There are so many tragedies around the world right now that it’s hard to keep up. There is such an acceleration—the whole earth is groaning. There are wars and rumors of wars; the nations are raging; people’s hearts are failing them. But this is an opportunity for us as the Church to truly be a city set on a hill, with the light of Christ shining in us to even those who may oppose us.

As we have been talking with some of our relief partners working in the aftermath of the tornadoes that devastated Kentucky, Tennessee, and surrounding states, we are heartbroken by the stories of so many lives that were tragically disrupted during a season that should be a time of celebration. They’ve lost everything. We also have a dear friend who is part of our ministry who lost her son to COVID complications, and so many others we know of who are struggling.

This is why it is so important, especially during this holiday season when so many are going through difficulties, that we the Church can be a light, because the Word dwells amongst us. We have a joy and a strength beyond human comprehension. We have a peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s important for us as the Church to give that hope, to let our light so shine in such a way that it draws others close to the Lord. We can be an example to those around us that they can find their faith, hope, peace, and joy in the midst of their difficulties.

Jesus is the Word that dwells amongst us, and He is the light of the world. And right now, we need a whole lot of light in the darkness.

Light Has Come
There has been a lot of discussion lately on the topic of when Jesus was born. The truth is, we don’t know when He was born, but we do know is that He was born and He is the light of the world! He is the Word that dwells amongst us. People around the world are celebrating, in some capacity, this Christmas season. That is why it’s important for us as the Church to reflect Christ when there’s so much attention on Christmas.

The four weeks leading up to Christmas are known as Advent. During this season many people personally and intentionally prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of the promise of His manifest presence, and the expectation of His Second Coming.

*The four themes of Advent, according to an article by Jackson Greer in the Focus on the Family newsletter, are hope, faith, joy, and peace.

“The Advent season reminds us that God sent His Son to this world so that we might have a relationship with Him. Yet, Jesus also suffers with us and helps us to navigate even through our pain,” he wrote. What a great message that is right now, when so many are suffering.

He goes on to say, “During Advent, Christians celebrate and reflect upon Jesus Christ’s first coming, while at the same time, the Church looks forward in eager anticipation to Christ’s Second Coming. When Christians and family celebrate Advent, they unite in a generational tradition of celebration and anticipation of Jesus’s Second Coming.”

I see here a lot of similarities in how many in the Jewish tradition observe Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. There was only enough oil to keep the lamp in the Temple lit for a few hours (some say a full day), but it lasted for eight full days as the Jews fought to reclaim the Temple from the Greek-Syrians.  Then they celebrated the miracle God did for them.

Likewise, during Advent, we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus, the light of the world. Hope came into the world as the Word that dwells amongst us.

I love what the Word says in John 8:12: “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”

1 John 1:5-7 says: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Today, the world needs the light of Christ like never before.

Possessing the Promise
*Dr. Danny Huerta says Advent 2021 is about anticipation of God’s fulfillment of His promises.  He uses this story to explain its importance:

“One day, I called my daughter she said, ‘Dad, let’s do the things different today. When you come home and go through the door, I’m going to jump and you’ll catch me.’ As I hung up, he said, I was so excited to go home and experience this moment with her. Sure enough, as I walked through the door, she was in the air. And fortunately, I caught her!

“What an incredible moment for me. I loved her anticipation of my arrival as her dad. She fully trusted I would catch her. And fortunately, I delivered.

“Have you ever been asked why do Christians celebrate Advent? My question is, why wouldn’t Christians celebrate advent? You see, Advent reveals God’s faithfulness in His promises. The world needs genuine hope, as creation longs for Jesus’s return. Advent helps us look beyond our current problems. Instead, we can focus on God’s promises. Without advent, we don’t get the opportunity to consider the beginning and the end of our invitation on Earth, and the bigger invitation of being with Jesus forever.”

In 1990, I published a book called It’s Time to Cross the Jordan. But I really believe it’s not just time to cross the Jordan now, it’s time to possess the land. Yes, there are giants in the land. Yes, there are challenges along the way. It’s a season for us, in the midst of all that we’ve been through, to possess the land that God has promised.

We can’t just look at where we’ve come from, we can’t live encamped in the past. We have to focus on the future with an expectation that God will fulfill his promises.

He Dwells Among Us
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things are made through him. And without him, nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  (John 1:1)

It’s important for us to understand that in the beginning was the Word, which is Christ. God gave us His only begotten Son. But advent is about anticipation, not only for the first coming but also for the second coming of the Lord.

The dictionary defines Advent as “the arrival of a notable person, a thing or an event.” For us as Christians, Advent is the expectation of Christ. Because of His birth, we live in this constant manifest presence of a holy, holy, holy God. But we also have this expectation of the arrival of the Second Coming of the Lord.

This is an exciting thing and time for us, because God is the Word and He loved us so much that He gave Himself to us that we might live in His Word, know His Word, share His Word, and be a witness of His light to a world that desperately needs the Lord.

In a world of difficulty that seems to be covered with darkness, we have a moment to declare the miracle of God like in Hanukkah, like in the birth of Christ. Joy to the world, the Lord has come! We have the light of the world living in us! It should permeate our lives and radiate from us to those around us. A little light in a dark room lights up the room.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

We can let the light of Christ shine through us in very practical ways: spiritually, physically, financially, relationally. Jesus said if we follow Him that we don’t have to walk in darkness, because we have the light of Him that leads us to life and He will guide others out of their darkness to life as well.

For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
(Psalm 33:4-6)

Oh, how we need His Word to move in such a powerful way!

The Words Works
Charles Spurgeon said a tattered Bible is evidence of a life that is not. Now I know that just because your Bible is tattered and well-read doesn’t mean your life is completely in order and without problems. But I would say this: If we stay in God’s Word and we let the Living word dwell in us and shine His light through us, it will help us to get through the crooked paths and challenges of life. There are circumstances and giants in the way at times, but we have a hope and a promise beyond our circumstances.

Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 5:26 tell us we should meditate on the Word because it renews, refreshes, and washes our minds. We should also pray the Word. There’s something powerful that happens when we begin to pray Scriptures, read out the Word of God as a prayer. And Isaiah 55:11 says we need to speak the Word and declare its truth. And finally, Acts 6:8 tells us we should spread the Word.

There’s something powerful about the Word of God as it empowers us to be a tangible expression of of God to those around us. The Word works. The Bible says it does not come back void. It is our Word in season, the Word of life.

For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and other joints on the morrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. (Proverbs 30:5 NKJV)

“…by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:16 NET)

“Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” (Philippians 2:16 NTL)

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me [
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10-11 NKJV)

A Solid Foundation
When I was a teenager in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I participated in a few “sit-ins” where we were making a statement that that we would not be moved until our demands were heard. Today, I have a far greater reason to say I will not be moved. No matter what trials or storms or winds of life comes our way, we can be unshakable when we build upon the right and solid foundations.

“For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
(Psalm 33:4-6)

As I again ponder the season we’re in with so many difficulties and darkness everywhere, it seems people’s hearts are overwhelmed. But this is our moment, because the light of the world has come. And that light is Christ. The hope of glory is Christ in us. The world needs what you and I have.

Yes, right now, we need the themes of Advent. We need to remember the promises and the great miracles God has done, the great miracles God is doing, and the great miracles God will continue to do. We need to share our hope, faith, joy, and peace because of Light has come into the world and the Word dwells amongst us!

By Doug Stringer