It’s the most wonderful time of the year isn’t it? There is a general excitement that fills the air this time of year. There is also a general sense of urgency and hurriedness with everyone. We’ve got to make it to the next party, the next dinner, the next performance, and on and on. Our calendars are overloaded, and our attention divided. One thing I believe is important in the rush is to take a few minutes and slow down. I wrote about the importance of focus in the busyness of life a while back so this won’t be focused (pun intended) on that. Rather I want to take a few quick minutes over the next several weeks and look at Advent.
If you’re unfamiliar, Advent simply means a coming into place or an arrival. In Christendom when we talk about celebrating Advent we are talking about the coming or arrival of Christ. Advent is really the whole reason we as Christians celebrate Christmas. So over the next 4 weeks I want to take a look at the 4 days of advent. I will try and write these in a way that you could use them for yourself or with your family as a devotion to help you focus on Jesus. Take some time and look up each passage and read it with the family, discuss or meditate on them throughout your day and week.
The first part we are looking at is “Hope”. We are going to break down the Hope we have at Christmas in 4 categories.
1-Hope Looked For
Ephesians 1 tells us that from before the foundations of the world God had a plan to redeem us (Ephesians 1:3-6). We see His promise of salvation as early as Genesis 3 that God promised one who would come and crush the serpents head (Genesis 3:14-15). From Genesis 3 on this hope was looked for and in Genesis 12:3 God promises Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed. The promise gets more specific and God’s people learned it would be through Abraham that this hope would come. Then, Isaiah the prophet says in Isaiah 9:6 that a child would be born who would carry the government and would be our Counselor, God, Father, and Prince of peace. I won’t go through every prophetic passage in the Old Testament about the person and work of Christ because that would take entirely too long for our purposes with these posts. My point is, people were looking for hope, someone who would come and fulfill these things and they were looking forward to that Hope.
What happened at Christmas is the coming of that hope. The child that would bless all nations, the one who would one day perfectly rule was born. Luke 2:11 says the child born in Bethlehem was our Savior. That hope of the one who came to crush the serpents head was born. John the Baptist recognizes this when He says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Hope is here, hope is now. The Savior promised has come and now we hope in His second coming when our hope of salvation is fully realized.
While we can now experience the reality of salvation that comes through Christ’s sacrifice we won’t fully realize the hope that it gives us until He comes again. See, while we get to experience the blessing of a right relationship with God we won’t get to fully experience that until He comes again and does away with sin and Satan once and for all. We still have to deal with bodies that get sick and break down, but 1 Corinthians 15:52 promises us that in a moment the dead will be raised, and we will all be changed. Perhaps the best picture of hope is seen in Revelation 21:4 when we are promised that one day Christ will come back, and He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more sorrow or pain. While we can experience the hope and reality that Christ has come to save us we will one day fully realize the hope of Him coming again. We now eagerly wait for our “blessed hope” as Titus 2:13 puts it.
This is what Christmas is all about. Recognizing we have the hope, that God fulfills His promises. Just like He promised a Savior and the Old Testament saints looked forward to that Hope and it was fulfilled in Christ, we can look forward in Hope to the day when Christ will come and establish His Kingdom.
Don’t just think about Christmas as the story of Christ’s birth. It certainly is that, but the Christmas story is just part of the story. It’s the part of the story that fulfills hope and gives hope.
Christmas is the hope of a Savior who came to give us hope for the future.
Richie Gibson-Youth Pastor