What are we waiting for in Advent?

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What are we waiting for in Advent?

Please read Amos 5: 18-27

Advent has for long been associated with waiting. We have been talking about waiting for the past one week or so. But what exactly do we wait for this Advent season? What does Advent promise us that we are looking forward to?

I recently read something on the Incarnation or the Word made flesh that helps clarify what we should be waiting for:

“The Word that took root in the darkness of Mary’s womb, that took flesh and walked around in this world, that emerged not only in the laboring of a woman but also in the laboring of generations to follow, the ancient Word that springs forth anew—this Word seeks to dwell deeply in us, to be born into the world through us in this and every season.” –Jan Richardson, “The Luminous Word: Living the Advent Hours”.

The Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah, the Redeemer, who would deliver them from the Roman Empire, establish the government of their own people, and fulfill the promises received through their prophets. However, most of us today live in a free world and aren’t expecting the Messiah. In fact, we do have the living Messiah with us now. However, what the world is waiting to see is that the Messiah, the Word who became flesh would dwell deep inside us. By the indwelling of the Word in us, let a new, transformed life may emerge. May Christlike life be born in and through us this Advent so that the world around us may be amazed to see the mighty work of God in each one of our lives.

The Kingdom that the Word came to inaugurate must now be expanded through you and me. What Prophet Amos imagined must now be fulfilled through our actions:

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5: 24 ESV).

What Prophet Isaiah wished for must become a reality in our lives:

“Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18 ESV).

Furthermore, could we say that Isaiah’s prayer be answered now in our days when,

“The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field.” (Isaiah 32: 16 NIV).

Will we work together to make that highway a reality which Prophet Isaiah dreamed of:

“And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray” (Isaiah 35: 8 ESV).

Until these promises are fulfilled, we wait in vain. We go through the motion and routines of Advent and Christmas celebration without paying attention to what we’re expecting?

Come Lord Jesus!

Advent: So the Lord waits for you!

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Advent: So the Lord waits for you!

Please read Isaiah 30

For a couple of days now, we have stressed on the importance of waiting upon the Lord. Today, a particular verse in Isaiah grabbed my attention. There is a reason the Bible stresses so much on the theme of waiting upon the Lord and waiting for him. Isaiah 30: 18 points it out for us when he says,

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;

    therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.

For the Lord is a God of justice;

    blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18 NRSV).

The New Living Translation is even more emphatic by adding the word “must”:

 “So the Lord must wait for you to come to him

    so he can show you his love and compassion.

For the Lord is a faithful God.

    Blessed are those who wait for his help” (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)

I agree with most of you who wince when you hear one more exhortation on waiting upon the Lord, wondering how long? You grouse thinking why it is you who is always left waiting for the Lord and then nothing happens. Trust me, I have felt the same way many a times. I have often wondered why I am the only one left waiting when everyone else around me get ahead and finds what they have wanted. Why only my prayers are not answered when everyone else rejoices over things they have not even prayed about. So, today, if you’re in the mood of complaining, I want to urge you to listen to the words of Prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah makes it so clear that rather than me waiting or even before I wait, it is the Lord himself who is waiting for me. Even before you could learn to wait upon the Lord and for the Lord, the Lord himself is the one who waits for us; rather, “the Lord must wait for you to come to him.” The Lord waits so that he could be gracious to us. The Lord waits for the sinners to return to him. The Lord waits for us to repent from our sins so that he could forgive us. The Lord waits to show his love for us…to take us in his loving arms to comfort us. The Lord waits patiently to show… nay to shower his unlimited grace upon us. It is one of the attributes of a kind, loving, long-suffering God to even wait for the sinner to repent and turn to him and find grace. The Lord waits for the sinner until s/he decides to come near him seeking his love and forgiveness.

So, my waiting upon the Lord is never in vain. Therefore, instead of being grouchy today, will you instead be grateful that we have a God who waits for us! Will you come to him who must wait for you to show his love and compassion as long as you have the opportunity? Will you take advantage of the offer of a God who has waited for you to come to him and receive this Advent season the blessings he has stored for you? In doing so, will you be one of those who is called “blessed” just because you wait for God’s help as he waits to bless you!

May the Lord draw us closer to him.

Advent: Wait for the Lord!

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Advent: Wait for the Lord

Please read: Psalm 27

We’ve seen that Advent is a season for waiting upon the Lord and it comes with its perks. Today, my attention was drawn to Psalm 27. It’s a psalm of David. In the last verses (13-14) of this psalm, the Psalmist declares,

“I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord 

in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV)

Obviously, not everything was alright in the days of David. Even when he was the king, David had to fight a lot of wars, and attend to various challenges to his kingdom and to his kingship. There were internal conflicts and external threats to the kingdom. Verse 2 makes this clear that he had to deal with enemies. Verse 3 makes it clear that he even feared his own armies besieging him. Verse 5 shows that he had or feared he would face days of trouble, which are multiplied in verse 12 where David’s apprehensions and anxieties come to the fore.

However, what’s most encouraging is David’s confidence in the Lord and the invincible attitude he displays in the midst of adversity and hopelessness. This comes out clearly in the last two verses cited above where David declares that he chooses to remain confident of this that he will see the goodness of the Lord. Even though the clouds of doubt and hopeless situation may hide the unchanging goodness of the Lord from him, his faith is firm that one day the clouds will disappear and God’s goodness will be clear as day. What is more, David says it will be here and now even during his own lifetime. But in order for this to realized, one must “wait for the Lord”. Not just waiting upon the Lord for him to act on our behalf and to fulfill his promises, but wait for the Lord means not to go ahead of the Lord. Waiting for the Lord means to live in full confidence that God is alive…that he is still on his throne…that God is good…that God is still interested in us…that God still wants the best for us…and that God will act for us. It also means that we don’t want to rush God as and when we want him to act, but that we let God be God, for he knows the best timing for us. Even as we continue to wait and trust, David also encourages us to be strong in the Lord and to take heat or be courageous while we wait for the Lord to act.

Our days are not much different from the days of David. Just a glance at the daily newspaper or hearing the news on the television and we know what kind of days we all are living in. We’re prone to lose hope and feel helpless. If you’re in that situation, please take courage from David’s psalm and wait for him with renewed strength and hope for that’s the message of the Advent season.

Come Lord Jesus!

Advent: Wait and trust in God’s timing

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Advent: Wait and trust in God’s timing
Please read Luke 24: 44-53

Waiting upon the Lord is what the Hebrews did for centuries before the coming of the Messiah. God also rewards those who wait upon him with much strength and vigor. Nevertheless, waiting upon the Lord can be one of the hardest things for you and me. During this Advent season, we are reminded that we, too, as believers are to wait upon the Lord until Jesus Christ returns back to this world. In fact, with the promise of his return, Jesus Christ asked his followers to wait and be patient. Even as the disciples waited, they were eager to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 20-28) given by their Lord just before his ascension into heaven. However, even before going out to fulfill the Great Commission, the Lord asked his disciples to wait: “And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24: 49).

Now, waiting on the Lord has quite a few benefits for us. Waiting helps build up our complete trust in God. To wait is to trust God and to take his Word and his promises at face value. It means we trust that God is doing and will do what he has promised in his Word as well as his individual promises to you and me. This Advent, make some time to list all the promises you may have received from God in the past. Make a clear list and then pray over it. Once again, claim each of those promises and patiently trust God to fulfill them in your life.

Waiting on the Lord actually helps take the burden and stress off of our shoulders because it proves that God is in control and he is still in charge. If I know that I am not in charge of my life, it becomes really quite liberating. Try this Advent season to lay your life, plans, and your future at the feet of God and make him in charge. You will be free to live! And you will love the fact that you are no longer in charge—you are not God; rather God is in charge.

Waiting on the Lord is also helpful in that it releases us from the unnecessary stress of predicting the exact dates and times of the Second Coming of Christ. We can never get it right, because only God knows about the perfect timing for his coming. If I am not God, why should I even bother about predicting when it’s the ripe time for Christ’s return? Thus, waiting means I learn to trust in God’s perfect timing for all decisions in my life and even for the return of Christ. It teaches me that God’s timing is the best.

May the Lord help each one of us to learn to patiently wait for the Lord, to trust him that he is in control, and to trust in his perfect timing.
Come Lord Jesus!

Advent: Those who wait shall renew their strength

waitingAdvent: Those who wait shall renew their strength

Please read Isaiah 40: 9-31

As I wrote yesterday, Advent characterizes patiently waiting for the Lord. The Israelites had to wait for a very long period of 400 years after the last prophet spoke to them. The prophets played a key role in the lives of Hebrews. In fact, the prophets were one of the three religious institutions in the Old Testament; the other two being the priests and the kings. The prophets, therefore, played a pivotal role in building anticipation for the Advent of the coming Messiah—Jesus Christ. In times of trouble, darkness, silence, and hopelessness, the prophets brought hope and encouragement to the people of God. The prophets keenly observed the world around them and declared what was wrong with it. They also preached that a better world was needed. In order for a better world, the prophets proclaimed, they needed a better King who would act justly and establish justice. The prophets also preached that people, who contributed to making the world a corrupt and unjust world, needed to repent and turn from their sinful ways. Only when the people repented and accepted the new order that the Messiah brings in will they be able to usher in a new and better world.

The Prophet Isaiah in particular announced that anticipating all this to happen in our world is a matter of patiently waiting. That’s why he announces that there’s even a huge incentive for those who chose to wait upon the Lord:

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40: 31 ESV).

Notice here that Isaiah doesn’t mean we remain idle as wait upon the Lord to come back as the ruling King of his Kingdom on earth. To wait is not that we just mark our time. Rather, it’s to be active on his behalf for the kingdom, working towards its fulfillment in the here and now. That’s why he uses three verbs in the above verse: we shall “mount up… run…walk…” That provides a vivid picture of what we should be doing as we wait upon the Lord. Isaiah says the Lord knows when we wait upon him. He knows that as human beings it’s against our nature to wait. He knows that we will become weary and worn out through waiting and trusting upon God. Therefore, he has also provided for an incentive, i.e., he will renew our strength when we become weary of waiting. The incentive to renew our strength is clearly for the purpose of getting more involved in his Kingdom as the three verbs describe for us. God knows that we’re not made to be sitting apathetic but to engage with the world. Therefore, he’s also willing to supply us the needed strength, through the Holy Spirit, to mount up like eagles, to soar higher, to run faster, and to walk with sprint in our feet, to do his will on earth as it’s done in heaven!

Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!