Grow Deep - To Make Ready Edition Week 3

Week Three: December 9-15

To Make Ready: The Distractions 

Memory Verse: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music …” Psalm 98:4
I have many fond memories of singing one of my favorite Christmas carols, “Joy to the World.” I love the repetition of the words. I love the energy and boldness of the music. I love the Scripture (Psalm 98) calling me to worship Jesus.
“Let every heart prepare Him room … .” This line speaks to me. My heart loves Jesus, but my heart can also be a place of clutter. There are so many thoughts bouncing around in my mind, that sometimes I miss the One I truly need. Ever feel that way?
This week we start “decluttering” for Christmas. This kind of decluttering isn’t easy because deep down, we are hoarders. We cling to our clutter. We hold on to many blessings we have from God, only to turn them into distractions that exhaust our bodies and damage our relationships. Hoarding anything—-trinkets or treasures, rituals or traditions, good deeds or memories—ultimately separates us from our dependence on Jesus.
This week, Jesus calls us to say “yes” to Him and “no” to everything else that distracts. Our sincere response to His call may cause us to feel some anxiety. Still, we can take our lead from Mary and respond with simple faith, “Yes! May it be to me as You have said!”
This Advent don’t just sing the carol, believe in its message: “Let every heart prepare Him room!” The beauty of letting go of our clutter is that we are freed up to produce the fruit of joy in our holiday interactions. Take the step; you, too, will “repeat, repeat the sounding joy!”

Taking Jesus to the Streets: As you “make ready” to receive Jesus and sing Christmas carols with family and friends, take the step. On your way home from church or after you have sung a carol at home or in your small group or a choir, share the ways the words of that carol spoke to you about the message of Jesus.

Sunday, December 9
Read: Luke 1:26-38
Reflect: Mary responds, “Yes, Lord!” Her response opened her eyes and heart to see and experience God’s favor, Jesus’ presence and the Spirit’s power. These blessings are yours, too! Identify one thing on your “to do” list that will distract you from Jesus today. Instead of “doing” that one thing, spend that time with God. Listen for His invitation and respond, “Yes, Lord!”

Monday, December 10
Read: Psalm 62
Reflect: David puts his trust in God and rests in Him. God is his Rock, his Fortress, his Salvation. Meditate on the references to “trust” in this Psalm. What are the blessings and promises that come with trust? Which affirmations help you to refocus away from troubling distractions?

Tuesday, December 11

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Reflect: Jesus is the One who empowers us to say “no” to distractions and “yes” to Him. Where are you hearing, “No, no, no!”? What barriers, doubts, and obligations are distracting you from God’s grace? What are the “Yes, yes, yes!” promises in this Bible passage that you can keep close today?

Wednesday, December 12
Read: Psalm 90
Reflect: Christ Jesus is our refuge and dwelling place. He is the place where we are shielded from the distractions of the world; He is our rest and protection. As Moses reflected on his life in this Psalm, Christians reflect with him. How do Moses’ words in this Psalm help you with distractions? What truths humble their threat? What words give focus to your faith and hope?

Thursday, December 13

Read: Luke 10:38-42
Reflect: In this familiar story of Martha and Mary, Jesus reminds us that we should not let our preparations become distractions that keep us from our relationship with Him. What preparations and pleasures may be distracting you from God’s presence and peace for your life? What does Jesus say you really need? How will you respond to His plea?

Friday, December 14

Read: Psalm 98
Reflect: The Psalmist sings a song of praise for the redeeming love of Christ. This Psalm inspired “Joy to the World.” What memories of singing help you focus on Jesus? How does worship melt distraction? How do you worship Jesus on a daily basis?

Saturday, December 15

Read: John 15:1-17
Reflect: John uses a vine and branches to illustrate the vital relationship we have with Jesus. He is the Vine; we are the branches. Where is God “pruning” distractions from your life? What “dead branches” are you holding on to? Where are the life-lines that supply your faith, hope and love? What “fruit” is Jesus preparing in you for Christmas?