Friday, December 23, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #27 God has a purpose for YOU!

Luke 1: 46b-55;  2 Samuel 7: 18, 23-29;  Galatians 3: 6-14

First scripture reading from Luke 1: 46b-55 is the Magnificat, Mary’s Song of Praise.  Magnificat, a Latin word, is the first word in this passage and is praising God for what he is going to do through her, and that all would be well through her faith.  This song has been used through the centuries as a basis for many hymns and choral music.  God is portrayed in this passage as a savior of the hungry and downtrodden for the ages.

The second scripture is from 2 Samuel 7: 18, 23-29.  This prayer in the Old Testament is from David to God thanking him for what He has done for him and his people, taking them out of Egypt.  David is then asking God to keep his promise to him and his descendants with His blessings so that they would help fulfill God’s greater purpose.   Then through them the world would be continued to be blessed.

The third scripture is from the New Testament in Galatians 3: 6-14.  In this passage Paul writes that we should consider Abraham.  He lived by faith, that his descendants would be blessed; that by their faith they might receive the promise of the Spirit.

In all three of these passages, mortals are praising and thanking God for his help and blessings, asking God to continue his mercy to them.  They receive blessings through their continued faith, even through hardships.  May we continue to live in the faith and fulfill God’s purpose for us and for all humankind.

Dorie Deyo

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day#24 Freedom is Free! No really...

On Sunday evening at confirmation class, the students and I looked at Galatians, a letter of Paul, that was written to the people in Galatia (present day Turkey); that focused on the challenges of being the church that included people from varying backgrounds. Some of the people that were in this early Christian movement had started their faith in the Jewish tradition and others were gentiles who had come from a background of various belief systems. This new collaboration between people from diverse backgrounds caused conflicts.

What did a person have to live like to be considered a Christian? What about all the traditions and laws that the Jewish people used to follow? Would this newly developing group find a way to be church together, even in this midst of these challenges?

All in all, Paul spoke to the people of Galatia about the importance of all people being united in Christ, and because of Christ that Jews and Gentiles had been freed to live - and be the church that was no longer slaves to the law. Jesus had, on the cross, made all that believe in him - FREE!

To some, this offer of freedom from sin and freedom to live seemed too good to be true, like a sales offer that claims a desirable new product is FREE - with no strings attached. This is often NOT our experience, so it's hard to believe that God would give this gift of freedom - for FREE!
But this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the good news that we long for. This freedom is better than any sales offer we've seen, because this offer has been paid in full by Christ on the cross.

We have been freed from sin and sent out to live - to be the church - to be God's children in all the variety and complexity that is the sea of humanity.

Thank you God for this freedom from sin and freedom to live - help us - in our diversity and varied gifts to live freely. Help us to know your offer is one we can trust.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Monday, December 19, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #23 A brag letter for God

Recently and friend and I had a cup of tea, shared what was going on in our lives since our last cup of tea, and talked about our feelings concerning "Annual Christmas Letters". While we enjoy hearing news from family and friends, we did notice that is challenging to tell the whole story of our year on one piece of paper. It is easy to look at the high notes of the days that have passed and think that achievement and the communication of achievement can become to focus of  our annual holiday letters. It also can become easy to allow this letter to become a singular statement of, "This is what I've accomplished this year.", without taking into consideration how many other unseen heroes actually were instrumental in making any of these accomplishments possible.

The more we talked about holiday letters, we came to embrace that whatever achievements we like to share - we need to give credit where credit is due.

Meeting a goal or achieving a dream is not reached by sheer determination or effort of one person; but is a collaboration of many people through many networks with shared sources and influences - and some would say; with the help of God in order to come to pass. Today's text is Hannah's prayer - and some might say it is a bold statement, perhaps even a brag letter - on how amazing God is. Even in the midst of struggle, Hannah sees God as her rock, her wisdom and her hope. If Hannah were to write an annual Holiday letter - the star of it would be God.

In the joy of the season, we love to share the happiness and good things of the past year; but it's important to remember how God has blessed us with the helpers and 'the help of God' in every moment.

God thank you for your help, for the helpers and the people, family and friends, that share our days, our joys and our sorrows. Thank you God for being our rock!

1 Samuel 2:1-10 (RSV)

Hannah’s Prayer
2 Hannah also prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,because I rejoice in thy salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee;
    there is no rock like our God.3 Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by him actions are weighed.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #22 WOW!

Fourth Sunday of Advent—Matthew 1:18-25 by Allen Johnson
FAITH IN TIMES OF BEWILDERMENT---WOW—HEAVY DUTY! Joseph’s faith was tested when an angel of the Lord spoke to him in a bewildering dream. He passed the test with awesome faith! Sometimes in the face of trying times and difficult situations we have to do as Joseph did so marvelously---ACT ON IT by trusting the Lord, being obedient, and letting Him work in our lives.

“Faith is more than thinking something is true. Faith is thinking something is true to the extent that we act on it.”---W.T. Purkiser