Advent Devotion for December 16, 2014

Psalm 125

The Temple Mount sits at an elevation of about 2400 feet above sea level. Google Maps show several mountains surrounding it that are a few hundred feet higher. That gives a physical picture of the spiritual truth of God’s surrounding protection, His faithful vigilance, His continual working for our best. The psalm writer could look at those mountains around him and be reminded of God’s faithfulness.

God’s faithfulness motivates us to trust Him. When you think about it, we don’t want to trust in something that won’t come through for us. We have seen people fail us, machines fail us, cultural norms fail us. But God will faithfully keep all His promises to us. He is one thing—the One Thing—we can trust in and be confident will not fail us.

As we trust Him, we become solidly centered in Him—rooted and built up in Him as Paul said in Colossians. God gives a stability and a constancy that nothing else can come close to matching. And we are secure.

Prayer: Father, You are unchanging and faithful. Help us trust in You more completely and become more anchored in the bedrock of You. Amen

 

Submitted by: Tim Farris

Advent Devotion for December 15, 2014

John 1:6-8, 19-28

“There was a man sent from God” . . . interesting that John was a cousin of Jesus, about the same age, but his style of life was markedly different—camel hair clothing, leather belt around his waist, diet of locusts and wild honey. He appeared in the wilderness as a witness to the coming Messiah, as the prophet Isaiah predicted: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;’” (Isaiah 40:3). He was very clear: He came not as the light but as a witness to the light.

John must have had a good amount of what we in this day would term “charisma”. He attracted enough people, preaching the theme of repentance and baptizing in the river Jordan, that some priests and Levites came to ask him who he was. They thought John was either the Messiah, Elijah or the Prophet. John denied being any of these and spoke of one who came after him, one to whom, by comparison, he was not worthy to be a slave.

We know that we are not worthy in any sense to be compared with the perfection of Christ, but we are also charged to be witnesses to the light, just as John was. We should strive to reflect Christ to others, even in the midst of our imperfections, to transmit the beam coming from him so that it shines off of our love of God and love of our neighbor. Such were the teachings of this little babe whose birth we celebrate at this time of year.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to be ever mindful of the teachings of the little babe born in a manger, and help us to reflect those teachings to a weary world.   In His holy name, Amen.

 

Submitted by: Bobbie Garrett

Advent Devotion for December 14, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

There’s nothing so good as when, upon realizing an enormous task before you, someone is there to offer a helping hand.

When I read the featured scripture, my first thought was, “Wow, God, this all seems a LOT of work.” As human beings living in a troubled world, how can we be joyful always? Who has the time in their everyday lives to pray continually? And are we capable of giving thanks in all circumstances, even the most trying and painful ones? This, the scripture says, is God’s will for us. And it seems easier said than done.

But here’s the good news – God is faithful. If his will for us is to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful, then he’s going to help us get closer to that place, so that we can be blameless in the coming of Christ and pleasing in his sight. His helping hand for us is the Holy Spirit, speaking to us, working in us, and lighting a fire within us. To do God’s will, we’ve got to keep the fire going, feeding it with good so that the light shines through us and we can become the helping hands for others.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness. Please use your Spirit within us to make us joyful, prayerful, and thankful as we do your will on Earth and prepare for the coming of your Son. We give you glory in all things and in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Submitted by: Heather Faulhefer

Advent Devotion for December 13, 2014

Habakkuk 3:13-19

 Life is Hard, and some people seem to have more than their fair share of Hard! Recently WSMV-TV tweeted a story headline that read “Cancer patients find miracle in rubble of burned-out home in Memphis.” As it turns out a woman who is battling cancer’s home burned while her daughters were battling cancer, as well! As the family sifted through the home’s debris, what did they find? … The Family Bible unscathed on a shelf! Amazing!

In Habakkuk, we read that in a vision God shared with the prophet that the wickedness in the world was going to be defeated, but that times were going to be hard … real hard. God’s people were not going to be exempt from the hard and devastating – some might even say hopeless – times. But the prophet clings to the promise of God’s faithfulness in the past! The prophet also recognizes that God is both his “strength” and “salvation.” Through Almighty God, God’s people can cling to the real Hope and Knowledge that God will provide for them all that they need in both spiritual and concrete ways for a full life both for the here and now and for eternity! This promise does not just stand for God’s faithful people of the Exile but for God’s faithful people today!

Life at times is surely Hard. Many times it seems like more than we can handle, but we can cling to the promise that God is our “strength” and our “salvation.” Even in the occasional debris of life, God is our true Hope!

Prayer:
Almighty God, help me to know your strength in real ways. We confess that sometimes life seems so Hard that we can hardly continue to bear it! Gently remind us of your salvation that we can experience both in the hard times of the here and now as well as for eternity! In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

 

Submitted by: Rev. Lori Holliman

Advent Devotion for December 12, 2014

Psalm 126

In Psalm 126, the Israelites are laughing and shouting and rejoicing because God has changed their circumstances. We can all think of times in our personal life and in the life of our church when we have come through a rough time and our circumstances change for the better.

What joy we feel when we hear the doctor say “You are now cancer free.” Or when we are able to turn around a rough financial situation. Or when we find healing in a relationship. We too have said, “The Lord has done great things for us.”

Advent reminds us that God has a plan and a vision to change our circumstances and our world. As we move through Advent we are waiting and watching – waiting for God’s redemptive love to manifest, and watching for the light of God’s love to come.

However, it is not easy to be patient and wait. We want God to change things now. In our world of violence, fear, and frustration, we sometimes miss the signs of God’s love and light. But if we can set aside our impatience and frustration, we can experience hope in waiting and watching. Advent promises that our waiting will not be in vain, for God has promised redemption, and what God has promised, God will do.

Advent points us to the future, God’s future, and then our own future begins to come into view. God has so much in store for us than we can even imagine.

Prayer: Holy Lord, we ask now that you help us to see signs of your coming, even as we despair with the circumstances in our present world. Help us to remember that we always stick to your promises. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Submitted by: Emily Stinson