Prepared?

We’re going out of town. There’s so much to do: a little car maintenance, hold mail, pack, clean, repack, check the weather, find the tire chains, pack again. And drive.

All this work for a few days to be with family. So worth it.

By the time you read this, all this preparation and experience will be completed. But there is always something to prepare for and experience.

Christmas is coming. There’s so much to do: a little heart maintenance, hold back, decorate, clean, redecorate, check the calendar, find the Advent wreath, decorate again. And shop.

All this work for a few days to be with family. Again, so worth it.

As we approach the Christmas season, take some time to prepare. Remember that Christ has come, and will come again. Reread the Christmas Story, the Prophesies, the Expectation, the Fulfillment, the Excitement. Pause.

Don’t let the world’s plans take Christ’s place in your heart. Make room for Him. One way we try to do this is by joining in the season of Advent. We take some time in the dark of the evening to light a candle, read the scriptures, and pray.

There are many useful Advent devotionals—some short, some long—all designed to help us prepare as we look back to Jesus’ first coming and look forward to Jesus’ second coming.

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. [The Book of Common Prayer, The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day]

How will your “heart prepare Him room” this year?

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Are You Thrilled?

My favorite church service of the year is coming up. It is such an encouraging time together. We gather together to share what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. Let me share Psalm 92 to get the thankfulness flowing.

A psalm A song to be sung on the Sabbath Day.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High.

It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by the harp and lute and the melody of the lyre.

You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” (vv. 1-4 NLT)

Matthew Henry writes this about Psalm 92: “It is a privilege that we are admitted to praise the Lord, and hope to be accepted in the morning, and every night; not only on sabbath days, but every day; not only in public, but in private, and in our families. Let us give thanks every morning for the mercies of the night, and every night for the mercies of the day; going out, and coming in, let us bless God.”

Are there times when you don’t recognize God’s blessing and mercy? How about when you recognize it but it still doesn’t grip you, not for long anyway. That happens to me and it frustrates me. “God, you just knocked my socks off, and I’m still not full of joy!” Those are the times I need to really look at my heart. What’s in the way? Is there something I need to turn over to Him? Where else do I need to give thanks?

I sometimes think that our Combined Thanksgiving Service isn’t long enough.

If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. (Psalm 40:5b NLT)

I guess I’m right. And thrilled.

Remember When…?

Who doesn’t love to reminisce, thinking about the “good ol’ days”? I know our kids enjoy hearing about our childhood. Just the other night, they were begging Grandpa to tell more stories (garbage truck, his kids, him as a kid). It reminds me that although we have our own stories, we’re not that different from each other.

We all have times when we were foolish, put ourselves in harm’s way, and had been protected and “survived”. We may even have the scars to prove it.

Have you heard the expression “hindsight is 20/20”? We think we can see the past perfectly, almost. In the moment, it can seem all is lost. But later on, we can see that the Lord had His hand in it.

Recently there have been many difficult situations that can cause us to worry and not trust. Cause us to yearn for simpler times, better times, earlier times. I was reminded of this as I heard a song the other day. Here’s the chorus to a song by Chris Rice, “8th Grade“:

Why does the past always seem safer?
Maybe because at least we know we made it
And why do we worry about the future?
When every day will come just the way the Lord ordained it

God was in it. God is in it. David remembered that too.

“I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.” Psalm 143:4–6 NLT

Reach to God. Rest in Him. Then at a later time, you’ll be able to once again “remember when” and recount how God was in it, again.