2 Peter 1:5-8

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

from The Dance of Life by Henri Nouwen (2005)

listen

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7-19

think

When Paul wrote this letter, he was in prison, awaiting trial by the Romans that would most likely end with his death. This does not sound like a time to be giving thanks. Paul could have been lamenting, but he instead writes a letter to all of his friends and followers and offers them words of thanks. In this moment of great suffering, Paul celebrates.

When all seems hopeless, who is the first person that you would reach out to? When you reach out to them, would it be with lamenting or with thanksgiving?

In my home, before our children go to bed most nights, we pray together by sharing the good and the not-so-good moments of our day. We mention both, because even the not-so-good moments are still shaping us into becoming fully-formed people of God.

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he taught them and us how to face adversity. May we all follow Paul’s lead and learn to be thankful for the good and not-so-good moments of our days, so that we may find the peace of God in all things.

Becky Caswell-Speight

 

pray

God, when life seems to be at it darkest, remind me to give thanks. Move me beyond the dire and into a time of remembering the people that have helped me through. Help me to use the good and the not-so-good moments of my life as examples to encourage others as I have been encouraged. Amen.

go

You Go now.

Move from a place of hiding.

Seek kindness and there you will find the face of God in every person you meet.

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place;
[Jesus] comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace –
No work too hard for him. In faith receive from him.
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

from “Be Still, for the Presence of the Lord” by David J. Evans (1986)

listen

Shepherd of Israel, listen! You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep. You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures. Show yourself before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! Wake up your power! Come to save us! Restore us, God! Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

Psalm 80:1-3

think

They were exhausted, hungry, in desperate need of a shower, and completely fired up! For 36 hours they had waited in line to buy tickets to the concert, and even with that they were a good twenty back from the front of the line. For some, the choice to spend 36 hours out in the cold to see someone in concert seems completely ridiculous. Why would you endure sleep deprivation, bad food, and inclement weather for a concert? Because some things are not only worth waiting for, they are worth sacrificing for. And for some fans, the preparing, the waiting, and the anticipating are all part of the experience.

God’s holy people waited a long time for God to “come to save us!” In the meantime, there was great struggle and much sacrifice. Yet amidst it all there was incredible faithfulness. The people of God faithfully learned how to live and, even more importantly, how to love in the preparing. Waiting is not easy for most of us, yet if we see it as an opportunity for blessing, we too will find love in the preparing.

Brian Prior

pray

Loving God, prepare me this day for the walk with you, which often calls for much waiting. Please give me strength and patience for the journey. Amen.

go

My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

For this day, I know I am a beloved child of God.

Read more

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pause

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place;
[Jesus] comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace –
No work too hard for him. In faith receive from him.
Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

from “Be Still, for the Presence of the Lord” by David J. Evans (1986)

listen

When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

Luke 1:28-33

think

This was the day for which she felt like she had waited an eternity. The anticipation was so great, she had not slept at all the night before. Surrounded by her parents and her siblings she paced throughout the room, all the while rotating between texting and looking at the clock. The moment the clock reached the designated time she quickly logged in as instructed and waited. “Why is our internet so slow?!” she demanded. And then there it was, the letter announcing her acceptance into the college of her dreams! And now everyone was screaming and jumping and hugging and screaming.

Whether it’s anticipated or comes completely by surprise, learning about something that will impact our lives is often transformational.

Mary was clearly initially perplexed, yet she was also open as she pondered the possibilities of what this message meant for her. As we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child, how might we open ourselves to hear something about the next adventure to which God is calling us?

Brian Prior

pray

Loving God, prepare me this day to open my ears that I may hear you, open my heart that I may love you, open my hands that I may serve you. Amen.

go

My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

For this day, I know I am a beloved child of God.

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

from The Dance of Life by Henri Nouwen (2005)

listen

“God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.” You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation.

Isaiah 12:2-3

think

What chore do you hate to do? Scrubbing the toilets? Vacuuming the stairs? In my house the chore that gets the most grumbles is doing the dishes. I think it’s because the dishes need to be washed and put up every day. The job is never actually complete.

In today’s scripture, that mundane, boring, grumbly chore would have probably been drawing water from the well. It was hot. Carrying the water was a heavy, hard job. It was a task that had to be done every day. The water jugs were never completely full.

And this is where the scripture decides to dive in. You will do this chore with joy from the springs of salvation?

Isaiah reminds us that God’s work can sometimes be mundane and even painful. But with God’s work there is always a reward to be had; for with God’s work, there is a spring that never runs dry. Let’s step up to the spring and begin doing the life-giving work that we all have been called to do.

Becky Caswell-Speight

pray

Giver of all good water, what chores need to be done? How can I draw from the Spring of Life? Move me from grumbling to joyfully sharing with the world. Amen.

go

Go now.

Move from a place of hiding.

Seek kindness and there you will find the face of God in every person you meet.

Read more

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

from “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant & Chris Eaton (1992)

listen

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering.

Malachi 3:2-3

think

The process of purification is difficult. Refining anything takes time and a lot of energy. Cleaning what is dirty is not always easy. With each one of these examples, there is a process which means you need to start at the beginning to get a successful outcome.

While the Bible has all sorts of imagery that doesn’t always make sense, it seems like this verse helps to remind us that we are all in process and changing. In the process of refining, we separate what we need from what is no longer needed.

You may have picked up a habit or a frame of mind or even a friend that is not helping you move forward. This may be holding you back from being who you know God wants you to be. Now what? Where do you need to start separating what is no longer needed? How can you start the refining process today?

Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks

pray

Refiner of us all, thank you for sticking with me through my process of becoming. May this Advent push me forward as I prepare for your light, made flesh in this world. Amen.

go

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

from “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant & Chris Eaton (1992)

Read more

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pause

This is only the beginning.

God is up to something amazing in you.

Wait for it.

listen

“Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.”

Luke 21:34-36

think

The most basic trap consists of two things: (1) a container and (2) the bait. The trap works because the bait is so easy to see, while the container is hard to see at all.

Towards the end of Jesus’ teaching in the temple, Luke’s gospel reports that Jesus warned his hearers of a kind trap. It’s the kind of trap that would be a surprise to those who were drunk, hungover, and worried. He predicted that they would take the bait and be caught off guard by what would happen.

It may seem like the bait that is all around us is no big deal and harmless, when in actuality, it’s the bait that keeps us from seeing what is really happening. Instead of falling for the trap today, we can look for the real thing — God’s will and way. Even if it looks like we’re missing out, when we look for God in hope, we won’t miss what Jesus has done and is doing all around us.

Tasha Gibson

pray

All-Wise God, thank you for showing me the traps around me. Please help me keep my eyes on you instead. Through Christ our Lord, amen.

go

This is not the end.

God is up to something wonderful in the world.

Watch for it.

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Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

This is only the beginning.

God is up to something amazing in you.

Wait for it.

listen

Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near. I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until everything has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away."

Luke 21:29-33

think

Sometimes it is hard to know just how close we are to something. Tracking a package, a flight, or a phone’s location can often tell us where something is, but not always exactly when it will come to us. Unexpected things can happen that interrupt the path, delay the arrival, or change the destination altogether.

Jesus tells his hearers in the gospel according to Luke that trees are kind of like trackers. Just like trees track how soon summer will arrive, so too, Jesus says, things will happen to show that something else is changing too. Particularly, Jesus says that we can track the coming of the Kingdom of God by things we see.

We can’t get email notifications, text updates, or follow a dot on a map to tell us how close God’s Kingdom is to us today. However, we can believe that God’s Kingdom is coming to us and is near. Look out for God. God’s Kingdom, a Kingdom of love, may be closer than you think.

Tasha Gibson

pray

God of Grace, thank you that you, by the Spirit, are on the move in the world. Open my eyes that I might see you all around me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

go

This is not the end.

God is up to something wonderful in the world.

Watch for it.

Read more