Day Five: Favored Living

Saint Augustine, one of our early church fathers, who was a bishop of Hippo from 354 to 430 AD wrote this “Christmas Prayer”: 

Let the just rejoice,
for their Justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their Saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free ones rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let all Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.

You can hear echoes of scripture from this prayer.

Luke 2:13-14 NIV13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:20 NIVThe shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Isaiah 61:1 NIV –
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

May our rejoicing in the Lord be contagious and may we “go” and proclaim the good news, for his saving, healing and freedom to be received by those in our cities and campuses.

Prayer: Father, we rejoice in you as we were the “poor”, “brokenhearted”, “captives” and “prisoners” that you came to seek and save. We ask that our hearts would be stirred to be in the prayers that you have for us so that many more lives can be brought into the rejoicing of this “good news.”  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s be renewed in our calling to live in God’s favor to “go” as we sing this version of “Go Tell It on The Mountain” by King & Country (click here).

– EK

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Day Four: Incredibly Favored

Luke 1:28, 30, 38 NIV – 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” 

Billy Graham, a renowned American Evangelist, wrote about Mary in this way:

“And then notice Mary herself. She was young, probably not more than 16 years of age. She was a young woman of tremendous faith.

What kind of favor did she find? What were the results? Many of us would be reluctant today to claim that favor. She would go on a long and wearing journey to a small town. The pains of childbirth would come upon her in a stable. Then there would be the long trip to Egypt, the return to Nazareth, long years of obscurity and perhaps poverty. And she would see her Son crucified on a Roman cross. That was her calling; that was the favor of God upon Mary.

Some of you who are suffering, could it be a favor from God? Maybe this Christmas you are suffering…Whatever it is, it may be the favor of God in your life, because God is sovereign, and nothing happens to a believer by accident. When disappointments and heartbreaks come, that could be the favor of God—a steppingstone to a greater involvement with Christ and a great surrender to Him. God’s favor for a person or a nation may be bestowed not by affluence but in challenge, when faith is put to a costly test.”

(Billy Graham, adapted from The Hour of Decision, Dec. 26, 1982, and “Christmas: A time of Renewed Hope” message)

Prayer: Father, help me to trust in all the “favor” that I have already received in Christ and to stay, walking in your great “favor” over my life. With all my heart and life, I desire to be surrendered to your will as you have called me to be a servant of the Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s continue in our trust in the Lord as we sing “God, You’re So Good” by Passion (click here).

– EK

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Day Three: A Christmas Extravaganza

We had an incredible time of being led into worship by our middle schoolers this past Sunday.  Let’s read aloud the truths we received together again and be washed anew by the word of God.

John 3:16-17 NIRV God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.  God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world. He sent his Son to save the world through him.

Psalm 36:5-9 NIV
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 NIVFor what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, how great is your love over us, your church, your people.  We thank you for all the ways we have experienced your love and faithfulness in our lives, and we look forward to experiencing even more and deeper for the upcoming new year. We also pray that you will shine your light in the hearts of all our children (whether biological or spiritual) and that they will grow abundantly in the faithfulness of your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s worship to this song, “Oh What A Glorious Night” by Sidewalk Prophets (click here).

– EK

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Day Two: Joy to the World

Psalm 98:4-6, 8-9 NIV –
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

“Isaac Watts wrote ‘Joy to the World’ as Part Two of a meditation on Psalm 98. His title was: ‘The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.’

The song is indeed about the Christmas coming — and the present reigning, and the final future coming to renovate the world.

Here is what the reigning Savior does now. He rules. He compels (makes). The second three lines unpack the first. ‘Righteousness’ and ‘love’ correspond to ‘truth’ and ‘grace.’ He rules with truth and grace. And he compels the nations to come to terms with the truth and rightness of all he does, and the ever-present, ever-offered, ever-wonderful grace and love.

Jesus is King! Jesus is Savior! Jesus has conquered the curse! Jesus rules the nations! Ride on, King Jesus!”

(John Piper, Desiring God article, “World, Get With the Program: Joy! Joy! Joy!”)

Reflection: Let’s take a moment to consider our Lord’s present reigning in our lives.  This changes everything, and we can now live in his victory, grace, and love.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my king!  You are my Savior! You have conquered the curse!  You are reigning over all!  May I live in your victory, grace, and love, and may my life be a song, declaring the joy, joy, joy that you have brought into my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s close in prayer singing “Joy to the World (Joyful, Joyful) by Phil Wickham (click here).

– EK

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Day One: This Christmas

Matthew 1:21, 23 NIV21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

“What does Christmas mean to you? This Christmas, let it mean the birth of the Person of Jesus. He didn’t come just to be born; He came to die. His death was planned before the foundation of the world.

When he was dying on that cross, God laid upon Him your sins and mine. Because of that cross and the glorious resurrection, God can say to us today, ‘I forgive you.’

God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus a reconciling love that rescues us from separation and loneliness.

At this Christmas season, you can be assured that Jesus Christ is here. He is here to give us hope, to forgive our sins, to give us a new song, to impart faith and to heal our spiritual wounds, if only we will let Him. You can go to bed tonight and know that your sins are forgiven and that you are ready to meet God.”

(Billy Graham, adapted from The Hour of Decision, Dec. 26, 1982, and “Christmas: A time of Renewed Hope” message)

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, I thank you for showing the depth of your love through the coming of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.  Thank you that I am assured that he is here with me, giving me hope for each day and placing a new song in my heart. I worship and praise you this Christmas. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s worship in singing this version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” by Kingdom Kids, Shane & Shane (click here).

– EK

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Day Five: May Your Kingdom Come

As Advent people, let’s look forward to and hasten the Lord’s return as we pray and declare the following out loud:

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
help us to honor your holy name.
May your kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.
Keep us from being tempted
and protect us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours.
Now and forever.
Amen. 

Isaiah 65:17-18 (NIV)
See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
    and its people a joy.

James 5:7-9 (NIV)
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

Prayer: Come, O Lord! We eagerly await your return. Until that day, empower us by your Spirit to patiently love one another and to reverently trust in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” by Martin Smith (click here).

-JL

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Day Four: End-time Significance

2 Peter 3:13-15a (NT Wright’s translation)
But we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which justice will be at home. That is what he has promised.
So, my dear family, as you wait for these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, in peace. And when our Lord waits patiently to act, see that for what it is – salvation!

“There are a host of important things to be done while we wait. In fact, on three separate occasions we are given the word waiting in this text (3:12, 13, 14), and each time the word is pregnant with deliberate, purposive intention for our lives… We are not here just to fill time; we are no longer here to kill our time. Our life is filled with end-time significance!” (David Helm, 1-2 Peter and Jude, 265-266)

Since God has promised such a glorious future and has called our lives to such eternal significance, it matters that we put off sin and put on the purity and peace that Christ gives us. It matters that more people may know the Lord through us. Today, let’s hold onto God’s promise of the new heavens and new earth, and get on with living out his intentions for us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that you have filled our present lives with end-time significance. Help us today to wait productively by living the pure and peace-filled lives you have called us to. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “His Name Shall Be” by Matt Redman (click here).

-JL

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Day Three: Holy And Godly Lives

2 Peter 3:10-12a (NIV)
But the Lord’s day will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a great rushing sound, the elements will be dissolved in fire, and the earth and all the works on it will be disclosed.
Since everything is going to dissolve in this way, what sort of people should you be? You should live lives that are holy and godly, as you look for God’s day to appear, and indeed hurry it on its way… 

“Such prayer and evangelism by Christ’s followers, backed by their godly lives, will be the means by which they give expression to the way they look forward to the day of God, and so help to speed its coming…The more profound point behind Peter’s words is that the material world is transient and can be no sure foundation for life. By contrast, a life based on the truths of holy living and trust in a loving God concerned for his people’s welfare here and hereafter is the one eternal reality.” (Norman Hillyer, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, 219-220)

Today, let’s renew our commitment to live in God’s one eternal reality – being transformed by God’s Word, reflecting Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory, and growing in maturity in every way, trusting that we are to bear fruit that will last for eternity.

Prayer: Father, empower us with the Holy Spirit to live holy and godly lives as we eagerly await your return. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “Spirit of God (Flame of God)” by New Life Worship (click here).

-JL

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Day Two: In God’s Patience

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Romans 2:4 (NLT)
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

As Advent people, our calling to live in patience is rooted in God’s own patience toward us and all of creation. Scripture amazingly affirms that God’s patient withholding of Christ’s return is motivated by deep love and kindness, and a passionate desire for everyone to turn to him in repentance. May we be spurred on by God’s patience and passion to pray for more lives in each of our churches to respond to the riches of God’s grace. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit for new perseverance in intercession, that each life we are praying for will not reject or resist the gift of God’s mercy, but receive it fully, resulting in genuine repentance and salvation.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that today is the day of salvation and now is the time of your favor and mercy. May each heart we lift to you in prayer, including our own, be so soft to receive and respond to your loving kindness by turning fully to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship the Lord with “How Great is Your Love” by Passion (click here).

-JL

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Day One: From Everlasting to Everlasting

2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

Psalm 90:1-4 (NIV)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
   throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
   or you brought forth the whole world,
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
 
You turn people back to dust,
   saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
   are like a day that has just gone by,
   or like a watch in the night.

“Peter draws upon this ancient understanding of time. He submits his own sense of Christ’s delay to God’s trustworthy Word. For there we are reminded that God is so unlike us. What we hold to be a long time—two millennia in this case—is for God a mere ‘watch in the night.’” (Helm, David. 1 2 Peter and Jude. Kindle loc 4263-4266)

As Advent people who patiently await the Lord’s return, let’s acknowledge afresh God’s sovereignty and perfect timing by confessing the words of Psalm 90 today. Like Apostle Peter, let’s reverently submit our own ways and thoughts to our God who is from everlasting to everlasting.

Prayer: Lord, we humbly confess that you’re so unlike us. Your ways and thoughts are far higher than ours. We trust your perfect will, sovereign love, and patient timing for our lives and for this whole world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship the Lord with “The Lion and the Lamb” by Leeland (click here).

-JL

 

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