Advent: Waiting for the Light to shine through

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Advent: Waiting for the Light to shine through

Please read: Psalm 130

Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting patiently. The anticipation and waiting in the original Advent was an exercise in the dark times in the history of Israel. Not only due to their political bondage to the Romans, but also due to spiritual darkness caused by the lack of proper guidance. For about four centuries preceding the birth of Jesus Christ, there were no prophets in Israel. The Word of God was rare among the people of God. People groped in the darkness desperately seeking the night to be over so that the light could shine through.

Today, we live in a world not very different from the first century Israelites. Of course, human beings have taken giant steps in terms of technology. We are certainly in a far better situation and live far better lives than the first century Middle Eastern people. However, nothing has changed at the level of our sinful humanity. I’m sure you are aware of the unfortunate events resulting in the death of unarmed Black men by the police in Ferguson and in New York, USA. You may have followed stories about the Ebola crisis in some parts of western Africa. What you may not have heard is that it is a pretty dark time for Christians in India under the new Hindu nationalistic party’s regime. Several cases of forced conversion and re-conversion to Hinduism are being reported from all across India. Recently, the Hindu fundamentalist parties and their local outfits announced the conversion of more than 15000 Christians and Muslims to Hinduism, in Aligarh, North India, on Christmas Day. This will be followed in other parts of India. What is even worse, these so-called “Ghar Vapasi” or re-conversion to Hindu fold events are not only led and attended by democratically elected Members of the Parliament of a nation whose Constitution declares it as a secular nation! Not only are these events widely publicized, but they are unabashedly asking for donations from people setting a price for each conversion! In such a world, I’m reminded of Psalm 130, where the psalmist, giving us a sense of the prevailing darkness, cries:

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.

Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!” (Psalm 130: 1-2).

Desperately waiting for the Messiah to come, the psalmist actually closes the song with an exhortation that’s relevant for us today:

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130: 5-6).

Yes, believers need to watch for the coming Messiah as those who watch for the morning to break through the clouds of darkness and see the bright and morning Star, even Jesus Christ our Lord!

May you find encouragement in your dark hour. May you find Jesus Christ, the hope of glory!

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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 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 : A time to wait upon the Lord

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Advent : A time to wait upon the Lord
Please read Isaiah 64: 1-9

Christmas is a time of so much rush and busyness for most believers that there are just not enough hours in a day and days in a month to accomplish all we are supposed to do for Christmas. The West has so much commercialized Christmas that we often forget what it is all about—the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, it’s high time for us that we take Advent, the holy season preceding the birth of Christ, as a time when we wait upon the Lord instead of rushing to do things for Christmas. Remember, the Israelites were sent several prophets with a clear message about the coming Messiah. But then, after the last Prophet Malachi put his pen down, there ensued a period of complete silence. It was a period of silence for 400 long years. A period that some have also called the darkest period in the history of Israel. It’s rightly called the darkest period because God was the quietest during this long time. The Israelites were used to hearing the Word of God proclaimed through the Prophets as the writer of Hebrews says: “God, at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews1:1). But after Malachi, the prophecies ceased and there was no voice of God until John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.
So Advent is a good time to begin instilling some stillness into our days in a very busy world. It’s a time to patiently wait for the Messiah to show up in our lives and transform us into his image and likeness. Prophet Isaiah reminds us in 64: 4,

“Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

The biblical God unlike other gods has attributes like patience, compassion, and long-suffering. Therefore, he’s also eager in acting on behalf of those would wait for him. I know from personal experience that waiting is not easy. I’m an impatient man and I don’t like waiting for anything. However, God wants us to wait. Advent teaches us to wait because waiting means that I continue to believe and trust in God when all others have given up. When others are no longer hoping for God to show up, waiting means I depend on God’s timing rather than my own timing. Waiting teaches us to believe in the here and now and to get involved in expanding the Kingdom of God instead of idly sitting around and hoping for the rapture to take us away from this world.

I really hope and pray that this Advent season, you will slow down and draw near to God to patiently learn to wait upon him. Christmases will come and go, what is more important is learn to wait upon the Lord and to learn to trust in him and in his perfect timing.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.