Reflections on Hope: Advent Week 1

The Christmas season is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year, but for many people, it’s one of the most stressful. Extra responsibilities and social obligations pile on. Family members with strong, differing opinions come to town. And if you’re single or lost a loved one, there may be added grief as you prepare for the day.

And those factors, in turn, can act as triggers to seek out porn.

But more importantly, that’s also illustrative of why Christ came to Earth, which is the entire point of the season. Jesus became human to save us from sins like our porn use, which harms our bodies and our relationships with others. And he came to restore us to a right relationship with God, so that one day, when he comes again, we can live with him in glory forever.

This advent season, we invite you to join us as we reflect on Christ’s first and second comings. We’ll look at some passages from the Old Testament and how their longings—and ours—are filled in Jesus. We’ll look at how Jesus’s life and ministry speaks into our current struggles. And, of course, we’ll have a good dose of the Christmas story sprinkled in there too.

Ready to join us? We’ve posted the first week of the reflection below, or you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to get a daily reminder. We look forward to reflecting with you!

Week 1: Hope

Our first week of reflections deal with the theme of hope. Before Jesus was born, the people of God were in the mode of waiting and anticipation. They were given the promise that a Messiah would come, but were asked to wait on God to fulfill his promises. Now, after Christ’s birth, we’re in the mode of both following and waiting: following our Savior, and waiting for his return.

This week’s reflections will look at some of the promises God made in the Old Testament and how Jesus ultimately fulfills them, and at some of the promises Jesus has made to us, struggling now with pornography and other difficult behaviors and situations, and how we can look forward to the fulfillment of those promises with hope.

Day 1: A Prophesied Messiah

Read Isaiah 9:2-7

Starting in Isaiah 8:18, the prophet told the people of Judah that because they turned to superstitions instead of God, they would walk in darkness and see only distress and gloom. But then he prophesies that one day a great King will break through the darkness and free them from their oppression.

What darkness are you walking in? What oppression would you like Jesus to break in your own life?

Day 2: A Curse with a Promise

Read Genesis 3:15

Genesis 3 tells the story of the fall of mankind, and why we were put under a curse. The serpent had deceived Eve, leading both her and Adam to sin. Even though sin and the serpent would make life difficult for Eve’s children, God promised that one of her children would eventually defeat the serpent for good. Jesus, born of a woman, was God’s answer. He broke the curse we were under, and one day he will defeat death once and for all.

How have you experienced the effects of the fall? How have you seen the curse being weakened?

Day 3: Abraham Sacrifices Isaac

Read Genesis 22:7-8.

For most of his life, Abraham waited for God to give him a promised son. After Isaac was finally born, God asked Abraham to offer him up as a burnt offering, only to provide a ram—a better sacrifice—at the last second. This provision of the ram foreshadowed Jesus, born to be the perfect sacrifice.

What have you been asked to sacrifice? How has God “provided the lamb” for you?

Day 4: A Pagan Prophet Predicts Jesus

Read Numbers 24:17-19

Before the wandering Israelites finally reached the promised land, a bunch of nearby people teamed up to defeat them. They even hired a prophet named Balaam to predict Israel’s doom. Instead, Balaam foresaw that the promised Messiah would destroy Israel’s enemies. According to Ephesians 6:12 and Romans 8:37-39, we know the Messiah who we’re celebrating still brings us victory against spiritual forces.

What spiritual enemies are you facing? How does Jesus conquer them?

Day 5: Zechariah Is Promised a Son

Read Luke 1:13-20

Zechariah and Elizabeth had longed for and prayed for a son for many years. By the time the angel Gabriel appeared before Zechariah to tell him he would have a son, Zechariah had given up hope, and even responded with skepticism. After John was born, Zechariah praised God for using his miracle son to pave the way for the Messiah’s coming.

Where have you given up hope? How might God still work in that part of your life?

Day 6: Recognizing Baby Jesus in the Temple

Read Luke 2:28-32, 36-38.

Simeon and Anna were likely both old when they saw Jesus, and likely died before he began his ministry, but when they saw the baby they rejoiced in the coming salvation.

How can you find satisfaction in the hope of your own future restoration to God?

Day 7: Jesus Raises Lazarus

Read John 11:25-26

The helpless baby we’re celebrating held within him—and still holds—power over death. Jesus’ friend Martha had faith that her dead brother would be resurrected on the judgment day, but Jesus intended a much faster resurrection for him. Jesus is in the business of resurrecting the dead, and that can include things like dead faith and dead marriages.

What do you need Jesus to resurrect in your own life?