Longing: An Advent Devotional
Overland Park Church of the Nazarene
Tuesday, December 20th
As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:
God of hope and grace, we give you thanks for your promises to us. Even when we are faithless, you are faithful. Help us to see your work in the world around us, God. By your Spirit, make us instruments of your redemption. Help us to prepare the way for our Lord, Christ, who we await with anticipation and longing. Amen.
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
(#157 in Sing to the Lord)
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
GROW: Matthew 1:18-25
During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we often reflect on the faithfulness of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We do this with good reason. Luke’s account of Mary’s obedience has inspired the Church throughout its history. Interestingly, however, Matthew’s gospel is much more concerned about Joseph. Rather than recording the angel who visited Mary, Matthew tells us of an angel who came to Joseph in a dream. Matthew wants to ensure that we remember Joseph’s obedience and faithfulness.
We do not have to look far to see why Matthew is so interested in Joseph. Unlike any of the other gospel writers, Matthew begins his book with a lineage of Israel. He records some forty-two generations of Israelites from Abraham right down to Joseph, “the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” For Matthew, it is absolutely essential that Christ’s lineage be established through David and back to Abraham. Why? Because this genealogy proves that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Jesus is the “root from the stump of Jesse,” and the heir to David’s throne (Is 11:1 and 9:7). He is an offspring of Abraham and all nations have been blessed through him (Gen 22:18). Matthew wants there to be no doubt that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that Israel has been waiting for.
It may seem strange to us, but the fulfillment of God’s promises depended upon the faithfulness of Joseph, even as they depended upon the faithfulness of Mary. Time and time again, God demonstrates His desire to use ordinary people as instruments to bring about His Kingdom. Spend some time in prayer now. First, give thanks for a time when God has used you in the past. Next, name those places and communities that are a part of your life: work, school, church, family, friends, etc. Ask God to show you how He wants to use you as an instrument of His Kingdom in those places today.
As an act of service today, take some time to consider the assumptions you have about the people around you. Joseph made the mistake of assuming Mary’s unfaithfulness because of her pregnancy. We too often make assumptions about the people around us because of their appearance, their language, their political affiliation, and a host of other things. Name one person (or group of people) you have made such assumptions about. Pray for that person or group now. Ask God to open your eyes so that you can see all people for who they truly are: God’s children.
— Pastor Travis Caldeira