Still Looking for That Gift?

Commercialism, consumerism, shallow spirituality, and sometimes painful family encounters certainly challenge the season of Advent. Christmas leaves many looking for that elusive “reason for the season.” What is it? Or, Who is it? While as many as 79% of African Americans identify as Christian, some think Christianity was hijacked by a white supremacist agenda. Does this season have a word from the ancient text that truly means peace and good will, to all?


1 Read John 1:10, 11 

The Bible, when speaking of Jesus, tells us He was in the world, and specifically, that “He came to His own, and His own received Him not.” By “His own” John refers to the special relationship Jesus had with His people. He was looking for them, but they missed Him. What stood in their way? What stands in ours? 


2Read Matthew 11:28-30; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17

How much does Jesus want you in His kingdom? Do you ever feel, based on the conditions in the world around us, that you, or people like you—race, age, gender, nationality, etc.—miss the promises of the kingdom? How do you separate what Jesus wants for you, and what the enemy has crafted as an evil substitute or distraction? 


3 Read 2 Peter 3:14, 18; 1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 3:20, 21 and 7:13, 14 

If you put yourself in these verses, what is the message to you? Is there a peace, and a gift with your name on it? What will it mean to claim that gift?  



4 Read Isaiah 40:6-8; 64:6; Hosea 4:6; and Galatians 6:8

Isn’t it true that the problem we have is we try to set up world peace on our own, doing it the way we’ve always wanted to? Is it possible for humanity to ever live together in peace and harmony? Why do you think so, or think not? Message us at @message1898, or hit us up on Facebook, messagemagazine and let us know what you think?  



5 Read Revelation 13:11-18; 16:13-6; 18:6-24

Have you been burned by civil or religious authorities? At the time of His birth, Jesus entered the scene when Jews were beaten down under Roman occupation. At the time of His birth, the religious leaders—the central core to their community—were spiritually corrupt. So, the people got hit “coming and going.” Do you see parallels in our day? Where is it going to take us? At us–@message1898, or messagemagazine.  


Read Isaiah 2:10-12, 17-21; Psalm 50:1-5; Revelation 11:18 

How has injustice affected your life? How much would it be worth it to you to see justice done in your life, and for the whole world? What will ultimately become of corrupt humanity’s arrogance and violence?

Read Matthew 24:14; Revelation 14:6-12; 18:1-5 

Even God’s warnings are all inclusive. They cover everyone.


7 Read Isaiah 40:1; Revelation 17:12-14; 19:11-16; 21:1-8; 22:1-7

Meditate on what the Bible says about how Jesus will bring this thing to a close. The message God gave to Isaiah to prophesy could be summed up in one word: comfort. Through the promised Messiah, hurt, hatred, injustice, lack, pain, and sorrow would be eliminated forever. What will it take for you to believe it, receive it? 


Rashad Burden is the senior pastor of the 31st Street Church in San Diego California.

This article is part of our 2021 November/December  Issue
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“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

 John 1:9 (KJV)


A Missed Messiah

A Reflection

From Ellen G, White’s The Desire of Ages, “The Chosen People,” p. 29 and 30

“The Jews in a great degree lost sight of the teaching of the ritual service. That service had been instituted by Christ Himself. In every part it was a symbol of Him; and it had been full of vitality and spiritual beauty. But the Jews lost the spiritual life from their ceremonies, and clung to the dead forms. They trusted to the sacrifices and ordinances themselves, instead of resting upon Him to whom they pointed. In order to supply the place of that which they had lost, the priests and rabbis multiplied requirements of their own; and the more rigid they grew, the less of the love of God was manifested. They measured their holiness by the multitude of their ceremonies, while their hearts were filled with pride and hypocrisy. 

With all their minute and burdensome injunctions, it was an impossibility to keep the law. Those who desired to serve God, and who tried to observe the rabbinical precepts, toiled under a heavy burden. They could find no rest from the accusings of a troubled conscience. Thus Satan worked to discourage the people, to lower their conception of the character of God, and to bring the faith of Israel into contempt. He hoped to establish the claim put forth when he rebelled in heaven,—that the requirements of God were unjust, and could not be obeyed. Even Israel, he declared, did not keep the law. 

While the Jews desired the advent of the Messiah, they had no true conception of His mission. They did not seek redemption from sin, but deliverance from the Romans. They looked for the Messiah to come as a conqueror, to break the oppressor’s power, and exalt Israel to universal dominion. Thus the way was prepared for them to reject the Saviour. 

At the time of the birth of Christ the nation was chafing under the rule of her foreign masters, and racked with internal strife. The Jews had been permitted to maintain the form of a separate government; but nothing could disguise the fact that they were under the Roman yoke, or reconcile them to the restriction of their power. The Romans claimed the right of appointing and removing the high priest, and the office was often secured by fraud, bribery, and even murder. Thus the priesthood became more and more corrupt. Yet the priests still possessed great power, and they employed it for selfish and mercenary ends. The people were subjected to their merciless demands, and were also heavily taxed by the Romans. This state of affairs caused widespread discontent. Popular outbreaks were frequent. Greed and violence, distrust and spiritual apathy, were eating out the very heart of the nation. 

Hatred of the Romans, and national and spiritual pride, led the Jews still to adhere rigorously to their forms of worship. The priests tried to maintain a reputation for sanctity by scrupulous attention to the ceremonies of religion. The people, in their darkness and oppression, and the rulers, thirsting for power, longed for the coming of One who would vanquish their enemies and restore the kingdom to Israel. They had studied the prophecies, but without spiritual insight. Thus they overlooked those scriptures that point to the humiliation of Christ’s first advent, and misapplied those that speak of the glory of His second coming. Pride obscured their vision. They interpreted prophecy in accordance with their selfish desires.”


This article is part of our 2021 November/December  Issue
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at

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