12.15 Advent Devotional
Today's Advent Devotional, on Isaiah 61:1-4, is written by Wayne Anderson.
Wayne is a longtime member of NorthPark Presbyterian, along with his wife Ann. Wayne participates regularly as a faith companion and volunteer leader with Casa de Vida and regularly serves lunch at The Bridge Homeless Shelter in downtown Dallas. Wayne also spearheads the Classics, a ministry tailored toward adults 55 and older, and serves on the Children's Ministry Council.
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
When we read the scripture above, we get a feeling of joy. Not just joy, but of amazement and awe at what the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do in the future.
When we first encounter the Lord in Isaiah's writing, Isaiah is overwhelmed at what God has done for the Hebrew people. He has done these wondrous things despite the sinful actions and attitudes of the nation of Israel. Time and again the "stiff necked" Israelites have turned their back on God and broken His heart. But His love was so great that He continued to pour blessings on them and heal their wounds. He led them to greater lives and destinies in the future.
As we enter this Advent season we are frequently blinded to what God is doing for us now. We are blinded by the barrage of negative news reports. We are blinded by what we see in our fellow man. We are often blinded by our own presbyopia. If we look at the world through the lens God gave us in Jesus Christ, we begin to see the good in mankind; older adults serving meals to those less fortunate; adults teaching Sunday School and forming committees to plan ways to feed the hungry in the future; children so concerned about others that they find a way of turning mere paper into water for the thirsty.
As for the future, we believe that God will be with us then also. He will help us "build up the ancient ruins." He will "restore our fortunes." He will send many more messengers to bring us His love and peace.
Advent, therefore, is a time to anticipate and look forward in awe to the mighty works of God and what He has planned for our lives.