8 So then, say this to my servant David: This is what the LORD of heavenly forces says: I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to be leader over my people Israel. 9 I’ve been with you wherever you’ve gone, and I’ve eliminated all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great—like the name of the greatest people on earth. 10 I’m going to provide a place for my people Israel, and plant them so that they may live there and no longer be disturbed. Cruel people will no longer trouble them, as they had been earlier, 11 when I appointed leaders over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.
And the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make a dynasty for you. 12 When the time comes for you to die and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your descendant—one of your very own children—to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He will build a temple for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to me. Whenever he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod, with blows from human beings. 15 But I will never take my faithful love away from him like I took it away from Saul, whom I set aside in favor of you. 16 Your dynasty and your kingdom will be secured forever before me. Your throne will be established forever.
17 Nathan reported all of these words and this entire vision to David.
The prophet Nathan delivered the covenant promise in 2 Samuel 7 to Israel’s King David on God’s behalf. Surely David, Nathan and most Israelites at first saw the promise as applying to David’s son, who became King Solomon. For roughly 400 years, Judah’s kings were descendants of David. Sadly, many of them were his physical but not his spiritual heirs. That history increasingly indicated that no human king could fully live up to God’s sweeping promise.
Lord God, we remember David as inspired poet, musician and Israel’s greatest king. But you took him from a pasture. Remind me that wherever I started, you can use me, too, to change the world for the better. Amen.
Do you have a simple prayer you say together as a family? Write a Christmas prayer together as a family, encouraging ideas from all members—young and old.
During the season of Advent, we are sharing ideas for family activities as we “Countdown to Christmas!” Each day includes a simple way for families to remember what Christmas is all about. See this post and others like it on our @churchoftherez Instagram.
For those of us who are parents or have been parents the phrase “parenting is hard” seems like an understatement.
I was talking with a friend recently who was lamenting the Christmas season because their already-busy family schedule had reached new levels of absurdity. Maybe you have felt this pinch too. Parenting during the holidays is hard. It’s not like any parent enters Advent thinking, “How can I possibly fill every last second with things to do?” (I’m pretty sure no one does this.)
Instead, if you’re anything like me, your holiday schedule comes about as you try to make the season meaningful both for yourself and your family. And let’s face it: There is no shortage of “meaningful” events we can place on our calendar. But when we say “yes” to too many things – either because of a fear of missing out or simply because we think we should say “yes” – we leave ourselves and our families feeling drained. This is the opposite of what we were going for.
I was thinking about this today as I read through the passage. I found myself wondering what David must have been thinking when Nathan gave him the message about his descendants.
If he was like most parents, my guess is he totally missed the greater picture Nathan was sharing with him and instead focused his attention on his own children. It’s what I would have done. After all, as a parent, my thoughts and hopes for my kids are generally foremost in my mind. I’ve been told that never really goes away.
As a parent my hope for my children is that they would fall desperately in love with Jesus. More than being happy, having a successful career, or even finding great relationships. I yearn for my kids to experience God in their bones and to be transformed because of it. My guess is that is true for most of us. Which begs the question: If that is our hope why are we living in a way that doesn’t reflect it? Why am I not living in a way that constantly reflects that hope back to my children? My neighbors? My friends?
This is the question that has plagued me for awhile now. Now don’t get me wrong. I am doing a lot of things that I think reflect, encourage and strengthen that hope both in myself and in my kids, friends and neighbors. But doing a lot of things is not the same as doing the right things. Which brings me back to Christmas.
There is no shortage of things we can add to our calendars to help celebrate the season. The key is in being intentional about what we agree to and what we pass on. This year I decided to make the things my family does this year reflect my hope for them to fall in love with Jesus.
In addition to managing our holiday calendar, I have started asking myself a few questions daily to gauge how I am modeling this for my kids, questions that I think work just as well as we think about our friends, coworkers, and neighbors too.
I find that these are the simple stories of the little things that happen in my day. An encounter with a stranger where I felt God nudging me to have a conversation; an answer to prayer, an act of kindness given or received. I found I had been going about my life experiencing these things but not actively sharing them with my kids. We must start sharing our God encounters with the people we care about. How else will they see a relationship with God as transcendent and transformative if we don’t talk about it daily?
In other words, did they see me putting into action the things that I say are important in my faith? For example, I stopped reading my Bible on the Bible app on my phone because I realized that my kids can’t see what I am reading. Instead I read out of my physical Bible. It’s a small thing, but if I want my kids to read their Bibles, they need to see me reading mine.
This week of Advent is about hope. As Pastor Adam talked about in his sermon this weekend, hope is both a clinging to a lifeline and a waiting for a promise.
This week I challenge you then to think about how we can be intentional while we wait. As my friend Chris Folmsbee said last week during his class on Advent, the kingdom of God is both now and yet to come. While we wait for the promise of God’s kingdom to be fully realized we can start to experience it here and now in our relationships with others.
Let this advent season be both about celebrating the birth of the king and taking a deep breath to ponder the wonder of his arrival and what it means for us today. And just as Santa checks his list twice, maybe take another look at your calendar and see where you can cross some things off or add something that makes sense.
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