The Power of Expectation

Advent

Hope is a powerful word that is often misconstrued…

For a follower of Christ, it is more than just an optimistic outlook but a confidence that God will complete the plan that HE has promised.

The prophecies of the Old Testament cast a vision of the Messiah that gave hope to God’s people.

This is the HOPE that we celebrate this first week of Advent.

The LORD speaks of the Hope of the Messiah even as the punishment of the Fall was delivered.  

The first woman, Eve, in the midst of the curse, became a vessel of redemption.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. ~ Genesis 3:15

The Psalmist calls out a prayer and song of hope:

Our soul waits for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

For our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

Hope is at the heart of our celebration of Advent.  As I have pondered this truth the women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ come to mind.  Their stories are often marginalized as women in an age of patriarchs and they would not live to see the hope of a Messianic line in which their names were revered but they each demonstrated the “hope”  that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would deliver His people. 

They were more than optimistic… they expected HIM to complete the promise of a Savior and went to great lengths to be included therein.

Tamar

First mentioned in Genesis 38 in relation to Judah, son of Jacob, who arranged for her marriage to his oldest son.  It simply states that her husband was an wicked man and the LORD put him to death.  We can only imagine how he treated his wife.  Next, she is shamed by the second son and set aside by Judah.  Despite her mistreatment, or maybe because of it, she goes to great lengths to secure her place among the people of Israel according to their customs but she was forced to play the harlot to do it.  It is through her and Judah that the Messiah would come.

Rahab

First mentioned in the second chapter of Joshua, a successful harlot of Jericho, heard the stories of YHWH, and went to great lengths to secure a place among the people of Israel.  It is through her and Salmon that the Messiah would come.

Ruth

First mentioned in the Book of Ruth,  like Tamar loses her husband but goes the extra mile to cling to her adopted family and returns with her mother in law to Israel.  She marries Boaz, Rahab’s son.  It is through her and Boaz that the Messiah would come.

Bathsheba

First mentioned in 2 Samuel and again in 1 Kings she  is perhaps most well known for her affair with King David, but she is listed as the “wife of Uriah.”  I believe that this is less about shaming her and more about including the faithful Uriah in the heritage.  It is through her son, Solomon, with David that the Messiah would come.

Each of these women lived in the shadow of Eve and was hobbled by the sinful world in which they lived. 

Each hoped for the promised Messiah who would crush the serpent’s head.  

Each had been with at least one other man before the husband to whom she would bear the child included in the Covenant lineage.

Our God is willing and able to use us where we are; no matter how humble the circumstances to accomplish HIS PURPOSES.

Mary

The young mother of Jesus, whose story is found in the Gospels of Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38  was not a harlot, an adulteress or even married before… she was a virgin… but the world saw her as no different than these other women.

She would experience a miracle no woman before or since has ever known but most would not believe the wild story she told of the child’s extraordinary conception.

She would give birth to GOD and watch Him die… but still she would hope…

She would see Him resurrected and then she would lose Him again… but still she would hope…

These stories are different but they share something in common. 

They found themselves in places they never expected where life was absolutely not going the way they had planned but they never gave up hope and we are all the richer for it.

Remember their names, go read their stories and cling to the HOPE that the Gospel is spread by us, the least of these, and our testimony is usually built out of our response to our lowest moments.  Be encouraged!

On this first Sunday of Advent we light the Candle of Hope!

Advent Thoughts: Singing

Advent

He would suffer every single day of his life so that he could, with his life, give grace to rebels, extend love to those who would deny his existence, impart wisdom to those who think they know better, and extend forgiveness to everyone who seeks him.
            ~ Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp

One of my favorite memories of my visits to Israel was walking across the temple mount with my mother in 2009. We heard another group singing Amazing Grace in their own language.  Our group joined in English as we passed them and the recognition and smiles between us abounded.  My mother squeaked and whispered loudly, I believe that will be what heaven is about… don’t you think? Every tribe and tongue praising HIM together?  I agreed not knowing that she would see and hear for herself in 2014. I look forward to joining the chorus and Advent reminds me that it is only possible through the birth, death, and resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

My understanding of this truth is grace, undeserved, unmerited and often taken for granted.  May I see the whole world through such eyes of grace.

Along these lines is Luke 2:14 which was one of those verses which rocked my world when I began studying the ASV and ESV but makes so much more sense in context.  The common translation from the KJV is “peace on earth, goodwill to men” but closer examination reveals the Greek word εὐδοκίας (G-2107) which indicates “goodwill” or “pleasure” changing the understanding of “God’s goodwill to all mankind” to “peace among those He shows favor toward or finds pleasure.” 

I have found favor through no righteousness of my own and I am humbled and awed by His grace and hope to never cease sing His praises! 

Let us seek HIM together this Advent Season!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Luke 2:13-14 (ESV) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

             “Glory to God in the highest,
                       and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Revelation 5:8-13 (ESV)

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

A Great Multitude from Every Nation  Revelations 7:9-17 (ESV)
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 

 

December 1st Resolutions

Musings

On November 30, 2017 I realize that 2018 is hammering down on me and while I have completed much this year my personal blog has not been a priority. 

I was part of a terrific group of ladies who wrote for a collaborative blog called Middle Places but its time has passed and we are moving different directions. I have archived some of my favorite posts from that site now that it is gone and will probably add more but have neglected to add new content here.

I would like to fix that in 2018 but I just could not let the year go down with ONLY ONE POST!  

In February 2017 I was diagnosed with steroid-induced diabetes.  I have been struggling with sinus issues ever since dealing with toxic chinese drywall in our home.  Last fall was particularly harsh with a case of walking pneumonia that basically lasted from Thanksgiving to New Years!  I had a brief reprieve during the month of January (thus the last post) before being sideswiped by diabetes (brought on by four rounds of steroids fighting the walking pneumonia), sinus surgery, hospitalized for pancreatitis and finding out I also had the flu and needed thyroid surgery! All of this was from February to May!  The good news is that all that sickness and the potential threat of diabetes motivated me to not only get well but take better care of myself!  

I know exactly what to do to lose weight but unfortunately, I have never been successful in keeping it off.  Eat less… move more… Right?  We all know it but making it happen is something different altogether.  

I have never been a fan of making resolutions for this very same reason…fear of failure.  But since last February I have been food journaling through MyFitnessPal (lmclayton2) whereas of December 1, 2017, I have a 240-day streak going and keeping track of my exercise (or lack thereof) with a Misfit Shine 2 (lmclayton2) activity tracker.  I have lost just over 70lbs and I still have at least 20 more to go but I am not waiting to January 1, 2018 to make that happen. Feel free to friend me through either app as the encouragement makes all the difference!

I have also spent what little spare time I had helping to launch my son’s website: BradleyAClayton.com to promote his career as in graphic design, as an illustrator and cartoon artist.

Alas, my health struggles, sidelined my Through The Bible Plan with The Bible Project that I posted about last January.  Somewhere in during all the surgeries I got hopelessly behind but I am planning on picking that back up… right where I left off in the New Year!  The Read Scripture app is great and after my Advent readings this month I am looking forward to finishing what I started… even if it takes more than one year!

Perhaps the year to come is about continuing the race. A life of faith, health and encouragement is not a sprint but a marathon.  Like I said, not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions I am resetting my focus on December 1, 2017 for the days to come. I have been sidelined for a bit this year but the LORD has been working in my life and I cannot wait to see what the next chapter will be! 

Join me!

I would love to hear from you in the comments below!