Christmas Day – Sing Glory

Luke 2.8-20

Glory (Doxa)
Notice the word glory or glorify in this passage. The angels have the glory of the Lord around them. They say, “Glory to God in the highest.” The shepherds response after they go and see Jesus is to glorify and praise God.

In looking at the definition of the word, glory may be visible, as it was with the angels. There was a glow, a radiance about them. Many times when we see pictures of angels or of Jesus in the manger there will be a circle of light portrayed around their heads. With angels we many refer to it as a halo. Glory, however, is not always visible, but is the characteristic of splendor, majesty, honor or even power. And with the angels, notice that their glory is not their own, it is the glory of the Lord that shone about them. The Lord, Jesus, is the one who is majestic.

And when the angels and the shepherds glorify God, they are acknowledging his glory. You will hear the phrase, “give God the glory.” No one can make God glorious. Praises don’t give God his glory. But when the shepherds glorified God it showed that they recognized his glory. They recognized the magnitude of what was happening that night so long ago.

And what was happening?
What leads the shepherds glorify God?
1. They witness the glory of God at the appearance of the angels. They actually see  the halo of light, which is the Glory of God.

2. They witness the baby wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. They went to see what the angels told them about and everything was just as the angels described it, “just as they had been told.” … therefore …

3. They believe that this child is the Messiah, the Christ. Now, no where is the word “believe” used, but a sign of their belief is that after they had seen the Christ Child, they spread the word. They went about telling others what they had seen what they were told about this child. And, again, they were told that he is the Messiah. They believed this child is, as the angels said, “Savior” and “Lord.”

Savior
The Gospel of Matthew says that when the angel appeared to Joseph he was told to name the child Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. [Jesus is the Greek for Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.”]

The shepherds were excited and glorified God, because their Savior had come. The one would save them, rescue them, deliver and protect them. The one who would restore the relationship between humankind and God.

Shall we not glorify God too?
The shepherds were there and they got to see these things firsthand.  They got to be witnesses of Christ’s coming. But, shall we not rejoice that we get to be here today.
~We, too, are invited to witness the glory of God.
~We, too, are invited to experience that every Word of God is truth.
~We, too, get to experience the birth of Christ (in our lives). We get to retell and relive the story. We get to remember what this day is all about: that Jesus came to save us! That God, the very author of life, the creator of all that is living, became flesh and lived among people just like you and me, so that today, we can know him, we can be saved from things that tear us apart from him, the things that tear us apart inside. Because of today, we can once again be in relationship with God. We have the privilege of calling him Savior and Lord.

The King of Glory
The Lord is so glorious that the psalmist calls him the King of glory. Listen to the words of Psalm 24 that declare his glory. They are also an invitation to you to see and experience his glory.

Psalm 24.7ff

You may be asking today, “Who is this King of glory?” What is it about Christmas that I’ve never known? Experience the glory of Christ. Acknowledge who he is in all of his glory.
~Lift up your head and acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord.
~Lift up the gates, the things in the recesses of your heart that block your relationship with God (and others).
~Lift up the doors of your heart, and allow the King of glory, the Lord almighty to come in and reign.

Let us join in singing glory to God, as we sing Angels We Have Heard on High. The chorus of this familiar carol are the angels’ words of praise in Luke 2: Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest)!

Christmas Keywords 6: Gift

God’s gift to us!

When the angels appear to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, they said, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. (John 3.16-17)

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. (Romans 5.6)

What do we do with God’s gift?

  • Receive it
  • Cherish it
  • Share it

Our gift to God!
What can we give God?

I love the words in the song, “In the Bleak Midwinter …

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

Will you give him your heart?

Christmas Keywords 5: Know, Honor, Obey

This summer, I spent some time writing out my personal vision/mission. In thinking about my relationship with God, I focused on 3 keywords: know, honor, and obey. I want to know God; I want to honor God; and, I want to obey God.

For me, that’s what it means to be a Christ-follower!

Ironically, I was reading through Isaiah awhile back and I came across one of the passages that talks about the coming of the Messiah. Here’s what it says …

Like a branch that sprouts from a stump, someone from David’s family will someday be king. The Spirit of the LORD will be with him to give him understanding, wisdom, and insight. He will be powerful, and he will know and honor the LORD. His greatest joy will be to obey the LORD. (Isaiah 11.2-3)

KNOW GOD
When I first thought of these words, I thought about the order, and I settled on this order. I believe the order matters. First, we know God. Knowing God is the foundation for the rest—honoring and obeying God.

Knowing about God vs. Knowing God
Don’t miss this: there is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God! Did you catch the difference? You can know about God but still not know God!

Knowing about God means you have some basic knowledge about who God is. Knowing God goes a step further – knowing God means having a relationship with God!

The biblical concept of knowledge is an intimate knowing. To know is to know deeply and intimately.

So, how do we know God, intimately? By hanging out with God, talking and listening! (i.e prayer/scripture)

All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. All I want is to know Christ … (Philippians 3.8-10)

That’s the language of lovers!

HONOR GOD
The word “honor” is also the language of lovers! The more we truly know God, the more we want to honor God!

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139.23-24)

This gets at our motives. Who/What are we focused on. People who want to honor God try to be selfless. They try to live a life of surrender.

See also 1 Corinthians 10.31 and Colossians 3.23.

“A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God.” (Martin Luther)

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12.1, The Message)

OBEY GOD
The more we know God and desire to honor God, the more we want to obey God!

Obedience is far better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15.22)

But the word “obedience” is not a very positive word in today’s culture, is it? It’s not an easy word to swallow! This is the challenge. This is where the rubber meets the roads . This is where life gets lives out. This is where we find out what we’re made of!

"You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings.” (Jesus, John 8.31)

So, back in Isaiah, God’s Word says that Jesus will know God, honor God, and obey God. How’d he do? Well, I was reading in John 17 recently and read these words in one of Jesus’ last prayers on earth …

Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone in all the earth. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do. (John 17.1-4)

At the end of my journey here on earth, that’s what I want to be able to say, too! Will you be able to say that at the end of your journey? Do you know, I mean really know, God?

For further reflection, read Matthew 7.21-27.

Advent: Come!

My Birthday: a letter from Jesus

Dear loved ones,

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer.

It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me.

As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration.

Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don’t know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn’t invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn’t remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face … and I wanted to be with them and share their table.

In truth, that didn’t surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wasn’t invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner.

They were eating and drinking, telling jokes and laughing. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man, all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling "Ho-Ho-Ho!" He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" … as if the party were in his honor!

At 12 Midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and … do you know … no one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. How would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted and quietly left.

Every year it gets worse. People only remember the food, the gifts, and the parties and nobody remembers me. I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart.

I want to share something with you. As many didn’t invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I’m still making the final arrangements.

Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don’t answer the invitation will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.

See you soon.
I Love you!
Jesus

Matthew 22.1-14 The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Jesus once told a story to the chief priests and Pharisees saying that the kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He invited some, saying, “Come” but they refused the invitation. As the food was prepared and ready to eat, he sent out the second invitation to them, “Come.” But they again paid no attention and went about their daily business.

So the king sent out a third invitation, this invitation to a different group of people. This invitation was to no special group, but to those in the streets. He gathered all he could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with those wearing wedding clothes.

Today Jesus Christ not only sends out an invitation to celebrate Christmas, the true meaning of Christmas, his coming to earth in human form. But he sends out an invitation for us to join him at his Second Coming. You see when Jesus left this earth he said that he was going to prepare a place for us and that he would come and get us so that we could be with him and live with him. (John 14).

Revelation 22, the very last book of the Bible, talks about that coming.

Anticipating His Coming
This passage proclaims the Second Coming of Christ and that his coming is soon or quick. It even ends with a call for Jesus to come. His coming is anticipated, even longed for.

How many of you are anticipating Christmas? How many are you hoping Christmas comes soon?
Most people I know look at the countdown of days until Christmas and moan. I was in a local restaurant a couple of weeks ago and they had up on their board, x number of days until Christmas. I was in Walmart, standing in line and there on a gift card display, x days ‘til Christmas. We moan because we think of all the unfinished chores. The stores proclaim the number of days so you sense the urgency and grab one of those gift cards. (and by the way, you have 7 more days until Christmas.)

But ask a child how many days until Christmas … and their eyes light up with excitement. They can’t wait for Christmas morning! With all those packages under the tree! They expect new toys and they expect to play all day! They expect to do the things they love to do!

You know, that sounds just a little bit like heaven to me. Revelation 22 says that when Christ comes, his reward is with him, he will give to everyone according to what they have done. If we have kept the words of this book, we will be ready. If our robes have been washed, if we have accepted what Jesus Christ has done for us: that he was born into this world so that he might die on a cross and be resurrected from the dead, bringing us new life, a life that will endure. A life that will one day bring us into the very presence of God, that will call us to dwell with Christ.
 
And Revelation 22 puts out an invitation, “Come!” “Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

Why should we be excited about this place? Why should we long for the time of his second coming?
Revelation 22 opens by saying that the river of the water of life flows and on each side of the river stands the tree of life. And that the curse is broken. Everything that happened in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit will be reversed. Satan will no longer be present, nor the sin and temptation that he brings. There will be no more death or dying. There will be no more sickness; no more pain; no more sorrow. We can finally say good-bye to the ills of this world, the ills of this life.

God’s people will be rewarded with eternal life. Our bodies will be glorified. We will be like Christ. In these days we long to be like Christ. Every day is a journey toward transformation, being more and more made into the image of Christ. On that day, when Christ comes again, we will like him.

1 John 3.2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Conclusion
Let us look with joyful expectation to the coming of Christ. Let us remember this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ, that as God was faithful to fulfill that promise, he will be faithful to fulfill all his promises. As people longed for the birth of Messiah, as they waited and watched, let us long for the Second Coming of Christ. Let us be all the more faithful to believe that as God’s word promises, his word will be fulfilled. We do not know the time, nor the hour, but let us wait with eager expectation.

Let us responsivively read the sure words of scripture in Canticle of Hope UMH #734

Christmas Keywords 4: Prepare

Prepare yourself!
Advent is a time of preparing ourselves for Christ’s coming. The word “prepare” is a great word. We’ll talk about it today in two different ways. First, let’s talk about preparing ourselves.

In a "Peanuts" cartoon strip, Charlie Brown says to Linus, “Life is just too much for me. I’ve been confused from the day I was born. I think the whole trouble is that we’re thrown into life too fast. We’re not really prepared.” And Linus asks, “What did you want … a chance to warm up first?”

Isaiah 40.3-10

Thousands of years ago, God said he was going to send someone to prepare the way for God’s coming. We know now that that person was a man named John; we call him John the Baptist. See Luke 1.13-17.

John’s mission was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He called people to repentance. He called people to prepare themselves for God’s coming by repenting of their sins and being baptized.

If John were here today, he’d say …
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” He’d say, “Turn from your sins and turn to God! We only have a short period of time — don’t waste it! Use all the time you have to honor God! Yield yourselves completely to God!”

Questions …

  • What does it mean to you to be prepared for Christ’s coming?
  • Are you prepared for Christ’s coming/return?
  • What are you doing to prepare?

"Lord, Prepare Me”
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

Prepare the way for others!
John came along calling people to prepare themselves for God’s coming. He also modeled for us the importance of preparing the way for others to know God!

John understood that God was about to do something that would forever change the world, and he needed to prepare for that event!

Matthew 3.1-12

4 kinds of leaders … (Glenn Wagner)

>> The Pacifist
"This kind of leader’s highest goal is maintaining peace and keeping things smooth. Their mindset is ‘conciliation at all cost.’"

>> The Opportunist
They are event-driven, opportunity-driven, and consequently program-driven.

>> The Gradualist
"This kind of leader has a vision and is committed to a process of bringing the vision to reality. Gradualists are process-driven and are often plodders. The problem is that due to the rapid pace of change around them, they often lose ground rather than gain ground. They keep the pace slow in order to minimize pain. They believe conflict is inevitable but want to minimize it. Gradualists view the church primarily as an army but believe the pace of advance must be controlled by the risk of lives lost."

>> The Catalyst (or Revolutionary)
"This kind of leader provokes change. They raise up deliberate and holy discontent. They create a passionate expectation and anticipation of what can be. They paint a picture of a preferred future. They do not stop with what is, what should be, or what could be. They see and move people towards what will be. The Catalyst sees conflict as necessary price to be paid for a new kingdom. They are driven by purpose and passion—just as Jesus was as he journeyed toward the cross. The Catalyst views the church as a movement, as the people of God advancing the kingdom of God, reclaiming lost ground and taking new territory. They hold compassion and conflict in tension and are willing to use either one as the moment dictates."

John the Baptist was a revolutionary!
John the Baptist, like the prophets who preceded him spoke some hard and challenging words! Though there were people who listened and repented there were also many others who did not.

“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord’s coming!’” (John the Baptist, John 1.23)

If John were here today, he’d say …
“You’ve got to be a voice, a voice crying out in the wilderness, to prepare the way for the Lord’s return. Help people get theirs hearts ready. Challenge people to turn from their sins and turn to God.”

Questions …

  • Who were the people who prepared the way for you to know God? Where would you be without them?
  • Who have you prepared the way for? Who are you preparing the way for now?
  • In what way is God calling you now to prepare the way for others?

Christmas Keywords 3: Room

Luke 2.1-7

Joseph & Mary Travel to Bethlehem
During the reign of Caesar Augustus, a census was decreed, which required everyone to travel to their hometowns. Joseph, being from the family of David, had to travel to Bethlehem, David’s ancient home.

So Joseph and Mary (now pretty far along in her pregnancy) set off from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The trip would have been about 90 miles, and would have taken at least 3 or 4 days to travel. When Joseph & Mary arrive in Bethlehem, the little town is overwhelmed with people and they discover there’s no room for them.

Now, the image many of us have been given us that of a heartless innkeeper who refused to give this poor couple a place to stay, but there’s no evidence of that. There was simply no room!

However, Joseph and Mary were given a little shelter – a stable (barn or cave), a place to get in out of the weather and a place for Mary to give birth her child.

They had so little that she took pieces of cloth and wrapped around the baby who was named Jesus, for this one whom the angel said “will save his people from their sins.” She laid him in a manger, an animal’s feeding trough filled with animal food, hay, to soften it.

That’s the story of our Savior’s birth. Jesus came into a world that didn’t have room for him.

No Room
And, unfortunately, Jesus still hears the same thing in some of our lives today: “No room!”

In Bethlehem, there were good reasons – there simply wasn’t any available space to put them! In our lives, we may also have “good reasons.” But the fact remains, sometimes there’s no room in our hearts/lives for God (the one who created us, the one who loves us more than anyone else can)!

Jesus waits for us to invite him in to our lives, but too many times, our response is, “No room.” There’s no room in my day today. I can’t fit God into my schedule today. There just is no room!

That’s how we respond sometimes when God calls us to pray, to hang out for a little while. Sometimes that’s how we respond when we see someone in need. No room today!

Why is there “no room”?
Our hearts are too full. Our schedules are too full. Our budgets are too full. We are already committed to too many other things. Our priorities have already been established. “No room,” we say.

  • Time
  • Focus
  • Priorities
  • Interest
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Choice (bottom-line)

Sometimes we give God the leftovers! Just as Joseph and Mary were given a stable to sleep in, we sometimes give God the least important place in our hearts/lives, if we give him any place at all!

Even when Jesus (the Creator) grew up, there were many who did not receive him into their lives, people who simply didn’t have room for this teacher: But although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. (John 1.10)

Will you make room for God?
Will you give him more than a stable? Will you give Jesus the most important place in your heart/life?

Ever notice how we make room for certain things that are important to us? It’s amazing how we’ll clear our schedule for something, even when we thought we didn’t really have the time for it. When we say we don’t have room for God, we’re really saying that God really isn’t that important to us!

Will you make room in our hearts for Jesus? Maybe you want to invite him into your life for the first time? Maybe you want to recommit your life to him?

Making room …
You will have to make some choices!

Put first things first!

  • What are your top priorities?
  • Does your calendar reflect your priorities?

Behold I stand at the door and knock. (Rev 3.20)

Make room for God!

  • How important is God to you?
  • What can you cut out?
  • How can you spend time with God every day?

If you’re going to add some things into your life (time with God, serving God, etc.) you will have to cut some things out, right? You can’t just add stuff, you also have to remove stuff! What can you cut out, in order to make room for more important things?

Make room for others!

  • Does your heart go out to people in our communities who are in need?
  • What can you do to help them?

So, will you make room for God? For others? Or will you say, “No room”?

Advent: Promises

2 Peter 1.12-21

The Book of Promises
The Bible is sometimes called the Book of Promises. And at Advent we look to a promise fulfilled: the promise of the Messiah, a Savior, whose birth we anticipate throughout Advent and celebrate on Christmas.

The Promise of Messiah
The Old Testament scriptures promised a Messiah. Some of the prophecies or promises included that the Messiah would be …

  • heir to throne of David Isaiah 9.2-7 and so Matthew begins his Gospel, and the NT begins, with the geneology of Jesus, “the son of David, the son of Abraham …”
  • offspring of a woman Genesis 3.15
  • offspring of Abraham Genesis 18.18
  • descend from the tribe of Judah Genesis 49.10
  • born of a virgin, Isaiah 7.14, and so Matthew and Luke both tell of the virgin birth of Jesus
  • born in Bethlehem Micah 5.2
  • born at a particular time Daniel 9.25
  • escape into Egypt Hosea 11.1

For 100s of years the people of Israel looked for a Messiah, they awaited a Savior, and prophecy after prophecy given throughout the Old Testament, promise after promise, was fulfilled in the birth, and even more in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lee Strobel tells of one Jewish man’s (Lapides) discovery of the Old Testament prophecies. He was given a Bible by a Christian, so it contained both the Old and New Testaments. He responded that he would read the Old, but he had much mistrust for the New (he actually thought it contained anti-Semitic material.) He found scripture after scripture pointing to Jesus as Christ. When he read Isaiah 53, about the suffering of Christ, he was convinced that this was Jesus of Nazareth. But hew  he went on to say that he believed the Gentiles had altered the scriptures, so he requested a Jewish Bible from his step-mom, and it said the same thing! (from "The Case for Christmas")

Promise
A promise is an important thing. The word promise is a weighty word. I don’t use that word much anymore, but when we were kids we used it. When a promise was made it was to assure that one would keep their word, or one would follow through on an action.

Have you ever had a promise broken? Have you ever had someone you thought you could rely on, someone you thought you could trust, let you down or maybe say something that hurt. A promise broken can pierce the heart.

In pre-marital counseling we talk about not saying things to one another in anger: not accusing, never saying, “I don’t love you” or “I hate you.” Those words sting, they penetrate to the core. And once they are said you can’t take them back. It takes a lot to heal and recover from those words.

Why? Because they were said by someone who promised their love to you. They promised to love you unconditionally, forever, no matter what. You opened your heart up to this person. This is the person you are the most vulnerable to. And they have broken their promise.

God’s Promises Can Be Trusted
Probably every human being will let you down sometime. But there is One who will never let you down … God.

1 Kings 8.56 … Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
Luke 21.33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
See also Ezekiel 12.25; Matthew 5.18; Romans 4.16

God promised a Messiah. He gave a Messiah. He gave signs what to look for so that we would recognize the Messiah, so that there was no doubt, so that we couldn’t miss his arrival. He left enough signs that we couldn’t write him off as coincidence. Or so that someone else could claim to be him.

There are some 48 prophecies about the Messiah. I gave you just 8 about his birth. For just 8 to be fulfilled is one in one hundred million billion. That’s millions more than the total number people that have ever lived. If you covered Texas with that many silver dollars, marking just one, and blindfolded someone to wander the state, what do you think the chances are that she’d choose the one marked? “The same odds that anybody in history could have fulfilled just 8 of the prophecies.” And we have Jesus Christ fulfilling 48. (from "The Case for Christmas")

God made a promise and he made sure we didn’t miss the fulfillment of that promise.

Many are God’s Promises
God has given us many promises in his word.
Salvation:  Romans 1.16
Answer to prayer: Psalm 91.15; John 15.7
Comfort of God’s presence: Isaiah 43.2
Care for sick: Psalm 41.3
Deliverance: Psalm 34.19
Protection: Psalm125.2; Luke 21.18
Temptation: 1 Corinthians 10.13
Strength: Isaiah 41.10
Wisdom: Luke 21.15; James 1.5
Power for service: John 14.12
Eternal life: 1 John 2.25

The Climactic Promise
These promises are all promises for this life, that God will be with us, that he will help us through this life. But there is a promise that is yet unfilled. A promise that goes beyond this life. This place is not our home, but we await a heavenly home.

We are promised an eternal home. John 14.1-4, 28

Advent is the season of celebrating the coming of Christ. Not only is a time to celebrate the promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ, God come in human flesh, but is a time to remember that Jesus will come again. And just as sure as the promise of his first coming was fulfilled, we can be assured that the promise of his second coming will be fulfilled.

Let us rejoice in the faithfulness of God’s word. Psalm 89.1-8

Christmas Keywords 2: Promise

Last week we talked about the word, “come.” Christmas is about God coming to us and showing his love for us in very practical ways! God still comes to us, and he is coming back to us again someday, which leads us to today’s keyword, “promise.”

Christmas is a sign of God’s love!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. (John 3.16-17)

It was promised long ago!
All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel—‘God is with us.’ (Isaiah 7.14)

“God with us” is one of God’s greatest promises! No matter where you go, God will be with you. In fact, some of Jesus’ parting words were "I will be with you always, even to the end of the age." What a promise! (Read Isaiah 9.1-7)

"His love endures forever!"
I love the phrase, “His love endures forever!” It’s a common phrase in the Old Testament, which says you can count on God’s loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness to always be there!

What does God’s promise mean for us?
God is at work in us, the Church, and the world! I am so grateful that God is at work in our lives, and that we get to be involved in God’s work in the world. And the good news is that God will complete the work he has started! In fact, God has a wonderful future in store for those who love him! See Jeremiah 29.8-14 and 1 Corinthians 2.9 (quoting Isaiah 64.4).

How should we respond?
With bold, confident faith! And with eager expectation (remember Simeon and Anna in the Temple, when Jesus was presented there for the first time?)

How’s your faith?

Four times in the gospels, Jesus uses the phrase, “O ye of little faith” (KJV). Each time, these statements were made at times of miracles. Jesus is challenging us, and calling us, to faith that God will do amazing things!

Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses. (1 Kings 8.56)

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever. (Luke 21.33)

“I do believe, but help me not to doubt!” (Mark 9.24)

For furhter reading: 2 Peter 1.1-20