We Celebrate His Coming
Advent from Webster Dictionary:
3: not capitalized: a coming into being or use
(the advent of spring, the advent of pasteurization, or the advent of personal computers)
1: the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting
2a: the coming of Christ at the Incarnation (God taking on flesh, becoming human.)
b: second coming of Christ
Today we celebrate the first coming of God in the flesh and we look forward to His future return. At the same time, He is now with us so we celebrate His Presence.
Psalm 16:1-2, 9-11
1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. A prayer of David. (NIV)
You fill me with joy in your presence. It is the very Presence of God that brings joy to our souls. Happiness can be bought with a good meal, or a new job, or a great relationship with another person. True Joy comes as we bask in the presence of our loving heavenly Father. We celebrate His Presence with us when we meet. He has come to us.
We celebrate His coming, His first Advent.
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. (NIV)
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (NIV)
Mary’s response to the message from God: “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Joseph responded by doing what he was told, by obeying God. Joseph may have been a man of few words. I want to be like Joseph and Mary. I want to entrust my life to God and walk in obedience to what His Spirit, His messenger tells me to do.
Have you come to the place in dealing with your flesh that you realize you cannot overcome the self-life in your own power?
I am realizing more and more that I cannot be what the Lord wants me to be unless I turn to Him and seek Him when I am tempted to do His will in my own power.
I am working at getting out to visit more than I have in the past. I do not want to go in my own power. I want to go in the power of the Holy Spirit. If I go in my own power, for my own reasons, I fail. When I go with God, I am always successful. That does not mean I always see the results I am hoping to see. It does mean that I accomplish what God wants me to accomplish.
Can you imagine being Mary or Joseph and getting the news from an angel that you are going to have a child by the power of God?
Few, if any, have been given the great honor and responsibility that they were given.
And yet, as His children, we are all given work to do. We are called to share with others how God is working in our life, so that they can know the joy of His presence as we know it.
Do not be afraid. This is, most of the time, the first thing an angel says to someone in those stories where someone is visited by an angel. Angels, God’s messengers, must bring out the fear in us when they speak to us. But they, and God, do not want us to be afraid of them.
We must respect them and recognize the power they have. We need not fear them in the sense of being terrified to the point that we turn away from them. They always have our best interests at heart. Clinging to our fear gets us nowhere. Do not be afraid. A proper fear of God will lead us to turn to Him, not away from Him!
When God speaks to us, we are to respect who He is and what He has the power to do. However, we need not fear Him to the point that we turn away from Him. Our power in life as followers, as disciples, comes from our connection to Him. Our authority to speak the truth to others comes from Him. Our courage to go in His name comes as we realize He is with us.
Did you notice that Jesus was given two names? The angel told both Joseph and Mary that their son was to be named Jesus, which came from the Hebrew language and means ‘Jehovah Saves’. But this Jesus was also to be known as “Immanuel”, God is with us.
Jesus came. We celebrate this Advent season His coming. We are reminded that, through Jesus, God came to be with us in a way He had not been with us before. In the coming of the Holy Spirit He is with mankind in a way we had not understood before.
In our own lives, we accept God’s gift of forgiveness and restoration to life with Him. For each of us this is our own personal Advent.
For me, I accepted this gift a long time ago. I am still learning what it means. I am still growing in my understanding and my experience of what His Presence in my life means for me each moment of my life.
I still have a tendency to attempt to live my life in my own power. I have a tendency to want to do God’s work in my way. God wants to live through me. He is with me all the time. Sometimes, even those things I am doing for Him, in His name, I go about them as if it is up to me to accomplish God’s will.
As I go to meet with others to share with them the love of God, I must die to self and allow God to be in charge of the visit. I must learn to trust Him to lead me to the people He wants me to contact. I must learn to trust Him to say what He wants me to say.
God has a plan for each of us. This Advent season can be a new beginning for you as you celebrate the coming of our Lord into our world.
I hope you have come, or will soon come, to the place that you are trusting God to lead you as you seek to obey Him and live with Him as Lord of your life.
If you have never accepted His gift of salvation, I invite you to come and be saved. Lay yourself down at the feet of Jesus and trust that God loves you and has paid the price for your sinfulness. Trust God. He loves you and wants to come into your life.
If you are struggling to walk in obedience, to love God with all your being, and to love others, God may lead you to come to the altar and pray. We are the sacrifice in our worship this day. We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, giving up what we want, and accepting what God wants for us. I invite you today, to surrender your life to Him for the first time, or for the thousandth time.
We are here to bring glory and honor to God. This should be the focus of our life each day that we live. He is with us. He has come. We celebrate His coming today.