Advent Devotional: December 2
The Future House of God
The word that Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Judgment Pronounced on Arrogance
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
– Isaiah 2:1-5
An Urgent Appeal
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
– Romans 13:11-14
I don’t know about you, but I find it fascinating just how many people know exactly when the end is coming, who the antichrist is, the events that will take place, and when they will happen. It’s amazing how many people have made their living focusing on the end times. Are they motivated by fear, curiosity, a need be correct, or faith? I’m not sure about their motivation, but I have to be honest and admit that I do occasionally read about end times or watch videos. I do wonder about end times, what will happen and when. But it’s not because I fear; rather it’s because I hope.
I actively pray for Christ to return once again. I want to live in a world described in the Isaiah passage where spears have become pruning hooks and there are no more wars; a place where we walk in the path of the Lord. I remain hopeful that one day the entire world will become the world that God intended… a peaceful one, where love and forgiveness abound.
Fortunately Jesus showed us the way to this kind of world. In Romans we are told it’s time to wake up! The light of Christ has come, and it’s waiting for us to wear it as armor. I really like the use of the word armor in this passage. Armor, as a noun, is typically thought of as metal coverings worn by soldiers or warriors to protect the body. However armor, used as a verb, provides a person with emotional, social or other defenses. Putting on the armor of light is not just something you wear on the outside to “block out,” but it’s also something wear on the inside to “light up” the path and live as true followers of Christ.
When we wear the armor of Christ, we light the darkness. Romans directs us to live honorably. For me that means trying to distance myself from “darkness” or negative influences. For when I encounter darkness or negativity, my path is to be the light… show a different path… taker the higher ground. And when I feel negativity or dark thoughts trying to seep into my soul, I go to God or to other light sources, to share my thoughts, hurts and pain.
Spending time with people talking and having fun is essential, but Romans also talks about not engaging in reveling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling or jealousy. As a Christian, I look at the list and say, “I don’t do that. I’m okay.” But then when I get into the nitty-gritty… well maybe I do a little of it. Is that so bad? According to Romans it is. I certainly don’t revel in drunkenness (not since college anyway) but debauchery is about excessive indulgence, cravings, and greed. Unfortunately, I’m guilty there more than I care to admit. And licentiousness covers a whole range of actions that I don’t want to think about including gluttony, laxity, unruliness and immorality. Once again, I’m caught not always being the light of Christ.
So how can I live honorably according to the definition in Romans? I need to put God’s message into practical living. I’m not living honorable and lovingly if I’m listening to or spreading gossip, if I’m jealous, reveling in someone’s misfortune, holding grudges, micromanaging and pushing my thoughts and agendas, not listening, not being respectful, or not being trustworthy. I am living honorably when I live with eyes that read scripture, ears that seek to hear God’s words and guidance, a heart that motivates and makes decisions through love and forgiveness, and hands and feet that go out of their way to help, along with a mouth that forgives, praises, worships and prays.
Advent is a time of hope as we look forward to the birth of our Savior, God’s light incarnate. It’s a time to put on the armor of Christ. It’s a time to extend God’s peace, shalom and goodwill to one another. It’s a time to celebrate and be the light of Christ!
Love, Peace and Joy!