Many of us dread this time of year because it has stopped being about what it should be about, focusing instead on greed and materialism. This series connects to the Advent Conspiracy movement (www.adventconspiracy.org), which seeks to restore the meaning of Christmas.
This series is based on Craig Groeschel's book, "The Christian Atheist," which addresses the disconnect between our belief in Jesus and the way we live our lives. What are talking about for the next month is not a bunch of rules about how to live your life. God is interested in how you live your life because he's really after your heart.
In 1910 the Presbyterian Church adopted six purposes called "The Great Ends [Purposes] of the Church." For six weeks we will look at these purposes, which continue to spell out what we should be doing as a church:
- the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
- the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
- the maintenance of divine worship;
- the preservation of the truth;
- the promotion of social righteousness;
- the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Happiness is not the same as joy happiness is fleeting and depends on circumstances. The Bible does not promise happiness, it promises joy, which comes from God, not circumstances. Joy is characterized by deep gratitude for who God is and what he has done, and it transcends pain or grief or other suffering.
We like to think we can control God, as if with the click of a button, that we can persuade God to give us what we want. But God is beyond our control, and His plans for us are far greater than we can imagine. There is a big difference between what we want and what we need, and we need to learn to trust God in all things.
As subjects of the King, our calling is to make every day Serve Day until Christ returns. The Kingdom has come but it is not complete--it will only be complete when Jesus returns. Until then, we are charged with working with the Spirit in Kingdom work. We have work to do.
While the account of the encounter between the risen Jesus and two disciples is often called "The Road to Emmaus," it more accurately is "The Road from Jerusalem," because they are fleeing Jerulsalem, scene of despair--"anywhere but here." Like fair-weather sports fans who leave early, the two disciples left Jerusalem before the story was over, missing the risen Savior. But he came to them, and when they lost their spiritual blindness and recognized their Lord, they returned with good news.