Daily Archives: December 2, 2021

Evening Prayer: December 2nd

Eternal and Faithful God, accept this prayer of gratitude. Forgive me for the sins of omission and commission that I committed against you and yours this day. Align and strengthen my will with yours. Now as the night falls upon your earth, thank you for sharing your mercy, your loving kindness, and your abundant grace with me this day. Renew my heart and mind this night as I sleep and protect me from your enemies. In the blessed name of Jesus the Christ I pray. Amen.

Daily Scripture Passage: Isaiah 26:1-6

Christmas Bibles

Isaiah 26:1-6 (ESV)

You Keep Him in Perfect Peace

26 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
    he sets up salvation
    as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
    that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled
    the inhabitants of the height,
    the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
    casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
    the feet of the poor,
    the steps of the needy.”

Thoughts to Ponder from Matthew 3:1-3, 11-12


“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness; ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is nighter than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:1-3, 11-12).

It is difficult to fathom that we have entered into another Advent. If you are like me, I feel like I have lost a year somewhere because it does not seem like we should be here already.

No matter how we got here, I am thankful for this season, because Advent, like Lent, is a time for reflection and preparation. One of the themes that accompanies this season is the message of hope. Hope is one of the predominant themes that surrounds the season of Advent because in all honesty, we need a message of hope in the tumultuous world we live in.

As we come to this passage in Matthew’s Gospel – it truly does speak to us of hope – because it reminds us of who Jesus is and what Jesus has brought into the equation of humanity. In order to grasp the full essence of this message, we must start with verses 11-12.

If these verses were read independently, one would be fair to ask the question, “How can you prepose that this is a message of hope?” Indeed, that would be a fair enough question. What we find in these two verses is a reminder of two things. First, with God, there is judgment for sin. This is not something that we like to talk about in this season of Advent when we are preparing our hearts for Baby Jesus. But it is a fact that is always before us. In fact – this is the reason that God sent Jesus to us. Humanity is fallen and lost. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That is a fact that is vouched for in the Scriptures. No matter how much we do not like to think of ourselves in the light of being sinful creatures, it does not negate the fact that we are. John has it right: Jesus has the winnowing fork in his hand. This is something that we anticipate in the Second Coming, when King Jesus will return as the judge. In that day and time, Jesus will indeed separate the wheat from the chaff. He will separate those who followed him from those who did not. There will be a judgment. Those who accepted his Lordship will be brought into eternal rest with Jesus and those who denied him, Jesus will deny.  (Ref. Matthew 25:31-46).

However, understand that is not what God wills. God does not will that any will be condemned and this is where the hope of this passage comes in. God sends Jesus into the fray of humanity in order to offer redemption and reconciliation. In other words, God wants a good, healthy, loving relationship with each of his creation. And because he loves us that much, he was willing to send Jesus from the heavenly to the earthly in order to show how serious he was about his love toward us. With that, God gave Jesus the power and authority to redeem each and every one.

That is the good news, the hope – God did just that. When John speaks in verse one about the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, he was making a declarative statement about Jesus – Jesus was the one who ushered in the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus brought the Kingdom of God on earth, out of love, in order that we might enjoy God in the here and now, not just in the future tense. God came to dwell with us in the form of Jesus in order to draw us into the very presence of the God who created us and loves us. God brought hope that sin was not the final word in the human story – rather God’s love was.

In order to receive that love, however, John brings a point – we need to repent of our sinfulness. In other words, we need to recognize and own the fact that we are not as good as we would like to believe at times. We have a rebellious side that does struggle with God much like a teenager struggles with their parents. We do things that violate God’s Word, God’s commands – driving a wedge between ourselves and the God who loves us. And we cannot get it right ourselves. Thus God, in his gracious love, has provided a means. Jesus. Jesus is the one who willingly gave of himself in order to bring us into God’s loving light. Jesus is the one who gave himself so that we would not stand condemned by God, rather we would be spared God’s wrath for our sinfulness.

This season of Advent, that is our hope – God has brought the Kingdom of heaven to earth, in the form of Jesus, and redeemed us, paid the price for us, so that we would have joy and peace on this earth and be with him for all eternity. God’s redemptive grace is heard in the voice of the prophets, of Jesus, of the many saints – past and present – who speak of the transformative power of God’s love in Jesus. Those voices speak as powerfully to us today as they ever have – if we have ears to hear.

Our hope, praise be to God, is that God loves us. As we journey through this Advent season, may we embrace the hope that God has given us in Jesus – that our life and salvation has come – and may we prepare our hearts, our children, and the generations following us – to prepare for not only the celebration of the salvation that has come – but for that day when Jesus will come again and judge the living and the dead – so that we may have joy knowing that Jesus will gather his own to him and take us to our eternal home: a home with no fear, no anxiety, no sorrow, no sadness, no death, no tears, no pain. Praise be to God for the hope we have that this  world is not the end – that it is just the beginning.