Keep God foremost in your mind and be ready at all times – Advent, 2009

advent_annunciationThis is the first weekend of advent and today’s readings are reminders for us to stay focused,vigilant and lead each day of our lives preparing for and loving God.

In the first reading, we prepare the way of the Lord and Messiah.

In the second reading, be prepared for Jesus is coming again.

In the Gospel, Jesus is coming back. Are you ready for His return or for you personal meeting upon your departure from your earthly body?

Jeremiah 33:14-16

In this weekend’s first reading from Jeremiah, we’re told God will fulfill His promise and “raise up for David a just shoot”.

Who can we trust today?  We can always trust God because he fulfills His promises.  He had promised David that his throne would be secure for ever. David was promised that Israel’s Messiah would be one of his descendants. Christians believe that Jesus is the “just shoot” Messiah who Jeremiah tells us is coming and who “shall do what is right and just in the land”.

One of the things that we’ve learned over thousands of years is that God does things in His time and on His schedule.  It’s our faith and trust in God that allows us to remain patient on a day to day basis.

In the short term, our faith allows us to remain patient as we’re waiting for our prayers to be answered and fulfilled.

In the long term, it’s that same faith that causes us to love God and trust that we’ll see Jesus either upon our death or when He returns to earth.  Either way, you and I will be ready.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Jesus our Messiah, the just shoot had come to earth and fulfilled God’s promises made to King David.   He gave his disciples very clear instructions for how we should  live our lives on earth to be ready and prepared to meet Jesus again when he retuns.  Christians believe that we’ll either meet Jesus upon our death or upon his return to earth.  We just don’t know which will come first or when either will happen. We’re encouraged to be ready at all times.

In the second reading, Paul is praying for the Thessalonians and reminding them to prepare for Jesus’ return.  It took faith for the Thessalonians to stay focused and prepared for a return by Jesus who had only recently walked the earth and made the promises.

In the reading from Jeremiah, Israel was becoming impatient waiting for God to fulfill His promises made to King David. Impatience with God was a problem thousands of years ago but, God kept his promise. Paul thought that Jesus’ return was imminent 2000 years ago. If Paul was praying for the Thessalonians to “increase and abound in love” and “to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father” in anticipation of Jesus’ return back then, can you imagine how much we need to pray for ourselves and others to stay strong and ready today 2000 years later? Many of us can lose faith in promises made by mortals who we’ve seen, touched and spoken with.  Extreme faith is required for us to believe the promises made by Jesus to his disciples thousands of years before you and I were born!

I love Paul’s second paragraph today.  He’s telling the Thessalonians “how you should conduct yourselves to please God” and you’re doing a really good job BUT, you can do an even better job! You’re capable of more.  You’re capable of better.  Most of us know that about ourselves today.  We may be doing a good job but, we can do an even better job. What would that look like for you?

As a father, I’m always balancing the encouragement of my children for all of the good things that they’re doing with the reminder that they still have so much more potential. Through prayer, we can thank God for all that we are and for all that we have and ask for the strength, power and ability to become even better.  More Christ-like.

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

In today’s gospel, Jesus tell his disciples about his return. As with all of Jesus’ messages, every word counts and there are several messages in this relatively short passage.

Jesus says that “People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world”. For people who know that Jesus is returning and who are working on a daily basis to be ready for his return, we will welcome him with open arms when He returns to earth or when we depart our earthly bodies upon our death.

Just as Paul reminded the Thessalonians to prepare themselves, Jesus says, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap”.  We’re reminded to be in excellent physical shape today and every day.  We do not want to become out-of-shape spiritually.

As we prepare for Christmas during the season of advent, this is a special time to assess our readiness for Jesus’ return.  If it were today, would we be be able to “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” or would we be ill-prepared?

We know that the process of becoming Christ-like is a daily routine that comes as a result of our prayers for strength, reading of scripture, actions of service and assistance from the Holy Spirit.

Advent is a time to prepare for and celebrate the birth of Christ and to also prepare ourselves to be ready to “see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”.

Keep God foremost in your mind and be ready at all times.

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