Preparation for Easter

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Lent is the time of preparation and reflection before Easter. During this time, we take time to draw near to Jesus and contemplate the incredible love, grace, and hope displayed on the cross of Calvary and through the Resurrection the following Sunday! This year, we were challenged to prepare and reflect on the message of Easter as we took the 45-Day Challenge through the Gospels. I am absolutely loving this journey and pray that Jesus would show you more and more about who He is as we undertake this journey together. 

We are now just about half-way through this challenge. I trust that you’re finding this experience rewarding. Reading Scripture never disappoints. The Bible is God’s Holy Word written directly to us. In it He speaks of great truths, messages of encouragement, and hope for a life spent with Him. While reading Scripture to know God more is a good idea, it’s not the real purpose of reading Scripture. I want to give you 3 things that take place when we read Scripture that go far above simple knowledge. 

  • We Read Scripture so that Jesus Can Transform Us. Simple knowledge isn’t good enough. If we were after knowledge, the Bible would be a textbook. But in fact, we see that the Word of God is used to make us into a new being; one that has encountered the True God and is being made like Him.
  • We Read Scripture so that Jesus Can Equip Us. The purpose of the message series, Knowing Jesus, is taking the opportunity for Scripture to impart life lessons on how Jesus would handle the situations in life so that our attitudes and actions glorify Jesus and draw others closer as well. May we be thoroughly equipped (2 Tim. 3:16-17) 
  • We Read Scripture so that We Can Be Encouraged. We all need encouragement. We all face difficult situations in life that cause us to question whether following Jesus is worth the trouble. But when we look to Scripture, we see the testimony of God’s faithfulness. He was faithful to believers of the past—ministering in times of distress and oppression. He is faithful to believers now and will continue to be in the future. One of the most encouraging things we see in Scripture is that Jesus tells us how everything ends—He wins. Sin is defeated, and an eternity awaits us. What can be more encouraging to our perseverance than knowing it all works out! 

This is what Scripture does. 

I want to encourage you to continue in seeking Jesus through the Scriptures. If you’ve fallen off the wagon of the 45-Day Challenge, let me encourage you to get back into Scripture. It’s never too late. God longs to transform you through the Word. 

Are You Prepared?

How long does it take you to get ready for the day? For some it is simply a matter of jumping out of bed, stretching his arms over his head, feet hitting the floor, combing his hair with his hand, get dressed, and grab an apple on the way out of the door. For others, you might be the person that it takes a long time to get ready. Your clothes need to be just right, you shower, shave, eat breakfast, and maybe even get a few chores done before you feel prepared to meet the day. I must say that I vacillate between the two of these examples, but in either case I feel prepared for the day. I’m ready to meet those who will come across my path. 

One of the traditions that many hold dear during the Christmas season is the celebration of Advent. For those of you who do not know about Advent, it is a 4-week celebration where we remember the characters of Christmas and the values God displays throughout the Christmas story as it leads us to Jesus’ birth. It is celebrated every Sunday by lighting the Advent wreath, which is to be the focal point of our celebration and remembrance. 

We celebrate Advent every year here at CDAC. We read the stories, light the candles, everyone has a sparkle in their eyes because of the joy of the season. But this year I’ve been challenged to think of Advent differently than I’ve recently done. I received a book about Christmas traditions for pastor appreciation this year. It discusses the history of these special Christmas traditions—how they came about, what they look like now, and how they’ve impacted our celebrations of Christmas.

About halfway through the book I came across the chapter on Advent. It did talk about the wreath and the stories, but when I looked at the history, I was convicted that I got it all wrong. Advent isn’t just simply anticipating Christmas (which is a good thing). It is so much more than that. It is a celebration of Christ’s mission on this earth and that it began on that first Noel. Advent is looking forward to the whole mission of Jesus—to redeem us from our sins to live a life with Him! 

When the author was done exposing this, I was left with the question—am I prepared to celebrate all that Christ is? Am I right with God? Am I looking forward to being closer with Him? Friends, this is the purpose of Advent—to be a time of preparation to make sure that we are right with God and free in Him to be able to share His passion and heart! 

Today, as we come to Advent, I must ask if you are preparing to celebrate Jesus? There’s nothing that brings us greater joy than being close to God, and friends, this is what Advent and this season is all about.