In the “church year,” a calendar that many churches use to plan their weekly worship, this coming Sunday will be celebrated as “The First Sunday in Advent.” The Advent season is a time when Christ-followers look back to Christ’s first coming, and look forward to his second coming.
It’s valuable to have the perspective that Advent gives us, because it reminds us that God makes promises. And regardless of the opinions of the doubters and skeptics, he keeps his promises, too.
In Old Testament times, he promised to come as the Messiah. People waited a long, long time for that promise to be fulfilled. But when the timing was just right, God sent his Son to be born of Mary.
In New Testament times like today, we have the promise that Jesus will return to judge all mankind. Jesus told us that we cannot predict when this will be. But it will be rapid and unexpected.
The apostles — such as Peter — encourage the church (us) to have an “end times mentality.” In other words, we are wise to keep Jesus’ second coming in mind at all times.
Doing so will inform our decisions in life, and our character.
It defines our decisions because if we believe the end of all things is coming, we want to really think through each decision in light of the temporary nature of this life, and the permanent nature of the life to come.
It defines our character because when we believe that the Jesus who is coming again is not simply our Judge, but also our Savior and our Lord, we look forward to that day with joy.
We know we are loved, because the cross of Jesus proves his love. And so, flowing from gratitude, and filled with joy because of Jesus’ forgiveness and the gift of eternal life, we are drawn to become a little more like Jesus every day.
- We live a little more alertly and a bit more expectantly, with a sober sense of life and self.
- We love more deeply, knowing that love covers over all kinds of wrongs — our own wrongs, and the sins of others too.
- Every talent we have is God’s gift. So we use the talents and gifts we’ve been given not to serve ourselves, but to serve others.
- When we speak, we don’t express our own ideas and worldview. We express the ideas and worldview that God has taught us in the Bible.
- When we serve, we know that it is God’s strength that keeps us going, growing and working.
- We know full well that God deserves the glory and the praise for anything we are able to accomplish.
It’s Advent. Jesus is certainly coming. From our perspective, it may be sooner, or it may be later. But from God’s point of view, it’s very, very soon.
And knowing that changes everything.
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:7-11, NIV).
Lord, grant that I wait expectantly for your return every day. Forgive me for all the times when I have lost perspective and forgotten that you are coming soon. You have loved me and sacrificed your life so that I could be in heaven with you. Give me an eternal perspective to inform my every thought, decision and action in this life.
Our Bible reading for Wednesday, November 25, is Ezekiel 47:1 – 48:35, 1 Peter 4:1-19 and Psalm 133:1-3.
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