Follow the Instructions

Happy New Year! If you’re like everyone else in the world, I suspect you were about as ready for this calendar turning as you have ever been for anything. We made it. 2020 is in the books–and my how that book will be remembered! We have a fresh start ahead of us. Yet, how do we make this fresh start more than just a new set of challenges? In a new teaching series called, A Fresh Start, we’re talking about that very thing. Keep reading to learn more.

Follow the Instructions

So…are you ready for a fresh start? Do you even remember this time last year? Remember how excited we all were about the prospect of 2020. There’s just something exciting about the turning of a whole decade more so than a normal new year brings. And maybe it was because of the place of life I was in, but for some reason 2020 just felt more exciting than 2010 had. And then…well…you know. This mystery virus popped up in China and a year later nearly 350,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives to it. Worldwide we’re up over 1.8 million lives lost. We’re over three-quarters of the way to 100 million infected.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 105:42-43

“For he remembered his holy promise to Abraham his servant. He brought his people out with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is it that makes you happy? Perhaps many different things fit that particular bill for you. I’m happy when I’m spending time with my family, when my sports teams are winning, when a sermon goes just right, when I’m doing something good for someone else, when I’m out at night to see the stars twinkling, and so on and so forth. Your list may include some things like those, or it may be totally different. What I suspect your list does have in common with mine, though, is that the things on it are all situationally-linked. That is, they depend on the presence of a certain set of circumstances. Happiness is a good thing. But in the Scriptures, we are called to something greater: Joy. This week, as we continue our Advent journey, we are going to dig into the idea of joy and how we can experience this deeper reality in Christ. I hope you’re ready.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 130

“Out of the depths I call to you, Lord! Lord, listen to my voice; let your ears be attentive to my cry for help. Lord, if you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that you may be revered. I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning–more than watchmen for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with him is redemption in abundance. And he will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” (CSB – That was the whole chapter :~)

We are now officially in the season of…Advent. Raise your hand if you thought I was going to say “Christmas.” While the retail industry may want us to believe we are in the season of Christmas and will be until December 24 at closing time (at which point we will enter the season of “Return-it-and-buy-something-more-expensive,” followed immediately by the season of “Buy-something-new-for-New-Year’s-before-your-annual-period-of-financial-good-sense-sets-in”), that’s not actually true. We are in the season of Advent. Advent means “arrival,” and in the season of Advent we are to be preparing for the arrival of the Christ child. With this in mind, all this month we are going to be reflecting together on how we can do just that. We’ll do this with the help of the four traditional Advent virtues of hope, peace, joy, and love. I hope you’ll come with me on this journey. I’m excited to get ready for Jesus with you.

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Morning Musing: Psalm 100:4-5

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations.”‬ ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

Today is the day: Black Friday’s Eve! No? Kick-off to Christmas? Still not doing it for you? Fine, it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Day! Okay, okay, I know what today is. Today is Thanksgiving. This is the day our nation has had set aside in some form of fashion for giving thanks (exactly to whom and for what is worthy of some attention another time) since the very earliest days of our nation. I suspect you have many traditions already set in place for today (plans that probably include our culture’s three great F’s—family, food, and football), but I hope you have some time set aside to be intentionally grateful and to practice that gratitude in some tangible ways. As for me, here’s another thing for which I am thankful.

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Morning Musing: Psalm 127:3-5

“Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. They will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.” ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

This being Thanksgiving week, I thought it would be only appropriate to spend a little more intentional time than usual reflecting on some of the things for which I am most thankful. Four days surely isn’t anywhere in the universe of enough time to cover a full list, but it’s a start. As we go, allow me to invite you to join me in making your own list. There is power in gratitude. If you will start a bit of a habit this week, I guarantee it will serve you well. That all being said, let’s get to the gratitude.

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