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Archive for the tag “Joyful Celebration”

The Waiting Game

It’s almost here – Christmas! It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s not only the gift giving and receiving that makes it such a joy, but the family gathering around. My Mom is no longer with us, but I remember all the times we gathered together as a family with her in our midst and the joy that we experienced together. She was a giver and the presents abounded. We rushed through the opening to discover our “wants” had been granted. It was always such a joyful time. Now, I watch the little children in the family experience that same joy in discovery that “Santa” knew just what they wanted.

As I contemplate Christmas this year, I am reminded of the truth of the Christmas story. It’s not about the presents under the tree, but the presence on that tree. Christmas and Easter tied together through the story of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. We celebrate Jesus’ birth in a place that was arranged many years before that event.

It’s amazing to me how God creates events long before they occur. Take Bethlehem as an example. God already had Bethlehem in mind long before Jesus’ birth. He set up that city as a place of importance. It’s the birthplace of King David, Jesus’ ancestor. But it was also known for the place where sacrificial lambs were raised for the temple. This was the place where lambs were raised without blemish for the perfect Passover sacrifice that occurred every year.

As the lambs were born, they were wrapped in swaddling clothes to keep them from blemish. The shepherds in the field on the night of Jesus’ birth were the ones who were watching over these perfect lambs. They would recognize the significance of Jesus when the angel told them that Jesus had been born and was placed in a manager wrapped in swaddling clothes. He came in like a lamb to be the lamb of sacrifice for our sins on that last Passover of His death.

Passover was also a set up for the future fulfillment through Jesus. The sacrificial lambs were to represent the cleansing of each person’s sins – a lamb had to be sacrificed to take away the sins. This first Passover found in Exodus kept the house of Jacob safe from the angel of death. Each family had to sacrifice the perfect lamb and place the blood of the lamb on the door frame – top and sides. The Law of Moses was a set up for Jesus to fulfill them. Sacrifice – yes, that’s Jesus. Cleansing – yes, that’s Jesus. Sabbath – yes, that’s Jesus.

Every prophetic event takes years of preparation. It’s just a waiting game. But in the waiting, so much is happening behind the scenes. So what does this all have to do with my Christmas ramblings? God is the promise keeper. God sets up the events in our lives in anticipation of what is to come. We might not see it right now, but God is working behind the scenes to fulfill His promise and His plan. We’re a part of it.

I hate to wait on anything, do you? But right now, as we anticipate Christmas, it’s part of the plan to wait on the timing of God’s plan. Not just for the prophetic cycle of events, but also the events in our lives that we are waiting to be fulfilled.

God’s timing is perfect. So if you are waiting on something to occur, don’t rush ahead of what God is preparing for you. It’s going to happen in God’s time, just wait. But in the waiting, we also need to be in preparation for it. As advent is for Christmas – the preparation for the coming of Jesus, we also need to prepare for the next thing in our lives as well. God is all about shaping our character. This is His ultimate goal for each of us.

How do we prepare for what we don’t know? Pray. Let God’s will be done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Surrender to the plan. When it happens, be obedient in it. And praise Him before, during and after – it’s the only way to prepare for what’s to come.

Every event in our lives is a step forward in our transformational plan. It might not feel like it at the time, especially if it feels like a step back. But God has a purpose in the events in our lives to shape us for the future. This is our dress rehearsal for the real deal in the eternal Kingdom. This earthly experience shapes us for the eternal experience to come. That’s why we can count all our experiences as joy – the good, the bad and the downright ugly. That’s why Jesus counted the cross as joy. He saw the eternal purpose. We can too.

Just consider Christmas as the taste of what’s to come. He will bring it all together for good – He promised. Believe it because of the Lamb of God and Bethlehem, and all that was foretold long ago. What He promises will come to pass. He is at work preparing the events for what is ahead of us. Wait for it. The plan is good. He promised.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:14-17 (ESV)


The Prodigal

Ever since I came back to the Lord in 1993, I recognize myself in the Prodigal Son (story found in Luke 15). I have often thought what if I had never returned. What if I had stayed on the outside of the Kingdom without returning to my Father’s house? There are no what ifs now. I have been fully embraced by my Father. I might have turned around, but God came running toward me. He initiated the hug (the Love) I received. I didn’t have to do anything, but receive His grace and mercy. He could have given me everything I deserved. I could have stayed in the servant’s quarters. I could have been forced to hard labor for my morsels of food. But God said, “No, you are my child!” God gave me His mercy and offered me His best. He clothed me in righteousness, even though I didn’t feel righteous. He offered me a ring to put on my finger; the ring of intention – the one where I will be His bride at the huge wedding feast. I am His beloved. What amazing grace!

When I was reading this story one morning, I felt such gratitude. I felt gratitude for the story representing God’s love for us even when we are in the dark places away from Him. I felt His love while as the Father waits with anticipation of the son’s return. He watched and waited for the first glimpse of his son. I also pictured Jesus returning to heaven after His death and resurrection. Do you think there was a celebration in the throne room that wonderful day? Do you see the angels celebrating around the throne that Jesus returned to them in His full glory? I can see it. I can see a great party when all those who call on Jesus as Savior return for the greatest celebration that will ever occur. But why wait until then to celebrate? Why aren’t we more joyful today? We have been given so much grace and mercy. We have been given joy through His unfailing love! Why aren’t we sharing the Good News that others who are far away can experience this too?

I don’t know about you, but I was never good enough to go to heaven on my own accord. I just don’t have that much goodness in me. I was given a book a couple of weeks ago about “How good is good enough?” by Andy Stanley. I read it and was so encouraged by the fact I don’t have to wonder if I made the quota of good deeds. Jesus did it all for me. I can rest in the assurance of His saving power that everything I ever did paled in comparison to what He did for me. The only goodness that is in me today is the goodness that Jesus gave to me through His death and resurrection. There is a mighty celebration going on today, and it’s in my heart filled with everlasting joy! Praise God for all the blessings that flow from His love, grace and mercy!

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

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