This devotional guide prepares for the third week of Advent and its theme, Joy. There are some ways that our times resemble those of Isaiah, so his words are relevant and hope bringing to our wearied world. The text for this week’s sermon comes from Isaiah 35:1-10, and the sermon is called, “The Lame Will Leap.”
Monday, December 5. Read Isaiah 51:9-11. This text occurs inside Trito Isaiah, probably written during Israel’s time in Babylon in anticipation of return to home. 1) How does Isaiah tell Judah to be prepared for deliverance? 2) To what event does he compare this contemporary event? 3) What will be the result of he deliverance?
Tuesday, December 6. Read Mathew 11:4-6. 1) What concern did John the Baptist have? 2) What did Jesus tell John’s disciples was verification of his ministry? 3) What similarities do you see in this text and Isaiah’s message?
Wednesday, December 7. Read Hebrews 6:13-20. 1) To whom did God make a promise and what was the promise? 2) What purpose does the hope that God’s promise gives us serve to our souls?
Thursday, December 8. Read Zephaniah 3:14-20. 1) Zephaniah wrote about the restoration of Jerusalem. What was his hopeful message to her? 2) What was God promising to do for Jerusalem? 3) Note how Zephaniah’s gathering message was similar to that of Isaiah. Compare them.
Friday, December 9. Read 1 Peter 1:15-16. This text is similar to Isaiah’s message in that it speaks of the “gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus is revealed to the world.” 1) How does Peter describe the before and after change that occurred to his readers? 2) What did Peter say was incumbent on his readers, given their new status?
Saturday, December 10. Read Isaiah 35:1-10. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Weekly Devotional Article:
Shout for Joy!
Why should I rejoice when things are not going well?
by Rubel Shelly
“Like a victorious locker room,” says Philip Yancey, “church is a place to exult, to give thanks, to celebrate the good news that all is forgiven, that God is love, that victory is certain.”
Have you ever noticed how the celebration goes after a World Series, Super Bowl, or Junior Soccer Match? The players who made errors, missed their assignments, and dropped passes are just as excited and happy as the ones who hit home runs or kicked winning goals. If you’re on Christ’s team, you get to shout for joy over what he has done and to march in the victory parade.
But somebody says she doesn’t feel like celebrating. Another pipes up to say he is nothing but a loser. “My health is rotten!” protests someone. “I’m on the verge of losing my job, and I don’t know how we can keep from losing our house,” cries another. “My divorce will be final next week,” says a trembling voice, “and I never meant to be alone at this point in my life.”
Listen up! You’re not a “loser.” And despite the distress, sleepless nights, or uncertain markets, you still have reason to cheer – if you know Jesus Christ.
Think about sports memorabilia for a moment. A few days ago, I walked through a collection of bats, balls, jerseys, and other sports items that were too expensive for me even to handle – much less consider buying. A baseball that once cost only a few dollars is worth several thousand because Babe Ruth held it in his hands and wrote his name on it. A football that might sell for $20 is worth hundreds because Troy Aikman has held and signed it.
Most baseball cards are worth the paper they’re printed on. A signed Ted Williams card my son has in his collection is worth a few hundred because the legendary player once held it in his hands and signed his name on it.
Are you following me? Do you get the point? You’re not just another sales rep, truck driver, or programmer. Even if you don’t make headlines or tons of money, you’re valuable. In spite of the fact that you’re embarrassed about something in the past or scared of something in your future, you matter. So you can stop selling yourself short. If you have been held in Christ’s hands and have the signature mark of the Spirit of God in your heart, you are saved. You have a reason for living. And you have a future that is secure.
You’re no loser, my friend. You are the child of the King!
Weekly Hymn: Ode to Joy by Henry J. van Dyke, 1907
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.
Almighty God, may we in this mortal time receive grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the clothing of light, reminded of the life of your Son Jesus Christ who visited us. May we be so clothed in the last day that when he shall come again in his glorious majesty, we may rise to the life immortal and victorious. We pray this through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.