Week 31: November 28 - December 3
First Week of Advent: Hope
Today marks the beginning of Advent. For many of us, our only knowledge of Advent is the calendar, counting down the days to Christmas with candy. Actually Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas) is all about expectant waiting. Waiting for what? The coming of Jesus.
Through the years since at least the 6th century, Christian churches have celebrated Advent in one way or another. Justin Holcomb writes for Christianity.com, “While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated.” Many families observe the season by lighting candles in an advent wreath, reading scripture together, and praying each day.
Over the next four weeks, our devotions will focus on the themes of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Hope from the Past
For centuries the Israelites had been waiting for, longing for, the promised Messiah. Through the years God, through the prophets, had promised to send the Messiah to deliver his children. The Jews had been in captivity for generations and although they were allowed to practice their faith, they were still under the control of other nations. In spite of the miserable circumstances of their daily lives, many of the Jewish people had a profound hope, as they waited for the words of the prophets to come to pass --- that God would deliver them by sending the Messiah. The difficulties of their daily lives must have made the great promise too much to hope for at times. It is probable that hope may have faded, or been completely lost, for others. But is clear from many New Testament examples, that there were others who firmly, confidently, believed that the prophesies concerning the Messiah would come to pass.
Jesus did come; and his arrival fulfilled the prophesies of old, not just for the Jews, but for all the world. The apostle Paul refers to the opening passage in Romans 15:12, And again Isaiah says, The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope. Jesus came to be the Savior for everyone who recognizes Him as Messiah and worships Him as the Son of God.
Hope in the Present
A ship’s anchors secure the vessel in a storm by preventing it from pivoting and being hit broadside by waves. It can keep the boat from being capsized. Hebrews 6:19-20 says, We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. This passage compares our hope in Jesus to an anchor. An anchor doesn’t change the reality of the storm, it’s just as ferocious --- but the anchor provides stability in the storm. In the same way, hope in Christ doesn’t change the difficult circumstances of life, but it does remind us that we are held secure by the Eternal One who will never change. When you’re overwhelmed by the circumstances of your life, remember that Jesus is your anchor. Keep your eyes fixed on Him and trust that you are not outside His sovereign care.
Hope for the Future
Romans 5:1-5 says,
Our focus at Christmas time is usually around the baby in the manger. The story is precious, but it doesn’t end there. Jesus humbled himself to come to the world in the most humble of circumstances, born in a stable, surrounded by animals and dirt. He lived the first 30 years in relative obscurity. He left his home and began his earthly ministry, was arrested and tried unjustly, crucified and buried. He rose again a returned to the Father in heaven.
That’s not the end of the story either! He will return for us in power and glory, fulfilling the rest of the prophesies about himself. And that is where our future hope resides…when Christ returns and sets all things right. We can think of hope as the promises of God fulfilled in Christ.
- Pray for gospel opportunities during the Advent season, where we can share the true meaning of Christmas
- Pray for opportunities to help others focus on the hope we have in the present and in the future because of what Christ has already done for us.
Bible Passages for Daily Reading
Sunday – Isaiah 40:1-5
Monday – Isaiah 52:7-9
Tuesday – Isaiah 40:9-11
Wednesday – Genesis 3:8-15
Thursday – Genesis 15:1-6
Friday – Deuteronomy 18:15-19
Saturday – Psalm 89:1-4