Digging in Deeper: Psalm 44:22-23

“Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. Wake up, Lord! Why are you sleeping? Get up! Don’t reject us forever!” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Think for a minute about the last time you felt God wasn’t there. Think about the time you felt He had abandoned you to your fate, whatever it was. If you are willing, feel for just a moment the emotions of that place again. Think about that time you looked around and were briefly overwhelmed by the brokenness of the world around you. You may not want to sit there long because those emotions were so painful. You may not have to work very hard to feel them because they are so fresh. There are times as we go through life when we can’t escape any of that. Sometimes we witness it from afar, but other times it lands right in our laps. What do we do then? The sons of Korah offer us one way forward here.

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Morning Musing: John 3:16

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t know about you, but this has been a powerful Advent journey this year. It has been for me a time to reflect deeply on the coming of Christ into the world and into our lives. It has filled me with a renewed hope in His return one day to complete His work that began in a stable. None of our reflections over the past month have been on passages that were at all unfamiliar. But in spending time with words we’ve read and studied before, we have discovered deeper truths that affirm even more powerfully just how great is our God. This morning as we bring this journey to a close (tomorrow will be a special Christmas Eve edition of our Songs of the Season series), I want us to land on the most important Gospel truth of all. Let us ponder for a moment together just how great is the love of our God.

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Morning Musing: Ephesians 1:4

“For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you remember Magic Eye books? They had a brief surge of popularity when I was growing up. Each picture looked like some kind of a random, repeating pattern of shapes and images when you just glanced at it. But if you looked at it just right, all of a sudden, there was something else there. I remember getting a book when I was little and spending hours trying to master the technique of seeing the hidden image. The standard approach is to hold the image right up to your nose and pull it away slowly while trying to look through it. When you got to just the right distance, your eyes would begin to perceive the depth of the 3D image hiding beneath the pattern. I finally figured out my own technique which is to cross my eyes and then slowly uncross them. What got me thinking about Magic Eye images this morning is what Paul wrote here in his opening comments in his letter to the Ephesian church. Most folks who look at it see one thing, but as I was spending some time with it recently, I saw in it something just a bit deeper. Let me share with you what I saw.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 22:36-40

“‘Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I love two for one deals, don’t you? Stores don’t do it all that often, but when they do, they are almost guaranteed to sell me on whatever it is. This is especially true at a grocery store. When I’m walking down one aisle or another and see some product is on sale, two for the price of one, all of a sudden, I’m hungry for whatever it is. Even if I don’t like it, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to expand my nutritional horizons so I can capitalize on this great deal. One day, Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. In response He offered the most important two for one deal ever. As we continue in our Advent journey this morning, let’s talk about what this means for our lives.

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Digging in Deeper: 1 John 4:9-10

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

All throughout this season of Advent we have been talking about its virtues. We started out with hope. Advent is nothing if not an injection of hope into our lives. From there came peace. When hope comes into our heart, peace is going to be the result. Then followed joy. Hope and peace together will give us the confidence in our God to lay hold of that incorrigible contentment that makes up the foundation of real joy. But right at the heart of the season is another virtue. This one Paul identified as the greatest of them all. What is it? Love. This week, as we prepare to land with both feet on the day itself, we are going to be talking about love.

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