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Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday - The Fourth Week of Advent


I have mentioned before that you would find yourself amiss if you ever entered my parent’s house without hearing music wafting through the atmosphere in their warm, brightly lit home.  For many years, my Mom was an avid listener to the local radio station KSRO.  In the fifties and sixties they played top 40 songs that were disc jockeyed by hometown celebrities.   With the growing popularity of FM, the station switched over to a news-talk format sometime in the seventies.  As a regular listener, my Mom would often times enter the various contests they had throughout each month.

One spring she actually won a contest where she could choose two participants to march in their “radio band” during the city’s annual Rose Parade.  Well, she chose me and my lovely girlfriend (Piper) and a few weeks later we marched with our KSRO T-Shirts and transistor radios tuned into KSRO through the parade route in downtown Santa Rosa, California.  Piper, in her normal spunky disposition, decided to have some extra fun and tied a helium filled balloon on a string to one of her pig tails as she marched!
 

That parade memory reminds me of Paul’s words to us in 2 Corinthians 2:14 where he declared: “Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ…”  (MKJV)  The word “triumph” actually means “to make an acclamatory procession.” (Strong’s)  In modern vernacular one could say that “God always causes us to march in His victory parade in Christ!”  The key to this verse being “in Christ.”
 

Today’s Monday - the Fourth Week of Advent readings shows us how the main characters in the first Christmas marched in their victory parades in Christ.  It would seem that they accomplished the tasks set before them by hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord.  Is this something that is a regular part of your daily life?  Think on that as you read today’s story.
 

The Voice!


Monday, the fourth week of Advent
 

Today’s Readings:  Matthew 2: 19-23, Luke 2:39-40, Acts 9:1-8, Acts 22:6-10
 

 

In concluding the story of the first Christmas, Luke 2:39 begins by stating that “When they finished everything required by God… they (Joseph, Mary and Jesus) returned to Galilee and their own home town, Nazareth.” (The Message Bible)  I would imagine that as they turned their attention back up north from whence their journey had begun, they did so with a sense of relief but yet with an expectancy for what lie ahead in the years to come for their small family.  As I read this verse, I was over-taken with thoughts on the significance of what was meant by “they finished everything required by God.”
 

As I went back over the various parts of the written documentation of the event that would change the course of history for mankind, I noticed that the common thread was that each of the participants in the story began their journeys by hearing and then obeying the voice of the Lord spoken directly to them.  Beginning with Zachariah and then continuing with Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, Simeon and Anna, each of these individuals heard the voice of the Lord through a variety of interventions and channels of communication.
 

I began to see that it was the recognition of that voice that gave them the peace, confidence, commitment and fortitude to follow through on everything required of them to the point of completion.  It was the memory of that voice that empowered them to keep going no matter what others around them thought or said about them and the unusual mission each one of them were carrying out!  Their ultimate trust in that voice gave Mary and Joseph the confidence and strength to begin a long journey on a donkey when their baby was due at any time.  That voice instilled in them the ability and wisdom to set out in the middle of the night to a foreign country when their baby’s life was threatened.  And it was that voice that led them safely back to their hometown when the coast was clear and safe.
 

As I look back now, I can clearly see that it was my wife’s and my confidence in that same voice that we heard when He told us that it was the right time to move to Oklahoma to attend Bible College.  It was our trust and familiarity with that voice that gave us the joy, stamina and grace to endure the persecution we received from various family members concerning their disagreement to our decision to follow that voice and “Go Ye!” (See Matthew 28:19 KJV) during as well as after we concluded the event!
 

In some respects though, I can now understand some of their confusion with our following that voice.  In Paul’s recollection of his saving encounter with that voice in Acts 22:6-10, he stated that “The men who were with me saw the light but didn’t understand what the person who was speaking to me said.” (Acts 22:9 God’s Word ©)  John Wesley in his Explanatory Notes wrote that “they did not hear the voice – Distinctly; but only a confused noise.”  It would seem that the words were only for Paul’s ears and heart to hear, and not for those around him.  That would explain why others around us, even those with a close family relationship, did not understand what we were called to do.  To them our move didn’t make a lot of sense.  It was a confusing noise that they were determined to clear up for us!
 

To Joseph and Mary and the other main characters in our story of the first Christmas, that voice meant the difference between failing the unique mission in life they were called to complete or to be able to march in God’s planned victory parade!  As you enter into this Christmas week I would encourage you to think about the many times that you may have heard that voice in your own life over the years.  I can’t help but wonder if those who disagreed with our following that voice throughout the years were just unknowingly reacting to their own past experiences with that voice and the possibility that they may not have obeyed His directions due to their concerns with financial security, the seemingly impossibilities of the request and/or of the fear of what others might have said…
 

Maybe 2015 is to be a breakthrough year for you to follow that voice the next time you hear it, without any reservations.  If that is your decision, then why not cut out a star shape from a piece of white paper and jot down that decision on the star and then hang it on your tree or among your other Christmas decorations displayed around your home.  Then when you take down the decorations after the holidays, tape that star on your refrigerator or bath room mirror as a reminder of your new found commitment to faith in His love-generated, faithful and faith-filled voice!  Have a great week and keep asking yourself… “What commitment am I expecting to His VOICE today?”

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