Monday - Week 4

Still Faithful

December 14, 2020 • Kelli

“This is what the Lord has done for me at the time when he has been gracious to me, to take away my disgrace among people.” -- Luke 1:25 I absolutely love a good comeback story. I am a forever champion of the underdog. Give me all the tissues because I will cry tears of joy alongside of you as you share your own story of Gods faithfulness in your life. Stories like this never get old to me. One of my favorite memories from the day my children and I moved into our new house is when I walked upstairs and found my son Ezra, in his new room pulling letters to change the message on his marquee box. He asked me how to spell "built" so my interest was naturally peeked at this point. He didn't let me see what he was spelling out until it was finished. When he called me into his new room, he proudly stood next to the window and pointed to his work of art which read, "God Built Us A House." Y'all. I cried. Right then and there. It was my eight-year-old son that connected the dots between our season of waiting and the promise fulfilled by God. As we continued to live in the home that reminded us of a disappointing season in our life, we prayed faith filled prayers as a family every single night. We knew the Lord would not leave us in that place and He had the perfect home for us when the timing was right. However, I was still so shocked, almost in disbelief when the day our house got a full price offer and this newly built home just a mile away from us went on the market. Same day. It's like I believed God could do it, but would He really do it for me? In Luke 1:6 we read about Zachariah and Elizabeth, a couple "righteous in the sight of God, following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly," who were very familiar with a long season of waiting. I have found myself asking the same question that Zachariah did in Luke 1:18 when he asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this?" Being that a real life angel was in his presence, I don't doubt he didn't believe this message of a son. Joy and gladness were on the away, but maybe, just maybe, he was afraid to hope again. Maybe he stopped praying those prayers. There was a consequence for his disbelief, but it did not keep God from fulfilling His promise. Whether he believed Him or not, God's good plan was not taken away from Zachariah. I'm so thankful that God is still faithful, even when we aren't. We serve a Promise Keeper. We see this all throughout the Bible, from beginning to end. The Lord kept His promise to Zachariah and Elizabeth, even in their old age, and He will keep His promise to you. God's promises will come to fruition on His terms and in His perfect timing, for our good. Not only did God bless Elizabeth with a baby of her own, He removed her disgrace (shame, loss of reputation or respect). This is a promise we have in Jesus today: through His death and resurrection, our sin and shame is removed. Shame keeps us away from God. We see this play out with Adam and Eve in the very first book of the Bible. His plan all along was to send us His Son, a real life hope for our desperate hearts. My prayer for you today is that you would not lose hope in the waiting. He is with you. He wipes away every tear. He will see you through. Jesus is our Hope when we feel hopeless. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.... -Kelli Week 4 Challenge: Before the busyness of Christmas takes over, commit to spending time each day this week with God. He is the reason we have something to celebrate this season! What better way to celebrate His coming than to spend time each day with Him, praising Him for His faithfulness, His covenant promises, and the gift of Jesus. Let your life be an expression of thankfulness for His faithfulness by committing to your relationship with Him.

Friday - Week 4

December 18, 2020

In the Old Testament, there was a season of time where a long awaited promise – a promise of a Savior, a promise of a salvation yet to come – seemed dormant and forgotten. There was a hush, a quiet from heaven for 400 years. For 400 years, there was no further prophetic word from God to His people concerning His promise of salvation. What would it look like? When would they see this word, this hope fulfilled? Life was lived, generations came and went, and I imagine some people wondered if God had forgotten about His promise. Or had they done something wrong? When might they see this promise fulfilled? What would it look like? God never forgot His Word concerning bringing hope and salvation to all people. He saw the end from the beginning and was ushering His promise to fulfillment. Then, on a seemingly normal day, and through ordinary people, the promise arrived. An angel visited a young girl named Mary and announced the promise God spoke hundreds of years earlier was being fulfilled. God began moving people and circumstances into place to show His Word would be fulfilled in full, exactly as He promised. Mary gave birth to this promise, and gave Him the name Jesus. On the night Jesus was born, God sent an angel to some shepherds in the field, filling the sky with the brightness of His glory and issuing a proclamation of awe and wonder and joy like the world had never heard, delivering this Good News that would bring great joy to all people: “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born…” --Luke 2:10-11 What makes it so beautiful is that this time, when God spoke to His people, He sent this Good News to ordinary people. This time, the promise did not come through a prophet or preacher. It came through a young girl. It was announced to simple shepherds. He broke through every barrier, every assumption, every boundary, every limitation. He was speaking to the shepherds, just as He was to every person who would one day hear: “Listen carefully.” This message is for you. He made it clear that the Good News of salvation had arrived: Jesus, the Savior of the world was born, and this Good News was meant for all people. With the arrival of Jesus, God fulfilled the covenant promise made hundreds of years earlier. It was what it looked like for a long-awaited promise to be fulfilled. A Savior, Jesus, who is Christ the Lord, was born to save us from our sin, to bring hope, to set things right between God and humanity. I wonder what promise God has spoken into your heart that you have wondered if you would ever see realized. Perhaps it feels quiet, maybe forgotten by God. God never speaks a promise that He doesn’t also intend to fulfill. We can know this: God is the Promise-Keeper. He will fulfill every promise, every word, every covenant He has made. Even now, where we are today, the best is still yet to come. There is a promise yet to be fulfilled. We continue to look forward with hope-filled expectation for the day when Jesus, our Savior, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, returns again and fulfills His final promise. Jesus, we are waiting here for you. “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!” -Andrea

Thursday - Week 4

December 17, 2020 • Jen

The birth of John the Baptist is a beautiful story because it shows, yet again, the mercy and kindness of God. An older couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, incapable of conceiving a child were given a promise by God that they would have a son of their own. Zechariah means “God has remembered again." Once again God we see God keep His word.  John would grow up to be used by God in a mighty way. He would proclaim to the people around him that the Messiah was on His way. His love for Jesus was bold and radical, and, eventually, he would lose his life for his faith and conviction. Zechariah lost his ability to speak during Elizabeth’s pregnancy, but at the birth of his son he regained his speech and immediately began to sing a song of praise to God. He sang of God’s goodness in keeping the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Zechariah’s name does not just refer to the fact that God kept His promise to this childless couple, but it reminded everyone that God keeps all of His promises, including the promise of a Redeemer.  It may seem like a lot of time had passed since the beginning of the covenant of grace until the day Jesus came, but God is not slow in what He does. His timing is perfect, His plan well thought out and meticulously executed. This plan included the birth of John and the preaching he would do to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus.  This is true for our lives as well. As we get close to celebrating the birth of Jesus, remember God is the great Promise Keeper. If He loved you enough to make and keep all the promises that would lead up to Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, we can be confident He will keep all the promises He has made to us. Do you recount and rely on the promises of God? He promises to forgive our sins and never forsake us. He promises nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-32). He promises to cause all things in our lives to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). He promises to give you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He promises to cause our faith to persevere to the end (Philippians 1:6), and He will never lose any who are His. He promises all of His people a resurrection unto life (John 3:16), and to come again and gather His people together to dwell in paradise forever. These promises are yours in Christ Jesus. You can count on them, because you can count on God (Psalm 33:4). Looking to Jesus, Jen

Wednesday - Week 4

December 16, 2020 • Kaitlyn

I love Christmas decorations: twinkly lights, poinsettias, garland twirled around a staircase. My mom has an incredible collection of nativity scenes from around the world she puts up all over her house every year. Each scene is made from different indigenous materials, reflects different cultures, and includes slightly different elements. But each scene includes Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus; and most of them depict these three important characters in the same way. Jesus is laying in some kind of little manger, Joseph is standing next to him, and Mary is kneeling over Jesus. That’s the image many of us have of Mary: quietly kneeling over her newborn, playing the role of the meek and mild mother. Mary’s song is anything but meek and mild. A young unmarried girl had been visited by an angel and given the most terrifying news: she would miraculously become pregnant. That she would bear the Messiah is amazing news, that she would likely face scorn and abandonment by her family and community is not. When Mary says, “I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word,” she said yes to a daunting assignment. Mary traveled to meet Zechariah and Elizabeth. Upon seeing Elizabeth and hearing her exuberant greeting, “blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:42), Mary responded with her own outburst of praise. She praised and rejoiced in God, declared that all generations would call her blessed, and described the character of the God who blessed her. He is mighty, holy, and merciful to those who fear Him. He has demonstrated His power by scattering the proud and arrogant, bringing the mighty down from their positions of power, and lifting up the lowly. He fed the hungry while sending those who hoard resources away empty-handed. He protected Israel, remembering His promise to Abraham and acting faithfully toward His people. Mary’s song is not a sweet Sunday school song. It is a powerful declaration of God’s character, a theological treatise full of Old Testament references, and a stunning proclamation of Jesus’ coming ministry. Many of the themes in Mary’s words reflect not only God’s past action but the work Jesus described at the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:18) and would fulfill throughout His life. Mary’s faithful “yes” to God’s plan in her life also required a faithful “no.” She said “yes” to the terrifying task of birthing the Savior of the world and “no” the forces of sin and evil in the world He came to defeat. She said “yes” to God’s plan for her life and “no” to the plan she made for herself. She said “yes” to the powerful, holy, and merciful God and “no” to pride, arrogance, corruption, and injustice. Mary’s song is a powerful picture of a faithful life. She knew Scripture well enough to describe its story, she knew God well enough to describe His character, and she knew His redemptive plan for creation well enough to say “yes” to her part in it. May we all strive, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do the same. -Kaitlyn