Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘advent’

What’s After Christmas?

Today will be a sad day—saying goodbye to Christmas

  • taking down the tree
  • reading the last Christmas devotional
  • putting away the Christmas music
  • eating the last pieces of Christmas candy.

But in eleven months we’ll be getting it all out again—OR ELSE we’ll be in Jesus’ presence enjoying a much greater celebration than our annual ones here.

We live in between Jesus first and second advents.  As we review the prophecies and promises that were fulfilled in great detail during Jesus’ birth, life, and death long ago, we can be sure that the remaining prophecies and promises will also be fulfilled in just as amazing detail when He comes again–no longer as a helpless baby or a dead man on a cross as so many view Him during the primary Christian holidays—but as a joyous Bridegroom coming to claim His bride. 

Many criticize people like me who get excited about Christ’s return.  But Jesus Himself told us to be watching, waiting and ready (Matthew 25).  And he has promised a reward for “all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8.

And what is so strange about an engaged woman planning, preparing and dreaming of her wedding—of beginning a new life with the one she loves, excited about being together always, growing ever deeper in their relationship,  living happily ever after?

When we were kids, we loved those stories.  After all the poverty and misery, cruel stepmothers and evil spells, we knew there would be a “happy ever after” with her beloved.  I believe God has built that hope into the human soul because it’s actually true—not just a bedtime story but a reality that will make this present world, when we look back on it, seem like a dim and fleeting shadow.

We fix our eyes on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:18

Bright New World 
(Listen at this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwUOkzyffjs

Someday a bright new wave will break upon the shore
And there will be no sickness
No more crying, no more war
And little children never will grow hungry anymore
And there will be a bright new morning over there
There’ll be a bright new world for us to share

Someday there’ll be an end to unkind words and cruel
The man who said there is no God will know he is a fool
And peace will be the way of life with love the only rule
And there will be a bright new morning over there
There’ll be a bright new world for us to share

Someday we know not when, when time on earth is done
And those redeemed from every land will all become as one
Voices of all ages praising God the three in one
And there will be a bright new morning over there
There’ll be a bright new world for us to share

Four Hundred Years of Waiting

How long is 400 years?  Just about that long ago the Mayflower set out with its load of pilgrims to settle the New World.  A long time!

As the Advent season begins, we step back into the sandals of the Israelites 400 years before Christ.  The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi, had finished his work, and no word came from heaven during those four long centuries.  How dark!  Were they still expecting the promised Messiah to come?  Had they given up hope?  Maybe some did, but from people’s response to Jesus when he did come(“Could this be the Messiah?”) we know that many were still watching for Him.

Another period of 400 years in biblical history was the Israelites’ time in Egypt, much of that under slavery.  What a long time!  By the time God sent Moses to rescue them, had they forgotten God’s promises to Abraham to make them a great nation?  If they had, God certainly hadn’t, and He fulfilled that promise.

Still another 400-year period stretched from the beginning of the Israelite kingdom under Saul until the northern half of it toppled to the Assyrian army.  (The southern half lasted for 125 years longer.)  What were God’s people doing during this time? Following God at times, but drifting farther and farther away until the predicted punishment for their treachery against God was upon them.

At the end of each of these 400-year periods came a sudden, climactic event.

–After the Israelites’ slavery, they were suddenly freed, through the Red Sea on dry ground, and on their way to their own homeland.

–After the 400-year kingdom, during which they thought the threatened punishment would never happen, they were suddenly destroyed by Assyria and taken into forced exile.

–After the 400-year “silent period” between the Old and New Testaments, suddenly came to live among them as a man, fulfilling the hopes and promises of millenia!

Which is why we celebrate this time of year.  These hopes and promises are for us today.  And while we celebrate Jesus’ coming as a baby and then dying a horrible death to provide forgiveness for our sin, we look forward to the day when He comes in awesome power and glory to set everything right.  May we never get tired of watching for Him.  Let’s be ready whenever He makes His appearance!

Coming for me—once and again

I love word plays.  For example, the phrase “coming for me” could mean either “coming for my benefit” or “coming to get me.”  A Christmas song I found recently focuses on the first sense:

If You had not come, tender baby King
And humbly left Your throne to reach someone like me
If You had not walked upon this broken ground
Where on earth would I be now?
If You had not come

Love came for me, Love rescued me
Love called my name, Love took my place
Sweet Lamb of God, I’m bowing down
My eyes have seen; I’m finally free
Love came for me
       (“Love Came for Me.”by Shannon Wexelberg)

But that’s only half of the story.  Christ’s second “coming for me” is found in the last verse of an older song expressing the joyful anticipation of God’s people:

Coming for me, coming for me,
One day to earth He is coming for me;
Then with what joy His dear face I shall see,
O how I praise Him He’s coming for me!
         (“Wounded for Me,” 5th verse by Gladys Wescott Roberts)

This is so much more exciting even than a child counting the days till Christmas!    Could it be this year? 

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