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December 24

Advent Excitement

When I was a young child growing up in Cooper, Texas, my family attended church that had a children’s choir. I remember one fall the children’s choir was going to have a singing performance as part of the church’s Advent celebration.

I am one of six children, so our family made up the bulk of the children’s choir. We practiced for weeks and weeks until the night of the performance came. I remember putting on our costumes. I was a shepherd, my youngest brother was a sheep, and my younger sister was an angel, complete with wings and even a wire halo.

Advent-Holy Spirit-Faith-Light-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Chris Sowder on Unsplash]

The performance was held at night and the last song was to feature each of us children holding a candle while singing. The plan was then for one member of the children’s choir to light the candle of a congregation member, and then the light would be passed around from member to member until the small sanctuary was beautifully illuminated by candlelight.

I remember being excited, even though my costume was itchy. As we stood in the choir loft looking out at the congregation, I remember looking forward to holding a lit candle.

When the time came, us children started lighting our candles. Everyone got their candle lit and we started singing our final song (I don’t even remember what it was). All went well… for a while. Then my younger brother, who was standing in the row behind my sister, somehow got his candle too close to the back of my sister’s head and set her hair on fire. My sister, unaware of the growing inferno behind her, continued singing while holding her candle in front of her. As the flames grew higher one of my older sisters, also standing behind, saw the growing fire and quickly slapped her hands together on the flaming hair, putting it out. The smell of burnt hair began to fill the sanctuary, but my younger sister, unaware that anything had happened, kept on singing.

Each Advent season I am reminded of that event. In remembering it I also learn from it. John Wesley purportedly once said, “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” I don’t advocate setting one’s hair on fire, but I do believe it is good advice to metaphorically set ourselves on fire with the Holy Spirit. When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit amazing things happen, and people, especially the unchurched, take notice.

Another thing this memory reminds me of is to keep singing. No matter what happens in our lives, do like my sister did with her hair on fire and keep singing. Don’t let the things of this world keep us from singing our praises to God. Keep on singing.

God came to earth in human form at Christmas. The Savior is born not with great earthly acclaim, but in a small, humble way. And yet this Baby, the Savior of the world, changes everything. And that is worth singing about.

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. …”

Matthew 3:11

Doug Wintermute, Pastor

Father God, fill our mouths with songs of praise for all You’ve done, are doing, and have planned for us as Your people. May we see the work of Your hand and glorify You in all we do. Amen.

 Additional readings: 1Thessalonians 5:19, Romans 15:13, Psalm 40:16

December 13

[Today’s post follows the reading of December 13 in John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.]

All the prophets who had spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.

Acts 3:24

The already of fulfillment is massive — incarnation, crucifixion, atonement, propitiation, resurrection, ascension, heavenly reign, intercession, outpouring of the Holy Spirit, global missions, ingathering of nations, church, New Testament Scriptures, prayer in Jesus’s name, joy unspeakable, and purchased certainty.

–John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible  Joy, page 47*

In the waiting for what is to come, it is easy to forget the blessing of living now in the age of fulfillment. Consider the blessings we receive because of the day and time we now live.

Is your heart full of gratitude for the benefits of living in the age of fulfillment? Which one sticks out to you this Advent season?

Dear God, thank You. For placing me in this moment in history, for allowing me to live in a time when what the prophets of old spoke about has come to pass. Forgive me for the times I forget Your benefits, the awesome things You have already accomplished in this world. Fill me, Spirit, with Your love. In Jesus’s name, amen.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Marina Khrapova on Unsplash]

*© 2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org

Songs of Praise: Psalm 131-132

Read: Psalm 131-132 [Click the link to read online or open up your Bible.]

For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.”

Psalm 132:13-18

Chosen. The place where God’s presence dwells is chosen, selected by Him. Merriam-Webster’s defines chosen as: selected or marked for favor or special privilege.

Jesus tells His disciples: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…

Followers of Jesus are chosen by Him for special privileges including the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1Corinthians 3:16 ESV

We are chosen for the indwelling of His Spirit and all the blessings which go with it. The same blessings God placed on Zion as His dwelling place.

If you are having trouble remembering you’re chosen by the Creator, privileged, marked for favor, choose the blessing you need most to be reminded of from the list above. Then go to the New Testament verses which affirm the Old Testament promises connected to God’s presence indwelling Zion. Remember they are yours.

Be blessed. Be joy-full. Be free! You are chosen.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1Peter 2:9

Lord, don’t let me forget the wonder of Your Spirit living in me. Remind me You are there.

[Featured Image Photo seen on website by Harry Miller on Unsplash]