Advent Devotion for Monday, December 23

By Frank Murdock

Read James 5:7-11

James writes first of patience, encouraging each of us to wait upon the Lord, the Lord’s coming, even if it is impossible for us to really know what to expect. The farmer labors to plant knowing that with the right amount of nutrients in the soil, and with sunlight and rain, the harvest will come–even though he cannot know exactly how much he or she will reap. With the harvest comes sustenance for his or her family.

Hopefully there will be enough left over to sell or barter in the market to provide the other things they vitally need. And with the harvest there may even be enough for some luxuries not really needed but wanted just the same. Anticipating a bountiful harvest, the Old Testament faithful obeyed the Law, and gave his or her first tenth, the best fruits of the harvest to the Lord.

In these New Testament times we give in response to the Lord’s gracious love, a love which should be well beyond our expectations and in which we are not restricted to giving just the first tenth.

But that level of giving requires patience and patience requires sacrifice, the giving up of immediate satisfaction in favor of what happens when we build the Lord’s Kingdom and bring many others to Christ.

That indeed can bring suffering and as with Job, suffering brings the perseverance James cites. Just as the Old Testament prophets sacrificed. Just as Christ suffered and died–for our sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So as we begin this week leading up to Christmas, let us think about the gifts we have bought or are about to buy for each other. Let us acknowledge that these gifts, which would be luxuries for many in the world, are given out of the abundance we have received from the Lord.

In many ways it is an abundance that we should not expect, given our sins. Let us give joyfully, sharing the love of Christ both in symbol and in Word to each other as believers, but most importantly to those in our lives who do not know Jesus Christ.

We pray: O Lord, in this season help us proclaim to everyone that You so loved the world that You gave, You sacrificed, Your only Son so that those who believe in Him, Your Son, will live with You forever–the greatest gift of all. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.