Devotional Category: Advent

“A Savior is Born”

Today we celebrate the first advent of Jesus, the Messiah whom Israel had been waiting on for centuries! And if God was faithful to His word out of steadfast love in the first advent, He will remain faithful to the end at Jesus’ second advent. This hope is a bold proclamation that present reality is not the ultimate reality. This hope tethers our lives to God’s future, not to our present circumstances and feelings. Trusting in this Hope gives us a posture of Peace and an attitude of Joy.

We celebrate Advent to dedicate time together to nurture our Hope, Peace and Joy but that nurturing is not limited to any one season. How will you continue to nurture your Hope, Peace and Joy throughout the next year?

“Abounding in Steadfast Love”

As we near the end of Advent, today we read a celebration Psalm. Psalm 145 is about praising the wonderful greatness of our God. As we have read through the story of Jesus’ birth, we have seen how God is faithful to all of His promises in the sending of Jesus as our savior and redeemer. This psalm gives voice to how great God is in all of His works and how worthy of praise He is in His character: “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” 

Last week we read a poem in Isaiah about a messenger bringing the good news, that “Your God reigns!”, to a broken and confused people. This week we read a poem that praises the glory of God’s kingdom. “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures throughout all generations.” This was brought to full manifestation in King Jesus. What we celebrate at Christmas is the coming, not just of a baby, but of a Savior and King in Jesus Christ. We can have hope, peace, and joy because we celebrate God’s steadfast love revealed in the first advent of Christ. This helps nurture hope, peace, and joy as we are waiting for the second advent, the coming of His kingdom in its fullness and the redemption of all creation by God’s steadfast love. This is a moment worth waiting for. 

“Waiting for Consolation”

This part of Jesus’ birth story is fascinating. It describes a man who had been waiting and longing for the “consolation of Israel.” Simeon was a man who was aware of all of the hopes and longings of his people, and nurtured the hopes of the coming Messiah, immersed in the promises of God, especially those in the book of the prophet Isaiah. He was waiting to see God fulfill all of His promises and redeem and restore His people. He recognized the brokenness of the world and longed for God to act. Somehow, he knew by the Holy Spirit that he would see God at work. And that day came. He saw the Messiah as just a baby boy in the Temple. 

Simeon’s story can be our story. We, like Simeon, need to nurture the hopes and longings of Christ’s return. We need to be immersed in God’s promises of faithfulness and steadfast love so that our eyes are open to see God at work. Just because there is darkness and brokenness in the world does not mean God is not present. Jesus proves that even in difficult and confusing circumstances, God is present and at work. 

This season is an opportunity to have our eyes open and our hearts ready to see Jesus. Just like Simeon, we need to be ready to be led by the Spirit to the place we can see Jesus more clearly. And when we see Jesus, may we praise God like Simeon did, our “eyes see your salvation.”

“God’s Steadfast Love”

God is committed to us. His love is steadfast, not because we love Him in return, but because of His character. And He proved this love by sending Jesus. This is what we celebrate this week – God’s steadfast love! 

“How Long, O Lord”

We’ve focused a lot on joy this week and how it’s not tied to our feelings or circumstances but rather what we are paying attention to. But let’s be real, sometimes our current reality just sucks. It’s difficult to pay attention to God and feel His presence when we and those around us may be suffering. There is no scarcity of pain in our world and it can be easier to try and distract ourselves to avoid those feelings of hurt and brokenness. We may even begin to wonder where God is.

But like David in today’s Psalm reading, we do not need to ignore those feelings or try to put on a brave face for others, or God. We can bring those questions to Him. We then need to turn our focus to what God has already done and trust that His steadfast love will never forsake us! By shifting our attention to Him, Joy is sparked in our hearts once again. As we’ve learned, our joy is not found in our emotions or circumstances but in God’s faithful promise that Jesus will one day return and all will be made right!

“This is Love”

The defining characteristic of God is love. God is love, it is who He is, not just what He has. Him having “steadfast love” (chesed) means that He will be faithful to His promises with tenderness, compassion, mercy, and care because it is His very nature to be that way. This is not just a statement that gets repeated over and over in Scripture without proof. Jesus is the proof that God loves us enough to do the hard part – take care of our sins. Jesus is the evidence of God’s steadfast love.

There may be times where you are unsure how God sees you. No matter what you have been told, or what you are feeling right now, the life of Jesus is proof that God loves you and wants you to know Him. This season of Advent is about paying enough attention to Jesus that we can see God’s steadfast love revealed through Him. Recognizing this love comes with a calling though: to love one another. Just like God revealed His love to us in Jesus, so we are to reveal that same love to each other. 

In the season of giving and celebration, let’s remember what this is all anchored in. Celebrating Advent that leads us to Christmas is about being amazed by the birth and life of Jesus that transforms us to be people who show that same love to those around us. May we be the people who reveal God’s love to a dark and hurting world. 

“Light Shines in the Darkness”

Have you ever been in a situation where there is complete darkness? You most likely get nervous or afraid and reach out your hands to grab hold of something solid. This is often the state of our world: darkness. But the life of Jesus is described as light, light that shines in the darkness. The life of Jesus is a light more powerful than any darkness and darkness cannot overcome it. 

You may feel like your life is in a season of darkness. Maybe you’re anxious or afraid, groping around trying to find something solid. Let Jesus be the light that shines in that darkness. His life is proof that God does not stand apart from the darkness of the world, but has entered directly into it. God loves us so much that He entered the world in the person of Jesus to reveal His steadfast love. During this season let us remember that God is still present with us, and the life of Jesus shines like a beacon to us even if it feels like we are in the dark. 

“Shout for Joy”

In today’s reading, the angel that announced the good news of great joy is joined with a “multitude of the heavenly host” who praised God together saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” What a moment in history! The angelic host bringing the songs and praise of heaven to earth, celebrating that God has participated in the brokenness of humanity by coming as a baby, born in a stable among the animals. 

There is so much we can point to in the world and be angry or afraid. There is so much we can despair and lament over, so much brokenness, so much darkness. The temptation during this season is to seek distraction from such brokenness and pretend to be happy with fabricated feelings. This is not what it means to be a follower of Jesus, to pretend and fake it. Yet we do not have to be overcome by anger or fear or despair. How do we live with joy when life is so painful? How can we avoid being overcome by it or pretending our way through it?

We remember that God has come into our broken world and fully participated in our brokenness through Jesus. His coming into the world was celebrated by the angelic host, not because everything got instantly better, but because they knew God was at work to heal our brokenness. We are invited to join in the song and celebration. We can shout for joy, not because we feel like it, not because everything becomes instantly better, but because we can trust God. He has worked in the past, He will come again to make all things right, and He is at work now, despite what we can see or feel. We can trust His steadfast love and that makes us have joy, even in brokenness.

“Your God Reigns”

Isaiah 52 is set in a time where the city of Jerusalem had been invaded by the Babylonians, their Temple was destroyed and many had been taken into exile. Those that remained in Jerusalem were in a state of confusion and despair – “What just happened?” The poem in Isaiah depicts a messenger running over the mountains to these broken and hopeless people bringing “good news,” news that will bring peace (shalom), happiness, joy, and salvation. What’s the beautiful message? “Your God reigns.”

When we look out into the world and see the brokenness and despair, the anger and fear, we may wonder how God is working, or if He is even at work at all. When we look at our own lives, we may wonder the same thing. And yet, there is a beautiful message, “Your God reigns.” This is what makes the first advent of Christ so incredible, and it was announced as “good news” that brings “great joy.” What we see in the birth of Christ, that we celebrate at Christmas, is that God had been at work all along, despite what anyone could see. Through Jesus, we see God is in charge. Despite what we see in our world today, despite the circumstances of our lives, there is a beautiful message that has been sent to us that should cause great joy, “Our God reigns.”

“Good News of Great Joy”

Imagine being in a waiting room at a hospital, together with friends and family, waiting and praying as the surgeon walks out from doing the surgery of a family member and says, “I’ve got good news for you…”. You most likely would feel a sense of relief and then a rush of joy. That good news that brings great joy, is akin to the announcement the angel gave the shepherds.

Israel had spent many centuries waiting and hoping for the coming Messiah, the savior king that would come and liberate God’s people from their sin and oppression. After waiting for such a long time, it’s safe to think many had given up hope. But one night, out in the country, the angel gave a great announcement, “Good news!” The good news was God had not forgotten His people, He had sent a Savior. This good news caused great joy!

The good news still echos into our lives today. God has not forgotten us. He sent His Son into this world as a Savior for us. No matter our circumstances, we can still have joy, knowing that God has not forgotten us. We can still receive this good news with great joy, that we have a Savior, born for us – He is Christ the Lord.