Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Sabbath

12/12- 10 Commandments 4- remember the Sabbath Day

Read: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  Six days you shall work, but on the seventh you shall rest.” “God allows us to enter His Sabbath rest because He came.”  (Heb. 4).

Thoughts: The Bible indicates work and play are good.  God calls us to work and to play.  We are to work for six days.  But we need to leave room for rest and worship.  God calls us away to take a breather to refresh our bodies, our minds, and our souls.  The Bible picks one day for everyone so we can rest together and not encourage each other to work.  For Christians, the Sabbath is called “The Lord’s Day” because it is the day Jesus rose from the dead- Sunday.  We need to leave room for refreshment.  Just as the body gets dehydrated without water, so the soul gets dried up without rest and worship.  If we believe work and play is important, we also need to believe rest and worship is important.  When so many others are playing instead of worshiping; or working instead of resting this is a reminder from God we are to be different from everyone else.  Perhaps more than any other commandment, this commandment invites us to show our friends we believe and our belief effects our what we do. 

Activity: Prepare the family to really take a day off Sunday.  Worship comes first.  No one plays sports today.  Leave room for doing something to help someone in need- maybe writing a letter to a relative or a friend; or visiting a neighbor who is sick;  Leave room on the Sabbath for deeds of love and mercy.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for rest.  Thank you that you came that we might have peace and rest.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

God is first

12/11- - 10 Commandments- 1,2,3

Read: “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me.  You shall not worship idols.  You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20); “Glory to God in the highest.” (Lk. 2:14)

Thoughts: The first three commandments teach us to respect God.  We have a tendency to make God in our image instead of listening to God’s description of Himself.  We should be careful to not make other things more important than God in our lives- or those things become our false gods.  This means no toy, no game, nothing should be above God in our hearts.  When we talk about God we need to be careful to talk about Him reverently and kindly.  When the angels sang at Christmas, "Glory to God in the highest" they meant that He is always first and receives highest praise and glory.  

Activity:  At Christmas we can get so busy.  Make time each day to do these devotionals together, and make time to go to church – even if we stayed up late doing other things the night before.  

Prayer: Help me to remember Lord, that you are God.  May you have first place in my heart and life.  

Lake Murray Presbyterian pulpit at advent

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Listening to God

12/10- Why is Talking and Listening to God important?  John 14:21

Read: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved of my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  (John 14:21)
“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  (Luke 1:38)
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”  (Matthew 1:24)

Thoughts: We talk to God in prayer.  We listen to God through God’s Word- which is the Spirit speaking through the Bible.  We believe the Bible is not just a history book or a record of how people loved God years ago.  We believe the scriptures are written for human beings to convey God’s purpose and will for us.  Therefore it is important to read the Bible- or Bible story books.  There are great Bible apps (like the Youversion Bible apps), that can be on your smartphone, ipad or computer.  When we love God we are called to listen to Him- just like when you love someone here on this earth you want to listen to them.

Activity: In the room you are in, have one person start singing, “Old McDonald had a farm” over and over, turn up two music players (phone or something else), one TV (if in the room),then try to tell each person in the room one thing you like about them.  Now turn it all off- yes the singing too- and try to say the same thing.  When there is a lot of noise we call those things distractions.  Many things can distract us from hearing God today.  Make sure you make non-distracted space to listen to God and the Bible each day. 

Prayer: Thank you God that you listen to me.  Help me to listen to you through your Word.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thine is the Glory

12/9- Lord’s Prayer- 60 “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Read: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31); He shines on us to guide us into the path of peace. (Lk. 1:79)

“What is the main purpose of man?”  “It is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  (Westminster Shorter Catechism- question 1). 

Thoughts: In the end, God’s purpose and plan will happen.  No one can fight against God and win.  We might as well be on God’s side and try to do His will.  To glorify God means to reflect His glory or His light or His will in your life.  We are to be like mirrors- so that when someone looks at us they get a little glimpse of God’s glory or light. 

Activity: Bring a flashlight.  Go in a room with a big mirror.  Turn off the light.  Have the children turn on the flashlight- pointing at the mirror.  Note that when the light shines on the mirror it makes it twice as bright than when the light is shined somewhere other than the mirror.  As we reflect God’s glory in our lives, we make His light and truth brighter in our world.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

12/8- Lord’s Prayer- 5- “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

Read: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:21);
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  (I Corinthians 10:13);  God raises a Son to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and enable us to serve Him without fear.”  (Lk. 1:74)

Thoughts: God is our protector from temptation and from evil.  It is good to pray for God to protect us not only from hurt and harm but also from temptation and evil.  “God Guard our hearts” is a good prayer for families to pray. 

Activity: What do you do when someone is mean to you?  There are bullies at school, work, even home- and we can be tempted to be a bully too.  Talk about what to do if someone is mean to you.
The Bible is full of stories of people who were mean.  People were mean to Daniel- throwing him in a lion’s den.  Joseph’s brothers were mean to him.  People were even mean to Jesus- trying to kill Him on the cross- but the cross was not the last word.  Make a cut out of a cross as a reminder that when people were mean to Jesus He overcame them by both his death and rising at Easter. Trace the Lord’s Prayer on the picture, saying it together. 

Prayer: Father, when people are mean to me, help me to trust in you.  Let me not be afraid of people.  

Other thoughts: The Pope recently raised an issue about re-translating the Lord's Prayer particularly about this petition.  Below are my thoughts on this: 

Lead us not into temptation is the phrase in question.  The words "lead us not" (the traditional translation) vs. "do not let us fall into" (as the Pope proposed).  No doubt the idea of God's leading us into temptation is problematic.  The problem, I believe, is not with the text, but with our ability to believe it.  The passage is a prayer that God would not bring us to a place where we will be tempted.  God guides us wherever we go in His providence.  Sometimes suffering and crosses are not evil in themselves.  God often uses the sufferings we face to sharpen us and shape us as a potter would mold clay.  It is more problematic, perhaps, to believe that God is not able to keep us from a situation that is tempting.  To "not fall" is passive whereas to "lead us not" implies God plays a more active roll in protecting us from both temptation and evil.  Either way, we are the one who falls into temptaion.  

In Greek the word "lead" is eisphero- which means to bring in.  It is actually not fall.  It literally means bring us not to temptation.  It seems to me the gist of the passage means, "Do not bring me to the place of temptation."  The Pope has good intentions, and it is not wrong to re-translate this, but it just misses a good portion of the point of the prayer.    

I am not opposed to translating the Lord's Prayer so that it is in modern English.  Language changes.  But we're not supposed to change meanings just because we don't think it jives with what we think God should have said.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

He Came to Forgive

12/7- Lord’s Prayer- 4- “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
Read: “Be kind, one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32);You…will give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins.”  (Lk. 1:77)

Thoughts: Jesus came at Christmas so that when we mess up we can still get to God.  God gives us a second chance.  He also wants us to give others another chance too- even if they hurt us and we don’t want to trust them.  If we want to be forgiven when we mess up, then we need to be forgiving toward others who also hurt us- even if they do not deserve forgiveness.
    There are lots of people who rise up out of their inaction to hurt or get revenge for a wrong.  Jesus came to forgive.  Then He asks all those who follow Him to be forgivers too. 

Activity: On a piece of paper write down one thing you want to be forgiven.  Put the pieces from each family member in a box.  Then go outside and burn them- saying, “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Trace the Lord’s Prayer on the illustration above, saying it together.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus that you came to forgive us.  Give us the grace and help we need to forgive others.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Daily Bread- Jesus the Bread

12/6- Lord’s Prayer- 3- “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Read: “All good things are a gift from God coming down from the father of lights and the Lord of love.”  (James 1:17) Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came from heaven.” John 6:51

Thoughts: God is the great provider.  All that we have is a gift.  He gives us life, time, ability, and puts us in the right place at the right time to get the right job.  The prayer here is not for a lot of extras- but for only daily bread.  This doesn’t mean God only wants us to eat bread.  It does mean God wants us to ask Him for help in providing for our needs.  When God provides more than just the stuff to survive, He would ask us to think of sharing with others. 
     Jesus is the living bread that came from heaven.  We need to nourish our souls on Him daily by reading His Word.  The Bible is also called "the bread of life." 

Activity: Put aside a can for each family member to give to We Care Sunday.  If you feed the birds, give them an extra helping of bird food today- reading Matthew 6:26 before filling up the feeders. Trace the Lord’s prayer on the picture above, saying it together.

Prayer: Thank you that we have enough to eat.  We remember people like in South Sudan or Puerto Rico who struggle to have daily food.