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Category Archives: Devotional

Jerusalem will be Rebuilt

Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you, you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth; who frustrates the omens of liars, and makes fools of diviners; who turns back the wise, and makes their knowledge foolish; who confirms the word of his servant, and fulfills the prediction of his messengers; who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be inhabited,” and of the cities of Judah, “They shall be rebuilt, and I will raise up their ruins”; who says to the deep, “Be dry— I will dry up your rivers”; who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose”; and who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” (Isaiah 44:21-28, NRSV)

Sing o heavens and the depths of the earth cry out! For the Lord has redeemed you!

As we draw closer to the birth of Jesus and as anticipation builds we still have the hope of what is to come. Even though we know not when, or how. We know that God has redeemed us and has swept away our transgressions and our sins and they are no longer ours. We have been named and claimed by God.

Wait in that hope! Knowing God’s promises are real.

 

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Fear Not!

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7, NRSV)

Advent is the season of hope. But for some people, there isn’t a whole lot of hope as we approach Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be a time filled with awe and wonder, joy and love, but looming bills or loved ones passed has a way of bringing darkness where others see only wonder.

But Isaiah tells us that God is with us even in the darkness, in the unknown. God has called each and every one of us by name and has redeemed us. We do not need to fear what is happening in our lives but can walk with God because he has claimed us and named us. We are His and He will never leave us.

Even in the darkness and despair, we find ourselves, God is with us. We are His and He will never let us go.

And we can always find hope in that.

 

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The Savior is Coming

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:1-9, NRSV)

The coming Messiah will not make a noise when he is put on trial and or cursed. He will not cry or make any noise and will take what comes His way.

The servant of our God will be an inextinguishable flame that will light all fo the world.

How do we share this light with the world?

How are we living out our callings to be light for the world during this waiting time of Advent?

You see every new thing will come from the servant of the Lord. He will come and make all things new. How can we help everyone see the grace they can get from God?

Live Advent and waiting out loud!

 

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The Lions Den, part 2

When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.” Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him. Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces. Then King Darius wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity! I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: For he is the living God, enduring forever. His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end. He delivers and rescues, he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth; for he has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (Daniel 6:14-28, NRSV)

So the king was wanting to change his law that those who pray to others other than him would be thrown into the lion’s den. He did not want Daniel to be killed as he loved Daniel and all he was doing for the kingdom. But the law could not be changed regardless of what the king wanted. So Daniel had to be thrown into the lion’s den. And did you see what the king did before Daniel was thrown in?

The king tried to stop it, but after that and before the stone was rolled and the signet ring was used to seal the opening.

If only we could have the faith that the king had in a God he didn’t even believe in at that point! The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” The king knew that Daniel served his God faithfully and he hoped that this God would be able to deliver Daniel from the lions.

Do we have this faith?

Do we show the world this faith as we wait for our savior?

Do we help others know the love of God?

 

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The Lions Den, part 1

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred twenty satraps, stationed throughout the whole kingdom, and over them three presidents, including Daniel; to these the satraps gave account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom. So the presidents and the satraps tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel in connection with the kingdom. But they could find no grounds for complaint or any corruption, because he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption could be found in him. The men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict. Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.” (Daniel 6:1-13, NRSV)

Do you pray to God?

Daniel was a foreigner who found himself in a place of power in the kingdom he was in. And those whom he had power over didn’t like this. So they tried to make a way to get him removed from the power. They could find no legitimate reason for getting him removed so they attacked his religion, which was different from theirs. They knew that Daniel was devout and would not sway from his faith in God.

Is there anyone out there that knows this about you. This reminds me of the saying, “If you were put on trial for being a follower of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

How can we help the world see the coming Savior and know that He is coming for them because He loves them?

 

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The Writing on the Wall, part 2

Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king said to Daniel, “So you are Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that enlightenment, understanding, and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and tell me its interpretation, but they were not able to give the interpretation of the matter. But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you are able to read the writing and tell me its interpretation, you shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around your neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then Daniel answered in the presence of the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else! Nevertheless I will read the writing to the king and let him know the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar kingship, greatness, glory, and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. He killed those he wanted to kill, kept alive those he wanted to keep alive, honored those he wanted to honor, and degraded those he wanted to degrade. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he acted proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and his glory was stripped from him. He was driven from human society, and his mind was made like that of an animal. His dwelling was with the wild asses, he was fed grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and sets over it whomever he will. And you, Belshazzar his son, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this! You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven! The vessels of his temple have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them. You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know; but the God in whose power is your very breath, and to whom belong all your ways, you have not honored. “So from his presence the hand was sent and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed in purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made concerning him that he should rank third in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. (Daniel 5:13-31, NRSV)

Why do you do the things you do?

Daniel was offered a purple robe a gold chain and the place of third in command, but he told the king to give it to someone who wanted it because he did not. He would interpret the writing on the wall because that is the gift that God had given him and was the way that he could help the world.

We have all been given a gift, and how do we use it?

This season of Advent is about preparing for the coming of Christ, our savior. Are we helping the world see the coming of God, or are we worried about getting the right presents and the right gifts for everyone on our list? Are we more worried that people will not get us what we need/want for Christmas than the person who is struggling to make ends meet and is falling further behind?

How do we look at the world and use what God has given us?

How can we make Advent a time where people see the love of God?

 

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The Writing on the Wall, part 1

King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed. The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” (Daniel 5:1-12, NRSV)

What would you do if out of no where a human hand appeared and started writing on the wall? And of course, we really don’t know at this point why the king can’t read it. Was it because it was written in a way that was illegible? Was it because it was in a language the king could not understand? Or was it because the king was drunk that he couldn’t make it out?

The reading does inform us that the king was under the influence of wine and had the gold and silver vessels his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. What do you think would happen if you started to use something you had stolen from God?

Have you ever stolen from God?

How do we steal from God as we prepare for Christmas? How do we steal from God when we skip over Advent?

You see Advent is not just about waiting for the coming savior, it is about preparing the way for Him. It is about preparing our hearts for Him. It is about us making room for peace, joy, love, and hope.

Advent is a time for us to reflect on how we are Christ’s light to the world. And by not doing this are we stealing from God?

Do we steal from God?

 

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