Tag Archives: advent

The only way to truly fulfill your longings – First Sunday of Advent 2019, Part 5

5 Dec
Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

Have you ever thoughts that you be so happy if you hit the lottery? I have. I have dreamed of how I would spend the money. It sounds so freeing. I would be free from debt. My kids would have no college debt. I get excited just typing it. Many of us can feel that way, can’t we? We are convinced we will be happy if we get a surprise inheritance, or if we get the latest new iPhone for Christmas, or if our favorite sports team wins the big game, or if that guy asks us out on a date, or if we ask a girl and she says Yes, or if we get a house, or…you fill in the blank.  Those longings are strong, and we have convinced ourselves that if those longings are satisfied, they will make us happy.  But it does seem that every Christmas we have a new Christmas list. So we continue to long for more.  That thing we had to have last year, it very quickly lost its satisfaction.  So it might sound off to hear Paul saying in Galatians 2, which we have been studying in the series (starting here) that we need to die to ourselves and live life 100% by faith in Christ, so that his life becomes our passion.  Of course it will sound off when we have lived, even as Christians, for so long in a world of competing longings, or if we have lived a Christianity that is focused on rule-following.  So even if I haven’t convinced you, let’s at least take some time to consider the possibility that when our longings line up with Jesus’, then we can experience a deep happiness.

The longings within us are real and often strong.  Desire is not inherently evil.  We all have desire.  But if our primary desire is not for Jesus and his heart, then our desires will be skewed. 

How then, do we line up our longings with Jesus in our minute by minute daily lives?  How do we actually die to our longings, and allow Jesus’ longings to become ours?  Do we just pray all the time?  But what about work, eating, sleeping? 

If what I’m talking about is correct, that we experience deep happiness when our longings line up with Jesus, then we will have to learn to long for Jesus in all the hours we spend at work, standing in front of our classrooms if you are a teacher, or sitting at your seat if you are a student, folding laundry, making dinner, and when we are on our phones, or watching TV, on scrolling through social media. No matter what we do in life, we will need to learn to align our longings, moment by moment, with Jesus. But how does that alignment happen?

I’d like to suggest that increasing our longing for Jesus will almost certainly not happen all at once, like a miraculous total change.  It can happen that way, but I would suggest that is rare and we shouldn’t expect it.  Rather, observe the life of Jesus who had a habit of longing for God.  He so often practiced it away from the crowds, behind the scenes, alone, sometimes in the middle of the night or early in the morning.  Considering that he practiced it though he himself was God, certainly we who are humans should practice as well. What we notice then, of Jesus, is that his behind-the-scenes practice empowered him to live a God-filled life.    

Later in Galatians 5, Paul will say that Christians should walk in step with the Spirit.  God’s Spirit, as Paul said in another letter, 1st Corinthians, chapter 6, is living in you.  Some of us barely recognize the Spirit in us.  Some of us might even be afraid of the Spirit, wondering if it means we’ll speak in tongues or something.  Some of us have no idea what it means that the Spirit is within us, or how to walk in step with the Spirit.  But clearly for Jesus (as we will see later in our Advent sermons when we study John 14, it is vital that we Christians understand that his Spirit lives in us).  Paul is saying the same thing here.  I suspect that many ofus can go for long periods of time with little to no interaction with the Holy Spirit in our lives. 

But when we learn to walk in step with the Spirit, our longings become his longings, and his longings become our longings.  So how do you walk in step with the Spirit?  Well, consider this: How do you learn about the ways that a favorite sports team moves and what plays they make?  How do you learn what your child is like?  How do you learn what your friends like to do?  Time.  We give time to watching how our sports teams interact with other teams.  We give time and attention to our child, our friends, etc. We will not be able to learn how to walk in step with the Spirit if we do not spend time and attention to the ways of Jesus.  We long for where our hearts lies.  What we are willing to sacrifice for shows us what we long for.  Therefore, take time to study Jesus.  Read his word.  Talk with him.  Sit still and listen for him.  Meet with others who you think do this well.  Be humble as you learn.  And watch your longing for him increase, and your heart be transformed.    

The result Paul says is that the Fruit of the Spirit flowing from your life.

How you speak.  With kindness and patience.  

How you care for people. With love and goodness.

How you live.  With gentleness.  With joy. 

So let’s make this Advent a season of longing for Jesus! What is one way that you can free up time, even if it is 15 minutes to spend more time with Jesus, getting to know his Spirit in your life? 

Make a commitment to it for the next four weeks.  Tell it to someone you trust.  Ask them to check in you!  And get ready to watch God transform your longings to be in line with his.

How Christian freedom should not lead Christians to behave badly – First Sunday of Advent 2019, Part 4

5 Dec
Photo by Rene Böhmer on Unsplash

Have you ever heard Christians say that if churches or Christian institutions don’t have rules and regulations, people will go off the rails leading to anarchy?  So if we want to be good Christians, they say, then we should be making new rules, like the ones in the previous post: no wearing lipstick or smoking a pipe.

As we continue our study through Galatians 2, Paul says, “Wait a minute, that’s not true.  Jesus doesn’t promote sin.”  Consider what Paul says in verse 17.  When we look at our lives, even after placing our faith in Christ, do we see that we sin, doing things that do not honor God, whether that be in word, thought or deed?  My guess is that all Christians should be answering, “Yes,” because we still do things that dishonor God, right? So does the fact that there are Christians who trust in God’s grace, but still sin, mean Jesus promotes sin?  It could seem like it, right?  Shouldn’t Christians be the ones who don’t sin? Maybe what is needed is a new Christian law code, to help us stop sinning?

In verse 18 Paul says that if he rebuilds the law, it will result in him becoming a lawbreaker.  But he has not rebuilt the law.  That is not what the good news of Jesus is all about, it is not about making a new law code. 

Instead Paul says in verse 19, that he died to the law, that he might live for God.  Do you hear that?  Christians are those who live for God.  So how does that work?  Those of you who have ever felt those first pangs of being in love, could it be said that you were living for that person?  Did you plan out your day so you could interact with them?  Did you see things and wonder, “Would they like that?”  Or “What would they think of this idea?” Those are evidences of living for another.  In like manner, we are to be living for God.  Not checking off our adherence to rules and regulations.  Living for him, loving him and his ways, and knowing that his ways are made and created out of his heart’s desire for our very best.

Paul’s teaching reaches its high point in verse 20.  This is a powerful verse, and one that I encourage you to memorize.  Let’s look at it closely. 

The first line is, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  A Christian is a person who so identifies with Christ that we see ourselves as crucified with him.  It’s like Jesus himself once said, “If you want to be my disciples you must die to yourself.”  That’s what Paul is getting at here.  We die to ourselves, to our desires, to our longings.  In fact, there is a sense, Paul says, that we no longer live.  Our desires and longings are dead. 

That might sound harsh or wrong.  Isn’t it OK to have desires?  Well, Paul goes on and says something that speaks to this.  

Look at the next phrase: “but Christ lives in me.”  Our desires, our longings are replaced by a whole new kind of life that is now energizing us.  Jesus’ life is in us.  That’s wild.  And a tad weird. Think about it: don’t Christians believe that Jesus is a person with a body? Yes, we do. So how is a person inside billions of other people?  To answer that we need to remember what Jesus himself taught. In places like John 14, he said that when he would leave his disciples, he would send his Spirit to live with them.  That is how he lives in us.  By his Spirit.  The Spirit of Jesus lives in us, and that is astounding.  God is within us!  

That gives Paul reason to keep thinking about the ramifications of this.  He says next that “the life I live in the body, I lives by faith in the Son of God.”  Paul’s longing is for Christ and Christ only.  He wants a life that is marked by faith in Jesus.  Do you see what Paul has done here?  He has taught us that Christians will replace their longings with faith in Jesus.  The more we love and know Jesus the more our hearts will beat like his, our eyes will see things as Jesus does, and our longings will be what Jesus’s are.

There is incredibly good reason for this, as we see in his final phrase: “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in God…” In other words we can replace our longings with his longings, and we can do this with full confidence in him because, “…he loved me and gave himself for me.”  

Everything Paul has said in Galatians 2:20 is rooted in God’s love for us.  God’s love for us is an all-encompassing, total kind of love that we could never fully describe or explain.  It is so rich.  It never fails.  Because of that we can make his longings our longings.  When we do so, we can and will find satisfaction in him.

Just dwell on that verse.  Let me read it again.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Isn’t that a beautiful concept?  What Paul unearths for us is the true satisfaction of longing.  In comparison to all we long for, even good longings like peace and happiness, there is a deeper satisfaction that must come first, Paul says, and that is a longing for Jesus.

Clearly then, when God is living in us by his Spirit, and our longings are aligned with his, we do not need a law code. Our lives will more and more resemble his!

Peer pressure and our longings – First Sunday of Advent 2019, Part 2

3 Dec
Image result for peer pressure

Have you ever been swayed by what other people think, even though you don’t really agree with them? Have you ever been influenced to act contrary to your beliefs because you feel pressure from others? Often we say that teenagers succumb to peer pressure, but the reality is that adults of all ages are just as susceptible. We have deep longings to be accepted and liked, and those longings can impel us to think and act in ways we never otherwise think or act. What can we do about these longings?

In the first post in the series, I made the claim that Jesus alone is where we will find the answer to all our longings.  But is it true? Let’s talk about that. And to do so we’re going to study a section of the Bible, Galatians chapter 2.

Since we are jumping right into the middle of a passage, let me give you at least a little bit of context about what we are studying.  Galatians is an ancient letter, written by one of the Christian church’s earliest leaders and missionaries, a man named Paul.  Not too many years after Jesus died and returned to heaven, Paul traveled around the Roman Empire preaching the good news about Jesus and as a result people who heard his preaching became followers of Jesus.  Paul would group them into local churches in the various cities and towns.  Sometimes he stayed in a place for just a few weeks, sometimes months, but rarely would he stay for as much as a year.  Once he felt they were ready, he would install leaders in the church, but then he would move on to keep preaching and start more churches.  But he didn’t forget them. He would write letters to check in on them, advising and teaching them.  This letter is called Galatians because it was written to a group of churches in a region of the First Century Roman Empire called Galatia.  Paul was very concerned about what he was hearing through the grapevine about these churches.  How do we know Paul is concerned?  We just need to look at three verses in the letter.  One before the passage we’ll be studying, and two after it.

Look at Galatians 1:6.  There Paul says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all.” 

Now turn to chapter 3, verse 1.  Here he gets even more intense: “You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?” and then, staying in the same chapter, skim down to verse 3, “Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

In those verses Paul is bewildered that the people in the churches in the region of Galatia have veered from what he taught them.  He calls what he taught them, “the gospel”.  But now, he says, they are turning to a different gospel, which is actually no gospel.  The word gospel means “good news.”  It is the story of Jesus, his birth, life, death and resurrection, and the message connected to his teaching and his victory over sin, over death and over the devil, that there is a new hope in him and him alone. 

As we will see in chapter 2, even a revered church leader was being swayed to follow a different gospel.

What I would suggest is that you start by reading Galatians 1:11 through 2:10 because I want you to hear the story of how Paul came to follow Jesus.  It is amazing.  Originally Paul was not one of Jesus’ disciples.  In fact the opposite is true.  If you like, pause reading this blog and read Galatians 1:11-2:10.

What we learn in that section of the letter is that Paul was originally persecutor of the church, but God saved him, and he became a missionary for Jesus.  Take special notice what he says in chapter 2, verse 4.  What he says there gives us a clue as to what Paul is so concerned about in this letter.  In that verse he says some false brothers had infiltrated the church to spy on the freedom they had in Christ Jesus and to make them slaves.  He doesn’t mean physical enslavement.  He is talking about spiritual enslavement, which has some very physical ramifications.  He means that these false brothers didn’t believe the part of the good news story of Jesus that taught that people are free to follow the new life of Jesus.  Instead those false brothers believed that Christians still needed to follow the rules and regulations of the Old Testament Law, and thus Paul saw that as an enslavement to the Law.

Paul goes on to say that after he started following Jesus, he eventually met with the leaders in Jerusalem, famous guys like the disciples Peter and John, and the brother of Jesus, James, who was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, and they give Paul the right hand of fellowship, which means they welcomed him and accepted him. 

But then Paul describes a serious problem. You can read about the problem in Galatians chapter 2, verses 11-14.

It’s a bit of a shocker.  Paul says that Peter was behaving contrary to the gospel, and even Barnabas was led astray.  Peter and Barnabas were two pillars of the church.  In stature and history it doesn’t get any higher than Peter.  And yet here is Paul describing Peter as swayed by what people think.  As I thought about it, though, it struck me that this was not the first time Peter did this.  Consider his denial of Jesus three times before the rooster crowed at Jesus’ trial. But what did Peter do this time that has Paul so concerned? 

We’ll get to that in the next post!

Why did the US death rate jump sharply in recent years? – First Sunday of Advent 2019, Part 1

2 Dec
Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash

If you could say in one word what you want more of in life, what would that be?

What this question gets at is longing.  This Advent, we are talking about longing. 

Advent is a season of longing.  Ancient Christians created the season of Advent as a four week long preparatory time for the great celebration of Christmas.  Advent means “coming,” and it looks back to the first coming of the Messiah, when Jesus was born.  It also points forward to Jesus’ second coming.  As Jesus taught us, we need to be ready for his second coming.  There is a sense, then, in which Advent is a period focused on longing for Jesus to return, and so we would do well to evaluate our longings.  Are we longing for the right things?

I read an article this week in which the author asked the same question of her readers that I asked you: in one word, what do you want more of in your life?  This is just another way of asking, “What do long for?”  Nearly 800 people responded, and the results were fascinating.  I’m going to list the top 8.  What do you think nearly 800 people in our society said they want more of? 

  • 8 – Confidence
  • 7 – Fulfillment
  • 6 – Balance
  • 5 – Joy
  • 4 – Peace
  • 3 – Freedom
  • 2 – Money
  • 1 – Happiness

People have many longings.  This is no surprise.  What is alarming is that there seems to be a growing sense in our culture of longings going unfulfilled.

Another article I read talked about this.  The article studied the death rate in the USA from 1959 through 2017. The general trend: the death rate improved a great deal for several decades, particularly in the 1970s, then slowed down, pretty much leveled off and has recently reversed course after 2014, increasing dramatically since then.

The article reported sharp especially among those in mid-life, ages 25-64.  The report showed the trend to be true both genders, all races and ethnicities.  By age group, the highest relative jump in death rates between the years 2010 and 2017, a jump of 29 percent, was people age 25 to 34. What is going on?  The title of the article is “There’s something terribly wrong.” 

One person in the article said:

“Whether it’s economic, whether it’s stress, whether it’s deterioration of family, people are feeling worse about themselves and their futures, and that’s leading them to do things that are self-destructive and not promoting health.”[1]

This is alarming because, we are the richest country in the history of the world.  We’re not in a major war.  Our health care is amazing.  We have loads of connection through social media.  We are more educated than ever before.  We have so much opportunity.  Yet there is deep despair in so many in our culture, leading to self-destructive behavior.  What is going on?  Perhaps at the root is a epidemic of unfulfilled longing.

As I answered for myself the question above, “What do you want more of in life?” I’ll admit that “peace” and “money” were the first two words that came to my mind.  Let us consider this: How many of us thought of Jesus?  How many people are longing for Jesus? 

We might actually find that a bit odd.  “What do you mean, ‘longing for Jesus,’ Joel?” What I am referring to is the long-held Christian idea that in Jesus and Jesus alone is where we will find the answer to all our longings.  But is it true? Keep following the blog, as our next few post will look into that.


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/theres-something-terribly-wrong-americans-are-dying-young-at-alarming-rates/2019/11/25/d88b28ec-0d6a-11ea-8397-a955cd542d00_story.html

When holidays are depressing [Third Sunday of Advent]

2 Jan
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Editor’s Note: I’m playing catch-up with blogging Faith Church’s sermons. My doctoral coursework, a heavy load grading online classes I teach, and the holidays landed simultaneously these past few weeks! So before we jump back to the Deuteronomy series, I’ll survey the last few weeks of Advent, belatedly, of course.

On the Third Sunday of Advent 2018, Emerald Peters preached the Lectionary passages. The passages were: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; and Luke 3:7-18. Read the passages and see if you can discover a theme!

Emerald started her sermon with a Pop Quiz! One question, multiple choice. There are many statistics that say this time of year has some of the highest rates of:

  1. Happiness
  2. Warm fuzzy feelings
  3. Suicide and depression
  4. Pleasant family interaction

What’s your answer? Then read the Scripture passages to learn how the Scripture passages on the Third Sunday of Advent address this!

How to bring righteousness to the world [Second Sunday of Advent, part 5]

14 Dec

In this series on the Lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Advent, we have been following the life and ministry of John the Baptist and the message God was proclaiming through John: a huge roadwork project.  What is that project?  God wants us to repent, so that he might bring righteousness on the world.  And that brings us to the fourth reading, Philippians 1:3-11, which explains what this means for us.

There we read Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, a writing which would have been 25 years or so after the events of John the Baptist’s ministry. 

Very much like the church we heard about last week, in the city of Thessalonica, Paul had started a church in the city of Philippi, which like Thessalonica, is in modern-day Greece.  But unlike modern-day Thessaloniki, which is a bustling city, Philippi is now just an archaeological site.  In Paul’s day, it was another important city, however, not far down the road from Thessalonica. You can read about Paul’s visit there in Acts 16.    

We learn in his prayer in Philippians 1 that Paul had great affection for his friends there.  Take a look at Verses 3-5 and 7-8, and there we see Paul’s thankful and joyful prayer because of their partnership in the gospel. In verse 6 he expresses his confidence that God, who began good work in them, will carry it to completion. Sfter that encouragement, he concludes with some teaching and goals for them in verses 9-11.  It is a prayer for four things:

First, that their love may abound more and more in depth of knowledge.

Second, that they would be able to discern what is best.

Third, that they would be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

Fourth, that they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ.

The anchoring phrase of these verses is that first phrase of Paul’s prayer: that their love may abound more and more in depth of knowledge.  In the language Paul originally wrote this in, ancient Greek, this is a very vivid phrase.  It carries the idea of an overflow of love that just keeps growing beyond what can be contained.  What happens in that extremely loving atmosphere of a church family is that they will be able to discern what is best, and they will be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, which is the day of the second coming of Jesus.  This is a love that knows no bounds, and a love that is getting to know one another more and more.

Paul is once again, like he was last week with the Thessalonian church, looking forward to second coming of Jesus, now teaching the Philippian Christians how to act in preparation for that day.  They are to love one another with a growing, overflowing love, that is marked by knowing one another more and more.

That raises an interesting question: Is it possible to love someone who you barely know?  You may be aware of them, but it cannot be said that you love them.  Love requires knowledge.   And knowledge boosts love.  When they love like that, growing in their depth of knowledge for one another, Paul says, there will be residual blessings.  They will be able to discern what is best, and they will be pure and blameless as they wait for Jesus to return.  Love for one another ,then, is foundational for a church family.

Finally, take notice of last phrase of Paul’s prayer: “that they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ.” This is the word that ties all our passages together: righteousness. 

Paul wants the people to be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus.  From Malachi’s prophecy of the two messengers we learned about God’s desire for his people to be righteous. Then from Zechariah’s psalm in Luke 1, we heard Zechariah, the father of the first messenger, talk about God’s plan for rescuing his people so that we could serve him in righteousness all our days.  Next we looked at the ministry of Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist, who fulfilled the role of the first messenger, calling people to repentance and lives of righteousness.  Now we conclude with Paul teaching the people how this righteousness flows from Jesus.  Paul will teach in many passages that we do not have a righteousness of our own, but instead we can only accept the gracious gift of Jesus giving his righteousness to us, at one point describing it like putting on the clothing of righteousness.

After we take on Jesus’ righteousness, waiting for Jesus to return, we are called to lives of love, demonstrating the righteousness that Jesus came to give to us.  That is the amazing gift of Malachi’s second messenger, who is God himself, that he wants to cleanse us of our unrighteousness and give us his! 

What is this righteousness?  I mentioned that it is very much connected to the idea of justice, of making things right, flowing from a heart of love.

As we wait, then, for Jesus to return, we are to be a people so filled with love, abounding with love, that we work to make things right in our lives, in our relationships, and in the world around us.  That is the fruit of righteousness.  That is how we live and work and prepare for Jesus to return.  That is the work of clearing the debris, making straight the crooked paths, smoothing the hills and filling the valleys.  By loving one another with so much abundance, we are bringing justice and righteousness to the world.

To this concept of justice, I think of the recent report given at our local ministerium about homelessness in our school district, Conestoga Valley. It is rampant. CV has more homeless students in our school district than any other in the county except for the school district of Lancaster. This is why we support CVCCS and the Ministerium and Homes of Hope.  I encourage you to consider what role you can play, especially at Christmas, no matter where you live. Get to know your community.  Can you find any evidence of injustice?

Addressing injustice in our communities is just one example of how we can bring justice and righteousness and prepare the way for the return of the King.  Think about that return of the King.  What will he see when he arrives?  Just like the dignitaries that visit Jamaica, will Jesus find a road with potholes and debris, or will he find a road that is paved and cared for?  I’m not talking about actual roads, in case you were wondering!  I’m talking first and foremost about his church, but also all people, society, and culture. Will Jesus find broken relationships, people stuck in addictions, ravaged by injustice?  Will he see his church striving to love and to bring righteousness to the world?

God’s road construction project [Second Sunday of Advent, Part 4]

13 Dec

Road construction, as we said in part 1 of this series on the Lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Advent, is usually a nuisance.  Today we learn that God wants to do a major road construction project.  Will it be a nuisance?  Do we need it?  Let’s move to the third reading, Luke 3:1-6, and find out. Who do we meet there? Zechariah’s son, John, now an adult.  Remember Zechariah the priest from the second reading?  Review his story here.  He had a son, John, and now that son is grown up, and we find out that his son is quite a character.   Let’s take a look at how John fits with the readings so far this week.

We start with verses 1-3 which is simply a historical placement of John’s ministry in the First Century Roman Empire, and we read in verse 2 a familiar phrase, “the word of God came to John.”  That phrase is used frequently in the Old Testament describing the prophetic ministry of many people whom God spoke through.  Luke is clearly saying that this John, the son of Zechariah, was a prophet.  He tells us that John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, exactly like his dad, Zechariah, in his psalm Luke 1 which we studied in part 3, said John would.

Luke goes on in verses 4-6 quoting one of those Old Testament prophets, Isaiah 40:3-5, showing John as fulfillment of the prophetic words in Isaiah 40.  We’ve already seen how John was the first messenger prophesied in Malachi 3, and now we hear a bit more about the first messenger’s prophetic task. 

Remember how the first messenger prepares the way for the second messenger?  In Isaiah 40, that ministry of preparing the way is illustrated with amazing images. It is a massive earth-moving project used to depict personal repentance. 

Look at the images in Luke 3:4-5: “Make straight paths, Valleys filled in, Mountains and hills made low, Crooked roads straightened, Rough ways smoothed.”  That is some serious demolition work done by this first messenger. But that’s what you do to prepare the way for the king.  You don’t want the king’s vehicle to be driving down a road with potholes and crazy curves and dangerous debris.

When we lived in Jamaica, we experienced some of the roughest roads ever. But what was interesting was that the road from the airport into the city was really nice.  They took care of that road.  They wanted visiting dignitaries to think that Jamaica had nice roads. 

How does this relate to people?  The first messenger wasn’t a road construction worker with dynamite and a jack hammer, a paver and roller.  Nope, John preached to people a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

The messenger’s ministry was one of helping people smooth out the rough patches of their lives. He encouraged them to get ready spiritually for the coming of the king. That is what the Season of Advent in all about.  And that is what the first messenger was doing to help people get ready for the arrival of the second messenger, the Lord.

Why? As we read in Luke 3:6, so that all mankind will see God’s salvation.  God wants all people to repent and come to him and be saved.  It doesn’t mean that all will.  It is still a free choice.  But God is saying that he desires all to repent.  What that means is our theme continues.  Though the word isn’t used,God wants all people to experience righteousness.

In part 5 of the series, we’ll look at our fourth and final reading, examining how the theme of repentance and righteousness matters to our lives and our world.