Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

advent Archive

Friday

10

December 2021

The Lord has His way

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power… the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” (Nahum 1:3)

"Wherever this Christmas season finds us, may we remember that the Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm (Nahum 1:3). Read more on hopereflected.com

Even in the midst of circumstances that we don’t understand, even when it seems that everything is being thrown at us, and even during trying times when we long to grasp God’s purpose, He is working. “…the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm…” When we are being thrown about, tossed and turned, the Lord still has His way.

Our response during the whirlwind and the storm is important. That is not to say that it’s wrong to be troubled, or that it’s wrong to ask questions. Take Mary for example.

Mary trusted the Lord. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38). Read more on hopereflected.com

Mary had questions

In Luke 1, when the angel Gabriel is sent by God to share with Mary that she will conceive and birth Jesus, we read that Mary “cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” (v. 29) and was troubled at Gabriel’s words (v. 29). Rather than be flattered, Mary was confounded. “How shall this be?” she asked Gabriel (v. 34). After Gabriel’s explanation, Mary ultimately accepted the responsibility, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (v. 38).

Mary sought godly counsel

Immediately following her encounter with the angel, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth (v. 39), where she found encouragement from Elizabeth regarding what had transpired. As Matthew Henry wrote, “Sometimes it may prove a better piece of service that we think to bring good people together, to compare notes.” During the whirlwind and the storm, when we find ourselves questioning what is going on, it’s wise to seek godly counsel from trusted Christian family and friends. It’s encouraging to be enveloped in prayer by fellow believers. It’s reassuring to know that we are not alone.

Mary was faithful and "kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19). Read more on hopereflected.com

Mary was faithful

When it came time to give birth to the Messiah, Mary brought Jesus forth “and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7). Imagine, hearing from an angel that God has chosen you to deliver the Son of God, of whose kingdom there shall be no end, and then delivering him in a seemingly sad surrounding. If we were in Mary’s place, we would likely have images of grandeur in our minds; thoughts of huge celebration, attention showering, rejoicing, and gifts.

Talk about underwhelming; imagine Mary’s thoughts as she birthed our Lord, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger – used to hold animal feed, likely in a stable or just outside. Was she disappointed, or upset? Evidently Mary didn’t become overly emotional, but rather “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (2:19). Mary remained faithful.

“Wherever this Christmas season finds us – in the whirlwind or in the storm – may we remember that the Lord has His way.”

Hope Reflected

C.S. Lewis wrote that, “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.” Wherever this Christmas season finds us – in the whirlwind or in the storm – may we remember that the Lord has His way. And may we be faithful like Mary, even when things don’t quite go as we plan, and even when we don’t understand.

Originally published as “The Lord has His way.” Independent Plus. December 10, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

9

December 2021

What are we doing while we’re waiting?

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

There is a blessing when we wait on the Lord

As much as Advent is a season of celebrating, it is also a season of waiting. Read more of "What are you doing while you're waiting?" on hopereflected.com

Advent is a season that’s filled with anticipation as we celebrate the first advent of Christ, and prepare for Christmas. As much as Advent is a season of celebration, it is also a season of waiting.

When I was a child, there were several years that I found it particularly difficult to go to bed on Christmas Eve. My heart was filled with such anticipation of waking up to a stocking hanging on my bedroom door, gifts under the tree, delicious food to eat, and cousins to play with – it felt like I literally could not wait for Christmas. I had to, however. I can recall my parents tucking me in to bed, saying that Christmas morning would be here soon enough, and I can remember thinking that it would never come, but eventually it did.

Advent means coming. When something is coming, it has not yet arrived, and therefore, we must wait. We have to wait for Christmas, as we do many things in life. Perhaps it’s not Christmas that you’re waiting for. Maybe you’re waiting for a phone call, for a difficult season to end, an exciting new season to begin, or for a certain milestone. We’re all waiting for something. My Mum and I recently talked about waiting and “what-ifs”, and she asked me, “What are you doing while you’re waiting? That’s the key.”

How to wait on the Lord

Are our hearts focused on Christ? Are we worrying or resting in Him? Worrying is tiring because it requires a great deal of energy. Remember what the Bible says about waiting on the Lord: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) When we wait on the Lord, we rest in Him. Even if we have to remind ourselves multiple times throughout the day, we should choose to rest in Him rather than to worry. Waiting on the Lord doesn’t mean that He’ll remove our challenges or speed up time, but when we wait on the Lord, He promises to strengthen our hearts (Psalm 27:14).

“Waiting on the Lord doesn’t mean that He’ll remove our challenges or speed up time, but when we wait on the Lord, He promises to strengthen our hearts (Psalm 27:14).”

Hope Reflected

Rather than fretting about the future, we should commit our way to the Lord. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) When we wait on the Lord, He will bring it to pass! Though the outcome may not always be what we think – or sometimes even what we want – there is a blessing when we wait on the Lord.

Working faithfully while we’re waiting

While the shepherds were waiting, they worked faithfully. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8) As a result they witnessed the first incarnation of Christ, what we celebrate today as Christmas. The Lord is good to those who wait on Him! (Lam. 3:25) As we celebrate Advent, may we recognize the benefits and blessings of waiting on the Lord. As C.S. Lewis once said, “I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.”

Originally published as “What are we doing while we’re waiting?” Independent Plus. December 19, 2019: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

29

November 2021

The Reason for the Season: A primer on Advent

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

What is Advent?

Advent, taken from the Latin word adventus, means "coming". Read more about what Advent is on hopereflected.com

Advent, taken from the Latin word adventus, means “coming”. During the four weeks of December each year, we celebrate the first advent of Christ and prepare our hearts for Christmas. Some families have an advent calendar for each day leading right up to Christmas day. Others prepare by reading through a selection of devotionals each day.

Some churches use an advent wreath and light a candle for each of the four Sundays:

  • the Prophecy candle, which symbolizes the hope of fulfilled Scripture;
  • the Bethlehem candle, which reminds us of the humility of Christ and symbolizes our faith in Him;
  • the Shepherd’s candle, which symbolizes love and reminds us that Christ came for all (including the shepherds who were some of the most inconspicuous people of their time);
  • the Angel’s candle, which symbolizes peace and reminds us of the Good News that angels announced.
During the first four weeks of December each year, we celebrate the first coming (advent) of Christ, and prepare our hearts for Christmas. Read more about what Advent means on hopereflected.com

Why does Advent matter?

Advent matters a great deal, because through it, we’re reminded of the accuracy of God’s Word. Advent represents truth. However we celebrate Advent, we remember that we are celebrating the first advent of Christ. After all, that is what Christmas is all about.

Christ’s birth fulfills so many prophecies in Scripture:

  • the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14);
  • the incarnation of Christ (Isaiah 9:6);
  • the timing of Christ’s arrival on earth (Daniel 9:24);
  • man’s rejection of Christ (Isaiah 53:1-4);
  • Christ’s crucifixion (Psalm 2);
  • Christ’s resurrection (Psalm 16).

Does Advent matter if I’m not a Christian?

It sure does! Advent is an opportunity for you to come to know Christ and have a personal relationship with Him. (If you’re wondering how you can come to know Christ, please read this). Advent serves as a reminder that Christ came to this earth so that every person could come to know Him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Advent is a reminder that God so loved the world, and that includes you and I!

Should I celebrate Advent?

Should we celebrate the fact that God sent His Son to be birthed in a lowly manger, sent His Son to offer salvation to anyone who calls on His name? Yes!

This is a time of year when each of us can be reassured that no matter where we’re at – lonely, discouraged, or overrun and under-appreciated – God has a purpose and He cares about every detail. Look how He worked in the lives of the shepherds. There they were, “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” (Luke 2:8). God’s glory shone around them, and everything changed. No matter where we are, God can work. We just need to be faithful. Notice how the shepherds were being faithful, quietly going about their work, and that’s when God works. He is all about recognizing the unnoticed, the overlooked, and the under-appreciated.

This is a time of year when we can be reassured that no matter where we're at - lonely, discouraged, overrun, or under-appreciated - God has a purpose and He cares about every detail. Read more about what Advent means on hopereflected.com

Who would have thought that the King of Kings would come to earth in the most humble of surroundings – in a stable, where the animals find shelter? Jesus, who throughout His earthly life was the model of humility, encouraged all of us to take up our yoke and come after Him, “for I am meek and lowly in heart:” (Matthew 11:29). It was Christ who reminded us – while speaking to perhaps one of the most prideful groups of His day, the Pharisees – “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) Humility was one of the most incredible characteristics of Christ, and yet how often we fail to consider it during the Christmas season. Oh that our journey through advent will bring us closer to Christ. He is, after all, the reason for the season.

Originally published as “The reason for the season.” Independent Plus. December 12, 2019: 5. Print. Web.