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Advent 2018: Hope

by CCCLampasas

Cross-posted  at  TheDeeZone

Today is the beginning is of Advent. Advent is a time for us to prepare for Christmas. It isn’t about shopping, baking, decorations or even preparing for the annual Christmas concert, play or cantata.

Advent is about what God did for us. It is about God’s Radical demonstration of love.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Humans were created by God to have a relationship him. Sadly, humans rebelled. It was God who took the initiative to bring restoration and healing to humans.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Christ came into a dark world so we might have hope. A hope that endures even in the most difficult situations. A hope that isn’t based on our circumstances. A hope that gives purpose and meaning even when life seems pointless. A hope that is anchored in the past saving work of Christ, the ongoing strength for today and the promise of future reward.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Have a blessed week.  — Dee

Nate’s Notes: Gifts for the Newborn King

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:7-12 NIV

Dave Barry in his Notes on Western Civilization, Chicago Tribune Magazine, July 28, 1991 wrote:

To avoid offending anybody, the school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman” and–this is a real song–“Suzy Snowflake,” all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.

If aliens visited our homes in December what would they notice? Would they conclude that Christmas is about Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and Santa, or would they see the deeper meaning of Christmas? I did not go to church as a child. When my father died, my mom quit going to church and no one taught me about Jesus. Before I became a Christian, I only cared about presents on December 25th. I selfishly thought of my own need for toys. I appreciated the G.I.J.O.E. and Transformer figures they no longer interested me after a few months. I remembered kids talking about Baptists and Methodists on the school bus, but I had no idea who they were because I did not know about Jesus.

Fortunately, the Lord used a minister and his son to lead me to Christ in middle school. What caused the most joy was learning that God is my Father. I lost both my father and stepfather, but I know that Abba Father cares for me. I now prefer Silent Night to Winter Wonderland. Isn’t it interesting that the wise men did not receive presents? They gave them to the newborn king. Christmas today is the opposite of what happened in Bethlehem. Why did the wise men give Jesus gifts?

According to the Biblical Archaeology Society, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the Magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil. In fact, these same three items were apparently among the gifts, recorded in ancient inscriptions, that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.E. The Book of Isaiah, when describing Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, tells of nations and kings who will come and “bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6). Although Matthew’s gospel does not include the names or number of the magi, many believe that the number of the gifts is what led to the tradition of the Three Wisemen.

In addition to the honor and status implied by the value of the gifts of the Magi, scholars think that the Wisemen chose them for their special spiritual symbolism about Jesus himself—gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming—an interpretation made popular in the well-known Christmas carol “We Three Kings.

We three kings of Orient are; bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor, and mountain, following yonder star.

Refrain

O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light. 

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, gold I bring to crown him again, King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.

Refrain

Frankincense to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh; prayer and praising, voices raising, worshiping God on high.

Refrain

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom; sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Refrain

Glorious now behold him arise; King and God and sacrifice: Alleluia, Alleluia,

sounds through the earth and skies.

Refrain 

Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for demonstrating your love through the gift of Your Son. May we worship in humility as the Magi did before the baby Jesus. May we have a heart of gratitude and joy for all of your many blessings. No matter what happens with our families this Christmas, may we reflect on how we are members of Your family. In the majestic name of Jesus, we pray, amen

Nathan

Nate’s Notes: Shepherds and Significance

Photo from Pixabay contributor ArmyAmber.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were teUpdates 3rrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:8-20  (NIV)

I participated in Christmas pageants as a teenager. I usually played the role of a shepherd. It is boring playing a shepherd. Joseph and Mary took center stage, the angels sang before the newborn king, and the wise men presented gifts to Jesus. What did I do? I held a staff and pretended to watch sheep. That was all. I didn’t speak, give gifts, or sing. What about you? Do you sometimes feel insignificant and on the margins? Have you lost the love of your life, retired from a meaningful job, dealt with divisions in your family, or struggled silently with serious health problems?

The good news is that the Heavenly Father loves everyone who calls upon him in the name of Jesus. There are no bench warmers in God’s kingdom. How does Jesus’ birth demonstrate that we are all significant to God?

We are adopted into the family of God. One of my favorite promises in Scripture is that the Lord willingly accepts us into His family. We aren’t just servants or followers. The Triune God loves us so much that we are family. Yahweh is the father who rushes to greet the prodigal son. No matter how far we have strayed, we can journey back home. It is also incredible to think of Jesus as our brother!

4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4:4-5

Jesus’ birth is good news to all who believe. The announcement of Jesus’ birth is so important that the Father announced it with angels. Furthermore, the good news brings “great joy.” Jesus’ birth is just as important for us as it was to the shepherds. It is a reason to celebrate. There is nothing wrong with giving and receiving gifts for Christmas. However, our primary focus should be in celebrating the Savior’s birth. We may be happy for a while if we like our gifts, but we will have joy for eternity because of the greatest gift of all: Jesus.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Luke 2:8-10

Jesus’ birth is also a source of peace for all who acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord. We can have peace with the Father and peace with other believers because of Immanuel, God with us. God is not observing us from far away. The Holy Spirit is in us. We are all significant to the Lord. The Father gave His only Son as a sacrifice for us and provided us with His Spirit. We are greatly loved and showered with abundant grace. Whether we are on center stage with a spotlight or we are the silent shepherds off to the side, God loves us! Praise the Lord!

Prayer: Holy Father, we thank you for your great love and mercy. We praise You that in Christ we all have meaning and significance. You have invited us into your family. Give us the compassion and love to see others the way that You see them. May we recognize that we are significant in You and that You supply us with all that we need. In the glorious name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Pastor Nathan

 

Jesus . . .

by CCCLampasas

Our advent series this year focuses on the names of Jesus.   Join us Sundays at 10:30 AM.

Sunday, December 3rd   — Jesus is ..

Sunday,  December 10th —  Jesus is The Word

Sunday, December 17th —  Jesus is the Light of the World

Sunday, December 24th —  Jesus is the Messiah

Sunday, December 31st — Jesus is the New Way

Sunday, January 7th– Jesus is the New Adam

Advent 2016: Immanuel God With Us

by CCCLampasas 0 Comments

immanuel-god-with-us-web

Links to the notes are listed below.

Join us Sundays  at 10:30 AM as Pastor Nathan explores Advent – The radical revolutionary demonstration of God’s love.

Sunday November 27th: Immanuel: Hope From God

Sunday December 4th: Immanuel: Peace From God

Sunday December 11th: Immanuel: Love From God

Sunday December 18th: Immanuel: Joy From God

Sunday December 25th: Immanuel: Grace From God

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