Advent 2020

In a season where there isn’t really any space for daily PrayerPoints, I have to intentionally create it. And, for certain, this is the year for intentionality. I invite you to be find space for God’s Word, prayer, and reflection during Advent 2020. May our hearts be softened to the Savior; to the work He is doing in our hearts and lives.

Attentive

Advent is a coming into place, view, or being. And for 2020, Advent begins. This is a time of preparation and a time of reflection. We are coming into a new church year, a new liturgical calendar. I think God can work through those things but I also believe God works in ways that aren’t as structured or rhythmic. I am always thankful for a formal time of prayer and reflection, but even more thankful that God meets me where I am and in the midst of my moment. He never fails.

Last year, at this time, I was in Hungary, and what a treat to be there during the beginning of Advent. I have not been in a place where Advent is celebrated in a community. We drove many places that had huge Advent wreaths in the center of town. I loved it!

Are you entering a new phase or season? Be attentive to how God walks with you.

Thanks Living

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care. [Psalm 95:1-2]

This has been such a year.

Wowser!

I had many intentions. I switched gears. I punted. I did new things. I endured disappointments and loss. I adjusted and re-adjusted to the adjustments about fifty times.

And I am thankful, I am. But I am the kind of personality that tends to seek the positive in a situation. And I trust God to do what He promises.

Before life got crazy, I started a “Thankful Jar”. For some reason, around April, it was tucked and somehow it has remained in its place. I need to bring it back out and remember again to verbalize my thankfulness on paper. That heart to brain to hand to paper to eye connection is pretty powerful!

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Giving thanks means I am recognizing that God knows what He is doing, even when the road is very difficult. And it will surely be difficult for all of us in one way or another. But there is always opportunity for thankfulness.

Luther’s Morning Prayer

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Blessings on your week!
Liz

Numbering our Days

A prayer of Moses the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
    and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
    we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
[Psalm 90:1-12]

“Teach us to number our days…”

Well, if this isn’t the year to number our days! It is interesting to have these days and months of altered and restricted movement. How fast and slow they go by. How fast and yet how slow they add up. And how, while significant, they are so insignificant in the grand scheme of time.

“…that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

If I am off looking for wisdom in the world, there are many “wise guys” who are wolves in sheeps’ clothing. How do I know who to believe anymore? The opinions, often sold as truths, come from the far left and the far right and at every point in between. What was commonly known and understood before gets ridiculed now. Remember when butter, eggs, and milk were all normal? And remember when they were all vilified? Remember when a completely fabricated chemical spread called “margarine” entered the scene? And, where are we now? Back to basics, living off the land. We are all about “clean” food. Farm-to-table. Ideas — bad and good ones — circulate around every generation or so.

Remember when styrofoam and plastic were the “new answers” for packaging and convenience? And we needed to save the trees and not use wood? And now we have overdosed on plastic (and insane packaging for some products) to the point where it can’t all be recycled. And we are back to using “all natural” products.

I don’t even listen anymore. And that has its dangers, too.

Wisdom comes with discernment — and that takes time to develop. Some discernment comes from experience or trusting the “Hmmm, this doesn’t feel right” feeling. Spiritual wisdom comes from God.

I am thankful I am anchored in Christ. I am thankful I don’t have to have all the answers. I am at the point where I have less life to live than I have already lived. And so, I dig a little deeper into where my hope comes from. My comfort comes from knowing that God has been there from the beginning. He is the Creator. My days are numbered, and I am thankful for that. And while I am here, I will continue to patiently encourage, to deeply love, and to continue to point people to God. It certainly isn’t all I do in this life, but it is the most important thing I do.

Blessings on your week!
Liz

Come Quickly

Hasten, O God, to save me;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

May those who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    Lord, do not delay. [Psalm 70, NIV]

There are those days when life and relationships feel oppressive. If I find myself in that space, I remind myself of a couple of things:

A) This is Earth. And while there may be wonderful things that happen here, it is also a place filled with sin. That is the way of the world.

B) The Lord is great! He is the one who saves and delivers. In Him I can rejoice and be glad!

The challenges of this pandemic, the heartaches of those we know and love and the heartaches of those we don’t know are heavy things to hold onto. I have learned long ago I can’t right every wrong, but I certainly have a sphere of influence I can use for health, hope, and healing. These days, I come to the end of my own ability quite quickly and I find myself entrusting it all to God sooner than when I was younger. God sees and knows it all and is always working to bring others to himself.

I am poor and needy and He is my help and deliverer!

Come, Lord Jesus!

Come Quickly!

Blessings on your week!
~ Liz

Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
    let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
    and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
    and sing for joy on their beds.

May the praise of God be in their mouths
    and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
    and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
    their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
    this is the glory of all his faithful people.

Praise the Lord. [Psalm 149, NIV]

It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily stuff. In fact, it has been easy to be bogged down as we have sludged through this year. It has been a challenge for me. And I know it has been a challenge for a lot of people. We have needed to

stretch

shift

regroup

start

stop

hunker down

disinfect

stay away

stay home

But here we are, each day continues to arrive, and we are here to be a part of it. Praising the Lord is one of those things that helps us keep our focus off our circumstances and seeking His face.

Praise the Lord!
Liz

The Lord Almighty is with us…

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. [Psalm 46, NIV]

The Lord Almighty is with us. And yet, we are preparing for Him too! We welcome, watch, and wait for God to work even as He is already working. We can see what He has done and still we wait as He is always doing more, more than we can imagine.

I am so thankful He is with me. Day in and day out, He doesn’t change although how I see Him and His work is always enlarging. It won’t be until Heaven that I maybe see the entirety of God’s work and, even then, I don’t believe it is all for me to know.

It is for me to trust…to be still… and to know that He is God.

Blessings on your week!
Liz

All the Ways

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness. [Psalm 96:1-13, NIV]

There are so many ways to worship and praise our loving God! What are some of your favorite ways?

I must admit, sometimes I get distracted from this important work. There are times I let fearing and fretting and stressing take my energy and my perspective. Sometimes my ‘declarations” have been inaudible whispers. And other times they are loud and confident.

I am thankful that God knows and loves me in the midst of me. I need to think more about all the ways I can praise and get busy ascribing, singing, declaring, proclaiming, worshipping, and rejoicing!

God’s blessings on your week ahead!
Liz

Fearless

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. [Psalm 23, NIV]

Most days I am fearless. But there are some days, I am a puddle. Feelings drive me crazy. Sometimes my thoughts drive me crazy. Focusing on The Truth of God’s Word is such an important process for me. Sometimes I am in a place where I forget some really important Scriptural truths that would calm my heart and mind and spirit. No matter how much I know Scripture, as a visual person, I love to see it! I love words and it is important for me to see the words — even just a few — that bring me back to Truth.

The Lord is my Shepherd…

[I shall not want….]

I can’t see that without thinking about the rest of the Psalm.

Create in me…

[a clean heart o God….]

I can fill in the rest but the first part reorients and reminds me, especially when I am floundering.

If you are visual, like me, find a few of God’s truths and write them out. You can doodle or color them. You can make or buy a wall hanging that reminds you of God’s perspective. With all that is going on in the world today and the general exhaustion that we all seem to be under, finding and creating places of peace is important work. It is easy enough to get caught up into the negative because we are swimming in it. If you are seeking peace, it might be that surrounding yourself with some visual cues taken from God’s word can create that place of peace.

Blessings on your week ahead!
Liz

Restoration

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
    and it took root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea,
    its shoots as far as the River.

12 Why have you broken down its walls
    so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
13 Boars from the forest ravage it,
    and insects from the fields feed on it.
14 Return to us, God Almighty!
    Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
15  the root your right hand has planted,
    the son you have raised up for yourself.

16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
    at your rebuke your people perish.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved. [Psalm 80:7-19 NIV]

Restoration has a lot of phases. Sometimes our lives and circumstances are messy but that doesn’t mean important work isn’t happening!

There is much to pray about regarding our world, our nation, our states, and our cities. I am praying that I see what God is doing and that I work with Him and not against His purposes. God, open my eyes and gives me a clear vision of the needs of those around me. Restoration might mean me doing some work but it might also mean that some work is being done on me: a perspective shift, a growing awareness, an opportunity, etc.

Restoration has to start from within first. I cannot easily share what I have not experienced!

Blessings on your week!
Liz