“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
The 1960s pop singer Andy Williams perfectly captures the emotion many of us feel during the Christmas season with his hit song of the same title. It really is the most wonderful, magical time of the year, isn’t?
There’s something about this season that makes people come alive, that draws out the inner child of even the “Scroogiest” of adults.
Perhaps it’s how the snow transforms any landscape into an epic fairytale land.
Perhaps it’s the smell of fresh-baked gingerbread out of the oven or a stew that’s been simmering in the Crock-Pot all day. Or the taste of hot cocoa with a candy cane perched on the side.
Perhaps it’s seeing the face of a child light up when she opens up that one present she’s been dreaming about all winter long.
Of course as Christians, we know why it’s so wonderful. The angels said it best:
“For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.”Luke 2:14 TPT
Christmas time is the most wonderful time because a peace and a good hope have been gifted to humanity by the God of the universe! In fact, this peace and good hope were wrapped in the unlikeliest of ways: flesh and blood. Here is how the apostle John speaks about this gift:
“He was not born by the joining of human parents or from natural means, or by a man’s desire, but he was born of God. And so the Living Expression became a man and lived among us! And we gazed upon the splendor of his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father overflowing with tender mercy and truth!”John 1:13–14 TPT
This is the most wonderful time of the year because it is the time when God came to us by becoming one of us. And it is this gift, this coming, that we celebrate during this sacred season of Advent.
The term Advent may be unfamiliar to you. It is this time of anticipation and preparation that begins the Christian liturgical calendar and includes the four Sundays before Christmas. The name comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” During the Advent season, Christians prepare for the different “comings” of Christ—first as a baby born to take away the sins of the world, and second as the victorious King come again to put the world to rights.
If your particular Christian tradition celebrates Advent then you are already familiar with the Advent wreath and four candles, which help the church celebrate Christ’s first coming: hope, peace, joy, and love. Each Sunday, a new candle is lit and a new theme is unpacked to help Christians reflect upon Christ’s birth. The story behind the season, the story of Jesus—the reason for the season, as they say. I love Advent as a way to prepare yourself to celebrate Jesus!
This is why I’m thrilled to share with you the first of twenty-one devotionals in Come and Behold Him, the advent devotional inspired by The Passion Translation. Each devotion is inspired by the passionate love story of Jesus to guide your celebration of his birth.
1 God-Enthroned, be revealed in splendorPsalm 80:1-7 TPT
as you ride upon the cherubim!
How perfectly you lead us, a people set free.
Loving shepherd of Israel—listen to our hearts’ cry!
Shine forth from your throne of dazzling light.
2 In the sight of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh,
stir up your mighty power in full display before our eyes.
Break through and reveal yourself by coming to our rescue.
3 Revive us, O God! Let your beaming face shine upon us
with the sunrise rays of glory;
then nothing will be able to stop us.
4 O God, the mighty Commander of Angel Armies,
how much longer will you smolder in anger?
How much longer will you be disgusted with your people
even when they pray?
5 You have fed us with sorrow and grief
and made us drink our tears by the bowlful.
6 You’ve made us a thorn in the side of all the neighboring lands,
and now they just laugh at us with their mocking scorn.
7 Come back, come back, O God, and restore us!
You are the Commander of Angel Armies.
Let your beaming face shine upon us with the sunrise rays of glory,
and then nothing will be able to stop us!
Throughout history—even during Christmastime—the church of Jesus Christ has cried out to God during times of persecution, decline, and internal strife.
Under the Roman Emperor Nero, Christians suffered immense persecution—being burned at the stake to light his courtyards, crucified on crosses lining Roman highways, and murdered in the Colosseum to the delight of Roman citizens. They cried out, “Why, Lord?”
During the second through fifth centuries, the early church experienced intense internal strife because of false teachers bent on warping the message of Christ and his church. Leaders like Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Augustine all asked, “Why, God?”
During the Middle Ages, Muslim hordes butchered and ransacked Christian towns, churches, and holy sites throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East, and much of Europe. And the collective Body of Christ wondered, “Why?”
Then, during the Great Awakenings in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of America, the likes of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and D.L. Moody cried out to God to revive the churches and her members, wondering why the “city on a hill” of religious freedom known as America had become watered down.
More recently, Western churches are mourning their demise and praying for a restoration of the great times of the past. The world-wide church is asking the question the people of God have asked for millennium: “Why, Lord?”
The same was true of Israel’s story too, which Psalm 80 represents. This song of lament was a prayer members of tribes of Judah offered up to God. They were in decline, they were in trouble, they had been rejected by God because of rebellion.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
And so the people of God got on their knees and sang or said this psalm as a prayer, asking the “Loving Shepherd of Israel [to] listen to our hearts’ cry!”
They wanted him to “stir up your mighty power” and “break through and reveal yourself by coming to our rescue.” They longed for God to “revive us,” to “let your beaming face shine upon us with the sunrise rays of glory.”
Because if he did, “Then nothing will be able to stop us.”
This same song and prayer was probably on the lips of Jews living in Palestine under Roman occupation two thousand years ago too.
They were in decline, in trouble, they hadn’t heard from God in nearly four centuries, and they were waiting for the Anointed One—the “Branch-Man, the Son of your love, the Son of Man who dwells at your right hand” (Ps. 80:17).
God promised this One would come to save them, rescue them, and put them back together again.
And guess what? He did!
The Branch-Man did come to revive and rescue, but not just Israel. For as Luke wrote, “The Son of Man has come to seek out and to give life to those who are lost” (Luke 19:10). All the lost, not just lost Israel.
As the church looks around us this Christmas season, we may feel like Israel felt: we’re in decline, we’re in trouble, our nation needs restoration. While we could pray this prayer along with Israel, the truth is God fulfilled their hearts’ cry—and ours!
The promised Branch-Man came in full glory and power to reveal God, rescue, revive, and restore us.
And because he did, nothing can ever stop us—not even the power of death will be able to overpower the church (Matt. 16:18).
Commander of Angel-Armies, while things may seem hopeless for your people, remind us this Christmas season that your Branch-Man, the Son of your love and the One who dwells at your right hand, has come in full glory and power to reveal, rescue, revive, and restore!
Come and Behold Him Advent Devotional is organized around the four weeks of Advent and its themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. Each week begins with a Psalm reading and section of the Christmas narrative from either Luke or Matthew, which coincides with the Advent readings of the liturgical calendar. You’ll find a short devotional along with Scripture passages from The Passion Translation for five days of the week, Monday through Friday, which are based on those Scripture readings. Christmas Eve (or Christmas Day, depending how you want to use it) has its own special reading and devotional. We pray this Advent devotional will encourage and inspire your faith in the One who came to rescue us and the One who will come again to create us anew! If you wish to use Come and Behold Him for this Advent season you can purchase a copy from, but not limited to, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook.com, and Books-A-Million, or find a local bookseller through IndieBound.
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