ADVENT! WHEN CHRIST FOLDED HIMSELF

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“Then he took the two groups that had been opposed to each other and made them parts of himself; thus he fused us together to become one new person, and at last there was peace.”Eph. 2:15

Brian Simmons in the Passion Bible comments that there could have been over a hundred men with the Magi that came into Bethlehem to seek this child. No wonder Herod and all the city with him were terrified. Why this extravagant devotion you might ask? Augustine believes that the Magi were the first fruits of the age of Gentiles. For ever-since that time we who have been “folded in” have been pouring our gifts out to him, who is worthy of it all! Augustine quotes the Apostle Paul in this way, “He came to tell the good news about peace to those who were far away and those who were nearby. Yes, He’s our peace. He brought the near and the far together and made them one. He folded the two in upon Himself to form one new man whose mission would be peace. He took the two and changed them into one godly body.” Wow! That is a mouthful! When he folded himself and made them parts of himself! What a mystery! What a gospel! Eph. 2:15 We can forever live in peace! My friend, we will spend the rest of our lives starstruck, fastened upon this scene in the simple stable!

For Christ lived in a broken down stable lying in a manger unable to utter words yet put the star on its trajectory course through the heavens. Augustine comments; “yet an infant, and yet so potent, and yet so latent, a Babe who had to flee to Egypt in His parents’ arms because of the decidedly hostile acts of Herod. He was casual about it, modeling it for us, and in it He’d die for us when the right time came.”

Augustine speaks to us again to “trumpet Him on this earth, in this region of our flesh. Let’s not return to where we came from. Let’s not repeat every shred, every inkling, of our prior conversations. There’s no point in looking back. The Magi didn’t return to the Orient by the same route in which they came. Learn from the past. If you want to change your life, then change your way.”

You are living in the time when visitations happen. Learn to look for them, embrace them, and listen for them all around us, Advent is coming, forever coming, surrounding us in our Christmas songs, our Christmas joy, our Christmas hope. May you catch the wonder.

WHEN CHRIST COMES – THE MYSTERY OF ADVENT AND THE STUMP GROWER

“The cut-off stump of Jesse will sprout,
and a fruitful Branch will grow from his roots:
the Spirit of Yahweh will rest upon him,
the Spirit of Extraordinary Wisdom,
the Spirit of Perfect Understanding
the Spirit of Wise Strategy,
the Spirit of Mighty Power,
the Spirit of Revelation” ISAIAH 11:1

The guests have all left from your Thanksgiving Meal and you can’t wait to see the last dessert eaten, the stuffing thrown out, the leftover turkey frozen just to be able to eat something green again. Before you know it, we suddenly wake up to the coming of Christ or the “advent season”. When the son of man “rents a womb to come into the world”. (Augustine) The unexpected unwraps himself with something so small that becomes something so big. Right when you think you can never reach back and see any life from the stump, a branch begins to grow. It is called the story of redemption. It has brewed in the swirl for eternity, born the test of time only to come knocking at your door – the coming of him into your life. He is the stump grower, the branch extender, the vine connector. He becomes our ladder back to God in a most mysterious way. The little child in the manger always looks for the one that is invisible. The decay in your life where the roots have been forced to keep digging deeper will suddenly spring up and your cut off stump will grow like a green shoot. The germinator has come! Just allow him to come, forever come into you life and let him become the wonder for He too bore the brunt of the stump. Stumps understand other stumps.
It’s time to “sing, who were once barren”(Isaiah 54). Matthew Henry says, “The longer the church has lain desolate the greater will the transports of joy be when it begins to recover the ground it has lost and to gain more”. For in this Advent season, this coming season-you will gain new ground so to speak or new territories. Your life, your dreams, will sprout and grow till they overtake the very dark that they came from. Light comes in advent, when you receive the gift from the cradle hide it deep within. The barren one is comforted because It broke forth, as the breaking forth of waters—on the right hand and on the left, that is all around her house.
So go ahead, let the coming one come for the fullness of time came. As you hang your lights, decorate your tree-surround yourself with family, he comes in those precious moments hiding on their smiling faces. Open up your stunted self and watch the miracle grow…….

BRIGHT MORNING STAR

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS- “O HOLY NIGHT DIVINE WHEN THE STARS WERE BRIGHTLY SHINING”

“I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” Rev. 22:16

We’ve all felt it; the thick darkness of the night. When one was in their unrenewed state; they could look forever and feel the dark, disordered and the deluded. Night was a hopeless, lifeless, breathless blanket all meant to smother. But then the kindness of our savior appeared and dispelled the night! O night divine! For He is the morning star! The star that announces to the night that light is approaching! Christ comes to put to an end to our endless night! Our Aijeleth Shahar! (star of the morning in Ps.22) The morning star always shines brightest when the darkness is about to dissipate and the day is about to break. He comes as “the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings”. He comes as the herald of the Dawn. He becomes our Star and our Sun in the spiritual sky. “He comes to usher in the unclouded and eternal glories of the everlasting kingdom.”

(Clark) O how divine the night becomes when the day star appears! Star shine in the darkness when there is no other light to cheer us and they serve to regulate our seasons. Christ becomes our guide in the storms of night! “He is the revelator of great unseen realities being the harbinger of the day!” (Gill) This star charts our course early as well as late all the days of our lives. It is the light to see with when we are faced with blindness, our guide when the way is hindered. “He will be the eternal pledge and joy of a life that will be for ever young, of energies that will accumulate without end, of a service before the throne that will always deepen in its ardor and its triumph, of discoveries in the knowledge of the Eternal which will carry the experience of the blessed from glory to glory in a succession that cannot close.”( Moule)

And if that isn’t enough He becomes a flood of light upon us. In the Bible Illustrator it says; “His lustre cannot now be withdrawn, nor can men refuse to open their eyes to its presence. He is the Morning Star of all humanity, the brightest light that has ever dawned upon the world — that guides us onwards to the eternal day. He abides a steady, ever-shining light. All others are flickering torches, throwing a momentary and misleading glare, then waning and dying out.” O NIGHT DIVINE!

Enjoy the Advent Season when all around us is His light!

NEW DAY – NEW SONG

Ps.96:1,2 – Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king”. The words penned by Isaac Watts almost 300 years ago still resound throughout the earth. Joy has come to fill the hearts of all who have opened up to Jesus Christ our King. His second Advent will overwhelm the earth with unspeakable joy. No wonder every picture of the angels is a picture of singing. In His joyous presence there is nothing left to do, “Ps.96:1,2 – Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.” As we prepare for Christmas this year our hearts are also bursting with songs of joy. Christ has come, death has been defeated, our sin has been washed away, and we have received a new life. Here is how Spurgeon describes today’s text.

“O sing unto the Lord a new song. New joys are filling the hearts of men, for the glad tidings of blessing to all people are proclaimed, therefore let them sing a new song. Angels inaugurated the new dispensation with new songs, and shall not we take up the strain? The song is for Jehovah alone, the hymns which chanted the praises of Jupiter and Neptune, Vishnoo and Siva are hushed for ever; Bacchanalian shouts are silenced, lascivious sonnets are no more. Unto the one only God all music is to be dedicated. Mourning is over, and the time of singing of hearts has come. No dismal rites are celebrated, no bloody sacrifices of human beings are presented, no cutting with knives, and outcries of lamentation are presented by deluded votaries. Joy is in the ascendant, and singing has become the universal expression of love, the fitting voice of reverent adoration. Men are made new creatures, and their song is new also.”

If you are a new creature in Christ you understand what the joyful singing is all about. If you have not made peace with God, I beg you, don’t let another Christmas pass in your present condition. Go ahead and sing some of the joyful Christmas songs. As you sing the songs of the “Silent Night”, open your heart. Before long you too will be shouting songs of joy to the Lord.

WAIT IN SILENCE

Ps.62:5 – My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.

Before I became a Christian I had to always be surrounded by noise. I would put a stack of albums on my turntable to play before I went to sleep. I could not stand the silence. Several weeks before my conversion my car broke down late at night several miles from my house. The breakdown was in Pearl River, Louisiana; not a very friendly place for hippies in 1973. I decided to walk home. In took me about eight hours to accomplish that task. It was a very quiet country road with nothing but an occasional car or truck passing by. It was a very long and very quiet walk. I didn’t like being alone with my thoughts in those days, thankfully the Lord began to speak to me and draw me in that night. I was waiting in silence, I just didn’t know it. Here is how Bonhoeffer describes this waiting.

“We are silent in the early hours of each day, because God is supposed to have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep, because to God also belongs the last word. We are silent solely for the sake of the word, not in order to show dishonor to the word but in order to honor and receive it properly. Silence ultimately means nothing but waiting for God’s word and coming away blessed by God’s word…. Silence before the word, however, will have its effect on the whole day. If we have learned to be silent before the word, we will also learn to be economical with silence and speech throughout the day…The silence of the Christian is a listening silence, a humble silence that for the sake of humility can also be broken at any time. It is a silence in connection with the word…. In being quiet there is a miraculous power of clarification, of purification, of bringing together what is important.”

Actually this is what Advent is all about. We are waiting for the appearance of the Savior. If you take time and wait in silence and focus on passages from the Word of God, you too will experience that voice that speaks in the silence. Always talking comes from thinking that we have all the answers. Coming to the end of ourselves brings us to the place where we can only listen for His voice.