Advent 2011: My Jesus

I have been doing some writing for my church community over the Advent season. I've been asked to post them online. So here goes... I pray that these will bless you and encourage you as you draw nearer to Christ this year... see Him and know that He sees you! Much love, Rachel

Week 1: My Jesus-Hope

To be human is to know suffering.
From the moment we are born, we are walking targets for pain and sorrow.
Life is full of mysteries.
Moments of asking, “Why?”
Failure. Rejection.
Unrequited love.
Abuse. Abandonment.
An empty womb.
Sickness. Loneliness.
Tragedy. Poverty.
Feeling Forgotten and Invisible.
It is tempting to become cynical or bitter.
Sometimes we find ourselves believing, there is no point...
But, to be human is to embrace Hope.

Hope is a seed of promise
Burrowed deeply into the soil of the soul,
Small and seemingly insignificant,
This seed bears internally the DNA of something far greater than itself

Hope is Truth planted firmly in the center of the heart
Like a flag that stands unwavering in the midst of a battle to remind soldiers what they’re fighting for.
Like a focal point upon which a weary woman fixes her gaze for strength to endure through long hours of labor
Like a final exam in the final course of one’s final semester, Hope says “You can do it.”
Like a candle that flickers in the early morning hours just before dawn,
Hope constantly reminds us that “the best is yet to come.”

Hope whispers in the darkness…
This seed will one day be a strong oak and become a resting place for hopeful souls
This battle will be won and another generation will live free
This child will be born and a new life will be lived
This diploma will be received and a career will begin
This sunrise will fill the morning sky and light will nourish creation.

Hope is a voice crying in the desert…
Hope is a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes
Hope is a boy who teaches men with wisdom far beyond his years
Hope is a man who fulfills promise after promise in daily obedience
Hope is a man who causes the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk
Hope is a man who washes the feet of his followers
Hope is a man who willingly bears the burden of humanity’s hopelessness-- even unto death
Hope is an empty grave and a resurrected body
Hope is a city with eternal foundations filled with the souls who have lived by faith
Hope is a soon returning, glorious King…
Hope is Jesus.
My Jesus, My Hope.

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:36-11:1 (NLT)
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.
“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”
But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
Faith is the confidence that what we HOPE for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Week 2: My Jesus-Peace
A king once asked his subjects to draw a picture of peace. The king narrowed down the pictures to two finalists. One painting was a calm lake, with a clear sky and majestic mountains. The other was the same setting, but the sky was black and stormy, the lake rough and choppy. In a small tree sat a bird in its nest.
The king decided that the stormy picture best represented peace in his kingdom. The subjects were shocked. They wondered how he could choose such a frightening picture to represent peace. But the king pointed out the bird sitting quietly in its nest in the midst of the storm in the winning painting and announced,

"Peace is not the absence of noise, trouble or hard work. It is to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."*

The world we live in defines peace as
The absence of strife and turmoil
Void of problems and disappointment
Peace is defined by a smooth, ripple-free lake
Not a cloud in the sky
This peace is rare and elusive

Jesus is the Prince of Peace
He promises peace
to all who come to Him
His peace is eternal
Steady and consistent
It enables us
to sleep in storms
to walk on water
to be rejected
to face death
And to keep standing firm
His peace is a nest
Precariously resting on a bent sapling

Two kinds of peace,
One is elusive, demanding us to strive for perfection
The other is certain, requiring us to rest in His Perfection
Which will you choose?

Scripture Reading: John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

*The fable about the king is not original. It is an anonymous tale shared with me by my lovely sister :-)
Week 3: My Jesus-Joy
“Let Us make humankind in Our Own Image…”
With those words, Creator God became involved in the human story
He knelt down to earth
Formed anatomy with His own hands
Vessels of flesh and bone,
Into which He breathed His Life
When He was finished, He stepped back and said,
“Now that is good!”
And on the seventh day, He rested
Enjoying His children, the bearers of His image
And His Joy was complete.

However, in an instant,
The Father’s joy turned to sorrow
His children disobeyed.
All creation turned against Him
Death began its slow decay
Pain commenced its harsh reign
Hatred’s seed was sown
And in that moment,
He promised, He would not rest again
Until His Joy could be restored

Over the years,
His promise prevailed
Jehovah Jireh, The One who makes a way
Remained with His children
After the flood, He sent the rainbow
In the desert, He walked
With Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
In Egypt, He preserved Moses
And raised him up to lead His children
Out of captivity and into the land of promise
It was His hand that toppled the walls of Jericho
His wisdom, courage and strength enabled Deborah, Gideon and Samson
Every move, intentional
Until His Joy could be restored

The Father’s heart broke
When His children chose a human king
Still He gave them Saul and then David
He wept as time and again
His children rejected Him
And the consequences of their own disobedience
Destroyed them repeatedly
Yet, His promise prevailed
Until His joy could be restored

Finally, Immanuel, God with us,
Chose once again to step down to earth
To take on human anatomy and be born as a baby
He was received in humility and raised in obscurity
He spoke with authority, proving His Deity
And still He was rejected.
Hung on a cross and laid in a tomb.
He didn’t have to, but He did
Because His promise prevailed
Until His joy could be restored

On the third day, He rolled out of the tomb
Proving His Love by conquering Death,
He returned to the Father
Promising His children
Trust Me, I will return
Please wait for Me
I am sending a Comforter to BE with you
Until Our Joy can be restored

Since that time,
Freedom from Death has been possible
His Comfort has been available in sorrow
His Power has been present in weakness
For those who trust Him,
For those who call Him, Abba, Father
But, there is a day coming!
We will see Him, Face to face
Once again, we will be like Him
He will rest as He enjoys the delight of His children
And His Joy will be complete

Scripture Reading: John 15:7-11 ESV
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Week 4: My Jesus-Love
There is nothing more beautiful
Than a woman who knows she is loved
Her eyes full of confidence, her voice steady
She stands strong in the face of uncertainty
She overcomes adversity with courage
Nothing can shake her assurance
Such a woman is “fearsome to behold”
She knows to whom she belongs
There is no lingering question
There is no doubt
She is loved.

On a wedding day,
It is not the white dress
That captivates a groom
It is the look of utmost confidence
In the eyes of the woman he loves
On that day the two dream and hope
Certain that in the days to come,
No matter what comes their way
She is loved, He is loved.
Their love will be enough.

Even the love of a good man
Cannot complete a woman.
Hard times come, Hopes dwindle
Promises fail, Unexpected tragedy strikes
Again and again, Confidence wavers
Human love can only promise so much
Yes, hard times make one stronger
Love deepens
And yet sometimes love breaks
Human love will never completely fulfill

Yet there is Love that is stronger than death
Love that acknowledges…
“You are not enough, but I AM.”
“You are weak, yet I AM strong.”
In our imperfections,
Love becomes even more perfect.
Love is the eternal arms
And the burning eyes
Of a soon returning King

Jesus, The King of Glory chose you.
He is preparing a place for you.
One day soon He will return for His Bride, The Church
To the Father and all of the heavens
With fire in His eyes, He will say,
“This is her, the one who has ravished my heart.”
In that day, we will be with Him and He with us!
The Bride of Christ will be fierce and beautiful,
Confident, whole and secure.
For she will dwell in this truth,
She is loved with an everlasting love!

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.