_ Study _
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
_ Read _
The other day, I nestled into the comfy corner of our plush grey sectional, turned on Netflix, and caught myself watching something non-Christmassy. Partway through the show, I paused it and thought, Oh my gosh! It’s almost Christmas and I haven’t watched my list of holiday movies! What am I doing?
One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to snuggle beneath a cozy blanket by the warmth of the fire and the light of the tree, and watch a Christmas movie. Every year I try to make it through my must-watch list that includes Elf, Love Actually, The Grinch, The Holiday, Stepmom (random I know), and White Christmas, which is reserved for Christmas Eve. I legit panicked as I looked at my calendar in search of an empty evening to make up for lost time. What if I don’t fit them all in? I thought. I have to watch them before Christmas!!
Mid-overdramatic-panic, I had a come to reality moment. Hold up, Mindy. Who says you have to watch them all before Christmas? I was acting as if Christmas might be ruined if I didn’t watch the movies in time. But nothing changes after Christmas! My couch will still be comfy. The tree will still be lit. The fireplace can still be stoked. And Christmas movies will still be Christmassy!
It’s interesting how we operate as if life must be completely different around the holidays. Lights are hung, trees are trimmed, decorations are set, spirits are full of cheer and get-togethers are a plenty. And then – boom – Christmas is over. Down come the lights, out go the trees, decorations are put away, and it’s back to “normal” life.
But why? Sure, the day itself and the parties may be over, but who’s to say we can’t leave the tree up until March (been there done that) or carry the Christmas spirit with us all year long?
The same goes for celebrating the birth of Jesus. The traditional season of Advent may be over, but the practice of shifting our focus to Christ and celebrating the rest He’s given us has no end.
I love this passage in Isaiah because it connects the Old Testament prophecy where God promised a messiah to the New Testament reality where Jesus was born as a baby in a manger. In the days of Isaiah they were steeped in darkness, and waiting, hoping, longing for a savior to come. And in the New Testament we read about God’s faithfulness and fulfillment of this promise as the angel says, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
God sent His son to be light in the darkness, hope in a weary world, and a constant source of Peace for all to come. As Isaiah 9 says, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”
Jesus didn’t come just to fulfill prophecy, or be a light in the darkness solely during the day in which He came; He came so that yesterday, today, and tomorrow we might find hope and rest in our salvation through Him.
Shifting our focus to Jesus and reveling in the blessings we receive through Him, must not be reserved for a special season. Instead, let us come and adore Jesus every single day; for it is through this act of living our lives for Him, we will experience true rest.
My prayer as we close this series, and step out of the Advent season and into the days to come, is that we might continue in our pursuit of knowing Jesus and finding rest in Him. Let’s not invite Him into our lives around Christmas and neglect Him the rest of the year; let’s surrender life to Jesus daily and make His name known by giving Him all the glory.
_ Practice _
Set aside 5 minutes in your day to listen to Noel by Chris Tomlin featuring Lauren Daigle (find it on my A Restful Advent playlist or click here). Close your eyes, open your palms in an act of worship, and listen to the lyrics that celebrate and proclaim the glory of Jesus’ birth. If you need a little extra rest in this moment, incorporate deep breathing or lay on the floor with your legs up the wall. Revel in the truth that through Jesus, God is with us right now in this very moment.
Finish your time by reading John 8:12 out loud. It says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Praise Jesus that His words are true; that we can rest in Him and need not walk another day in the darkness.
*If you’ve never invited Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of your life, I am praying that you might consider doing that now. Romans 10:9 describes this step simply by saying, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If this is a step you take, tell a friend so they can celebrate with you, and encourage you!
This devotional is part of the A Restful Advent series.
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