Sunday, December 2nd
Isaiah 61:1-3 I Acts 13:32-35
The wonder that captivates us at Christmas is intimately connected to God’s plan present throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, we meet Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, David, Ruth, Rahab and others who are wrapped up in God’s grand plan. This plan holds the weight of eternity, as all creation waits for the promised Savior to be revealed. At Christmas, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, enters our world.
In celebrating Advent, we don’t simply celebrate Christmas in a reflective or sentimental manner. In adoration, we look back at the breakthrough of God’s Son into our lost world; but in anticipation, we also look forward to Christ’s glorious return. We celebrate the fulfilled promise of Christ’s holy birth, and we wait for the promise of His return to be fulfilled. Like Israel, we live in anticipation of our Messiah’s coming.
Heavenly Father, just as You have kept your promise to Israel in sending Jesus, You will keep Your promise in sending Your Son back. Our hope rests in You, and as we read the Scriptures and reflect on your faithfulness in our own lives, we know that You can be trusted. We praise You, Lord, for the glory of your Name is wrapped up in every promise You make.
Tuesday, December 4th
Longing for Jesus
Luke 2:25-35 | Luke 21:7-9; 25-28
In the gospel of Luke, we meet Simeon. For decades, this God-fearing man has been waiting for the promised Messiah. By the word of the Holy Spirit, Simeon knows he will not die before he sees his Savior. Beyond wishful thinking, Simeon’s hope is deeply rooted in the person of Christ. As Mary and Joseph approach the temple with baby Jesus, Simeon’s pent up hope and anticipation release in passionate praise. Holding Jesus in his arms, Simeon rejoices as his faith is turned to sight. What he has longed for and believed in is now before his eyes.
Simeon declares that the Messiah – the comfort for the Jews and the light for the Gentiles – has come. “Jesus Christ is the consolation of the Father’s open arms to Jew and Gentile.”* Simeon’s longing was set on the arrival of the promised Messiah; and in holding Christ, Simeon sees the One who would satisfy the longing of every human heart, both Jew and Gentile.
Heavenly Father, as Simeon longed for Christ’s coming, so we long for Christ’s return. We rejoice and wait in anticipation, for just as Simeon’s faith was made sight, so one day, we will also lift up our eyes and see our redemption come. One day, we will see our Savior face to face.
*John Piper, “Preparing to Receive Christ: Looking for the Consolation of Israel.” Online Sermon, 21 December 1986.
Thursday, December 6th
Luke 1:26-38 | Heb. 11:8-12
From the opening lines of Scripture, we see the Triune God – Father, Son & Holy Spirit – working in the midst of emptiness and impossibility. Abraham and Sarah come on the scene, and it is through this couple that God chooses to raise up the nation of Israel. However, with Sarah beyond her childbearing years, God’s promise to create a nation from their offspring does not look hopeful. But these circumstances are fertile ground for God to move as only He can – in the realm of the impossible. From emptiness, God creates the world and from barrenness, God creates a nation.
In Luke, we face another impossibility as the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces she will be the mother of the Messiah. “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary asks. Again, God’s plan is veiled in hopeless circumstances, but as it was for Abraham and Sarah, so it will be for Mary. The promises of God cannot fail, and His word will not return void. This time, God Himself steps onto the scene and is birthed through the impossible.