THE THRILL OF HOPE, THE WEARY WORLD REJOICES
Wednesday, December 25, 2022
Read: John 1:1-14
The True Light
The one who created everything was created as a tiny baby. The one who was worshiped on mountains and at altars was not recognized. The one who created light became the light of the world. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (verse 9)
All around us are lights, Christmas lights, lights downtown, lights on our homes, lights on the streets and they are so beautiful and we marvel at our neighbors’ creativity. The lights bring the joy of the Christmas season.
Light helps take away our fear. I don’t know about you, but this world scares me sometimes. Sometimes, I’m scared of illness, sometimes I’m afraid of war. Still, some of us are afraid of being alone in life with no one to love or be loved by.
But then I see how God has arranged the cosmos and set everything in motion - how the heavens declare the glory of God - and I’m less afraid. I have nothing to fear. Jesus said that whoever followed him would never live in darkness but would have the light that gives life.
Maybe the wise men were the first to recognize that when the light touches us it shows us how to live. The wise men didn’t know where the light would lead but, in faith, they followed that light (star) that led them to the birthplace of Jesus and they knelt down and worshiped him. As they reached out to touch the baby, God touched them. They gave gifts of appreciation and admiration and then went home by a different way.
It was the Sunday after Christmas, 2018, as I greeted our members on their way home; I stopped to ask a member how were her granddaughters. Somewhere in our conversation she shared with me that on her way back home with her granddaughters they were marveling at all the lights on homes. As they approached their home, her oldest grandchild noticed that their house was missing the lights and thought that her grandfather forgot to put up the lights.
Yes to a little girl Christmas lights were important because they give life. May we allow the light of Baby Jesus to shine in our hearts this Christmas, so that the world can see and come to worship our God.
Lord, give new hope to us this Christmas. We need your light in our world and our lives. So may your light of love truly shine out from everyone of us this Christmas. Amen
Rev. Dr. Yvonne Wallace-Penn
Saturday, December 24, 2022
Read: Luke 2:8-12
Glory to God a savior is born. He is a sign that God has not forgotten or forsaken us.
The shepherds were going about their daily business when the angel of the Lord appeared and sent them another route to find the baby Jesus. Sometimes God will disrupt your daily activities and ask you to heed his words and follow a different path. When the shepherds saw the angel of the Lord, they were afraid. But we need to not be afraid to hear from God because his words bring us joy. Always be ready to hear from God and look to him for direction in your life.
Dear Lord thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to be our savior and redeemer. Let us not grow wearing of hearing your voice for it brings good news and glad tidings. Remind us to read your word and listen for your guidance, for your words and direction are a joy unto our lives. Amen.
Friday, December 23, 2022
Read: Isaiah 52:7-10
The Joy of Hope
In our advent scriptures today, the people of Zion received the good news that they would be relieved and delivered from their enslavement and oppression under the Assyrians and Egyptians. Deliverance had come and the assured salvation by our holy and exalted God brought comfort to the people. The Message translation states “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news. Breaking the news that all’s well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling Zion, your God reigns! (Isaiah 52:7-9) The verses today echo the way of preparation and celebration at the first arrival of Jesus and that which we yearn for in patient anticipation, his awaited return. Today, we could use some good news. We are surrounded it seems on every side with wars, gun violence, earthquakes, hurricanes, sudden tragedies, struggling communities, disease, and broken relationships. And yet, in the year of our Lord 2022 and into the next, we still have a reason to shout. God is still able to comfort us and because we know that God is holy and sovereign we can shout for the joy of hope. Isaiah 52:9-10 declares, “Break forth; shout together for joy, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
We can choose to see the good around us and we can ask God who remains steadfast to show us how the Lord’s works are faithful, they are yes and amen! (II Corinthians 1:20) So, each day we can be reminded of the joy in the hope of Jesus, who Is, and Is to Come.
Lord, we give you thanks for your deliverance and salvation. Prepare our hearts and our minds to see your truth, so that we will know the hope that you have chosen us to have. So that we will know that the blessings you have promised your holy people are rich and glorious. May we know in our hearts that your power is very great for us who believe. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.
(prayer adapted from Ephesians 1:18-19)
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Read: Psalm 97
This Psalm reassures us of the sovereignty of our God. He is the creator of the whole world and all that is in it. He owns the earth which trembles at his command.
Psalm 97 is regarded as the fourth royal psalm because it celebrates God as King
- it declares the Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice
- it celebrates the Lord is king and is in control.
We can picture God in clouds of thick darkness with righteousness and justice as foundations of his throne and as lightning lights up the world. The message of this Psalm is the emphasis on the sovereignty of our God.
- His supreme reigns over the earth
- His enactment of justice
- the overall rejoicing worldwide as we are reassured of his kingship.
So, as we await the arrival of God, the son, in our lives one more time during the Advent season, how do we allow God to reign in our lives?
We can adopt the followings:
- by following the plans hHe has for us
- by actively reading his word - the Bible
- by following the commands he put on our hearts
- by seeking Godly communities and,
- by obeying the truth
May the Holy Spirit continually guide us, amen.
Susan V. Osifade
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Read: Isaiah 2:11-14
This reading is a simple admonition to us and it answers a question that every follower of Christ should periodically ask themselves. What is most important to you? God is unwavering and unequivocal in what your answer should be. The most important thing in your life needs to be your relationship with God.
On Judgment Day when you stand before God, what will you have to give account for? Is your life consumed with acquiring possessions, status in your community, exalting yourself? God is very clear about how he will deal with this and it is harsh. Those who are prideful and full of themselves will be brought low. Punished. Period. End of story. Exalting God is not a hard thing to do. When we realize how much God loves us and provides for us and acknowledge that all we have and have attained is not our own doing, but it is a gift from God, it is easy to make him the center of our love and adulation.
It is interesting that Isaiah chose the illustration of cedar and oak. Cedars of Lebanon are majestic trees that grow in mountainous areas. They are praised any time they are referenced in the Bible. David used the wood in his palace and Solomon used cedar in his temple and palace. Oaks of Bashan were also greatly valued. Oak is a long living tree and when it grows old or is cut down, it has the ability to renew itself, putting out new shoots from the stump or roots that in time develop into a strong tree. The oak tree is a symbol of strength.
These trees are God’s creation and as valued as they are and as mighty as high mountains and hills referenced in verse 14 are, he has the power to level them and will! All idols will be leveled and destroyed.
Now is the time to assess what are the idols in your life. The only thing that God asks, is that only he is the exalted being in your life. He is a loving, kind God who will give you the desires of your heart (if it is in keeping with his will) but only asks one thing in return. Put him first and foremost in your life. Just do it!
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and blessing me as much as you do. Please keep me focused away from all distractions so that you are always the exalted one in my life. Amen.
Tuesday, December 20. 2022
Read: Isaiah 9:2-7
The end of this passage is so familiar, but the beginning can be very confusing, or at least it is to me. While yes it is very true that when you have been in a dark place, literally or figuratively, the bright light can be blinding but once you get accustomed to it, it is amazing. God is amazing! We do celebrate daily in our dealings with the life with which we have been blessed or at least we should. We may not have been rescued from Midian, or maybe we have in our own way been rescued from other trappings. God has rescued each of us in our own unique way. God sent that babe to save us! We need to be grateful for that saving and worship even harder every day. All of those titles for the babe should make us feel safe and secure in the knowledge of God’s ultimate love for us, that God sent a counselor (we all need one of those), mighty God (of course), eternal father(the best parent ever), and prince of peace (we need that in our hearts and the world). God loves us! Let us never ever forget that!
Dear God, thank you so much for all that you have done for us. Let us never forget it. We know that you love us may we strive to love you even a fraction as much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Monday, December 19, 2022
Read: Luke 2:1-7
Away in a Manger
We all know the story of the Nativity, “little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay,” with Mary and Joseph nearby and the animals keeping watch. This scene has been featured on Christmas cards thru out the ages. As Christians we have seen and read this precious story many times. Children love it, as they act in Christmas plays in Sunday school performances all over the world. What excitement and joy we experience seeing the new baby Jesus!
However, let us look at this a little closer at the events of this trip. Mary and Joseph have travelled for days from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census. A mandatory trip of 70 miles or more on a donkey and Mary is pregnant! What an incredulous journey! Not knowing how events were going to unfold, their emotions must have been high. They must have been anxious, hungry, tried and cold when they arrived with nowhere to stay. No room in the Inn.
Joseph, after arriving in Bethlehem, and finding no accommodations must have been concerned. Mary has complete faith and trust in God. He has everything worked out. God is in control. Joseph is doing his best. They are given a stable. Mary has to prepare for the greatest delivery in mankind. The Holy Birth of Jesus the Christ!!
In this Advent season, as we await the coming of Christ the Messiah, we are reminded of His birth. The birth of the One who changed the world in the most dramatic manner in the last 2000 plus years. We remember the scene in the stable…..simple, humble surroundings. The Prince of Peace enters the world without elaborate dwellings.
It does not end there, we are also reminded of the Life, Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, who brings Hope, Love and Redemption to the world.
O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Thank you God for giving us your most precious gift.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Read: Matthew 1:22-25
This passage reveals to us how the word was delivered from an angel of the Lord, about the miraculous way a child would be born to save the world. All this was done to fulfill what was spoken by the prophets.
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in his sleep saying “Behold a virgin shall be with child, shall bring forth a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel meaning “God with Us.”
As it was indicated, when Joseph was raised from his sleep he respectfully did as instructed and without hesitation took unto him his wife, never knew her until she had brought forth a son and he called his name Jesus.
Joseph finds himself in tough situation and he did without hesitation what some men will not do, with no questions asked.
It was easy for Joseph because he believed in the Lord. I hope we all can slow down wait for Lord’s instruction in everything we do.
Saturday, December 17, 2022
Read: Matthew 1:18-21
Behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto Thee Mary thy wife: for the conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Announcement, Preparation, and Support: Born to die, yet destined to live. The angel of the Lord announced to both Mary and Joseph that they would become the parent of the Holy one the son of God with specific instructions about their actions. Mary and Joseph were also assisted in the preparation of the coming of Christ. The reason for His birth is the fulfillment of the prophecy, a savior to die, shedding his precious blood for the forgiveness of our sins, His conception from the Holy Spirit, His name Jesus son of God. Mary and Joseph were supported by God in the handling of the predicament relating to the conception of a child by the Holy Spirit and having a child before marriage.
Obedience to God, trusting God, and maintaining an intimate relationship with God are essential in our Christian journey. How do we deal with life choices when challenged? Do we trust God to lead us, or do we make our own decisions to please the world, because that is what the world expects of us? We must stand on the promises of God, as we live our daily lives to inspire others and motivate us to withstand life challenges.
This advent season should inspire us to reflect on how to celebrate the birth of Christ. It is a period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the preparation of the second coming since His resurrection. A time to exhibit our faithfulness in our communities and our families by our prayers, good deeds, praise, and Worship translating the true meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ.
We are to reflect on how we deal with trials and temptation in our daily lives, as we exhibit Christlike conduct and attitude. Advent is a time of love, peace, joy, and hope. God is always good to me and my family. Despite difficult and trying times I have learned to give thanks consistently to God. My faith was tried recently when one of my family members became critically ill. My faith in the Lord grew stronger through hope, and peace. God has blessed my family through the love shared, and He has granted us peace according to His will. Do we value the gift of life? if so, do we treat our bodies as the temple of God? Jesus died for our sins, so that we can have eternal life. Are we adequately prepared for the second coming? Are we ready for the second coming of the Lord? These are a few areas to focus on this advent season.
May this Advent season be a time to spend with loved ones as we reject the negatives that distract us from getting closer to God. May we accept the gift of the Holy spirit, preparing us for the second coming.
Certified Lay Minister
Friday, December 16, 2022
Read: Romans 1:7
Answer God’s Call
In this verse, Paul addresses all Romans who are loved by God and are called to be his holy people. This same address applies to us today. God continues to call each of us to be his holy people. Everything currently happening in our world shows us how urgent this call to action is required.
Answering this call brings much relief from this troubled world. When this call is answered, people receive the power of God, which helps them to take a closer look at their desires and decide if these desires are worldly or heavenly. Rely on the power of God to choose wisely.
Answering this call brings us salvation and righteousness. Why wait any longer? No one on earth can give you either of these. Jesus died on the cross so that you and I would not be punished for our sins. We need to answer the call and give up our sinful actions. Salvation is a gift freely given; righteousness is living, and doing what is right is in the eyes of God. Both of these characteristics can only be achieved with God’s help. I plead that you quickly answer God’s call.
Dear Father, during this Advent season, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ and what he can do for us by answering God’s call . I end this devotion using Paul’s words from the end of this verse. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.