“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous one will live by faith…” – Hebrews 10:37-38a
In Latin, the word ‘Advent’ means ‘coming’ and it is during the Christmas season that we celebrate the ‘Coming’ of God incarnate: Jesus, God’s One and Only Son, the Light of the World – wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in an animal’s feeding trough of all things – a manger. Wait. What? Jesus ‘came down’ to earth from His triune community in heaven, forfeiting all His divine rights and privileges. In a great paradoxical inversion Jesus ‘came down’ to our hopeless, faithless, joyless, loveless and less than peaceful world to be OUR hope, faith, joy, love and peace. In essence, Jesus looks us in the eye and says, “I get it. I personally understand what you are going through. I’ve been there myself. Here, let Me help. Choose ME. Choose HOPE. Choose FAITH. Choose…” Will we? Will we choose to place our faith IN JESUS rather than the things of our world? That’s the question.
See, the older I get the more I realize that life is a journey of faith that, at times, leads us through dark, difficult and dismal valleys but – if we allow, will refine, strengthen and solidify our faith in God not only impacting our life, but the lives of countless others. Where God’s Light – JESUS, not only shines in our lives but through our lives as well – illuminating our world around us! Wow! Where we live by faith in spite of and through life’s valleys WITH God. Knowing that ‘nothing is impossible WITH God’ (Luke 1:37), which is exactly what the Angel Gabriel told Mary. To which Mary, as God’s servant, humbly and faithfully responded. As her relative Elizabth poignantly states in Luke 1:45, “Blessed is she (Mary) who has believed what the Lord has said will be accomplished.” That’s faith exhibited. Acting on our belief that God will do what He said He would do! Are we living that way at the moment? Hmmm… Good question to ponder.
This week we celebrate ‘Bethlehem’s Candle of FAITH’. This candle symbolizes our journey of faith as we recall the journey of faith that led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem that first Christmas. Upon looking closer at their individual ‘faith stories’, BEFORE Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25) even journeyed to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7), they each had to come to the conclusion (individually and collectively) – do I/do WE TRUST God enough to walk WITH Him through this impossible, improbable, potentially disgraceful and likely scandalous journey of faith that HE is calling us to? Intriguingly enough, the first angelic greeting they each received was “Do not be afraid!” That’s rather appropriate, don’t we think? Oh yeah! You bet it is. Because that’s what faith is – completely exhibiting belief IN GOD in spite of and during all the dark, difficult, dismal, impossible and improbable life valleys we are walking through at the moment WITH God. Knowing that we are not alone. As Paul David Tripp states, “Faith is living in the light of what God has said, resting in what He has done, and entrusting the future to His care.” Truth! Are we living that way at the moment? Hmmm… Again, good question to ponder.
While this journey of faith God called them to was not like anything they had remotely planned on or asked for, nonetheless Mary and Joseph CHOSE to exhibit complete faith in God. Will we? They each CHOSE to view this life journey not as a problem, but rather as an opportunity to please and praise God. Are we? They both realized (again as the angels each told them) that this journey of faith they were being called to was not only for them but also for ALL MANKIND! Wait. What? Yes. That’s correct. For all of us. Sometimes God uses our difficult journey of faith to help someone else successfully walk through their difficult life valley WITH faith IN and WITH God! See, when we choose hope…choose faith and LIVE that way – someone else is going to notice. How are you living that way so faithfully at the moment? Answer: FOR Jesus! IN Jesus! WITH Jesus! That’s faith! Choosing HOPE. Choosing FAITH. Choosing JESUS in spite of and through all we are going through. I choose Jesus today, do you? As Proverbs 30:4 states, “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? … What is His name, and the name of His Son? Tell me if you know?” The LORD God Almighty and His Son, Jesus! I choose to have FAITH IN Jesus, do you? He is the best Christmas gift we could ever ask for and need! “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
Blessings on you today! Choose Hope. Choose Faith. Choose Jesus. He loves you so very much! See you this coming Sunday at 9 and 10:30 AM as we reflect on ‘The Shepherd’s Candle of JOY’.
Doug Reed // Lead Pastor