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John the Baptist: Prepare

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Daily Rhythm

Devotional Diary 28 November  – 4 December 2016

4 December is the second Sunday of Advent.

Readings for this week with thanks to www.umcdiscipleship.org 

 Use these readings in “The Word” step below.

Isaiah 11:1-10.  Isaiah prophesies the coming of a righteous ruler out of the stump of Jesse.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19. A psalm in praise and intercession for a righteous king, such as the one foretold in Isaiah.

Romans 15:4-13  A call for Jewish believers in Rome to welcome Gentiles into full fellowship, even as Christ, “the root of Jesse,” has welcomed them all. By the power of the Spirit, Jewish and Gentiles alike can abound in hope.

Matthew 3:1-12   John the Baptist appears in the wilderness proclaiming repentance and offering baptism as preparation for the kingdom of God drawing near.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Choose a spot where you can look closely at a flower.  After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: Lord God, I am often preoccupied with rush, deadlines and pressing concerns.  I have neglected to keep watch. This week list the areas of your life that pull you out of “keeping watch”.  As you list these areas pray that God would grow you in trust and obedience.   Pray that he would lead you into a new way of “watchful” living.

The Word: See readings above.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today: The church you are part of.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

Dedication:  Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Think of a meaningful relationship that you have shared or are sharing with someone. After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift up an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today: The Churches in your neighbourhood..

Personal Prayers:

Dedication: Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: In your minds eye reflect on a small innocent child. After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift up an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today:  The outreach of the Church throughout the world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Spend some moments looking into water.  It could be in a pond or even in a glass. After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift up an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today:  Conflict torn areas of our world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

Friday:

Adoration Focus: If possible Light a candle and look at the flame (if not just imagine a candle burning). After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift up an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today: Anyone you know who is seeking for direction.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Look at your own hand. After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift up an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today: The created world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Reflect firstly on Christ in the manger. Then see him on the cross.  After a few moments lift up your praise to God.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we simply lift up an area of concern.  You are invited to pray into this area as God leads you. Today: For all those who gather to worship God.  That their worship may be a joyful witness to others.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord, today I will acknowledge your reality.  I open my heart to you. Lead me to your still waters.  Surprise me today!

Longing for a new world

new-world

Seasonal Rhythm

Sunday 27 November begins the season of Advent. A season of longing, expectation, looking for the coming of God. In this season we stand with the world as it yearns for salvation.

Daily Rhythm

Devotional Diary 21 – 27 November 2016

27 November is the first Sunday of Advent.

Readings for this week with thanks to www.umcdiscipleship.org 

 

Use these readings in “The Word” step below.

Isaiah 2:1-5  Out of the house of the Lord shall come wisdom and instruction, and all nations will convert their weapons of war into implements for sustaining life.

Psalm 122 A psalm rejoicing in Jerusalem, a foretaste of what Isaiah prophesies.

Romans 13:11-14  Salvation draws ever nearer, so live in the fullness of Christ, freed from the power of sinful desires.

Matthew 24:36-44.  The coming of the Son of Man will be a surprise, so stay on the lookout!

Monday:

Adoration Focus: My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. (Psalm 71:15)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: O Holy Spirit, knowing  the deep things of God: move in the depths of my being…

The Word: See readings above.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: This week we pray for the “hungry” in our world.  Our intercessions are based on a prayer by Christine Odell.  Today we pray for those who hunger for the necessities of life: food, homes, warm clothing…

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

Dedication:  Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds…(Psalm 68:4)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: Fire of the Spirit burn all that is not holy…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday.  Today we pray for those who hunger for healing.  We pray for the depressed, the injured, the dying, the diseased…

Personal Prayers:

Dedication: Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: …you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. (Psalm 67:4)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: Fire of the Spirit generate within us fire…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday.  Today we pray for those who hunger for peace.  We pray for countries, for homes where there is stress and aggression, for those who cannot sleep at night.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name. (Psalm 66:4)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: Fire of the Spirit Inflame us with love…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Today we pray for those who hunger for love. For rejected children, for the elderly who have lost companions, for those who consider themselves unlovable…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Friday:

Adoration Focus: You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Saviour,…(Psalm 65:5)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: Wind of the Spirit breathe in us thy gentleness…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday.  Today we pray for those who hunger for a fair chance in life.  For the child deprived of opportunity, for those caught in a situation from which they see no escape …

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 63:7)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: Wind of the Spirit!  Blow in thy strength…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday.  Today we pray for those who hunger for God.  For those who feel lost, who pray without hope, who have no sense of Godly comfort, those who are tired and without purpose…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. (Psalm 62:11,12a)

Confession: In our confessions this week we use lines from a prayer by George Appleton.  Today: O Holy Spirit, author of holiness: sanctify my spirit.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday.  Today we pray for all those who hunger deep in their souls, that they may be fed with the Bread of Life.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Jesus Christ, Living Bread, feed us now so that we may touch the hunger of this world with your nourishment.

Daily Advent Readings 2015

800px-Liesel_22-12-2012_4._AdventYearly Rhythm

29 November – 25 December
The Season of Advent
Year C
Colour: Purple or Blue

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Luke 2:19 (NIV)

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Daily Rhythm

Making worship part of the everyday

DAILY ADVENT READINGS

I am in the middle of relocating to a new ministry post and so as a way of taking the pressure off weekly blog posting and ensuring some form of continuity through Advent I have used a series of daily readings which don’t follow the Revised Common Lectionary for Year C. The short readings will take us through the good news of God coming to ‘pitch His tent among us’ and the reflections and prayers will enable us to bring this into our everyday lives. I will put some links under  Weekly Rhythm that will direct you to other Revised Common Lectionary Resources and we will be back to the normal schedule after Christmas Day!

DOWNLOAD THE DAILY ADVENT READINGS AS A PDF HERE.

Mon 30th November – BLESSING FOR THE WORLD

Read Genesis 12: 1 – 3

Reflect: Centuries ago God promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation. Not only this, but through Abraham God promised that all people would be blessed. This promise comes to its fullest expression through Jesus. We receive God’s blessing through Him and are called to share that blessing as we reach out to those around us.

Pray: For opportunities to bring God’s blessing into the lives of others today.

Tues 1st December – HIS ONLY SON

Read Genesis 22: 1 – 19

Reflect: Abraham, ancient ancestor of Jesus, received the instruction from God to offer His only Son. Faithfully he set out to obey Him. As he reached the point of sacrifice he got a reprieve. Later, God would go the full length in sacrificing His only Son. Though Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “If there is any other way, take this cup from me…” (Matt 26:39) no such reprieve was given.

Pray: Thank God for sacrificing His only Son.

Weds 2nd December – BETHLEHEM ROOTS

Read: Ruth 4: 11 – 22

Reflect: Bethlehem features early in Jesus’ story! God often uses the seemingly insignificant and unimportant situations and people, and weaves them into His plan. Here, Ruth, a Gentile widow living in Bethlehem becomes a key character in the genealogy of David and, hence, Jesus. Don’t underestimate the significance of God’s work among ordinary people – people like us.

Pray: Look back and thank God for the ways you’ve seen Him at work in your life.

Thurs 3rd December – THERE IS A REDEEMER

Read Job 19: 23 – 27

Reflect: In the place of the deepest despair, pain, confusion and suffering Job pours out his heart to God. Suddenly, his words have a deep sense of conviction and assurance that God is his redeemer. Though God seems to have brought trouble on him, He will also bring about his salvation.

Pray: Thank Jesus for being your redeemer. Trust Him for difficult circumstances today.

Fri 4th December – FORGIVENESS

Read Psalm 51

Reflect: It’s all too easy to gloss over sin and explain it away. This psalm won’t let us do that but instead brings hope without ignoring the messiness of sin. It describes the rawness of someone taking the worst to God and still finding mercy.

Pray: Thank God for Jesus. Make this psalm your own by praying it aloud. Confess your sins, receive God’s mercy and recommit yourself to love and serve Him.

Sat 5th December – JOY AND LAUGHTER

Read: Psalm 126

Reflect: God’s people had been in exile, far from home, for many years. Rescued by God, they praise Him for all He has done for them. Centuries later, Jesus would probably also have sung this psalm as he went up to Jerusalem at Passover. This Christmas, let’s celebrate what God has done for us through Jesus – what great things for us!

Prayer: Praise God for sending Jesus to rescue us from sin.

Sun 6th December – IMMANUEL

Read: Isaiah 7: 12 – 14

Reflect: A baby may seem a small thing as a sign of hope. But when His name means ‘God with us’ then there is hope. When God offers a sign of hope, no matter how small the glimmer,  it’s worth clinging to with everything we’ve got – because no matter how bad things look, then ‘God with us’ is the best that there can be.

Pray: for those who lack hope today, that they’d experience God with them.

Mon 7th December – THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Read Isaiah 9: 2 – 7

Reflect: God raised Isaiah’s vision to the future hope that would one day be fulfilled in Jesus. Even though Isaiah couldn’t have known how or when God would do it, he sees clearly the birth of a baby – the one who would be called ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ In a dark world the light shines in Jesus.

Pray: for opportunities to share His light today.

Tues 8th December – HOPE

Read Isaiah 11: 1 – 5

Reflect: A Saviour is coming. From the stump (Israel) and from the family line of David (Jesse), Jesus would be born. There was still hope for the ‘fallen’ tree of Israel. For us too, though we are fallen, there is hope through God’s Son.

Pray: Ask the Holy Spirit to rest on you today. Take time to delight in God. Be ready to share the hope He brings with those you meet today.

Weds 9th December – SHOUT FOR JOY

Read Isaiah 35

Reflect: Isaiah looks ahead and sees all of nature cheering at the brilliance of God. Jesus is the one who would bring healing to the diseased and make the ‘feeble’ strong. Jesus himself is the ‘Way of Holiness’. We were once struggling along in the desert, too. What a great hope we have to share with people.

Pray: for opportunities to share this hope today.

Thurs 10th December – GET READY!

Read Isaiah 40: 1 – 5

Reflect: For God’s captive, exiled people this prophecy brought good news – one day they’d be set free. As Christmas approaches, what might it mean for us to ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’ (v3). When John the Baptist quotes this verse (John 1: 23), it’s clear that it’s about repentance – preparation to allow God into our hearts.

Pray: confess anything that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus.

Fri 11th December – GOD’S CHOSEN ONE

Read Isaiah 42: 1 – 9

Reflect: Four hundred years before Jesus’ birth Isaiah paints an intimate word picture of the Father’s love for His only Son and the nature of His vocation. Through the prophet’s words God makes promise after promise about what ‘his servant’ will do and what He will be like. The hallmarks of justice, compassion and the light of God’s presence will be stamped on every detail of the new covenant.

Pray: ‘Lord, give me your heart of compassion, your sensitivity to the vulnerable and weak.’

Sat 12th December – THE SUFFERING SERVANT

Read Isaiah 53: 1 – 6

Reflect: Isaiah sensed that God’s saving plan would only come through suffering. Israel was expecting God’s Saviour, but what would He be like? Humble, vulnerable, not good-looking, no oozing charm; He’s the one people overlook. He knows about pain. Read verses 4 – 6 again slowly as you meditate on Jesus’ death on the cross for you.

Pray: It was all done for us. Thank God for His servant Jesus.

Sun 13th December – CONSIDER JESUS

Read Isaiah 53: 7 – 12

Reflect: Take a moment to pause in awe and wonder. We are on holy ground here touching the Father heart of a God whose nature is love, seeing again that grace is completely free yet enormously costly. Reading this description of God’s servant we are moved by his commitment to the task and by his willingness to suffer for others.

Pray: Spend some time in wonder that it is God doing this for us.

Mon 14th December – GOOD NEWS!

Read Isaiah 61: 1 – 3

Reflect: God’s true compassion is revealed in this word of hope for the down-trodden and broken-hearted. God’s new day is dawning and He will bring an end to injustice. The poor will hear and know that they matter to God, the broken-hearted will be strengthened, the captives of fear and sin will be released and the grieving will find comfort.

Pray: Who are the poor and broken-hearted in your community? Will you tell them the good news?

Tues 15th December – PROMISE FULFILLED

Read Jeremiah 33: 14 – 16

Reflect: Jeremiah’s listeners must have all been filled with hope when they heard God’s promise to them here. Despite their failures, God was ensuring stability and safety for Judah and Jerusalem and his continuing commitment to His chosen people. But it was also a promise for all people fulfilled through Jesus, the Lord, our Righteousness.

Pray: Thank Jesus that all the promises of God find their ‘yes’ in Him.

Weds 16th December – A RULER FROM BETHLEHEM

Read Micah 5: 1 -5a

Reflect: Bethlehem was an obscure village south of Jerusalem yet it is from here that God’s promised ruler would come. He promises to bring something out of nothing. He promises to do that for us too. No matter how insignificant and ordinary we may think we are God’s plans for us are breath-taking. Guidance, care, security and peace are available for all God’s family.

Pray: place your life in God’s hands once more, trusting in His plans for you.

Thurs 17th December – THE COMING OF JESUS

Read Matthew 1: 1 – 17

Reflect: Descended from Abraham and David, Matthew wanted to show his Hebrew readers that Jesus IS the Messiah, the one God had promised to send. Whether righteous or sinners, kings or poor, all of these people in the list played a role in God’s great plan to bring salvation to the world through Jesus. Most were unaware of the part they played.

Pray: Use me for Your purposes today, Lord.

Fri 18th December – SURPRISE!

Read Luke 1: 26 – 38

Reflect: The angel tells Mary she is going to give birth to the Messiah, the one whom god has promised would reign forever – not just over Israel but over the whole world. This King would be God’s Son. How would you have responded? Mary is available and willing to serve, to go where God leads knowing that His grace will supply all that she needs.

Pray: Father, give me the same willingness to follow You.

Sat 19th December – PREPARE FOR THE LORD

Read Luke 1: 5 – 17

Reflect: Do you sometimes respond unbelievingly to God? It seems that Zechariah needed to learn that God will perform what He has promised but in His time and His ways, which may be unexpected, even mysterious. The child to be born would play a vital role in God’s purposes. God’s plan would be worked out through the void in this couple’s life being filled.

Pray: Lord, help my unbelief.

Sun 20th December – ZECHARIAH’S SONG

Read Luke 1: 57 – 58, 67 – 80

Reflect: Zechariah’s song expresses his praise, first for God’s gift of a Saviour and then for his own son, John, who would ‘prepare the way’. The neighbours joined in the celebrations. (v 58) God’s story has amazing power on its own. Sometimes we need to explain it and sometimes we need to let it make its own impact.

Pray: Ask God to help you share your story with a neighbour today.

Mon 21st December – THE KING IS COMING

Read Matthew 3: 1 – 6

Reflect: John the Baptist announces the coming King. The essential requirement was a change of heart and mind leading to a change in behaviour. How do we approach for the King’s approach? Have we become complacent about His grace and His forgiveness? What might living a life to please the King look like for you?

Pray: Confess your sins to God today, asking Him to cleanse you and forgive you.

Tues 22nd December – JOSEPH AND MARY

Read Matthew 1: 18 – 25

Reflect: Joseph may have wanted children at some point in his life, but not now, not this way. The unmarried status of this engaged couple made them both vulnerable: if this got out reputations and lives would be ruined. But Joseph’s stature in this story is immense. He is prepared to trust God and not the conventions of his age – he does what the angel commands.

Pray: Lord, show me how I too may hear and obey You.

Weds 23rd December – SHEPHERDS AND ANGELS

Read Luke 2: 8 – 20

Reflect: You can’t help feeling some sympathy for these unsuspecting shepherds who are suddenly blasted with enough light to flood a football stadium and given a message of monumental significance. But once they get over the shock they don’t waste time but hurry off to look for the sign the angel told them about.

Pray: Are you prepared for the unexpected today? God might just surprise you!

Thurs 24th December – VISIT OF THE MAGI

Read Matthew 2: 1 – 12

Reflect: Whereas Herod was desperately scheming to prevent a challenge to His throne, a star in the sky proclaimed Jesus’ authority and His kingship. While Herod turned to advisors and experts to decide what to do, God sent a dream and an angel with instructions for the protection of the King Jesus.

Pray: For Christian leaders in all areas of society to base their authority in what God says about them, rather than in the power struggles of this world.

Friday 25th December – THE BIRTH OF JESUS

Read Luke 2: 1 – 7

Reflect: Being born in an animal’s feeding trough isn’t what you’d expect for the long-awaited Messiah. Yet this is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. If we were arranging the birth of the Saviour of the world we might have organised a rather more spectacular entry!

Pray: Worship Jesus today – the one who came in humility but who brought our salvation.

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Weekly Rhythm

Joining our stories with the story of God

For those who want to keep up with the Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Year C:

John van de Laar’s thoughts may be found at his website Sacredise.
The United Methodist Church (USA) has good resources for bible study and worship preparation.
For those of you who enjoy podcasts try Pulpit Fiction, a lectionary podcast for preachers and bible geeks!
Christine Sine shares many different approaches to the church year at Godspace, including an advent photo-challenge and a free, downloadable colouring book!