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HOW WE MUST BEGIN ADVENT (1st Sunday of Advent, 2013)

 

immanuel  WE MUST, AS IN THE SONG OF SONGS, ASK HIM TO DRAW US

WE MUST, ASK HIM TO COME AND BE THE CENTER OF OUR ADVENT

AND SO WE SING, O COME O COME EMMANUEL

EACH VERSE RESONATES WITH OUR GREAT NEED FOR CHRIST,

FOR SATAN STILL PROWLS,

OUR HEARTS ARE STILL DARK,

AND THIS WORLD IS STILL FILLED WITH PAIN.

BUT AT THE CLOSE OF EACH VERSE IS THE BRIDGE

TO THE GREAT HOPE AND JOY OF CHRISTMAS!

ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS FOR A WOMAN TO DO AT ADVENT IS TO BE STILL —

BUT THIS IS HOW WE MUST BEGIN. LISTEN AND WATCH AND LET IT LEAD YOU INTO PRAYER:

 

 UNLESS EMMANUEL COMES TO OUR HEARTS EACH DAY, THERE CAN BE NO SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

UNLESS THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH RISES IN OUR HEARTS,

THERE CAN BE NO TRUE JOY

 WE MUST MAKE OUR SOULS “HAPPY IN THE LORD” BY

MEDITATING ON HIS WORD UNTIL IT CATCHES FIRE

CLINGING TO HIS PROMISES IN THE MIDST OF LOSS,

AND REPENTING AND RECONCILING WITH ANYONE WHO HAS ANYTHING AGAINST US

reconciled

 

SO INSTEAD OF BEGINNING ADVENT BY DECKING THE HALLS, LET US BEGIN MORE SIMPLY: BY ASKING EMMANUEL TO COME, ASKING HIM TO DISPEL THE DOUBT, THE GLOOM, AND TO LET HIS LIGHT SHINE ON THE PROMISES WE HAVE FORGOTTEN OR THE SIN WE ARE TOO BLIND AND STUBBORN TO SEE

I HAVE LEARNED, FOR I HAVE HAD SO MUCH PRACTICE, HOW TO GIVE A GOOD AND EFFECTIVE APOLOGY, ONE THAT USUALLY LEADS TO HUMBLING MY HEART AND TO RECONCILIATION.

I WANT TO TAKE YOU THROUGH THE STEPS OF A GOOD APOLOGY, AND TELL YOU HOW IT HELPED ME LAST WEEK, FOR ALREADY, MY ADVENT IS EXPERIENCING THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH WHICH ZECHARIAH SANG ABOUT. IT IS ZECHARIAH WHO DOUBTED GOD, BUT THEN DURING HIS TIME OF DISCIPLINE, REPENTED. WHEN GOD LOOSED HIS TONGUE HE SANG OF “THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH,” OR “THE DAYSPRING,” THE WORDS WHICH FIND THEIR WAY INTO

O COME O COME EMMANUEL.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

My prayer is that “the Sunrise from on high” will visit you this week. As you watch this rising sun, please pray the same for yourself, asking Him to dispel the clouds of doubt and to shine His light on your hidden sins and help you to respond in genuine repentance.

 

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1ST. ICE-BREAKER

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Was there a way you experienced “Emmanuel” this last Thanksgiving week? If so, share a snapshot in words.

3. Watch Ann Voskamp’s video for the first Sunday in Advent at http://www.aholyexperience.com/  and comment:

Monday-Tuesday: Zechariah’s Repentance

(Sing O Come O Come Emmanuel each morning, contemplating the words, and using it as a springboard for prayer before you begin.)

4. Read Luke 1:5-25

      A. What do you learn about Zechariah in Luke 1:6?

    B. How did Zechariah respond to Gabriel’s announcement?

    C. If you are facing grief, what promises of God can you speak to your soul to dispel the clouds of gloom?

    D. How did God discipline Zechariah? Why, do you think?

Mary and Elizabeth and John the Baptist from Nativity
The Promise to Zechariah fulfilled: From the movie, “The Nativity”

5. Read Luke 1:67-79

    A. When God loosed Zechariah’s tongue after the birth of John the Baptist, what was the state of his heart? Why, do you think?

    B. What does Zechariah call Jesus in verse 78? How is this a fitting name for Him? How has He been this in your life?

      C. In Luke 1:79 find three things Jesus, the Sunrise from on High, will do.

Wednesday-Friday: RESPONDING TO THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH WHO LEADS US IN THE PATH OF PEACE

Listen to Trevor Wax on O Come O Come Emmanuel:

      Link

There are many ways The Sunrise from on high reveals our doubt, our sin. Last week He showed me that I needed to do what I could to be at peace with someone who was very angry with me. After stupidly entering into a political discussion on Facebook where emotions were running high, I angered a relative so much that he wrote me a long letter listing things he didn’t like about me and my family. I blistered. I built my defense. I tried to defend myself in an e-mail — asked if we could meet. He wasn’t interested. In my mind, the sin was primarily on his part, until the Sunrise from on high came to me. He worked through a brother’s testimony at church, through contemplating the Word, and through His Spirit.

6. What does Jesus say in Matthew 5:23-24?

This passage helps me understand why Tim Keller says “When there is a breech — it is always your move.” All it says is that if your brother has something against you, you should go and be reconciled. It doesn’t say how much of it has to be his fault, and it says to go in person and be reconciled. We may think our part if only 2%, but it is probably more, for our hearts are deceitful. But even if that is true, our part is to genuinely apologize for our part.

I knew I had to do it. I had to come out of the cleft and do what was right.

Arise, my love, my love in the cleft of the rock.
Arise, my love, my love in the cleft of the rock.

This time, instead of asking him if he would like to meet, I asked him if we could meet so I could apologize. Then he was willing.  Honestly, I still thought he was primarily to blame, but I absolutely know that in an effective apology, you are to apologize and not defend yourself or accuse the other. We are not to fix other people (how how my control idol rises!) but to leave them to God. How can we possibly do that? If we have learned anything from our last study on The Song of Songs, it is that God is for us, that His banner over us is love. So allow God to be in control of your brother, of your reputation, and of justice. He asks you to come out of the cleft and do what is right. When James tells us to confess our sins to one another that we might be healed, I think that means it may lead to not only physical, but also spiritual and emotional healing. So as I asked God to shed His light on my dark heart, and He did. Before I went, I prayed through Psalm 51 multiple times and asked the Spirit to help me not defend myself or attack my brother. No sideways comments. No guilt trips. Just my honest confession.

I began, when we met, by my confessing my sin, my stupidity, and how it hurt him. I also spoke the truth, saying, “There was some truth in everything you wrote to me, but if you could really see the darkness in my heart, you would know you have only scratched the surface of my sin. And I am so sorry and I am asking for your forgiveness.” As I confessed, I broke, for I felt the weight of my sin, weight I had not really felt before. I knew that was the Lord.  Then I was able to tell him things I appreciated about him, things he had done in love in the past. When we left, I sensed we were reconciled. Oh! The negative thoughts were gone, the energy the enemy was stealing was returned, and Emmanuel had come.

7. Based on the above, why should you go in person to apologize? Why not e-mail or Facebook?

8. Based on James 5:16, why should we confess our sins to one another — and perhaps especially the one who has something against us?

9. Why is an apology unraveled if you either defend yourself or attack the person to whom you are confessing?

10. Is there a way God is speaking to you?

Saturday

11. What is your take-a-way and why?

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170 comments

  1. This week’s lesson has reminded me one of my favorite Keller articles called Forgiveness and Reconciliation.I posted it here last year, but I refer to it a lot and thought others may find it helpful too. It wouldn’t let me insert (must be the link–I haven’t had problems recently), so here’s the full url:
    http://thrivingpastor.org/serving-each-other-through-forgiveness-and-reconciliation/

    1. Elizabeth, I want to thank you for giving us the link to the article by Keller. I just finished it now and I am saving it and copying it, for future reference. It has so much good stuff to ponder, and practical advice.

      1. Glad you found it helpfUL Diane. I prayed for you this morning regarding your house guest–there today? Praying for strength and peace for you

        1. Our first few hours have gone well. Pray that a place will be found in a nursing home quickly. She needs special care.

    1. Dee–this is my #8-? How did that happen, did I do something funny when I posted?
      I do use Firefox, but really–I am not having any problems–rarey when I post a certain link…anyway, thank you for all the improvements and all David’s work!

      1. hmmm 🙂   Was wondering why Dee was quoting herself…   

  2. 4. Read Luke 1:5-25
          A. What do you learn about Zechariah in Luke 1:6?
    He was a priest, and righteous in the sight of God. He was childless because he and Elizabeth were too old to conceive. 
        B. How did Zechariah respond to Gabriel’s announcement?
    He doubted him.
        
        D. How did God discipline Zechariah? Why, do you think?

    He caused him to not speak until the promise has been fulfilled. Why? This is a guess, but I think it is because of his heart-he didn’t truly believe God heard him or loved him. It is interesting though that God made John to be THE mouth piece in preparing people for Jesus.

  3. 5. Read Luke 1:67-79
        A. When God loosed Zechariah’s tongue after the birth of John the Baptist, what was the state of his heart?  Why, do you think?
    He loved God-He trusted Him and was full of praise. He totally didn’t focus on God’s gift of a son John, but on God. He loved God more than what God could give him. Even though he was a righteous man, he wasn’t perfect and I am sure in the past he struggled with idolatry of having a son in that culture perhaps?
        B. What does Zechariah call Jesus in verse 78? How is this a fitting name for Him? How has He been this in your life?
    The rising Sun. He comes and breaks through the darkness on Earth and as His light gets brighter the darkness fades and fades away.
     
    He shines His light on my darkness every day it seems-but He overcomes my darkness piece by piece, day by day and helps me to more and more rest in Him. 
          C. In Luke 1:79 find three things Jesus, the Sunrise from on High, will do.
    Shine on those living in darkness
    Shine on those in the shadow of death
    will guide our feet into the path of peace

  4. This is speaking loudly to me and confirmation of how the Lord has been leading me towards a reconciliation of a broken relationship of 10 years.  Once again the Lord is using you, Dee, in this particular relationship.  Please pray that the face-to-face can happen and for this separation to finally be over – for good!

  5. See–I can’t keep going to catch up! I think God quickened me and I want to stay on this. Even when I am trying to catch up He stops me! :)) Dee’s studies are like that.  
    God came to Zechariah in his doubt and lit up his darkness-yet he was a ‘righteous man’, blamelesss in God’s sight.

    I am sure Zechariah was grieving as well for not being able to conceive..what a comfort it was to him even though he was unable to speak, to know God heard him and not only that-God chose his son to ready the way of Jesus.

    I never saw this before but I think he was comforted by God the whole time he couldn’t speak. 

  6. Really wanting to be on here right now.  No Internet access in my office, so most of time time online at home has been catching up at work.  Have been praying about reconciliation…may be posting questions from this week into next week.  Wanting to get in deeper.

  7. 7. Based on the above, why should you go in person to apologize? Why not e-mail or Facebook?       I know from sad personal experience that misunderstandings are easy by email and facebook.    When you speak directly to the person face-to-face, you can see one another’s facial expressions.  The same words can sometimes be taken a couple of different ways, if we are left to interpret them without the advantage of seeing facial expressions.   Making eye contact makes an apology seem much more sincere.
     
    8. Based on James 5:16, why should we confess our sins to one another — and perhaps especially the one who has something against us?
    From my Life Application Study Bible commentary on this verse:   If after confessing a private sin to God, we still don’t feel his forgiveness, we may wish to confess that sin to a fellow believer and hear him or her assure us of God’s pardon.  In Christ’s kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers (1 Peter 2:9)
     
     

  8. 9. Why is an apology unraveled if you either defend yourself or attack the person to whom you are confessing?
     
    I guess it doesn’t mean much if I say “I’m sorry,” but then I follow-up by restating my case.  The other person is usually quick to discern that nothing has changed here.  If I attack the other person, they will be quick to put up their defenses and that will only prolong and intensify the argument.  Okay, now I am “confessing” to all of you that I am not very good at apologizing when I don’t think I was at fault.  Dee told  how she was able to get beyond that — I admire that a lot.  It reminds me of when I was a child and my mother would force me to apologize for something which she perceived was my fault.  However, I wasn’t feeling that way, and although I said the actual words “I’m sorry,” it was like it was sticking in my throat — and I’m certain it didn’t sound very penitent!!

  9. Prayer request, please:  I’m on a combination of meds that seemed to take years to get right.  Though the most important ones are fine, a couple others are kinda messed up — and I’m feeling it/not thinking straight.  I’m seeing right now that trying harder isn’t going to help much.  Thankful for His grace and mercy. 

    This is a challenging time of the semester.  It’s so clear that when my focus isn’t on Emmanuel, even for a couple hours, I can spiral downward.  Yet I am so thrilled that He continues to seek me, to welcome me back.  When I look to Him and see that HE IS GOOD, life seems good again, even if I am not feeling well or if someone else is a PAIN!  Circumstances (which aren’t even that bad now) can seem SO overwhelming — but that changes when I look into His face.

    This afternoon I was praying that God would ransom my captive thoughts.  I forgot about that prayer until now.  When I was starting to “mourn in a lonely exile” of my own making, He was/is with me.  I’m realizing that He protected me this week.  “Reconciliation person” wasn’t around — and I do feel stunned lost about next steps in situation.  I am afraid of the person, partly because I see all the damage she is continuing to do to others.  It’s clear as I am writing this that I need to forgive and seek God’s forgiveness as the first step — and then see where he leads.

    We had a sermon on the Matthew passage a few weeks ago.  On the way out of church, I asked if there were any loopholes!  It’s interesting that we are studying a passage on reconciliation the week that Nelson Mandela died — helps me to realize that reconciliation isn’t necessarily a quick fix and may be an ongoing process.  I was probably viewing a complex and painful situation as a one step event.  I guess that “event” actually is a process of God’s work in my heart and relationships.  (kinda confused)

    1. Hi Renee – have missed you this week and I will pray for you and the issue with your meds and for this difficult relationship!

  10. This has definitely convicted me.  The thing I’m praying about and seeking the Lord’s wisdom is what to apologize for – I don’t know what I did that brought on this separation.  Lord, give me the words that will break this yoke of unforgiveness!  Also, I’m reminded that the Holy Spirit has to convict the other person.  The love of the Lord must soften her heart.  Sort of like sharing the Gospel.  It isn’t our job to convict someone, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.  I can only obey what the Lord is directing me to do – but still seeking exactly how to say it.

  11. Good point Renee!!  Yes, how interesting that reconciliation would be the focus this week with Madela has passed!  What a great example he was to the world!

  12. 11. What is your take-a-way and why? Honestly my heart is a little muddled. I am convicted of alligning my soul in peaceful advent for the Christmas season, I don’t know how to make that happen but conviction and willingness is a start. And I have been saying “no” to invitations to simplify. Also trying to be truly thoughtful in my gift giving instead of just another task to check off (gifts are not a language of love for me, I don’t mean to sound harsh or uncaring). 
     
    As to reconcilitation: I had a thought recently with someone who does not like me that I would apologize to her for reacting defensively instead of in love. But as I prayed about it and sought Godly counsel I realized I would just be trying to manipulate this person into coming to Christ, rather my true conviction was to forgive her for being unkind to me for so long and love her as Christ loves her. And there was a huge change in the relationship immediately. But most of that was in me! Suddenly I had the right attitude, Christ’s attitude, one of love, (instead of my attitude of wanting to be treated kindly) and then it didn’t matter what she did, but it did (and still does) matter what I do, loving her to win her to The Lord. 
     
    I listened to Tim Keller yesterday and he said something to the effect of ‘forgive before you confront, otherwise your approach will be vindictive/manipulative’. So, while I know we are speaking of apologizing, I am more convicted this week of forgiving those things that really don’t need forgiving but I get offended easily which is attached to my approval idol. Ratherr, loving as Christ loved and either forgiving an authentic offense quickly and fully or realizing that it just doesn’t matter and not getting offended in the first place. my take a way…love, love, love, love. Father, help me see those around me, and make me sensitive to your conviction to be humble and love others and ask for forgiveness but also to completely forgive. 

    1. Jill, I love your take-away! You bring out so many great thoughts…this struck me: “And there was a huge change in the relationship immediately. But most of that was in me! Suddenly I had the right attitude, Christ’s attitude, one of love, (instead of my attitude of wanting to be treated kindly)…”
      I know much of the time for me, personally, I want the other person to change…but I see here that by forgiving someone, it enables God to change me and my attitude – no matter what the other person does or does not do. I fight against that so often because I want God to change the other person! I want to be treated kindly, and then…and t his is so true, what Keller warns about, that we can use forgiveness to manipulate the other person and even to feed our approval idol.
      This is a lot to think about.

  13. 6. What does Jesus say in Matthew 5:23-24?
     
    To be reconciled unto your brother or sister before you offer your gift to God.
     
    7. Based on the above, why should you go in person to apologize? Why not e-mail or Facebook?
     
    He says to “GO” and be reconciled, then “Come” and offer your gift. So there is a physical coming and going. 
     
    8. Based on James 5:16, why should we confess our sins to one another — and perhaps especially the one who has something against us?
     
    So that we may be healed-in prior verses it refers to someone who is concealing sin becomes sick. When there is a breach in a relationship it is due to sin-and the inward trajectory is that it will gnaw at us, and will begin to eat us inside like a cancer and literally can make us spiritually sick as well as physically sick.  When we confess our sin and desire reconciliation God brings healing and restoration with that person and restoration to our souls-and I also think restoration in intimacy with God because holding a grudge or not doing our part to go to our brother confessing our sin can stifle intimacy with God. I think, even if our brother is held captive and doesn’t receive us well-and he refuses to reconcile God will still heal us for by confessing our sin to our brother we are at peace with God in this.
     
    9. Why is an apology unraveled if you either defend yourself or attack the person to whom you are confessing?
     
    That means I truly am not sorry. I haven’t repented because I have forgotten Him and am clothing myself in my own righteousness, but to go a step further-I have blinded myself to who I am and who He is. Not only am I NOT above all-HE IS, but He WHO IS ABOVE ALL and HOLY had every right to accuse me and defend Himself, but He didn’t-instead He willingly went to the cross and took it on Himself-He took the blame so that I could live-so I could be healed! So even if a brother IS at fault what right do I have to defend myself and accuse Him? 
     
     

  14. 10. Is there a way God is speaking to you?
     
    I don’t know, but I am praying!
     
     

  15. 11. What is your take-a-way and why?
     
    O Come O Come Emanuel-the mourning and joy of Advent yet the rejoicing of the reality of the future-that while rejoicing in experiencing a glimpse of His healing in me and in my relationships here and now-there is a groaning inside that what is yet to come hasn’t come yet. At the same time I can walk in the joy and hope of the future-now. His light does rise on my darkness here and now and I am so grateful that He didn’t leave me here to only await the future not being able to experience His presence at all, but to experience Him in part here and in full in the future. And so-I sing for this morning O Come, O Come Emanuel-shine your light on my darkness-lift me up into your arms for I want to sense your presence! 

    1. Rebecca, I can “hear” you singing…

  16. 6. What does Jesus say in Matthew 5:23-24?
     
    If you are at the altar ready to offer your gift to the Lord, and then it comes to mind that a relationship between you and someone else is not right, go and make it right before you give your gift.
     
    7. Based on the above, why should you go in person to apologize? Why not email or Facebook?
     
    God says to “go”. It takes more effort and shows you are sincere when you meet with the other in person…it seems to me that email or texting is the easy way out and shows that the relationship doesn’t mean that much to you because the effort and transparency it takes to meet in person and work it out isn’t worth it to you. I think not apologizing in person can lead to further misunderstandings.
     
    8. Based on James 5:16, why should we confess our sins to one another – and perhaps especially the one who has something against us?
     
    So that we may be healed. The previous verses say that sometimes, physical illness may be the result of un-confessed sin. To confess our sinfulness to the one who has something against us shows we are giving up our pride, our need to look good – we are dropping the mask. It shows humility and can bring about healing in the relationship.
     
    9. Why is an apology unraveled if you either defend yourself or attack the person to whom you are confessing?
     
    Then you’re not really sorry if you turn the apology into this – you’re still trying to “come out on top”, to prove yourself – you are really looking for them to apologize to you.
    You are not really trusting in God’s love for you, either…in  a way, this is still “hiding in the cleft of the rock” and trying to be your own righteousness. It takes a security knowing that “His banner over me is love” to come out without your defenses up.

    1. “To come out without your defenses up” – so good. 

  17. 10. Is there a way God is speaking to you?
     
    I still feel like a two year old trying to understand and grasp all there is to know about forgiveness and reconciliation. I still see my idols of approval and comfort/security operating even when it comes to this area of relationships.

    1. Love this too-Susan-love your heart!

  18. Susan, 
     
    So far I love your answer to #7..oh and number 9 too..
     
    7-it seems to me that email or texting is the easy way out”– I hadn’t thought of that-I mean I ‘know’ it is ‘easy’ but I haven’t asked ‘why’ we prefer the easy way..we want to avoid the uncomfortable and we are afraid of confrontation-their disapproval of us! Comfort/approval idol in action-and you are right we truly don’t care enough or love the other person enough to lay ourselves down for them and that stems from us not being confident He loves us-and that stems from us forgetting the Gospel..
     
    You nailed it in #9 too-this is so good! You are not really trusting in God’s love for you, either…in  a way, this is still “hiding in the cleft of the rock” and trying to be your own righteousness. It takes a security knowing that “His banner over me is love” to come out without your defenses up.”

  19. 11. What is your take-away and why?
     
    My take-away is something that I never thought would be my take-away. It is the picture of the sculpture of the man and woman kneeling and embracing each other. I listened to O Come O Come Emmanuel as I pondered this sculpture. To me it is a visual picture of many things from this week…
     
    we must ask Him to draw us…ask Him to come be the center of our Advent…each verse of O Come Emmanuel resonates with our great need for Christ…clinging to His promises in the midst of loss…repenting, reconciling…
     
    It’s no longer just a sculpture of a man and a woman…it is now making me think of the still, eternal embrace of the Father in Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son…yet to me, I see Jesus in this sculpture and the words from O Come…this is the same God who gave the Law from Sinai’s heights, who was in the pillar and the cloud and who came as a flesh and blood man – He came to us because we could never get to Him, and He bends, He stoops, He kneels to embrace us…Jesus came to reconcile us to God.
    This is truly coming out of the cleft of the rock…to stop hiding in guilt and shame and backing away from God. The woman in the sculpture is clinging to him – “…when I found the one my heart loves, I held him and would not let him go…”
     
    (We) and I say “I” have been on a restless search all my life for love…idols are things that trick us into thinking they are the ones our hearts love and they can fill that deep longing on the inside. The sculpture portrays the true longing fulfilled.
     
    I love that they are both kneeling…he doesn’t stand over her. Jesus, as God, came down to our level…not meaning that He became mired in sin like we are, but He came and met us right where we are…He humbled Himself, He lets us cry on His shoulder.
     
    I’m feeling a bit like Henri Nouwen who went to see the real Rembrandt painting – I’d like to sit in front of this sculpture in person.

    1. yes, Susan–this is gold

    2. Wow susan..I am now seeing that sculpture in a whole new way..yes..this is gold! 

      1. Susan-ths was me. 🙂

    3. Beautiful, Susan. Thank you. 

  20. 11. What is your take-a-way and why?
    I think I’ll combine my answers to 10/11—and warning–my thoughts are a bit of a jumble! Daily this week, these words of Dee have come back to mind: “UNLESS THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH RISES IN OUR HEARTS, THERE CAN BE NO TRUE JOY”.
    This Sunrise, Jesus, sheds light on all my circumstances. The sunrise is gentle—if I stare at it, gaze at Him—He can seem slow to move. Yet the Light makes all things look different, new perspective gained. And the light makes the edges soft. His Light is from on High—it brings a change of perspective for me, it is from on high—it is an eternal perspective. I saw this in many areas this week, this change of perspective, this melting of my heart.
     
    In some relationships, forgiveness seems to be a daily thing because the dynamics are such that jabs come regularly at me, and my instinct is to build a barrier, a bunker of sorts. A part of my heart I have mentioned here many times, this hardened clay part—I had tried to shrink it over the years, maybe it was smaller, but it was still there. This week, I have felt it soften, the warmth of the Son. When the jabs came, I saw this person’s brokenness, their pain, and I was able to pray for their healing. Instead of bitterness, I can see no offense is greater than my own sin. I am not that easy to love either! I am not so righteous as to deserve better than what Christ received—how can I act as though I am. He does not demand perfection from me, He just wants my humble heart. I know I must keep my face to the Son, to feel the warmth of Him on my heart, to keep my heart from hardening again in this area. So I start this advent with an emphasis on forgiving, on releasing bitterness, on showing those around me Jesus.
     
    I have also been still impacted by the words of Reeves on Sibbes—make paraphrase—show them Jesus. I feel I could toss 100 parenting books from my shelves and just do this one thing. I am here to show them Jesus. I am to show them the Father, how He loves me, by how I love them—that is how they will know of His great love. I took my daughter out from school to the Nutcracker yesterday—a rare treat and He blessed it. It was richer than any “preaching” I could give, there was softness.
     
    So things seem simpler this week. My cold is passing—but there is blessing in the way it has slowed me down. Honestly, I think my family would say I’m “nicer” when I’m sick. Petty things don’t seem so big, and it seem easier to focus on just the one thing. Live out His love. Keep my face to the Sunrise, and be filled with His warmth. I think about how the manna came daily—as does the sunrise—we need it everyday, we cannot store up enough for time…daily He comes.

    1. Elizabeth. This is all so good. thank you for sharing. I am convicted “show them Jesus. I feel I could toss 100 parenting books from my shelves and just do this one thing. I am here to show them Jesus. I am to show them the Father, how He loves me, by how I love them—that is how they will know of His great love. “

    2. Elizabeth, what a beautiful take-away! Your second paragraph, especially, impacted me – as you wrote that in some relationships, forgiveness seems to be a daily thing because the dynamics are such that jabs come regularly at me, and my instinct is to build a barrier…
      And this – I can see no offense is greater than my own sin. I am not that easy to love either! I am not so righteous as to deserve better than what Christ received-how can I act as though I am.
      So wise, your words, to start advent with an emphasis on forgiving.