christmas · faith

advent

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again!

And so begins the countdown. With chocolate? …Perhaps. With the Word? …Definitely!

Through the years, I’ve done an advent-type study with the kids in our morning homeschool devotion time (see here). Alas, this year I have no littles, no big kids–no one–to do school with. I am officially homeschool retired. However, this will not stop me from doing my own advent study.

I love how an advent study turns my heart to Jesus, not to the to-do lists and trappings of Christmas–though I do love me some Christmas trappings! From the decorations, to the tree, to the festive activities, to the gift-giving and wrapping, to all the yummy goodies made together amidst Christmas music and kitchen antics…what’s not to love?

Advent is celebrated in various ways.

The traditional advent celebration is a four week period beginning four Sundays before Christmas. This year Advent started on November 27. A candle is lit for each of the four Sundays, representing hope, joy, peace, and love (not all follow that particular order). Some people add a fifth candle, Christ’s candle, for Christmas Day. Some will skip the candles and just study the themes.

An alternative advent calendar or study is a simple countdown beginning on December 1. Some will focus on the prophesy and account of the nativity, while others may plan special activities or treats.

Advent literally means ‘coming’ or ‘appearing.’ Our fun little doors hiding chocolates remind us that Christmas is ‘coming.’ The traditional Advent season celebrates the fulfilled promise of Jesus’ first ‘coming’ and the eager anticipation of Jesus’ second ‘coming.’

This reminded me of a few verses from the fall mini study on the book of Titus we did with our lovely ladies. I recalled how the following verses just touched my heart at the time:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Titus 2:11-13

You’ve probably guessed that I will focus on the “appearing” in this passage and not the instructions for our Christian walk–however important that may be.

How I love this gospel-in-a-nutshell passage.

For the grace of God
Grace is God offering us good things we do not deserve–things we cannot earn–in this case, salvation. I love the acrostic that beautifully sums up grace: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. We enjoy the benefits of being God’s children because Jesus gave His very life to bring us into the family of God. From creation, it was always God’s grace providing salvation to those who put their faith in Him. Those who belonged to Him didn’t always walk well, but they were shown grace as God welcomed them back into fellowship and they were given hope in the promised Messiah.

has appeared
‘Appeared’ comes from epiphainō in the Greek which means to shine upon, become (literally) visible or (figuratively) known, to appear, or to give light. In this passage, we see grace manifested in the person of God’s dear Son, Jesus, the awaited Messiah. He left His throne to become ‘lower than the angels’ (Hebrews 2:9) for the express purpose of redeeming our sin-sick world. His appearance brought light into the darkness. His truth and grace shone upon mankind. He was visible, walked among the people of the Galilee region and was known by them. My advent study this year was “Light of the World” by Radical Radiance and focused on this aspect of Jesus being the Light of the World. I love that.

bringing salvation
‘Salvation’ means ‘defence’ or ‘deliverance.’ He is our Deliverer. In Jesus’ appearance, His life, His death and His resurrection, He brought deliverance from the consequences of sin. What does that mean? It simply means He has paid the ‘fine’ (eternal separation from God, death) for our sins as we put our faith in Him. We trust that what Jesus did is the defence for our guilt, protecting us from the penalty. I love the chorus: “I’m covered over by the robe of righteousness that Jesus gives to me…” Because of Jesus, when the Father looks at me, He doesn’t look upon my sin; but instead, He sees Jesus’ righteousness. Wow!

for all people…
Salvation is for everyone! Jesus died for the sins of the whole world! Anyone who puts their trust in Him can have this salvation. Wow. I love that. (I know I’ve said both phrases several times….but this is great news!) No one is too far, has done too much. It’s all covered. It’s also not about how good you are, what good you’ve done. You can’t earn a gift. There is comfort and assurance that what Christ has done is enough.

while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ
We are waiting in ‘this present age.’ Just as God’s people awaited the coming of the Messiah, we are awaiting His return, when He will establish His Kingdom and reign forever. This is our blessed hope. Just as the Messiah appeared to the Jews (and to the Gentiles) 2000 years ago, He will appear again. The first time He came in humility: a scandalized momma, born in a stable without fanfare, raised in an ordinary family, died a most humiliating death. His second coming will be different. He will come in power, in victory, in astounding glory for all to see!

Are you ready for that glorious day of His second coming?

I began this post close to a month ago (hence the intro), and had a different plan for it. But, as you well know by now, this blog is just me sharing my thoughts and my thoughts are often scattered; but I’m trusting God to redeem them for His glory.

Rather than pondering the Advent themes, I decided to share some representative Christmas music. Grab a coffee and a Christmas goodie or two and let the words settle into your heart and soul…’cause Jesus…He is everything.

Hope
Light of the World, Lauren Daigle
“The heart longs for a little bit of hope…Oh come, oh come Emmanuel.”
Aren’t we all in need of hope? Hope reminds us to carry on even when life is tough.
Jesus is our hope.
“We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” ~Romans 5:2


Peace
Breath of God (Speak Peace), Building 429
“Speak in power to the spirit of fear; break the silence, remind me You’re here…
breath of God, speak peace.”
Jesus is our peace.
“Peace I [Jesus] leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” ~John 16:32-33


Joy
Joy to the World, Phil Wickham
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
Jesus is our joy.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” ~1 Peter 1:8-9


Love
Oh What a Glorious Night, Sidewalk Prophets
“Love has come, Jesus Christ is born.”
Jesus is love.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38-39

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