Week One: The Waiting

WEEK ONE: THE WAITING

 
Prepare-Devotion.jpg
 

I am a planner by nature.  I am always planning for or thinking about what’s next:  what’s coming up on the calendar not just this week, but the next couple of months or next summer; where we are going on our next vacation; whether we are going to have three or four kids and when do we want them to be born (like we have any control over this); and the list goes on and on.  Being a planner is not a bad quality to have, but sometimes I find myself struggling to truly experience and enjoy the present.

Unfortunately, the Christmas season can be filled with unimportant distractions and over the top to do lists.  Instead of experiencing and capturing the miracle of our Savior, Jesus Christ’s birth, we find ourselves planning and scheduling all of our free time with activities; shopping, parties, food, and anything to create that “perfect” Christmas.  In reality, Advent is a time for preparing our hearts, minds, souls, and Spirit for the saving grace of Jesus and for learning again how to wait with the eagerness of a child.  I challenge us as we start the Advent season to eliminate some of the unnecessary distractions and focus on being present with Jesus. In doing so, we might fully experience Him and enjoy the gift we have been given through His birth.

Keystone Hughes

 

 
Prepare-Weekly-Prayer.jpg
 

Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 


Day One: 

How amazing is it that our God sent His son Jesus down from Heaven to become human like us!?  God’s love for us is beyond our understanding.  He loves us so much that He sent His son Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us,” to live among us, to teach us, to comfort us, to challenge us, to love us, and to suffer and die for us.

Isaiah 7:14 – Father God, Isaiah predicted the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, when he told the people, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  You are a faithful God, giving people hope with these words and fulfilling your promise.  May we come to know your faithfulness in a deeper way.  May we accept the hope you have given us through your Son, Jesus.  Thank you for this awesome gift.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ask yourself — When was the last time I stopped to thank God for the gift of Jesus?  Do I truly believe in our God’s faithfulness?  Have I accepted the hope that comes through Jesus, and am I sharing the hope I have with those around me?  Share that hope with one person this week.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 


Day Two:

When we think about the Christmas story, we immediately think of baby Jesus. Other main characters tend to be the shepherds in the pasture or the Magi from the east. But let’s consider this story for a moment:  a young, poor teenage girl, Mary, is engaged to a carpenter, and they are looking forward to a happy, simple life together in Nazareth.  Then, one day an angel appears to her and says that she will conceive and give birth to the Son of God.  Now, her fiancé Joseph and all the people in this small town do not believe Mary, so they ridicule her, call her terrible names, and practically banish her from the town because she is pregnant out of wedlock. This goes on for nine months.  Now she is ready to give birth to the baby, but instead of being able to wait in the comfort of her own home, she has to travel, by donkey, to Bethlehem.  She is able to bear the trip, but as they arrive in the crowded town, they are unable to find a suitable place to stay.  She ends up giving birth to the Son of God amongst animals, dirty straw, and unsanitary conditions.  Not exactly the story we would envision for the mother who is birthing of Son of God.

Luke 1:30-33 -- Father God, your angel told Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”  You gave her words of encouragement before she knew of any of the hardships that were to come.  You gave her hope in the fact that whatever she was about to go through would be worth it because she would give birth to the “Son of the Most High,” and “his kingdom would never end.”  Today, as I await your arrival, you are delivering this same message to me, “Do not be afraid” for my Son Jesus will reign forever and his kingdom will never end.  Father, thank you for your promises and let me hold tight to them knowing you are always faithful.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Ask yourself — What am I afraid of today?  What do I need to let go of so that I may trust in God’s promises?  Do I need to share this encouragement with someone I know?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 


Day Three:

Jesus is coming again!  Are we ready for his arrival?  We are called to keep watch at all hours expecting his arrival.  However, we cannot miss the other call to “be dressed ready for service and [to] keep our lamps burning.”  We must be serving as we wait, helping prepare ourselves and others for his coming.  We must keep the lamps burning, a task which takes work.  We are not to sit idle letting our energy go to waste.  Rather, we must continually be working to prepare his Kingdom on earth.

Luke 12:35-40 — Father God, you call me to “be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks, they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.”

You tell me that my master “will dress himself to serve, will have [His guests] recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.” I understand that, like the owner of the house, I won’t know at what hour the thief is coming, so I also must be ready, because “the Son of Man will come at an hour when I do not expect him.”

Lord, help me not be idle as I wait but to continue to serve You and expand your Kingdom here on earth.  I pray I would not grow weary as I wait but would be energized by faith that You are returning.  Let me share the hope I have that You have overcome evil and I too will be with you in eternity.  Thank You for the hope you have given me through your Son Jesus.  In His name I pray, amen.

Ask yourself — What am I doing to serve God as I wait for His arrival?  How am I preparing for the day I will meet Jesus face to face?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 


Day Four: 

Patience is the ability to be steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity; the act of bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; not hasty or impetuous.   This definition is why we find patience to be difficult.  We do not like opposition, adversity, pains or trials.  We definitely don’t like to face it calmly or without complaining.  However, we are not alone in our quest to be patient because we have the strength of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.

James 5:7-8 -- Father God, I thank you for Your Holy Spirit living inside of me.  Without Your power I am weak and only as strong as my human body, but with You I can do all things!  Lord, help me be patient, until the Lord’s coming. I want to be as the farmer who waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. I want to be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Give me the strength and courage to be patient as I wait for you.  May I live with this confidence each day calling on Your Spirit to guide my way.  In Jesus’s name I pray, amen.

Ask yourself — Am I practicing the fruit of the Spirit of patience with God and with others?  How can I call on the strength of the Holy Spirit to help me be more patient?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Day Five: 

Praise the name of Jesus Christ!!  He is our hope and joy.  Let our hearts rejoice during this season as we look forward to the birth of Jesus.

Psalm 33:20-22 -- Father God, ( wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 130:5-6 -- Father, I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

I praise Your holy name.  My heart rejoices for what you have done for me through Your Son Jesus Christ!  May your unfailing love be with me as I eagerly wait for you and as I put my hope and trust in you.  You are a loving and gracious God.  Praise Your holy name!

Ask yourself — Is my hope in the Lord?  Does my heart rejoice for the Lord as the psalmist’s does?  Or do I get bogged down by the brokenness of this world?  I will praise the name of my Lord today and every day!

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Day Six: 

This is the season of joy and giving. Let us live like “Christians, Christ-like,” showing the world our joy and practicing hospitality through our love and giving. Let the Lord’s love and compassion flow through us to all we come across this Christmas season.

Romans 12:12-13 -- Father God, your Word tells me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, and that I am to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality.

I thank you that I know the joy and hope that comes from knowing your Son, Jesus, intimately. May His light shine through me this season and every season as I share your hope with others. I thank You for the many blessings You have provided and pray that I would use them to bless those people in need. May my heart and hands be open and generous beyond what even I think is possible so that You may be glorified. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Ask yourself — How can I practice joy as I hope in the Lord? How does it look for me to be patient in my afflictions? What can I do to be more faithful in prayer? How might I share with those who are in need?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Day Seven: 

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending me the greatest gift of all in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me to build margin in my life during this season so that I may be present with You.  Lord, prepare my heart, mind, soul, and spirit for his arrival.  May I fully experience your graciousness and love and share your gift with all those I encounter.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 
 

Day Seven:  As the Advent season begins and we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called to rejoice in the hope of our Savior, to be thankful for the ultimate gift of His Son, to be encouraged by His faithfulness, to be prepared and actively waiting for His arrival, to be patient as we wait, to be joyful in our waiting, and to share our joy and blessings with others in need. Look over your notes/prayers from the past week.  What seems meaningful to you?  Did you receive any insight, inspiration, or challenge?  Does something require more prayer of discernment?  How can you be more joyful, rejoicing in who God is and what He has done for you through the birth and death of His Son Jesus?  Does the gift of Jesus touch you deeper this season, transforming your heart, soul, and Spirit to be more like Jesus?  Has God opened your heart to be more focused on loving Him more deeply and loving others as you love yourself?  What actions has God put on your heart this week?  How will you respond? 

Catherine HortonComment