Comfort you, comfort you my people, said your God. Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:1-3
Does Christmas comfort you? Or does the thought of the return of Christ comfort you?
Are you instead looking at the date and thinking about what you haven’t bought. Or are you waiting for what you bought to come in the mail? Does this bring you comfort?
The time before Christmas can be the most uncomfortable time. Because we are concentrating on something other than what Christmas is all about.
Paul says this in Corinthians:
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Are you having troubles? Allow God to comfort you. Are friends having troubles? Go comfort them with the comfort God has prepared.
So once upon a time I was a boy scout. Now this was when you earned merit badges for knot tying, and learning how to construct a campfire correctly. But one of the things they stressed above almost anything was to be prepared.
Now consider this man:
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-26
Here is a man who was prepared to meet Christ. Nothing in the text suggests at what age the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he was going to see Christ. Personally I think that he was maybe in thirties when it was revealed. But that is purely speculation. Point is Simeon woke up every day prepared to meet the Lord’s Christ. Every day he waited for the appearance. And when it wasn’t that day he went back home and trusted what the Holy Spirit told him. He was prepared every day to meet Christ.
Now Advent has two aspects. First it is to prepare us for Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation of the God-Man Jesus. But it is also to remind us that Christ is returning. We have, like Simeon, a testament from the Holy Spirit. The only difference is that it is written one.
So every day are we prepared to meet Christ? Let’s be prepared.
On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and harken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings!
Then cleansed be every life from sin:
make straight the way for God within,
and let us all our hearts prepare
for Christ to come and enter there.
We hail you as our Savior, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward.
Without your grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.
Stretch forth your hand, our health restore,
and make us rise to fall no more.
O let your face upon us shine
and fill the world with love divine.
All praise to you, eternal Son,
whose advent has our freedom won,
whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Spirit, evermore
Do you decorate for Christmas? At my house, in twenty-four hours after Thanksgiving it is Christmas. At least it prepares us for the coming day.
In the same way God sent his forerunner, John to prepare the people for the appearance of the Messiah.
John called the people to repent. He preached the gospel of the coming kingdom telling them that they couldn’t keep on doing the same thing their behavior had to change. And to show that they had repented they had to be baptized.
In the same way as we wait for Christ’s return how are we to be? How are we preparing? Going to explore this week as we concentrate on preparing.
The second Sunday is typically known as the Sunday of preparation.
A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. “Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5
This week we are going to explore how to prepare for Christmas.
Here are some other readings to meditate on:
Psalm 72:18; Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 1:26-38
And not only that, but let us also exult in our troubles; for we know that trouble develops endurance, and endurance strength of character, and strength of character hope. Romans 5:3-4
In China, pastors are being imprisoned while crosses are being replaced by pictures of Xi Jinping.
In Africa christians are under constant threat of death by Islamic Jihadists.
In Mexico pastors are being killed by drug lords.
And I sit here in my armchair reading theology book at my leisure.
It is tough for me to talk about my troubles when I compare them to my brothers who have lost even their lives or been imprisoned for their faith.
However, our brothers endurance gives me hope. I don’t know that I could exult in my troubles when faced with what has happened to these martyrs. But I would like to have that much hope. So on this the seventh day of Advent let’s keep the hope of our brothers strong and pray for them to endure these troubles. For their hope strengthens our hope.
This the sixth day of Advent a hymn to remind us to hope.
“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” Matt.12:21
Have you ever considered how wonderful it is that God chose not to just save the people of Israel but also to extend that salvation to the Gentiles? I mean this was so amazing that when Peter came back to the disciples after being with the Centurion Cornelius this was their response:
On hearing this statement, they said no more, but broke out into praise of God. “So even to the Gentiles,” they exclaimed, “God has granted the repentance which leads to life!”
God would have been entirely just to allow the gentile nations to receive nothing but His wrath while showing mercy to Israel. But God’s good plan was not only for Israel to get mercy but to extend that mercy to people that wasn’t God’s people.
Paul talks about how God had planned for the salvation of the gentiles by quoting from Hosea:
This, indeed, is what he says in the book of Hosea — ‘Those who were not my people, I will call my people, and those who were unloved I will love. And in the place where it was said to them — “You are not my people”, they will be called sons of the living God.
This extension of salvation, whose working out was unknown to the Jews of that time, was through the coming of God’s son, Jesus, on whose name we have our hope.
So today on the fifth day of Advent let’s meditate on whose name we have our hope in.
1. To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is giv’n,
Him shall the tribes of earth obey,
Him all the hosts of heav’n.
2. His Name shall be the Prince of Peace,
The Wonderful, the Counselor,
The great and mighty Lord.
3. His pow’r, increasing, still shall spread,
His reign no end shall know,
Justice shall guard His throne above,
And peace abound below.
4. To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is giv’n,
The Wonderful, the Counselor,
The mighty Lord of heav’n.
But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence 1Peter 3:15
So I have a friend called Mike, not his real name, who is one of those guys. You know what I mean, his joy at being a Christian is so visible it irritates us older crankier Christians.
Now I am being a bit facetious here but there is one thing that was true about Mike. He held Christ as Lord.
And because that was true it had an effect on the people around him. They wanted to know why, why was he this way. See they saw a hope in him that couldn’t be explained by a positive attitude he had something that they didn’t.
And if asked Mike would explain, in a gentle reverent manner what the Gospel was and why they needed this great salvation.
So on this third day of Advent let’s meditate on sanctifying Christ as Lord, so we can tell people why we have such hope in us.