Another Christmas season is upon us. If you could sum up how you feel about the coming Christmas season in one word, what would that word be? For however many are reading this, there is probably that many different answers. The word that comes to my mind is preparation. I think, we all prepare for a lot of “things” during this month. We prepare the place we live in, by decorating it inside and, for some of us, outside. We might have a Christmas tree, and so we prepare it by decorating it with lights and ornaments and tinsel. We prepare to give gifts to friends and loved ones, and so we go to the mall or maybe shop on line to find the right gift. And then we take time to wrap that gift and prepare it to make it look special. We prepare for our Christmas meal, and so we buy food and make special dishes and desserts that we don’t have at other times of the year. Now think about the amount of time have you will spend in preparing for the Christmas season? I recognize we all may have different levels of preparation and the amount of time we spend preparing for this season. But here is where I think we need to stop. We need to stop and take a look at how much time we are spending on preparing our hearts for one of the greatest seasons in the calendar year for a follower of Christ.
Well you may ask, “how can I prepare my heart for these days ahead”? One of the ways we can do that is through the four weeks before Christmas called the Advent season. Advent is about taking time to prepare. As followers of Christ, Advent is a great way for us to prepare our hearts. Advent is known for its wreath and candles, however, over these next four weeks I have prepared a daily scripture reading (Nov 29 – Dec 25) to go along with the focus of the weekly candle that is traditionally lit. We are now into the first week of the Advent season and with this being December 2, it means that this week you are a few days behind but you can make it up quickly. So, as you read through the passages for each day and each week, take time to ponder and meditate on them. Let the Holy Spirt reveal to you how each passage applies to your heart and life. Most of these passages are not the traditional Christmas passages but as you read them, they will help you prepare your heart not just for this Christmas season but for your life. May the Lord bless you as you read these words. (note: I have based the passages on the ESV version)
WEEK ONE – NOVEMBER 29 – DECEMBER 5 – HOPE
During the first week of Advent a purple candle is lit as the CANDLE OF HOPE. We have hope in a faithful God who will keep the promises He made to us, particularly that of His return. The word hope can be confused at times with wishful thinking. From a worldly perspective, if we hope something will happen, we really have no control over whether or not it will take place. A worldly hope is flimsy and based on wishful thinking. But the Biblical meaning of hope is very different. Hope in the Bible conveys a secure assurance, a trust in a trustworthy God. Hope waits and endures. Hope in Christ provides strength in times of sorrow or adversity. It provides security in knowing that Christ will come back one day and we will see Him face to face. As many have found in the Bible and throughout the ages, with hope they could endure trials, despair, persecution and abandonment. It is the same for us. And so, we say along with the writers of the Bible that our hope comes from God. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 62:5 FOR GOD ALONE, O MY SOUL, WAIT IN SILENCE, FOR MY HOPE IS FROM HIM. As you read these passages, see the hope we have in and because of Jesus.
Sunday, November 29 – Psalm 146
Monday, November 30 – Romans 15:8-13
Tuesday, December 1 – I Peter 1:3-9
Wednesday, December 2 – Isaiah 43:1-21
Thursday, December 3 – Hebrews 10:19-25
Friday, December 4 – I Peter 1:13-21
Saturday, December 5 – Romans 8:18-25
WEEK TWO – DECEMBER 6 – 12 – LOVE
During the second week, another purple candle is lit. It is known as the CANDLE OF LOVE. The Bible has a lot say about love. Depending on your translation of the Bible the word love appears anywhere from 100-300 times. One of the most notable scriptures depicting the love of God, is John 3:16. God has shown us His love by sending His son to this world as a baby, who grew to be a man and in love died for us. Again, as you read these passages this week, may you spend the time to prepare your heart for the Christmas season and see anew the love Christ has for you.
Sunday, December 6 – Psalm 118
Monday, December 7 – John 15:8-17
Tuesday, December 8 – I Corinthians 13
Wednesday, December 9 – Romans 5:1-8
Thursday, December 10 – Matthew 22:34-37
Friday, December 11 – Ephesians 2:1-10
Saturday, December 12 – I John 4:7-21
WEEK THREE – DECEMBER 13- 19 - JOY
This week a pink candle is lit and it is the CANDLE OF JOY. The angels sang a message of JOY when they told the shepherds a Savior has been born. There was much joy when the shepherds came to Bethlehem and found the baby just as the angels had told them. We must remember that if we are to have that true everlasting joy, it can only come from the One who has perfected it. Yes, we have those moments of joy in our lives, but the deep joy we can have through all that we endure in this life is only through Jesus. Our joy is only complete when it is centered on the fullness and completeness found in Christ. Joy comes in knowing that one day the Savior will be back to take us home and live with Him for eternity. Joy comes when we spend time in God’s word and talk to Him in prayer. Joy can be yours at Christmas when you once again celebrate His coming to this earth.
Sunday, December 13 – Psalm 30:1-5
Monday, December 14 – John 16:16-24
Tuesday, December 15 – Philippians 2:1-10
Wednesday, December 16 – James 1:2-4
Thursday, December 17 – I John 1:1-4
Friday, December 18 – Luke 1:39-55
Saturday, December 19 – Psalm 100
WEEK FOUR – DECEMBER 20 – 25 - PEACE –
The last candle of Advent is the color purple and this is the CANDLE OF PEACE. It is also known as the angel’s candle. The angles announced the good news of a Savior who was Jesus, the Prince of Peace who offers peace to our hearts. However, what we need to remember is that at the time of His birth the Israelites were looking for a Savior who would free them from Roman oppression and slavery that they were experiencing. But Jesus had another way. As the Prince of Peace, He established His kingdom much differently. As you read these verses about PEACE may your heart be encouraged and strengthened.
Sunday, December 20 – Psalm 85
Monday, December 21 – John 14:25-30
Tuesday, December 22 – Philippians 4:4-9
Wednesday, December 23 – Colossians 1:15-23
Thursday, December 24 – Luke 2:8-20
Friday, December 25 – Isaiah 9:1-7