What's on your Christmas wish list this year? Is there one item in particular that you're hoping to receive?
As you prepare for the gift-giving season, let's take the opportunity to remember the greatest Gift of all and our reason for hope.
There are 3 reminders in Isaiah 59 that we should meditate on:
1. The Gift Of Hope Needs To Solve The Problem
Why do we hope for certain Christmas gifts? Because we think that what we currently have doesn't solve our problem, or what we don't yet have will.
When it comes to our lives, we like to think that our biggest, deepest problems are external, not internal. "It's someone else's fault, or the result of a situation or location," we reason with ourselves. "But certainly not us."
The Bible says differently: "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you." (59:2)
Advent is a real hope story because God sent the greatest Gift of all to solve the greateast problem of all - our sinful heart.
2. The Doorway To Hope Is Hopelessness
When we've been accused of being the problem, there are only two options: deny the accusation and attempt to shift the blame, or accept the accusation and make a personal confession.
In Isaiah 59, the Israelites humbled themselves and chose the latter: "For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities." (v. 12)
It's only when we abandon our hope in our personal righteousness that we will seek the hope that Jesus offers. Hopelessness in horizontal hope or in ourselves opens the door to lasting hope in Christ.
This Christmas, remember that no earthly gift can supply lasting hope, and use the Advent season to confess your need once more for the righteousness of Christ.
3. The Gift Of Hope Came As A Baby
The Advent story is all about hope - hope needed, hope promised, and hope fulfilled.
I love this verse: "The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation." (vv.15-16)
As you begin to see presents under the tree and hope that your wish list was answered, take the time to remind yourself and your family that the hope of your life is not a gift wrapped in paper and placed under a tree.
The gift of life - both now and forever - was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger, and would later hang on a different type of tree.
Now that's a reason to celebrate Christmas!
- Pick one gift on your wish list. What's the problem you're hoping it will solve, or how are you expecting it to make life better?
- When did you recently deny an accusation and attempt to shift the blame? Why did you respond that way, and what was the result?
- When did you recently accept an accusation and make a personal confession? Why did you respond that way, and what was the result?
- How can you use the Advent and Christmas season to point others to Christ? (Think of ways with your family, your brothers and sisters in the Lord, and those who don't know Christ)