Sunday, December 9, 2018

Advent: Week Two


Welcome to the second week of Advent. This week's Advent theme is Faith. Faith is believing in things that cannot be seen but still trusting. For Christians, faith is trusting in God's love for us even when we are unable to see His hands at work in our lives. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines faith as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof and as belief, trust in, and loyalty to God.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 3:3

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill her promises to her!" Luke 1:45

"Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see This is what the ancients were commended for." Hebrews 11:1-2



The second Advent candle is often referred to as the Bethlehem Candle. Bethlehem is the city in which the infant Jesus made his entrance into the world. The King of Kings was born into humble circumstances because there weren't any guest rooms available. His mother was a young virgin girl whose faith in God's promise was strong despite the dangers having this child created for her. She could have lost her life. His father was a carpenter.

Bethlehem is a town that is approximately six miles south of Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem because of a census. While there, it became time for Mary to give birth to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus's birth in Bethlehem fulfills the prophecy foretold in Micah 5:2: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."



Prayer:

Father God, Thank You for working in our lives. Help us to trust in You even when we can't see Your hands at work. Help us to believe in the depth of Your love for us. Remind us of the wonderful plans of hope You have for us. We know you long for what is best for us. Help us to never forget that. Please help us to make room in our hearts for Your precious, beloved, Son: Jesus. When we spend time in Your presence, when we are still, when we listen to Your still voice with open hearts, when we praise You through the storms, when we worship You, when we spend time reading Your word strengthen our faith in You. All honor and praise be Yours! Amen!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Advent: Week One



Today marks the start of Advent: a time of anticipation and expectation. Advent is one way we can prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

The first candle of Advent represents Hope. When life seems overwhelming when the storms threaten to blow us down when we feel we can't press on one more step, God sent Jesus to be our hope. Hope is trusting that someone [Jesus] will be able to help us, It is also a feeling that something good will happen. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day lone." Psalm 25:5

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

The first candle for Advent is also referred to as the Prophets Candle for it was the prophets of old who foretold the birth of a Savior.

"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." Hosea 11:1

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations." Isaiah 42:1

"In his name the nations will put their hope." Matthew 12:21

Prayer:

Father God, we thank you for the amazing plan you had to save us from our sinful ways and give us Your hope all of those years ago. We thank you for coming to earth in the form of a tiny, humble, vulnerable baby. We thank you for sacrificing your one and only Son, Christ Jesus, to bring us hope and give us life eternal. Thank you for your deep love for us. Help us to keep our eyes focused upon you and the hope you provide us. Fill our hearts as we prepare to make room in our hearts for your Son. Let us celebrate our hope in you through Christ Jesus this Advent season and beyond. Amen!




Saturday, December 1, 2018

Advent: The History and the Meaning


Advent Defined:

Advent, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means coming, arrival, appearance. The Free Dictionary defines Advent as the arrival of an important person, thing, or event. Bible Study Tools takes these previous definitions to a Christian perspective by describing Advent as a season of preparation, anticipation, and celebration of the arrival of Jesus Christ: a tiny baby who would change the world in tremendous ways and impact lives for years to come.

History:

In the 4th century AD, it is believed that the Spaniards utilized Advent as a time to celebrate the baptism of new believers as the church prepared for Epiphany in January, which focuses upon God's coming to earth in the form of an infant or God's incarnation, the visit of the Magi, or wise advisors to the kings and the scholars of their day, to bring their gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold to a young Jesus, and the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by his cousin, John the Baptist. In the 6th century AD, the Roman people changed the view of Advent. They began the tradition of viewing Advent as the second coming of Jesus. (1)

Our current tradition of Advent was started during the Middle Ages during the Reformation: a period in history when the Protestant churches began because leaders were breaking away from the strict and sometimes corrupt leadership of the Catholic Church of that Era. (2) During the Medieval Times, the focus of Advent became a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus the Savior. (1)

It is also interesting to note that in England during the Middle Ages, nativity images or vessel cups, which held depictions of the holy family placed inside a box with a glass lid. This box was then carried around from home to home to bring good tidings of joy. The 18th century is noted as being the first time an Advent wreath was used. A Lutheran ministry missionary is said to have used the wreath as a visual tool to help people anticipate the upcoming arrival of Christ. In the 19th Century, German Protestants would count down to the holiday by simply placing twenty-four chalk marks on the door frame and erase one each day until Christmas. (3) (Neat, historical and inexpensive Advent calendar.)


Meaning of Advent:

The Advent Season is filled with symbolism. While the next four Sundays will detail that week's specific theme with an additional installment for Christmas Day, below is a brief insight into the meaning behind these traditional symbols.

Within the Christian Church, evergreen boughs in the form of a circle are utilized to represent everlasting life. They also represent God's unending love for us as a circle continues on forever. (1) (Please note that traditions may vary slightly depending upon the Denomination.) Typically, the wreath holds three purple candles to signify the royalty of Christ and the penitence of his people. The candle for week three is rose-colored to represent joy and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. A white candle is often placed in the center of the evergreen wreath. This candle is lit on Christmas Day and is referred to as the Christ Candle. (4)

Are you ready to celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, Jesus? We'll start the celebration tomorrow (December 2, 2018) on the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is not only a time to remember that Christ was born into humble beginnings to be our sacrifice, nor just to remember that He is coming again one day, but also to remember that He is in our hearts when we turn our messy lives over to Him. He loves us because we are His beloved children.

Prayer:

Father God, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Your one and only Son, Jesus, we ask that just as You prepared a place for His birth those many years ago that You help us prepare a place for Him in our hearts today. May this Advent season help us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas: a time to celebrate the birth of Your precious child, to appreciate the promise You not only made but kept with us to provide a Saviour, to be thankful for Your amazing blessings, and to know Your unconditional love for us. Holy are You, Father, and worthy of praise not because of what You've done but simply because of who You are. Amen!






Footnotes
1. Christianity.com
2. WesternReservePublicMedia.org
3. Crivoice.org
4. UMC.org

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving



"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34





Saturday, September 15, 2018

Acts of Kindness


Today, as I left the lab after having blood drawn, I came upon a praying mantis sitting in the walkway unaware of the potential danger surrounding him. Concerned that he would either be stepped upon by someone unaware of the mantis's presence or be injured by the automatic doors closing on him, I decided to relocate him. Crawling on my cane, he seemed to enjoy our short walk to a grassy area that was free of foot traffic and would provide him with camouflage from prey.

I share this story not to boast about my good deeds but to exemplify how even the smallest acts of kindness make an impact and can bless you in return.

Luke 6:31 states, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

We are all God's creation, loved unconditionally by our Father God. Even those people who grate upon our last nerve should be shown kindness. In fact, Matthew 5:44 says, "...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

When we have God's love living in us, His light should be shining through us. We should be a beacon of His love, His hope and His grace.

As I went about my day, I thought about how many simple opportunities we miss out upon because we fill our days to the brim or because we feel our small efforts won't make a difference in the grander scheme of life.

Today, I want to encourage you to ask God to place at least one person in your path to whom you can be His loving presence. Even the smallest act of kindness can have a lasting impact that not only touches one life but can in turn have a rippling effect when the person you showed kindness to in turn shows kindness to another person and the cycle continues.

Lord, We ask you to humble us and help us to be still amidst the busyness of life. Please help us to obey Your gentle nudges and to see the people around us through Your eyes. Please place one person in our path today to whom we can be Your love, Your hope, and Your grace. We thank You for the opportunity to serve others and glorify you. Amen!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Word for 2018 - Thankful

My word for 2018 is Thankful. What is your word? There is a myriad of things for which we can and should be thankful for God has blessed us richly! 

"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything!" Ephesians 5:20 Notice this verse doesn't say give thanks for merely the good things. We must also be thankful for the trials and storms as they strengthen us, build character, help us persevere, and develop hope.


"Continue to live your lives in him ... overflowing with thankfulness!" Colossians 2:5-7 God encourages us to live our lives for Him. When we are overflowing with thankfulness, our lights shine brightly for Him.

I wish each one of you, my precious readers and dear family and friends, a Happy New Year!


As we enter a new year, let us make the most of the gifts and talents God has imparted to us. May we be grateful for the multitude of blessings God has richly bestowed upon us. May we leave a positive impact on our world as we allow our lights and His love to shine brightly and boldly through us!