Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
Advent, the Christian New Year, invites us into a courageous consecration.
We greet this new year in Christ with sobriety and with joy; with expectancy and with patience. Will this be the year of the return of Jesus Christ? We must approach it as though it will be. As we enter into this new Advent, let us give ear to the ancient prophets and Apostles who tell of the coming of this final great awakening—the day of the Lord.
Though our journey will take us on a pathway of descent to the first Advent of the Son of God in Bethlehem, the celebrated city of David, we begin on a high summit, fixing our gaze on the ascended Lord Jesus Christ, training our eyes on the clouds, scanning the eastern horizon for signs of the final Advent.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)
As we embark on the beginning of a new Advent– a new year in the Lord, we come not to offer a deeper commitment to Jesus, but a better consecration. We come not to offer our best but our all. It is time to shift our praying from “Lord, give me strength,” to “Lord, you are my strength.” It is time to make the movement from “Jesus help me,” to “Jesus have me.” Consecration is the watchword for the opening of Advent.
Following on the celebrated text of Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith” chapter, the twelfth chapter opens with these words:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.“
Might we take some moments today to examine ourselves? What hinders and encumbers the whole-hearted consecration of my life to Jesus Christ? What particular sin so easily entangles me and trips me up? Will you be so humble as to name it?
The closing words of Psalm 139 come to mind for such a time as this:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Why do this when we could be decking the halls with “boughs of holly” and “roasting chestnuts over an open fire”? There will be plenty of time for that. Now is the time for this. Why? Watch where Hebrews 12:1 goes next:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
We were made to run a particular kind of race, a race of incredible consequence and courageous nobility for a glory that does not fade. You were born to run (and to help others run) in a way you have only begun to understand. It is time to throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles. They will never be worth it.
The text goes on to show us the secret to such a life; the only way possible.
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Indeed—fixing our eyes on Jesus. That’s the whole thing.
This is the Advent of the Year of Awakening that stands before us.
We are embarked. Come Lord Jesus!
Almighty God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, open our hearts to a season of honesty before you and grant us the humility to become vulnerable before others. As we come to the starting line of another lap in the great race of our lives, empower us to throw off everything that hinders and encumbers the life of faith and the sin that so easily entangles us. Come Holy Spirit and give us the only perseverance that is really perseverance—that which comes from you. Lord Jesus, we fix our eyes on you. Focus our gaze. We pray in your name, Amen.
Will you in simple faith and bold humility audaciously offer yourself, all that you are and have, in consecration to Jesus Christ—come what may, no matter what? Remember the prayer Jesus taught us in John: “Father, all you have is mine, and all I have is yours.”
For the Awakening,
I find this series of daily devotionals to once again fall in line with the current events going on all around us. The major sin that I believe threatens to entangle us is the fear of the unknown. We Christians face an uncertain future if our nation veers off the path of religious and personal freedoms that we’ve been blessed with since it’s founding. If that happens, we will indeed need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. The alternative would be to wonder around aimlessly in the “ dark night of the soul”. I believe our only hope is found in these words: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and loss heart.” (Hebrews 12:3) Watch and pray.