Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1st [Advent]

This year, as Christmas approaches, I'm doing something new {to me}.

I'm celebrating Advent.

The word is from the Latin. It means coming.

Jesus is coming.

Every night until Christmas, I'm going to let you into my little bedroom in an obscure street in Greenville, South Carolina. And I'm going to open my Bible, Ann Voskamp's book The Greatest Gift, and my heart.

In a year in which I've been so me-centered, I find myself (not surprisingly) withdrawn. Grasping, searching for God and for meaning and understanding. I spend my waking hours dwelling on whether or not I am impressive and what God's will for my life is and what on earth I can do to make sure I survive today. I have tried to invest in people, only to leave them by the wayside. I have tried to breath and not be so tense, but I stress out just trying. So this Christmas season, I'm laying it all down. I am setting aside my selfishness and self-centered thoughts and ways and focusing on Jesus.

Because He is coming

Advent: December 1st

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Then in that day
The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious. 
Isaiah 11:1-2, 10 

In a world of souls that are decaying, falling apart from the weight of their sin there is a waiting. Waiting, anticipation for something... Someone

Jesus is coming

We are all old and rotten stumps, believing that we can never again be fresh and new. That life could never take root and grow again. 

Jesus is coming

But long before you or I were born, God had a plan. He pressed in roots and prepared a special lineage. A family tree that would bring the world the greatest gift it has ever received. Through a man named Jesse, God would bring about His perfect plan. 

Jesus is coming

"Out of the last and forgotten son of Jesse comes forth one tender branch that will grow into a crown of thorns...a rugged cross...your ladder back to God. Jesus will go to impossible lengths to rescue you." --Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift 

Do you hear that? Jesus is coming

David was small, young, and unlikely. Jesus came as a tiny baby, through an unlikely virgin named Mary. 

And from David to Jesus is the greatest family tree every formed. The Christmas Tree. 

Out of Jesse, a stump, new life came forth. God set in motion through David a lineage that would change the world. And through the brokenness of this lineage we see God's grace. We see men who turned their backs on God - and who were punished for it. But we also see the grace of second chances through their descendants, through men and women who were seen as nobodies that God made somebodies. 

From David to Jesus, we see God's grace. His tender mercies. Lives constantly made new. Real, unlikely people like you and me used to bring our Savior into the world as a tiny baby. 

Our Savior - God willingly humbling Himself and becoming a man. 

And just as God brought forth His Son through a lineage that was once a dead stump, He can make you new. 

Whether you are a fellow believer who is walking through a valley, an unbeliever who feels he/she has no hope, or anything in between, I pray that you will walk this journey with me. That you will see God's grace as it works in you and in me through twenty-five days of Advent. 

And if you do not know Jesus as your Savior, I pray that this Christmas season will be the time when you see your desperate need for Him. A need that will never cease that needs grace upon grace upon grace {and that grace has been offered to you}. 

in my own heart 
I seek renewal. To lift the heavy weight that numbs my heart. Or, if God chooses to keep my heart feeling numb, for my mind to be refreshed in His goodness. To know Him more and to grow in my love for Him - even as my subjective, ever-changing feelings tumult my insides. Because God is greater than my feelings. And He is still God despite them. And that is more than enough to lift the weight, even if the numbness stays. 

I seek tenderness. To see and respond to the needs of others - even when I don't feel like doing so. To talk less about me and hear more about them. The two greatest commands in the Bible are to love God and love others. I want my friendships to be more meaningful and my prayers for others to be more real. And that starts with me. Reaching out to those around me and especially to those in need. Loving others, because Jesus loves me. 

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