The fourth and last Sunday of Advent is for the celebration and representation of Peace. Let’s read our scripture passages, the first being from the first letter to the church of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NASB)
4 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.
4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
Our second passage of scripture comes from the gospel according to Luke Chapter 3, verses 1-6 (NASB) . . . .
3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.
5‘Every ravine will be filled,
And every mountain and hill will be brought low;
The crooked will become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
6And all flesh will see the salvation of God.’”
Today we light four candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple), the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple), the “Shepherd’s Candle” (rose) and the fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace.
Let us pray, Father we thank You for bringing us through this time of preparation to receive Your Son, our Lord and Savior. What a magnificent gift You have given and are giving us when He returns to gather His brothers and sisters, Your children, Home to glory. Keep us ever mindful of the price You paid when He came to earth in human form, totally human, yet totally divine, in His precious name we pray, Amen.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our second scripture passage is from the gospel of John 1:19-28 (NASB)
19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.
It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle” and it represents joy. Today we light three candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple); the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple) and todays is the pink or rose candle know as the “Shepherd’s Candle.”
Let us Pray . . . Father thank You for giving us time to prepare for the coming of Your Son. As we look forward to His birth, we also look forward to His coming again and thank You for our redemption through Christ our Lord, Amen.
On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger. As we begin our Celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, let’s join together and read from the letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verses 4-13 (NASB) . . .
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
“Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Your name.”
10 Again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him.”
12 Again Isaiah says,
“There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lets now read together from the gospel of Matthew. Matthew 11:2-10 (NASB)
2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Advent-wreath-wk2-m8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger Who will prepare Your way before You.’
Let’s pray, Father we thank You for Who You are and for all the ways You show us Your love. Through the Prophets of old You gave us a promise and we see You have fulfilled it. We can therefore learn from this that Your word is tried and true. You will always keep Your promises. Thank You for showing us Your love as we prepare for the birth of our Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Our second reading is from the book of the gospel of Luke, chapter 21:25-33 (NASB) . . .
25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Let us light the first candle of Advent. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah. (Light the first Purple Candle)
Father we thank You that You love us enough to send us Your son for our redemption and new life. Prepare us for the day of Your coming again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(9)“Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; ——-Zechariah 7:9 (NASB)
What does it mean to be illustration of God‘s faithfulness, and even His inheritance? We have been taught religiously that going out to save the world, or speaking at public services, or doing miracles, healings, etc., is what it means to show forth Who God is to the world. While it can encompass those things, it’s not the main point.
God is love, and in Him there is no darkness. Scripture says that WE are God’s inheritance. The whole purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice was so that we can be one with the God who is love! And if we are one with Him, then we should be like Him and allow the Spirit of God to work through us without hindrance. And one of the best ways to show Him to the world is in how we deal with each other.
A true friend is one who loves us in spite of our faults and failings, and who never quits loving us, no matter what happens in our lives. God is like that–He gently draws us back when we make a mistake, and if we don’t listen, He still works hard at trying to get our attention. He tirelessly goes after the lost sheep. Are we tireless or do we get cranky and want to give up?
I once had a wolf-mix dog. When we got him from the pound, he was a mess –scared, and terrified of everything. Then he started eating the furniture. I’m not kidding–he ate the couch, several remotes, a pair of earphones, and part of a metal detector. We realized that he must have been abused before being adopted out of the shelter, so we worked hard at making his life better. With some work, he became one of the best dogs we ever owned. The Lord once asked me if I was willing to bring that much love to people. I had to repent, and shortly after my repentance, He told me to start a home fellowship.
Love is patient and kind. It establishes boundaries and imparts strength and hope. It brings friendship and transformation. It builds up people, it does not tear them down. Love changes the atmosphere and lightens burdens. Love is a place where we literally become the illustration of God’s inheritance–the people of God, those who love. Jesus said that His disciples would be known by their love. I pray for you today that His love will drench others as you touch their lives. And may you have many heart friends with whom you can share the wondrous things that God does for you and through you.
We mostly have no idea what God has in store for each of us. Angelic encounters, miracles, healings –we simply are “scratching the surface” of the wonders HE has promised. As heart friends, we not only pray that you experience the voice of God and His Presence, but that all of His Kingdom will be yours!
As believers in Christ, we have access to the heavenly realms. We must have eyes to see. We can be closed off, afraid, or our minds refuse to believe. But God is able to get past the “educated idiot boxes” of our brains. HE LOVES TO GIVE US HIS KINGDOM! He gets great joy from it!
At one point in my life, I was severely depressed in spite of my love for the Lord. It had become necessary to move home with my mother, who was slowly dying. I was single, very lonely, had no social life, and was in a constant state of working –from 5:30 a.m. to whenever I’d get to bed. One afternoon, I went out jogging on my lunch hour. As I passed a nearby Catholic church, I jogged past a sad-looking elderly man. He was dressed all in black, in the specific uniform of a Catholic priest. But he was dragging his rosary on the sidewalk behind him in a dejected manner.
As I passed him and smiled, the Lord immediately told me to go back and give the man a hug and tell him Jesus loved him. I made a U-turn and obeyed. As I hugged the man and chit-chatted for a moment, tears welled up in his eyes. Then I started to leave and the man vanished! He did not go into the church, he was not walking along the street, he was simply gone. I was left with an odd combination of fear and awe, excitement and joy.
I called my pastor, who started laughing. “What’s the matter, can’t Catholics have angels?” he remarked. And then it hit me. An ANGEL. The minute he said it, I literally began to tremble from my head to my toes–and cried with overwhelming joy. God was still with me. In the midst of my struggle, the Lord gave me an encounter that lifted my heart and my eyes to His Kingdom and got me out of my self-pity.
GOD WANTS TO GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He lives IN us. His Heavenly Host are the messengers that lift our heads when we are struggling. They are sent to minister to the saints. And they don’t always look like the scary ones in Ezekiel or Isaiah. Sometimes they look like a guy in a knit cap who miraculously opens doors, a priest who disappears, or a homeless person with a grocery cart.
God’s Kingdom is as close as you desire it to be. In Luke 1:38, Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
May everything God says about you come true! May every portion of His Kingdom be revealed in your life, including those wonderful encounters with His angelic host.
(This information was shared with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)