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Showing posts from 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #35 What we crave

By Linda Johnson 1st Kings 3:14. "If you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life." Be merciful and loving and his promise of ever-lasting eternal life is ours.  This is the inseparable bond that our hearts crave. 💝 Love God with your everything!

#advantageousadvent Day#29 The most precious gift of all

12/25/16 – Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. When I think about my faith, not only at Christmastime, but all year long, I think about God’s mercy and grace.  There is no better gift on earth than His gift of mercy and grace!  I’m sure God wants us to be righteous people, help those in need, and be thankful for our blessings. But He also completely forgives us when we “wander”. And the hope of eternal life . . . how wonderful is that?  My mom is spending her first Christmas in heaven this year, and it gives me such peace that I know she had a strong faith, which she expressed and shared,  and truly believed in His grace an

#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 th

#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 lo

#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

#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

#advantageousadvent Day #21 God, shine your light

As we pass each day into the heart of winter, the light of day grows darker. Our time of light and clear vision seems to become more and more challenging. The Psalmist writes to God the Creator of all things - of light, and matter and most importantly, love. This God is not one that disengages with the darkness of our world, but sent his son, Jesus Christ, to  become Emmanuel, "God with us". While the atmosphere of our days literally becomes darker as we approach Christmas Day, the light of Jesus is something that will never leave us or forsake us. What we see with our physical eyes, does not give us the whole picture and light of what God is up to. No matter what darkness - physical or otherwise - we face, the light and love of Christ is always present. In our tears, our scorn - we can always turn to our God, who always hears our prayers and lights the day's and night's of our lives. PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Thank you for hearing our prayers, helping us in the

#advantageousadvent Day#20 Who am I?

Ian Eastman writes: “Who am I?” “Where do I fit?” “Am I capable of love?” These are some of the central questions of life. The gentile Christians in Galatia struggled with the idea of being second-class Christians because of their ancestry. Saint Paul in a letter explained that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (Galatians 4:4-5 NRSV). Good news for them—and us. We need not worry about measuring up or being good enough. New life is a gift of God, not an achievement of our efforts.

#advantageousadvent #19

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 2 Samuel 7:1-17; Galatians 3:23-29 To me these verses remind us that God is always with us and He has a plan for each and every one of us.  The law helps us to know right from wrong but no matter how hard we try we always fall short.  But God is always there to forgive us.  We are all God's children whether we are rich or poor, young or old, Jew or Gentile. Judy Lind

#advantagousadvent Day #17 St. Lucia Day

#advantgeousadvent For December 13th by Karin Flynn Ezekiel 47:1-12, Psalm 42, Jude 17-25 Today Scandinavians celebrate St. Lucia's Day. The eldest daughter in the family usually plays the part of Lucia.She brings the symbol of light to come as she wears a crown of candles and brings coffee and rolls to her family early in the morning on one of the darkest nights of the year. The song she sings translates into, "Santa Lucia, thy light is glowing, through darkest winter night, comfort bestowing." During the dark days of Advent as we wait for the light of the world how can we bring light and comfort to others? As we wait let us take comfort in these verses... From Psalm 42 "I will put my hope in God and once again I will praise him my Savior and my God." and...Jude 21 "Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." Dear God, Thank you for giving us the light of Jesus Ch

#advantageousadvent Day #16 Waiting

 Psalm 42; Isaiah 29:17-24; Acts 5:12-16 Today's focus is on Psalm 42. It’s the season of Advent; the season of waiting.  There are many things we wait for in life – we wait for dinner to cook; we wait for the days’ work to be done so we can go home; we wait for the bus; we wait for love.  Sometimes the waiting seems endless; we feel that prize at the end of the wait is never going to get here.  We get impatient, even angry sometimes while we wait.  We may feel sad.  The writer of Psalm 42 was waiting for God.  Verse 1 says: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”  This season of Advent is a season of longing.  We are longing for the birth of that little baby who is our Lord and Savior and who gives us hope.  Some of us fill that time by going to church each Sunday and celebrating the waiting.  Some of us fill the time with Christmas shopping, decorating and baking.  Others don’t have much to fill that time with – they are sad and afraid, maybe w

#advantageousadvent Day #15 Glitter gets everywhere

Earlier this morning in worship, my church celebrated the third week of Advent with the youth of the church telling the story of the birth of Christ. As you might imagine, there were wise men, angels, Innkeeper, King Herod, Mary, Joseph, a star, some stable "animals" and three sister shepherdesses led our shepherds. In addition to all the familiar parts of the joyful storytelling was singing, clapping and glitter...lots and lots of glitter. Apparently in all the movement and telling of this nativity story, a great deal of glitter from our costumes left a trail all over the sanctuary, fellowship hall and out the doors and into the parking lot. After service had ended and I headed up the main stairs to turn off all the lights, little glints and glimmers of glitter caught my eye and I thought, "Glitter gets everywhere!" Indeed it does.  Yes glitter can be difficult to get up off the carpet and it travels home with you on the bottoms of your shoes because gl

#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.  

#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

#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.

#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 grac

#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. Be

#advantageousadvent Day #7 - John the "Plow"

The gospel of John is, in my opinion, the most poetic of the gospels. From the opening line, John canvases all of time and space to make the important point that God is always coming to us - and in the case of John the Baptist, is doing all he can to plow the way clear. While it might not be poetic to say that John purpose was to plow the way clear for Jesus, I do like the drama of this statement. The hope of the Advent season wasn't something that John was meek in sharing. John, even in the midst of giving testimony and being questioned for his actions, continues to speak boldly - to clear the path and make the way strait for the Lord. Hope does not have to be quiet. Hope can be BOLD!  Thank you John the "Baptist-Plow" - sometimes boldness needs encouraged! The Testimony of John the Baptist JOHN 1:19-28 19  And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  20  He confessed, he did not deny,

#advantageousadvent Day #6 Reflecting on some lessons of the week

# avantageousadvent  Day #6... Some reflection from Marie on a few texts from this week's lectionary readings. Psalms 72 v.1-7 Faithful prayer that the powerful will be just and good to ALL people to flourish and prosper and enjoy the fruits of all the earth we have been given. V.18-19 We are to praise and give God glory to God who does all good for us always. Isaiah 30 19-26 If you have faith even in times of adversity and strife and if you persist in your faith and not be enticed by superficial things God will see to it that you have all that is necessary and more. When you read these texts, what do you discover?

#advantageousadvent Day #5 Advent Blue

About a week ago, I dug out my watercolors to help me to actively  ponder the season of Advent to come. The blue image below is what resulted in my doodling and searching for hope.    So. Much. Blue.  The liturgical color for this Church  season used to be purple, but now is blue. In many ways this seems fitting to this time of waiting, this time of longing for and anticipating hope, joy, love and peace of this season. But this focus on the color blue also allows me to wrestle with the difficult things of life: injustice, violence, poverty and the like.  When you think of feeling blue this time of year, the popular song by Elvis, (one of my personal favorites) "Blue Christmas"  speaks to the need and hope to be with the ones we love in this holiday season. It seems every way I look today, there is lots and lots of blue. What are the blue things of life that you notice today?  Psalm 72 is a prayer for guidance and support for the up and coming King. It calls for

#advantageousadvent Day 4: Hope for peace

Submitted by Cindy Swan Peace in time of monsters by: Delawer-Omar Advent Day 4: Thursday, November 30, 2016 We are in a time when there is daily exposure to wars, floods, fires and other discouraging news. It is difficult not to become overwhelmed by the problems and have concerns and a desire to change it. The good news is that we are now in the season of Advent. It is a time to focus on Hope. I am thankful for this message and the encouragement it offers as it also brings with it feelings of peace and comfort.  The theme of Psalm 124 is we are delivered from those who seek to destroy us. Our faith teaches us we can turn to God in our time of need as He is on the side of those who seek Him. With God there is always a way out as He is the creator of heaven and earth. Another important message to reflect on is from Isaiah 54:vs10. It states, “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of

#advantageousadvent #3 God's gifts

Submitted by Linda Johnson... Advent day #4 by Linda Johnson… Genesis 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. God gives you all, but you must be mindful of his wonderful gifts. 😊 Just like God's love, he shares everything with everyone.  Wow! What a wonder it will be when we meet one another. I am certain my heart will burst. Image found at;

#advantageousadvent Day 2 - Hibernation or wake up call?

From guest writer Ian Eastman ...  “It isn’t even officially winter yet and I’m already counting down the days until Spring. The most appealing alternative to winter I’ve ever heard comes from the bears, who just sleep the whole thing off. Truth is I can’t put life on hold until I get to do all the things I like to do again in the Spring. There are a lot of productive and enjoyable things to do this time of year, too. In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul tells of the eternal hope we have in Christ: “We have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).  Yet he also tells us that we don’t have to spend our days hibernating for the future: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”  Image found at "Teachhub"

#advantageousadvent Day 1: The Hope App

Advent 1 Sunday, 2016 November 27 th In a time that we are very aware of time: with cell phones, planners and apps; the idea of missing something seems impossible. But even with all these tools to help us not “miss” out on what we plan for our day; we sometimes do miss a prompt or call to something good. As the season of Advent begins, this week we are called to focus on “Hope” for the good things of God. Perhaps like my cell phone that often is turned to mute to save me from being distracted – I might miss out on a call that is good. The gospel of Matthew chapter 24:36-44 is a wake-up call to see life through the lens of hope and the goodness of God. In the midst of the business of life, we need a reminder – an alarm – a hope prompt to help us live into these days of Advent that help us see where God is active in the world and our lives. This Advent, God help us to set an alarm – to look with and to live into days where God’s goodness light the path ahead. May hope be the

The gift of the advantageous Advent

There was a time not long ago, that I faced living with a serious shift in my status quo of life. In a moment all of my norms changed. Where I lived, who I spent time with, and who I worked with all changed in the blink of an eye. With all of this change swirling around me, I had two choices: 1. to fight the change with every ounce of energy I had... or 2. embrace the change as an exciting adventure. After trying out option one for a few weeks and only feeling more frustrated, anxious, and exhausted; I reluctantly tried out option two and began living into my changed life with a sense of excitement. Where there had been resistance and negativity, this new sense of adventure and hope began to take root and for that time of "all things changed" - became a time of adventure that I treasure. What is Advent all about? As the season of Advent is almost upon us, I’m struck by the opportunity it brings for reflection on the themes of: hope, joy, peace and love. Tradit

Gratitude and letting go

Image from: Yoga Inspiration Philippians 3:12-14 ESV Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This autumn season is one of color, beauty and celebration and as we step into the month of November our focus shifts to the coming holiday of Thanksgiving; where we enjoy the bounty of the harvest season and the company of those we love. In the midst of these cooler days, the trees that were once full of leaves are beginning to grow thin. The leaves that were once green have changed to red, orange and yellow - and now they blanket the ground like confetti.  As I think about this yearly cycle of life, I'm always impressed with the grace and flexibility of t