Advent Reading Day 1 – Come on The Advent-ure

“But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1:17 – 19

Every year when Advent roles around it feels a bit like an adventure to me.  Many times it feels like an adventure of trying to stay focused on Jesus’ coming and His promised return during a season when all of the gravitational forces are trying to distract me and call me towards the cultural glimmer and shine of Christmas.  How many Christmases have gone by when on or around January 1st I realized that I just spent a whole month gearing up for Christmas, but without refocusing on Jesus, Himself. Somehow the celebration of the incarnation got pushed out by the busyness of a season seemingly named for Him.

Here in Ethiopia I have a different problem.  Here, there are no markers that the season is upon us.  There are no trees, no music, no parties to attend, no changing seasons nor snow flying.  Even without the distractions,  I have to admit that it is still hard to focus and celebrate Jesus’ coming.  There still are many barriers to overcome.  That is why writing these devotions are as much for me as for anyone else.  My prayer is that I get a deeper glimpse of what Jesus’ coming and His promised return mean.  My prayer is that I take something transformational out of this season and into the next.

As we enter into this adventure together, I am struck by Paul’s prayer for the Church at Ephesus.  His prayer is one that when embraced means a radical change of perspective and one that calls me to worship Jesus Fully – with all that I am and all that I have.  His prayer is one that makes a difference for not only the 4 weeks of Advent, but if taken to heart could put us on an adventure of faith and intimacy far into the future.

Let’s reflect briefly on his prayer – taking some of the lines to heart… Take a couple of minutes and catch your breath and quiet yourself…wind down from the first official shopping weekend of the season and the rise in blood pressure from this weekend’s family gatherings…and then let;s walk through this prayer together.

“I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ.”  – take a moment to reflect on how that phrase hits you in your life right now.  Is Jesus your active Master in your life at the moment?  Is He leading…or is something or someone else in the driver’s seat right now?  Take a couple of seconds to commit yourself to Him as Master.

“the God of glory.”  in what ways have you lost sight of the God of glory?  How is He in a box in your life right now?  How might He want to meet you with His Glory over these next few weeks to blow that box apart?  How might He want to quench your thirst with His glory? Invite Him.

“to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally.” How has God been activating your mind and your discernment lately?  How has He been using these two areas to draw you closer in knowing Him?  What experiences and feelings have gotten in the way of you knowing Him personally with your intellect and discernment? What emotional walls are up right now that cloud you in your Knowing God?

“your eyes focused and clear.”  What better prayer than at the beginning of a season where our eyes are so easily drawn away from the humble servant  and towards the glitz, glitter and consumerism. Give Your Father your gaze.  May He give us determination and make our gazes intent on Him.  Invite Him to clear away the cultural assumptions that lead you away from Him.

“so that you can see exactly what he is calling you to do.”  Ever struggle with knowing what to do?   Yet, Paul helps us understand that when the rest of this is in line and we are “knowing” God then it is easier to know exactly what to do because we Know Him.

“grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for you.”  This is God’s word to you and I – He has an immense, glorious way of life for us.  Hard to believe?  Feeling stuck in the doldrums, rather than an immense or glorious life?  Talk to The Lord about it.   Invite Him to make His Presence known to you.  As He does, the immensity and the glorious become apparent…no matter what else is going on.

“the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength.”  Maybe this is the point that is easy to miss during Advent.  We can go through a season that is focused on extravagance within the media and around the tree on Christmas morning, yet miss out on God’s utter extravagance of his work in us.  In our relationship of trust with Him, He makes His extravagant grace known – yet, its so easy to miss and settle for much less than His extravagance.  Paul shows this to be marked by endless energy and boundless strength.  The God who in His extravagance not only calls us to run a race which will require faith, determination and perseverance, but then in His extravagance gives it to us as we trust Him and lean on Him.  Maybe one of the best things we can take away this Advent is to try less hard and to actually engage trust and lean on Him?

So, we begin an advent-ure together…may He meet you with His extravagance and a deeper knowing of Himself Today and throughout this season together.

Prayer:  I ask You, the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make me intelligent and discerning in knowing You personally.  Make my eyes focused and clear, so that I can see exactly what it is You are calling me to do. Help me to grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life You have for me.  Thank you for, the utter extravagance of Your work in me.  Help me to trust You fully and lead me into your endless energy and boundless strength when I am tempted to rely on my own.  I place my trust in You…my Father. AMEN

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