Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Mike Nelson.]
It has been said that grace is the unmerited favor of God. Unmerited. Are we clear? We cannot earn it. We cannot take out a loan from Him with a promise to pay back later. It is given to us, even though we do not remotely deserve it. During Advent, we celebrate the arrival of God’s unmerited favor in the person of Jesus. Since His favor is unmerited, does that mean that Advent is simply a time where we wait patiently for God to tear a hole through the heavens and pour His peace into our world?
A reading of this week’s scriptures shows that we also bear some responsibility during the Advent season. Not only do we wait for God’s favor, we are also told to prepare the way. These two pursuits sit side by side paradoxically and yet beautifully as we live to do both
Yes we wait, but we must spend time during Advent preparing our own hearts for the Prince of Peace. This preparation is not merely a charge to repent of the ongoing sin in your life. It is a charge to remove any obstacles to God’s peace. Anxiety over financial challenges, the discord of a fractured relationship, fear stemming from a difficult diagnosis…these are all obstacles that that impede the Peace of God from flowing into our lives.
This is where our paradox comes full circle: The One that calls us to remove the obstacles is the only One who can remove them…through His unmerited favor.
List something that caused stress in your life yesterday. When you think about this, do any obstacles come to mind that you would have God remove? Don’t settle for what’s on the surface, keep digging until you get to the root of the root of what caused the stress. Several times throughout the day, pray that the Lord would remove those obstacles.