Saturday, December 10, 2016

#advantagousadvent Day #14

From Mike Flynn...

Saturday December 10, 2016:  Psalm 146:5-10; 1 Samuel 2:1-8; Luke 3:1-18


Hannah praised God for being protected from many dangers and for providing her a son.  God is also praised for helping the poor and needy and generally lifting people of faith to a higher level.  In the last reading, John the Baptist strongly encourages us to respond to God's grace by actively being responsible in our Community of Faith.  We accept God's grace, but we are also obligated to respond in the same way to others.  

Thursday, December 08, 2016

#avantageousadvent Day #13 "Waiting... for us"

Psalm 146:5-10, Ruth 4: 13-17, 2 Peter 3:11-18
By Paula Hofgren

In this season of Advent, we watch and wait…………
“Happy is the man and woman who has God as his/her helper, whose hope is in the Lord God.”
God keeps his promises to every generation, forever. Advent is a season that emphasizes this hope and waiting for those promises to be fulfilled for each of us through his birth then death, resurrection and eventual return when everything around us will someday melt away and in its place a new earth and heaven where only goodness will reside.
Jesus’ promises, to give justice to the poor and oppressed and food to the hungry, freedom to the prisoners, protection to the immigrants, and care for the orphan and widow, must be accomplished through the good deeds of the people who love and carry out those promises for him and with his help. Peter warns that God loves and desires goodness in men and women person to person. Peter says that while you are waiting for these things to come we should try hard to live without sinning and live at peace with everyone so He will be pleased with you when He does return.

He has delayed His coming to give each of us time to get His message of salvation to others, so while you are waiting; I pray you will grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

#avantageousadvent Day #11

By: Janet Thom

Readings:Psalm 21; Genesis 15: 1-18; Matthew 12:33-37 Prayer after reading all three... Lord, giver of life, I praise you. Through the ages you have given men reason to hope. Your love for us has been never ending in spite of our shortcomings. You have kept your promises. Because of your never ending love I can have hope even when all around me there are many dark and scary events unfolding both near and far. Let me learn to better reflect that love in my daily living so that I too can share the hope you have given so many.

Monday, December 05, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #9

Some reflections from Dale Ann on today's readings...
God cares about our lives                                                                                            I Thess 4:1-12
God is deeply concerned with our daily walk, and how we live the Christian life. The Lord came, not just to make us children of God and to get us into heaven; but also, to enable us to live as the children of God should live, in a dark and sinful world that does not know Him. We must not only persevere to the end, but we should grow in our faith, and walk even more closely with God.  We are encouraged to live in Holiness, and cautions us against uncleanness. We are instructed to love each other in brotherly love, live a quiet life, and to honor God .
God gives people the gift of Jesus                                                                                Psalm 21
This Psalm can be read as a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. All our blessings are the gifts of goodness and grace from God.  We did nothing to earn or merit these gifts; but rather, they are examples of God's goodness. We should look forward with faith, hope, and prayer for what God will do for us.
God forgives sinners by His grace, receives them to His favor, and delivers them from His wrath to come. May He be exalted, by His all-powerful grace, in our hearts, destroying all the strong-holds of sin and Satan. How great should be our joy and praise to behold the Messiah, our Brother and Friend, upon God’s throne, and for all the blessings we may expect from Him! Yet He delights in conferring happiness and glory upon us as poor sinners, who love and trust in Him.
 Rejoice in God, not human efforts                                                                        Isaiah 24:1-16 
All people who depend upon their treasures and happiness on this earth, will soon be brought to despair and misery. Sin has turned the earth upside down; the earth has become quite different from what God first created and intended. The world we live in is a filled with disappointment and tears, and our few days on this earth are full of trouble. God's curse applies to all people, regardless of their power and position on earth.  Sin brings these calamities upon the earth.  The earth is polluted by the sins of men; therefore, it is made desolate by God's judgments. Let men rejoice in God; then no man, no event, can take their joy from them.
Those who rejoice in the Lord can rejoice in trials and tribulation, and by faith, they will triumph. In every fire, in every place, let us keep up our good thoughts upon God and His wonderful mercies.
(Paraphrased excerpts from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible, and Bible.org.)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day 8: Small roots for peace

When I think about a stump - I recall a grove of trees and plants that was at the center of our rural driveway growing up. It was filled with rhododendron bushes that bloomed in the warm months. But somewhere in the midst of all this growth there was a stump of an old tree that had been cut down, probably to make way for the new plants. This stump wasn't much of anything to look at, but became a place for me to sit and ponder the world around me as a child. Stumps are for sitting on, right?

The "stump of Jesse" referred to in Isaiah 11 is an old fashioned way of defining the Messianic line that began with King David and from whom the Son of God - the Messiah - would come. This "stump" will grow a branch and from that branch, according to chapter 11, true peace will come to pass. 

In this second week of Advent - we focus on the theme of Peace, and how God is the one always coming to us - and came to us in flesh and blood in the person of Jesus Christ. Because of God's action - growth comes from unexpected places. Because of God - a small stump can produce a new branch - even a big tree. 

As you ponder peace this week, look for unexpected places of peace - of growth - and hope. God changed the world starting with that "stump of Jesse" and is still at work bringing peace.

Prayer: God help us to see small signs of Peace. Help us ponder all the ways you are working in our lives. Thank you for always coming to us.

Isaiah 11:1-10 The Peaceful Kingdom

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist,
    and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall feed;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.