January 19, 2022

In the Light of Christ’s Coming 28-11-2021

28th November 2021 (Advent1)

Title: In the Light of Christ’s Coming  

(Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36)

                                                                                   By Heeyoung Lim

Children Time & Advent Greetings 

Paul showed his great joy at seeing progress and strength in the lives of those he loved. Although Paul was thrilled with the strength of the Thessalonians’ faith, he prayed throughout the day and night fervently. Everything is up to the all-knowing and all-powerful God, but Paul was not passive and wanted God’s divine intervention. He asked for God to step in and make possible a return trip to this Thessalonian church to supply what is lacking in their faith. Spiritual progress is always to be commended, but it is never to be considered complete. 

Love, gratitude, and other virtues spring from the heart, it is not from just following rules. Paul’s prayer was that the believers’ hearts would be strengthened. Faith is not about temporary once-off matter, it is related to lasting change that comes from our hearts. However, there will be no longer growth and development in our faith and life unless the heart is firmly established. 

Faithful obedience to Christ is often misunderstood by those outside the faith, but in these circumstances, warm encouragement from each other is a source of strength in our relationships and in our lives. As the great proof of the Christ-life in us, love must always be on the increase. (12) It was to convey the love of God to other believers or non-believers. The love of God through us needs to extend to all, even our enemies. Our Christian relationships will be characterized by love and care for the good of others. May we care about other’s faith and pray for one another as Paul did.

We were in very unstable COVID related situations for a long time, and we had to go through unexpected difficulties. May we find the way to overcome existing difficulties through renewal of heart and growth of faith even in this transition period. Short-term change can arise from changing habits or willingness, but long-term change begins with the heart and faith that the Lord has given us. The reason our hearts need to be strengthened is to be blameless and holy in the presence of our God. (13) But how can we be blameless before God on the day of judgment?

With God’s grace, we are to lean on the strength of Christ to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received”. (Eph. 4:1) May we seek to make righteous decisions in Christ and try to be holy before God. I hope we can deal with our sins immediately through repentance, confession, and transformation whenever those enter our heart.  With this additional grace, we will stand blameless before our Lord, now and when Jesus comes in all his glory. May we be blameless and holy in the presence of our God when Christ returns.

What are you waiting for everyday? I expect and wait that we will be grown or transformed in faith and life through renewal in Christ. Now we are waiting for the birth and return of Christ at the same time in Advent. In this season of Advent, may we concentrate on Jesus first and seek the kingdom of God.

Our faith can be expressed as a daily commitment to believe Jesus, no matter what happens to us. It is not about a certain moment or the end, it is about growth or fullness. May we lean on God more daily, even though pain and temptations are regular components in our lives. I believe that God helps us grow in His holiness and love. May our lives be filled with joy, gratitude, and a sense of belonging to the kingdom of God until when we die, or Jesus returns. 

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus becomes more specific about the heavenly signs that lead up to the end times. (Luke 21:25) Sun, moon, and stars can be warnings that represent the ends. Such signs will fill the earth with fear and a sense of being trapped because there would be no place to escape. (25) Jesus said, if you follow the two sinful ways of life, you will find yourself in a trap. We should not think we can escape the second coming and its judgment. It comes on the whole earth. Everyone is involved and no one escapes. (35)

The heavenly signs will come before the end and cause people to swoon in fear. Jesus said, they will have no source to trust and no reason for hope. (26) This will bring greater fear to those who are unprepared, but not for you who are prepared in faith. (27) His imminent arrival will terrify the inhabitants of the world, but the redemption on a worldwide scale will be at hand for the faithful. 

How will we react when this takes place? Jesus tells us, “Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (28) In full glory, the Redeemer will be coming to judge and rule the earth. I believe that we can stand up straight and lift our head high without fear because Jesus will save us and give us our rewards.

Jesus’ emphasis is not on knowledge but on action. We need to pray, stay alert, and ask God for strength to escape the persecutions, wars, and destruction rather than staying in spiritual stagnation. Christ is coming again and has given us the signs that ought to make us pray and get ready for his coming to establish his kingdom. (38) I believe and pray that we will stand before Christ as He judges the world, and we will receive the reward coming to His faithful ones who maintain their faith, trust, and testimony through all the hard signs.

Only God knows when Jesus returns, but may we prepare to see the signs and know the kingdom of God is coming to us in all its fullness. You will see the full power and glory of Jesus when Jesus returns, and God’s full glory will be revealed to the earth in Jesus. Our Christ has redeemed our world through His death, and he led us into a loving family with the name of Leighmoor who live and love in God’s beautiful faith community with great joy. 

No matter what happens, Jesus loves us, and his living words continue to speak to and transform us. Though the signs of the end times may involve the destruction of heaven and earth, Jesus’ words will not pass away but find fulfillment. (32-33) According to a theologian, Kathy, “the good news of Advent is not simply that Christ is coming, but that His coming means we can hope, despite many things falling apart in our lives and the world around us. Just as the leaves on the fig tree offer hope in late winter that summer is coming again, so God’s word, in Jesus, promises us new life.”

There may be unexpected events and storms in our lives, but we wait with eager expectation for the coming of Jesus and the kingdom of God. What is our trap on the road of faith journey? Life is full of difficulties, pain, despair, and situations which test our strength and faith. We often cannot see beyond the moment, behind the scenes, and beside uncertainty. However, in the light of Jesus’ coming, desperate expectation invites us to hope unseen places where God is working and leads us to pray on earth and stand firm in God’s authority through the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit and the transformation through God’s Word. May we act with courage, grace, and gratitude in the hope of Christ’ coming. Jesus is our hope. I hope we can participate in God’s working places in the light of Jesus’ coming. May our Christ give hope to the world’s hopeless through our faith and life. And I pray that God will give you strength and protection for now and the last days. May we be alert to what is happening and be prepared to stand before our Lord as true believers and followers in the light of Christ’ coming. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)