Thankfully, Calvin has not reached the age of waking us up at the wee hours of the morning for Christmas. Although he enjoyed opening a few gifts last night, he has no idea what’s in store for him today, on Christmas.
Also, forgive me for not keeping to my daily post as I said I would. Thankfully, we sold my desk this week, but that means my whole “creative space” is in disarray, including my laptop which I prefer to do my blog posts on. The charger is lost in the haphazard space, and my computer is officially dead. Suffice it to say, I’m typing this on my iPad. It will have to do.
To make up for not fulfilling my promises (so unlike God who always fulfills his promises), here is a Christmas encouragement going through the other parts of my devotional reading for the advent season. I’ll recap Deuteronomy 6 to start us off:
Deuteronomy 6 – Love – Focus Verse: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Verse 5)
Reading the whole chapter gives us light into why we should love the Lord with all of ourselves and prepares us to tell it to our children. We shall love God because of things he has done and that he is going to do. Throughout the Old Testament, God brought our people to safety through his miracles. We, being on the other side of the crucifixion, also have Christ Jesus to cleanse us from even spiritual sin. The chapter also tells us we shall love he LORD so that it will go well with you.
Psalm 39 – Hope – Focus Verse: “And now, O LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Verse 7)
This verse is so nicely snug in the middle of a Psalm where our writer is mostly stressed out. He is eager to speak his mind but knows it would neither be beneficial nor productive for anyone if he were to lash out in anger. But the turmoil within him is so great, he’s asking God when will he finally die. Many of us (myself included) have felt this way recently this year. How does the Psalm call us to respond? To paraphrase: “Take away my sin. Do not let idiots have the upper hand. I will keep quiet because the LORD will take care.” Let the turmoil in your heart go. Give it to the LORD who knows all things and has a good end for you.
John 20 – Christ – Focus Verse: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Verse 31)
The things “written” prior to this are John’s account of Jesus’ life, his words, his deeds, his miracles, his death, and his resurrection. In this chapter, we specifically hear about Jesus rising from the dead and meeting with his disciples, saying three times, “Peace be with you.” We also come to the story of the doubting Thomas who would not believe his friends until he actually touched the Lord. Jesus’ reply, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” Christ is the son of God! He died and rose again to destroy the old curse and make death no more! There is only life for his faithful ones.
1 Corinthians 14 – Peace – Focus Verse: “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace…” (verse 33)
This is an interesting chapter to throw into the mix. It’s Paul giving specific instructions about prophesying and speaking in tongues, neither of which I practice as part of my faith. At first, I was like why don’t we do this more in my church, but after closer inspection, it’s a good thing we don’t. There are very specific instructions for these gifts that have to be followed and Scripture suggests we not do them unless these instructions are fully followed. Most of all, anything done in the church should be for the building up of others – not ourselves. And there, stuck in the middle of the chapter is verse 33 which I believe is the most important for this Advent season. If there is anything I am taking away from conversations with friends and family, it is how everything seems so confusing in our world. Take away from verse 33 this truth: God desires peace and he has a grand plan to make sure ultimate peace is upon the earth in the end. We cannot know his ways for he is so great, but he promises to bring peace into our life . We must remain faithful to him.
James 1 – Joy – Focus Verse: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds… (verse 2)
I think James should be a regular “go to” book when you don’t know what to read. It is full of encouragement and practical application. I mean, verse 2 is how the letter begins. What an introduction! There are so many great points made in this one chapter that I could not summarize it well enough. However, joy has not been the easiest for me to experience this Advent season. Because the majority of people view Christmas very differently from me, I find it very hard to deal with most years. This year, my pregnancy hormones are making it 10 times worse – at least, I hope it’s the hormones. But every morning, I’ve read this verse and passage, and I’ve found joy in the great love of my Lord and Savior and the small things: Calvin’s experiences, time with family, Brad’s home for two weeks, my desk sold, and Dottie comes to us in just over two months. I may not feel the joy, but the reality is… It’s all around, praise be to God, and the inner trials I’m experiencing are only going to make me more holy.
There has been so much to glean from these passages. I hope and pray this Christmas is enlightening for everyone, opening our eyes to the grace of God.
Earlier this month, Calvin did his first finger paintings:
Merry Christmas! – from A B C (and D) Majzner