Advent Devotion for December 11, 2014

Philippians 3:7-11

The message that Advent brings is one of preparation for the Coming One. When Jesus came, his work was to invite us into the life of God. It is this life that the Apostle Paul celebrates in his letter to the Philippian church. Written toward the end of Paul’s life, this letter reflects a longing for intimacy with God that had not diminished throughout Paul’s life and ministry, in spite of the many hardships he had endured. In his life, the ministry of Jesus had done its work!

In this Advent season, as we reflect on our own experience of God and God’s life, we may want to ask ourselves whether our hearts share the longing that Paul expresses in these verses. The wonderful opportunity that this season offers us is to nurture our longing for God, and to remember again that God is always coming to us, always available to us, and that, if we desire intimacy with God, we need only make the time and space for it to happen.

We might even think of those ways we feel a longing for more of God’s presence and life. How does that longing show itself in our lives? In what ways can we nurture our desire for God, in order to grow into a deeper relationship with Him? How can this Advent season help us to do all of this?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we want to know and love you more. Help our love for you to be seen in our lives in such a way that it may stir a longing for you in others. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

 

Submitted by: Jerry Armour

Advent Devotion for December 10, 2014

Luke 1:5-17

 Faith! Sometimes our faith is tested just as God tested Zechariah’s. Although Zechariah was a priest and a righteous man, he was skeptical when the angel of the Lord appeared before him and told him God was going to bless him and Elizabeth with a baby, named John. Elizabeth was beyond childbearing age and she and Zechariah had been married for years without conceiving a child.

As saved Christians, our faith may become weak when we are tested by God.  We frequently forget that everything is according to God’s plan and in His time.  If we pray without ceasing and fully open our hearts to God, He will strengthen our faith!

Zechariah and Elizabeth were blessed beyond measure to be able to bear John, the Baptist, who would “pave the way” for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, Savior of the world. John’s ministry was paramount in God’s plan for the salvation of the world through His Son.

I believe that in the times when our faith is small as the mustard seed, God can and will restore it to tremendous heights if we just allow Him to.  God is loving, gracious and merciful to us even when our faith wavers. During this season of Advent as we celebrate the birth and life of Jesus, may the strength and magnitude of our faith continue ever stronger throughout the coming year.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for Your grace and mercy. Thank you for your constant presence, and for restoring and growing our faith. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Submitted by: Vickie Wade

Advent Devotion for December 9, 2014

Isaiah 4:2-6

 The times we live in are full of trouble – global crises like the rise of terrorism and the spread of the Ebola virus, and problems closer to home, like high school shootings and neighbors without jobs. We cry out under the weight of worry, and search desperately for freedom and release. Isaiah lives in troubling times, too. He writes these words some 740 years before the birth of Christ. The nation of Israel has deliberately forsaken God. Civil war has divided them into Northern and Southern kingdoms, and the Assyrians have taken the Northern kingdom captive.

God answers Isaiah’s cries for relief, and provides hope and encouragement, by giving him a vision of the coming day of the Lord. Isaiah, whose name means ‘Yahweh is salvation,’ will find the salvation he is seeking in the person of the beautiful and glorious Branch.

We also look forward in hope to a day of salvation, when we are cleansed of the filth of sin and we are sheltered by God’s glory. Jesus will rise up as the new Branch, living and vital, even out of death. We will be holy, separated out from the world by Christ, and our names will be written in the Book of Life. As we anticipate the coming of the Branch of the Lord, we remember these promises God has made to us of finding forgiveness and renewal, and a perfect refuge in Him.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for loving us so much that you sent your Son to save us. We ask that You shelter us with Your glory and write our names in the Book of the Living, and bring us the peace of knowing we are always safe with You. Amen.

 

Submitted by: Roseanne Havron

Advent Devotion for December 8, 2014

Psalm 27

Advent is a time of expectation and waiting. David, in Psalm 27, is thinking about the future, and while it can’t come soon enough for him, David still ends the Psalm with this advice: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, take heart and wait for the LORD!” David also talks about celebrating, but he talks about it both in the here and now and in the future. There is an element of waiting even in his celebrations.

David’s eye was on the future Temple, the Temple which was promised by God. David was asked to wait and be patient, to sing, to pray and to steadfastly keep The Lord’s ways, to perform his kingly duties faithfully, and to trust God’s word. He needed to “Wait for the LORD.” He needed to “be strong, and to let his heart take courage.”

God blessed David as well as you and me with more than a temple. In the incarnation of the Son of God, in the coming of Jesus we all were given a face to seek: The face of Jesus. Jesus, the one in whom David’s heart takes courage, the one who is David’s strength.

During Advent, when we think of the future, in Christ, may we remember to “Wait for the LORD,” to be strong, and to let our hearts take courage.

Prayer: Lord God, we desire a blessed Advent in you, through Christ Jesus, as we wait. Amen.

Submitted by: Jerry Armour

Advent Devotion for December 7, 2014

2 Peter 3:8-15a

 Advent – “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.”
“the coming or second coming of Christ.”

In this season we celebrate His coming as our Savior, and we anticipate His return.

“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

So we wait, knowing that God comes in His perfect time and is patient with us. And how do we wait?

“In holy conduct and godliness….be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Jesus through His death and resurrection has reconciled us to God and presents us as “holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” (Colossians 1:22) We are found holy and blameless when we are in Christ.

And where is peace? How can we be found in peace? “For He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14a) “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) There is peace in the presence of Jesus.

As we wait and anticipate His return we dwell in Christ: We listen to and set our mind on His Word; we speak His truth; we do His works. We wait and anticipate IN Him.

 

Prayer: Father God, thank you for the precious gift of Your Son. Enable me to dwell in Him this season and every day as I anticipate His coming. AMEN.

 

Submitted by: Angie Farris

Advent Devotion for December 6, 2014

Mark 11:27-33

Questioning Authority? Hmmmm….We’ve all done this in some shape or form. Arguing with parents as teenagers (or adults!), disregarding rules we don’t like, even breaking them (speeding, anyone?). The song lyrics say, “I fight Authority, Authority always wins!” The context is real, I think.

The Sanhedrin was questioning Jesus, possibly trying to trip him up. He answers with a question about John’s baptism. He knows what they are doing, and he doesn’t rise to the bait.

Thousands of years later, we don’t question His authority. We know it is supreme. We are moved by the vision of the scruffy man who proclaimed His arrival while disturbing and inspiring those who heard him, pouring water over our Lord.

Even as we know that His authority is sovereign, we still struggle with it at times. Our human stuff gets in the way. We fail. We hurt others, knowingly or not. We forget to put Him first, and suffer for it. Thankfully, we know that He is always there, loving us and holding out His arms for us to step into His embrace. Praise God! We have hope!

Prepare the way for Him! Get your hearts ready! He is coming!

Prayer: Father, we love you so much! We need you desperately. Thank you for loving us with a love that will never let go. Help us to do your will, and to love each other and care for each other.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Submitted by: Janet Pasinger

Advent Devotion for December 5, 2014

Jeremiah 1:4-10

 From the beginning, the Bible gives examples of God calling people to some purpose. Jeremiah is called at a young age, and as seems traditional with those who receive His call, has a ready explanation as to why God must be mistaken: “I am but a boy.” God gives his usual answer: that He knows what He is doing, will put the words in Jeremiah’s mouth, and that He stands beside him.

 The special thing about this particular example of God’s call is the context in which it is placed. God had plans for Jeremiah before he was even conceived, and God reminds Jeremiah that He knew him (God and child) in the womb.

 God’s relationship with us transcends time. It starts before we are conceived. The connection is there from the first spark of life, and continues beyond our earthly lives. When I read passages about God’s eternal relationship with us, I am reminded of the description of Christ’s relationship with the world that is in the first chapter of John. In the beginning the word was with God and was God. And it became flesh. The relationship that started “in the beginning” continued in the flesh with the coming of the Christ Child. And that relationship did not end when he physically left the earth, because it was there before we were born, He is with us always, He will put words in our mouths, He is there for all nations, and the relationship continues on. And on. And on.

Prayer: Eternal God, help us to feel that eternal connection with you. The one that was there when only you were aware of it, the one we become aware of through Jesus, the one that never ends. Amen

Submitted by: Jim Havron

Advent Devotion for December 4, 2014

Psalm 85:1-2; 8-13

“Righteous goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”

Last Christmas my children told me I had broken the tradition because I did not buy each of the girls a Pandora charm.   This year I am prepared. They are wrapped and waiting on the tree.

Since selecting the appropriate charm takes time, the sales clerk and I had time to talk. We talked of spiritual things and she told me how the universe speaks and leads to the desires of the heart. She said it’s an energy and it doesn’t matter what you call it: karma, chi, or energy. I told her I too was a spiritual person and while I respect her views that it does matter what you call the energy. I told her the name of the energy, the chi, and the karma is God. And, it is He who makes all things possible. I shared with her that the guidance she was seeking is found in God through the Holy Spirit.   Jesus can be her guide.

In retrospect, I pray a seed has been planted to help prepare a way for her to follow His steps to righteousness.

Prayer: Lord, may we help prepare the way as we call upon you as Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our salvation.

Submitted by: Jackie Sadler

Advent Devotional for Dec. 3, 2014

Luke 21:34-38

In the CEV of the Bible, verses 34, 35 & 36 read: “Don’t spend all of your time thinking about eating or drinking or worrying about life. If you do, the final day will suddenly catch you like a trap. That day will surprise everyone on earth. Watch out and keep praying that you can escape all that is going to happen and that the Son of Man will be pleased with you.”

In this day and time there is so much around us that is evil, or not the best way for us to live. We must spend our time thinking good thoughts and doing good deeds. If we spend our time doing these things, and reading the Bible and praying daily, then no matter when Jesus returns, we will be ready.

By leaving the door open just a little, by some unkind word or unkind deed or thought, evil can slip up on us. We must know, when we lay down at night, that we have done the very best we could to be more like Jesus. After all, it is the small things that get us down. We have to keep doing “the little things” right. Then “the big things” will be easy.

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, help us to be faithful in the small things as well as the large tasks. We want to live our lives for you daily. Amen

Submitted by: Millie Grammer