Monday, Dec. 8 Isaiah 40:1-2 My colleague has a delightful 3-year-old son. He’s cute as a button. Twice a week, he comes to work with his dad before going to preschool. When I hear those little feet scampering down the hall, my heart perks up. There’s no better way to start the day than by holding out my arms and having him run into them to give me a hug. No matter how long my to-do list or how stressful my morning, spending a few minutes with my little buddy always sends me back to my desk with a smile on my face. Do you have times of anticipation that lift your spirits? Daily devotions can be those moments. They center our hearts in the word and attune us to God’s voice. We need to encounter God in Scripture because we can forget God’s life-giving power. The Bible’s words can breathe peace and hope: “Comfort, comfort.” “Do not be afraid.” “Lo, I will be with you always.” They can give our days much-needed perspective. Thank you, Lord, for lifting our spirits with your reassuring word. Draw us close and refresh us today. Amen.
Tuesday, Dec. 9 Isaiah 40:3-5 Last year’s Oscar-nominated movie “Nebraska” told the plaintive story of Woody, a man who journeyed home to claim what he was sure was a winning sweepstakes prize. Who among us hasn’t been enticed with words like, “You may already be a winner!” Like Woody, at times we desperately want to believe that there’s something better for us out there—a life that’s more satisfying, more comfortable, more fulfilling than the one we have now. And sometimes that belief leads us on a long—if not entirely productive or pleasant—journey. The prophet Isaiah isn’t telling the people they’ve won the lottery. He’s bearing an even more enticing message: “Your exile is over! The traveling road home will be smooth and easy. You will see the glory of the Lord.” These words send their desperate hearers on a journey. They need to believe that something better is out there, and that God will deliver them. What messages have you been listening to lately, and where have they been leading you? Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. Guide my steps today, that I might walk in your path. Amen.
Wednesday, Dec. 10 Isaiah 40:9-11 Waiting. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a baby to come, or the check to arrive, or the doctor to call or simply for the light to change. Waiting can be one of the most challenging things we do. Isaiah’s people were waiting, too. Their misery was justified: Jerusalem and the temple in ruins, the people exiled from their homeland, prayers seemingly unheard. They were waiting for some sign that God had not abandoned them, for something to give them hope. The prophet paints for them this picture: The Lord is coming. He is strong, able to defeat every enemy. He is gentle, ready to gather the people into his arms. Imagine what the future will be like! Take heart. It will come. During times of waiting, we need words that give us something in which to believe. The next time you find yourself waiting, try breathing deeply. Imagine the Holy Spirit filling you with patience and peace. And trust that God’s goodness will come. For all people waiting for a sign of your presence, O Lord, we pray that you would send your Spirit and give them hope. Amen.
Thursday, Dec. 11 Psalm 27:1, 4-5 In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, could you be satisfied with just one thing? This season seems to celebrate more, more, more. But what if there was just one thing on your Christmas list; just one wish your heart could make? What would it be? Good health? Enough money? A life companion? World peace? The psalmist wishes for just one thing: to be fully immersed in God’s beauty and truth. “One thing I asked of the Lord: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4). Perhaps he imagines that doing so would lead his every action to reflect God’s heart of love and mercy; that his every thought would center on the good and upright, every night’s sleep be free from fear and worry. Perhaps if we pursued God like we wish for so many other things, we would be less consumed with the thought of more, more, more and instead find peace in the one who truly satisfies our deepest need. Give me a laser-like focus on you, O Lord, so that my life might revolve around and be guided by your love. Amen.