December 19 Zephaniah’s Double Feature

Photo by Nathan Ward

Photo by Nathan Ward

Zephaniah 1:1-3:20;  Revelation 10:1-11;  Psalm 138:1-8;  Proverbs 30:11-14

Destruction

“The great day of the Lord is near,

near and hastening fast;

The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;

the mighty man cries aloud there.

 A day of wrath is that day

a day of distress and anguish

a day of ruin and devastation,

a day of darkness and gloom

a day of clouds and thick darkness

a day of trumpet blast and battle

cry against the fortified cities

and against the lofty battlements.

I will bring distress on mankind

so that they shall walk like the blind,

because they have sinned against the Lord,

their blood shall be poured out like dust,

and their flesh like dung.

Neither their silver nor their gold

shall be able to deliver them

on the day of the wrath of the Lord.

In the fire of his jealousy,

all the earth shall be consumed,

for a full and sudden end

he will make of all the inhabitants

of the earth.”

Zephaniah 1:14-18

Delight

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion

shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exalt with all your heart,

O daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;

he has cleared away your enemies.

The King of Israel, the Lord,

is in your midst,

you shall never again fear evil.

Fear not, O Zion;

let not your hands grow weak.

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you with his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah 3:14-17

O Lord God, it is hard to read words of judgement and destruction.  Yet such words were and still are meant to turn unbelieving hearts back to you.  You desire that all men be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth–that ‘delight’ is your middle name and that you want to be able to sing joyously over all those who believe in you.   Thank you, Father, for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to do battle with sin, death and the devil on the Cross–thank you for His victory!  We need fear no more evil-it has no hold on us.  Grant that during this season of Advent we may be bright, bold Truth bearers of your message of hope and salvation through the Babe of Bethlehem.  It’s in His name we pray, Amen.

December 18 Habakkuk’s Hug

Photo by Stacey Lewis

Photo by Stacey Lewis

Habakkuk 1:1-3:19;  Revelation 9:1-21;  Psalm 137:1-9;  Proverbs 30:10

Need a hug?

God’s people sure did.  They were scared.  They knew what was coming as a result of God’s judgement on their sin.  Babylon was knocking on their door.

Yes, they had messed up, but God in His love and compassion sent a “hugger” in their midst to tell them not to lose heart–or hope.

Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet and one of my favorites, means “embracer”–one who embraces another to give comfort and assurance.

Habakkuk prays:

“Lord, I have heard of your fame:  I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.  Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”  3:2

Habakkuk professes:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength;  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”  3:17-19

Habakkuk hugs.

God hugs and wraps His arms around us with His Word of hope and promise.

O Lord, as we wait for your return keep us faithful; keep us strong in You no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter what troubles surround us or dangers we encounter because we still live in a fallen world.  O Lord, we praise your ways that are eternal–your mercy and compassion; your justice and faithfulness; your redeeming love shown to us through your Son, Jesus Christ.  We eagerly await your return!  Come Lord, Jesus!  In your name we pray, Amen.

December 17 Remembering We’re Remembered

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Nahum 1:1-3:19;  Revelation 8:1-13;  Psalm 136:1-26;  Proverbs 30:7-9

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

“It is He who remembered us in our low estate,

for His love endures forever;

and rescued us from our foes,

for His love endures forever;

He gives food to all flesh,

for His love endures forever.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven

for His steadfast love endures forever.”

Psalm 136:1-3, 23-26

* * * *

Feeling forgotten?

Cut off?

Cut out?

Cut away

from the fabric of family fellowship?

Hurtful words,

harsh judgements,

harassment and harangue.

Sin rears its ugly head

in our words and actions

and separates us from

those we love,

separates us from our God as well,

till it seems that there is little hope,

little chance of peace.

In this Advent season,

this waiting time,

this quiet time

remember Him

who remembered us

and didn’t turn His back.

Remember His enduring love,

wonders He performed.

Healed the blind,

made well the sick,

even raised the dead.

He Himself remembered us

when mocked and flogged

before Pilate stood

remembering why

His body hurt

and why He was headed

to the Cross.

His love endures forever!

He remembers us,

reminds us now

that

He loves.

He forgives.

He heals.

He brings peace.

Jesus IS our peace.

He remembers us!

Lord God, what amazing love–you remembered us though there was nothing in us to draw us to you–no dazzling merit, no shining works, nothing.  Thank you for remembering us, for saving us, for redeeming us from all our foes.  Keep us safe in You as we wait for your coming again into the world to claim us as your own.  May we remember you and give you all our thanks and praise!  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

December 16 What Shall We Bring Him?

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Micah 5:1-7:20;   Revelation 7:1-17;  Psalm 135:1-21;  Proverbs 30:5-6

“With what shall I come before the Lord and blow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I offer my first-born for my transgressions,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

***

“He has showed you, O man, what is good!

And what does the Lord require of you

but

to do justice,

and to love kindness

and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:6-8

Wow!  What if we had to add the Lord God Almighty to our Christmas shopping list?  What does someone who owns everything in the entire world want?

Pretty simple.

He wants our hearts.

Wholly devoted to Him.

Trusting Him.

Loving Him above all else.

Showing merciful kindness to those around us.

Recognizing that we ourselves are without the resources to love Him as He desires to be loved and worshiped and adored.

Humbling acknowledging our need for the Savior who came down from Heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Lord God, you showed us Your Heart through Your Son, Jesus Christ–may we, through faith, give you ours.  May we act justly, love kindness (and show it) and walk humbly with you.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

December 15 Cajillions

Image by Sandara Lee

Image by Sandara Lee

Jonah 1:1-4:11;  Revelation 5:1-14;  Psalm 133:1-3;  Proverbs 29:26-27

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive

power and wealth and wisdom

and might and honor and glory

and blessing!”

And,

I heard every creature in heaven and on earth

and under the earth

and in the sea and all that is in them saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb,

be blessing and honor and glory and might

forever and ever!”

And,

the four living creatures said, “Amen!”

and the elders fell down

and worshiped.”

Revelation 5:11-14

Myriads of myriads!  I learned that myriads means ‘millions.’

Millions and thousands and thousands and millions–Angels, ALL in agreement, ALL in ONE voice declaring that ONLY Jesus Christ-the Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive  all that mankind covets–wealth, power, prestige, honor ,glory, wisdom.

And then we hear or see an ad on TV or in a magazine that throws out the phrase “because you’re worth it.”  Really?????  What have we done compared to Christ who gave His life for us on the Cross so that our sins might be forgiven and forever forgotten by our Heavenly Father?

Yet in God’s eyes, because of Jesus, we are worth it–Because of Jesus He’s opened the gates to Heaven to all who believe on His Name.  His love for us and what His Son has done for us makes it all so worth it.

So one day we will be among the cajillions of voices praising the Lamb in Heaven!  And even now, as we worship our voices join with theirs:

“Holy, holy, holy

Lord, God of Sabaoth,

adored;

Heav’n and earth with

full acclaim

shout the glory

of  Your name.

Sing hosanna in the highest,

sing hosanna to the Lord;

Truly blest is He who comes

in the name of the Lord! Amen.”

~Sanctus

December 13 24/7 Worship and Praise

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photos by Laura Jostes

Obadiah 1:1-21;  Revelation 4:1-11;  Psalm 132:1-18;  Proverbs 29:24-25

“And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:  the first living creature like a lion, the second…like an ox, the third with the face of a man, the fourth like an eagle in flight…they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory

and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne,

who lives forever and ever,

the twenty four elders fall down before Him…

they cast their crowns before the throne saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created!”

Revelation 4:6-11

IMG_0168

*******

Our Lord puts songs of praise into our hearts

and unites us with these Heavenly 

Holy,

Holy,

Holies

even when feelings overwhelm

Holy, holy, holy”

when sorrow hovers

“Holy, holy, holy”

when doubts creep in

Holy, holy, holy.”

Jesus’ blood,

given and shed for us

ushers in

Holy, holy, holy,

Revelation hymns

of praise!

IMG_0106

Lord God, Praise your holy name!  Praise you Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  Praise you for your glory shown to us in the Babe of Bethlehem, in the Cross of Calvary, in the Empty Tomb, in your perfectly preserved Word that continues to speak your Truth to the Nations!  May we all fall down in worship and praise along with the company of Heaven.  May we join in the 24/7 hymns of praise!  For Jesus’ sake, Amen!

“Holy, holy, holy

All the saints adore thee

Casting down their golden crowns

Around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim

Falling down before thee,

Which were and are

And evermore will be!”

~Reginald Heber

December 12 Feeling Small?

Image by Domonic Webster

Image by Domonic Webster

Amos 7:1-9:15;  Revelation 3:7-22;  Psalm 131:1-3;  Proverbs 29:23

” I know your works.  Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.  I know you have little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon.  Hold fast what you have, so that no one can seize your crown.

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.”

Revelation 3:8,10-12

*****

Feeling small in the kingdom of God?

No big hat to wear?

No podium to shake?

~

Our Lord sees

your small seed

of faith.

It’s roots grow

deep.

~

He sees you standing firm,

saying “yes” to Him

and

“no”

to all else.

~

He sees you serve

a friend in need,

a stranger in the aisle.

~

He’s got just the place

for you,

when Kingdom time arrives.

You’ll stand strong,

and proud,

and tall,

His name emblazoned

on your chest

and a crown

upon

your brow.

Lord God, again you speak to us, just as you spoke to the church in Philadelphia with words of love and encouragement.  Times were tough for them.  They were not seen as a Christian “power house”.  In your eyes, though, their faithful presence was enough.  They believed in you and trusted you–in the face a of great opposition.  Thank you for encouraging them to stand firm, hold onto their crowns and hold on to YOU!  May we be encouraged by the same!  Thank you Lord Jesus! In your name we pray, Amen.