The Second Friday in Advent

Can’t Hurt Me

I talk about fear a lot. I’m not going to give a detailed breakdown on my message however, I want you to understand my feelings on guilt and fear. So often women, especially moms, talk about how guilty they feel about something. I don’t believe the problem is guilt. I think it’s fear. We just think that feeling is guilt. Now, let’s look at this verse!

Fear may be a big part of your life during the Holidays. You’re afraid you won’t get everything done. You’re afraid things won’t be right. You’re afraid what other people, especially extended family members, might think or say about you and the way you do things. It’s hard to remain confident when you are always concerned that others, especially other women are going to criticize you.

In the last few devotions, I’ve discussed not being afraid because the Lord is with you. He is never going to desert you. Not ever. This verse takes that reassurance a step farther. If you are taking time to listen to the Lord to help you stay focused during Christmastime. When you stay close to Him, when you listen to what He is telling you, when you follow His leading, then He is with you. He is definitely and completely with you. Not just close to you. He is on your side.

Now tell me, if God is on your side, if He is supporting you, if He is the one leading you, then what can people do to you? Sure, they can still criticize but you have the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing. Does this mean you can quickly point out to others that they are wrong because God told you what to do? Well, I wouldn’t advise doing that if I were you. No, you can just have the satisfaction that the Lord is pleased with you, He is with you. That is enough.

The Second Thursday in Advent

Just Today

During the Holidays, you might worry that things are going to fall between the cracks. It’s bad enough when something fairly small is overlooked but what if you forget something BIG? I create lists and then lists within my lists to help me remember all the things I want to do.

Focus is one of the keys to making certain you accomplish the tasks you must get done… or even want to get done. Here’s the problem: when you are worried about the things you need to do tomorrow, you lose your focus on the things you want to do today.

God is the God of today. When Moses asked God His name, He responded , “I am!” God wants to help you with all your concerns, your tasks today. He wants you to focus on today, not tomorrow. One day at a time. Take it one day at a time and you will find your tasks, your concerns, your life much easier to handle.

The Second Wednesday in Advent

Lead On!

OK. Maybe things aren’t so bad that you feel as if you are walking through the darkest valley. I do know, however, that you sometimes feel rather bleak. As the days go on in December, you life gets busier. When I feel overwhelmed, I often have trouble determining what I should work on first. I begin working on one project only to worry I should be working on another. So I abandon the first and jump to the second only to have doubts again. It becomes exhausting!

This verse is part of the 23rd Psalm. The passage tells you the Lord is your Shepherd. This verse assures you that His rod and staff will give your comfort. At one time, I thought the rod and staff should comfort me because the Lord could use them to fight off any enemies. Nope! A shepherd uses the rod and staff to guide the sheep They keep the sheep on the right path so they go where they need to go.

When it is difficult to determine which task should be done, which way you should go, that’s the time to spend some quiet time listening to the Lord. Let Him guide you, leading you the way you should go. He is ready to comfort you by helping you in all things, big or small.

The Second Tuesday in Advent

I Am Strong!

Let’s go over this again. God is telling you not to be afraid. In fact, in this verse, He goes a step farther, telling you not to be terrified! I know how it is. Waking up in the middle of the night, lying in the dark grinding on all the things that absolutely, positively must be done before Christmas. You barely have enough time in the day to do the usual things on your list or schedule. Now you have half again as many things to accomplish. Now what?

It’s simple, really it is. Be strong! How can I do that, you ask! You must remember that the Lord is with you. This verse tells you that He not only is with you. It says He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. Believe me, there have been many times when I felt the Lord had deserted me. I was WRONG! He never left me. I just refused to draw near to Him.

If you feel overwhelmed and alone, take a moment and determine just how far away from the Lord you have moved. If you are afraid, you need to move closer to God. You need to listen to Him so He is able to help you remain strong and courageous. He is with you everywhere, helping you tackle the things that come your way.

The Second Monday in Advent

Fear Not!

It is so easy to become discouraged. Life can be overwhelming. You try so hard to do things right, to be things done but it just doesn’t always work out the way you hope. If this happens over and over, you might be ready to give up.

Read today’s verse again. God doesn’t suggest you remain strong and courageous. He commands you to be strong and courageous. Now, I know this might seem impossible some days, especially during the Christmas season. There is so much to do. There are so many things going on. You begin to feel you are fighting a big battle and you are the only one on your side! Well, you’re not! God tells you not to be afraid, not to be discouraged because He is with you wherever you go! No matter how tired, frustrated, overwhelmed you might feel, you are not alone. Lean on the Lord and let Him give you the strength and courage you need to face whatever is ahead of you!

The Second Sunday in Advent

Lack of Experience Mary

Lesson Verse Luke 1:26-38

Introduction

The Father was preparing to send His Son into the world. His Son was to live the entire human experience, including childbirth, being born. This meant He had to chose a woman to give birth to His Son. He selected a very young woman named Mary. Mary was, as her cousin, Elizabeth said, “Blessed among all women.” While this was a tremendous honor, it didn’t mean things would be easy for Mary for some small reasons and one very, very big reason.

Key Points

  • Mary was very young
  • Mary was unmarried
  • Mary was not anyone special (or was she?)

Mary was very young

Such a very young woman to have such a large responsibility placed upon her. I would think most young women would have been out of their minds with fear when told they were carrying the Son of God. Yet Mary was such an incredible woman that she accepted the call God had place upon her with grace and tremendous faith. Elizabeth accepted her pending motherhood with grace in spite of her advanced age and Mary also accepted motherhood in spite of her young age. The Father chose a young, unmarried woman so there would be no doubt this child was a miracle.


Mary was unmarried

This is very important. In Mary’s day, women were not able to speak for themselves or defend themselves in any way. They had no rights of their own. A woman need a man to speak for her. Mary had her father however, she had recently become betrothed to Joseph. During the time of betrothal, Mary was in limbo legally. Her father was no longer able to speak for her and Joseph had no legal obligation to speak for her.

When it became known that Mary was expecting a child, by law, she would be stoned for having sex outside of marriage. Mary was in a very dangerous position. You might think God had poor timing. He should have waited until Mary and Joseph were married. Yet God’s timing is always perfect. This betrothal time is exactly when He needed events to unfold. There would always be those with questions about the father of Mary’s child. Mary, however, had no doubts and ,eventually, neither did Joseph.

Mary was not anyone special (or was she?)

I have often wondered, “why then?” Why was Jesus born at that time? There were other times in the history of Israel when things were bad, very bad both before Jesus’ time and after. What was different about that time?

While there may be many factors, I believe one of the most important is Mary. Elizabeth was right. Mary is blessed among ALL women. Mary was the one chosen, out of all the women of all time, to be the Mother of the Messiah. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that God chose us in Him before the creation of the world. Before God made anything, He knew exactly what would happen, when He would send His Son, and who was to be chosen to be His Mother.

Yes, Mary was very, very special indeed.

Faith Vs Fear

Imagine how frightening it must have been for Mary to be called to carry and give birth to the Son of God. She had to know what people were going to think. She had to know the risks involved. Yet she didn’t argue. She had complete faith in God, stepping up to accept her call without any questions or fear. Well, she did wonder how she could have a child when she had never known a man in the Biblical sense. When this was explained to her, she had no more questions. She had no fear. She was filled with tremendous faith and courage, ready to face whatever came.

Mary faced many challenges as the mother of Jesus. Years later, when Jesus was an adult, a comment is made about Him being born in Nazareth, that nothing good ever comes out of Nazareth. The people mocking Him knew the story about His birth. They knew His mother was pregnant when she got married. All her adult life, Mary probably came across people that knew her story, that talked about her behind her back. She knew the truth. Her Son knew the truth. God knew the truth. That is all that mattered to her.

For Today

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. Mary had every reason to be concerned about the opinion of others. Their opinion could have gotten her put to death yet she stood up and told God, “Here I am!”

God called Mary to do something that she felt she was unqualified to do. Still, Mary stepped up and answered God’s call even though it might have cost her her life. God may be calling you to do something special. You might not recognize the feeling. It often comes as a restlessness, a feeling there is something you need to do but you might not be certain just what that something it. Take time to listen to God the way Mary listened to the angel.

You might understand what God is asking you to do yet you feel unable or unqualified to do the job. Would God call you if He didn’t know you were able to do what He asked? True, you might not be ready right now. When He called me to ministry, I wasn’t ready. It took years of study to prepare myself for the task at hand. The Lord provided me with everything I needed to do the job He wanted. Even today, He still provides so I am able to focus on the work ahead.

Like Mary, you must have faith that the Lord would never call you if He didn’t know you were able or would be able to do what He asked. Even if you can’t have faith in yourself right now, have faith in Him. Keep listening to His call, moving forward one step, one day at a time.

How can you have faith in God’s call when you feel unqualified?

What can you do to help increase your preparedness?

The First Saturday in Advent

You Are Not Alone

It’s very easy when we feel overwhelmed to feel alone. Oh we may have all sorts of people around us but we feel they don’t understand what we want or need. Perhaps we think they are too busy to be bothered with our problems, too busy to help us get ready for Christmas. These thoughts and feelings can leave us feeling dismayed, just like the verse says. Eventually, we become afraid we might not be able to accomplish everything we need to get done by Christmas.

In the verse, God tells us not to be afraid. He reminds us that He is always with us so we are never alone. He tells us that He is providing the strength we need to complete the tasks before us. He even says He will help us! And if we feel we can’t go on, He holds us up! This is the promise we must remember and rely on whenever we feel overwhelmed. We are never alone for the Lord is always with us!

The First Friday in Advent

Special Delivery

There are nights I lie awake in the dark, considering all the work I need to get done. I’ll admit it. Sometimes, I have a panic attack as the dark surrounds me and I feel things are out of control. How will I ever get everything done?

In the past, I have turned on the light and tried reading until I become sleepy. Then I am tired in the morning. Not good. Now instead of reading or tossing and turning, I lie in bed and pray. I talk to the Lord, spilling out my concerns, my worries. Sometimes, I imagine putting all my troubles in a large box, closing the box and wrapping it in paper with a pretty ribbon. Then I give the box to God. When he opens it, He always tells me it is exactly what He wanted.
The Lord wants to deliver us from our fears but first, we must surrender our fears to Him. All our fears, big or small. Only then can He answer our prayers.

The First Thursday in Advent

God is for Me!

I LOVE Christmas but sometimes it feels like everyone is tugging at me! I remember when I worked at the church, it seemed as if everyone wanted something and it was becoming more impossible to provide for them. It can become terribly overwhelming when all the people around you need something from you. Eventually, you feel you have nothing left to give.

In this verse, we are reminded that God is not only with us, He is working for us. We can put all our trust in Him and stop worrying about letting the people around us down. this verse specifically tells us that we never have to be afraid of people because there is nothing they can do to us as long as God is with us.

When you feel everyone is coming at you from all directions, take a moment to step back and catch your breath. Remind yourself that God is with you and there is nothing anyone can do to you.

The First Wednesday in Advent

Perfect Love

Jesus has given us so many gifts. One of these is His perfect love. I remember when I first met my husband. I was so filled with love, I felt I could do anything. I feared nothing. This is the way the perfect love of Jesus should make us feel. Unfortunately, we let our overactive imaginations take control. We imagine all the things that could go wrong. Then we become frightened.

Fear is such a terrible thing because it drains us of our energy, our creativity. Perfect love increases our energy. It helps us become more creative as we consider ways to tackle the tasks and events that lay before us. How are you able to let the perfect love of Christ overcome your fear? Well, I believe we must first work to eliminate our fear by having faith that everything is going to work out for us. As the fear leaves us, we must pray to have the void filled with the love of Christ. As that love makes us stronger, more of our fear is driven out until, at last, we are only filled with love.