There are only two more weeks until my favorite holiday, Christmas. I love the food, the presents, the lights, the time away from work and the extra time with my wife and grandkids. I especially love celebrating the first arrival of Jesus Christ and reflecting on His soon-coming return. It fills me with fresh hope and joy.
Unfortunately, for some, this season is a time of suffering, separation and sorrow instead of celebration. When I see the men, women and children trying to enter America at our southern border, my heart breaks. Their pain is real. America is the land of the free, the home of the brave. It is the land of opportunity, and they are desperate to enter and build a new life here, away from the struggles and limitations of their homeland.
As I think about and pray for their struggle, I am all the more grateful for our great Savior, Christ, who came to all humanity to rescue and redeem us and give us hope. While not everyone can come to America, everyone has the opportunity to get into heaven because of Jesus. His birth, which we celebrate this season, is one of just three significant comings or arrivals Immanuel makes in our hearts and lives.
Jesus' first Advent was His coming to a manger in Bethlehem. Because God Himself took on flesh and then died for everyone in a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, everyone who believes on Him shall be saved. He is the conquering King who holds the keys of death, hell and the grave. Like those heading north through Mexico toward America in the hope of new beginnings in a land of promise, Jesus' sacrifice gives all of us the hope of an eternity spent with Him, away from the struggles and limitations of our own earthly existence. What a promise!
Though it may be shocking to think of it in these terms, the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us has walls, and no one will enter except by the blood of the Lamb. I guess you would call that legal immigration. What's more, there is a separation policy, because only those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will enter in. You can only enter through the blood of Jesus that has been applied to the mercy seat for our forgiveness by faith through grace. This means parents will be separated from their children. Husbands and wives will be eternally separated. Family members will be separated. Friends will be separated. These thoughts haunt me. Daddies lost forever! Mommies lost forever! Children who have rebelled against God lost forever!
It is not God's heart that any would be lost or separated from Him, and it grieves me to think about it. He longs to know us intimately, to be part of our daily lives. That is the essence of His second Advent, which is His arrival in our hearts. While the first and the third Advents are ways God is reaching out to us, the second Advent—Jesus coming daily into our hearts—is about us. Are our hearts open to Him daily? Is it Christmas every day in our lives? God shared His Son with us; will we share Him with everyone we can? Have you made room for Him?
The third Advent is when Christ returns for His beloved bride, His followers, those who have believed on Him and place their trust in Him. We live in daily anticipation of the glorious catching-away of His bride. When He returns for His bride, we are headed for an eternal city with foundations whose builder and maker is God. There, there will be no suffering. There is no sorrow or pain. There is no need for escape. There is only joy and peace and rest—eternal Christmas—for all who love Him and trust in His Son. It makes me want to sing out, "Joy to the world! The Lord has come!"
Let us pray for peace on earth good will to men. Let us pray that during this Christmas season people are drawn to the love and light of God and that the kingdom of heaven is expanded. And let us remember to consider the significance of His arrival in our hearts and lives daily, as well as the promise of His return for His bride.
This Christmas, I will be going to Russia to share Christmas celebrations with the people there. Please pray for us for safety, resources and a great response. For more information go to mikelfrench.org.
You are beautiful. I see Jesus in you.
Have an awesome week!
Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the Book of Hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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