Advent Series Week 1 – HOPE

It’s the season of Advent! A time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas! I will be writing a series of devotions leading up to Christmas. My hope is that in the busyness of the season, we can all take time to slow down and remember Jesus, the true meaning of this season.

Scripture passages: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Nahum 1:7; and Joel 2:25-27

With all the struggles we face, with all the doom and gloom and frustration we often feel, it can seem as if there is no hope. We feel like the world is spinning by, and we don’t have time to really enjoy it. At least, this is how I’ve felt at times, especially when I’m working on bettering myself. I can get caught up in checking off the boxes of working out, doing my Bible study that I’m leading, and working through that one that I’m attending, etc. I get so caught up in doing things — good things, that I don’t live in the freedom that Christ has given!

In Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel is taken to a valley of dry bones. The Lord asks him if the bones can live. I know when I’m going through the motions of life, I can often not feel fully alive. Nahum 1:7 tells us that the Lord is good, our refuge when we are struggling. He cares and wants us to trust Him. Trust and Hope can go hand in hand. I was trusting in myself and what I was getting done (because it made me feel good….until I couldn’t get it all done). But, I wasn’t seeking the Lord first and asking Him what He wanted me to do each day and then trusting His leading instead of my own. I often would worry that if I did something the Lord led me to do, I would fall even further behind in the tasks I knew I needed to get done. But, that wasn’t trusting God!

What made these bones come back to life? The Spirit led Ezekiel to speak life into them! We desperately need the Word of God to speak life into us, but we also need to look at people around us and speak life into them! Maybe they are stuck in the day to day and not living fully alive and they need someone to breathe encouragement and life into them! We, as believers, first need to get life from God’s Word, then speak that life by connecting with others. That’s when we can live truly abundantly!

I have lost a lot of years trying to “be better” or “do better.” Because I expected so much of myself, I expected a lot from others. And, then I’d beat myself up for my failures, and then beat up others with judgement for theirs. It’s not a pleasant way to live. I was missing out on the abundant life that the Lord really wants us all to live in now! I’m so grateful for the Lord’s patience with me and the work He continues to do in my life. I am finding the freedom He has had for me all along! Joel 2:21-27 brings much comfort to me because I know that the Lord will give back to me the years I’ve lost in “trying” and I will instead live in the freedom and abundance that He has for me every day!