2022 Advent Devotion: Claiming HOPE
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Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2, NIV).
When our family originally answered God’s call to serve on staff with Cru Military®, Satan placed a huge target on our backs. First, the deceiver sent his fiery darts toward our marriage. We recognized the ways he was trying to divide us and reminded one another that our spouse was not the enemy but that the true enemy was Satan. When the devil’s attacks on our marriage didn’t cause us to abandon our call to serve the Lord, the accuser aimed his assaults at more vulnerable victims – our teenage children.
Our daughter fought to expel the lies of the enemy but often found herself struggling in feelings of hopelessness and lack of purpose. She had lost who she was and what she knew to be true. Recognizing the spiritual attack she was encountering, we prayed over and around her and used the Word of God as our offensive weapon against the onslaught of the enemy. We sought out the righteous prayers of many of our fellow staff members and military friends. There were days when the dark cloud of depression cloaked her like an invisible weight on her body and mind. She struggled to live up to her own expectations of what was “good enough.” We rallied around our daughter with Christian counseling and prayer, often praying Scripture over her. Inch by inch, the darkness covering her began to recede.
The Lord completely removed the oppressive cloak of darkness during her month-long mission trip this past summer. Our daughter served on a mission to Zambia in evangelism, discipleship, orphan care ministry, and battered women’s ministry. She spent a great deal of time intently studying the scriptures and truly seeing her need for Christ, not just for eternity, but for each day. She returned to the United States joyfully declaring the abundant life and freedom that is found only in Christ. She shares an intimate relationship with Jesus and enthusiastically shares His message of liberty with others. She lives spirit-filled and pours over His Word with passion. Where the darkness used to hang now hangs the light of Christ. Glory be to the Father!
The LORD has done exceedingly and abundantly more than we asked or imagined in our daughter’s life. There were days when we struggled through this multi-year journey, but we clung to the truth of His Word and the hope of His promises. We renewed our minds with uninterrupted time with Him in His Word. Billy Graham states, “When our minds are on Christ, Satan has little room to maneuver.”
No matter what circumstances you are facing in your life right now, God is a Redeemer who is working in our lives and in our families’ lives to draw man to Himself. When Jesus came to earth to dwell with man, He did that to offer us hope for today and for tomorrow. Claim hope for yourself and claim it for others on days they may need to borrow a little faith from you. He is Immanuel – God with us.
Prayers for the week ahead:
Day 1 – For family:
Be with my family today, Jesus. Help them to see that they may never be enough because they don’t have to be; You, Jesus, are enough for them. You came and lived a perfect life in their place and took the penalty for their sin. Today, Lord, may my family understand the abundance of your gift to clothe us with your righteousness.
Day 2 – For friends and neighbors:
Father, I ask you to allow me to be the fragrant aroma of Christ to my friends, neighbors, and coworkers. May I have the opportunity to talk about the real gift we celebrate at Christmas. May I share Scripture with a friend and offer them the transformative power of Your Word.
Day 3 – For those at work:
When my circumstances at work are challenging, and I’m focusing so intently on them that they seem insurmountable, Father, please point my eyes toward You. Help me to focus intently on You, Heavenly Father, so that my circumstances will dull in your radiant glory.
Day 4 – For those in the military:
For our military serving around the world and facing daily challenges, help them to focus more on You, Lord, and less on their circumstances. Draw their minds to you, the Sovereign God, who rules the earth, and help them to resist striving, but instead be drawn to rely upon your power and strength. This Advent season, help them to be drawn to your radiant glory and place all the uncertainty and pain in their lives in your capable hands. For those serving away from family on deployment or temporary duties, comfort them in their loneliness and use your Spirit to encourage them to become engaged in Christian community to sustain and strengthen them during their time away.
Day 5 – For our nation’s leaders:
Today, Lord, I lift up my nation. My nation has forgotten why we celebrate Christmas and replaced a celebration of the sovereign Lord coming to dwell with man with a call to frantic materialism. I ask you to work in the hearts of our nation’s leaders and to encourage other believers to take this season as an opportunity to share the good news with their fellow countrymen so that more people can sing Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Devotion by Beth Runkle
Beth is a proud military spouse of 25 years. She began a relationship with Jesus Christ as a result of her involvement in a Bible Study, a few years after she wed her military husband. Beth and her husband saw their lives and marriage dramatically transformed by Christ through the Biblical blueprint for marriage, and began sharing what they found with other military couples. After 25 years, her husband was ready to retire but they weren’t ready to leave gospel-centered ministry to the military. So, they joined the Cru Military team in Colorado. They work as missionaries to the military and are engaged in ministry to cadets at the Air Force Academy and to couples and women at the four military bases in Colorado Springs. Beth and her husband have two kids in college.