Preparing to write this last Advent post, I was asking God to show me a illustration of what it looks like for Jesus to be with us.Read More
The feast calendar is completed not with Yom Kippur, the most solemn of the feasts, but with the Feast of Tabernacles, the most joyous! The placement of this feast tells us that joy, not sorrow, is the completed state of the one with whom God dwells.Read More
One of the most common phrases printed on Christmas greeting cards and home decor is “Peace On Earth” from the angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds in Luke 2:14. Peace is another one of those high-frequency words we use that has layers of meaning, which when teased out, can yield some amazing depth.Read More
Years ago, a friend taught me to wrap Christmas presents as I buy them so that I won’t be in a wrapping frenzy on Christmas Eve. It was a practice I adopted for the sake of efficiency, but it ended up having a sweet side effect. As I wrap gifts, I place them under the tree, so as the days pass, presents appear at randoms times. What I didn’t anticipate is the excited anticipation the practice would build for my children. My youngest will take inventory every day and arrange and rearrange the packages in stacks, then rows, then collections, then stacks again. Everyday without fail, he asks if he can open juuuuuust one.
Waiting is torture, but when you’re a kid waiting for Christmas, you know the waiting will be worth it. After all, children are only ever waiting for good things. Why wouldn’t they be excited?
Growing up and experiencing sadness, sorrow, and disappointment has a way of robbing the excited anticipation we felt as children, though. The deeper into adulthood we go, the easier it is to shed optimism about the future and embrace dread.
Somehow, we start to view waiting as standing on the shore bracing for the tidal wave rather than lying sleepless in the bed on Christmas Eve.
I felt this sad shift in early adulthood after having experienced a devastating betrayal that tangibly affected the next four or five years of my life. Without realizing it, those years trained my mind to believe that the future was only full of more hardship, disappointment, and crisis. Without even realizing the shift had occurred, rather than waiting with optimism, I adopted a deep-seated dread about what I could expect for my future. Though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I viewed the sincere excitement that children display as a form of naivete. Jeremiah 29:11, I would say at the time, was a verse privileged people people lifted out of context and foolishly misapplied. At the same time, though, I longed to return to the unquestioning optimistic enthusiasm children possess. You probably have experienced something similar.
Here’s where the breakdown occurs…we allow our experience to shape our expectation.
Rather than submitting to what God says is true, we use anecdotal data to draw our conclusions. Further, we only use the painful experiences as our data points, failing to factor in all of the beneficial, kind acts of God toward us that enable us to persevere through the trial.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:3-5
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
My soul, praise Yahweh,
and all that is within me, praise His holy name.
My soul, praise the Lord,
and do not forget all His benefits.
He forgives all your sin;
He heals all your diseases.
He redeems your life from the pit;
He crowns you with faithful love and compassion.
He satisfies you with goodness;
your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The overwhelming evidence in God’s word is that he actually does intend good things for us. Jeremiah 29:11 has an immediate context, but it’s spoken from the heart of One who is eternally compassionate and kind. Ultimately, he really does plan to prosper and not destroy all who are his. His future for us is hopeful. And even when we are walking in a fire, his mercies are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness!
Sometimes we forget who we are, and we live like we are stuck on Good Friday. But we are the Easter morning people! We are the resurrection people! The truth, though, is that resurrection is only exhilarating to people who have tombstones. But these light and momentary troubles are producing something that is worth the wait— and eternal weight of glory! Even when it seems like torture, we are people who can live like kids on Christmas Eve, because we are waiting for really good things.
Pray: Jesus, you are worth the wait. Open my eyes to the truth that my future isn’t something to dread, but something to wait for as a groom waits for his bride— with a thrill of enthusiastic anticipation!
An oasis is a spectacle in a desert because it audaciously sustains green and lovely things in the middle of a hostile environment. To the one on a journey through the wilderness whose eyes have grown accustomed to barrenness and sand, it reminds him that the desert is not the ultimate reality. There’s a destination on the other side of the wilderness, and an oasis is where a form of the final place pushes through the surface of the desert floor. It’s evidence of the life that’s at the end of the journey through the wilderness.Read More