Although Advent is meant to be a time of quiet contemplation as we prepare for the “coming” (or “advent”) of Jesus, for many of us it is simply a time of increased stress and strain. In fact, it is easy to become completely overwhelmed with ever-growing shopping lists, endless parties, and a feeling that we should be happy all the time. Christians will talk a lot about “putting Christ back in Christmas,” but the question is, “How?”
One simple way we can push back against all these pressures is to zealously guard our quiet time with God. This isn’t legalism, it’s common sense. God will love us the same whether we read our Bible and pray every day or not. As a display of His grace, God will still work in our lives and answer our prayers even if we fail to slow down to listen to His voice.
However, we will feel closer to God, and feel more grounded in the middle of all the chaos, if we invest some time each day to read God’s Word and pray. Moreover, while we are glad to provide these devotionals as a resource to you, they do not function in the same way as reading God’s Word. For example, this month I am personally going to read through the Book of Deuteronomy, and I may read some Psalms in there as well. I encourage you to pick a plan that works for you, and then go for it.
As for the devotionals, this week we continue our series, “Comfort and Joy,” rooted in two key texts often associated with Christmas. Read and reflect on the following passages. How is Jesus’ birth good news for you this year? In what areas of your life are you praying for God to shine His light, bringing hope and healing and restoration?
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15)
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.