December 10-15

Some Devotional Thoughts
Days 4-5 written by Jamie Walker
--from December 10th  --

Day 1

Read Psalm 30

According to the title on this Psalm and the introduction to it, David wrote this one on a big day.  You remember that David dreamed of building God a house (the temple), but God dreamed of building David a house (a heritage and family).  So God told David to hold off on his dream and God built David a house.  In that “house” was Solomon, who would go on one day to complete his father’s dream of building God a house. It was on the day this was completed that they had a big dedication celebration, and this is where David is said to have written this Psalm.  
It was during what seemed like the fulfillment of his life purposes.  David is reflecting on all that life has brought his way, the good and the bad, and sending out praise to God in light of that.  His enemies have not snuffed out his life and the difficult places in life did not overtake him.  God gets all of the credit for all that he accomplished.  That is how David wrote this from his life.  But how do this Psalm speak to you in light of all of that?

Verses 4 and 5 are a comparison that needs to be focused on.  God’s anger is described as but for a moment.  But the favor of the Lord is for a lifetime.  A lifetime is compared to a moment, and anger is compared to favor.  These are opposite extremes.  Why is this a helpful thought?  
How have you experienced this imbalance in anger versus favor?  

How have you struggled with the realization that this is what has actually happened in your life?
Weeping is said to be just for the night, but after the night, joy comes with the sunrise. These are poetic ways of saying something.  How would you describe what David means?

How does this become a part of your prayer today?

Day 2

Read Psalm 27
Ok, I admit it.  I made you read the whole Psalm, but I am only going to focus on verse 4.  I love it so much!  David was saying something so simple, but it is such a great summation of all of what matters in life.  There are verses that I read and think about how that could be presented in a sermon.  For me, that work is like looking into the pictures that are full of every imaginable item and you have to pick out the specific things hidden in it.  I could really use some sermons to keep on standby in case there is a day that I need one, but let me go ahead and give you what I see here and you can develop the thoughts yourself.
Sermon Sentence:  The best purpose for life is found in our unending pursuit of seeing God and moving closer to him.
  1. Dwelling close to God. (“that I may dwell in the house of the Lord”)- notice that it is me being where God dwells, not the selfish way of living where I expect God to be where I am.
  2. Steadfast forever faith. (“For all my days”)- we must be about and after one singular thing in life.  Let us not be people that are one thing and then another, but rather are constantly, consistently pursuing God.
  3. Noticing the beauty of God. (“to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.”)- We must slow down and take the time to notice how great God is by being compelled and humbled by thankfulness.
  4. Learning more about God. (“and to inquire in His temple”)- A disciple is one that is learning.  We must always be learning by gathering together (in His place, at His time, His way) and spending time in God’s word.

Take it Home:  (this is the part of the sermon that we work out how to put action to what we have just seen in God’s word)

You do this part, now.

What are the actions that you learn from this text?
Are there other parts in this Psalm that go with these thoughts for you?
How does this become part of your prayer today?

Day 3

Read Genesis 30:25-40

For the last 3 months, we have been studying the life of Jacob in our once a month, 2nd Wednesday Bible study.  This is where we are in that study of Jacob.  His story is one of trying to manipulate and work all sorts of angles to make life go in his favor.  Each of them ends in failure and separation from everyone around him.  He ends up with 2 wives, that are totally divided as sisters, no longer functioning as a family.  He also ends up with 2 other mom’s to his children that surely interject another degree of chaos.  

But here is the big question:  does Jacob get what he is after?  Yep!  Not by his own standards, but God still sees fit to bless him.  I find that part of this story so incredibly difficult to process.  Then, when I read this account of how it all went down, it feels like Jacob is so convinced he is in control with these weird practices of shaving branches and showing colors to the animals to influence their genetics.  That doesn’t really work in real life.  It was a coincidence.  Right? It was also God’s hand, clearly.  God has interesting ways of doing things that I don’t fully get.  

Now, add another layer to these thoughts: the whole time that this is going down, Jacob, the one who has the plans of trickery and deceit, finds himself in the middle of being victimized by his own family members.  So God makes all of this happen when Jacob doesn’t deserve it, and when Jacob doesn’t stand a chance because of the injustice that is leveled against him.  

Have you had to believe that God can provide and work even in the midst of injustice and the deck being stacked against you?

How do you keep faith when it seems like the world is working against you?

How have you seen God bless you in spite of who you are and what you are doing?

Day 4

Read:  Hebrews 12:1-8, Colossians 3:2-11

Where’s your focus?  If you’re like me, you are wondering if you should bake more cookies, did you give that card to your neighbor, how’s my bank account look?  But for today’s devotion, I want to look at the times in the bible we are asked to focus on ahead, above or on others rather than the chaos around us.  This is arguably the hardest time of year to do it, but oh so important.  

After reading the verses for today's devotion, how do you suspect God would ask for us to act in this season?  

List 3 tangible, daily, things you can do to reorient to the path marked out for you rather than the earthly distractions.  

What will be your first step?

How does this become part of your prayer today

Day 5

Read Luke 2:1-21

I had this thought.  If we were in the time of Bethlehem and we were the villagers, but the time was now, we’d probably throw Mary a baby shower right?  Even if I didn’t know her well, but I knew she was going to have our Savior, I’d be whipping together some shower punch, and fun (not so fun) shower games.  But…what would we be talking about at the shower?  If you’ve never been to a baby shower, one of the common activities is writing a message of advice for the mother-to-be.  Can you take a look at other places in the bible where mother’s, whether in Mary’s time or not, would have advice for a new mother?  List one.  

Also, knowing what we know now about Jesus’ life, crucifixion, and resurrection, write one piece of advice or reassurance that you would have for Mary.  Cite the verse you are pulling from for both.  I hope this helps you to bring this to practical terms like it did for me.

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