(This year, 2017, the title for each Advent devotional will be a phrase from a traditional Christmas carol. If you know the name of the carol, write it in the comments below. Everyone who comments the correct title each day on my blog page will be entered to win a gift card on the day after Christmas. You must post your comment within 2 days.  Merry Christmas!)

Read: Revelation 19:6-8; Ephesians 5:25-27; John 14:2-3

The season of Advent is a time we set aside each year to remember all that the birth of our Savior means to us. We read once again the prophecies that foretold His birth, we read the Gospels’ account of the details surrounding His birth- the angels’ announcements to His parents, the trek to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the Christmas angels- all those things that are so familiar to us that it’s almost like remembering a part of our own life story.

This season is also a time for preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus. It’s when we realize that as reverent and joyous and worthy of celebration as Christmas is, it’s His return that we are to be attentively preparing our hearts for- a glorious return that will happen sooner than we can imagine.

So how can we prepare ourselves for His return?  I love the image God’s Word gives us in Revelation 19:7-8 of the bride at the marriage of the Lamb. These verses describe the bride (the church) who has made herself ready for her eternal union with Christ. Verse 8 explains that the bride has clothed herself in fine linen, bright and clean, and that this fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

As His saints, His bride, we are to always strive for righteousness. Though we understand that we are positionally righteous through Christ, that only He can make us right with God, and that we are able, through His work on the cross, to be counted righteous and holy with Him, we are still to work out our salvation by laying aside that sin that weighs us down and living lives of holiness.  We can’t make our robes white, only Jesus can do that (Eph. 5:25-27), but we are expected to clothe ourselves in that fine linen of righteousness.

The first few verses of John 14 are familiar to most of us. We hear them at Easter season, we hear them at funerals. It’s a passage that is part of Jesus’ final words to His disciples before He went to the cross. Recently I read that these few verses are the same as those which were spoken by a Jewish bridegroom to his bride during a portion of the betrothal ceremony. After the bride accepted the offered covenant of marriage, the groom would announce to her that he was leaving to return to his father’s home to prepare a place for her, and that once her place was ready, he would return and take her to their new home. During their separation, it was expected that the bride would also be preparing herself for marriage.

On this first day of Advent, it’s such a comforting and thrilling thought to know that Jesus is preparing a place for us in Heaven and that He will soon return to take us to our new home with Him. Let’s commit this season to renew our devotion to preparing our hearts for Him.