The Hopes and Fears of All the Years…

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In 1868 Phillip Brooks penned the lyrics, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”.  Of all the years that I have been singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, these lyrics leapt off the score this year like never before.  I wonder what might have been on Brooks’ mind as he penned these lyrics? 

Was it Mary- who was expecting a child, and not just any child but the Son of God, when she was a child herself AND in what seemed to be a fearful predicament for which women were disgraced (Lk. 1:26-35; Mt. 1:18-19)?

Was it Joseph- to whom Mary was pledge to be married and who feared what to do and what might be done to Mary (Mt. 1:18-20)?

Was it King Herod- who was troubled with fear at the news of not just the appearance of any other king but the Rightful Messiah King (Mt. 2:1-7, 12)?

Maybe it was the people- who, along with Herod, were fearfully distressed- perhaps they were not prepared to be in the physical presence of their God and Savior (Mt. 2:3, 3:2; Luke 3:3-8a)?

Or possibly it was the fear of a reverent expectant awe and amazement, like of the Shepherds and those whom they told, which Brooks had in mind (Luke 2:15-17)?

And what about THE HOPES OF ALL THE YEARS…

Victoria

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Check back next week to read about THE HOPES OF ALL THE YEARS!

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Are YOU Ready? – Part 2

Last week I posed the question “Are You Ready?” and we took a look at what it means to be ready.    Today I would like to take a look at the second question:  “What do we need to be ready for?”.  The obvious answer is ready for the Return of Christ, but I believe there are several additional things we need to be ready for as well.  Let’s take a look…

Are you ready to defend your home?    I think we can all agree that we are in wicked days.  We are seeing things that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.   It is interesting to note that the Bible actually prophesied these days.  2 Timothy 3:1-7 says:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Sounds like something right out of today’s news…doesn’t it?  Are we ready to protect our homes from all of the attacks all around us?  Are we ready to defend our homes and families against the spiritual wickedness we see all around us?  Are we willing to take action today to defend our own homes…or are we going to sit back and wait to see what happens?

Are you ready to defend your faith?   Are you willing to stand up for what you believe?   This is a day and age when what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good.  Matthew 24:4-14 states:

…take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…

There are false prophets and false teachings everywhere today.  It is necessary to take a stand for what we believe in and know to be the truth.  Of course, this requires that we actually know what we believe in.   How well do you know what you believe in?   Are you ready to stand for the truth?

Are you ready to share your faith?   As Christians, we often speak of the “Great Commission” found in Matthew 28:18-20, but are we really living it?  Are we going into all the world to make disciples of all nations?  We need to be ready to teach the truth of God’s word and we need to persuade people to be ready to meet the Lord.

Are you ready to ACT on what HE is telling you to do?   If we hear HIS voice and don’t act on it, we are not doing all that we are called to do.  Of course this implies that we are listening to the voice of the LORD.   Once you know what HE is asking you to do, will you be willing to do it?

Are you ready for the Lord’s coming?    Jesus is coming back and HE is coming back soon.   Are you ready for HIS return?   Will you be found looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ or will you be left behind?  Are you ready for HIS return?

Are YOU waiting anxiously for HIM to come back?  Have you given your life fully to JESUS CHRIST?

Have you made PREPARATION, WITHOUT HESITION, LIVING IN ANTICIPATION, so that you will experience JUBILATION?

Be Ready because JESUS is coming back soon!!!

–Stephen

Are YOU Ready? – Part 1

One of my favorite Christian Contemporary Bands from the ‘80’s (and yes, they are still one of my favorites) was a group called Degarmo & Key.  Their 1984 release “Communication” included a song called “Are You Ready” which inspired me to contemplate the question, “am I ready?”.    So I ask you…”Are You Ready”?   Now before you answer that question, I think that there are two questions that have to be answered:

  • What does it mean to be ready?
  • What do we need to be ready for?

Let’s take a look at the first question:   “What does it mean to be ready?”    The dictionary definition of “being ready” is being “COMPLETELY PREPARED” or “DULY EQUIPPED”.    There is a portion of scripture which details four critical factors required to “be ready”.   Luke 12:35-40 says:

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Up until this point in Luke 12, Jesus is teaching about material things.   As we get into verse 35, there is a shift away from the material things to what is really important – the eternal things.  These verses show us four of the factors required for readiness.

  1. Preparation:   Verse 40 tells us that the servants must not get ready, they must BE READY.   This is something that is not done as an afterthought, it must be done proactively.
  2. No Hesitation:   Verse 37 speaks of the urgency that comes with being ready.    The wording actually implies that it happens now.   What’s described here is not a “getting ready after you see the master coming or hear his footsteps”…it is a proactive action.
  3. Anticipation:  Verse 36 tells us that this “being ready” is something that the servants MUST be looking forward to.   The imagery that is used is that the master shouldn’t have to stand banging on the door, waiting for his slumbering servants to open the door, the servants must be ready and looking for HIM as if HIS coming is their #1 priority.   After all, they are servants.   This is not just a “dutiful waiting”, but an anticipation of one who is hoped for, expected and looked forward to.
  4. Jubilation:   Verse 38 tells us that as a result of being ready and waiting properly, there is a reward.   Now that is exciting!   I like the way that the New Living Translation puts it:   “He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn.  But whenever He comes, He will reward the servants who are ready.”

So “are you ready”?   What specific actions can you take to be sure “You are ready”?   I believe it starts with repentance –  turning FROM the sin in our lives and turning TO God.  When we sin, we immediately dull our sensitivity to the LORD and are prevented from walking closely with the Lord.  We must also be sure to spend time in prayer and communion with JESUS if we are to be spiritually prepared for the return of the Master.  Then we must have faith and believe that HE will keep HIS promise.

Are You Ready?   Next week we will explore the second question, What do we need to be ready for?

–Stephen