The “What” of Advent

advent-candlesI would like to shift our focus for the next four messages leading up to Christmas Day to our Advent devotional series, in hopes that we might experience afresh the passion and power of waiting on God during these last few days leading up to Christmas Day. In this first message we will look at what Advent is in the life of the Christian.

The word advent simply means the coming or the arrival of something anticipated and important, such as the advent of the electric light bulb . . . the advent of the automobile . . . the advent of the computer . . . the advent of the cell phone. The word Advent, as it relates to the Christian calendar comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” It generally covers the four Sunday’s leading up to Christmas day. It is the time when Christians prepare to observe the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and repentance. We remember the hope of the Jewish nation and their longing for the coming of the Messiah.

During the Advent season we celebrate two profound events in the life of one promised person: the promised person, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ; the two things are His first Advent—the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem—and His promised second Advent when He returns to consummate His kingdom.

This is our second season as a church plant in Deerfield Beach and our second season of celebrating Advent as a church family. The comments from the congregation truly bless my soul! Everyone, including our many visitors, is incredibly excited to participate in celebrating the Advent season. Some have said it brings back great childhood memories of Advent calendars, Advent wreaths, and Advent candles. Others have said it is something they knew very little or nothing about; they find it both fascinating and faith-building. All of them are affirming that it is quite helpful in shifting our focus away from the “commercialism” of Christmas and on to the “Christ” of Christmas.

As the pastor, I can tell you that the Advent sermons are enriching the worship in our church. Jesus truly is the reason for the season! However, in our increasingly secular society, the Christmas season— with all the “parties we’re hosting and marshmallows for toasting”— has a tendency to “X” Christ out of our hearts and minds if we aren’t careful.

Advent should remind us, not only of the coming of our Savior, but of our continual need of Him day by day. D. James Kennedy said, “God saved you then. Is He saving you now?” God not only saves us from the penalty of our sin; He saves us from the power of sin. God is saving us daily from our old way of living and empowering us to live a new way—with a new heart, new goals, new desires, and a new direction in life. The season of Advent helps us to keep these Gospel truths in clear vision.

It is my prayer that this Advent Devotional Series will help us all to be ready, willing, and able to celebrate—not so much the presents under the tree, but the Present who made the tree and was nailed to it in our place, taking on Himself all our sin and giving us His righteousness, that we might have eternal life.

I hope you find the next three messages a source of encouragement that will strengthen your hope and sharpen your focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, who has come and is coming again. As the Scriptures promise:

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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