2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

2nd Week of Advent:  the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

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2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Luke 2:10 NIV

adventwreath_2c
adventwreath_2c

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

The heart of it all is GOD is with US!  In Christ's own Person, heaven and earth meet and kiss, so to speak!  In His very own Self, God and Man are forever joined.

Michelangelo's Adam
Michelangelo's Adam

Because of His Person and His Work, Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, joins those of us who were once enemies, alone and without hope, to the Living God.  Now we are friends of God, His children...dare we even say it? in union with Him! GOD with US!  And that is truly News that is GOOD!  And there's a Bible word for that -- reconciliation.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22 NIV

This week, rejoice in the truly Good News:  GOD with US!  No more chasm* between God and us...Emmanuel has come!  (Romans 5:1-11 and 2 Cor 5:16-21) Enjoy singing and meditating on this rich carol.  We'll explore it more next time:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of a Virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity. Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth. Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Readings for the 2nd Week of Advent:

Sunday -- John 5:17-24

Monday --John 5:25-47

Tuesday -- Matt 9:32-38

Wednesday -- Mark 8:27-38

Thursday -- Mark 9:33-37

Friday -- Mark 10:13-31

Saturday -- Luke 19:28-40

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Connect to the Voice blog for a free download of The Voice translation and a video of the Christmas story from The Voice.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_sQohBF0Kk&utm_medium=email&utm_source=voicenewsletter&utm_term=20121205&utm_campaign=thevoice&utm_content=[/youtube]

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*Navigator Bridge illustration  This diagram is very familiar to many Christians.  But whether it's familiar or new to you, why not click on the link and rehearse afresh the glory of our reconciliation through the Incarnate Christ, our Emmanuel.

bridge illustration
bridge illustration

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Thank you to Ann Voskamp for sharing this awesome story...the Truly GOOD NEWS.  It's a MUST SEE!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNDtHdG5mVk&feature=em-share_video_user[/youtube]

christmas trees at honey run 2011
christmas trees at honey run 2011

Reconciliation...why so hard?

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

I've been shocked lately...truly dumbfounded!

Why?  Because of friends (really, all of us) who have built walls instead of bridges because of real or imagined offenses!

My husband John knows of my disbelief, amazement, and struggle about a certain important, long-time, but now estranged, relationship in my life.  So when having his devotions the other day and coming upon this verse in the book of Proverbs, John eagerly shared it with me.

An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.     Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Proverbs 18:19 NLT

Yow! ...harder to win over than a fortified city!  I have to ask the question, Why?

Why is it almost impossible to reconcile with offended friends?

And I'm talking Christian friends...not just unbelievers!

Even when one side of the conflict takes Jesus' words seriously,

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person.  Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:23-24 NLT

But as the saying goes,

It takes two to tango.

And more importantly, as God says through the apostle Paul,

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV

So I guess here's the point, despite the grief and loss of it all...

...after doing what we can do, leave it with the Lord and continue to love, forgive, and extend grace.

Shortly after posting a link to this blog on facebook, my friend Janice responded there and gave me permission to share her thoughts. This really puts reconciliation in perspective:

Jan, my heart resonates with your desire for reconciliation...I've come to understand that...reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel and God's heart in that He is obsessed with our reconciliation with Himself, to the extent of giving up His only Son to the cross, in our place, to make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him for all time! Perhaps, God means for us to understand what it is for Him to offer reconciliation and see it rejected. His heart is always grieved, but He allows us the choice to receive it or reject it!

Amen, dear Janice, and thank you for sharing God's heart for reconciliation.  May this be ours also! Amen.

And that's all, folks!

(By the way, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences...and yes, wisdom...even below in the comment section.)