Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as we begin a new church year, focus our attention on what awaits us—not only this coming Christmas and new year, but the larger issues having to do with the eternal future that awaits us. Equip us to cast aside the deeds of darkness and its attendant temptations and walk into the Light of your grace and mercy. Yes, sweep our hearts clean of sin so that we have room for your forgiving love. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR COMING CHRISTMAS KING!
TEXT: Romans 13: 11-14
Dearly Beloved in Our Coming Lord Christ:
About 10 years ago our country’s Secretary of State was the point person for a new campaign to improve relations between Russia and America. That official met with the Russian government in a televised press conference and spoke about a new “reset” of relations. She even pulled out a giant “reset” button as a prop—kind of like you might see in a Staples ad. Then she hit the button, expecting it to light up. Nothing happened! It was a dud. It didn’t work.—And so we still find ourselves today at odds with Russia.
Advent is a Godly time for us to hit a “reset” button in our own lives. Hopefully, peace and harmony with God and ourselves will come out of it. And today’s lesson gives us a blueprint to accomplish this, otherwise your life will turn into a dud….
Advent is our “present time.” Advent 2019 foretells snow storms on the horizon, a cold winter, people spending far more than they can afford, superpowers squaring off against each other, superbugs which will lay many low, and basically more problems than we can count. It will feature evil’s intrusion into our lives and cause us to question the meaning of life. So what are any of us going to do about it? Listen to Paul: “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”
Most would say that the Christian Church is outmoded and time has passed it by. Most would say it is comprised of stodgy, boring people who live in the past and cling to ancient ideas of right and wrong, along with a morality that doesn’t fit our fast-paced world. Most would say that the Church is an anachronism, a concept that time has left behind. Paul tells us to throw off your blanket of accepting this view, to rouse yourself from the slumber of complacency you often indulge in, and to get ready for big things, cosmic events leading up to Christ’s 2nd coming and the end of the world. Can you imagine eating a big turkey dinner, engaging in self-congratulations around the table, shuffling off and going to sleep—right through the evening news—and missing out on the “breaking news headline” which announces the end of the world?! Christ is coming. The future of God’s power and judgement is very close by. And Christmas, in 24 days, will inaugurate His 1st coming in preparation for His 2nd coming.
It’s time to reset ourselves. “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
The word: holiday means “holy day.” Anything holy is associated with God, isn’t it? And yet the holidays, including Christmas, usually revolve around selfishness, greed, drunkenness, illicit sex, and generally almost anything that isn’t “holy.” Because it is the modern American way, even Christians get caught up in this web of evil. From now until Christ’s birthday the headlines will scream about how holiday sales are up. It will reek of materialism. The vast majority will spend most waking hours “thinking how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” And then in the hard, cold light of January, the bills will come due with a thud. Likewise, God’s bill will someday soon come due, too, concerning our life and the future of our soul.
And so we are to ponder all these issues during Advent and hit our own reset button! Elsewhere, Paul tells us this: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things, and the God of peace will be with you.” If you do that, these days leading up to Christmas will be full of meaning, none of which will cause you a sleepless night. And you can do that by focusing on the Baby Jesus Who is coming to win your freedom from the inroads of evil by triumphing over it on a cross and by handing you His victory—all wrapped up and lying in a simple manger. Most would call that a quaint, delusional dream; but by His grace, we call it: a promise of God! So hit your reset button starting today and see the beauty and timelessness of that promise fulfilled in your life this very year! Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..
Pastor Thomas H. Fox
Dec. 1, 2019