(Note: I have been using Paul David Tripp’s Advent devotional book “O Come Let Us Adore Him” as the basis for my December devotions so far. I will continue to do so most days, but I will also share some thoughts that I came up with all by myself! It happens every once in a while. Enjoy! Happy Advent.)
It is time to get ready! That is what the season of Advent is all about. The four Sundays before Christmas make up the season of Advent. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” This is a season where Christ followers are supposed to prepare themselves for the arrival of Jesus Christ. There are 3 Advents (comings) of Jesus that we should remember, anticipate, and celebrate.
The 3 Advents of Jesus:
- The Past Coming of Christ – This is the celebration of Christmas. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal Son of God came to earth 2000+ years ago in the form of a man. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). The Incarnation of Jesus Christ – God becoming a man – should continue to blow our minds. Frederick Beuchner said, “The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.” The scandal of the Incarnation leads to the scandal of the cross which leads to the miracle of the resurrection where the sinless Son of God would claim victory over Satan and sin. Dang, it is one heck of a story. The Son of God was born of man so that we might be born of God. Thank God for Christmas!
- The Future Coming of Christ – Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again! Yes, He will come again. After rising from the dead, and revealing himself to his disciples, Jesus then was returned to Heaven. He told his disciples He would come again from heaven just as he was taken back into heaven. Scripture declares, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28). Jesus has promised to come again for his people – and his people are supposed to keep an eye upon heaven looking and awaiting for his return. Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3) When Jesus returns, He will initiate that last phase of redemption whereby He will judge sin, reward his people, and restore a broken world. Author Alan Redpath said, “The immense step from the Babe at Bethlehem to the living, reigning triumphant Lord Jesus, returning to earth for his own people–that is the glorious truth proclaimed throughout Scripture. As the bells ring out the joys of Christmas, may we also be alert for the final trumpet that will announce his return, when we shall always be with him.”
- The Present Day Coming of Christ – Jesus still comes to his people in the moment. He can still come to you in this moment. The angel told Joseph that Jesus’ name should be called Immanuel which means God with us. He still comes to make His presence known to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is always with us, and yet He wants us to experience fresh advents. Jesus said, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven gift the Holy Spirit to them that ask” (Luke 11:13). In the book of Acts, we the see the disciples continue to experience the ongoing work of the Spirit, and continually being filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:1, Acts 4:8, 31). They were not filled once, but again, and again, and again. There is a never ending supply of the Presence of Jesus through the power of the Spirit. He wants to come to you in a fresh way this Christmas season. He wants to meet you and fill you even as you finish this sentence – Breathe deep… Come Lord Jesus! Holy Spirit I welcome you right now. I want more of you. – Jesus will come to you afresh tomorrow morning if you seek Him. He wants to reveal Himself to you over and over this week. Those who seek Him will find Him when they seek Him with all of their heart (Jeremiah 29:13)
Jesus came for you. He is coming again for his church. He will come and meet you even now. There are many preparations that we make to get ready for Christmas: decorations, baking, gift buying, etc. Even more important is to make preparations of the heart for the coming of Christ in our lives. I hope you will continue to embrace this season with examination, confession, reflection, remembrance, repentance and more.
- Reflect upon the Person of Jesus – Relax. Slow down. You cannot experience the presence of Jesus while in a hurry. Take intentional time to be with Him, to meet with Him. Advent is a time for personal reflection, examination, and repentance. Draw near to the presence of Jesus and He will draw near to you. Reflect on the manger as an invitation from God to come closer.
- Remember Why He Came – Christmas is so much more than sentiment, but it involves the sacrifice of Jesus coming to earth to live his life as one of us, then give his life for all of us. His mission to earth was not nice thing or good thing, but a needed thing. The humble manger would always lead to a horrific cross. Jesus agreed with the Father. It had to be done for the sake of salvation. It was the plan all along. We should never forget.
- REFRAME Your life in light of Eternity – Advent reminds us that this story is going somewhere beyond this world, to the next. We are to live today in light of THE DAY when we will meet Jesus face to face. We can endure hardship in light of that day. We can invest our lives now in light of that day. We can submit to God when it is hard in light of that. We can fight sin in light of that day. Advent reminds us not to become short-sighted and live half-hearted as if this life is all there is.
- REPENT as a way of life – We are not called to repent of sin once and then move on. True repentance is a lifestyle, continually asking God to search our hearts, humbling ourselves before Him and asking for His grace. Repentance means that we turn away from sin and self and to the Lord. Our turning will involve three aspects. First we must turn away from some things – actions, attitudes, habits, etc. that lead us away from God. Secondly, we should turn to the Lord and his voice. Turning should involve really leaning into Jesus more. Finally, we may need to turn more to others that are running with the Lord instead of settling for shallow relationships that do not build us up.