“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O, Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Psalm 130:5-8
Hope: to desire or anticipate with the expectation of fulfillment, confident expectation.
For centuries, Israel had been hoping for the Messiah, waiting for Him, expecting Him. After all, God had promised, and as Psalm 145:13 reminds us, “God is faithful to all his promises.” Still, the Israelites had been waiting for a very long time. No doubt many of them had ceased to live in expectation. Perhaps all of the religious rituals they observed no longer kept many of them looking for the Messiah so much as doubting He would ever come. Perhaps that’s why the vast majority of them didn’t notice when He came—they weren’t looking for Him.
Little did they know that God is always at work. While they were bustling through Bethlehem, an innkeeper was turning away the very Messiah they were hoping for. As they nestled snug in their beds, the Son of God came very near. They just didn’t know it.
Of course, God is still working, though His people don’t always realize it. He still fulfills His promises. He still comes near and walks among us. Are we looking for Him? Do we expect to see Him work among us? Do we watch for Him more than a night watchman waits for morning to come? Do we long to see His face?
As Christmas approaches, we would be wise not to make the same mistake the people of Bethlehem made. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we must focus our minds and hearts on Christ. We must expect to encounter Him each day for He has promised “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Oh, let us seek Him this holiday season! As we search for gifts and shop for presents, we must remember it is God’s gift to us that brings hope. Without Christ, there is no Christmas.
Worship: Read aloud all of Psalm 130. Remember that it is because of Christ our sins are forgiven; He himself has redeemed us. Stop and pray, thanking God for His faithfulness and for His gift of salvation through Christ. Ask Him to show you ways He is working in your life and in the lives of those around you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way today.
Family Focus: Choose a prominent place in your home and begin to set up a nativity scene there, adding just one thing each day. Take time to talk about each thing that is added, building up to Christmas Day when Baby Jesus will be added. Focus on the fact that without the baby, the story of Christmas is not complete. Explain that in the same way, our lives are incomplete without Him.