Advent 2023


Day 11: Wednesday, December 13, 2023: Peace in Heaven
In the ancient world, a Triumphant King would ride into his newly conquered 

Day 10: Tuesday, December 12, 2023: Peace to the Nations
The Peace that God Promises is first and foremost between himself and us. Because we’re broken and fallen, as is all of creation along with us, our greatest need and that of our world is to be reconciled to God, to be forgiven and restored to what God intended us to be.
However, God’s peace also includes reconciliation on a human level: The restoration of proper and healthy relationships between individuals, within communities and among nations. Through the prophet Zechariah, the Lord offered vivid imagery of an end to warfare and a proclamation of peace to the nations. Beyond the end of armed conflict, this peace also encompasses harmony and justice on political, economic, and societal levels. 
The one who will accomplish this total and lasting peace is God’s anointed King, the Messiah, whose domination will extend from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth. Despite his boundless authority and power, he will also be humble and gentle, portrayed as riding on a donkey, specifically on a donkey’s colt. Five centuries after the time of Zechariah, this messianic portrait would be fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem a week before his death and resurrection. 
Prayer: Lord, you are a God of peace. While we live in a broken world, you have gifted us your Holy Spirit to help us experience peace, even as we face hardship. Whether in our own minds or in our relationships, we ask for your spirit to continually transform us so your shalom will be evident in all we do. Amen. 

Day 9: Monday, December 11, 2023: Peace on Earth
Luke’s Account of Jesus’ Birth gives us perhaps the best-known image of peace associated with Advent. After the angel declared the good news to the shepherds, a heavenly host appeared, praising God and declaring glory to him and peace on earth. The image has graced countless Christmas cards and decorations: A group of bright angelic beings in the night sky, their eyes downcast, their mouths shaped like O’s, the words “Peace on Earth” in old-fashioned script floating above their heads.
But what exactly is heavenly host? In the original Greek, it refers to a vast heavenly army. This description adds a powerful and ironic edge to the scene that is otherwise missed: A large and formidable army of God, appearing to a small group of shepherds and declaring peace. 
Taken out of context, “Peace on Earth” is often read as a synonym for world peace, but the meaning is much broader than that. The primary sense is of God making peace with humanity, out of which will flow peace among people and genuine human flourishing. Through the baby born in the manger, God would reconcile his world and his people to himself and grant them true and lasting eirene. 

Prayer: God, we echo the words the angels sang on that night so many years ago by giving you praise and glory. When sin first entered the world and fractured our relationship with you, you had a plan for restoring that relationship. Thank you for the precious gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we experience reconciliation with you. Amen. 

Day 8: Sunday, December 10, 2023: The Prince of Peace

The second week of Advent focuses on Peace. We tend to think of peace as the opposite of war, an absence of hostility or an end of conflict. But the scriptural words translated as peace, the Hebrew shalom and the Greek eirene include far more than those ideas. They encompass the concepts of order, stability, well-being, human flourishing and fulfilled potential, of everything being the way God intended it to be. 
This peace cannot be achieved by human effort, but only by the will of God. Once again, it’s through the prophet Isaiah that God revealed the identity of his chosen instrument of peace. Speaking of the child to be born of a virgin, the Lord described him as Wonderful Counsellor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah’s messianic portrait leaves no doubt about the nature of character of the one who God had promised to send from the very beginning. 
He is perfectly good and wise, infinitely powerful and eternal, one with God the Father himself. As the descendant of David and the Prince of Peace, he will establish and sustain an everlasting Kingdom that will encompass all creation and be built on vast and endless shalom. 
Prayer: Lord Jesus, in you we find our shalom, our eirene. Even though we face troubles and heartache and difficulties, we have the assurance that you have overcome the world and we know we can come into your presence and find peace. Thank you for this precious gift. Amen. 

Day 7: Saturday, December 9, 2023: An Eternal Ruler from Bethlehem
In light of God’s promises and actions over the centuries, messianic expectation had begun to run hot and build to a boiling point among the people of Israel. Mostly they were just expecting a powerful monarch who would defeat their enemies and restore the nation to its former glory under David and Solomon. The concept of a suffering servant didn’t mesh well with ideal image of kingship, and the staggering cosmic details of God’s promises were likely too much to grasp. 
Yet for those with eyes and ears of faith, God’s promises spoke to their sense of reality as well as their sense of wonder. The prophet Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, combined these two threads in a single brief promise from the Lord. 
The Messiah was to be born in the little town of Bethlehem, a detail which for the first time tied his arrival to an actual physical location. At the same time, the coming Redeemer was described as having existed from ancient times, from all eternity. More than just an exceptional human monarch who would live forever, he would be God in the flesh, the Creator who would enter his creation to redeem it and give it hope. 
Prayer: Lord God, you are King of kings and Lord of lords, but you also humbled yourself by coming to make sacrifice that no one expected a king to make. You came to turn our world upside down, to usher in your new Kingdom. Help us to show humility as you did, to be generous as you were, and to point others to your living hope. Amen. 


Day 6: Friday, December 8, 2023: God’s Righteous and Gentle Servant
Through the prophet Isaiah, God gave more numerous and detailed promises about the Messiah to come than he did at any other time before the birth of Jesus. Taken together, these promises began to form a more concrete image of the nature, character, and mission of the one whom God would send. The most dominant feature of Isaiah’s messianic portrait is that of a servant who suffers and sacrifices on behalf of his people.
In keeping with God’s earlier promises, the Redeemer would be powerful and glorious, a King from the royal line of David who would establish an everlasting dominion based on righteousness and justice. But he would also be humble and gentle, patient and kind, a servant who would treat the weakest and most broken of his people with tender compassion.
Most wonderful of all, the Messiah’s righteous reign wouldn’t be limited the nation of Israel. The hope and promise of his gentle redeeming love wasn’t to be reserved only for the Jewish people. he would bring justice to the whole world, and the people of every nation would wait expectantly for his teaching and would hope in his name – just as God had promised Abraham many centuries before. 
Prayer: Saviour Jesus, you are God incarnate. You are the fulfillment of every promise about the coming Messiah. You are strong and gentle, powerful and humble, righteous and patient. Thank you for being a light in our dark world. Help us to show your light, love and hope to our family, friends, and neighbors who so desperately need it. Amen. 

Day 5: Thursday, December 7, 2023: Immanuel Born of a Virgin
One of God’s best-known promises about the coming Messiah took place under the strangest of circumstances. Ahaz was a king of Israel who neither trusted nor obeyed but led the nation into sin. Through the Prophet Isiah, the Lord graciously invited Ahaz to ask for any sign that would help him believe, but Ahaz refused. In response, God gave him and the people a sign anyway: A virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be called Immanuel. It is not readily clear how this promise was fulfilled, even in part, during the reign of Ahaz. What’s certain is that it was fulfilled seven centuries later at the birth of Jesus. In a unique and miraculous historical event, a young virgin named Mary, a descendant of David, did in fact conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to a son with royal blood. God’s promises of a Saviour who would bring hope and healing tot he world had begun to take on a divine dimension. The child wouldn’t just be a great human king who would reign forever. He would also be the Son of God, deity in human form, whose prophetic title Immanuel means “God with us.” 
Prayer” God the Father; the Son, and the Holy Spirit, sometimes you fulfill your promises in ways we’d never expect, but we can hold on to the hope that you do indeed fulfill them. Thank you for becoming Immanuel, God with us, for taking the humble form of a newborn child, and for continuing to be with us through your Spirit. Amen.  

Day 4: Wednesday, December 6, 2023: The Royal
Descendant of David 

After God had settled the Israelites in Canaan, he continued to narrow the focus of his redemptive plan by raising David to the throne as their King. The Lord promised David that one of his sons would build a house for God and establish David’s dynasty forever. This was partially fulfilled by David’s son Solomon who built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem and ruled Israel at the height of it power. However, due to the nation’s ongoing sin, that temple was eventually destroyed, and the people scattered into exile. 
Even so, God hadn’t forgotten his promise to David, although its ultimate fulfillment was still a thousand years off. There would indeed be a descendant from the line of David whose Kingdom God would establish forever. He was to be the one who would prepare an eternal home for his people and rule them with peace and justice for all eternity. 
From David’s time onward, the people of Israel began waiting in earnest hope and growing anticipation for this promised descendant from the royal line. He was to be called the Messiah, which means anointed one, because God would anoint him as the ultimate ruler of his people. 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are a God of your word. You never forget a promise and you never break a covenant. Jesus is indeed the Son of David, the new King, just like you said all those years ago. I may not always understand your timing, but forgiven me for when I doubt you. Thank for saving us through your Son, the true King. Amen. 

Day 3: Tuesday, December 5, 2023: A Powerful Prophet like Moses 

True to God’s promise, Abraham’s descendants began to multiply greatly, but they were also enslaved in the land of Egypt. Yet the Lord had compassion of their suffering and heard their cries for freedom. In time, he sent Moses to liberate his people from Egypt and bring them into the land of Canaan, the land he had promised to their ancestors, Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. 
This act  of deliverance, known as the Exodus, is the central event in the history of the people is Israel. It was a spectacular demonstration of God’s power, and of the fact that he will never break his promises or abandon those on whom he has set his love. More than that, it pointed ahead to what would be the central event in world history, when God would send his Son to save his people from their sins. 
Just before the Israelites entered Canaan, Moses reminded them of God’s faithfulness and urged them to remain faithful to the Lord. He told them that in the future God would raise up another prophet like Moses for them, from among their own people. This  prophet would speak God’s very words to them. In fact, he would be God’s word himself, Jesus the Messiah. 
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the only way, the only path to freedom. You came with grace and truth for our salvation.  Even now, when we feel lost or confused, or uncertain, we can look to you as our deliverer. Thank you for always being there to guide us through our own wilderness into your comforting presence. Amen. 


Day 2: Monday, December 4, 2023: The Offspring of Abraham

Many centuries passed before God began to unfold his plan in more detail. The Lord called Abraham to leave his community and his people behind and emigrate to a new land, the land of Canaan, where God would be with him and bless him. As Abraham traveled around in Canaan, God gave him several promises about his future and sealed those promises with an oath and a solemn covenant ceremony. 
After putting Abraham’s faith to a final and serious test, God assured him that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore. In addition, one of Abraham’s descendants would triumph over his enemies and al nations of the earth would be blessed through him. 
This was how God’s second great promise of redemption for the world and hope for humanity, more specific than the one he had made to Eve in the beginning. Although the fulfillment of this promise was still about two thousand years away, the descendant to be born would be God’s chosen Redeemer. He would provide salvation not just for Abraham’s physical descendants, but for people of every nation who would trust him, just as Abraham had done. 
Prayer: Lord, you are a covenant God, Even when we walk through trials and challenges, when we feel like our faith is being tested, we hold on to the truth that you never forsake us. You are doing a new work in us and even when we don’t understand, we will continue to put our trust in the hope of your faithfulness. Amen. 

Day 1: Sunday, December 3, 2023: The First Promiser of a coming Saviour 

Advent begins will the theme of Hope. This is not the kind of hope that people most often speak of, a sense of wishful thinking, like “I hope I get that job” or I hope I do well on my test.” Hope in the Scriptures means a confident expectation based on the character and promises of God, especially his promises to send a Saviour who will redeem his broken world and rule it with justice and mercy. 
God started giving these promises from the very beginning, from right after Adam and Eve disobeyed him. The woman received the first promise of hope from the Lord: She and her offspring would be eternal adversaries of the serpent of his offspring, until one day in the distant future, one of her descendants would crush the serpent’s head.
This was the first promise of the coming Redeemer who would triumph over the devil and destroy his works, putting an end to sin, suffering and death. God had planned all this before he ever created the universe. From this point on, he would unfold that plan throughout history, revealing it one promise at a time through his prophets and in his Word. 
Prayer: God, your faithfulness is evident throughout all of history. Even from the first moment when Adam and Eve sinned, you always had a plan to save us. Even when we stumble stumble and fall today, we know you will keep your word. In you, we put our hope and wait patiently for all your promises to be fulfilled. Amen.