Looking for a way to celebrate Advent? Follow this Advent Reading Calendar:
Dec 1 - Matthew 1:18-25
Dec 2 - Matthew 2
Dec 3 - Micah 5:2-5
Dec 4 - Isaiah 40:1-11
Dec 5 - Romans 15:1-13
Dec 6 - Psalm 24
Dec 7 - 1 Chronicles 17:1-14
Dec 8 - Jeremiah 33:1-18
Dec 9 - Mark 1
Dec 10 - Isaiah 53
Dec 11 - Galatians 3:26-4:7
Dec 12 - Isaiah 60
Dec 13 - 1 John 4:7-19
Dec 14 - Psalm 72
Dec 15 - Ezekiel 34:11-31
Dec 16 - John 1
Dec 17 - Isaiah 11
Dec 18 - Psalm 8
Dec 19 - Hebrews 1
Dec 20 - Isaiah 12
Dec 21 - John 14:25-15:17
Dec 22 - Isaiah 62
Dec 23 - Isaiah 9:1-7
Dec 24 - Luke 1
Dec 25 - Luke 2
Dec 26 - Revelation 22
It’s important to confess that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”, for God is not ashamed to be the God of those desiring a better, heavenly country. Seek first His Kingdom. Lay a claim on your true citizenship. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
The Resurrection of Jesus is everything.
It is the centrepiece of the entire Gospel. In fact, it is the linchpin of the whole universe.
The Resurrection happened within history, before the foundation of the world and is the hope which we see in the future. It is beyond time and space.
It is the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the manifestation of His power.
The Resurrection offends our minds yet empowers us to approach God.
It is incomprehensible, yet through the Resurrection we can understand all things.
In the Resurrection, we are completely undone while being completely transformed.
The Resurrection of Jesus is life.
Do you ever wish to reach that point in time when you’ve “made it” in life? It usually happens in those intense moments when we’ve only just conquered one challenging situation and another arises and the battle begins once again. Life sometimes feels like climbing a mountain. But having finally reached our goal where the terrain has plateaued and we are just starting to enjoy the view, we suddenly see a new, higher peak rise up on the horizon and we hear God’s call to continue the ascent. There have been times where I’ve caught myself responding to God by telling Him how comfortable I am and that because my life is in such a nice rhythm it would be a shame to add a new adventure to it. Just let me stay where I am! I don’t want to transition right now. I finally have things figured out.
When we feel unhappy in our circumstances and life is a bit miserable, any transition is welcome no matter how tired and beat up we feel. But when life is going great, it’s much harder to answer the call to take another leap of faith into a new adventure. To quote Melissa Helser from the track Cagelesss Birds:
Adventure in theory is, is full of excitement and bleeds with passion for life. Adventure in reality is full of breathless moments, silent nights, and wounds that leave scares of memory on a heart.
Adventure and transition can be hard. The unknown road ahead could be dangerous. Being in a place of complete dependence on God is humbling, even when we know it’s for our best. But staying where we are, in the comfort of what is known and understood can be way more dangerous still! The Apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Philippi:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. - Philippians 3:12
There were so many moments in Paul’s life where he could have felt like he had done enough. Not only had he lived an awesomely religious life prior to his conversion, but he then led multitudes to Christ, planted many churches, was an expert theologian, was overflowing in both the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit and suffered physically, emotionally and mentally for Jesus. He could have retired at any moment and no one would have blamed him. Everyone would have said that he had lived a full life and it was time to take a rest.
But he couldn’t stop. He understood how dangerous it would have been to fall into a complacent contentment. He wouldn’t allow himself to stop and rest upon all of the good testimonies, memories and spiritual experiences of his past. Jesus had already laid hold of him. And that divine hold gave Paul an eternal perspective. And with eternity in view, he boldly declares:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal…. - Philippians 3:13-14
The good things that have happened in our lives and the pleasant places in which we are currently residing have the potential to become our greatest enemies. If we live in the past and are overly content with what God did yesterday, we will miss what He’s going to do tomorrow. Paul’s resolve to “forgetting those things which are behind” included even the good!
Please don’t misunderstand me. Testimonies are amazing and remembering what God has done is important. These things give us greater faith for what He is going to do in the future. And it is vital that we learn from and walk out the things God has taught us.
Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule…. - Philippians 3:16
But we cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied with only what God has done. We need to retain a hunger for what He is doing and what He will do. We need this hunger to be at the forefront of our vision, so much so that everything else becomes a distant memory, as if it were forgotten.
I’ll end with this. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Faith arises from hearing what God has done. And we live in Hope of what He will do. But Love operates right now, in the present. We need to be with Him in a loving relationship now. If we love Him we will obey His commands. And when He calls us into the unknown, let’s leave everything behind and follow Him down the road ahead.
Jesus, lay hold of us today. Give us an eternal perspective. Let us never be satisfied with yesterday’s manna.
Sometimes I’m shocked by how good we have it as Christians. I mean, some of the things that Jesus said are almost way too good to be true. First off, if we really believe Jesus’ teaching at the end of Matthew 6, we have nothing at all to worry or be anxious about. Then in John 15 He plops this little nugget into our laps:
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7-8)
Let me paraphrase in case you missed it: “Go ahead, ask WHATEVER you want and I’ll do it for you. Also, make sure your life is overflowing with fruitfulness, so that My Father looks good.”
How can Jesus be so bold to tell us to ask for whatever we desire? Doesn’t He know what’s in our hearts? Doesn’t He understand that some of our desires seem a bit wacked out? Yes, but He also knows the deep desires that He formed in us when He created us. He created each of us as individuals to desire specific ways of manifesting His glory to the world. He wasn’t worried when David wrote Psalm 37, declaring:
"Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)
When we delight ourselves in God and spend a lot of time with Him, we begin to look like Him. Remember Moses’ shiny face? We get transformed by being in His presence, reflecting His image that He put in us when He created us. David knew God would give Him the desires of His heart when he came into agreement with the deepest desires God had put there.
“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)
The shallow, fleshy things that we think we desire aren’t our true desires. We were never created to desire those things. The affect of sin in our lives has caused us to believe we want certain things. But they are only lies, idols, and illusions that dissipate in the presence of our Holy God. When we get rid of all of the false ideas about ourselves and let the Spirit of Adoption reveal our true identities to us, then our true, God-given desires rise to the surface. After all, the Holy Spirit within us can only desire the things of God.
So what makes you feel alive? What are the things that you deeply desire to do when you are in God’s presence? God created you with a purpose. That purpose is uniquely yours. No one else can do what you were created to do. And if you don’t live out your dreams, the deep dreams that God put inside of you when He knit you together, all of us are going to miss out on something beautiful! Abide, be fruitful, and follow the desires of your heart.