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A Season Of Waiting That Points To A Better Celebration (via Betsy Childs Howard)

We’re not just waiting for December 25.
We’re waiting for eternity.
The time before Christmas can become a focus on what we don’t have; but it can help us remember that what we really need is coming.
By Betsy Childs Howard, on the Crossway blog.

Advent is about more than waiting for Christmas. The word “advent” means “coming.” During Advent, we not only remember that Jesus came to earth as a man; we prepare our hearts for his second coming. When we sing, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” we are not role-playing what the ancient Israelites must have prayed before the coming of the Messiah. No, we are praying that Emmanuel would return and make right all that is wrong with the world. When we sing, “Let every heart prepare him room,” we are not retroactively chastising the innkeepers of Bethlehem; we are preaching to all of the souls within earshot to be ready to meet their Judge and Maker unafraid.
The timing for this emphasis on Christ’s return couldn’t be better, in my opinion. Just when we would like to be happiest, and are therefore, ironically, the saddest, we remember that not only has Christ come, he has promised to come again. This life is not our only shot at happiness. It is a brief prelude to the life to come where we will find pleasures evermore. In the presence of Jesus, we will not regret anything we lacked in this life.
If your heart is heavier than you’d like this Advent season, take hope that the joys of Christmas aren’t ultimately what you wait for. The very best Christmas — one in which every family member sits around the table, speaks sweetly to everyone else, and prefers giving to receiving — is a pale shadow of the rejoicing to come. Let the fact that your heart aches point you beyond Christmas to the better celebration still to come. Join with the voices of Christians around the world, who together pray, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”

Read the whole post here.


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When God Gives You Way More Than You Can Handle (via Philip Ryken)

Philip Ryken takes issue with the oft heard Christian advice ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.’

We Can’t Handle All of Life’s Trouble . . .
We will never be ready for all of the troubles that we face in life and I have to say that I disagree with the common slogan that you sometimes see on posters that goes something like this: “I know God’s not going to give me anything more than I can handle.” Actually, my experience is that a lot of times God gives me way more than I can handle—and I think that’s normal.
. . . but God Can.
One of the reasons that he gives us more than we can handle is because his grace proves sufficient in our weakness. So in one sense, we can never prepare for all of the troubles that we are going to face. But what does prepare us is healthy, normal, ordinary, daily Christian living: Spending time in God’s word everyday, being with the people of God for worship at least every week, turning to God in prayer daily in every circumstance that we face, and just being honest about the troubles that we’re having—honest with ourselves, honest with God, honest with other Christians about those troubles. We will grow in our capacity to face the struggles of life as we live healthy, ordinary, daily Christian life.


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More And Less Indignant (via Mark Buchanan)

Mark Buchanan writes on the need to be more and less indignant as a follower of Jesus.

Indignation – being ticked off, put out, riled up – is typically a sign of sheer pettiness. It’s no more than hissy fit. A melt down. A tantrum. It’s the behavior of a spoiled child. It’s what the small-minded do when they don’t get their way. It’s a symptom of an overfed ego and an undernourished heart. And usually that’s all it is – a rant over some perceived slight or inconvenience.
We see it elsewhere in the Bible: the same disciples are indignant when Mary breaks a jar of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet, priests and lawyers are indignant when children make too much noise singing in church, synagogue rulers are indignant when Jesus heals on the Sabbath.
And we see it in ourselves: I get angry over a stranger cutting me off in traffic, feel resentment toward a colleague getting recognition I think I deserved, become irritated at a child squalling on a plane.
Sheer pettiness, all of it.
And we might leave it at that, except for the other story Mark tells:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them (10:13-16).
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. And it happens more than once. He’s also indignant – the Bible uses a different word, but describes the same emotion – when the Teachers of the Law oppose his healing a man on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6).
The sum of it: Jesus loses his temper with people who try to keep other people from experiencing a touch of God, especially if they are people who lack influence – children, the sick, a woman with a shady past. He waxes angry with anyone who throws up obstacles to someone else’s need and hunger for God. “Do not hinder them” is his watchword.
And what, usually, hinders the child, the sick, the beggar, the woman? Ironically, tragically, it’s the false indignation of the entitled. It’s those of us who try to defend our little patch of turf.

Read the whole post here.


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Grace, One Day At A Time

Crossway features a brief post by Betsy Childs Howard that seeks to remind us that God sustains us through longs seasons of waiting one day at a time.

Grace, One Day at a Time
You may get to a point someday when you think, “I really can’t wait any more. I can’t do this for the rest of my life.” You feel that you simply don’t have what it takes to wait well for a lifetime. You know what? You don’t. And that’s good news.
You do have everything you need to wait well today.
God doesn’t promise us grace in a lifetime supply; he promises us grace one day at a time. Hebrews 4:16 speaks to the reality that God gives grace to help in time of need. It helps to remember how the Lord dealt with the Israelites when he gave them manna. He wouldn’t let them keep it overnight. Indeed, it would spoil if they kept it overnight. So they had to go to bed every night with empty cupboards, trusting that God was going to provide what they needed in the morning.
Our seasons of waiting are the same in that God gives you what you need for today, and then tomorrow you need to seek what you need for tomorrow. For example, you may not feel like you can get through endless cycles of chemotherapy. But can you get through today? Can you get through the next twenty-four hours? Then tomorrow ask yourself the same thing, “Do I have what I need to get through today?”
Seek God’s grace one day at a time and don’t be overwhelmed with what the future holds. He has promised to provide exactly what you need.

Source.


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A Three Snickers Day

9.25.14_spilled-water-500x500No chocolate changed hands, but it could have.
Sigh.
And it all worked out fine.
So sense fussing.


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Solidarity (via David Cook)

Posted on August 5, 2014 at David’s page at the PCA website:

Solidarity
According to real estate agents, it is all about location, location, location.
It is precisely the same according to the Christian gospel when it applies to the believer’s experience of God.
Once we were located in Adam, now by God’s grace, we are located in Christ (see Romans 5:12 – 21). So Paul says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have decamped, and our new address is in Christ. This was one of the first lessons Saul (Paul) learnt on the Damascus Road, that to persecute Christians is to persecute Jesus, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting (Acts 9:5)”.
Being now located “in Christ” means that there is solidarity between Jesus and his people, and that when Christians are persecuted, Jesus takes that personally.
Jesus speaks of the same solidarity when he sends out the twelve on mission in Matthew 10:40, “he who receives you, receives me and he who receives me, receives the one who sent me”. There is solidarity between the believer and Jesus Christ, just as there is solidarity between God the Father, “the one who sent me” and God the Son, “the one whom He sent”.
In Psalm 14:4 – 7, David says that those who devour God’s people ought to be overcome with dread, for the Lord is in the company of the righteous, he is their refuge and he will watch over the fortunes of his people!
Therefore let ISIS and other such groups be warned, the outrageous threats and attacks on Christians in Iraq, the similar attacks in Nigeria, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Gaza will not go unpunished, Yahweh is in the midst of His people. He alone is Lord and he will punish the persecutor, either now, or in judgement in eternity.
Let us go to prayer for both our persecuted family and for those who persecute them. Pray that God will be merciful to the persecutor, that they will have their eyes opened to their willful rebellion and bow the knee, as did Saul, to the resurrected Lord. If they don’t, they are in for a terrible, eternal shock.
Pray for those who take the gospel of light and peace to such antagonists that they will be sensitively bold and faithful in the task.
“All wickedness flows from a disregard of God”, wrote Calvin, and in another commentary, “the hatred of sin proceeds from the fear of God”. What a wicked world we live in, it is a world under God’s judgement and we must not be sidetracked by trifling concerns, but seriously pray and reach into the heart of the rebellious with the momentous news of the gospel.
Remember the gospel is God’s power to save. Saul was the chief persecutor of the ancient church, “the worst of sinners” was his self description, but God’s power vanquished him, and we can be confident that the gospel of God will continue to melt the rebellion of even the worst hardened opponent.
David Cook