November 29 – December 5, 2016

WORD

1Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.  2May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.  3May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.  4May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.  5May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.  6May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.  7In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

18Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.  19Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

We know a little about the need for rain in Dooly County right now.  All over the southeastern United States, drought conditions seem to grow more and more severe by the day.  It has been since Labor Day that we have had any substantial rainfall.  There have been some dark clouds and some faint drizzles today (Tuesday), but not much of anything substantial.  We need rain!

Imagine going through a months-long spiritual drought.  What if you went an extended period of time without experiencing communion with God?  What would it feel like?  How would you know you were in a spirit-deficit?  Would it feel any differently than what you feel in your soul now?

Hopefully you are experiencing the nourishing showers of God’s grace-filled presence daily.  But if you have been in a spiritual drought, Advent is a good time to come back out into the rain of living water.  Get drenched in God’s goodness.  Be filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God.

Look at the image above.  Imagine that the water in the picture is slowly filling your heart, mind, and soul with God’s love and presence.  Feel the drops of grace and mercy fall upon you one by one, slowly (but fully) filling you with peace.  Experience the transformation of the dry places within you as they change from dust to rich soil in which God can plant new beginnings.  Allow God to renew the waters of your baptism and recreate you with a flood of divine healing.  This Advent season may you experience the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:18).  Pray for rain – the rain of God’s mercy, goodness, and love – and expect an outpouring to come.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, November 29 – 1 Samuel 1
  • Wednesday, November 30 – 1 Samuel 2
  • Thursday, December 1 – 1 Samuel 3
  • Friday, December 2 – 1 Samuel 4
  • Saturday, December 3 – 1 Samuel 5
  • Sunday, December 4 – 1 Samuel 6
  • Monday, December 5 –  1 Samuel 7

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

I have always loved the moon.  The moon has been a symbol of God’s presence and love for me since I was a very young man.  Many songs and poems that I have written incorporate the imagery of the moon, often as a direct symbol of God.  Allow the moon to be a reminder for you to pray for peace.  I do not mean a simple freedom from conflict, though that is an aspect of peace.  I mean a broader vision of peace – not only freedom from conflict, but freedom from sin, greed, brokenness, and want.  Such a peace can only come from Jesus Christ.  No world leader or teacher or charismatic celebrity can bring what only the Christ child came to bring.  Ask God to bring this peace to us daily, as regularly and faithfully as God brings the moon.  Such peace will shine brightly even in the midst of our darkness and will lead us to the stable of the Lord.

Meditation Focus: May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

Throughout the Advent season we are usually careful to remember the poor, needy, and oppressed.  This year, as we did last year, the churches of Drayton and Byromville are sponsoring the residents of the local nursing home for Christmas.  We are buying shirts, pants, undergarments, socks, body wash, and such items for the residents.  Oftentimes we take such necessities for granted.  However, many of the residents at the nursing home do not have family to provide these essential items for them.  We have an opportunity to be family to them this Christmas and help provide these basic needs for them.

Often the elderly get overlooked in our society.  I am sure you know of a nursing home in your area.  Perhaps you live in the Dooly County area and know our local nursing facility in Byromville.  Wherever you are, though, imagine yourself walking through such a facility in your community.  Even if you do not know the exact layout of the facility, but only know what it looks like from the outside or know a resident or two, take a tour of the facility in your mind.  Invite Jesus to go with you.  You will undoubtedly find that Jesus is already there.  Go from room to room and pray for the residents.  Notice how Jesus stops at each resident, looks them in the eye, smiles, and blesses them.  Do the same.  Trust Jesus to fill you, little by little, with compassion for the elderly with every room and resident you visit.  As you finish your time of meditation, may your experience drive you to action in your community.  Ask God to lead you in discovering new ways to bless the elderly in your community.

Journaling Focus: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

What wondrous things has God done in your life?  How might God be preparing you for a new, wondrous experience of divine love and grace?  Take some time this week to dream godly dreams for your upcoming year.  Be sure to ask God what God’s dreams are for you and follow the divine lead.  Without fail, God’s dreams for us are bigger than our own dreams for ourselves.  Also, God’s dreams are founded upon proper perspective and priorities.  So ask God this open-ended question through your writing this week: “Father, what wondrous things are you preparing for me in the coming days, weeks, and year?”  End your time of writing by blessing and praising God for the wondrous faithfulness God has shown you in the past.  Write a new song, poem, or hymn of praise and remembrance.  Then, sing it out or recite it throughout the week!

Breath Prayer: Father, prepare us for your peace.

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