Daily Advent Prayer
“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”
Unworthy servants that we are, O Lord,
grieved by the guilt of our deeds,
we pray that you may gladden us
by the saving advent of your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. *
“My love shall never leave you.
“Raise a glad cry …
“Break forth in jubilant song …
“Fear not …”
Our God loves us – with “enduring love.”
Our God is in a relationship with us that is faithful, forgiving, healing.
Let us accept it, surrender to its power, and feel the joy
and freedom growing in our hearts.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. Ps. 30
Christ is the wisdom and power of God, and his delight is to
be with the children of men. With confidence, let us pray:
Draw near us, Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have called us to your glorious kingdom,
– make us walk worthily, pleasing God in all we do.
You who stand unknown among us,
– reveal yourself to men and women.
You are nearer to us than we to ourselves,
– strengthen our faith and our hope of salvation.
You are the source of holiness,
– keep us holy and without sin now and until the day
of your coming.
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death
God of salvation,
you promise us strength and courage in our lives
if only I ask.
You forgive me and touch me with your enduring love.
My past life does not matter.
You have forgiven me
and you love me with such tenderness.
As I ponder the blessings of the days ahead,
and am so grateful for your forgiveness,
I ask to feel the jubilation and song
break out in my life today.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
Call on the name of the Lord! Proclaim him as your risen Lord! Share with him in baptism as the first Christians did. Have God add you to his holy people. Know that Jesus will save you from the corruption that plagues our world and so many of our lives. You see, God sent Jesus to save, redeem, restore, and bless. Share in the joy of that salvation. Don’t wait! Today is the day of salvation! Share in it. Rejoice in it. Pass it on to others. Christ our King has come to bring his salvation to all!
Father, thank you for sending Jesus the first time to die for my sins! Thank you for sending Jesus into my heart to comfort and to strengthen me and to work on my life! Thank you most of all for my salvation. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
Read Luke 1:39-56…At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40. where she entered Zechariah�s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43. But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44. As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 46. And Mary said: ”My soul glorifies the Lord 47. and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48. for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49. for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name. 50. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55. to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
v39-56 It is very good for those who have the work of grace begun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary’s arrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who was to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declared that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as peculiarly honoured of and dear to the Most High God. Mary, animated by Elisabeth’s address, and being also under the influence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, and gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Saviour, and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than as interested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be sent empty away.
The Song of Mary…Magnificat!
Mary was troubled. She had just heard the words, ”Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28). Comforting words, it would seem, but startling because they were spoken by an angel.
Mary was about to be presented with the most magnificent news ever, yet she was fearful. And when the angel told her she would have a baby, she exclaimed, ”How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (v.34).
Those two facts about Mary- that she was troubled and that she questioned the angel- tell us she was a person like us, with normal concerns.
Yet, after listening to the angel, Mary called herself ”the maidservant of the Lord,” and she said, ”Let it be to me according to your word” (v.38). She was a humble, godly servant, with a willingness to do God’s will.
We see more of Mary’s heart in her eloquent prayer, known as the Magnificat, the Song of Mary (vv.46-55). Here she rejoiced in God’s holiness (v.49), His mercy (v.50), His strength (vv.51-52), His care for the hungry (v.53), and His goodness to His people (vv.54-55).
We can learn from Mary to trust God despite our concerns and fears, and to praise Him for His greatness. That’s what the song of Mary is all about.
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth. (Matt. 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation. ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant. (Phil. 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me. (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Rom. 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God. (2 Cor. 1:21- 22)
I am assured all things work together for good. (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen & appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)
I belong to God
And that is who He says I am. How about you?
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn His face toward you
and give you peace…”
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM HOMEWORD!
He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife,
A Christmas Prayer for Your Children
By Tim Counts
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6
As I picked up my 2-year-old son out of his crib this morning, hearing him chatter in toddler-talk about the mini Christmas tree in his room, it struck me that Your Son not only came as a little baby but also grew up as a boy. The Word who became flesh learned how to form words with his mouth. How incredible. How humble. How like us and yet unlike us you are, Jesus.
As we approach Christmas Day, my prayer is that my children would not miss Jesus for Christmas. I know this starts with me, Father. Would you strip away idols of materialism and picture-perfect white Christmases from my heart and help me to shine the spotlight on Jesus brightly this Christmas?
Would you answer the prayer that all of the decorations and cookies and parties and even Christmas programs this Advent season would not cover up the manger, but rather point my children to it?
May Christmas cookies remind them that only in Jesus will they “taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalms 34:8)
May even gifts this Christmas point them to the greatest treasure, Your own Son.
May our Christmas tree point to the tree that the Messiah would die on for their sins.
May we celebrate like people who have a reason to celebrate, because the good news of great joy that a Savior has come is the greatest reason to celebrate. But as we enjoy our celebration, may we never forget the reason we’re celebrating.
I know that this would take a miracle to do in my children’s hearts just as it takes a miracle in my heart, but I confess with the angel Gabriel, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) I know that You long for my children to behold and to believe in Jesus more than I do Father, because You are zealous for Your own glory. Make it so–as the star shone for the magi, shine in my children’s hearts so they can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6) this Christmas! As the angels pointed the shepherds to the glory that was in the manger that night, help my wife and I to point our children to the Glorious One who is reigning in Heaven today because He was lying in the manger that night.
We adore you, Jesus. May this Christmas be about adoring You! In Your name we pray, Amen.
God is Our Shelter
I grew up on the west coast of Scotland. As a child, I used to play in an old ruined castle on the shoreline. I would pretend that I was safe as long as I was within the walls of that castle.
The center tower of these ancient castles was called the “keep.” It provided shelter and an operating station for defense during a siege. In God’s kingdom, there is also a keep—Christ. Paul put it this way:
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 1:20–22).
All of God’s promises find their “Yes” in His son. Not only are God’s past promises fulfilled in Christ, but He also claims us through Christ. Paul uses the imagery of a seal: God stamps us with ownership. Through Christ, He has made an eternal commitment to us.
What Christmas is About
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.–Isaiah 9:7
As we look at our world today, we realize that part of the promise ofIsaiah 9:6–7 has not yet been fulfilled. The Son has been given. The Child has been born. But He has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders. We do not yet have peace with judgment and justice. But the good news is that there will come a day when Christ will return. He will establish His kingdom on this earth. And it will be the righteous rule of God himself.
Before Jesus could take the government upon His shoulder, He had to take the cross upon His shoulder. Before He could wear the crown of glory as King of Kings, He had to wear the shameful crown of thorns and give His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The first time, a star marked His arrival. But the next time He comes, the heavens will roll back like a scroll, all of the stars will fall from the sky, and He himself will light it.
Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him–to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Cultivating a Divine Appetite
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. – >Isaiah 55:2
Unlike physical hunger, our appetite for God is never fully satisfied. Once we’ve satisfied our physical hunger we no longer want to eat, at least until we become hungry again. In fact, the sight, smell, or even the thought of food can repulse us after we’ve eaten our fill. Proverbs 27:7 describes the phenomenon like this: “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”
But the opposite is true with regard to our appetite for God. In the very act of satisfying it, the appetite intensifies. This may be something new and different for you, so let me explain.
If you’ve never tasted cheesecake, gone to a professional football game, or watched the sun set over the ocean, you can’t really know what you’re missing. Consequently, you probably don’t have much of an appetite for those things. It’s only when you’ve experienced something that you realize you want more of it.
That’s what Psalm 34:8 is telling us: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Experience for yourself that He’s good, and that He satisfies completely. And when you do, something wonderful and life changing will happen–you will find yourself wanting more and more of Him, and less and less of the world’s cheap substitutes for Him.
“Life is as a jelly roll. When you think you have it eaten, it comes out the other end. ” – Christopher P. Buonanno
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: Jesus was known to be a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
The Way to the Top
The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matt 23:11 ESV
When I showed up at a church work day event, the job that got assigned to me was scrubbing all the bathrooms: upstairs, downstairs, and down the hall. I did not remember the church having that many bathrooms. Though I was tempted to complain that they were underutilizing my skills, I sensed that the Lord had set me up. I set my heart to give those bathrooms the best cleaning job they ever had. The walls, floor, mirrors, and doors all shined when I was done with them.
After a few weeks, a door opened up for me and the Lord used me to minister to others. C.S. Lewis once said ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.’ I have been on both sides of this fence. Once as a child I thought very little of myself and wished that I could have been someone else. Then later as a man, I gravitated towards thinking a lot of myself.
God is faithful and tries to keep me balanced in this with little blessings like the one above. If you find yourself in a humbling situation, thank God that He has taken notice of you, and He may be preparing you for something bigger. The lower you go the higher He can take you! The way to the top is through humility.
Prayer: Father, please keep me balanced. Reveal areas of pride in my life and give me the grace to get rid of it, in the name of Jesus.
“Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.” 2 Timothy 2:14-15 MSG
Thoughts for Today
The Bible tells us that God is our Banner. God, not doctrine. And yet how often do we as Christians focus on doctrinal opinions and differences instead of our Creator?
The basic doctrines of the Gospel cannot be compromised, but we tend to take it so much further and focus on the “dos and don’ts” presented in the Bible. In doing this, we often become unbalanced in our teaching. We take isolated scriptures out of context and build entire doctrines on them. And then we wave these doctrines, instead of Jesus and his love, as our banner.
This kind of “nitpicking” brings division to the body of Christ. It often causes confusion for unbelievers and even builds a wall of aversion to their receiving the truths of the Gospel. In the words of today’s scripture, it “chips away at the faith” and “just wears everyone out.”
When Jesus walked on earth, the Pharisees and Sadducees carried their banner-waving rules and regulations so far that most of them failed to recognize Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah.
Consider this …
When we focus more on our doctrinal differences than on the Living Word, we miss Jesus. We miss his direction for our lives. We miss his love. We miss his strength. … And we can cause unbelievers to miss him altogether.
Let’s focus on Jesus. Let’s join together with other believers in the love of Jesus … agreeing on the truths of the Gospel and agreeing to disagree on the rest … and carry Jesus’ banner of love and forgiveness to a lost world.
Father, help me to join with other believers, no matter what their denomination, in forming a united body to carry the Gospel to people around the world. Help us to focus on you and the truth of salvation and refuse to let our differences divide us. In my personal walk with you, help me to grow in my understanding of the Scriptures and to concentrate on doing my best for you, work I won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. In Jesus’ name …
Living for a Cause Greater Than Yourself
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
December 21, 2017
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” – Proverbs 19:17
If you were God and you wanted to send one of your servants to help the less fortunate in the world, how would you train your servant for this task? Our ways are not God’s ways. We find an interesting story in the case of Brigid, a woman born in the early 400’s in Ireland.
Brigid was born from a sexual encounter between an Irish king and one of his slaves. She was raised as a slave girl within the king’s household and was required to perform hard work on the king’s farm. From the beginning, Brigid took notice of the plight of the less fortunate. She would give the butter from the king’s kitchen to working boys. She once gave the king’s sword to a passing leper-an act about which the king was enraged. The king tried to marry her off, but to no avail. One day, Brigid fled the king’s house and committed herself to belonging only to Christ.
Brigid sought other women who also wanted to belong only to Christ. Seven of them organized a community of nuns that became known as the settlement of Kildare, a place where many thatch-roofed dwellings were built, and where artist studios, workshops, guest chambers, a library, and a church evolved. These and other settlements became little industries all to themselves, producing some of the greatest craftsmanship in all of Europe. Many of the poor had their lives bettered because of Brigid’s ministry to them.
Brigid became a traveling evangelist, helping the poor and preaching the gospel. When she died in 453, it is estimated 13,000 people had escaped from slavery and poverty to Christian service and industry. Her name became synonymous with the plight of the poor. She was a woman who turned a life of slavery and defeat into a life lived for a cause greater than herself. She became a nationally known figure among her people, and the Irish people still recognize her each February 1.
God has called each of us to live for a cause greater than ourselves. If God asked you what you had done for the poor, what would you say? Jesus had a special place in His heart for the poor. Ask God how you might use your gifts and talents to improve the plight of the poor in your community.
Passion for Praise: ‘No Need of the Sun!’
Thursday, December 21, 2017
This I have tried to do, but I haven’t always made the right, or good, choices……
It’s Christmas time! But, this year, it has been not so happy…..I have been harassed and threatened……my sons have been abused, harassed, falsely accused, and threatened, while I was at the Hospital, at Duane’s bedside! How could people like these exist? Is it the stuff they smoke?
Duane, AGAIN, is supposed to be coming home today……being brought by, none other than, Bob, the very brother who threatened, lied, connived, and harassed us! I was given orders to stay in the house and keep my mouth shut……this I will do……but only until everything is unloaded and Duane is inside hopefully……..then, the rope goes back up and Bob is to NEVER set foot on MY property again…he or “good old cousin Billy Ray”…….
Oh, I wish I could say that I even still trust Duane……but, this will take time…….he has mostly sided with THEM…..the demons……the evil ones……the LIARS……..and, well, it has always been this way, and I may have finally reached my breaking point!
I love the man……….why doesn’t he love me in the same way? He claims to but his love……well, it’s not very pure or true………
So it is with me……………………………………..
God bless everyone!!!