Advent Faith

advent candlesIn the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38 ESV 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

   “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. –Matthew 1:18-25

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Whom Shall I Fear?

The one who goes before me, the one who stands behind is a reference to God leading Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness. He fought their battles for them; He defeated their enemies. God took a group of slaves without weapons or resources and made them a nation, in much the same way as Christians in 1 Peter.  The one who reigns forever, he is a friend of mine should not be taken tritely. The maker of heaven and earth, the creator God that has ordained the events of history and in whose image we are made has called us his friends. Jesus told the disciples he was more than their master; they were his brothers in the faith and ultimately his friends.

Whom shall I fear? What is there to be afraid of? The people we worry about offending are created in the image of God but remain under his judgement unless they hear the Gospel and repent. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom 10:14) Sometimes people respond with arguments as if there is a debate to be won. We don’t have to win the debate. Arguing with the umpire about where the strike zone is will not change his call. The rules of the game were decided before hand and are not being made up as the it goes along. So it is with life. Heaven and hell are real places and God has decreed the standard or admittance. What are we afraid of? “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28)

God created the heavens and the earth, and all that lives on it. He establishes kings and kingdoms; Jesus told Pilate he would have no authority at all unless it was given to him by his Father. Noah, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Mary, Simon Peter etc. were not super saints with some extraordinary ability. Each person in the Bible that did anything for God was a mortal man or woman that acted in faith and God used. When God asked who he could send Isaiah responded “Here I am, send me.” We should say the same thing each day. The fields are white unto harvest; send me. There are hungry children starving in Africa; send me. There are hungry children and elderly Americans starving right here; send me. All around us people are hurting, searching, working themselves to death to obtain junk that will turn to dust, empty in their souls and ignorant of the Gospel. Send me, send my family, send my church.

Imagine being hired by a couple to babysit. You do not answer to the children you are caring for, but to the parents when they return. In a general sense all people everywhere are God’s children. Are they being cared for? We have an advocate with the Father. He will be with us to the end of the Age. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer. He is a friend of mine. Let me ask once more; whom shall I fear?