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Comfort: an advent devotional

Stan Key has served for decades as a pastor, missionary, author, and now as OneWay's minister-at-large. He is a longtime friend of the ministry who shares decades of experience and wisdom to encourage and challenge many.

Advent devotional — week 1

Word for the day: COMFORT

by Pastor Stan

The prophet Isaiah lived in a day when the Middle East was in turmoil. It seemed that all of

Israel’s neighbors hated her and were working in concert to deny her the right to exist.

Violence, cruelty, and injustice were the order of the day. Fear, anxiety, and dread filled the air. It felt like the end of the world might be near.

Sound familiar?

Because Isaiah’s times are so similar to our own, his words speak powerfully to us today.

Chapter 40 of his prophesy is often associated with Advent and Christmas because of the way it proclaims to a troubled world that the Prince of Peace is coming soon. Isaiah’s words bring hope and comfort when it feels like things are falling apart. George Frederick Handel chose to begin his famous oratorio The Messiah with three songs taken directly from Isaiah 40:1-5.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:1-5, KJV).

Although Isaiah was comforted by God’s promise that wars would soon cease, sins would be

pardoned, and the Lord himself would be revealed to all the earth, he still found himself unable to know what he should say to the people.

As a prophet, he knew that he should step into his pulpit and say something. But what? All hell was breaking loose and he had no clue what he should preach. “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’” (Isa. 40:6).

God loves it when his people are humble enough and desperate enough to ask him for help. Isaiah may not have known what to say when life felt like a train wreck, but God did. So God told his prophet to find the highest mountain he could find, climb to the top, lift up his voice, and give the people this message:

All flesh is grass (Isa. 40:6-8)

It seems strange, perhaps, that God would comfort his people by reminding them that the mortality rate remains at 100%. Yes, our time on earth is brief, and then we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. This is true for believers and unbelievers, for friends and enemies, for individuals and nations. Only those who build their lives on the eternal Word of God will be able to ultimately stand.

Behold your God (Isa. 40-9-11)

When trouble comes, don’t focus on the size of your problems. Focus rather on the size of your God! He is coming soon and he “will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom” v. 11). In comparison to God, “the nations are like a drop from a bucket… as dust on the scales” (v. 15).

Wait on the Lord (Isa. 40:28-31)

In Hebrew thought, to “wait” on God means to trust in him with confident expectation. He never fails to keep his promises; never!

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:28-31).

Yes, in this world we will indeed have tribulation. But be COMFORTED, weary traveler. He is

coming soon and will fulfill every promise he has ever made. So, get ready to soar like an eagle!


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