Dec 9, 2019
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Another mass shooting happened again this week. We can't seem to get along very well. It appears the gunman didn't know any of the victims. He just fired into the crowd indiscriminately. I don't understand that mentality. I have a hard time wrapping my head around shooting someone for no reason.
I'm not against guns. That's not the problem. We've been killing each other for a long time. It started with Cain. It wasn't long until Lamech bragged about killing a man for wounding him. Violence seems inherent in us. We don't like something, and rage begins to build in us if we don't learn to control our emotions. It's just that guns do more damage faster than other weapons. But clubs and knives and fists can and have been just as deadly. It's about what's inside the perpetrator that makes the difference.
Why do I bring this up in this second week of Advent? Because it reminds us Jesus came to do something remarkable for and in us. He brought hope to a hopeless generation. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome:
Everything that is in the holy writings was written to teach us. They give hope and strength when we have troubles. The holy writings comfort our hearts. God gives people power to take their troubles and he comforts their hearts. I ask him to help you to think the same way as Christ did. Then, together you will praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, accept one another, as Christ has accepted you. Then people will know that God is great...God gives hope. May he make you very happy. May he give you peace because you believe. Then the power of the Holy Spirit will give you much hope. (Romans 15:4-7, 13 (WE))
Instead of living with fear and hate and all the negative emotions that drive the actions we saw in that gunman, Jesus gives hope, peace, joy. He replaces what the world cannot provide with an abiding security that only comes from the presence of his spirit in us.
Advent usually brings just a touch of that spirit into the lives of more people as we walk the streets and see the bright lights, the glittering decorations, the smiles on faces expecting something special in the holidays. But why can't we keep that spirit all year long? Why do we only find it when we approach Christmas? What causes us to lose that spirit once we tear the paper from the packages and finish the dinner on the table?
I think more and more; we lose sight of what the season really means. With the marketing starting so early, the Hallmark Christmas specials starting in July and continuing nonstop through Christmas, the bombardment of commercialism that strips away the story of that teenage mother-to-be making that journey to Bethlehem with her husband. We lose the story of the shepherds, the angels, the magi, the miracles that point to the incredible events that create this holiday season for us in the first place.
We have lost the wonder of Christmas because of our focus on money and material things. We have so much, yet every year we ask for more. We have to add one more thing to our collection of unused and discarded stuff that piles up in the closets and the garage. I write those words pointing at myself as I look at three keyboards on my desk, three monitors, two computers, and all the gadgets that make it all work.
Do I use all of it? At least some length of time during the week. Do I need all of it? Heavens no. When I travel, I get by just fine with my laptop and in fact, am using it to compile the podcast now. It holds the software to edit my audio. It links to all my files in the cloud. Do I need everything else? Nope, it's all redundant — just more stuff.
I'm trying hard to get back to what is important, what is necessary. It's not much, and the Christmas story helps us understand how little that might be. Mary and Joseph were outcasts. They offered the sacrifice of the poor for their firstborn son. They fled with what they could carry to escape Herod's wrath. They returned to a bump in the road village called Nazareth, one of those towns you just didn't want to live in if you could live anywhere else. It had one of those reputations.
It's the story, though, of the King of kings. His story tells me he accepts the lowliest of men and women. We don't have to wait until we have a certain level of respectability to come to him. He accepts us as we are. Jesus doesn't care about riches or skills or talents. He cares about your heart. He wants your love and worship. Jesus wants you to embrace his teachings with all your whole being.
He summed up his teachings in two simple but not so easy commands. Love God and love others. That's it. When we do, we won't get trapped in the cycle the gunman did. We won't harbor the rage that sends over the edge to do the unimaginable. Instead, we will extend God's love to the unloveable. We will give generously to those in need. We will embrace a lost world in arms of forgiveness to show them there is hope and joy and peace waiting for them if they will give themselves to Christ.
In this second week of Advent, remember the hope that comes to us because of Jesus first coming. He brought peace and joy to the world. We continue our confidence in him because of his promise to return. Advent looks backward to what he did, and it looks forward to what is yet to come.
Enjoy this second week of Advent remembering him. Don't lose the reason we celebrate. He is what Christmas is all about.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked WE are taken from THE JESUS BOOK - The Bible in Worldwide English (WE). Scriptures are taken from THE JESUS BOOK - The Bible in Worldwide English, Copyright © 1969, 1971, 1996, 1998 by SOON Educational Publications, Derby, DE65 6BN, UK. Used by permission.