Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for the Sunday’s Message; 1st Sunday in Advent 2015

November 29, 2015 is the First Sunday of Advent

Scriptures for this Sunday: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Luke 21:25-36

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010 and ESV

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NIV2010 Luke 21: 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

On the first Sunday of Advent’2015 this text rings too close for comfort. Today there ARE signs in the Sun, in the Moon, and in the Stars. It is easy to hear and to see the seas roaring and tossing because the ice caps are melting and climate patterns are changing. There are news stories about wild fires, droughts, mudslides and floods. There are news stories about violence and civil unrest. And we do not have to go too far to see people fainting from fear and anxiety in anticipation of what is coming upon the world that we live in.

Today’s reading from Luke is an awesome example of how the Holy Scriptures of our faith are relevant to our day-to-day lives. Today’s reading from Luke points to our brokenness, to the realities of our day-to day lives.

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After hearing today’s reading, the easiest thing to do is to get depressed and to cry that the world is coming to an end. Unfortunately we’ve been here before. Napoleon was widely considered to be the Antichrist taking over the world. Then came Bismark… then came World War I… then came Hitler and the Nazi’s… then came Stalin… and Mao Tse-Tung… and the list goes on and on and on…

And as I stand before you today, many nations are involved in the struggle and conflict that is raging in the Middle East. There are downings of civilian aircraft, there are downings of military aircraft, there are atrocities committed and that depressing list goes on, and on, and on…

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That is why today’s Scripture from Luke is so relevant to our lives. Jesus is talking about our human condition, the world’s brokenness, and that reality does not change from generation to generation and will not change until His Triumphant Return. Because of that reality we need Jesus in our lives.

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It is not a coincidence that today’s readings were selected for Lectionary Readings for the 1st Sunday of Advent. The reading from Luke points to our brokenness. The reading from Jeremiah points to the fact that “The Lord is our righteous savior” (Jeremiah 33:16); our relationship with Jesus is the root of our righteousness[1] and strength, our ability to deal with life’s difficulties.

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As we remember the First Advent of Jesus, and as we prepare ourselves for his Second Advent (second coming), our hope is rooted in the fact that we are given free will to live lives full of hope instead of fear.

The promise of today’s readings, the promise of the Season of Advent is that God envisions a different life for us. God’s vision for our lives is what challenges every one of us to be the best version of what God created us to be.

The promise of today’s readings, the promise of the Season of Advent is that God is helping us to see beyond the present. God gave us the ability to imagine, to set goals and to work toward them.

The promise of today’s readings, the promise of the Season of Advent is that God gave us a lens through which we can see and recognize God at work even when it seems that evil and sadness dominate the news.

The promise of today’s readings, the promise of the Season of Advent is that God is inviting us into a future where “Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety” (Jeremiah 33:16), and our relationship with God will be the source of our righteousness.

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NIV2010 Luke 21: 34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

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The Season of Advent is about rooting our lives in the life and teachings of Jesus (his First Advent) and preparing ourselves for his Triumphant Return (his Second Advent).

In order to root our lives in Jesus’ First Advent and prepare ourselves for His Second Advent, something has to happen in our lives. First we need to go to God in prayer and acknowledge something that God already knows and something that our pride and hubris prevents us from acknowledging.

When was the last time you put the things that hold you down at Jesus’ feet in prayer? When was the last time that you asked God to change your life, to bring new vigor and excitement into your life?

[1] Righteousness is an attribute of a person’s character that makes evident his or her desire and striving to live a life that is pleasing to God. Righteousness does not make a person perfect. Righteousness points to that person’s striving to love God deeper, focus on God more intensely and follow God closer with every day of his/her life.

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