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God’s Gift: Timing

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Day 6 Advent and God’s Gift

Bible Reading: Genesis 21:1-7

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Image: public domain; I questioned my husband’s choice of this picture, but he said it was the joy on her face that drew him to it for today. I have to agree that his choice is good.

Today is, personally, a difficult day for me in this devotional.  I stare at the scripture reference and the notes I’ve written about it. 

Isaac, the improbable child given to Abraham and Sarah. The joy of the seemingly impossible–all the questions Sarah had while enduring this time of waiting. And God says in the end–Look what I can do!

He promised the child years previously.  And He kept His promise. But, oh, the wait!  So often we try to manipulate the fulfillment we want.  We can’t decide what God’s promises are going to look like.  We have to wait for His timing. I’m not sure there’s anything any more difficult or question provoking.  

Waiting for Isaac mirrors waiting for the Christ child, and the improbable saving of a sinful world through the birth of a baby.  

Thoughts for today:

What difficult waiting are you doing today?

In your prayers today, acknowledge to God the difficulty of waiting.  He can take it. He knows. If you need to, cry out to Him your frustration and your disappointment that His plan doesn’t fit your schedule.  Then ask Him to help you remember that His timing is better than yours, and His plan is greater than anything you can devise.

God’s Gift: Creation

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This is day two of my Advent Devotional, God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Genesis 1:24-31

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Have you ever thought about the fact that God didn’t make Man first? He didn’t create Man and then ask, “Hey, what do you think you’d like to see here?” 

He didn’t need Man’s input for His plan.  His creation was something He already had in motion.  The separation of the land and the sea, the heavens and the earth, the animals and the plants.  He had it all orchestrated. And only then did He make Man and gave it ALL to us. 

He created a perfect Earth for His pleasure, and then He gifted it to Man.  He gave it to us for our pleasure, allowing us to oversee everything that He had made.  

We live in a culture that promotes a concept of reciprocation.  But God did not desire that we repay Him for this gift. How could we possibly?  It is all of creation. There is nothing we have that could ever equal the enormity of this gift.  It is a precursor to the gift He has prepared for us.

Thoughts for today:

How often do you feel guilty when you receive an extravagant gift?  Do you struggle with feeling adequate for such a gift?

What feelings do you think the gift giver would like you to feel when you receive a gift?

How could you bless someone today with an unexpected gift?

In your prayers today, thank God for finding you special and worthy of a gift such as creation. Thank Him for reminding you that gifts come from love and the mere idea of pleasing the recipient.

God’s Gift: Restoration

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For the next 25 days, I intend to share with you my Advent devotional. I wrote it to remember God’s goodness and gifts while I grieved for our lost babies.  

I also wrote it with the intention of using it with a Jesse Tree, though this isn’t necessary.

Jesse Tree scriptures are relatively standard across denominations.  Sometimes the order is a bit different or the addition of another unlikely hero may be included.  I used the progression of scriptures included in Jesse Tree Journey by Ann Voskamp and Nancy Rodden from www.aholyexperience.com.  I wrote the scripture references at the top of individual pages in my journal, and then put their words away.

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Bible Reading: Isaiah 11:1-2

When I was growing up, we had a maple tree which my parents decided to cut down.  The stump marked the edge of a makeshift parking spot in our yard. After a season of “stumpiness”, it sprouted.  The maple tree came back more beautiful and full than it had ever been previously.

A stump seems dead, but when we wait patiently, it bears new life.  These verses remind us of the Trinity and the characteristics that are bestowed upon Jesus: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, loving reverence of God.  We wait expectantly for these traits to appear from the stump of Judah. It is Advent.

We progress through all of God’s gifts, towards the One.

Thoughts for today:

How can you recognize beauty in the waiting? 

Where can you nurture to bring forth beauty and fullness that previously was missing?

Where can you display more patience in your life?

Ask God today to reveal areas where restoration is waiting in your life. Ask God to help you relax in the waiting.

Expectant Waiting

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empty-manger1_origAdvent starts tomorrow for the Christian calendar. Since being properly introduced to the concept of advent {I’m not counting the chocolate calendars our uncle gifted us each year at Thanksgiving when we were children} I’ve associated it with waiting.

There’s a lot of waiting in Christianity.  Maybe that’s not quite the right word.  There’s a lot of walking towards something in Christianity.  We walk towards the manger in Advent. We walk towards understanding who He is during Epiphany.  We walk towards the cross during Lent.

And we do it each year. . .practicing our walk.

And we do it with expectation. Anticipation. The idea of anticipation is filled with hope.  It’s knowing that something is going to happen.

In the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the three qualities Paul describes to the Corinthians: faith, hope, and love.  Paul says the greatest of these is love.  I don’t disagree with him.  And James says faith is what motivates us to do. I don’t disagree with him either.

Faith is what changes us. Faith leads us to love. Love leads us to do.

But hope. I have grown quite fond of hope.  It is hope that girds my soul. Hope that keeps me filled with expectant waiting.  Anticipation. It is with hope that I walk towards the manger to see the savior of the world.  It is with hope that I pray that those around me will experience the epiphany of who He is.  It is with hope that I carry my cross towards Golgotha.

It is with hope that I wait expectantly each month with faith in my Father and love for what He has done in my life.

In the last year, I wrote an advent devotional, which I plan to share each day here.  It follows the coming of Christ from the Old Testament.  I wrote it to help me focus on how good God is during grief over the loss of our children.  It has helped me remember His many gifts.  May you find something of our great God in it as well.

The Soundtrack of Christmas

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Steven and I started sharing devotions this month through decorating a Jesse Tree. Tonight’s scripture is from Luke in which it tells of Zechariah and Elizabeth and their wait. Have you ever noticed that? The waiting in the Bible? There’s a lot of it. . .waiting for Isaac, waiting for Moses, waiting to enter the Promised Land, waiting for Samuel, waiting for the reign of David, waiting to get out of sea creature’s belly, andywaiting for John, waiting for Jesus.

Tonight as I cooked supper for us, I listened to my favorite Christmas album–Andy Williams’ Merry Christmas–on record actually {I’m old enough to remember asking for records as a child at Christmas}. I got to thinking, if I were to put together a Christmas album, what would it be about?

I haven’t completely come up with the plot or the conflict or the resolution.  Mostly because I don’t actually know it all yet.

What I do know and do want to share is that suffering can bring a multitude of blessings, if you let it. My soundtrack has sorrow, and joy, and love, and loss, and mercy, and grace, and waiting.

Perhaps that’s what Christmas is. All those things. Maybe it’s not that I need to create a soundtrack for Christmas, but I need Christmas to be my soundtrack. Christmas brings a different kind of reflection where we take account of all those things and meditate on the impact of each. Maybe I need that kind of reflection to be playing throughout every part of my life–it aids in compassion and empathy and healing.

What I have seen in our Jesse Tree is that in all the waiting, there was still all those things and people kept moving forward.  One step in front of the other, carrying each of those things towards hope, love, joy, and peace.  Towards Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone. May your life dance on through ALL the things that make it worth the living.