It’s Advent! I love the season. We’ve been celebrating Advent since our children were little. We first started off with four candles, one for each week of Advent, and a devotional book for children to guide us through the season. No matter how crazy the days of Christmas were, we tried to slow it down, at least for a moment, and focus on God’s love story. Those are sweet memories for us. It wasn’t always easy, with the preparations for Christmas musicals, the shopping, the cooking, but it is so important to remember why we celebrate. And so as a family we would gather around the candles at the table and open the Word and Jesus would open our hearts and woo us into a deeper understanding of Christ as our Savior.
Certainly, there were years when we missed it, when we let the busyness and preparations for Christmas overtake the preparation of our hearts, overtake the pulling away in the stillness, overtake the privilege of pondering the wonder of how and why God sent His Son. But when we did, it was better, richer, and full of reflection on the promises of Christ.
The lighted candles are a beautiful visual reminder that the Light of the World chose to step into the darkness of our world and light the way for us. I pray that the process planted seeds for the unwrapping of His love and light in the hearts of our children as well, for they are now grown and making homes of their own.
In recent years, it has been just the two of us opening the pages of Scripture together in this season. We’ve expanded our celebration to include a candle for each day of the season placed in a wooden advent wreath. And now we use the book the “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp to guide us through the Scriptures of His story. I love this devotional because it starts at the beginning in Genesis and traces the thread of Jesus coming throughout His Word using the symbol of a Jesse tree. As we make the journey together as a couple each year, we are amazed all over again that God would choose to weave us into His love story.
When Ken and I began again this year, at the end of the first day we came to the question,
“What are you waiting for, yearning for this season?”
There was silence after Ken read the question.Then He looked at me and said, “Wow, what a difference a year makes.” We were both thinking of our answers from last year to this same question. We were so broken. Our lives were suddenly very quiet with the loss of jobs and ministry, so unexpected at this stage of our lives. There was pain and the uncertainty of our future. And oh, how desperate we were for His Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and knowledge. We waited in reverence and fear of the Lord for His revelation and vision for our lives.
It was a good place to be, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. It was a time of waiting until God chose to birth something new within us. Once again, this Christmas, our days are very full of preparation and the glorious sound of His music as we prepare to deliver the gospel message of Christmas through Restore’s offering of “The Light of Christmas."
Perhaps your life seems a little lost and broken this year. He is your hope. Out of that brokenness comes a yearning, a longing for more of the only One who knows the answers,
the only One who can carry you, sustain you, and hold you.
If you are wise, you will choose to come close and linger at the manger in worship,
and lay your need for Him there.
Because what you really need is grace.
Grace was laid in a manger on that Christmas night so long ago.
So come, regardless of the circumstances of your life this year.
Come and kneel, bow your heart, and listen for His Words of truth.
His grace will meet you there.
Jesus waits for you to draw close to His love that saves and offers hope.
Come, prepare your heart once more for the celebration of His coming.
Draw close to the Light of life that will shatter all of your darkness.
When you draw close, rest there and ponder anew the story of His Advent for you and me.
He is Emmanuel. God with us!
“And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.
And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word.’
And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:35-37
Mary said yes and God moved in!
Jesus moved into the womb of Mary and took on flesh,
and He can move into your life as well, if you will let Him.
It takes time to look deep within yourself.
It takes a willing heart and obedience.
And it takes quiet, a stillness of the heart and spirit.
The Living Word became flesh for you!
The very One whose fingers had created the stars and celestial wonders of the world now reached out a tiny finger to grab hold of His young mother's hand.
Reflect for a moment with me and imagine Mary holding those tiny hands, examining each little finger as new mothers do. Those tiny hands...
Holy hands of a King, born in the filth of stable...
Hands so fragile, yet so powerful...
Hands that would hold the scrolls at the temple and read the Words of life He had written...
Hands that would touch the lepers wounds and heal...
Hands that would wipe away the tears of grief for the widow, the wounded, the desperate...
Hands that would bless the children and deliver miracle after miracle.....
Hands that would scribble in the sand and offer grace and life to the adulterous woman...
Hands that would take a cup of water and then offer living water to the woman at the well...
Hands that would overturn the corrupt tables of the money changers at the temple...
Hands lifted up in prayer to the Father, interceding on our behalf...
Hands that washed the dirty feet of the disciples, broke the bread, served the wine...
Hands covered in tears and the sweat of blood from the anguish of the Savior's prayers
in the garden of Gethsemane...
Hands that would be nail pierced and stretched out on the cross for our sin... Hands of love and hope that reach out from the pages of Scripture to you and to me..... Hands that ascended into Heaven and sit at the right hand of God the Father to rule and reign over every detail of your life...
We must wrestle with how we choose to respond to these Holy, loving hands. The God-child grew inside of Mary until He had to come out and live among us.
He does the same for you as a believer.
He grows inside of you until He comes out.......
in your hands, in your words, in your actions,
in the way you love and live.
Because you are also beloved, blessed, chosen and appointed to deliver Christ into the world!
“For nothing is impossible with God.”
Remember this Advent season, Christ lives in you!
Come and Worship!
Father, “Let it be to me according to your Word.” - Luke 1:38
Oh that we would be so full of our Emmanuel, Christ within us,
that our hands would deliver the touch of your love and truth.
And Father, by your grace, may our lives speak these words
of Paul to our dark and needy world,
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
In the coming weeks of Advent seek out the stillness, the Word, resist the rush
and rest a moment in the loving embrace of His hands. Let them hold you.
It is His gift of grace to you.
Then rise and let the fullness of His Spirit that lives within you guide you
along His way during the days of this Christmas season.
Held in His hands,
Resources: Images Pintrest, The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp
Restore Ministries would like to give special thanks to all of you who will be joining us
December 12 for “The Light of Christmas”. The event is SOLD OUT. Once again God
has shown His faithfulness as we step out in faith to deliver the gospel message
through the creative arts to our community. Over 80 singers and musicians will gather
from 14 different churches to offer our worship and praise to the Savior, our Emmanuel.
To God be the Glory!
We would be so grateful for your prayers in the final days of preparing our hearts and voices!
Praise Jesus, the Light that ends our darkness,
the Love where hope begins!
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