Reaching the unseen

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REACHING THE WORLD FOR JESUS

May God bless the Pastors and Bible Teachers all over the world, we thank God that Sermons to the World is now reaching 148 countries and all 50 States and The District of Columbia in the U.S.

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Mission: To be a resource to Pastors and Bible teachers in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. – Sermons to the World

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Vision: To reach the world on the internet to fulfill the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 – “to go into all the world and teach all nations”.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

THE SEASON OF ADVENT - ANTICIPATION AND HOPE


The Season of Advent - Anticipation and Hope
 “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not the angels of Heaven, but only My Father. But as the days of Noah were, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark. And they did not know until the flood came and took them all away. So also will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Therefore watch; for you do not know what hour your Lord comes. But know this, that if the steward of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be dug through. Therefore you also be ready, for in that hour you think not, the Son of man comes.  (Matthew 24:36-44)
The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power.
Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.
Advent not only points backward to the first coming, but also forward to the second, thus providing Christians with a vision of the future and toward the future. Advent, then, is a time of expectation: it is the acknowledgment of the fact that , although God has acted decisively on our behalf in Jesus' birth, there is still much outstanding.
Advent is a time for taking stock of our lives and actions in light of the kingdom of God which entered human history with Christ, but still awaits completion. Our expectation of the coming Lord demands that we anticipate in our actions the kingdom with which he has identified himself and will bring to us.
Rather than a time of mourning and fasting, Advent is celebrated as a time of joy and happiness as we await the coming of the King.
So, we celebrate with gladness the great promise in the Advent. This is also faithful to the role of the Coming King who comes to rule, save, and judge the world.
Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. While Lent (during Easter) is characterized by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advent’s prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers
The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope (or in some traditions, Prophecy). This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of an Anointed One, a Messiah, that weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history.
The remaining three candles of Advent may be associated with different aspects of the Advent story in different churches, or even in different years. Usually they are organized around characters or themes as a way to unfold the story and direct attention to the celebrations and worship in the season. So, the sequence for the remaining three Sundays might be Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels. Or Love, Joy, Peace.
The third candle, usually for the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and symbolizes Joy at the soon Advent of the Christ.  It marks a shift from the more solemn tone of the first two Sundays of Advent that focus on Preparation and Hope, to a more joyous atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy.
The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle.  It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The early Church celebrated the Resurrection and the hope it embodied.  It was a proclamation of a truth that rang throughout the Old Testament, that endings are not always endings but are opportunities for God to bring new beginnings. The Resurrection proclaimed that truth even about humanity’s greatest fear, death itself.
It all begins in the hope that God will come and come again into our world to reveal himself as a God of newness, of possibility, a God of new things.  
This time of year we contemplate that hope embodied, enfleshed, incarnated, in a newborn baby, the perfect example of newness, potential, and possibility. During Advent, we groan and long for that newness with the hope, the expectation, indeed the faith, that God will once again be faithful to see our circumstances, to hear our cries, to know our longings for a better world and a whole life (Ex 3:7).  And we hope that as He first came as an infant, so He will come again as King!

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