Do not rely on the faith of your parents, siblings, or friends. Turn to Jesus for yourself, and believe.

Saving God, do not let me rely on my own knowledge, skills, or history. Give me a passion for You, Your Word, and Your Church.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 3

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. -Matthew 3:5-6

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With repentance comes confession. Even in the time of Advent, when we look forward to the coming Messiah, we must remember the importance of confession:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. -Romans 10:9

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. -James 5:16, KJV

As we prepare for the Messiah, it has to include the preparation of our hearts, as we confess our sins to God and to others and are baptized.

God in Heaven, we have sinned against You. As we confess, we thank You that You are faithful to forgive.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 2

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” -Matthew 3:2

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John’s primary message while baptizing people in the Jordan River was to repent.

Repent literally means “to change your mind.”

Stop thinking the way you do! Stop only thinking about what this world says, and think biblical thoughts, heavenly thoughts! Realize Jesus is Lord of all and Savior of the world!

You may think you are a good person, or that your good deeds will outweigh your bad deeds. But God says you do not understand how much help you need, how great a chasm separates us and Him.

The message of John and all of Jesus’ disciples is “Change your ways! Turn to God! Repent and believe!”

We cannot come to Christ unless we are willing to change.

Great God, thank You for leading us to Your Son. Continue to conform our minds to Your will as we bring others along.