Today, let us return to this single verse from Psalm 80 that has become our worship theme throughout this Advent season. Make this verse the cry of your heart this morning.
Psalm 80:3 English Standard Version (ESV)
3 Restore us,[a] O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
- What are you bringing to this prayerful time with God today (worries, hopes, fears, etc.)?
- As we conclude our first week, what longing has emerged as your deepest desire as you wait for Jesus to come?
Allow yourself whatever time is necessary here in prayer to get in touch with these longings.
Mark 13:28-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
28 From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
It has been a challenging first week of Advent.
We began this first week of Advent noting our need to wake up. If we are going to see the Kingdom, we must not be sleeping for it is coming all around us. With Monday?s reflection, we admitted one of the main ways we often miss this coming King is because our vision is clouded by our busyness and that seeing the Kingdom requires us to slow down and be patient.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s reflections remind us we love a God who comes to us even when our waiting has so exhausted us we can no longer get up to come to Him when we do see Him.
Our most challenging Advent reflection thus far, Thursday, ushered us into considering what needs to be painfully removed from our lives on the way to the manger in order to bring the gift of ourselves to our newborn King.
And yesterday, we peered into the darkness we see in places all around the world, and in us, looking for light.
Today, we keep all this darkness front and center in our lives.
We must be in touch with this cry for deliverance from the darkness even as we enjoy all the Christmas joy and holiday spirit, buy our presents and eat our cookies.
This is so important to Advent. The cry for a new King in Jesus’s day was palpable, the hopelessness, very real. We, too, must see it pressing around us and in us if we are ever to notice the faint light in the distance moving toward us.
And Jesus gives us this lesson of the fig tree to know how to identify when He is near, bringing light, healing and love. He says that when you first see the branch become tender and put out its first leaf, you will know new life is near.
- Reflect on the scripture passage above. When you consider all the dark places in the world and in you that you prayed for yesterday, where are you noticing tenderness and possible new life? Is God inviting you to pour into those places in some way?
- All of the accoutrements of the Christmas season are unavoidable and really should be enjoyed. During this Christmas season, how might your family and neighborly good cheer, your present shopping, Christmas partying, and cookie baking, etc. be deepened by seeing these good things as the work of a coming newborn King letting you know new life is near?
Is there one person in your life you can see evidence of new life growing? How might you encourage them?
A Closing Prayer
With all the trappings of this Christmas season, I admit I often lose sight of all the people around the world who are struggling against persecution, hunger and hopelessness. I also admit I can lose sight of my own struggles, filling my life with present-buying and holiday busyness. Lord, help me to see the fun and good cheer of Christmas, the family traditions and Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday greetings, as evidence of You bringing new life. Lord, come quickly and bring Your light to the darkness. Let Your light shine through me.
This Evening and Tomorrow Morning
- This evening, continue again to worship through Psalm 80:3 as a personal prayer. Return to this often over this Advent season.
- Tomorrow morning, consider reading through Mark 13:28-31 and ask God to show you one place in your upcoming day He is bringing new life and what He wants you to do on His behalf.
Scriptures from Our Advent Series
Texts for First Advent Week:?Isaiah 64:1-9; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37; Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18