BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:…” “I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
(Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7a, Psalm 40:1)
I recently stumbled upon an old post I had written on my own personal blog page dated back to December, 2016. It reminded me of something God had showed me at that time. And even though Advent season and Christmas of 2021 is just a memory, this was a timely reminder for me and I’d like to share it with you.
As you may remember from a previous post here, I mentioned that I love celebrating the Advent season; the time of waiting, watching and anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth. I love the Christmas season and all its “trappings.” I always try to get my shopping done early so I can enjoy the season. I love relaxing at home on a cold winter’s night, enjoying the lights on my tree, reflecting on what this season means spiritually and watching Christmas movies that have happy endings. I love happy endings!!
The Christmas season, too, has a happy ending. All our anticipating, waiting and watching culminates in the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior, the One who has come to save us from our sin and from ourselves. He comes with a promise and it’s because we know that, that our season of waiting is so full of joyful anticipation – we know that our hope will be fulfilled! We know the answer! We know that what (who) we’re waiting for has come.
What God showed me all those years ago focused on all the other waiting periods in my life; other periods of anticipation, watching and waiting. I think most of you are like me in the sense that there are things you have been praying for and waiting for for a very long time and you long, truly long to see God move in answering those prayers. Whether it’s for a loved one’s salvation, a healing, a prodigal child, a promised promotion or raise, deliverance from a besetting sin, or whatever it may be, we continue to cry out to God and wait for His intervention. Sometimes we pray with hope in our heart and trust that God hears and will answer, but sometimes we cry out in frustration wondering why God seemingly doesn’t hear or care about our pleadings. We wait, but not always with the confidence that what we wait and hope for will be fulfilled.
What if we embraced the answer to our prayer like it was a done deal and began to live in Advent (a waiting season; a season of preparation) of this promise?
What if we could wait in joyful expectation, just as we do at Christmas time, anticipating, waiting and watching, believing the promise is in our future?
What if we could just enjoy the “trappings” of this “season” right where we are at?
Enjoy what God is doing in our heart as a result of this time of waiting?
Enjoy the “lights,” the “music,” the “decorations,” God is “putting up” in our heart during this, our personal “Advent” season?
Jeff Goins asks it so well – “What if we fell in love with the in-between times, relishing instead of resenting them?”
What if God isn’t “preparing” us for anything other than this very moment?
Scripture tells me that God hears and answers my prayers, therefore I need to live in the assurance that His Word is true and wait in joyfulness, anticipating how and when He is going to move! But in that anticipation, I believe God is doing something in me, too.
When we are in a state of waiting, God is moving!! He’s at work in our heart; what if we embraced what He is doing right now even when we can’t see it? What if we just believe it?
“Waiting is not always a bad thing; it can bring its own joy – the thrill of anticipation.” David Jeremiah
Just as our hearts are filled with anticipation during the Advent season, we need to embrace the waiting in our own personal advent with anticipation and expectancy in our hearts and the wonderment of how and when God will answer our prayers!
Because, surely He will!
But what if we find the answer was in the journey all along?
BY MARY SPENCE
Living in a pandemic has changed me. This is hard; so hard. We are tired. Tired of quarantines and stuff being out of stock, and paying twice the price for everything. Worried about loved ones and friends who are struggling to fight off the loneliness and depression. Learning to do everything in a new way. Like remote doctors visits. I can say for myself this is a time like none other I have ever lived through. It is hard, isn't it? Wondering if it's safe to go. Wondering if it's ok to stay away. We are stuck in this world but not of it. Surrounded by fear, division and hatred. Feeling frustrated and worried?
Take a deep breath...
I know that fear is a symptom of unbelief. I also know that His Word says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
So l push through. Tell myself it's going to be ok. Try to trust in God's timing and His perfect plan. Trust on His grace and pray for His will. Even though it might be different than mine. What is the cure for a pandemic? Grace, God's peace, and Prayer. “Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'" (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
After all, we are not called to have all the answers. We are just called to be focused on Him, make Him our number one priority and He will do the rest. So what are we to do while we wait? How can we be used by Him through all of this?
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)
Our job is to pray. To reach out to others in distress. To offer a helping hand when someone else is in need.. As hard as it is for us as believers, just imagine how this feels to those who do not know Jesus. So take hope brothers and sisters. Even in these darkest days there is light. Be the light that causes others to see Jesus and believe.
Living in this pandemic has changed me. I look AT people when I talk to them now instead of past them. I listen to their words more closely now (mostly to hear through the mask). I watch what their body is saying in addition to their words. I am a much better friend since this pandemic has made me realize how delicate our hold on life really is. I have learned to treasure my time with my friends because I have seen how fast it can be gone. I have even seen that we can live without the "essentials" like toilet paper. My perspective on what is essential has changed. Yes, living in a pandemic has changed me.
Prayer: Father God. Help us to be strong in you. Show us the way when we are lost. Give us rest when we are tired. Cover us in your peace and protection. We thank you for your everlasting love and for the grace that you extend to each of us. In your precious son's name. Amen.
BY MARTHA CHEVALIER
"Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart"
Arriving home from school one day, years ago, my mom hollered out towards me, “they have arrived, your package is finally here!” I had ordered my first 3-pound package of live bees. My wish to tend a hive of honeybees was coming true, and I was scared! Simply put, I was afraid of bees. And now I had about 10,000 of then to deposit into the hive I had built with the help of my father and brothers. Truth be told, through the years that followed, I loved keeping bees. I most especially loved extracting the honey. Sticky, sweet and such a beautiful golden color. I loved the taste, the joy of filling up clear glass jars, and sharing my bees honey with family, friends, and neighbors. It’s been many years since I kept bees, but I literally still swoon when I spot the first wild honeybees stirring in the warm days of early spring.
Perhaps that’s why Psalm 19 remains one of my favorite verses of scripture.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:7-10
God’s word is perfect, it revives us. It makes us wise. It causes us to be jubilant, filling our hearts with joy. His word enlightens and reveals hidden things we didn’t know. (Jer 33:3) Jesus reveals himself in His word. He is God incarnate. (John 1:14) He is our warm, fresh daily bread. His words are more precious than gold, they are sweeter than honey.
Recently I had the honor of teaching a small group of adult learners basic Bible knowledge. These dear people were not in any way, shape, or form Christ followers. They were adherents to alternative lifestyles. Interestingly, they soaked it up, eager and attentive to learn what the Bible was all about. I told them about Jesus and honey and gold. What a privilege. What a joy.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8
BY JORDAN MAYER
"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."
As we begin a new year, I find myself back at the beginning of the story in the book of Genesis. Like Noah and the flood, Abraham and Isaac, or Moses and the Red Sea, the creation account is familiar territory. So familiar, that I often find it challenging to ”see" it with fresh eyes. Not that I doubt that God can still teach me something from it, rather it’s my own human mind that is prone to gloss over the words, passages, and details that I have so often read. And so, as I started to read the first chapter, I prayerfully endeavored to set aside my preconceived ideas and notions. To allow myself to be once again caught up in the beauty, majesty, and wonder of the creation account.
As I started to read, one thing in particular continued to draw my attention. It was the role of God speaking in creation. “And God said” is repeated on each day of creation. God speaks and what is once formless and void explodes into light and then sky and land and seas and plants and stars and sun and moon and swarms of living creatures. All of this, by the power of His Word. No struggling or straining, God simply says, “Let there be”, and there was.
And yet His Word doesn’t simply fashion the material world, it breathes life into the creation. This is described most vividly with the creation of man. He is fashioned from the dust of the earth, but it is God’s breath that brings him to life. And then something amazing hit me from a passage in 2 Timothy. “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). When God speaks, life is created. And the life-giving power of God’s spoken Word is also present in His written Word. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
When we open the pages of Scripture, we are not simply reading a book. We are reading the very words of Creator God. We are experiencing something living and active that has the power to change hearts and minds. The very best of books may entertain our minds, cheer our hearts, or give us some manner of wisdom to live by. But it is God’s Word, and God’s Word alone, that has the power to change lives for eternity. It reaches down to the very depths of our soul and points us to the one with the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
You see, God’s Word is Jesus! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). The same life He breathed into creation is the same life He offers us. It is the gift of eternal life. It is Jesus who can take what is formless and void and make it into something beautiful and full of life. So too it is Jesus who can take our bodies of death and declare us new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). New self (Ephesians 4:24). New birth (1 Peter 1:23). New life (Ephesians 2:5).