Advent Daily Devotion

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Advent Daily Devotion Dec 8

December 8

Living with Expectance~ By Rev. Isam Ballenger

"Do not ignore this one face, beloved of God, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord does not delay his promise (to return), as some think, but is forbearing towards us, not willing for any perish, rather all come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3: 8-9

The early Christians were adventists, that is, they lived with expectancy.  Their sacred writings told of the return of Jesus, the Christ, and they expected this divine intervention to be soon.  How easy, how frequent are our conclusions confusions and our conceptions deceptions.  It happens when we draw our circles to small when our well-formed ideas impede the possibility of surprise, the unexpected, wonder (as when Jesus was born in Bethlehem).

The writer of our text asks the reader to reflect upon Psalm 90:4, to consider that God's time encloses all of our time and beyond.  History is revelation and opportunity, an Eternal Now.  It was good that those early believers were not satisfied with the "already" of their encounter with Jesus.  They awaited the "not yet."  But they erred in their fixation on finality and resultant neglect of immediacy.  The time they had was a sign of God's forbearance, an opportunity for proclamation and witness.  They just might have a new experience with their resurrected Lord.

Let us, therefore, maintain the vitality of hope for a new heaven and new earth as the final goal of history (3:13), not surrendering a watchfulness that awaits the coming of Jesus in surprising ways.  Let us be grateful for the "already" comings of Jesus in the past (Bethlehem, Baptism, Confirmation, Communions) vigilant for the "not yet" comings (the neighbor, the stranger, the refugee, the child, the prisoner, the homeless, the congregation, the proclamation, meditation).

The biblical letter concludes:  "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  Exactly!

Advent Daily Devotion Dec 9

December 9 

Take a Chance ~ By Steve Jarvis

But immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

As the Advent Season continues, we're reminded that God, through his Son Jesus, experienced life as we do, and faced the same challenges as us-- like being afraid.  "Do not be afraid" is a common passage in the Bible, like in Mark 6: 48-50, where the disciples were frightened as they floundered in a small boat on a stormy lake.  They called out to Jesus for help, and he walked out to them and said "Take courage!  It is I.  Do not be afraid."  In Isaiah 41: 10, God tells us not to be afraid and that "I will strengthen you and help you" if we ask.  Does this provide comfort to you?

If you're like me, you often question your abilities and avoid taking chances because of fear of failing, embarrassment or being hurt.  Choosing not to try because of "fear of failing" is rooted in self-centeredness or pride, which is a sin.  Is this a problem for you, like me?  Then turn to God for strength.  The Good News is that Jesus, My Strength, My Hope, is here to help us all!

Remember, even Jesus had moments of doubt and seemed to be afraid to die as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Take heart, we're only human!  Jesus will help us overcome our fears if we ask him, and allow us to try... and try again... and eventually, succeed or be comforted in our failure.

the Advent season is the perfect time to overcome your fear and try something new, like serving at the Soup Kitchen, visiting "shut-ins", or mending broken relationships.  What about starting a family, buying a house or switching careers?  Scary, aren't they?  Will you take a chance this holiday season? Jesus, our Emmanuel, will be with us every step of the way... if we ask HIM!

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you command us not to be afraid.  I ask for the absence of fear in my mind, my heart, my soul, my thoughts, and my words.  I ask for the ability to remember your power and faithfulness in moments of fear.  Strengthen me, O Lord, for you are my rock and my salvation.  As you promised us in Mark 6: 50, please help me when I'm worried or concerned, In Jesus' Name.