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Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday - the First Week of Advent

I thought that I would try something a little different this Holiday season.  I decided to read through and study the Christmas story as related in prophecy throughout the Old Testament and the fulfillment of said prophecies with the coming of the Christ child in the New Testament in a different bible translation.  I purchased a used copy of the James Moffatt translation almost a year ago and have mainly used it as one of my major reference tools when looking up specific scripture verses.  This work reached the zenith of its popularity during the 1940’s and brings out some unique thoughts and interpretations.
When I opened up the book this morning and began to thumb over to our first reading in Jeremiah, I came across a sheet of paper with a “To Do List” that I had written during the first month of our stay here in North Carolina.  As I looked over the list I marveled at how far we’ve come and at how much that we have accomplished since then.  That revelation excited me and made me feel good about our progress.
Today’s readings, especially those in Luke 1:57-80, will not help but to cause excitement in you as well!  It relates a story of second chances given to an older couple who had given up on certain dreams and aspirations as well as telling the story of Papa God’s giving the world a second chance of knowing Him and a means to live an eternal life that starts the moment we give our lives over to the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Elizabeth and Zechariah’s new birth may just be where your second chances also begin!  Read today’s adventure with a renewed sense of expectancy and be open to receive the Good News that He has for you…

Second Chances

Friday, the first week of Advent
Today’s Reading:  Jeremiah 23:5 / Malachi 3:1 / Luke 1:57-80

When I read through the story of the birth of John the Baptist, it is easy for my heart to be suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense of excitement and expectation!  As the joyous event unfolds, we find Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives gathering about them because they realize that something special from the Lord is happening.  They are astounded when the parents of the baby snub tradition and decidedly name their child John.  Then they are even more amazed when Zechariah who had been unable to say a word since a mysterious Divine visitation a year before, suddenly begins to speak and sing out praises to God!
The crowd that has gathered proceeds to ask questions wondering “What kind of child will this be?” (Luke 1:66 NKJV), and amazingly enough the Spirit of God falls upon the old priest and he begins to prophesy the answers to all their questions!  Like the song that the young virgin girl Mary had sung out many months before, Zechariah begins by blessing God and then goes into an eloquent dissertation bringing to the remembrance of all within the sound of his voice, the covenant made to Abraham hundreds of years before, which foretold of His promise for the salvation of His people.
Then Zechariah’s attention turns to his eight day old son and he “proclaims the dignity, employment, doctrine and success of his son: and the ruin and recovery of the Jews and the Gentiles.”  (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible – Luke 1:76)  Talk about the proud Papa!  Zechariah took the first opportunity he could to begin to brag on his son and as John was to do for Jesus, he spoke out and prepared the way for the ministry of his child.
To me it is not as important as to the words that Zechariah spoke that day, but as to what actually was being exhibited in the course of the events of John’s birth.  First we see the old priest who failed miserably when given the opportunity to demonstrate his faith when the angel Gabriel appeared to him to announce what was going to happen on that day.  I am pretty positive that Zechariah must have spent many long hours delineating over what had happened, and considering how he would do it differently if he had the chance.  Well, God did give him a second change and when the priest did not give in to the pressure of his friends and relatives and declared that their child would be named John as the angel of the Lord had stated, his tongue was instantly loosed and he was mightily used of God to announce to the world the unfolding of God’s ultimate plan for the salvation of mankind!
Then within the text of Zechariah’s prophecy, we see our heavenly Father reinstating the glory of King David’s family name, which had been trashed through the generations of unbelief and apostasy by the Jewish people.  He declared that God “has raised up a mighty Savior for us in the family of his servant David.”  (Luke 1:69 God’s Word ©)  Here another second chance is given to get back on track to the plan He had promised and had been cultivating for literally hundreds of years.
Then through the ministry that He had planned for John the Baptist and was introduced through his elderly father’s prophecy on that fateful day, we see God giving His people a third second chance in order to stop the runaway train that they had been aboard and refocus their undivided attention back on Him…  And on His mercy, His faithfulness, His promises and on His ability to provide a Savior of Whom John would later declare: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 NKJV)
Our heavenly Father is the God of the second chance!  As He would continue to demonstrate through the lives of Peter, Paul, John Mark and countless others throughout the generations to come, He will do the same for you and me.  How exciting and how relevant that He would express this expectation of his nature to the world at the very beginning of the culmination of His plan for salvation that was planned before the world began.
Grab ahold of that excitement and expectation as you celebrate the Christmas Season this year.  Think on that wonderful time when John came into the world in preparation for the coming of Jesus.  Let the plans and purposes as well as the second chances of God permeate your understanding.  Focus your attention back onto Him.  Let go of the failures of your past and allow Him to use you mightily for His purposes in your future!  Have a wonderful weekend. 
I would encourage you to take some time this weekend to go and review the past week’s readings.  Then jot down your thoughts and make whatever “rearrangements” in your lives, in your thinking, or even in your words so that you might better align yourselves with His plan for you and your family!  Another good idea might be to write down those places in your life that you would like a second chance in.  Then turn them over to the Lord and look in expectation for His new opportunities… when you’re done, fold up the sheet of paper and place it in your Bible and then move forward in your life!  Who knows… maybe you’ll accidently come across that note at a later date and marvel at how far you’ve come and at all that you have accomplished since the list was made and committed to the Lord.   Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What Second Chance am I expecting today?” 

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