Longing: An Advent Devotional
Overland Park Church of the Nazarene
Tuesday, December 6th
As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:
You sent Your messengers, the prophets, Almighty God, to preach repentance and to prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings, we pray, and to forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of our Redeemer.
Your voice is a sweet sound to God. Take a moment to sing or read aloud the hymn “Shine on Me” by Richard K. Carlson.
Shine on me, shine on me;
Jesus shine on me.
Through the darkness of my heart,
Jesus shine on me.
See my heart for I repent,
Hear my humble plea
To renew your covenant.
Jesus shine on me.
In your mercy I implore,
Make the darkness flee.
Heavenly light upon me pour.
Jesus Shine on me.
New beginnings light my way.
Lead me in your light today.
Jesus, shine on me.
GROW: Matthew 3:1-12
“Repentance” is a concept that often makes us uncomfortable. Indeed, the idea of confronting and confessing our sin can be quite frightening. It is much more comfortable to trust in the belief that we are “good people,” or at least that we are better than Mr. and Mrs. neighbor next door. Comparison enables us to justify our actions, explain away our sin, and excuse ourselves from repentance. Yet, to act as though we have no need of repentance is to pretend that we also have no need of forgiveness—as though we have no need of a Savior.
John the Baptist emerges onto the scene in Matthew 3 as a strangely dressed, locust eating wild man. Yet, this strange person is proclaiming a convicting message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Word quickly travels around Judea, “There is a new prophet preaching by the Jordan!” Israelites flock to John from miles around because they long to hear a word from the Lord. Surrounded and occupied by the Romans, God’s people know they need a savior. Their humble posture ensures that John’s proclamation pierces them to the heart. Indeed, they all begin confessing their sins and being baptized with the water of repentance. In fact, this movement has become so popular that even the religious leaders show up to be baptized. The trouble is, the Pharisees and Sadducees do not genuinely believe they need repentance. After all, they strictly follow the law, observe all God’s commandments, and their Israelite lineage is clear; they believe they are above being compared to the sinners around them. John doesn’t think so. He turns to these self-righteous leaders and says, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”
You and I can come to the waters of repentance with humility or with pride. We can either attempt to justify ourselves by demonizing the world around us, or we can honestly confess that we have failed to love. We can either try to save ourselves or acknowledge that we need a savior. Reflect on your need for Christ now. Use this prayer of repentance to guide your confession today:
Lord of Peace, we have done wrong. We have tarnished the gift you gave freely. We have buried you so deeply in our hearts, the world doesn't see you. We have not followed Christ. We have ignored your teachings. We have lived lives of apathy against your love. We have built fences and fortresses to push people away, and we have silenced the screams of those in need. Forgive us, we pray. Free us from our sin. Free us from our captivity. Free us to a life lived in joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Rev. Nathan Decker)
Today, as an act of service, reflect on those who have been victims of your sin. In particular, name a relationship in your life that is in need of healing. Call that person you are estranged from. Remembering God’s grace in Christ, offer grace to that individual: repent of your wrong, extend forgiveness for theirs, and seek peace with humility and love.
—Pastor Travis Caldeira