Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year! As the Advent season gets into high gear, let’s pause each morning together, Monday thru Friday, here at Jumpstart to get perspective and keep proper focus. You might ask the question, “What is Advent?” Quick refresher: The word Advent is a derived from latin, and it means “coming.” Noel Piper says, “…it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus… Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating. They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.”
The Advent season consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and is designed to remind us of our true longing for the Prince of Peace. The song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel is quite fitting as a description of what Advent means to us. Justin Holcomb put it this way: “While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.”
Not too long ago, John Piper wrote a fantastic family devotional called, “Good News For Great Joy” that I have gone through a few times. It has served as an appropriate encouragement to my heart in this special season. We’ll refer to it a few times over the weeks to come. Here is his opening-day reading.
“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16–17)
What John the Baptist did for Israel, Advent can do for us. Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared. I mean spiritually unprepared. Its joy and impact will be so much greater if you are ready!
That you might be prepared . . .
First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior. Let these short Advent meditations help awaken in you a bittersweet sense of need for the Savior.
Second, engage in sober self-examination. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Let every heart prepare him room . . . by cleaning house.
Third, build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your home — especially for the children. If you are excited about Christ, they will be too. If you can only make Christmas exciting with material things, how will the children get a thirst for God? Bend the efforts of your imagination to make the wonder of the King’s arrival visible for the children.
Fourth, be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages! “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord!” Gather ’round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.
(Devotional credit: John Piper, Good News For Great Joy)