Longing Pt.1 – Waiting and Wanting

Longing Pt.1 – Waiting and Wanting

The Liturgical calendar began in the 5th or 6th century to follow along and walk the way of the life of Christ and move us to experience Christ. To follow the feasts and celebrations of Israel

Today begins the season of Advent – Beginning 4 Sundays before Christmas and ending on Christmas eve – The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6. (No, the twelve-day season of Christmas did not start with the song. It was the other way around.) The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.

Advent is not decorating, shopping, wrapping, pictures, partying, stressing or the receiving of gifts. Advent is waiting, expecting, observing, praying, hoping, preparing for the arrival of Christ – first as the Child and Savior and then as the returning King. 

When the church celebrates Advent she makes present the ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for Jesus’ first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.

Advent itself means ”arrival” or ”an appearing or coming into place.” Christians often speaks of Christ’s ”first advent” and ”second advent;” that is, His first and second comings to earth. His first advent would be the Incarnation-Christmastime.

Advent is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for the eventual return of Christ (and the judgement He will bring to the world).

Micah 7:7 ESV – But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder, and his name shall be called[b] Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this”

•Imagine four hundred years without a word from God—no voice, no prophet, nothing. Imagine the agony of waiting, and the struggle to keep faith in the promises given long before. You can almost hear the ques- tions being passed from one generation to the next. Was God gone? Was He ever really there? Was faith in Him just a waste?

Suddenly, when the time was right, Bethlehem’s fields lit up like noon- day as angels proclaimed, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men on whom his favor rests. 

The wait was over. The silence was broken. Heaven unleashed thun- derous applause. And in a messy manger, Jesus was born. God in human flesh! The Son of God had become the Son of Man. Emmanuel— God with us!

From the beginning, the Christmas story has been one of fulfilled longing.

Song “O Come O Come Immanuel And ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the son of God appears. Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”

Luke 1:26-38 ESV In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c] 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”

Advent is about learning to Wait. We learn in Advent to stay in the present. Knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life.

Life is not mean to be escaped. Like the liturgical year moves from season to season (advent, lent, etc…) from feast to feast. Life is an exercise in transformation. It takes a lifetime of practice, patience and slow growth.

Waiting is the essential dimension of spiritual development and growth

The function of Advent is to remind us and relieves us of this frantic fast paced world. Waiting – that cold, dry period of life when nothing seems to be enough and something else beckons within us – it’s the grace that Advent brings.

We all want something more. Advent asks the questions, what is it for which you are spending your life? What is the star you are following now?

Rom. 8:25 The Message “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.” 

Henri Nouwen said, Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about Him for whom we are waiting. 

 How To Long for Christ in this Season

“Patience (endurance) is what gives staying power to our faith. We’d all love it if every desired result was instantaneous, but we know that there is often a process involved. That’s why Hebrews 6:12 tells us that it’s through ‘faith and patience’ that we inherit the promises. Faith is our trusting God, and patience is our unwavering tenacity in doing so.”

1. Wait For the Lord

“I try to remember that walking in the will of God might mean waiting as much as it might mean moving forward.”

Isaiah 64:4 NIV – Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him

The good news of Advent is not that we are faithful in our waiting (we often aren’t) but that God is faithful in his coming.

Isaiah 40:31 ESV – but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Waiting exposes our idols and throws a wrench into our coping mechanisms. It brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God. God doesn’t waste our waiting. He uses it to conform us to the image of his Son

Psalm 37:7 NIV – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…

Waiting is a very active part of living. Waiting on God, if we do it correctly, is anything but passive. Waiting works its way out in very deliberate actions, very intentionally searching the Scriptures and praying, intense moments of humility, and self-realization of our finiteness. With the waiting comes learning. I can’t think of much I’ve learned that’s positive from the times I’ve plowed ahead without waiting on God.

2. Wait with Each Other

(Galatians 5:13-15 NIV) “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Mother Teresa said, “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.”

I Thess. 5:11 NIV – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Focus on your relationships and express your love to those closest to you. When people are on their deathbeds, they don’t think about their work or all their things. They think about their family and people in our lives

Example: The Waiting Room when Dad was in the hospital. Family and Friends coming to be with us (Ron had food delivered)

3. Remember God Waits For Me 

2 Peter 3:9 NLT – The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Jan 6, 1980 The day Jesus waited for me

Colossians 1:11 NLT – We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy

Isaiah 30:18 NIV – Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Fredrick Buechner said in his book The Magnificent Defeat, “For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”

Remember 

“Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience.

“The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us—as one of us—give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned.

“May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives.”

So each of us are an innkeeper that needs to decide is there room for Jesus?

Summer Concert Series Pt.3 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For 

Bono sings about searching for meaning in life, and not finding it in nature, city life, relationships or religious experiences. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Nature: I have climbed highest mountain, I have run through the fields

City Life: I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls

Relationships: I have kissed honey lips, Felt the healing in her fingertips

Religious Experience: I have spoke with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil

I believe in the kingdom come, Then all the colors will bleed into one

You broke the bonds and you, Loosed the chains; Carried the cross, Of my shame, Of my shame, You know I believed it But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

THE BIG IDEA: What are you Looking for? Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Text: John 4:4-35 NIV Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “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.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Background of the Story – 

  • Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
  • He knew that there was a woman there who still hadn’t found what she was looking for.
  • This woman had tried to find satisfaction in relationships with men – she has been married five times, and was living with a sixth guy – but she was still empty inside.• Was Jesus talking about well water? No! He was talking about something much deeper!
  • He said: There is water you can drink that will never quench your thirst.

• In other words, there are things in life you can go to for fulfillment, but they will never satisfy: drugs, alcohol, relationships, sexuality, money, power, fame.

  • But the water Jesus offers will quench your thirst: it is a fountain of living water!

ILLUSTRATION:

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later he calls out, “Da-ad!”

“What?”

“I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?”

“No. You had your chance. It’s lights out.”

Five minutes later the boy calls out again: “Da-aaaad!”

“WHAT?”

“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water?”

“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!”

Five minutes later he calls out again, “Daaaa-aaaad!”

“WHAT!”

“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

1.There is More To God and More To Life than what you’ve already Experienced

Ephesians 3:20 NIV  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

QUOTE: “The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He (doesn’t taste good), but because we keep ourselves stuffed with other things… If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (John Piper, Hunger for God). 

Spain – during the days of Christopher Columbus was very proud of the fact that they were the last point of solid land for sailors going westward. When travelers arrived  was a large sign that said their motto in latin, “Ne Plus Ultra”  which means “ No more beyond”. It was on their flag and coins as well.

There outlook on life was “No more beyond”. It was the world as they knew it. Result – They settled. People settled there because they were told there is nothing beyond Spain.

After Columbus discovered the New World – the national motto for Spain changed to “Plus Ultra”  which means “MORE BEYOND” they dropped “Ne”

Sadly, Many people people have settled for their own version of Spain. Have you stopped dreaming, hoping, believing, and praying. Some people accept something far less than God’s bigger, greater plans for their lives.

•There is more to God than what we’ve already experienced

3 Reasons People Settle and Stop Searching

  1. People settle when they get sentimentally attached to a past season of their life. 

People may have to stay where they have been, but nothing is supposed to stay like it has been  – When people don’t emerge and embrace change, they settle for a lifetime in what was meant to be a season.

Don’t let temporary conditions of your life dictate a permanent perspective.

      2. People settle in a place of relational wounds

Genesis 11, Abraham’s father, Terah, was on his way with his family to Canaan, which is where God planned for him to go and live. Terah had another son named Haran who had died a premature death. Rather than passing through, Terah settled in a city with the same name as the son he had lost.  That wasn’t God’s plan. Grief caused him to stay.

Don’t let yourself linger in the place of relational wounds and miss out on the future God has for you.

3. People settle because where they are is “good enough” and they want to stay comfortable

Good enough is the enemy of “better than ever” – Good enough is not your destiny

Ignore the signs that say No More Beyond!

Refuse to just Drift!

Hebrews 2:1 NIV – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Phil. 1:6 NIV – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2. Whatever you need more of – God is the source of an endless and generous supply

Phil.4:19 NIV – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

God has an endless supply of whatever you need! He never runs out!

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The Message version – God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

GOD never gives up on us! Quit being down on yourself and look up to God!

3. Before we will hunger and thirst after God, we must come to a place where we realize that the other things in our lives haven’t really satisfied!

Jeremiah. 2:13 NIV “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

John 7:37-39 NIV – “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)