Good News — Advent

How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns.”  (Isaiah 52:7).  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. – Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:8-11, 12-14).  Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  (Matt. 9:35-38).  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matt. 28:18-20).  “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved – And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they hear if they are not sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”(Romans 10:9, 13, 14b-15).  They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”  (Rev. 6:10).  Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.  When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.  Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.  The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.  (Isaiah 52:8-10).  I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  – His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns – He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Rev. 19:11-15).  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  (Rev. 21:4).

My dad says that Biblical prophecy is cyclical.  Many of the prophecies of Messiah foretell both His first coming and his second coming together.  God is outside time and space and in these prophecies He is giving us what He can of what we can understand to hold fast to during difficult times.

I am no Bible scholar (although I’ve been studying the Bible most of my life).  And, I am no theologian (having never formally studies theology).  But the passages above spoke to me, together today.

Having grown up in a non-liturgical church, I never observed “advent” as such.  This year, God is softening my heart to see how, in this time we live today, advent is about waiting for His second coming and making space in my heart for Jesus today so that He can naturally flow from my words and deeds — my life — to witness to those in my life.  Now is the time of harvest, friends.  Before His salvation is fully realized.

In the verses above, who brought good tidings?  Who proclaimed the good news?  In the verse in Romans, what is the good news?  Who has been sent to make disciples?  What is the last thing that broke your heart?  Frustrated you?  Have you offered that heartache/frustration to God?   Fasten the passage from Revelation in your mind, friend.  Use the pain of sin to increase your expectation of Him at His second coming and rejoice in His salvation!


In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”  And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day. (Gen.1:1, 3, 5).   In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  (John 1:1, 4-5). 

I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. … Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.  (Gen. 9:13, 16).  And there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it – A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne – From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.  Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing.  (Rev. 4:2, 3, 5).  

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him … When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram. (Gen. 15:12, 17-18).   From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.  That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire.  (Num. 9:15-16).  On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.  Everyone in the camp trembled…Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire.  The smoke billowed up from I like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. … The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. (Ex. 19:16, 18, 20).  You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them – But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”  (Heb. 18-19, 22-24, 28-29). They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  (Acts 2:3-4).  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Matt. 5:14-16).  

There he was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  (Matt. 17:2).  His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  (Rev. 1:16).  I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True – His eyes are like blazing fire.”  (Rev. 19:11, 12).  There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  (Rev. 22:5). 

What ways did God’s light manifest in these verses?  What does John 1:1, 4-5 say God’s light is?  Where does it say this light shines?  How has God’s light revealed parts of your heart to you?  How does Hebrews 12:18-29 admonish us to worship God because He is a consuming fire?  In what ways do you worship God?  What is your attitude in worship?  How did the passages in Matthew and Revelation talk of Jesus’ face and eyes?  What does this signify?  How will God’s people at the conclusion of history see?

Truth vs. Lies

We have a cunning child.  One who, like most people, hates to admit being wrong and will slip in a half-truth or outright outlandish tale if it might shift the blame.  This same child, earlier this week was upset that someone on the playground at school told a crazy fib for attention — my child wanted to make sure everyone knew this other kid was LYING.

As a parent, I’m not sure what to do about lying.  For sure, I know that I don’t catch every lie.  But, I was thinking about what God says about it, and I want to ponder these verses and apply them to my life.  I want this particular child to likewise ponder these verses and apply them.  May they take root in our hearts today.  Amen.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O LORD. — Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say”Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139:1-4, 7-12).  Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  — You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  (Psalm 52:6-10, 16-17).

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  (Psalm 52:1-2).  His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear in him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.  (Psalm 147:10-11).

According to these verses — what does the Lord know about us?  (Psalm 139:1,2)  What does the Psalmist do to hide from God?  In concrete language, what are some of the ways you have tried to hide from God?  According to Psalm 52:6, what does God desire?  Do you desire truth in your inmost heart?  Why/why not?  What are the sacrifices God finds pleasing?  Psalm 52:1 says that God forgives us according to what?  What does Psalm 147:10-11 say God delights in?  Have you felt sad, frustrated, ashamed or angry lately?  What have you been placing your hope in lately — what have you been depending on for your salvation and assurance?

Sin and Darkness

There is no one righteous, not even one.  (Romans 3:10).  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  (Proverbs 1:7).  For although they knew God, the neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual immorality for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised, Amen.  Because of this, God gave them over to their shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations with unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.  Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.  They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.  (Romans 1:21-32).  In him was life and that life is the light of man. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  (John 1:4-5).  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.  (John 3:19-21). Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.  (John 1:12, 16).  You are the light of the world — let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  (Matt. 5:14, 16).

What have you been struggling with lately?  Have you experience futile thinking or a darkened heart of late?  Have you found any wickedness, greed, gossip, slander, envy — etc. — in yourself lately?  Have you allowed God’s light to shine upon it, that sin within?  He already sees it, friend.  Don’t hide, but step into His light where He will reconcile and heal.  And, in humility and transparency, let that Light shine through you.  What little (or big!) thing can you do today to let His light shine in your life?

Expectations and Disappointment

 My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.  (Jeremiah 2:13).  Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant.  It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”  This is what the Sovereign LORD the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”  (Isaiah 30:12-15).  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.  (2 Chronicles 20:12).  
If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water … Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  (John 4:10, 12).  “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Cor. 4:6-7, 18).  “[O]ne thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 3:13-14).  

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.  (Mark 14:3).  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Phil. 2:17).

What is it you seek to fill your cistern with?  What kinds of things do you tell yourself, “if I could: win this game, achieve that goal, have this relationship, fix this problem, have enough “followers,” influence the right people…?  Friends, even where our “goals” are beautiful, good things, if we seek to fill our cisterns with them, we will be disappointed. Have you sought to satisfy yourself with God’s blessings and gifts rather than God Himself?  Come to the Well.  Be filled.  Be poured out.  In sacrifice, let Him flow through you.

Worried … Still

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked will I depart.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ (Job 1:20).  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:16-18).  Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. (Job 13:15). Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  (Romans 5: 3-5).  Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:13, emphasis added).  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.  (Hebr. 11:1-2).  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. … Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebr. 12:1-3, emphasis added).

Have I mentioned, I’m worried?  I try not to be frightened and anxious, but I lose perspective so easily.  Some things here on earth seem so big and important.  If you, like me, are worried — if you fear for the future.  That things might get hard.  If you fear for others — perhaps those in your care, I pray that the reminders above would be concrete, piercing reminders and encouragement to stand firm.  Stand firm, friends, fixing your eyes on Jesus Christ.


I had the misfortune of listening to much of the second presidential debate on Sunday.  Although Kagan keeps abreast of current affairs, I diligently avoid them.  I was sickened, distraught and angry. Then, worried.  (I literally had visions of myself and our family trying to find food, shelter and warmth in the middle of winter in a post nuclear blast landscape.  My babies!  I’m not equipped to take care of my babies in a post-apocalyptic world!).

In short, I became burdened by the state of affairs of our country.  Not only by the national spectacle that is the race for President, but also by the moral degradation that has gotten us here.  In talking with a friend, I realized what I’d been doing.  I’d been taking the burden of national affairs upon my shoulders.  So, I surrendered it back to God.  I realize how silly that sounds.  I, Becky, have no responsibility for the behavior of the presidential hopefuls.  I have no control over who wins or loses (yes, I will vote, but really, out here with our meager college electoral votes, we don’t count).  But, I was taking responsibility for it.  Ownership of it. 
Over the last few days, the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of how worry is really a symptom of pride in my life.  Arrogance that I can change something by worrying.  Too, He reminds me, worry is lack of faith.  Lack of trust in God.  
He has been reminding me to do what I can and have faith that He will take care of the rest.  And He is good.  So, friend, I offer these beautiful verses as a reminder of who has called you and the living hope that He gives despite the situation you may be facing.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  (Matt. 11:28-30).  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing,s why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the filed, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  (Luke 12:25, 28).  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Cor. 10:5).  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – (1 Peter 1:3-4) – Therefore, prepare your minds for action: be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:13) For you know that is was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  (1 Peter 1:18-21).  And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28).   

Sowing and Reaping

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.  They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.  But David remained in Jerusalem …  (2 Sam. 11:2).  Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.  (Prov. 25:28).  I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment: thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.  I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.  (Prov. 24:30-34).  The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish … The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them … At midnight the cry rang out: Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!  Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out … while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived… And the door was shut.  “Sir!  Sir!”  They said.  ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’  Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  (Mat. 25:1-11).  Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  (Gal. 5:7).  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18).  The fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness … self-control. (Gal. 5:22).  Therefore, my dear friends … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  (Phil. 2:12-13).

For the first time in my professional life, I had a case involving a tax lien and tax deed. If you’re like I was three weeks ago, you don’t know what a tax lien is.  The simplified version is this:  if you don’t pay your real estate taxes, the county in which you live will give you and the whole county notice that they are going to have a tax lien sale and somebody can pay for your taxes.  Then, at least three years later — if not even a little longer than that — the person who paid your taxes will own your entire property, for a mere fraction of its true value.  Of course, there are all kinds of notice provisions — you will get lots of letters about it — but if you don’t pay your taxes and you refuse the notices, there is a distinct possibility that you will have lost your property.

It got me thinking about consequences.  And the seed we sow in all aspects of our lives.  So, friends, what is your garden plot?  And what seed are you sowing there?  What “notices” might you be ignoring?  What weeds might need pulling?

Whatever your answers, trust in Him.  Therefore, my dear friends … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  (Phil. 2:12-13).