Sunday, December 13, 2009

Third Sunday in Advent - Joy

Father, as I pause in my prayers and think of the third Advent candle - joy - I let my mind wander over the many thoughts surrounding “joy” and am surprised to find the phrase, “there is no joy in Mudville tonight, the mighty Casey has struck out…” comes to mind.

And I have to ask Lord, is that a sign of our culture - that our “joy” is dependant on our team winning; on a player getting a hit, or a homerun; or a touchdown, or a free-throw, or any other corresponding phrase for victory? Is it dependant on the marketplace or the world stage? Is our “joy” based on our being “successful…”? Is it that fragile?

I think of Biblical uses of the word, “joy” and find my heart embracing, “weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning” and “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

And I remember that Elizabeth’s son John, “leaped for joy” in her womb upon hearing Mary’s voice. And that Mary’s spirit “rejoiced in God” at Your choosing her as Your Son’s mother…”

And then there is that ultimate, “Behold I bring you good news of a great joy, which shall be for all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord!” and I stop there, and I realize, “this” is the “joy” that the third candle represents. That if not for this one single “joy” no other joy would be possible.

Christ brings the “joy in the morning.” He is the “Good Shepherd” who goes after the one lost little lamb. He is (not to be cliché, but) “the reason for the season”; He is the joy of my life and the salvation of my soul, and You, my Father, made it all possible…

You, are concerned about my joy.

You, want me to be happy.

When I think about all the things that bring me joy - my husband, my children, my family, and yes, even success in the “marketplace” I humbly realize that all of this would be just fleeting fancy without the real joy of knowing Your Son. And I pray Lord; lead me to lead others in knowing this permanent, concrete, solid, never failing, and always eternal Saviour - Jesus - our true Joy!

And it is in His name I pray - Amen


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Second Sunday in Advent

As I mentioned before, this is a "rerun" from 2006, but still relevant, I think.

Second Sunday in Advent: Peace

Father, as our second Sunday in Advent brings the message of peace, I have to wonder - what is peace, really? It’s so much more than the absence of war. It’s more than a shaky truce or a temporary lull. It’s more than a momentary laying down of arms or a brief respite from conflict.

No, true peace wells up within us within times of war, within the ravages of the fiercest actions, and during the times when the whole force of hell assaults our souls. “The Peace of God,” said the apostle Paul “surpasses all understanding.” And Christ, Himself, said, “My peace I give you - not the kind the world gives. So don’t be afraid.”

True peace, Father, comes from You. It’s nothing we can conjure up, nothing we can “talk ourselves into” nothing we can “will” to be - it comes, (yes) comes from Thee.

So, how can we explain the conflict of the shaking hands and the calm heart? How can we understand the fear that ravages our minds while a peace pervades our soul? It doesn’t make sense Lord, but I’ve been there.

I’ve felt my heart cry “Peace! Peace! The Peace of the Most High Sovereign God surrounds you and controls your being!” and all the while my mind is trying to grasp the reality of the moment - the pain that comes with uncertainty and fear, when my stomach turns and my limbs weaken…

And finally, I fall to my knees, grasping the promise that You made to never leave nor forsake me - and peace comes upon me, and I feel Your love.

It doesn’t always “change the moment”; there may still be “bullets” flying all around, whether actual, or figurative (sometimes the “figurative” ones hurt the worst!) But it changes me! And that is, what Peace is.


Grant Your Peace Lord, I pray, upon those in the midst of conflict this Advent season; and indeed, in all seasons. But, there’s just something about the “Christmas” season that makes conflict more - conflicting during this time of the year.

I pray for those in genuine conflict - in battles, and in wars, with actual bullets and all too real blood-letting. I pray “Peace” Lord, knowing, that until You come again - there will be no real peace for this kind of war. So, until then, I pray “safety” instead…

I pray for those in figurative conflict - in battles for their minds and souls. I pray for those who know that “something” ought to be different. But what? And how? I pray “Peace” Lord, knowing, that “this” battle can be won, that guilt and “chains” can be removed. That all that is needed is for the word to be spread. Give me the words, Lord…

I pray for those in spiritual conflict - in battles where the war has already been won, and the prisoners set free, and all that is wanting is for the victory to be claimed…. I pray “Peace” Lord, knowing that they (we) just (sometimes) don’t realize it. Give them (us) Grace, Lord to see the Victory.

I pray “Peace” Lord at this Advent season - and all seasons of the year.


Father, I have such a sense of peace at this moment in my life. I am so thankful Lord for the gracious and precious gifts You’ve given me. Father, to see my children loving You and wanting to serve You is the most wonderful gift of all.

It is just a beginning, Lord. I understand that. They are young adults and don’t quite grasp the concept of “Lordship” yet, but God, what an answer to prayer and the “desires of my heart” to witness this - these first steps to be taken. I am so humbled, Lord.

Naturally, I don’t want to die Lord, but if my life was called away at this moment I would have to say that I have been given a lifetime’s worth of blessings already. I have a husband, that in his service to You, honors me, and children that love You. What more is there? There is no physical thing I want, no material thing that can compare to the overwhelming fullness I feel at this time.

Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that we have “arrived” - that from here on out everything will be “hunky-dory.” We live in a fallen world, I know that. Satan is still afforded the freedom of playing havoc on this world and all its inhabitants. But God! I know! YOU are GOD! And no matter what, YOU are in control. He can torment the body, but he cannot take the soul.

The victory’s been won, and my Jesus is Real!

Thank You, Precious Father. In Jesus’ Name - Amen.

Friday, December 04, 2009

First Sunday in Advent

There are so many new readers of this blog that for the Advent season, I thought I'd post a "rerun." I originally wrote these in 2006, and had almost forgotten about them until I was looking through my files. I'm sorry this "First Sunday" one is a little late, I'll try to post the "Second Sunday" one right away.

First Sunday in Advent:

Father, I lift up my heart to You at the “beginning” of this Christmas season. I say “beginning” as in “Church calendar” and not in terms of the marketplace - for in the marketplace, it has already been “Christmas” for a loooong time now…

Being a child of the 60’s, one of the first things that comes to mind is John Lennon’s song of “So this is Christmas, and what have we here…” and I think, “Yeah, what do we have here…?”

We have lists - shopping lists, grocery lists, “to-do” lists and an already “jam-packed to the gills” calendar filled with even more responsibilities.

As a business owner, I have customers depending on me for things on their shopping lists.

As a wife, and mother, I have family depending on me for - well, for being “Honey” and “Mom” and all that entails at any given point in their lives.

And, as a church-member and Sunday School teacher, I have “every time the doors are open” activities, that I’m expected to attend, lessons to prepare, and devotions to give.

But, as a woman, as Your child, I have… peace… yeah, I really do. As I think about it, and all the things I “have” to do in all the other areas of my life, I’m surprised that the word “peace” is what comes to my mind when I think of what I have as Your child…

This hasn’t always been so. And may not always be so, but at this time, in this place, right now I have peace. And I thank You for that, Father.


The first Sunday in Advent begins with the candle of “hope” and so, Father, I lift up those who feel they have no hope. You’ve created our bodies to survive for weeks without food, days without water, and minutes without air, but we cannot survive for a moment without hope.

How, Father, can we bring hope to a hopeless world? The song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name…”

When the word “hope” is used in the Bible it doesn’t mean “wishing” it means “a certainty”. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” - not the essence of things that we wish would happen, but the very things of which we are certain…

And You Father, are the only One that brings that kind of hope.

And may I, as Your child, reflect that hope this Christmas season.


What a “time” of the year, Lord! No other season or “holiday” creates the conflict and convolution that Christmas does. No other date on the calendar produces more good will and more animosity all in one, than does this time of so-called “peace on earth”… Why is that Lord?

What is it about Christmas that makes it the most selfless and yet the most selfish time of the year? What makes it the most joyous and yet the most lonely, the most filling and yet the most emptying, the most loving and yet the most hateful time of the whole calendar year? Why Lord?

Is it… You… Lord? I suspect it is that whole “inner conflict” thing - that whole “good verses evil” thing, that “darkness verses light” war that has been raging ever since the garden -“both” gardens.... (Eden and Gethsemane!)

It’s always there, isn’t it, Lord? It just comes to the surface more when mankind is “forced” to look You right in the eye, as they are “when the baby cries” at Christmastime, and You “demand” that we either react, or respond…

God help us to respond.

In Jesus’ name - Amen.