Friday, December 30, 2011

We Are Still Waiting

I love Christmas. The anticipation of Jesus is so heart-warming and never fails to overflow my heart with joy and love. That God came to earth as a human child is almost too much for me to take in, but every year I do so with great fondness. But when Christmas is over, things change. There seems to be a sort of lull that takes over. The hope that once was is gone. It's an interesting shift from the modern back to the historical.

Today, we know that Jesus came to us as a baby and that He was the promised Messiah. We also know that in a few short months we will commemorate His death on Calvary for our sins at Easter. These are wonderful traditions in the Christian faith, and I engage myself as much as I can when they come.

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However, now that Christmas is over we go back to waiting, just like Israel had been doing for centuries before Jesus came. We are still looking forward to His coming, but for the second and final time. We have the fulfilled promise of His birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. We have the downpayment of His Holy Spirit. We have freedom from the bondage of sin (though not from our sin nature) and the hope of a future eternally in His presence in Heaven.

John Stott said we live between the already and the not yet. In many ways, when we read the Old Testament we should be able to relate to Israel not only in their rebelliousness and lack of faith, but also in their patience in waiting for God's promised Messiah to rescue them from their captivity from sin and death. While we are no longer under the dominion of sin, we all still face death and this world is continuing to decay under the original curse. We, too, are waiting to be delivered from the godless world we live in and the destruction of our own sin.

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As we continue waiting for Christ to return, we must remember that Scripture is God's eternally true and unchanging Word - it applied to Israel thousands of years ago and applies even to Americans thousands of years later in 2012. If you plan on reading the Bible all the way through next year, consider changing your perspective as you read. Read as though the words were written to you, for your city, in your nation, at this very time in history. Heed the warnings and advice of the saints and prophets before you as if they died only yesterday. Let the sense of urgency and fire come over your heart and motivate you to live more actively and obediently in God's grace. Most importantly, ask God to keep you from falling asleep - to stay alert and continue running with endurance and strength (Matthew 26:36-46, Hebrews 12:1-3).

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