DEVOTION: Preparing in a Time of Unpreparedness

 

*Audio below…

This season of Advent is high holy season in the Church, whereby the faithful prepare for the initial coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as a child to His mother, Mary.  This is the Emmanuel Moment, when “God is with us” in and through Jesus Christ.

In today’s world, we prepare, a lot!  We prepare for Summer by finding the right bathing suits ahead of time, booking beach houses well in advance.  We shop deals on clothes for the season ahead so that we have the right colors and comfort when the humidity drops and so do the leaves.  We even have Black Friday, a doorbuster offering of sales on the things we’ve salivated over for quite some time; holding off on purchasing until the right time and then *BAM* empty the online shopping cart or wish list, acquiring our hearts desire.

But for Christ Followers: will we acquire our hearts desire this season?  We we take hold of Jesus, who has come to save us from our sins?  Will we go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born?  Do we know what His coming means?  Are we preparing our hearts, our children’s heart, our friends hearts for what His coming means?  Does anyone know that the real struggle is overcoming sin and temptation so that we may have victory in Jesus?  If anything, the song by the same name is more of a Christmas song than anything else, for it is what we receive when we receive the child, Jesus Christ.

I found this image this morning, of the ox and donkey laying at the manger:


There is a most amazing Scripture from Isaiah 1.3 (NIV) that says:

“The ox knows its master, the donkey its ownerʼs manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

‭This was the world that Jesus (God-in-the-flesh) was born into.  The Son of God came quietly into the world, with only shepherds to witness the Heavenly Host proclaim His coming.  Israel didn’t know and would not understand for the longest time that Jesus is the Son of God, come to save the world from sin.

I know, it sounds SO DRAB to be talking about sin and the disconnect between God and humanity.  Its a downer to talk about Hell in the midst of Christmas trees and eggnog.  But we must be honest, that the problem still remains: we are separated from God until we receive the child who has come to save us.  And so we must be prepared in a time of unpreparedness.  Sure, we are prepared for everything else: who’s bringing what to Christmas dinner and which party to go to on which night.  But are we prepared for Jesus?  Are we prepared for His coming this Advent season?

One of my favorite Scriptures as of late is the parable of the ten virgins, from Matthew 25.1–13 (NIV):

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Hereʼs the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I donʼt know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

There’s a theme of “watchfulness” in this text.  The foolish are those who aren’t prepared to be right where they need to be when the Bridegroom comes.  Just as we celebrate Jesus’ coming as the Christ Child, we are to be watchful and ready for the day when He returns for us all.  That day, the Second Coming, is a result of this First Coming, where Jesus has come to save the people from their sins.

My selfish desire to put this out there for you is in asking you to join me in being watchful and prepared.  We may be prepared for Christmas the holiday but are we prepared for Christmas, the coming of Christ?  This time of Advent is the RIGHT time to take up a devotional book, to begin a new regimen of prayer and study.  Its a time for the praise of God to “ever be” on your lips (as the praise song goes).

Begin well tomorrow, the first Sunday in Advent (and the beginning of the Christian New Year).  Let your mind be renewed by the Holy Spirit for this season of preparation.  Be prepared for the coming of Christ Jesus and let your heart be full with the things of God!

 

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