Advent Devotioanl ~ Dec. 4 by Ron Forrester

Philippians 1:18b-26 [Words from the Apostle Paul]

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,  so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” Philippians 1:18b-26 (NIV)

The apostle Paul expresses a fervent hope that he would, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, always have the courage and ability to serve Christ effectively and passionately – even from a prison cell! Hope is an important part of who Paul was as a believer and follower of Christ. Without hope for the future, we sometimes find ourselves drifting away from God and His will for our lives. We start replacing God is our lives with other things that give us short-term satisfaction but that have no lasting or permanent value spirituality. How do we refocus our spiritual selves to put Jesus first in our lives like Paul did after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus? The answer is simple – we turn our eyes to Jesus on whom our hope is built. We turn to the cross and we turn to His humble birth to remind us of God’s promises. After all, for Christians our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Christ is the truth, the way and the life, the solid rock on which we stand since our life experiences tell us all other ground is sinking sand.

Normally at this time of year my thoughts are monopolized by a multitude of tasks that need to get done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lists are compiled and my focus is on finding just the right gift for my family members, friends, and other special people in my life that I want to remember at this joyous time of the year. I look forward to beautifully wrapped gifts, family visits, Christmas lights, and Christmas songs. I too often allow myself to get caught up in the hype of the season, which is not all bad, but leads me to neglect turning my eyes to Jesus and, thereby, failing to properly celebrate his miraculous birth in a lowly stable in Bethlehem.

This Advent season let us all focus on the miraculous birth of our Savoir and Lord that gives us all hope for eternity through God’s love and grace for us. We should be shouting – “Come Lord Jesus come” so the Holy Spirit can fill us with joy, hope and love. We then can truly focus on the glorious birth of our Lord and Savior.

Prayer: God, we are grateful that you loved us enough to put on flesh, to come and pitch your tent beside us, to become a vulnerable baby. May we truly understand the power of your love for us through the birth of your son Jesus. Let us share this awesome love with others during this Advent season. Let us celebrate each day of the Advent season with a renewed hope focusing on the upcoming celebration of the birth of your son, Jesus; our Savior and Lord. Amen.

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