Gratitude and Wonder

The official start of Advent is tomorrow (Sunday), December 3, 2017, for this year. For those keeping an Advent calendar or taking part in daily Advent readings, it started yesterday, December 1, 2017, and will end on Christmas Day. Calenderpedia.com gives this brief description of Advent:

Advent is the name of the season in which Christians prepare for the celebration that commemorates the birth of Jesus ChristChristmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin phrase “Adventus Domini”, meaning “arrival of the Lord.”

The Advent season is of variable length, and the start date changes every year. It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day (also known as Advent Sunday and First Sunday of Advent), which can fall between November 27 and December 3, and always ends on Christmas Eve.

Common customs observed in churches and at home during Advent are the decoration of the house with an Advent wreath adorned with candles and the keeping of an Advent calendar. (Quote source here.)

At the beginning of this week I wrote a blog post titled, Three Relationships of Peace,” which gives the background on Advent. I also mentioned that I purchased a small book of Advent readings titled, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy,” (2014) by John Pipera pastor, author, and founder and leader of desiringGod.org, and he is also the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. Yesterday I began reading the daily readings–each of which is two to three pages long. After I read today’s reading for December 2nd, I thought it would be a great way to open this season of Advent. Here is that reading:

Prepare Your Heart for Christ

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” ~John 5:44

God owns and controls all things. And there is nothing that he could give you for Christmas this year that would suit your needs and the longings better than the consolation of Israel and the redemption of Jerusalem, restoration for past losses and liberation from future enemies, forgiveness and freedom, pardon and power, healing the past and sealing the future.

If there is a longing in your heart this Advent for something that the world has not been able to satisfy, might not this longing be God’s Christmas gift preparing you to see Christ as consolation and redemption and to receive him for who he really is?

How is the heart prepared to receive Christ for who he really is? It is very simple.

First, the heart must become disenchanted with the praise of men. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one and other and do not seek the glory that comes from God?” (John 5:44; 7:17-18).

Second, the heart must become disenchanted with the sufficiency of money and things to satisfy the soul. “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him” (Luke 16:14).

Then, third, alongside this disenchantment with the praise of men and the power of money, there must come into the heart a longing for consolation and a redemption beyond what the world can give.

Fourth and finally, there must be a revelation from God the Father, opening the eyes of the heart so that it cries out, like a man who stumbles onto an incredible treasure, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, the consolation of my past, the redemption of my future. Now I see you. Now I receive you–for who you really are.”

May God do this for you this Advent. May this be your gift, and your witness, and the testimony of many this Advent. (Quote source: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy,” (2014) for December 2nd, pp. 17-18).

So this Advent season let us keep our focus on the real reason we celebrate this season–on Jesus . . .

The One who is . . .

The One who was . . .

And the One who is to come . . . . (Rev. 1:8)

YouTube Video: “Ode to Joy to the World” (with Choir and Bell Ringers) – The Piano Guys:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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