My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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The Advent of Character
Walls were broken down by the advent of Christ.
Hebrews 13:13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews is pointing out something very unique about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The altar was within the walls of Jerusalem, and the place of burial was outside the city gates. To go outside the city was to leave the holy sites and become unclean. In Christ the unholy becomes holy. It is outside the camp that Christ suffered and died and in his death, he sanctified that which the Jewish leaders would have condemned as unclean.
For the Jews the message was clear, for to identify with Christ was to break with Judaism. This meant leaving the “safety” of the holy places within the city walls and venturing out with Jesus into the unclean world where they would face those who would persecute them and ridicule them for their beliefs. This, however, was not supposed to become a factor in the lives of these believers because the place of Jesus’ death opened up an avenue to a new city and way of life for them. Now, they appear to be living in the world, but they are not of this world. Walking in and among the unclean, the people of God would bring the holiness of Christ with them.
The challenge is for the lives of the believers to be a continual sacrifice of praise, lips that confess the name of Christ. The character of Christ is revealed in his followers who do good, share their possessions and the good news and discover that in God’s kingdom, this is pleasing.
The advent of the Messiah into the world brought about the advent of a new kingdom. You and I are invited to become citizens of this new kingdom which exists within and among the kingdoms of this world. We are not supposed to run off and separate ourselves from the world, but we are to learn how we live in God’s kingdom in the midst of the world’s kingdoms. This is the example that Christ has provided for us. The very place of his death, outside the city gate, provides a roadmap for our Christian lives within the kingdom of God.
First of all, Jesus provides for our sanctification. It is God’s desire that we be sanctified wholly, each and every one of us. Entire sanctification is not an optional arrangement for the super-spiritual. Jesus’ death sanctified all that the Jewish law considered unholy. He made it possible for each and every one of us, ordinary people of the world, to be made holy through his death, resurrection and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ arrival was simply the advent of a whole new way of living for God’s people.
Once we begin to live within the kingdom of God, we shed the behaviors that we had in common with the world. We are no longer drawn to become as much like the world as we possibly can, but are continually pulled in the direction of Christ. I continue to be on an interesting journey with my mother who, at times, is able to share very coherently with me about her thoughts. On a morning where her mind was clear she wanted to hug me good-bye and she told me that the pull toward heaven was very strong. She apologized to me but had a big grin on her face saying, “I’m sorry because I’ll miss you, but I really want to go.” Now, while my mother may be nearing the end of her life, those who are new in their faith are just at the beginning of the spiritual journey. At the same time there ought to be this draw or pull toward the kingdom of God. It takes us from the unclean and moves us into a life that reflects the very character of God.
Participating in Advent means that we become active citizens in God’s kingdom, reflecting the very character of Christ. We move outside the safe comfort of the city walls (or the church walls), and we go into the unclean spaces of this world, carrying with us the very holiness of Christ. We are challenged to believe in the miraculous and powerful work of the Holy Spirit that can radically transform the unclean into the pure and holy. That’s why we must go and do good, sharing our possessions, but never forgetting to share the good news of Christ’s arrival. Why would we forget to tell people about the new kingdom which has the power to transform their lives? This is the best news of advent, and if we are engaged in doing good things, don’t forget to tell others about the way to transformation. It’s the best gift yet.
Lord, please help me to live every day in the pull of advent. Amen.
Scripture: Job 38:1-2 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Observation: Trying to give a reason for Job’s circumstances, his friends had provided every explanation imaginable to the human mind. Now, it was time for God’s response and reality is brought into focus. The friends were bringing counsel to Job, but they did not have knowledge. There was far too much that they did not understand. Following this question God reminds Job that God alone has power over creation, and this knowledge is far beyond Job’s understanding. Therefore, the words of Job’s friends are hollow with misunderstanding. They do not know God, and should not presume to speak for God, for their counsel becomes words without knowledge. Application: If our first instinct is not to run to the Lord in difficult circumstances, we may be allowing ourselves to be counseled by words without knowledge. There are plenty of people who are willing to give us ad…
Scripture: Acts 9:32 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Observation:
In this text by the physician Luke, Paul has just recently been converted. Suddenly the narrative shifts to the Apostle Peter who is, no doubt, the leader of the followers of the Way. This passage sets the stage for the expansion of the ministry to the Gentiles. It is in Joppa that Peter has his vision that eventually leads him to the house of Cornelius but at this moment, Peter has no idea where this is going. Peter is simply going about his business, visiting the believers who live outside of Jerusalem, making it to the town of Lydda.
It is in Lydda, not far from …
Scripture: Galatians 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Observation:
This passage from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is frequently quoted and used to remind us of the unity which is found when we belong to Christ. Any barriers that may have existed are to be brought down. The power of prejudice is to be destroyed and a new life is to be found when one belongs to Christ.
Jerome put it this way, “ When one has once put on Christ and, having been sent into the flame, glows with the ardor of the Holy Spirit, it is not apparent whether he is of gold or silver. As long as the heat takes over the mass in this way there is one fiery color, and all diversity of race, condition and body is taken away by such a garment.” (EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS 2.3.27–28) What happens is that the former…