Monthly Archives: December 2018

We’re expecting! The journey of Advent.

 

ADVENT REFLECTIONS 3 – 25 December 2018

During Advent we join with all creation as it groans and longs for its Saviour (Romans 8:22-25). It is a groaning and longing that is filled with expectation, for we know that God’s love compels God to act on behalf of His beloved people. Jesus has come, Jesus is coming again!

Each day follow this pattern:

  • Begin each devotional time with a period of stillness: You are waiting, but in expectation.
  • Read the scripture set for the day.
  • Then read the ‘Reflect’ focus. How does this scripture reflect our longing for God to be with us? How does this scripture reflect God’s faithfulness in coming to us in our need?
  • Thank God for this longing that God has placed within us, and for God’s faithfulness in coming to us.
  • Then ‘Pray’ as suggested

Monday 3rd December – BLESSING FOR THE WORLD

Read: Genesis 12: 1 – 3

Reflect: Centuries ago God promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation. Not only this, but through Abraham God promised that all people would be blessed. This promise comes to its fullest expression through Jesus. We receive God’s blessing through Him and are called to share that blessing as we reach out to those around us.

Pray: For opportunities to bring God’s blessing into the lives of others today.

Tuesday 4th December – BETHLEHEM ROOTS

Read: Ruth 4: 11 – 22

Reflect: Bethlehem features early in Jesus’ story! God often uses the seemingly insignificant and unimportant situations and people, and weaves them into His plan. Here, Ruth, a Gentile widow living in Bethlehem becomes a key character in the genealogy of David and, hence, Jesus. Don’t underestimate the significance of God’s work among ordinary people – people like us.

Pray: Look back and thank God for the ways you’ve seen Him at work in your life.

Wednesday 5th December – IMMANUEL

Read: Isaiah 7: 12 – 14

Reflect: A baby may seem a small thing as a sign of hope. But when His name means God with us then there is hope. When God offers a sign of hope, no matter how small the glimmer,  it’s worth clinging to with everything we’ve got – because no matter how bad things look, then ‘God with us’ is the best that there can be.

Pray: for those who lack hope today, that they’d experience God with them.

Thursday 6th December – THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Read Isaiah 9: 2 – 7

Reflect: God raised Isaiah’s vision to the future hope that would one day be fulfilled in Jesus. Even though Isaiah couldn’t have known how or when God would do it, he sees clearly the birth of a baby – the one who would be called ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ In a dark world the light shines in Jesus.

Pray: for opportunities to share His light today.

Friday 7th December – HOPE

Read Isaiah 11: 1 – 5

Reflect: A Saviour is coming. From the stump (Israel) and from the family line of David (Jesse), Jesus would be born. There was still hope for the ‘fallen’ tree of Israel. For us too, though we are fallen, there is hope through God’s Son.

Pray: Ask the Holy Spirit to rest on you today. Take time to delight in God. Be ready to share the hope He brings with those you meet today.

Saturday 8th December – SHOUT FOR JOY

Read Isaiah 35

Reflect: Isaiah looks ahead and sees all of nature cheering at the brilliance of God. Jesus is the one who would bring healing to the diseased and make the ‘feeble’ strong. Jesus himself is the ‘Way of Holiness’. We were once struggling along in the desert, too. What a great hope we have to share with people.

Pray: for opportunities to share this hope today.

Sunday 9th December – GET READY!

Read Isaiah 40: 1 – 5 and Luke 3:1-6

Reflect: For God’s captive, exiled people Isaiah prophecy brought good news – one day they’d be set free. As Christmas approaches, what might it mean for us to ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’ (v3). When Isaiah 40:3 – 5 is quoted in Luke, it’s clear that it’s in the context of repentance – preparation to allow God into our hearts.

Pray: confess anything that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus.

Monday 10th December – GOD’S CHOSEN ONE

Read Isaiah 42: 1 – 9

Reflect: Four hundred years before Jesus’ birth Isaiah paints an intimate word picture of the Father’s love for His only Son and the nature of His vocation. Through the prophet’s words God makes promise after promise about what ‘his servant’ will do and what He will be like. The hallmarks of justice, compassion and the light of God’s presence will be stamped on every detail of the new covenant.

Pray: ‘Lord, give me your heart of compassion, your sensitivity to the vulnerable and weak.’

Tuesday 11th December – THE SUFFERING SERVANT

Read Isaiah 53: 1 – 6

Reflect: Isaiah sensed that God’s saving plan would only come through suffering. Israel was expecting God’s Saviour, but what would He be like? Humble, vulnerable, not good-looking, not oozing charm; He’s the one people overlook. He knows about pain. Read verses 4 – 6 again slowly as you meditate on Jesus’ death on the cross for you.

Pray: It was all done for us. Thank God for His servant Jesus.

Wednesday 12th December – CONSIDER JESUS

Read Isaiah 53: 7 – 12

Reflect: Take a moment to pause in awe and wonder. We are on holy ground here touching the Father heart of a God whose nature is love, seeing again that grace is completely free yet enormously costly. Reading this description of God’s servant we are moved by his commitment to the task and by his willingness to suffer for others.

Pray: Spend some time in wonder that it is God doing this for us.

Thursday 13th December – GOOD NEWS!

Read Isaiah 61: 1 – 3

Reflect: God’s true compassion is revealed in this word of hope for the down-trodden and broken-hearted. God’s new day is dawning and He will bring an end to injustice. The poor will hear and know that they matter to God, the broken-hearted will be strengthened, the captives of fear and sin will be released and the grieving will find comfort.

Pray: Who are the poor and broken-hearted in your community? Will you tell them the good news?

Friday 14th December – PROMISE FULFILLED

Read Jeremiah 33: 14 – 16

Reflect: Jeremiah’s listeners must have all been filled with hope when they heard God’s promise to them here. Despite their failures, God was ensuring stability and safety for Judah and Jerusalem and his continuing commitment to His chosen people. But it was also a promise for all people fulfilled through Jesus, the Lord, our Righteousness.

Pray: Thank Jesus that all the promises of God find their ‘yes’ in Him.

Saturday 15th December – A RULER FROM BETHLEHEM

Read Micah 5: 1 -5a

Reflect: Bethlehem was an obscure village south of Jerusalem yet it is from here that God’s promised ruler would come. He promises to bring something out of nothing. He promises to do that for us too. No matter how insignificant and ordinary we may think we are God’s plans for us are breath-taking. Guidance, care, security and peace are available for all God’s family.

Pray: place your life in God’s hands once more, trusting in His plans for you.

Sunday 16th December – THE COMING OF JESUS

Read Matthew 1: 1 – 17  Luke 3:16-18

Reflect: Descended from Abraham and David, Matthew wanted to show his Hebrew readers that Jesus IS the Messiah, the one God had promised to send. Whether righteous or sinners, kings or poor, all of these people in the list played a role in God’s great plan to bring salvation to the world through Jesus. Most were unaware of the part they played.

Pray: Use me for Your purposes today, Lord.

Monday  17th December – SURPRISE!

Read Luke 1: 26 – 38

Reflect: The angel tells Mary she is going to give birth to the Messiah, the one whom god has promised would reign forever – not just over Israel but over the whole world. This King would be God’s Son. How would you have responded? Mary is available and willing to serve, to go where God leads knowing that His grace will supply all that she needs.

Pray: Father, give me the same willingness to follow You.

Tuesday 18th December – PREPARE FOR THE LORD

Read Luke 1: 5 – 17

Reflect: Do you sometimes respond unbelievingly to God? It seems that Zechariah needed to learn that God will perform what He has promised but in His time and His ways, which may be unexpected, even mysterious. The child to be born would play a vital role in God’s purposes. God’s plan would be worked out through the void in this couple’s life being filled.

Pray: Lord, help my unbelief.

Wednesday 19th December – ZECHARIAH’S SONG

Read Luke 1: 57 – 58, 67 – 80

Reflect: Zechariah’s song expresses his praise, first for God’s gift of a Saviour and then for his own son, John, who would ‘prepare the way’. The neighbours joined in the celebrations. (v 58) God’s story has amazing power on its own. Sometimes we need to explain it and sometimes we need to let it make its own impact.

Pray: Ask God to help you share your story with a neighbour today.

Thursday 20th December – THE KING IS COMING

Read Matthew 3: 1 – 6

Reflect: John the Baptist announces the coming King. The essential requirement was a change of heart and mind leading to a change in behaviour. How do we approach for the King’s approach? Have we become complacent about His grace and His forgiveness? What might living a life to please the King look like for you?

Pray: Confess your sins to God today, asking Him to cleanse you and forgive you.

Friday 21st December – JOSEPH AND MARY

Read Matthew 1: 18 – 25

Reflect: Joseph may have wanted children at some point in his life, but not now, not this way. The unmarried status of this engaged couple made them both vulnerable: if this got out reputations and lives would be ruined. But Joseph’s stature in this story is immense. He is prepared to trust God and not the conventions of his age – he does what the angel commands.

Pray: Lord, show me how I too may hear and obey You.

Saturday 22nd December – THERE IS A REDEEMER

Read Job 19: 23 – 27

Reflect: In the place of the deepest despair, pain, confusion and suffering Job pours out his heart to God. Suddenly, his words have a deep sense of conviction and assurance that God is his redeemer. Though God seems to have brought trouble on him, He will also bring about his salvation.

Pray: Thank Jesus for being your redeemer. Trust Him for difficult circumstances today.

Sunday 23rd December – LIGHT FOR THE WORLD

Read John 1: 1 – 18

Reflect: Jesus, The Word, has come into our world. What amazing words, so simple in language, so profound in truth. As the glory entered the Old Testament tabernacle, so Jesus entered our world. The one who was with God before all creation entered that creation to live among us and in us!

Pray: There is only one source of real hope; there is only one source of true light. Worship Him now.

Monday 24th December – SHEPHERDS AND ANGELS

Read Luke 2: 8 – 20

Reflect: You can’t help feeling some sympathy for these unsuspecting shepherds who are suddenly blasted with enough light to flood a football stadium and given a message of monumental significance. But once they get over the shock they don’t waste time but hurry off to look for the sign the angel told them about.

Pray: Are you prepared for the unexpected today? God might just surprise you!

Tues 25 December – THE BIRTH OF JESUS

Read Luke 2: 1 – 7

Reflect: Being born in an animal’s feeding trough isn’t what you’d expect for the long-awaited Messiah. Yet this is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. If we were arranging the birth of the Saviour of the world we might have organised a rather more spectacular entry!

Pray: Worship Jesus today – the one who came in humility but who brought our salvation.