Welcome to TheEverydayPrayer blog (Advent Edition). For the next 26 days (November 30-December 25) we will welcome new bloggers to this space. Staff members and lay leaders, gifted writers all, helping us prepare for the celebration of Christmas. This is a journey that we will take together. Ready? Let’s start!
First Day of Advent
Genesis 3:8-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Q—Why do we need a Savior?
A—Because we hide from God (see today’s reading “And the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God.”—v 8—compare your own experience)
Q—Why do we hide from God?
A—Because we feel shame (an intuitive signal of a spiritual reality).
Q—What is shame?
A—Inner condemnation for past failure, a deep sense of unworthiness or inadequacy.
Q—How does shame manifest?
A—Many ways, avoidance of God, reluctance to accept/embrace a high calling, self-hatred—often unconscious.
Q—Why did Jesus come?
A—TO RELEASE US FROM SHAME! To restore us to God!
“You will call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”—Matthew 1:21
“There is therefore now no condemnation (internal or external, legal or spiritual) for those who are in Christ Jesus.”—Romans 8:1
Thought for today–Until we are released from shame, until we come out of hiding and fear of inadequacy, Christmas has not come.
Re: Verse reading – John 1:1-18
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 4:1-8, 16-18 (day six)
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”—v 2.
Paul knows how this fight will go. (see v 7) He knows that Pastor Timothy will have good seasons (literal reading– eukarios) and bad seasons (akarios). Ministry (life) will always be a mixture of ups and downs. Highs and lows, neither of which can have too much influence on the servant of God. Our task and commitment remains constant in both environments. We preach the word when it is popular. We preach it when it earns us enemies and criticism. We have courage to confront/correct false doctrine. We are gentle and patient to encourage/ instruct developing ideas about God and duty. It will be a fight and it will be a privilege. Paul has no regrets. Not for himself, not for his young friend. “In season and out”, we are servants of the Most High.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 4:1-8, 16-18 (day four)
Today is Thanksgiving…the day when every Christian is particularly thankful for the blessings from God. Gratefulness is a daily experience though…the fourth Thursday in November is no different than any other day of the year for giving thanks to God. (That is, unless you count the massive amounts of food that accompany this day’s thanks!) Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of God’s working in the history of America to provide a bountiful harvest for the early settlers. We use it today to remind us of the myriad of gifts bestowed upon us by our creator God. In our passage this week, Paul reminds us of the importance of God’s Word in our lives. Paul says there will come a day when people will not accept the truth of God’s Word and will seek false teachers. (Are we there yet?) In many countries the freedom to even read God’s Word is non-existent. As you are thanking God today for your blessings, make sure His Word is on your list of blessings!
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 4:1-8; 16-18 (day three)
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”
Paul at last knew: He was already living the eternal kind of life. He was already beyond ultimate harm. Hostile forces would still attempt to cut short his freedom, his influence, his very life, but those forces posed no threat to him. Even though he would eventually (tradition tells us) undergo beheading, he knew what Jesus promised: “Whoever obeys my word will never see death.” So Paul knew that he would not know any darkness or isolation or fear or abandonment, not even for one second, at the moment of execution. He knew. And we can know, too. The promise of Jesus is plain: For all who count on him, the eternal, indestructible kind of life begins now.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 4:1-8; 16-18 (day two)
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” vs. 3
I’m not sure Paul had Facebook in mind when he was writing to Timothy, but I’m fairly certain this scripture manifests itself daily on my newsfeed. Angry, confused, and frightened people all seeking some sort of validation for how they feel or what they believe. Without fail I see posts from satirical or even bogus news sites. People glom onto these reports with venom. They find a kernel that justifies their position and they never stop to consider if what they are reading and, worse, disseminating, is true.
When our source of validation is anywhere but the Word of God we will be like these people. Stay strong.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 1:6-14; 2:1-15 (day seven)
The Pastor will be taking a couple days off from posts on the blog. We will pick back up with Aaron Hufty’s post on Tuesday, November 25.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 1:6-14; 2:1-15 (day six)
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.”—2 Timothy 1:6.
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”–Samuel Ullmer.
I am surprised that this is said to a young man. Shouldn’t be. Young and old face the same temptation, do the right thing but without enthusiasm or passion. Paul’s picture is of a fire that is allowed to gradually die. Starts out strong. Then it flickers. Finally goes out completely. Because no one looked after it. Same with believers who do not fan themselves/their gifts into hot, enthusiastic flame. “ZEAL for thy house will consume me” says the Bible about Jesus. How can we not be like him?
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson. So true. So true.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 1:6-14; 2:1-15 (day five)
6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.
Paul uses the image of a farmer as a picture/example to teach Timothy (and us) lessons about the Christian Life. What is it about the farmer that helps us better understand that Christian Life? Hard Work? Yes! Certainly effort and energy are required. But consider Paul is also illustrating a blueprint for growth and strength in the relationship between God and each believer.
Jerry Bridges writes, “Farming is a joint venture between the farmer and God. The farmer cannot do what God must do (sunshine, germination, rain), and God will not do what the farmer should do (plow, fertilize). We can say just as accurately that the pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on His own part”.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 1:6-14; 2:1-15 (day four)
I am writing this today at 6500 ft. altitude. It gives you a very good perspective of the landscape. In our Re:Verse passage this week, Paul is sharing a higher perspective of life to Timothy. The believer views life differently than others. We have a spirit of power and love and discipline. There is also suffering to endure. We are involved in the affairs of God instead of the affairs world. Diligence is a valued quality. Paul admonishes Timothy to not only live life in the reality of God’s Word, but to teach others to do the same. A life well invested in the Word of God is a life well lived.
Re: Verse reading–2 Timothy 1:6-14; 2:1-15 (day three)
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” John Ortberg writes:
Somebody once asked Dallas Willard if he believed in total depravity.
“I believe in sufficient depravity,” he responded immediately.
“I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, ‘I merited this.’”
Depravity is the denial of our finiteness. We claim to be self-validating, unaccountable to anyone. We say, “I am who I am”—a crude counterfeit of the great I AM. Ask yourself: Would you want to be at the mercy of a god like you? Be honest. Then get to know Christ. You’ll see the God you’re really at the mercy of.