VIDEO What is Advent?

WHAT IS ADVENT?

What is Advent?

What Is Advent? History & Meaning

For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.

Advent Today

Today, the season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. (Advent begins on Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year.)

Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.

Advent Liturgy and Practice

To balance the two elements of remembrance and anticipation, the first two Sundays in Advent (through December 16th) look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays (December 17th – 24th) look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. Over the course of the four weeks, Scripture readings move from passages about Christ’s return in judgment to Old Testament passages about the expectation of the coming Messiah to New Testament passages about the announcements of Christ’s arrival by John the Baptist and the Angels.

While it is difficult to keep in mind in the midst of holiday celebrations, shopping, lights and decorations, and joyful carols, Advent is intended to be a season of fasting, much like Lent, and there are a variety of ways that this time of mourning works itself out in the season. Reflection on the violence and evil in the world cause us to cry out to God to make things right—to put death’s dark shadows to flight. Our exile in the present makes us look forward to our future Exodus. And our own sinfulness and need for grace lead us to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew his work in conforming us into the image of Christ.

One catechism describes Advent spirituality beautifully: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’”

Advent Wreath and Candles

advent wreath and candles

The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays.

Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red color points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death. Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection. Families begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and they light another candle each subsequent Sunday.

The most common Advent candle tradition, however, involves four candles. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Each candle represents something different, although traditions vary. Often, the first, second, and fourth candles are purple; the third candle is rose-colored. Sometimes all the candles are red; in other traditions, all four candles are blue or white. Occasionally, a fifth white candle is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Excerpt from Advent Wreath & Candles: Understanding the Meaning, History and Tradition

Advent and the Christian Life

While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated, and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. It is between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming that Karl Barth penned these words: “Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent.

Advent Readings

Advent readings are themed Scripture readings for each Sunday of Advent. The four weeks of Advent are broken down into the themes:

  1. Hope (or promise)
  2. Preparation (waiting or prophecy)
  3. Joy (peace)
  4. Love (adoration)
One of the beautiful things about the Advent readings above is that they offer churches the opportunity to include both young and old into their services, and the same can be true of private family devotions around the Advent wreath as well. By this point, you’ve probably realized that there is no set criteria for who should read the Advent readings in church. In some denominations, the lead pastor or worship leader may read the Advent reading, as a way of leading the congregation in worship. Read samples of readings to use at our article “What are Advent Readings & Why Are They Important?

Also read Advent Bible verses at BibleStudyTools.com – The 28 Scriptures can be broken into 4 weeks with a passage for each day!

An Advent Prayer for The Lord to Come

Prayer is a wonderful way to help cut away from distractions of the season and open your heart to prepare for the joy and hope of Christ’s birth. Here is a sample prayer to use during the season to focus your heart and mind for the birth of Jesus Christ.

This Advent, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
When He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, “Into your darkness, God brings His Light.”
“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. It’s in Your wonderful Name I pray.

~Renee Swope, “The Manger of My Heart” from Proverbs 31 Ministries

Read more examples at 12 Advent Prayers

Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary. Justin wrote On the Grace of God and co-authored with his wife Lindsey Rid of My Disgrace and Save Me from Violence. He is also the editor of Christian Theologies of Scripture. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and at JustinHolcomb.com.

 

https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/christmas/what-is-advent.html


What Is Advent?


Related

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/introduction-to-advent/

https://www.thoughtco.com/meaning-of-advent-700455

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God Calls the Faithful, Not the Fancy

 

It must have been quite the scandal.  A young, 14-year-old girl, Mary, engaged to be married, had just returned from a visit to her relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah who lived in the hill country of Judah.  She had been gone for three months, and when she returned, she was pregnant.

She had not seen her fiancé Joseph in all that time.  We can assume that Joseph knew nothing of Mary’s delicate condition;  as a carpenter by trade, he had likely been busy working, perhaps building a house for himself and Mary to live in after they were married.  In those days, a young man would not marry until he was well established, with a way to provide for his new wife and a place for them to live and raise a family.  Joseph was looking forward to the wedding day, and doing his best to make everything ready to receive Mary as his bride.

Imagine his shock and dismay when Mary returned to town.  Imagine what HE must have thought… his hopes and dreams dashed; all he had been working for these many months, seemingly gone.  He may have thought to himself, “Well, at least I found out what sort of girl she is BEFORE we got married.”  But he did not know what he was about to find out.

We can only imagine the buzz around town.  You know how people talk, especially in small towns.  Mary takes off for three months and comes back pregnant.  Obviously, the child was not Joseph’s…  how her reputation must have been dragged through the mud among the townspeople.  She perhaps went from being a “nobody” to being despised.

And her STORY!  “The child she was bearing was not by the act of fornication, but of the Holy Spirit!”  She may as well have claimed she’d been abducted by a UFO.  How the people must have whispered and gossiped behind her back.  Her parents, also, must have had doubts.  Often times we read the story of Jesus’ conception and birth, but do not really think much about what the people involved endured through it all.

Yes, surely, Mary was the target of much controversy in her little village.  And surely most people expected Joseph to call off the wedding, and abandon her in her “sin.”   “She made her bed,” they likely said, “and now she’ll have to sleep in it.”

Things were different in those days.  Premarital sex was absolutely off limits.  Fornication was perhaps the greatest sin one could commit, other than murder.  Sex outside of Holy Matrimony just was NOT acceptable.  And Mary, they thought, had committed that horrendous crime.  There could be no forgiveness for her, at least among the townspeople, to say nothing of the religious leaders of her day.

But Mary knew something no one else did.  And she had no doubts.  Because three months earlier, she had seen something no one else in town ever had:  she saw for herself the angel Gabriel.  He came to her in person — in her home town of Nazareth in Galilee.  Mary was not only pure of heart and innocent of the crime people accused her of.  But Gabriel declared, in Luke 1, “Hail, thou art highly favored.  The Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women.”

The Holman Standard version of the Bible continues, “But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.”  Obviously.  Here was an angelic being, the angel Gabriel, standing before her, calling her “highly favored” and “blessed among women.”   She must have been shaking in her shoes… but then imagine how much more disturbing the news must have been for young Mary, as Gabriel went on to explain:  “Do not be afraid, Mary.  For you have found favor with God.  Now listen:  you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

Can you imagine YOUR response in such a situation?  Luke simply states, “But Mary asked the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?’”  ABSOLUTELY she would ask that.  But the mere words do not convey the emotions and doubts and fears this young maiden must have been experiencing…  on top of that, these were the words of an angel.  Angels didn’t just go around appearing to EVERYONE in those days, anymore than they appear to us today.  This was something truly fantastic and supernatural.  And it was happening to HER!

Gabriel explained:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

What would YOU have done in Mary’s situation?  I can only imagine.  But likely still trembling in fear and excitement, Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s slave.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  By the way, Gabriel also let Mary know that her relative Elizabeth had ALSO conceived a son — even in her old age — and was at that very moment, six months pregnant.  And he added, “For nothing will be impossible with God!”

Immediately Mary set out to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah…  and when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice in greeting, the baby inside her lept for joy!  Elizabeth then CONFIRMED what the angel had told Mary:  “You are the most blessed of women, and your Child will be blessed!”  Elizabeth went on, with sheer joy:  “How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!  She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”

Such joy, such excitement.  And such wonder!  How could all this BE?  Yet it WAS.  And it was happening to Mary, just 14-years-old, some say, and not yet even married.

Mary must have wondered what her fiancé Joseph was going to think of all this.  Would he believe her story about the angel’s visit?  And the confirmation from Elizabeth?  Yet she had great faith, and great obedience to the Lord.  Luke goes on in verses 46-55 with Mary’s song of praise because of what the Lord was doing in her life.  Unbelievable, yet very, very true.

And what about Joseph?  We don’t know a lot about him, but we can surmise what HE must have been going through as well.  After a three month visit away from home, Mary returned, pregnant.  He KNEW the baby was not his.  Matthew tells us only, “When Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

We know from Scripture that Joseph was a “just” man, an honorable man, and a Godly man.  He was a FAITHFUL man, one the Lord knew He could count on to provide for Mary and the baby Jesus, to protect and defend them.  Yet, Joseph could not wrap his mind around the situation.  After all, he was only human, and this was the first he had heard of the situation.  He could have joined the rest of the townspeople in their derision and slander.  He could have accused her of sleeping around and he could have made it public record that this baby was NOT his — HE was not a fornicator!  He could have defended his own pride and reputation.  Imagine Joseph’s turmoil.  The sleepless nights, the anguish as all his hopes and dreams had been dashed, yet he knew he had to do the right thing.  He loved Mary, still, regardless of what she might have done.  But what would he do now?  Matthew tells us, “Being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately.”

But then we read, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife.  For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  She shall bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”

Matthew reminds us that all these things were foretold by the prophet Isaiah… which Joseph likely was familiar with, being a Godly man.  You, too, can read about it in Isaiah 7.  But still:  how INCREDIBLE that the Lord had chosen HIM as the husband of that virgin, foretold in the Scriptures so long ago.  But Joseph was a good man.  When he awoke, the Bible tells us, without a second thought, he did as the angel had told him, and took Mary as his wife.  Yet Mary and Joseph did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus had been born.

We all know the rest of the story of the birth of the Savior, how the entire heavenly host of angels praised the God of Creation, how the shepherds came and, in awesome faith, worshiped the baby Savior, as He lay sleeping — in of all places, an animal’s feeding trough in a barn.  We also know what took place after.  Joseph proved himself to be a faithful man, a good provider and protector of his family.  When Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus, he again did as the angel of the Lord instructed him:  with NO hesitation and with no doubt in his mind,  he immediately took his family to safety and settled in Egypt until after Herod’s death.  Then, again following the Lord’s instructions, he returned his family back home to Nazareth.

It’s a beautiful story.  But it is also a TRUE story.  It is HISTORY, not a fairy tale.   It’s the miraculous story of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  The ENTIRE story of Jesus’  birth, childhood, ministry, death, resurrection and His soon return is indeed, the greatest story ever told.  And depending on where YOU stand with God, it’s either real GOOD news or real BAD NEWS for you.

As the song says, “Wonderful, Merciful Savior, precious Redeemer and Friend;  who would have thought that a Lamb could rescue the souls of men?”

Such is the love of our Heavenly Father for His children.  Jesus said, “There is no greater love than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  But second to that, as a father myself, I can tell you there is no greater love than a parent for their precious child.   I cannot imagine the INFINITE love it must take to sacrifice your own Son to save the souls of those that are born predisposed to hate you.  Scripture tells us, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus came to show us Who God is, and like His Father, during His earthly ministry, He called the “least in the Kingdom” — men and women of no reputation to be His followers, ministers and disciples.  Imagine, a 14 year old girl and a carpenter, from the middle of nowhere, bearing and raising the very Son of God Himself… because God knew, these were FAITHFUL people He could trust.  These were His true servants.  They BELIEVED God and they OBEYED Him, without hesitation.  That’s real faith.

It is the same today.  God calls those who love Him, those He can count on to be faithful to Him, who believe Him.  He calls faithful men and women to be His servants, His hands and feet in this world, and those who are the MOST faithful you will probably never hear of in this life.  To the world, they are “nobodys.”   But the prideful, the “high and mighty,” the famous — those He has little use for, and in fact, Jesus Himself most often had to condemn the religious leaders, the Priests, Scribes and Pharisees  — as well as the rich people — for their hypocrisy.  Those He made examples of, for us NOT to follow.

It’s sad that so many today follow and worship the celebrities, the fancy folks who we see on TV, in movies, in politics, in popular music, in the media… even many church leaders.  Worldly people LOVE the rich and famous.    But those rich and famous ones  may have made a name for themselves here in THIS world, but unless they repent and turn to Jesus Christ as their LORD, and not JUST their pseudo-Savior, life on this earth is the only heaven they will ever know.  Because it doesn’t matter that they know who Jesus IS.  What matters is, does Jesus know YOU.   For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?  God doesn’t care if you’re a ‘nobody’ in this world.  In fact, that’s usually who He chooses to do His best and most important work.  In the Kingdom of God, the first become last and the last become first and the greatest is servant of all. These are the ones who honor Him with their HEARTS AND LIVES, not just with their lips.  Those who BELIEVE and OBEY.

So, let us each examine our own hearts today.  Do we truly BELIEVE and OBEY God, or do we just know OF Him?   Could YOU have done what Mary did?  WOULD YOU have done as Joseph did?  Or would your response – today – be drastically different?

You may not be seeing angels, but God has still given you His Word.  Will you believe?  Will you obey?  Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, teaching them to OBEY all He had commanded.  Not just the “nice” parts — not just the warm and fuzzy parts, those parts of God’s Word that make us and other feel GOOD — but the HARD parts too.  You see, Truth is often a hard pill to swallow, but it’s always what we need.  If we neglect to preach ALL Jesus commanded, in order to be popular and well-liked in this world, we are not good and faithful, nor are we servants to those who need Jesus’ saving grace the most.  So let us be faithful.  Let us be servants to all.  Let us always tell the WHOLE truth, protect and provide for the helpless and innocent.  Be about His Kingdom business, occupying until He returns.  Let us judge with righteous judgment, never afraid or ashamed of the only One Who offers a transformed heart and mind, and everlasting life, for all who will forsake the world, lay down their lives and humbly seek the Savior.  And then, when our time on this earth is through, we may hear those amazing words that Mary heard: “you are highly favored; you are blessed.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

As seen here at Wisconsin Christian News.

Posted here with permission

© 2018 Rob Pue, Publisher

WISCONSIN CHRISTIAN NEWS

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Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at (715) 486-8066 or email Rob@WisconsinChristianNews.com.  Ask for message number 238.

 

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Are You Free Indeed?

John 8:31-36

Would you consider yourself a free person? The truth is, most people in the world are slaves but don’t even know it. There are no physical chains or slave masters because this form of bondage has to do with the invisible state of the soul.

When Jesus spoke about the power of truth to set people free, the Pharisees objected, claiming they were not enslaved to anyone. But they were deceived, and this is the sad state of many people today. They have no idea that they’re in bondage to sin and that it’s the result of having rejected the truth of God concerning Jesus Christ.

Freedom comes with believing what God has testified regarding His Son, admitting we are hopeless sinners, and embracing Christ as our Savior. At that point, we are set free from the penalty and dominion of sin. Then, when we finally reach heaven, we’ll also be freed from the very presence of sin, never to be plagued by it again.

As long as we live here on earth, sin will surround us and be something we must contend with. Yet God has given us the way to become progressively free from its power. His solution is the same thing that led us into salvation: the truth. Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

The key is to continually fill your mind with God’s Word. As it shapes your emotions and dictates your actions, you’ll gain victory over sinful thoughts, attitudes, and habits.

Look, Proofs of the Pudding

“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” (1 John 2:29) 

The little book of 1 John provides a treasure trove of “proofs” that demonstrate the reality of the invisible spiritual change brought about by the new birth.

There are two emphases: proofs based on personal experience and proofs based on intellectual awareness.

Here is a short list of proofs we experience:

• Obedience to God’s commandments (1 John 2:2-5)
• Experience of God in our lives (1 John 2:13-14)
• Obvious “antichrists” in the world (1 John 2:18)
• Worldly ignorance of Christianity (1 John 3:1)
• Sinners’ ignorance of righteousness (1 John 3:6)
• Our love for fellow Christians (1 John 3:16-18)
• The indwelling Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13)
• Our love for godly behavior (1 John 5:2)

Here are proofs we have intellectual confidence in:

• The Holy Spirit’s anointing (1 John 2:20)
• The holiness of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:29)
• The Father’s love for us (1 John 3:1)
• Our eternal bodies to be like Christ (1 John 3:2)
• Hating a brother is like murder (1 John 3:15)
• Scripture’s message of eternal life (1 John 5:13)
• Assurance that we belong to God (1 John 5:19)
• Assurance that Christ has come (1 John 5:20)

These evidences are primarily for the believer—that is, they are intended to assure the believer’s heart and mind of his security in Christ. John’s list is not intended to be complete but only to focus our thoughts on the obvious. When you count your blessings, remember these. HMM III

Speak not evil of one another, brethren

James 4

James 4:1

Quarrels certainly do not come from heaven. If we always acted under the rule of grace, love would create perfect peace at home and abroad.

James 4:2

Praying is better than fighting. If God will give us what we ask, why need we fight for it?

James 4:3

If any say that they have prayed and not received, it is clear that their motive was selfish, and therefore God would not gratify them.

James 4:4

Ye adulterers and adulteresses who give to worldly things the love which is due to Christ alone

James 4:4

How can you then love worldliness, and make earthly treasures your grand pursuit?

James 4:6

The testimony of Scripture concerning man’s nature is manifestly true. We are by nature selfish and envious; but grace will enable us to conquer our inbred sins, if we humbly own them, and ask for help to overcome them.

James 4:7

He is a coward, assail him boldly and he will quit the field.

James 4:9

Voluntarily sorrow for sin, or you will have to suffer for it eternally. Mourn at the cross, or you will weep before the throne.

James 4:11

The man who is severe upon his brother sets himself up to be a better judge than God. He would have those punished whom God has not punished; and thus he sits in judgment upon God, as though he were wiser than the Judge of all the earth.

James 4:13, 14

To count on life as if we had a lease of it is madness. If it be wrong to boast of to-morrow, what folly must it be to be plotting and planning for a great while to come? It is our duty and privilege to live by the day.

James 4:15

This should be your general mode of speech. The mere use of the letters D. V. [Latin Deo volente (God willing)] is an evasion of the rule: to live hour by hour, as those who will soon give an account, is the true mode of living.

Lest any should say, “We know all this, for we are fully persuaded that unless God lets us live we can do nothing,” James adds, “Do you know so well? then you are all the more bound to do well, for knowledge involves responsibility.”

 

Tomorrow, Lord, is thine,

Lodged in thy sovereign hand;

And if its sun arise and shine,

It shines by thy command.

 

The present moment flies,

And bears our life away;

Oh, make thy servants truly wise,

That they may live to-day.

 

To Jesus may we fly,

Swift as the morning light;

Lest life’s young golden beams should die,

In sudden endless night.

 

Recognize the Breath of God?

The word that I have spoken… shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:2)

Two of the great realities in our midst are surely the promised Presence of God and the testimony of His eternal Word!

By the “Word of God” I do not refer only to the book you hold in your hand—paper and letters, pages and ink—sewed together with silk thread. By the Word of God I do mean the expression of the mind of God: the mighty, world-filling breath of God!

Most of the things men and women talk about cannot be counted among the great realities of life. In October, people talk a great deal about the World Series as a great reality, but by December they have forgotten who pitched and who struck out.

People spend their entire lives in the pursuit of those things that can only perish and fade away. But when it is all over, they are still going to be faced with the reality of the eternal Word of God, the revelation of Truth which God has given us!

Think of the changes that would come if humans would suddenly stop and hear the Word of God!

 

True Walking Posture

“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely.” Prov. 10:9

His walk may be slow, but it is sure. He that hasteth to be rich shall not be innocent nor sure; but steady perseverance in integrity, if it do not bring riches, will certainly bring peace. In doing that which is just and right we are like one walking upon a rock, for we have confidence that every step we take is upon solid and safe ground. On the other hand, the utmost success through questionable transactions must always be hollow and treacherous, and the man who has gained it must always be afraid that a day of reckoning will come, and then his gains will condemn him.

Let us stick to truth and righteousness. By God’s grace let us imitate our Lord and Master, in whose mouth no deceit was ever found. Let us not be afraid of being poor, nor of being treated with contempt. Never, on any account whatever, let us do that which our conscience cannot justify. If we lose inward peace, we lose more than a fortune can buy. If we keep in the Lord’s own way, and never sin against our conscience, our way is sure against all comers. Who is he that can harm us if we be followers of that which is good? We may be thought fools by fools if we are firm in our integrity; but in the place where judgment is infallible we shall be approved.