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Wednesday
Dec132017

Advent Devotional December 14, 2017

Lyrics

All the lights, shining brightly
As the choir of, angels sing
Singing praise, now in the highest
At the birth of, Christ the King

Yes all the lights, are shining brightly
As the choir of, angels sing
Singing praise, now in the highest
At the birth of, Christ the King

Open my eyes; O heart believe
The wonder of, that Christmas night
Be born in me

Sing again, the sacred song of
How that star lit, up the sky
And how this world, lost in the darkness
Felt the hope of, Heaven's light

Open my eyes; O heart believe
The wonder of, that Christmas night
Be born in me

Open my eyes; O heart believe
The wonder of, that Christmas night
Be born in me

All the lights are, shining brightly
At the glory, of the King
All the lights are, shining brightly
For the glory, of Your Name

All the lights are, shining brightly
At the glory, of the King
All the lights are, shining brightly
For the glory, of Your Name

We hold a flame, in our hearts now
Say a prayer that, in this world
All these lights, these Christmas lights will
Shine for You, and You alone
You alone ...

All the lights are, shining brightly
At the glory, of the King
All the lights are, shining brightly
For the glory, of Your Name

Lord all the lights are, shining brightly
For the glory; of Your Name
Oh let them shine, let them shine
For the glory of Your Name ...

YouTube link to "These Christmas Lights" by Matt Redman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFhzLuHa3OI

Today's Devotion

I love the imagery of God as light, so much so that my daughter is named after this idea - “Lucy” which means “light." And at Christmas there is a lot of light! We decorate our trees, rooms, houses with Christmas lights. When my son was just weeks old, he loved laying under the Christmas tree and swinging upward with his tiny arms at the Christmas lights. We are instinctively attracted to light! It helps us see and gives us an ability to navigate.

And that is what we desperately need, a way to navigate. We live in a dark world, a place that is operated in darkness with evil as its lord. However, since Jesus came, he showed us that he penetrates the darkest places and shines his light where darkness cannot hide.

We wanted to share some amazing Scripture about the light that is Jesus:

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (My Lucy’s Scripture she's named after)

John 1:1-5 NIV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 8:12 NIV

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 12:35-36 NIV

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

1 John 1:5-7 NIV

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Luke 11:33-36 NIV

33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Revelation 21:22-27 NIV

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

I wanted to share these beautiful scriptures with you so that you may drink in the depth of just what Christ’s light means. As you see Christmas lights while driving around, entering shopping places, or even your own home, remember just who it is that is being celebrated when we see those lights. For this is the King of kings, our Savior, the Messiah.

Prayer

Jesus,
Thank you for bringing your light to this world. Thank you for repelling darkness and showing the world what truth, goodness and love really is. Help me to bear your light to the world, so your message is penetrated to all peoples. That can only happen as I grow closer and closer to you. May I stay close to you all my days, for your light is how I see and keeps me from all danger. Thank you for giving me sight, a way to see in this world. Amen.

-Alexis Waid

Tuesday
Dec122017

Advent Devotional December 13, 2017

Lyrics

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!”

YouTube link to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19w0IHPL4X0

 Today's Devotion

Several years ago, Alexis and I attended a church in Denver where the pastor preached a four-week Advent series based entirely on “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.” Indeed, I can think of few other Christmas hymns that are so richly endowed with the fundamental theology of our faith, and I first of all encourage you to go back and read the lyrics to this song closely, if for no other reason than to marvel at the robust truth of its words.

The third verse of this song has always struck me as particularly poignant, especially the lines, “Born that man no more may die / Born to raise the sons of earth / Born to give the second birth.”

There is such profound purpose in the birth of Jesus. Through the common, everyday action of a new life entering the world, the vision and mission of God’s redemption plan invaded the land of darkness and decay.

Jesus knew there was deep, spiritual purpose in birth. That’s why he used it as one of his primary metaphors to describe salvation. In his conversation with Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus debated with him on the meaning a new birth by the Spirit. Jesus stated in v. 3:6-7, “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.”

And this is the purpose of Jesus life - to “give them second birth” as “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” describes.

In Jesus’ sinless birth, conceived of the Holy Spirit, he created the blueprint for the spiritual rebirth of all people. Just in the same way that Jesus was born into this world free of the shackles of sin, we too are invited to be reborn fresh, clean, and unchained.

Although we typically think about Easter as the culmination of Jesus’ gift of forgiveness, it is at Christmas where Jesus, even as newborn baby, began undoing the enslavement of darkness in our world, by creating a new model of life for us: to be born free.

Spiritual Exercies for Today

Spend some time contemplating the idea of being reborn. What does that mean, or look like, to you? In Jesus, we all have an opportunity for a new start, for life lived in the Spirit. When you think about the magnitude of such a fresh beginning in Jesus - what does that speak to you?

Prayer

God,
As we move closer to Christmas Day, we thank you for the gift of your son and the salvation that he has brought to our lives. There is no hope apart from you, God, and your son has brought hope for us to live a new life that begins now and extends into eternity. Thank for this gift, and we pray that you’ll teach us all the more what the gift of your son looks like in our lives. Amen.

- Aaron Waid

Monday
Dec112017

Advent Devotional December 12, 2017

Lyrics

What hope we hold this starlit night
A King is born in Bethlehem
Our journey long, we seek the light
That leads to the hallowed manger ground
What fear we felt in the silent age
Four-hundred years can He be found
But broken by a baby's cry
Rejoice in the hallowed manger ground
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel
The son of God, here born to bleed
A crown of thorns would pierce His brow
And we beheld this offering
Exalted now the King of kings
Praise God for the hallowed manger ground
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel
Oh, praise His name Emmanuel
Oh, praise His name Emmanuel

YouTube link to "Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) by: Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJBtfAA_ylM

Today's Devotion

We’re going to start off today with a little Bible trivia! And here’s your question.

“Do you know how many years elapsed between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament?”

It’s kind of a tough question, really, and the Bible itself doesn’t explicitly answer the question. Thankfully, we have tons of great scholarship surrounding the Scriptures to help us fill in historical information and questions like this.

The answer is: “Over 400 years.” 430 years is a commonly cited length of time for this period between Testaments, but for our purposes, we’ll just round it down to 400, which is such an incredibly long time!

That’s right, between the final prophecies of Malachi, and the period of history that Matthew begins describing is over 400 years.

Wow, 400 years ago from today was the year 1617! Just think about how much has our world changed in 400 years, and that’s the same amount of time between the Testaments.

For over 400 years, there were no biblical prophecies, or proclamations. Although many significant events happened to Jewish people during that period, it was widely believed among the Jews that a period of silence in God’s proclamation to his people had ensued.

At the very end of our Old Testament is this prophecy:

Malachi 4:5-6 (NIV)

5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

From a prophetic perspective, God was silent until the birth narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. In Malachi, the people are left with this prophecy that the prophet Elijah will prepare the way for the Lord. And that is exactly what happens! John the Baptist represented the new Elijah and God again spoke to his people.

Oh, how the people of God longed for the Messiah. They had been waiting for hundreds and hundreds of years for God to come and save them from the continuous onslaught of conquerors that sacked their nation repeatedly.

The people wanted a warrior, a liberating fighter who could ward off the nations who would enslave them.

So while they looked for a savior, did anyone expect that the Messiah would be an innocent baby who would grow up a normal life, before leading a ministry of preaching, healing and sacrifice?

As we journey closer and closer to Christmas, we await the moment in history where God entered into it as a human. This is a season of waiting, just as it was for the ancient Jewish people. However, most of God’s people then were not anticipating what was given to them in the life and death of Jesus.

What are you expecting this Christmas? Even more so, what are you expecting from God this year? Because we often expect Jesus to be something that he is not.

Jesus is overwhelmingly complex, because he is both fully God and fully human; a human without sin. Yet, he is our perfect example of what it looks like to be tethered to God.

It is our prayer that this Christmas season, you experience Jesus in a new way, a healing way, a rejuvenating way. May he surprise you with who he is in a deeper way!

Prayer

Jesus,
You defy all expectations. We constantly think we understand you, but you never cease to amaze us all. You are so amazingly, overwhelmingly good and completely unlike the brokenness of this world that we are always exposed to. Lord, help me to abandon my expectations of you and simply accept who you are and how you interact and lead me. There is much freedom in this, freedom I desperately need. I thank you so much for coming to this world and showing me what true, pure love looks like. May this Christmas shock me into a new reality, a reality that is deeply filled with you. Amen.

-Alexis Waid

Sunday
Dec102017

Advent Devotional December 11, 2017

Lyrics

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in Thee tonight

And the glory of Christmas is the glory of Christ
And the glory of Christmas is the story of His love

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O Christ be welcomed in.

YouTube link to "O Little Town of Bethlehem (Glory of Christmas) by: Matt Redman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOCiuF291_o

Today's Devotion

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” paints the picture of a sleepy, unassuming town that serves as the setting for the unprecedented act of God entering the world as a human being. There were no doubt many people living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth who had no realization that a young woman was having a baby that night, or if they had known, would not have given much more than a second thought to the topic.

Although we look back on Christ’s birth as an indescribably important moment in all of known history, for the actual people living in Bethlehem at the time, most were probably completely unaware of what had taken place. Although this might seem odd to us, who have celebrated Christmas every year of our lives, the first Christmas was most likely a day just like any other for the vast majority of the people living in proximity to Christ’s birth.

And yet Bethlehem, “above thy deep and dreamless sleep” is very much the kind of setting where the Gospel takes place. Not with resounding ovation, but in quiet, simple, even normal actions.

Jesus spent much of his ministry searching for the perfect metaphor for his Kingdom. He often described it as being like seeds planted in the ground (Mark 4:30-34), a buried treasure, or a single, perfect pearl (Matthew 13:44-46).

These are common things, small things, hidden things, but are very valuable and important.

In the same way that many people didn’t notice the birth of Jesus, the vast majority of our thoughts, prayer and actions made in the advancement of God’s Kingdom will be unnoticed. Few will see the gentle compassion we show to a hurting friend, or the silent prayers offered about a distressed stranger we observe, or the encouragement we share with another struggling to make their own impact for good in this world.

That’s why Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 1:28, “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”

God could have heralded the entrance of his Son into this world with a cadenza of horns and angelic figures witnessed by the entire globe. Instead, only a few shepherds were audience to the angel’s invitation.

The simplicity and humility of Christ’s birth is in and of itself an example of how God works in our world frequently - through the simple, mundane and normal - and yet what makes those things extraordinary is the presence of God with us.

God with us makes everything infinitely important and divinely blessed.

I pray that you might take a look at the small, even seemingly boring, places where God is working and moving. Do you recognize his movement around you? Are you open to the passing of God’s hand among you, even while many others may not notice?

Prayer Practice for Today

Simply take a moment and examine the places where God might be operating in small places. Where is it that God is working in your life? Stop and reflect on the often missed movements of God. Ask God to bring forth how he has been quietly working in your life. Ask God for better eyes to see his unbelievable movement in your life and the world.

Prayer

God,
Thank you for always working in this world, even though we often do not realize it. You are so good to us, so good to me. Help me to recognize you more, hear you clearer and see you better. My life would radically change, if I could only know you more. Help me gracious God for I am yours! Amen.

- Aaron Waid

Thursday
Dec072017

Advent Devotional December 10, 2017

Lyrics

For unto us a Child is born
A Son is given
A Son is given

For unto us a Child is born
A Son is given
A Son is given
The Messiah
Oh to see Him

To see Him high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing Holy Holy Holy

For unto us a child is born
A Son is given
A Son is given
For unto us a Child is born
A Son is given
A Son is given
The Messiah
Oh to see Him

To see Him high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing Holy Holy Holy
You are high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Lord pour out Your power and love

As we sing Holy Holy Holy

Holy Holy Holy
Holy Holy Holy
Holy Holy Holy
Holy Holy Holy

For unto us a Child is born
Holy Holy Holy
For unto us a Child is born
Holy Holy Holy
For unto us a Child is born

Holy Holy Holy
For unto us a Child is born
Holy Holy Holy
“The Messiah / Oh to see him.”

YouTube link to "For Unto Us a Child Is Born/Open The Eyes of My Heart" by: Paul Baloche

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ue6FbiHf30

Today's Devotion

The Christmas season is all about looking to the coming Messiah through the perspective of remembering Jesus’ first entry into our world as a human being. However, we always have the Spirit with us because Jesus the babe was born and came to save us.

The line from the song I chose as inspiration for this devotional is, “The Messiah/Oh to see him.” I believe seeing Jesus is the quest for every follower of God. However, in order to have eyes to see Christ, we must tune our whole lives to that desire.

Often times, we think if we simply attend Sunday services, find a small group, or have morning prayer that we are completely living a life seeking Jesus. And yes, those are great places for finding God in one’s life, but they are not entire picture, especially when they simply become routine. A life seeking Christ is a life of discipline and intentionality - both of which are very good things.

When we want to have eyes to see Jesus, we also must tune our hearts to do so and allow God to rid of us distractions. Distractions come in the form of stress, fear, unrighteous anger, bitterness, harshness, obsession. These are human responses to life and cloud our eyes to seeing Jesus clearly. Only God can remove these unhealthy emotions, and turning to him is the way he cleans your lenses.

We want to challenge you today to take on another form of seeing Christ in your life. You can begin by adding one more element to your life of discipleship. Maybe it’s committing to listening to Christian music on each commute to and from work. You might add a quiet time routine to your day. Perhaps it is connecting with another Christian periodically for the purpose of growing in your walk. You might want to add some different prayer practices to your routine, or volunteer regularly at a local charity or your church.

A great resource for finding 9 ways to connect to God can be found at: https://spirituallyhungry.com/how_to_focus_on_god/

Adding another level of intentional discipleship to your walk with God will help you have better eyes for seeing him, the Messiah!

Prayer

God,
Help me to only have eyes to see you. Help me find ways to connect with you throughout my day, because Lord I desperately need you. God, open the eyes of my heart, because I want to see you. I want to see you. I want to see you! Amen.

- Alexis Waid