HOPE in Christ (Advent.ure 1)

The First Sundblackfridayay of Advent 2016     Adventure Series 1   Pastor Barry, The Gathering Church

More John 8:12, Romans 8:22-24, Romans 5:5                                            Black Friday or should I say Thursday… (the mad shopping day after Thanksgiving)  is behind us now. Unfortunately, the day of shopping greed seems to be taking over that hopeful day of thanks.  In this mindless world of hate and greed people are longing for more but masking that need with things that cannot ever satisfy.  Many think they can find “more” in material things, personal achievements, or emotion based relationships.  Everyone seems to be looking for the announcement of the arrival of “more”, this great sale or that great deal or some other marvelous announcement. The fact is that nothing more will come.  The greatest of all has already arrived on that first Christmas Morning. Those of us who believe in the Hope that is Christ and have a relationship with Him know this because we now walk in His Light.  As a matter of fact, those of us who believe “wait eagerly” for the redemption (not of a store coupon)  of our bodies so that we can see the one we have hoped in face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).

The word ‘Advent’ is Latin for ‘a coming or arrival’.  The idea behind the celebration of Advent is that God came to earthly life (In the Baby Jesus) and lived among us, which is news to stop the presses for.  It’s something to celebrate, because just by being in

the world, God was giving His supreme blessing to it.  But this birth led to an execution of the same God on our behalf (the crucifixion of Christ). Then the greatest news came (the resurrection of Christ), that is that death will not end our relationship with God.  Jesus rose from the dead and will come again to rule and reign. Those that hope in Him will be with Him forever (the second coming).  So with these things in mind, the Christmas season is not something that we who believe should just go rushing into.  We need to take stock of the fact that Christ came so that we could have a relationship with God. When we celebrate the birth of Christ salvation should leap in our hearts and the second coming should also be in our sight.  The celebration of Advent is more than religious liturgy.  It is the celebration of our adventure with the living God! 

The Advent Wreath:  Each lit candle symbolizes that Jesus is the “Light of the World” He is the “good news” that all of creation longs for, the “light of life.”   He is the “MORE” worth waiting for and He is the only true satisfaction of life.

The First Candle Ephesians 1:22,23, John 10:10                                                                              The first candle lit in the Advent Wreath is called the hope candle or the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises that prophets delivered; promises that foretold of Christ’s birth and our hope because of Him.

The faithful have always waited for the promised Messiah, but unlike waiting in line for the hope of something “more”, Christ is the “fulfillment of all things.”    Jesus said that He came that mankind might have life to the full.  He also declared that  anyone or any other thing that sets itself up as our fulfillment is a destroyer and           a thief.

Foretold of Old  Isaiah 9:2,6-7, 53:5-7                                                                                              700 years before Christ was born the Prophet Isaiah foretold of His coming and of His death in amazing detail.  The book of Isaiah contains more prophecies about Jesus than any other book in the Old Testament.  Salvation is revealed so comprehensively in Isaiah’s writings that Augustine called the book the “Fifth Gospel.”  Others have referred to it as “the Bible in miniature” because it contains sixty-six chapters. (The Bible has sixty-six books).

The Second Coming                                                                                                                         When Jesus came the first time there were signs in the stars and trouble on the earth. The same will be true when He comes again. (Luke 21:20,25-28,33-36). We who wait for Jesus Second Advent are reminded to “watch and pray”.  Are you watching and waiting?

What Are You Waiting For?  Psalm 130:3-6                                                                                      In this season of big sales and long lines there is the temptation to overlook the truth foretold of old and become caught up in the lies and lore of “MORE.”  There is nothing more to be gained than what Jesus has already given.  Nothing is more precious than the adventure of life found in Him.  Take time in your life for the One who made time for you.  Teach your   children by your example of how to wait on the Lord.  There is nothing worth more to wait for.  His gift of salvation was promised long ago; it was delivered in a stable and fulfilled on a cross.  And to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to be called the children of God.           (John 1:12)

What are you waiting for?  Like the Psalmist said,” I’ll wait for the Lord”.  “More than the watchmen wait for morning. (Watchmen: Guards [soldiers] on watch on the walls of Jerusalem)  More than watchmen wait for morning.” How about you?

Religion or Relationship? John 3:3, 16-17                                                                              Christianity is not about signing up for a religion and carrying out religious acts. Christianity is about being born into the family of God and living an adventure with Him. Just as an adopted child has no power to create an adoption, we have no power to join the family of God by our own efforts. We can only accept His invitation to know Him as Father through our adoption (Romans 8:15).  When we join His family through faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into our life (2 Corinthians 1:21–22). He empowers us to live like His children. God does not call us to do religious works. He calls us to come to Him so that He can work through us (Galatians 2:20). This is our living hope, that He in us can do all things! (Philippians 4:13)  For this reason He has come:  That we might know the adventure of living with Him!

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