Advent Focus

The following is my Sunday article I wrote for The News Tribune of Tacoma for today, Dec. 6. To God be the glory!

The season of Advent is upon us. No, this is not some calendar countdown to the big “party” on December 25th when presents are exchanged, families gather, and vacations begin. This is a season of preparation as we anxiously await the coming of Jesus. Yes, Jesus was born in humble means in a dingy manger stall, but Jesus is coming again. You see, he lived upon this earth as a man. He proclaimed the Good News of God’s forgiveness, which drew the ire of the religious authorities of the day. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons and raised the dead. Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem even though he knew what waited for him there – a cross. He was arrested, tried, convicted, beaten, mocked, spit upon, suffered, was crucified and died. And you know what? He did this all for you. That is right, the Son of God, emptied and humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2). Jesus came the first time to proclaim God’s plan of reconciliation. Jesus is coming a second time to fulfill the plan.

We so easily get distracted from the reason for the season and probably even more so this year. The pandemic has changed many plans. If you are like me, you are still trying to figure out what Christmas will look like. We are dealing with the very real possibility that we will not be traveling back to the Midwest to spend time with family this year. It was hard enough over Thanksgiving, but now Christmas. The virus does not honor that which we hold dear and sacred. And so, you can handle this in one of two ways. You can either focus your attention on the negative, or you can keep your eyes on the true meaning of the season. Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to minimize anyone’s feelings of loss, sadness, loneliness, anger or whatever you are feeling now. But we do not need to let those feelings control or define us. The virus may have taken away Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions this year, but it can not take away Jesus. Read that sentence again:

The virus may have taken away Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions this year, but it cannot take away Jesus.

Why focus and that which is not here? Focus on what is always here: God’s steadfast love for you through Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus is not just some amazing miracle we sing about in Christmas carols or put on display in our front yards, but rather, it is God’s plan of reconciliation being manifested. In a way, it is the beginning of the end. God began His plan in Genesis after sin entered the world and now Jesus is coming to complete God’s plan. And that right there is our hope. Focus on that. Think on Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. For no virus, government or health agency can shut down the coming of Jesus. So, Merry Advent everyone and praise be to God. Amen.

Morning devotions ~ Don’t be lazy

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 7:21]

Dear Christian, it is a dangerous thing to be so secure in your salvation that you become complacent. It is a dangerous thing to think you can coast through life without “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2). It is a dangerous thing to think that the Christian life is a spectator sport. For if this is what you are doing, then you don’t know Jesus.

May you not find yourself in a position where the door is being shut in your face because you traveled down the wrong road. I imagine (because I can’t say for certain since I am not God) many a “Christian” have lived a “secure” life because they have “put their time in” or because they thought they were already through the door and then found themselves being rejected by the one they through they were following, because they really did not know Jesus. That is a terrifying thing to think about.

Instead, O Christian, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (as the apostle Paul so eloquently says).  See your salvation through faith in Jesus as a wonderful gift and then seek to do the will of God. Search him out and listen. Listen and then do. Do and rejoice. Rejoice and glorify God.

When you truly know your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and what he has done for you, then you are not going to want to sit on the sidelines. When you realize what salvation truly means you are going to want to “get into the game” in order to glorify God and share with others this awesome God.

So dear Christian, don’t be lazy. When you say, Lord, Lord” actually mean it. Get to know the real Jesus and work out your gift of salvation with fear and trembling.

Praise be to God, always and forever. Amen

The Pastor -|—