JESUS! In Word and Song

WEEK 4

ADVENT WEEK 4 – LOVE

Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth. Christ connects all the Advent candles. Through him, we can have hope, peace, joy, and love.1

“It was a holy night. God’s glory came to earth and wrote a love letter to the world in the form of a newborn baby.”2 “God made His love visible.”3

And certainly the greatest truth about Christmas is that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. Christmas is really the effect of which God’s love is the cause. God’s love for mankind then is evident in the offer of the gospel to all people. And the path to the gospel has been given to everybody.4

This was the most loving act ever performed in history, for there has never been and can never be a gift greater than the life of the Son of God given for the “sins of the whole world.” Without God’s Spirit indwelling them, people cannot look to the love they have for others or even the “love” they have for God as an example to be emulated for we are born self-centered and remain so unless the Holy Spirit changes our hearts.5

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son” (1 John 4:10 ESV).

Christian love comes from God Himself. This love is not natural to fallen humanity. It originates in God and is a divine gift to His people. When we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given a capacity for this supernatural love that has God as its source and foundation. [N]ot every human being who loves another is born of God. The kind of love of which he speaks comes only from regeneration. Without the Holy Spirit’s transformation of the human heart, no one has this capacity for love. No unregenerate person has this kind of love, and no regenerate person lacks such love. Therefore, a person who does not have the ability to love in the way John describes has not been born again. “Anyone who does not love [in this manner] does not know God.”6

The Father sent his Son to make his worst enemies into beloved children, and yet he’s crowded out by other, more earthly details — the kind of details that can be finely painted on ornaments. [W]e have an almighty Father of infinite wisdom and relentless love, a Father who authored that first Christmas and every one since. Nothing compares to the Creator of the universe sending the radiance of his own glory, the exact imprint of his nature, into his creation. Let Christmas remind you that the Son was sent, in love, from heaven, and that you are sent, in love, on earth.7

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ENDNOTES

(4) GOD Came to Us

            1. Hope Bolinger, “What is the Candle of Love and the Christ Candle for Advent. Week 4,” 21 October 2020, Christianity, 26 March 2021 https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-the-candle-of-love-and-the-christ-candle-for-advent-week-4.html.

            2. Matt Tullos, “Advent Devotional (Week 5): Christ,” 25 November 2015, Lifeway, 26 March 2021 https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/devotions-christmas-advent-week-five-christ.

            3. Mary Brack, “Advent Week 4: Love,” 18 December 2016, Grace Church, 26 March 2021 http://gracetoledo.org/2016/12/advent-week-4-love/.

            4. John MacArthur, “The Love of God, Part 1” 4 Dec 1994, Grace to You, 22 October 2021 https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-77/the-love-of-god-part-1.

            5. “The True Love of God” 2 June 2010, Grace to You, 22 October 2021 https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/true-love-god.

            6. R.C. Sproul, “The Holy Love of God” 25 June 2014, Ligonier, 22 October 2021 https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/holy-love-god.

            7. Marshall Segal, “The Forgotten Giver of Christmas” 5 December 2020, Desiring God, 22 October 2021 https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-forgotten-giver-of-christmas.

            8. Quina Aragon, “Advent Week 4: A Savior is Born,” 16 December 2020, Christianity Today, 31 March 2021 https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/advent-week-4-savior-is-born.html.

            9. Frederick M. Lehman, “The Love of God,” 1917, Hymnary, 31 March 2021 https://hymnary.org/text/the_love_of_god_is_greater_far.

JESUS! In Word and Song

WEEK 3

ADVENT WEEK THREE – JOY

“Advent is a journey to joy, but it is not we who are traveling. Joy is coming to us.”1

This third week in Advent, let us remember that the good news of Jesus’ birth has the power to bring us great joy this Christmas season. [J]oy that flooded the hearts of the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the hosts of heaven, and Mary and Joseph is the joy that still has the power to overwhelm our hearts with rejoicing.2

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10 ESV).

“The words are expressed in the same kind of language that was used by kings and emperors when a new heir was born. It was the Birth Announcement of a King.”3

“The angel opens his discourse by saying, that he announces great joy. By calling it great joy, he shows us that this blessing is so great and boundless, as fully to compensate for all the pains, distresses, and anxieties of the present life.”4

“We find joy in the truth of what God has already done and in the anticipation of what is to come, in the expectancy of God’s faithfulness. Joy overtakes uncertainty when we see how God works in unexpected ways to fulfill promises.”5

[T]he distinguishing nuance of joy is that it lasts beyond the moments of happiness. It can be present when the shine of Christmas cheer dulls or even tarnishes. Biblical joy is an attitude that God’s people adopt, not because of happy circumstances, but because of our hope in God’s love and promises.6

“We find joy in our current circumstances by choosing to remember the joy that Jesus’ redemption of our lives brings, redemption that is only possible through his birth, death, and resurrection.”7

“Let us learn to be so delighted with Christ alone, that the perception of his grace may overcome, and at length remove from us, all the distresses of the flesh.”8

In our present challenges, we anticipate the returning King, who with ‘salvation and power and glory’ will bring the hope of the fulfilled kingdom into being. We look around us at the brokenness of our world, and in the power of Jesus’ life and love, choose joy anyway.9

“You made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11 ESV).

ENDNOTES

(3) Earth Receives Her CHRIST

            1. John Piper

            2. Hope Bolinger, “What is the Candle of Joy for Advent? Week 3,” 16 December 2019, Christianity, 23 March 2021 https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-the-candle-of-joy-for-advent-week-3.html.

            3. Peter Pett, “Commentary on Luke 2:10,” 2013, Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible, 23 March 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/luke/2-10.html#verse-pet.

            4. John Calvin, “Commentary on Luke 2:10,” 1840-57, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, 23 March 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/luke/2-10.html#verse-cal.

            5. “Advent Week 3 – The Candle of Joy,” 13 December 2020, Mill City Church, 23 March 2021 https://millcitychurch.com/advent-week-3-the-candle-of-joy/.

            6. Kala, “Advent Week 3: Joy,” 13 December 2020, The Porch Followers of Jesus, 23 March 2021 https://www.porchsf.com/devotionals/2020/12/13/advent-week-3-joy.

            7. “Advent Week 3 – The Candle of Joy,” 13 December 2020, Mill City Church, 23 March 2021 https://millcitychurch.com/advent-week-3-the-candle-of-joy/.

            8. John Calvin, “Commentary on Luke 2:10,” 1840-57, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, 23 March 2021 https://www.studylight.org/commentary/luke/2-10.html#verse-cal.

            9. “Advent Week 3 – The Candle of Joy,” 13 December 2020, Mill City Church, 23 March 2021 https://millcitychurch.com/advent-week-3-the-candle-of-joy/.

            10. Hymn tune, “ST. PETER.”

            11. Hymn tune, “WINCHESTER OLD,” modified.

JESUS! In Word and Song

WEEK 1

ADVENT WEEK ONE – HOPE

“Happy New Year! The Christian year begins with the season of Advent.”1 “Advent anticipates the ‘coming of Christ’ from three different perspectives: the physical nativity in Bethlehem, the reception of Christ in the heart of the believer, and the eschatological Second Coming.”2

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 33:14 ESV).

The Christian story is essentially one of daring hope, and we proclaim it boldly during Advent. All our senses tell us that God is not here, that the world is encompassed in darkness, cold, and pain. Yet we proclaim during this darkest, coldest time that He is here, tangibly born in the flesh, present with us still today.3

If you read the Bible cover to cover, you will discover there is a lot of waiting done by God’s people. Even though God made them wait, He didn’t allow them to wait without hope. He made covenants, anointings, and promises with his people while they waited, which gave them hope.4

“Hope, in the Bible, exists as a secure assurance, a trust placed in a trustworthy God. God has not failed us in the past, and therefore, if he claims he will do something in the future, we can have a hope that he will fulfill that claim.”5

“We aren’t alone in hope for an improved political climate. The Jewish people living more than two thousand years ago were hoping for the arrival of the Messiah to rescue them and bring about a just and peaceful kingdom.”6

Revelations initial recipients were living in two overlapping realities: their assurance in the sovereign reign and glorious return of Christ; and their earthly, everyday experience of waiting and suffering. Some two thousand years later, we still live amid these overlapping realities. Here, between Christ’s first coming and his glorious return, our lives may also feel like a mix of kingdom and confidence alongside waiting and suffering.7

“In this day and age, where evil abounds and all seems lost, we can also hope that the prophecies about Jesus’ second arrival to earth will also be fulfilled.”8

“[W]ait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7-8 ESV).

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ENDNOTES

(1) In Hope Assured

            1. “Hope is a Verb: Salt’s Lectionary Commentary for Advent Week One,” 27 November 2018, Salt, 9 March 2021 https://www.saltproject.org/progressive-christian-blog/advent-week-one-lectionary-commentary.

            2. “Advent,” Wikipedia, Wikipedia, 9 March 2021 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent.

            3. Catherine McNiel, “Advent Week One: A Hope Made Sure,” 2 December 2019, Awana, 9 March 2021 https://www.awana.org/2019/12/02/advent-week-one-a-hope-made-sure/.

            4. Dori, “Advent Week 1 Hope: Family Devotional,” 1 December 2018, This Full Life 5, 9 March 2021 https://thisfulllife5.com/week-1-advent-family-devotional/.

            5. Hope Bolinger, “What is the Candle of Hope for Advent? Week 1,” 6 December 2019, Christianity, 9 March 2021 https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-the-candle-of-hope-for-advent-week-1.html.

            6. Matt Tullos, “Advent Devotional (Week 1): Faith,” 25 November 2015, Lifeway, 9 March 2021 https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/devotions-christmas-advent-week-one-faith.

            7. Kelli B. Trujillo, “Advent Week 1: He Will Come Again in Glory,” 29 November 2020, Christianity Today, 9 March 2021 https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/advent-week-1-he-will-come-again-in-glory.html.

            8. Hope Bolinger, “What is the Candle of Hope for Advent? Week 1,” 6 December 2019, Christianity.com, 9 March 2021 https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-the-candle-of-hope-for-advent-week-1.html.

            9. Robb Redman, “What is Advent?” 17 December 2020, Worship Leader, 9 March 2021 https://worshipleader.com/calendar/advent-day-19-with-steve-angrisano/.

            10. “. . . Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees”  (Romans 8:24 ESV)?

            11. Justin Holcomb, “What is Advent?” 6 November 2020, Christianity.com 9 March 2021 https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/christmas/what-is-advent.html.

            12. Holcomb.

            13. Arthur S. Way, Letters of Paul, Hebrews and the Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1926, 1981) 208.

            14. “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33 ESV).

            15. Mark 13:33.

            16. Charles Wesley and Henry T. Smart, “Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending,” 1758, Hymnary, 9 March 2021 https://hymnary.org/text/lo_he_comes_with_clouds_descending_once.

            17. Wesley and Smart.