With joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:3 (NIV)
The book of Isaiah, written about 700 years before the Messiah’s birth, is replete with prophecy of his arrival. Chapter 12 is only six verses long, but those verses paint a picture of what the life of a Jesus-follower looks like. They’re packed with praise over Jesus’ eventual coming, and encourage the believer to find joy in drawing from the well of salvation.
If salvation is a well, the reward of salvation – eternity, fellowship with God, grace, forgiveness, peace, life – is the water. The blessings that come from salvation are life-giving. One author offered this insight on Isaiah 12, “It is our duty by faith to draw water out of these wells, to take to ourselves the benefit and comfort that are treasured up for us in them.” The treasure of pure joy is the natural outcome of knowing Jesus as our life-sustaining Living Water.
For Today: What is one responsibility you have that is mundane or difficult? How can you change your perspective today to find joy in even the most routine tasks?
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Psalm 100:2 (NIV)
Worshipping Jesus through music is a reoccurring theme in scripture. We do this every time we attend a church service and raise our voices in joyful song. Coming before the Lord with praise-filled songs is an act of worship. It’s the opportunity to set music to the cry of our hearts, a way for a congregation to sing joyfully the same worshipful prayer, at the same time. In unison our voices can rise to the heavens. Just as powerfully, the Lord hears the whispered music of a single person.
It has nothing to do with ability, and everything to do with worshipping Jesus with gladness and joy. We can easily do this at Christmastime when we sing songs that paint pictures of the Christ Child’s birth. O Holy Night says that when Christ appeared, “the soul felt its worth.” Waxing poetic, the third verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing declares that Jesus was “born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.”
Silent Night describes Jesus’ birth this way: “Silent night, holy night; Son of God, love’s pure light; radiant beams from thy holy face; with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, Lord at the birth.”
Sing. Sing of the most joyous of occasions, with joy-filled abandon and reverence.
For Today: What is your favorite Christmas song? Why? If it evokes memories, what are those? Why were those times special for you?
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
Psalm 62:5 (NIV)
Have you ever sat down in a quiet place in your home on December 26th, looked around and thought, “Christmas happened?” There aren’t any other times during the year that can fill our calendars the way the Christmas season can. We have office parties, family dinners, school programs, gift exchanges, and on and on. We’re so preoccupied with the tasks, we miss the holiday altogether. As Jesus-followers, we should see Christmas as a celebration of our Savior’s birth. Instead, that sentiment can become lost in all of the doing and the striving.
As we end the first week of Advent, take time to rest. Find a quiet spot and spend a few minutes thanking the Lord for his grace and his Gift. Read Luke 2:1-40, and be filled with wonder at the power of Jesus’ birth. Listen to worship music. Do something that will replace your busyness with praise.
Whether this is your favorite season, or if this time of year is hard for you – rest. Hope is recognized in the resting.
For Today: Take a moment right now to identify one thing you’re going to do to rest. It might be something that you normally do during the Christmas season that you’ll make the choice to skip, so that you can use that same amount of time to rest. How will you be intentional about resting in the midst of this season?
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
In the really, really difficult times — when our bills sit unpaid, when someone we love passes away, when we are struggling with an illness, when each day is an uphill battle, and life feels too hard to even think about Christmas — we can rejoice. Jesus doesn’t call us to rejoice because of our sufferings, but in the midst of them.
The suffering we experience, if we let it, will lead to perseverance and character and hope. This world will bring trials, and we have a choice during the difficult times. We can live in fear and worry, or we can let God work through tough situations so that, when we come out on the other side of them, we’re closer to him than ever before.
If suffering is inevitable, let’s persevere through it and develop character. Let’s allow the suffering to mean something. Let’s commit to using our trials to grow closer to God and spread his love to others.
Then his victory in our lives will be evident, and we will have the type of hope that comes when God pours his love into our hearts. The type of hope that comes from rejoicing, always.
For Today: Is there a trial you’re facing that you could turn into something you can do to spread God’s love to someone else this Christmas season?
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)
Without an anchor, a boat can drift under the guidance of even the slightest wind. The same can be said for us. Without the hope of the Lord acting as an anchor for our souls, we can easily drift off course.
An anchor isn’t used to guide a boat on the proper course, an anchor is used to prevent a boat from drifting away from its intended destination. An anchor will keep a vessel held firmly to the ocean floor, and an anchor for the soul – the hope of God – will keep us connected securely to him.
At times the chaos of life will act as a gentle breeze and at times, a gale-force wind. It can easily steer you off course. That is, unless you allow God to map your journey and refuse to anchor yourself to anything other than the Savior.
For Today: When life is especially chaotic we become more susceptible to temptation. What is one temptation that could steer you off course this season?
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.
Lamentations 3:25 (NIV)
Over and over again the Bible says that those who seek after the Lord will find him. Often we think we have to do something big to gain the Lord’s approval, when all we have to do is seek him, and put our hope in him.
What if, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we spend more time seeking him than seeking the best bargains? How will our relationship with Jesus change if we stop hoping for the newest gadget or toy or designer handbag, and instead put our hope in him?
The holidays can leave us feeling wiped out, and sometimes even spiritually dry. Maybe we can’t see the Lord at work in our lives, but he’s always at work in us. We miss that when we take our focus off of him, and are consumed with things that lack eternal value.
He isn’t hiding, he’s waiting. We just need to seek after him.
For today: Thank about ways you can seek after Jesus – reading the Bible, praying, singing worship songs – and commit to seek after him each day this Christmas season.
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
The holidays can be exhausting. In general, it’s a stressful time filled with events, added responsibilities, decorating, baking, gift-giving, stretched finances, relatives, etc. It’s possible that some of us dislike the holidays because it means seeing family members we successfully avoid the other 11 months of the year. We start out the season well-intentioned, but sometimes a house full of extended family is just too much.
Then there are those who dread the holidays because someone is missing from the celebration. Perhaps a loved one passed away, or lives too far to visit, or is deployed, or you’ve suffered another type of loss this year.
Whether our weariness and exhaustion come from busyness or loss, we can find renewed strength from the Lord. We can be confident that, when we put our hope in God, he will give us energy and strength.
When the hustle and bustle, and maybe heartache, become too hard, turn to the One who came wrapped in hope.
For Today: At times, when we consider what we’ve lost, we forget about the ways we’ve been blessed by God. Make a list of some things in your life that have brought you joy and hope. In the moments of sadness or struggle, refer to your list and thank God for his blessings.