Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Sunday Lectionary Readings for SUNDAY, December 8, 2019 - Second Sunday of Advent

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/revised-common-lectionary-semicontinuous/2019/12/08?version=NRSV

The Sunday Lectionary Readings
SUNDAY, December 8, 2019 - Second Sunday of Advent
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)

To Dream God’s Dream
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

Opening Statement
Prophecy, promises, and preparation—all are part of the Advent tradition. They serve as reminders in this hectic season that there is more to prophecy than guessing what is in this package; more to promises than what Santa Claus will bring; more to preparation than cleaning house and putting on a spread for a holiday party. On this second Sunday of Advent, we are called back to the longing, not for a certain present, but for a messiah who brings about a beloved community of harmony and peace—but not without opposition. These passages speak of wishes, desires, and the hint of fulfillment that is Christmas. We need to hear, believe, and get ready.



Second Sunday of Advent - Peace
Loving God, in this time of preparation and planning,
We thank you for the hope and peace you unfailingly offer us.
Show us the creative power of hope.
Teach us the peace that comes from justice.
Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you,
That we may walk in the light of Christ.

Opening Prayer (Isaiah 11, Romans 15, Matthew 3)
God of hope and encouragement, we come in the midst of this season of busyness and preparations: to find a time and space to slow down, to reflect on what our true preparations should be. We need to prepare our hearts to receive the gifts of love and hope. We need to prepare our minds to focus on your promise that a messiah will come and nothing will be the same. We need to prepare our spirits: to praise God for prophecy, promises, and preparation; to find hope and encouragement; to find peace and joy. May we do so now, in our time of worship. Amen.

The Collect (Book of Common Prayers)
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Matthew 3)
O God, the stories of our faith have lost their power. We have heard the prophecies spoken so many times, the promises retold again and again, the call to prepare ourselves for your coming repeated so often, we don’t really hear or heed them anymore. We have replaced these messages of life: with guessing what presents we are getting, with preparing for parties and the social obligations of Christmas. Bring us back to a sense of mystery: a sense of awe, a sense of wonder, a sense of excitement, a sense of anticipation, a sense that something special is about to break into our everyday world. Help us prepare our hearts, souls, and minds for the coming of the messiah. Amen.

Words of Assurance (Psalm 72)
God’s promises are sure—promises of steadfast love and forgiveness. God deals with God’s people with righteousness and justice. Rejoice and be glad!

Prayer of the Day
Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming nurture our growth as people of repentance and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


First Reading
(A ruler brings justice and peace)
The Peaceful Kingdom
1  A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
     and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2  The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
     the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
     the spirit of counsel and might,
     the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3  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;
   he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
     and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5  Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
     and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6  The wolf shall live with the lamb,
     the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
   the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
     and a little child shall lead them.
7  The cow and the bear shall graze,
     their young shall lie down together;
     and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8  The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
     and the weaned child shall put its hand on the
         adder’s den.
9  They will not hurt or destroy
     on all my holy mountain;
   for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
     as the waters cover the sea.

Return of the Remnant of Israel and Judah
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.


(The righteous shall flourish)
Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King
Of Solomon.
1  Give the king your justice, O God,
     and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2  May he judge your people with righteousness,
     and your poor with justice.
3  May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
     and the hills, in righteousness.
4  May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
     give deliverance to the needy,
     and crush the oppressor.

5  May he live while the sun endures,
     and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6  May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
     like showers that water the earth.
7  In his days may righteousness flourish
     and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
     who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
     may his glory fill the whole earth.
   Amen and Amen.


Second Reading
(Living in harmony)
15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

   “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
     and sing praises to your name”;

10 and again he says,

   “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;

11 and again,

   “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
     and let all the peoples praise him”;

12 and again Isaiah says,

   “The root of Jesse shall come,
     the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
   in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord.All flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia. (Luke 3:4, 6)


The Gospel
(Prepare the way of the Lord)
The Proclamation of John the Baptist
3:1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

   “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
   ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
     make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”


Here ends the Lessons

Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message

The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Closing Prayer

Lord, thank you that we are a family in Christ. Help us to share his love and legacy with everyone that we encounter this week. May we lavish Christ’s abounding goodness upon our families, friends and colleagues. Holy Spirit, come and equip us in our workplace, guide us in our school life, and inspire us in our neighbourhood. May we be your hands and feet to the needy, your words of affirmation to the oppressed and your arms of comfort to the lonely.

Thank you for choosing to use us to bring your kingdom here on earth.
Amen


Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets.]

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.
The Sunday Lectionary Readings for SUNDAY, December 8, 2019 - Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

“John the Baptizer—Prepare A Way for the Lord” The Sermon for SUNDAY, December 8, 2019 - Second Sunday of Advent


Our Gospel message comes to us today from the 3rd chapter of Matthew, beginning with the 1st verse.

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV)

All mighty God, we thank you for your word and the way that you in it revealed to us who you are and what you've done for us in Christ. Now as we open that word we pray that your spirit may be present, that all thoughts of worry or distraction may be removed and that the Spirit will allow us to hear your voice. And so, oh God, fill us with your spirit through the reading and proclamation of your word this day. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

“John the Baptizer—Prepare A Way for the Lord”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today, on this Second Sunday in Advent, we encounter one of the most interesting and dynamic characters, outside of Jesus, in all of the New Testament. His name is John. He was, according to Luke’s Gospel, the son of Zechariah, a priest living in Judea, who was married to Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, the mother of our Lord. But John was not known by his last name, as being a son of Zechariah. John was known as the Baptizer.

Now, I use the term John the Baptizer, instead of John the Baptist, because I wouldn’t want to give any of our younger persons reading this morning the impression that he was know for his association with a particular denomination of the Christian Church. John was known as the Baptizer, because it was to describe the significance of his unique ministry. John was called by God to herald and call people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God.

And let’s make no mistake about it. Not only was John’s ministry unique, he was unique. He could have followed in his father’s footsteps, and become a priest, and use that position to call people to prepare for God’s coming among us in the person of Jesus the Christ. But he didn’t. Like a hippie from the Sixties, he left his home, striking out on his own to seek a restless urge within him, leading him to find peace with his soul.

But unlike the hippies, who seemed to follow the beat of their own drum, the beat that pounded in John’s heart was the call of God. Nevertheless, John wound up in the wilderness, dressed in a garment of camel’s hair, and subsiding on a diet of locust and wild honey. And we might conclude that his hair was long and stringy, with a beard that would drive Nancy to demand that I go and see Rick for a cut and trim.

John was a rough wilderness person, weathered and stern. And his message was as stern as he was. “Repent of your sins, and prepare the way of the Lord, for God’s kingdom is coming among us.” He called a spade a spade. And yet, the Gospels tell us that in spite of his lack of tact, the people from all the regions left the comfort of their homes and traveled out in the wilderness to hear him preach, repent of their sins, and have their sins be cleansed by baptism.

But Matthew’s Gospel raises a couple of troubling aspects of John’s message for us to consider. When the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who lived their lives striving to keep the commandments and live a life of faith, came to hear John preach and seek his baptism of repentance, John rebuked them. Think about this, here were those who worshiped God on a regular basis, and truly strived to live according to God’s will, persons not unlike ourselves. And yet, John calls them a brood of vipers, snakes, those who would want to poison and obstruct the message of the Messiah. It is as if they only wanted to have their skins washed, not their hearts and minds.

There is a past, future and present tense to this message of Advent. John the Baptizer is calling on us, as he did the people of his day, to prepare for the coming of the Christ and the kingdom of God. And although his message is one that is grounded in history, calling the people of his day to prepare, and look forward to the beginning of Christ’s ministry, it calls them to act in the present moment of their lives with repentance.

And so, if we are to bring John’s message into our present moment, to learn from the past as we look forward to the future, we must realize that we, like those who were the religious faithful of the past, cannot escape John’s call to repentance. We must realize, that in the eyes of God, none of us have lived our lives as God would have us live. We still need to repent, and daily renew the promise of our baptism.

I think one of the problems of this passage from Matthew’s Gospel, is that we don’t understand how to interpret John’s message. To be sure, like a good Pentecostal preacher, he used the words that described our future in terms of hell and heaven, with the words of eternal fire. And as we look at this text this morning, is it not those words of John, those words that speak of fire, a little bit troubling to us?

On the one hand, John tells us, that unlike his baptism of repentance, Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. On the other hand, John tells us that those who do not repent, will burn in hell, in an unquenchable fire. Now I don’t know about you, but after watching villages in Vietnam burn after being bombed with napalm, I have come to realize the frightening danger of fire.

To put this in perspective, Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book, Gospel Medicine, stated, and I quote: “One of the most frightening things about John’s vision of judgment is that unquenchable fire of his. It is not possible to live in the Bible belt without a vivid image of hell, much more vivid than the clean streets of heaven.

Throughout Holy Scripture, fire is the one reliable sign of the presence of God. God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush. A pillar of fire guides the people of Israel through the wilderness after their escape from Egypt. When Moses goes up on Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments from God, it looks to those down below as if the mountain itself is being devoured by fire.

I do not mean to minimize the danger. This is not save fire; it can still burn… but it is God’s own fire, the fire of God’s presence, fire that wants to speak to us, guide us, instruct us, and save us. It is the fire of a potter who wants to make useful vessels out of damp clay. It is the fire of a jeweler who wants to refine pure gold from rough ore.

It does not have to be the fire of destruction, in other words. It may also be the fire of transformation, a fire that both lights us up and changes us, melting us down and reforming us more nearly to the image of God. It is the fire with which Jesus himself baptizes us, inviting us into bright, not hot relationship with him.

Even when the fire seems bent on consuming us in a fiery furnace, we find that we have company, and that even in the hottest regions of our own personal hells, we do not sweat lone.” End quote.

The point of my message this morning is not just that John was a very unique individual, chosen by God to prepare the people years ago to hear his message, but that we today should repent and prepare to receive the Son of God into our lives. His message, as rough as it was, speaks to us today.

As Barbara Brown Taylor points out, his message is not just a message of doom for those who fail to heed his call of repentance and come to faith in Jesus as the Christ, it is also a call for those of us who do embrace Jesus as the Christ, to be purged by the fire of reformation that Jesus inaugurated with his ministry, that we might become his disciples, and instruments of his ongoing compassion for those in need.

Personally, I do not fear the image of fire as being an eternal torment for my sins. Rather, I look to the image of fire as the means by which I am molded and shaped into the image of God, that Jesus the Christ has modeled for me to emulate.

So let us pray for God’s Spirit to come among us, to keep the fire of our Lord’s redeeming grace alive in our community, that we might be consumed by God’s grace, burn our sins in repentance, and learn to live as God’s redeemed people in Christ, who look forward to his presence, not only in the life to come, but in every moment of our lives.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, God of the prophets, you sent your messenger into the Jordan wilderness to prepare human hearts for the coming of your Son. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to prepare for Christ’s coming into our presence, that we might hear the good news of your saving grace, repent of our sins, and transform our lives to be witnesses to your redeeming grace. This we ask in Christ’s Holy name. Amen.

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Scripture taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)® Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Sermon contributed by Rev. Ronald Harbaugh.
John the Baptizer speaks to us today.

The Daily Prayer for SUNDAY, December 8, 2019


The Daily Prayer
SUNDAY, December 8, 2019

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, has written, “To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: ‘You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.’ We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.”

Lord, help us minister to others in ways that validate and authenticate them as fellow children of God. Keep us from daring to assume that our good fortune is of our own doing or that our ability to serve is anything other than a gift. Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, December 8, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/verse-of-the-day/2019/12/08?version=NIV

John 14:6 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Read all of John 14

Listen to John 14

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Un dia a la Vez - Domingo 08 de Diciembre de 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/un-dia-vez/2019/12/08

El amor de Dios en mi vida

Así manifestó Dios su amor entre nosotros: en que envió a su Hijo unigénito al mundo para que vivamos por medio de él.
1 Juan 4:9 (NVI)

Un día como hoy, esta servidora llegó a este mundo. Creo que por eso disfruto mucho de estas temporadas navideñas.

Aún recuerdo mi niñez sencilla, pero muy divertida, en mi natal Colombia. Había fuegos artificiales y disfrutaba de la compañía de mis amistades. En esa época, como buena católica, celebraba la conocida «Novena de Aguinaldos» con villancicos, el árbol de Navidad y, sin faltar, el pesebre, o como se conoce en algunos países, el nacimiento. A pesar de esta hermosa época, desconocía el verdadero significado de la Navidad, pues para muchos solo era una oportunidad de vacaciones, mientras que para otros era enfrascarse en las decoraciones navideñas. Así que un día, hace muchos años, comprendí el verdadero significado de la «Navidad».

La Navidad es hermosa y sé que en esos días surge en nuestro corazón una necesidad por la familia y un anhelo de comprarles regalos a los niños que los esperan con tanta ilusión.

A la hora de analizar esta hermosa estación del año, tú y yo debemos entender que Jesús es la verdadera razón de la Navidad. Cuando le abrimos nuestro corazón, nos convertimos en el pesebre donde nace el Salvador.

Por lo tanto, debemos darle gracias a Dios por su Hijo, Jesús, que vino a este mundo para darnos el regalo de la vida eterna.

Si aún no has tenido ese encuentro personal con Jesucristo, ¿por qué no permites que ese corazoncito bello que tienes se convierta hoy en un pesebre donde nacerá tu Salvador?

De ese modo, ¡tú también nacerás de nuevo!

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
A la hora de analizar esta hermosa estación del año, tú y yo debemos entender que Jesús es la verdadera razón de la Navidad.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, December 8, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/standing-strong-through-the-storm/2019/12/08
LOSE THE FEAR OF DYING

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”

There is a famous book called The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. It is his contention that the whole of the western world is really a gigantic playground to distract us from ever facing the fact that we will all die! Thinking about death is all but forbidden. Preparing for it is seen as a sign of morbidity. We arrange for the elderly to die out of sight in hostels and hospitals. And huge multinational companies produce products that promise to keep the effects of aging at bay.

Inevitably, when we are too scared to face death we end up being a slave to it. Even Christians can show the same dread of it as others. But an encounter with the persecuted can go a long way to diffusing this sense of dread.

Over twenty years of reporting on the suffering church, I have interviewed literally hundreds of Christians who thought they were going to die for their faith. All of them—and I really do mean all of themexhibited two amazing characteristics: they experienced unspeakable peace and joy in the midst of the pain as they began to feel death draw near; and they were as surprised as anyone that they were not afraid of death at the time.

Take Pastor You Yong, kidnapped by Islamic extremists from his church outside Madiun, central Java in December 2001. Furious that his church was full of Muslim converts, the extremists showered him with questions, trying to provoke him to attack them. They beat him and finally held a long machete to his throat. He assumed he was about to die. But what was going on inside Pastor You? Deeper than all the pain or fear? This is how he put it. “I was amazed that throughout the ordeal I felt an incredible peace. I was also amazed at the answers I was able to give them. That verse came true—‘when you are brought to trial, do not worry about what to say, for when the time comes, you will be given what to say’ (Mt 10:19). The more they tried to provoke me, the more peace I felt.”

And so when death reaches out its icy hand even in more everyday ways—when the plane hits an air pocket, or the results of the suspected cancer scan are due—I remember the experiences of my persecuted friends and I am strengthened to think, If they have been where I am about to go, and still testify that Jesus gives unaccountable peace, well, it is no tragedy to tread this well-worn path. Their experiences in the face of death help to take the dread away.

Of course, I know all this from the Bible, where Paul says that to be with Christ is “far better.” And I have read that wonderful passage in Acts seven when Stephen has the face of an angel when he is stoned to death. But the truth comes with more power when a flesh-and-blood person who has faced death puts their arms around you and says, “You will have peace, and Jesus will be with you in the midst of it all.” Death just cannot be that bad if Jesus is that great!

RESPONSE: Today I will live in the peace of God that takes away the fear of dying.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the encouragement of the persecuted to trust You in life and death.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

LHM Daily Devotions - December 8, 2019 - TAKING IT SLOW

https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20191208

"TAKING IT SLOW"

Dec. 8, 2019

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."
Luke 1:24-25 (ESV)

"If a miracle ever happened to me, I'd be shouting it everywhere!" Ever hear someone say something like that to you?

But John's conception and birth was different. It started with an angel announcing the miracle in private to a single man, John's father-to-be. But when that man wouldn't believe the angel, God struck him mute. No one would be hearing the story from him!

And then there was Elizabeth, John's mother. Perhaps her husband managed to write the story down for her. Perhaps not! But when she realized she was pregnant, she kept herself hidden at home, away from people. She wasn't telling the miracle story either! Why?

We don't know, but we can guess. There is value sometimes in taking things slowly—in simply sitting still and watching God carry out His good promises. We don't always have to be running, shouting, announcing what God is doing. There is a time for that; yes, but there is also a time for praying and thinking and rejoicing in the Lord. Elizabeth did that. Zechariah did that. We, too, can do that, as we look forward to the celebration of Jesus' coming into the world.

During this Advent season, take the time to meditate on Jesus' birth—on how God loved you and the whole world so much that He sent His own Son to become one of us, our Savior from death and evil. Think about the One who loves you and lay down His life for you on the cross—only to take it up again. Let that story seep in; let it become part of your very bones.

Then go, tell others the miraculous Good News.

THE PRAYER: Lord, please let Your Holy Spirit help me to comprehend and believe what You have done to save me. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
  • Are you mostly a quiet person or a loud person? Why do you think so?
  • How do the quiet times of your life help you?
  • When you need God's comfort and strength, what parts of the Bible—either stories or verses—do you think about?

Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo. Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Are you mostly a quiet person or a loud person?

CPTLN devocional del 08 de Diciembre de 2019 - Calmadamente


ADVIENTO—NAVIDAD 2019

Calmadamente

08 de Diciembre de 2019

Días después, su esposa Elisabet quedó encinta y se recluyó en su casa durante cinco meses, pues decía: "El Señor ha actuado así conmigo para que ya no tenga nada de qué avergonzarme ante nadie."
Lucas 1:24-25 (RVC)

"Si alguna vez me sucede un milagro, ¡lo gritaré por todas partes!" ¿Alguna vez escuchaste a alguien decir algo así?

Pero la concepción y el nacimiento de Juan fueron diferentes. Comenzó con un ángel que anunciaba el milagro en privado a un hombre simple, el futuro padre de Juan. Pero cuando ese hombre no le creyó al ángel, Dios lo enmudeció. ¡Nadie escucharía la historia de parte de él!

Y luego estaba Elisabet, la madre de Juan. Quizás su esposo logró escribir la historia para ella. ¡O tal vez no! Pero cuando se dio cuenta de que estaba embarazada, se mantuvo oculta en su casa, lejos de las personas. ¡Ella tampoco contaba la historia del milagro! ¿Por qué?

No lo sabemos, pero podemos adivinar. A veces vale la pena tomarse las cosas con calma, simplemente quedarse quieto y observar cómo Dios cumple sus buenas promesas. No siempre tenemos que estar corriendo, gritando, anunciando lo que Dios está haciendo. Hay un tiempo para eso; sí, pero también hay un tiempo para orar, pensar y regocijarse en el Señor. Elisabet hizo eso. Zacarías hizo eso. Nosotros también podemos hacer eso, mientras esperamos la celebración de la venida de Jesús al mundo.

Durante esta temporada de Adviento, tómate el tiempo para meditar sobre el nacimiento de Jesús, sobre cómo Dios te amó a ti y al mundo entero; tanto, que envió a su propio Hijo para convertirse en uno de nosotros, en nuestro Salvador de la muerte y del mal. Piensa en aquel que te ama y da su vida por ti en la cruz, solo para volverla a tomar tres días después. Deja que esa historia se filtre en tu corazón; deja que se convierta en parte de tus huesos.

Luego ve y dile a los demás las milagrosas buenas noticias.

ORACIÓN: Señor, permite que tu Espíritu Santo me ayude a comprender y creer lo que has hecho para salvarme. En tu nombre. Amén.

Dra. Kari Vo

Para reflexionar:
  • ¿Cómo te ayudan los momentos tranquilos de tu vida?
  • Cuando necesitas el consuelo y la fortaleza de Dios, ¿en qué porciones de la Biblia piensas?

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¿Cómo te ayudan los momentos tranquilos de tu vida?

Unser Täglich Brot - Die Haltung der Dankbarkeit

https://unsertaeglichbrot.org/2019/12/08/die-haltung-der-dankbarkeit/

Die Haltung der Dankbarkeit

Lesung: Kolosser 3,12-25 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: Daniel 8-10, 3. Johannes

Euren Herzen wünschen wir den Frieden, der von Christus kommt. Denn als Glieder des einen Leibes seid ihr alle berufen, im Frieden miteinander zu leben. Und seid immer dankbar!


Die Winter in meinem Heimatland können hart sein, Temperaturen unter null und der niemals endende Schnee. An einem eisigen Tag, als ich scheinbar zum tausendsten Mal den Schnee schaufelte, unterbrach unser Postbote seine Runde und fragte mich, wie es mir ging. Ich sagte, dass ich den Winter nicht mochte und den vielen Schnee leid war. Dann kommentierte ich, dass sein Job bei den extremen Wetterverhältnissen wohl sehr hart sei. Er sagte: „Ja, aber wenigstens habe ich einen Job. Viele Menschen haben keinen. Ich bin dankbar, dass ich arbeiten darf.“


Ich muss zugeben, dass mich seine Haltung der Dankbarkeit überführte. Wie leicht können wir den Blick für all das verlieren, wofür wir dankbar sein können, wenn die Lebensumstände unangenehm werden.

Paulus sagte den Nachfolgern Christi in Kolossä: „Euren Herzen wünschen wir den Frieden, der von Christus kommt. Denn als Glieder des einen Leibes seid ihr alle berufen, im Frieden miteinander zu leben. Und seid immer dankbar“ (Kolosser 3,15). Er schrieb an die Thessalonicher: „Was immer auch geschieht, seid dankbar, denn das ist Gottes Wille für euch, die ihr Christus Jesus gehört“ (1. Thessalonicher 5,18).

Selbst in den Zeiten des Kampfes Probleme und des Schmerzes, dürfen wir Gottes Frieden kennen und zulassen, dass dieser in unseren Herzen regiert. Und in diesem Frieden finden wir Erinnerungen an all das, was uns in Christus geschenkt wurde. Und dafür können wir wirklich dankbar sein.

Über was solltest du dich nicht beschweren? Wofür hast du heute Gott zu danken?

Herr, wie oft beschwere ich mich über Dinge, die lediglich unbequem sind. Hilf mir, nicht den Blick für deine Güte zu verlieren. Schenke mir ein Herz voller Dankbarkeit.


© 2019 Unser Täglich Brot
Die Winter in meinem Heimatland können hart sein, Temperaturen unter null und der niemals endende Schnee.