The Purpose in Unmet Expectations

Today is Saturday, December 10, 2016. Fifteen more days until Christmas!

Quote of the Day

“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?” – Christopher Marlowe

Word of the Day

In spite of two other good choices for WotD (objurgation from Merriam-Webster, and footle from Dictionary.com), in light of this past week’s events, I felt compelled to choose the one from the Oxford English Dictionary, which is manticore. The definition of manticore is “A fabulous monster having the body of a lion (occas. a tiger), the head of a man, porcupine’s quills, and the tail or sting of a scorpion.” The reason I felt compelled to choose this word is that, at one point, Emerson Lake & Palmer were recording on Manticore Records, after having purchased an old theater in London and converting it to a recording studio. So, in honor of the loss of Greg Lake, along with Keith Emerson earlier this year, today’s word of the day is manticore. Manticore is also one of the parts of the lengthy song, “Tarkus,” featured on their second studio album by the same name. Later, they would release a compilation album called “Return of the Manticore.”
manticore

Today is Human Rights Day. I can’t say enough about this subject, so I won’t really try. Just know that I believe in human rights; rights for all people, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, or any other thing that makes us so diverse. The United States Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Recent events in our nation would indicate that we no longer believe this to be true. I hope and pray, desperately, that this trend will change.

C spent a couple of hours at the hospital, last night, visiting her step-dad. Well, there wasn’t much “visiting,” as he was asleep the whole time. His condition is still quite critical, as they are struggling with his blood pressure. The bottom number keeps dropping, and they have him pretty close to the maximum level of medication to keep it up. At one point last night, it had dropped as far as 25. However, the report this morning is that, although the blood pressure is still an issue, he was awake and alert, and they were giving him a bath. The fever that he had gotten the night before appears to be gone. We continue to pray for his recovery.

Tonight is the Christmas party for USBC (United States Bowling Congress), where C works. It’s usually a fun time with good food and dancing. It goes from 6:00 PM until midnight. Whether we will stay the entire time remains to be seen.

Tomorrow is our normal worship gathering, at 10:15. I have to practice for the music after I finish this blog, especially on “Breath of Heaven.” I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed about that, but it’s my own fault. I should have started earlier. Story of my life.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Saturday in the second week of Advent

Psa 103:20-22  Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psa 67:1  May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.

Psa 118:22-23  The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Psa 141:8-10  But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.

Truly, we are tempted, on a daily basis to take a “brief vacation from discipleship.” “Voices lazily suggest that things are not as urgent as we had supposed, that perhaps the night is not very far spent.” But we must be alert for times of testing; ready for “decisions that cement our loyalty to Christ.” We must, as Jesus commanded his inner circle in Gethsemane, Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38)

“You, O God, are both end and means:
you are where I am going and you are the way I get there.
Defend me from siren distractions,
from ‘the desire of the flesh,
the desire of the eyes,
the pride in riches,’
which would lure me from the way and after other gods (1 John 2:16). Amen.”

(From Daily Guideposts 2016)

Luk 2:11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Carol Kuykendall writes of Christmas expectations that go unmet. We so often expect things to go a certain way at Christmas (and other occasions in our lives), and the actual events don’t quite live up to our expectations. Sometimes, they don’t even come close. Ask my wife about the Grand Canyon.

We paint these beautiful pictures of how we think Christmas should play out. The beautiful decorations, the tree, the family events, the school events (for people who still have school-age children). But then we get overwhelmed. Perhaps something as drastic as the tree getting knocked over and ornaments shattered; running from place to place, frantically trying to get everyone where they are supposed to be on time; trying to get all the cooking done in time for the various parties. Suddenly, the “magic” of Christmas has been defeated by the dullness of reality.

Maybe there is purpose in all of these unmet expectations. “Maybe they are meant to open up a wider space in our souls that can only be filled with Jesus.” Maybe we get too caught up in the events and the planning and the decorations (none of which are bad things, inherently), and forget why we are having Christmas in the first place.

Luk 2:10  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Joh 3:15-16  . . . that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Rom 8:32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Father, as I read this reading and these scripture texts, I am made to realize that I need to recover the majesty and glory of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this month. It is not about the decorations and music and gifts. Not at all. It is not about the hustling and bustling that takes place at the shopping malls. It most certainly is not about the brutal horror that is “Black Friday.” How we have missed the point! How I have lost touch with the truth! Father, reconnect us with the truth that Jesus came that we might have eternal life, and that we might have life more abundantly, and that this life begins, not when we cross over from life to death, but NOW! That abundant life should begin the moment we begin believing in the words of Jesus! The news that the angels gave was news of “great joy!” Have we lost that joy, Father? Help us to reclaim joy; help us to truly know Christ and believe his words and put them into practice in our lives. Help us, O God, to step into the easy yoke of Jesus and to walk in your Kingdom with abundant life and victory!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Noel, friends!

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