Advent Devotion - Day 3


November 29, 2022

Join us through this special time of Advent as we dive deeper into the Word of God. Each day, we will pray and reflect on a different passage from Scripture. Daily Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, and reflections are written by our church staff.

Opening Prayer:

O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore You,
a heart to delight in You,
to follow and to enjoy You,
for Christ’s sake.

St Ambrose of Milan, 337-397 AD

Scripture Reading:

Hebrews 11:32-40

32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death; they were sawn in two;[a] they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground.

39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.


As I was reading today’s Scripture and thinking about the stories of all those listed in Hebrews 11 and of the people I know and look up to, I was reminded of a teaching I heard about how to mature in faith through what our spiritual ancestors called “Active Spirituality” and “Passive Spirituality.” Active Spirituality is where it feels like we take the initiative, and Passive Spirituality is where it feels like God takes the initiative.

In Active Spirituality, there are several different things we can do to help our faith grow. We can:

Step out in faith. Take a risk and trust God. It can be as major as quitting your job and moving your family to a different country, or as minor as stopping what you are doing to pray for someone. The point is to step out. Whatever comes into your mind that you believe is a prompt from the Holy Spirit – take the next step!

Practice gratitude. This is the best way to start and end your day. Gratitude is the practice of being present to the goodness of God at the moment. The more grateful you are, the more grounded in the here and now you are, and the more you realize how good your life before God is – the more your faith will grow.

Get around people of faith. There is a social dimension to faith. Jesus said of his hometown that He could do no great miracles there because of their lack of it. Living in a secular world surrounded by a culture that tries to redefine right and wrong in a way that is incompatible with Scripture is very hard on your soul; that’s why it is so important to come together with other believers to worship, pray, fellowship, and study to strengthen your faith.

Ask God for more faith. Let the man’s prayer in Mark 9:24 become your own, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Faith is not just a muscle we develop; it is a gift we receive.

Passive Spirituality looks completely different; it's what Scripture calls "the test of faith." It's like a stress test done by an engineer on a new car or bridge or how a blacksmith tests a metal in the fire. It's a way to determine the integrity and quality of something, to see what it's made of, and if it is ready to go public. This is not for God (He already knows what's in our hearts), but rather for us. We often don't.

Difficult situations bring to the surface the hard reality of what we truly believe and in who or what we put our trust. It's easy to say we trust God when everything is going right. But, it's not as easy when we have a loved one in the hospital, and God is not answering our prayers the way we want Him to, or when we have lost our job, and there are mouths to feed and bills to pay, or when we have to pack a bag in the middle of the night to escape bombs raining down on our land.  

Part of being a disciple of Jesus is stripping away the layers of the false self, unbelief, and sin. That is only possible through God's refining fire. It is often painful in the moment, but the fruit and the life produced when we welcome the Holy Spirit to come and have His way in our lives is so much sweeter, and it is eternal.

Daily Challenge:

Take a few minutes today to get alone and enter the presence of God. Try not to fill the silence with your own words or requests, but instead, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Write down what you hear Him say.
Today's reflection is written by:
Jessica King
Director of Connections
Church of the Servant
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