Good morning. Today is . . . um . . . Tuesday! That’s it. Tuesday, the twenty-first of December, 2021. It’s the first day of winter, and the fourth Tuesday of Advent.
Peace of Christ be with you!
Only four more days until Christmas!!
Yes, today is the first official day of Winter. You wouldn’t know it from the weather forecast, though. It’s projected to be 63 degrees here, today, and progressively getting warmer until Christmas day, when it is predicted to be 87 degrees.
Yes, you read that right. EIGHTY-SEVEN DEGREES! Almost 90 degrees on Christmas Day! Ugh!!
C and I had a lovely time, last night, at the Winewood Grill in Grapevine, having dinner with her work people. Her top boss and the guy directly under him were both there, and both so very gracious and friendly. We sat across her second in command and his wife, and had great conversation with all of them. The food was delicious. We had some calamari, crab cakes, and some kind of bruschetta for appetizers (those were pre-ordered). For the main meal, I chose a Chilean Sea Bass from the daily specials. It had some kind of creamy sauce on top, on a bed of asparagus, accompanied by two scallops and three shrimp. The Sea Bass was pretty amazing to me. I don’t believe I have ever had that particular fish before. C opted for the ribeye (of course), which came with some au gratin potatoes that were simply “to die for.” I had a few bites of the potatoes, and they may have been the highlight of the evening. We even brought some home to share with S. C also had some ribeye left over. I did not have anything left from my plate.
As for the rest of the day, I feel like I got a good bit accomplished. I got presents wrapped and stockings stuffed (boy are they stuffed . . . I may or may not have gone a little overboard, there), and I got the ingredients for C to make Kahlua fudge this year. We haven’t had that in a couple years, but we’re going to make some Thursday night.
Today, as soon as I finish this, I’m going over to the NE Mall area (not in the mall) to a Nothing Bundt Cakes place. I got a gift certificate at the Hurst Way Conference, back in October, for a dozen “bundtinis,” which I am going to take to the library tomorrow, and then I have decided to get a full-sized cake for Friday and Saturday’s Christmas celebrations.
Come January 1, we are definitely getting serious again, but, for now, we are enjoying ourselves immensely.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31 ESV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that God sent His Son into the world, that we might know His love, that we might live through Him, and that we might love one another 2. that God is able to do more abundantly than all we could ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20) 3. that God comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 1) 4. that God calls us to bear one another's burdens, and, in so doing, provide some of that aforementioned comfort 5. for the promise of seeing His face
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2 ESV)
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
(Revelation 22:4 ESV)
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
ADVENT – DAY TWENTY-FOUR
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalms 80:3 ESV)
As I pause during this quiet time, I ponder the many promises of God, embracing His comfort, seeking His face, which I will eventually see in glory.
Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us. Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalms 80:1-3 NIV)
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors." (Luke 1:46-55 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages again, looking to see how God might be speaking to me through His Word. I dwell on any thoughts that the Holy Spirit brings to me, praying my life to God and allowing my heart to respond to Him. I take refreshment in His presence.
Father, even though Jesus has already come, all those years ago, as a baby, and lived and died for us, that we might be saved and walk in Your Kingdom, I am drawn more, this particular Advent season, into the thoughts of awaiting His return. I know that it’s Christmas time, when we traditionally celebrate His birth, and there is much rejoicing in this. But I am also seeing the importance of the expectation of His return, when He will set right all of the injustice and affliction in our world. Ironically, this is what the first-century Jews expected to see at His first coming.
The repeated prayer of restoration from Psalm 80, this morning . . . “Restore us, O God” . . . I see the repetition as no coincidence. While modern day Christians may not see any need to be “restored,” I can see, embedded in this, the thought of the entirety of Creation need to be restored to its proper state of perfection. And I see this taking place when Jesus returns to claim His Bride, Your Church.
But are we ready?
Make Your Church ready, Lord! Purify her! Show us the truths from Mary’s song. You have, indeed, done great things for us. You continue to do great things for us. Your Name is Holy. Your mercy extends to those who fear You, even to this day. You will scatter those who are proud, and will bring down rulers from their thrones and lift up the humble. Teach us to be humble, that we might, eventually, be lifted up. Fill the hungry with good things, Father. Remember Your promises (as if You needed reminding) to us. Help us also to remember that You are not being “slow” about keeping Your promises or returning. Rather, You are exercising great patience, and making it possible for all people to be saved. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Lord, please equip us to serve You in our communities and workplaces. Help us to be more concerned with serving the common good. I also lift up, specifically, all who work in education during these stressful and trying times.
"Son of David, today I bow before You as my true King. You subdue me by humbling Yourself as a helpless baby, You rule me by subjecting Yourself, You defend me through a chubby infant's arm, and the hand of power that conquers all enemies is curled around a mother's finger. Amen."
"May the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace." (based on Luke 1:78-79)
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant us Your peace. (Agnus Dei)
Grace and peace, friends!