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December 11, 2015

This is the first in a series of posts using the common lectionary—weekly scriptures used throughout Christendom to meditate on God’s word. The church year begins after Thanksgiving, which is the perfect segue to Advent. We are encouraged to give thanks for all things and at all times (Ephesians 5:20), and there is nothing to be more grateful for than the birth of Jesus Christ. During Advent we anticipate the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah.

During the first week of Advent, we were reminded that Jesus is the promised Messiah (Jeremiah 33: 15-16; Luke 19:38) and that God’s “love endures forever” (Jeremiah 33:10). The scripture readings from the second week in Advent focused on the unchanging nature of God (Malachi 3:6) and the anticipation and excitement about the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1; Luke 3:15).

The scripture readings for the third Sunday in Advent are Psalm 85; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Philippians 4:4-7; and Luke 7:18-28. In this week’s gospel lesson, Jesus teaches us about “the people of this generation” (Luke 7:31), referring to the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who refused to listen to John the Baptist or to Jesus. John and Jesus spoke the truth, which they were not interested in hearing. The Pharisees were fiercely committed to protecting the status quo–their safety zone. We are often “the people of this generation” that Jesus referenced, when we close our eyes and ears to the truth. We try to fit God into our plan, instead of letting God lead us to His perfect plan for us.

In his book, If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg challenges us to leave our safety zone and believe. Trust God to keep you on the right path. Use your God-given gifts to serve, create and innovate. Believe that He came to earth to rescue and to bless us. Believing in and following Jesus may involve risk, but the rewards of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are priceless.

In this week’s scripture readings, God promises inner peace (Psalm 85). He gives us hope, and reassures us that He is with us, and that He will rescue and restore us (Zephaniah 3: 14-20). He brings peace and great joy to our lives (Philippians 4:4-7). He also offers empirical proofs that He is the Messiah; He did what the prophets said He would do: “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised . . .” (Luke 7:22; Isaiah 35:5-6).

Break out of the mold of “the people of this generation” during this Advent season, and believe! Believe in the Prince of Peace. Experience God’s love and forgiveness. Discover God’s plan for you as you draw nearer to Him each day.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

December 11, 2015

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