I'll be adding an excerpt from my Advent devotional at the bottom of each day through Dec 24th. It's found in the Dwell app and called Love's Pure Light. I highly recommend it!
Hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving break. We have many battles in front of us but who can carry on day in and day out without a break? Not I! Breaks should be restful but even more importantly we should use the time to listen, reflect, and re-calibrate so that we can come back stronger than before. Taking time out to focus on and be grateful for what God has already done is a great reminder that helps us increase our faith in what He will do in the future. He has not forsaken us. Praise the Lord for His steadfastness and mercy!
When you don’t feel thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People, in which he discussed the conundrum of why, if the universe was created and is governed by a God who is good and loving, there is still so much pain and suffering. He concluded that it remains the same problem that has existed on Earth almost since the beginning: there is good and there is evil. He stopped short of promoting the provisions that God has made for overcoming evil…faith in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross.
If, for any reason, you are not feeling grateful today, if your struggles are weighing heavily on your heart making it difficult to appreciate your blessings, accept those feelings and show yourself the same compassion that You receive from your Heavenly Father. Pray and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, make a plan to de-escalate the tensions you feel. Find the smallest thing in your life to be thankful for. It could even be dirty dishes in the sink, evidence that you had something to eat today—something many in this world would be grateful for.
Smile. Find gratitude for a sunset, a baby’s laugh, a tender message in a greeting card. Then thank God that He has given you emotions that can respond to the good things with gratitude.
Holy God, we give you thanks and praise for all that You are, for Your loving care for each of us, and Your desire to be in relationship with us. We seek Your wisdom and righteousness to be at work in our daily lives. If we are burdened, bring us relief; if hurting, ease our pain. It is our desire to be thankful in every circumstance. Through Your grace, help us through our times when we resist having gratitude. Keep us centered on You, for in that we shall ever be thankful. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
ADVENT has started!
Week 1: HOPE
Why does the first week of Advent center around hope? Because, just like the prophets of old, we set our expectations on a coming king who will deliver us from darkness, and usher us into a kingdom of light, love and peace. King Jesus is our hope, and as surely as the sun rises, we believe that He will appear!
DAY 1 - 11/29/2020
Scripture to listen to (or read):
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
This time of year, our culture is bathed in the warm glow of holiday lights. Even the most hardened skeptic’s resolve is tested by a steady stream of nostalgic films, music, meals, and customs, and at the center of this sentimentality lies a baby in a manger. At the mention of this babe it is difficult to think of anything other than the traditional nativity scene, with Mary, Joseph, Wise Men, and a smattering of barnyard animals, all reverently paying tribute to the newborn king. Timeless as this picture may be, it is an incomplete and one-sided understanding of the nature and purpose of Christ’s birth.
In Advent, we see both the humility and power of God on display. In Christ, we encounter God entering into the chaos and brokenness of our world, taking it upon himself to heal, redeem, and restore. Yet simultaneously, it is a birth that shakes the earth to its very core. The same power that tears the veil in two, splits rocks, and opens tombs is contained in the frailty and vulnerability of an infant child (Mt. 27:51-53).
In Jesus, the prayer of Isaiah 64:1 is definitively answered. “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.” Advent literally means “coming” or “approach,” and as the people of God we are invited every year to enter attentively into a season of holy anticipation. As we do, let us never lose sight of the true nature of the king that came, and will come again.
DAY 2 - 11/30/2020
Scripture to listen to (or read):
It is true that sin is cause of all this pain; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. –Julian of Norwich
Advent forces us to confront our brokenness within and the chaos without. Though it defies contemporary logic, sin is a sickness for which we are unable to find a lasting cure. No amount of technological advancement or scientific inquiry will yield a solution to this timeless problem. For this reason, Advent developed in the Church as a penitential season of preparation. As God draws near, we are invited to grieve the way in which sin alienates us from Christ and one another. We acknowledge our need for the mercy and compassion of our Lord. As the Psalmist cries out, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake” (Ps. 79:9).
Themes of light and darkness feature heavily in the Scripture readings during this season. In the ancient world, electricity and artificial light were foreign concepts. Instead, in Scripture we frequently encounter images of the fiery presence of God. It is this wild and untamable light that pierces even the deepest darkness. It is a fire that consumes and burns as it draws near. And confusing as it may seem at first, this is profoundly good news!
Christians are meant to be aflame with the life of God. Like the burning bush of old, we are invited to be filled with the fire of God yet not consumed or destroyed by it. The approaching fire of God is meant for our healing, never our harm. The Lord loves us more than we know how to love ourselves, and as we open up to the healing flame of his love, we rest in the promise that all shall be well.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Daily posts, Monday-Friday will resume on Monday, 11/30/2020.
Listen and be blessed!
All Creatures Of Our God And King
All glory to our God and King
Every crown thrown down in offering
Every knee shall bow and voice proclaim
You are God, You are King
All hail the Savior of the world
Honor and power are His alone
Oh, praise Him, Oh, praise Him, Alleluia, Alleluia
Give thanks for the nation’s freedoms
1 Chronicles 16:34 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
For many in America this year, there were be fewer seats around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Hopefully, that is just because of coronavirus restrictions, but for some it is because there are people isolating or no longer with us. Outside the doors of your home, there are disagreements about policies and who has control over what. It may not see like a very blessed environment.
But for Christ followers, there is a consistent Guest at your table…the Lord Himself. While you are fellowshipping with one another, be sure to fellowship with Him. Your environment may not be the one you would like, but you can still be thankful…thankful that you can have two-way communication with absent relatives, thankful that the market hadn’t run out of cranberries, thankful that we have cures and treatments available, thankful that God is with you and has promised never to leave you. And no matter what is inside or outside, always be thankful that you live in America, the only nation in history founded on Judeo-Christian values.
Pray that next year will see a return to your Thanksgiving traditions.
Holy and Everlasting God, we are indeed blessed to be Americans. We are grateful for those who came before us who taught us the benefits of giving thanks, and for those among our political leaders who have designated a day on which we are to remember and give thanks to You. It is hard for so many this year, and we pray for those who are lonely, distressed or heavily burdened. You are the Source of Comfort, and we ask that You give comfort to them this year. You are a good, good Father, and Your blessings are bountiful. We give you thanks and praise, Amen.
The Lord never forsakes us. What an awesome promise. We must hold on to it with both hands and never forget.
Heavenly Father, it must grieve You that as a nation we have taken for granted the freedoms and the liberties that so many have fought and died for over the past centuries. As a people, we have trodden underfoot the grace You have granted, profaning Your Name by our actions and attitudes. We are a nation in need of repentance and forgiveness. We are slow to learn. Help each one of us to have an understanding of our responsibilities to this great country, to one another, and to You, for we ask in the Name of Jesus, Amen
• Pray for a personal understanding of all that is involved in true liberty as granted through Jesus Christ.
• Pray for discernment when listening to politicians and media when they discuss our freedoms.
• Pray for our leaders as they wrestle with how to protect free speech, the right to assemble peaceably, and our religious liberty.
• Pray for Americans to turn to God in repentance and a return to the values and godly principles.
• Pray for America’s leaders in Congress, the courts, and the administration to seek to honor God first in their decisions.
• Pray for God’s hand of protection over the United States.
• For God to guide the president and administration officials in their efforts towards economic recovery.
•For all who are sick and especially for those who are afraid.
An epic tug-of-war is happening between righteousness and lawlessness.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. – Proverbs 14:34
Surprisingly, Johnny Cash did NOT originally author the phrase “walk the line!” Actually, the term originated in 18th century prison yards. Convicts were exercised by walking a circle drawn on the ground. Anyone straying from that line brought trouble to the whole group. Many see God in a similar fashion. An angry warden just waiting for someone to get out of line. But that is not the case.
Rightly, God sets the laws of the Universe and for mankind. He is the Creator. He has gone to great lengths to give every person an opportunity to enjoy a place of fellowship with Him and to rest in His Kingdom. Sin was birthed by one setting out to dethrone Him from that place of sovereign authority, hoping to claim both the reign and glory for himself.
The basic nature of sin has not changed. When one sets themselves in opposition to the Lord of all life and the universe, sin is the result. The consequence of sin is death of the spirit and destruction of the mind and body. There is great forgiveness for those struggling to keep God’s laws, but the one rejecting God Himself harbors sin and is in grave spiritual danger.
When sin engulfs a nation, God’s hand of fellowship is blocked by the people’s choice to reject Him. But when people seek to honor the Creator and observe His ways, even imperfectly, their nation enjoys His presence and His favor.
Today, hold the line for blessing in your community. Support candidates who support Godly values and that pray men and women of faith will be elected to lead America.
So, my multitasking skills aren't what they used to be! Or maybe as I mature I am preferring to live in the moment more instead of my mind being on several other things. That's certainly true when I have my more than 1 grandkid at a time. Not only do I want to immerse myself in whatever we are doing, it's sort of critical since right now I have one who is 3 yrs old and the other is 19 months. If my sharp eye wanders, no telling what we will end up with.
They are the reason for my absence and slacking these last couple of days. It takes me 1-2 days to get into a routine I can count on when they are with me. It's a sweet time but challenging none the less. I think I have a handle on it now :)
It's encouraging to know that you've all been praying anyway. So much happening I'm guessing many of you are as confused and bewildered as I am. What is happening to our country? What is God doing? And where do we fit in to His plan? Daily questions with not so many answers right now.
I am feeling the daily need to go back to the basics and remember where we always stand with God. A friend shared part of her prayer time this morning and it was from A. W. Tozer, one of my favorite theologians. I found this article and felt it was a pretty important reminder for today.
God is always first, and God will surely be last.
To say this is not to draw God downward into the stream of time and involve Him in the flux and flow of the world. He stands above His own creation and outside of time; but for the convenience of His creatures, who are children of time, He makes free use of time words when referring to Himself. So He says that He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last. Man in the plan of God has been granted considerable say; but never is he permitted to utter the first word nor the last. That is the prerogative of the Deity, and one which He will never surrender to His creatures.
Man has no say about the time or the place of his birth; God determines that without consulting the man himself. One day the little man finds himself in consciousness and accepts the fact that he is. There his volitional life begins. Before that he had nothing to say about anything. After that he struts and boasts and utters his defiant proclamations of individual freedom, and encouraged by the sound of his own voice he may declare his independence of God and call himself an “atheist” or an “agnostic.” Have your fun, little man; you are only chattering in the interim between first and last; you had no voice at the first and you will have none at the last. God reserves the right to take up at the last where He began at the first, and you are in the hands of God whether you will or not.
This knowledge should humble us and encourage us, too. It should humble us when we remember how frail we are, how utterly dependent upon God; and it should encourage us to know that when everything else has passed we may still have God no less surely than before.
Adam became a living soul, but that becoming was not of his own volition. It was God who willed it and who executed His will in making Adam a living man. God was there first. And when Adam sinned and wrecked his whole life God was there still. Adam did not know it perhaps, but his whole future peace lay in this – that God was there after he had sinned. The God who was there at Adam’s beginning remained there at his ending. God was there last.
It would be great wisdom for us to begin to live in the light of this wonderful and terrible truth: God is the first and the last.
The remembrance of this could save nations from many tragic and bloody decisions. Were notes written by statesmen against the background of such knowledge they might be less inflammatory, less arrogant; and were kings and dictators to think soberly of this great truth they might walk more softly and speak less like gods. For after all they are not really important and the sphere of their freedom is constricted more than they dream.
Shelley tells of the traveler who saw in the desert two vast and trunkless legs of stone, and near them half-buried in the sand lay a shattered face with a “wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command.” On the pedestal where once the proud image had stood were engraven these words: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.” And, says the poet, “Nothing else remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.” Shelley was right except for one thing: Something else did remain. It was God. He had been there first to look in gentle pity upon the mad king who could boast so shamelessly in the shadow of the tomb; and He was there when the winds of heaven blew down the statue and by the swirling sands covered with a mantle of pity the evidence of human decay.
God was there last.
from The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer
Merciful and Loving God, You are our Lord and our King and we long for the day when You will receive us into Your Heavenly abode. Until then, we place this nation of America at your feet and ask that You might once again look upon us with favor. May we repent and begin once again to serve You. Yet, for the honor of Your holy name, we pray that Your will be done in this great land. Our confidence is in You. Blessed be Your Name in all the Earth, Amen.
Lifting our elections up to the Lord helps all of us keep the focus on the most important topics as well as softens our hearts to love everyone, even those with whom we may disagree. Believing differently shouldn't stop us from sharing God's love and His Word with others.