We trust in God's sovereign rule.
After Israel suffered under the leadership of the Judges, they set their hope in a form of government common to other nations; they wanted a king. God ruled as King over Israel, but He gave them what they wanted and installed a line of earthly kings- idolatrous, ineffectual, and often wicked men whose sin nature was only magnified by their power and stature. All Israel wanted was to flourish, but they placed their hope for flourishing in men instead of God. How do we respond to hardship and suffering in our lives? Do we look to ourselves instead of trusting God as sovereign ruler?
David was a righteous king of Israel. Under his rule, Israel was blessed- its borders grew, its wealth increased, and God's presence was restored among His people. But even David, a man after God's own heart, could not deliver Israel from the failures of his own descendants. David's reign was followed by nearly 1,000 years of failed kings and foreign oppressors for God's people. God was sovereign over all of it- the blessing and the suffering. It can be easy to trust God's rule when life is good. But when darkness surrounds us, God still reigns. How does God use suffering and hardship to shape our hearts? How has he done this in your life?
Tragically, when Jesus arrived as a meek, forgiving, sinless King and the heir of David, God's people rejected Him. Israel wanted a warrior-king who would bring a sword against its oppressors. They repeated the pattern of looking for salvation in all the wrong places. This habit is not limited to the Israelites; it is a sinful deception shared by all mankind. Where are you looking for salvation? What are you looking to to make sense of your life? Do you think you can rule over your life better than God?
Father, Your sovereign rule in creation does not waver. Every inch of this universe is held together by Your power and according to Your will, and You are good.
In our fear, our shortsightedness, and our idolatry, we often turn away from You and look to others, or even ourselves, for hope of deliverance and flourishing. Forgive our sinful deceptions, Lord, and restore our hearts to trust in Your sovereign rule.
Thank You for hope in times of blessing and in times of blight. Thank You for the peace that only You can bring to our hearts!
Prepare our hearts and minds for faithfulness when You seem far away, and help us trust in the Covenant promise that You will not forsake us, but have prepared a Kingdom for us with Jesus on the throne.
We submit to his divine Lordship.
We find in the Old Testament that David disobeyed, his son disobeyed and the kings after them disobeyed. However, God remained faithful to his promise. A covenant is not dependent on both parties to hold up their ends of the bargain. The beauty of the gospel is that God remains faithful to his promise no matter what we do. No matter how far you try to run and no matter how sinful you think you are, God will always be faithful to his promise to you. Where sin runs deep, grace runs deeper. Do you feel like God is far from you because of your sin? Advent reminds us that though we cannot see the promise to come we know that it is coming. Be encouraged, the Lord is near. Jesus is coming!
No king ever obeyed God perfectly in the Old Testament. If God was going to be faithful to his covenant he would have to bring a King into this world Himself. As John Piper says, “the kingdom can never be secure in hands of a sinner.” The coming of Christ into this world is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. More importantly it is a reminder that we now have a King worthy of our submission. This King is Emmanuel, God is now with us. Is there something in your life that you need lay at the feet and under the rule of the kingship of Christ. Confess to Him the sins that you are hoarding in your life. Cast on Him the burdens that are to heavy for you to bear. Jesus will be faithful to you.
The kingdoms of the Old testament came and went. We however, live under the rule of King Jesus and his kingdom will never fail. He is the faithful King that Israel anticipated and that God had promised. Sunday Andy encouraged us to “be like Simeon,” We learned a few weeks ago that Simeon waited, never loosing hope, his whole life to see the coming of the faithful King. Advent is a time where we become like Simeon and anticipate the return of the King. Are you like Simeon? Does your hope waiver? How can you become more like him?
Heavenly Father we recognize our faithlessness in light of your faithfulness. We celebrate the fact that you are faithful to your promises both to Israel and to us today. We look back to the kings of the Old Testament and confess that we see ourselves in their wickedness. We look at Jesus and find our true, righteous and faithful King. We submit wholeheartedly to his lordship over our lives and ask the Spirit to convict us of anything we hold back from that submission. Help us to be hopeful as we wait for his return.
"Everything and Nothing Less"
Austin Stone Worship
We anticipate His coming Kingdom.
You may have heard it said before that much about our Christian experience can be described as both "already" accomplished, but "not yet" realized or finished. The tension of "already/not yet" is very quickly felt when we consider the Kingdom of God. Jesus said during his ministry that the kingdom was "at hand." He told those who skeptically questioned him about the kingdom that it was already "in their midst." We are right now part of the advancement of His Kingdom. And yet the kingdom was (and is) clearly still to come. And the New Testament is replete with descriptions of what we anticipate in a coming kingdom that we have not yet realized by sight. The mission we have been given is to be a part of making the kingdom a reality here and now. As we wait expectantly for Jesus' return, how can we work to make the kingdom a reality here and now?
The trouble is that in spite of many glorious Bible promises, we often live without much thought to either aspect of the kingdom -- but especially the "not yet." Why are we so unthoughtful of the coming kingdom? In what ways does your life prove that you value the "here and now" more than the "not yet"?
If we are honest, we do not appropriately anticipate the kingdom to come, partly because we have difficulty believing and conceiving in our minds what it will be like, but mostly because we would rather just cling to what we know, see, and trust right now. What we see and trust right now is pitiful and dim in comparison to what God has called us to anticipate by faith. God promises His people citizenship in a stunning new city of God where Jesus reigns as the perfect King and we experience the presence of God unhindered. Pain, death, grief and every curse of sin will be forgotten; there will only be comfort and joy in the presence Jesus. The glory of Israel in the reign of King David was just a faint glimmer of the glory that is to come in God's Kingdom forever. Although these promised kingdom blessings clearly fall in the category of "not yet" for us, they are as real as the graces of God we know now in the "already." We can hope with confidence that God will not disappoint and these things will be ours. How has God shown you his grace here and now in a way that give you hope for the coming kingdom?
We must put aside our hopes for what is small and fleeting in this world. Let's live as though we have a better citizenship, country, and king than any this world can offer, because we do! Let's set our minds on the riches and joy awaiting us in the kingdom of heaven to come.
Jesus, you are a perfect king to us: kind, generous, forgiving, truthful, just, mighty, and powerful. Your kingdom is an everlasting one, for you are the fulfillment of God's promise to David and Israel.
We confess that our hearts are often set on this world and the kingdoms we can find here. We often live like this will be our forever home. We fail to fix our minds upon what is eternal and heavenly, and our souls suffer as we delight in lesser things. Please forgive us. Give us eyes of faith to behold the things of the Kingdom that you have promised that we have yet to see. Help us to esteem and cherish the blessings of your kingdom that we know now as your church. And keep us until the end, that we might behold you face to face in the place you've prepared for your people.
"Let Your Kingdom Come"
Austin Stone Worship