BY JORDAN MAYER
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Next to where I work, there is a network of walking and biking trails. Over the past year, I’ve made it a habit to get out of the office for a bit and take a walk through the woods. Besides being a nice mid-day retreat, I’ve found it to be an interesting way to experience the changing seasons.
I started walking the trails in early spring. At this point, the trees are bare, the air is cool, and the ground is peppered with patches of brown and white. But soon the seemingly lifeless wood springs forth into life. First a few green buds appear on the trees as flowers begin to poke through the ground. Day by day, the green begins to take back the forest. By the time summer arrives, the once desolate landscape is lush with life, the birds chirp happily overhead, and the air is warm on your skin. But in a few short months, the woods are transformed yet again. A chill is present in the air, the canopy of trees transition into a dazzling array of red, yellow, and orange. After a of couple weeks, the path I walk is littered with leaves and the trees overhead are bare. Soon the woods as I had known it before will take on a new character as it becomes covered in a blanket of white.
They say the only constant in life is change. Nature is an apt reminder of this idea in its predictable cycles and seasons. We know this intuitively from our daily life as well. Often we mark our lives by the significant changes and transitions that occur.
So when we read Isaiah 40:8, we are meant to see a stark contrast. Though the seasons change, or a new politician takes office, or a pandemic strikes, God's Word does not change. His Word does not change because God, himself, does not change. In Hebrews, we are reminded that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Why is this significant?
This is significant because His promises still stand. The Gospel is still the Good News for all the world. Ever since the beginning of creation, God has had a plan of redemption for His people. In His loving mercy He sent His Son into the world to die on our behalf, to pay the debt that we could never afford to pay. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This gift of eternal life is still freely offered, the invitation is still open. Will you accept it?
And for us who are in Christ, we live in the confidence and assurance of these promises, waiting for their ultimate fulfillment when our Lord and Savior returns. When God made His promise to Abraham, to bless and multiply him, he swore an oath by Himself. "So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:17-18).
Praise God for His unchanging nature and His unfailing promises!
BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:…” “I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
(Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7a, Psalm 40:1)
I recently stumbled upon an old post I had written on my own personal blog page dated back to December, 2016. It reminded me of something God had showed me at that time. And even though Advent season and Christmas of 2021 is just a memory, this was a timely reminder for me and I’d like to share it with you.
As you may remember from a previous post here, I mentioned that I love celebrating the Advent season; the time of waiting, watching and anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth. I love the Christmas season and all its “trappings.” I always try to get my shopping done early so I can enjoy the season. I love relaxing at home on a cold winter’s night, enjoying the lights on my tree, reflecting on what this season means spiritually and watching Christmas movies that have happy endings. I love happy endings!!
The Christmas season, too, has a happy ending. All our anticipating, waiting and watching culminates in the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior, the One who has come to save us from our sin and from ourselves. He comes with a promise and it’s because we know that, that our season of waiting is so full of joyful anticipation – we know that our hope will be fulfilled! We know the answer! We know that what (who) we’re waiting for has come.
What God showed me all those years ago focused on all the other waiting periods in my life; other periods of anticipation, watching and waiting. I think most of you are like me in the sense that there are things you have been praying for and waiting for for a very long time and you long, truly long to see God move in answering those prayers. Whether it’s for a loved one’s salvation, a healing, a prodigal child, a promised promotion or raise, deliverance from a besetting sin, or whatever it may be, we continue to cry out to God and wait for His intervention. Sometimes we pray with hope in our heart and trust that God hears and will answer, but sometimes we cry out in frustration wondering why God seemingly doesn’t hear or care about our pleadings. We wait, but not always with the confidence that what we wait and hope for will be fulfilled.
What if we embraced the answer to our prayer like it was a done deal and began to live in Advent (a waiting season; a season of preparation) of this promise?
What if we could wait in joyful expectation, just as we do at Christmas time, anticipating, waiting and watching, believing the promise is in our future?
What if we could just enjoy the “trappings” of this “season” right where we are at?
Enjoy what God is doing in our heart as a result of this time of waiting?
Enjoy the “lights,” the “music,” the “decorations,” God is “putting up” in our heart during this, our personal “Advent” season?
Jeff Goins asks it so well – “What if we fell in love with the in-between times, relishing instead of resenting them?”
What if God isn’t “preparing” us for anything other than this very moment?
Scripture tells me that God hears and answers my prayers, therefore I need to live in the assurance that His Word is true and wait in joyfulness, anticipating how and when He is going to move! But in that anticipation, I believe God is doing something in me, too.
When we are in a state of waiting, God is moving!! He’s at work in our heart; what if we embraced what He is doing right now even when we can’t see it? What if we just believe it?
“Waiting is not always a bad thing; it can bring its own joy – the thrill of anticipation.” David Jeremiah
Just as our hearts are filled with anticipation during the Advent season, we need to embrace the waiting in our own personal advent with anticipation and expectancy in our hearts and the wonderment of how and when God will answer our prayers!
Because, surely He will!
But what if we find the answer was in the journey all along?
BY JORDAN MAYER
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”
1 Corinthians 10:31
No other verse in the Bible has had more of an impact on my life than this one. I “discovered” this verse in college, and ever since then, it continues to challenge and transform the way I live.
It’s always important when reading Scripture that we begin with the context that it was written in, so let's start there. Paul is clearing up some issues with the Corinthians in regards to food and drink offered to idols. To eat or not to eat, to drink or not to drink - that was the question. Or was it?
Paul goes on to give a number of great lessons on idol worship, Christian liberty, and loving your neighbor; but it's what's in the middle of verse 31 that truly struck me. Paul begins with the eating and drinking, but then makes a striking addition. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Really Paul, all things? I'm convinced that when Paul says all things, he means all things!
At the time, classes, homework, exams, and projects dominated my life and frankly, was a total drag at times. But this verse made me realize something extraordinary: that my life has less to do with what I'm doing and far more to do with why. If I can do all things to the glory of God, then it doesn't matter so much what the "what" is, but rather the "why" behind it. In the moment, it empowered me to go to every class, write every note, and take every test with a renewed sense of purpose: the glory of God.
Since then, it has reminded me that every moment of our lives is an opportunity to give Him glory. Not simply the time spent at church, reading His Word, or preaching the Gospel, but every minute of every day. The hills and valleys. The extraordinary and the ordinary. The magnificent and the mundane.
When I wrote the title for this post, although a bit tongue in cheek, it was meant to illustrate a point. When I stumble out of bed at 5AM during the week and take a sip of that sweet nectar from the Arabica bean, can I glorify God in that? Absolutely! I can be thankful for the strength He has provided to get up that morning (Isaiah 40:29). I can be grateful for His creation and the caffeine that gives me the energy to start my day (Psalm 104:24-25). And I can rejoice that today is a new day that has been given to me (Psalm 118:24). It may seem silly, but every situation - both big and small - is an opportunity to thank our Creator and give glory to His name.
So whether you are cleaning the house for the umpteenth time, confined to your bed because of chronic illness, reading a good book, or headed out the door to your 9 to 5; use these moments as opportunities to worship.