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.

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

All the plans…

This pandemic was a surprise to me, but it was not a surprise to God.

This has been a year of making plans and readjusting them about 97 times. I am ever hopeful that there will be a new normal that looks somewhat similar to the old normal. But, I confess, I am a little discouraged.

Why even bother to make plans?

I am thankful that I have been relatively calm through this season of unknowns, but I attribute it to my natural tendency to be flexible. I don’t feel the need to be in charge of a lot of things. I also have watched God work out even the yucky things in my life, so I trust His “long run” plan, even though I don’t know all the pieces and parts. And, honestly, I am pretty sure I won’t love all what is coming. But I will try to rest in His grace and mercy, trust Him to right the wrongs, trust Him to comfort me, and be with me as I move forward.

We have today, my friend. Hold your plans loosely and love generously!

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 New English Translation

Crushing Blows

You know those situations that are so devastating they take your breath away?

When you wonder “Where are You, God?”

And you are in a space for a long while before you can move even the tiniest step forward.

God is with you there. And He will be with you in each step as you gain your footing and get re-oriented. It all takes time and tears. I hate that this life, which was perfectly perfect by design, is has heartache. But we are not in Heaven. There are beautiful things here and they look even more beautiful against the pain and sin that we also experience.

God knows your pain. God loves you. Sometimes we are in a place where it is just God and us.

Lord, when I am in the place when everything and everyone is stripped away, let me have the faith and trust in you that you are enough. Amen.

Saturated

Sometimes too much is too much.

It is easy now, especially now, to be surrounded by opinions and conflict and impending doom. I have to be careful what I intake lest I am saturated with all the dread and stress of the world. Sometimes it is exhausting trying to discern what is accurate.

It feels like the unending spring rains of Evansville, Indiana. At least it feels like they can be unending. Our first year here I bought everyone a pair of rain boots because it seemed like it was always raining.

Always raining….

The ground was often squishy. There were always puddles to navigate on the sidewalks and in parking lots. There were often flooded streets because the rain came so hard and fast the sewer system could not keep up.

Saturated.

Today, I am thankful for the sunshine. I love the sunshine-y days; the ones when I need to pull out my sunglasses to navigate the bright world. I am thankful that God’s Word cuts through the darkness and gives me light. Meditating on a passage of God’s Word can be a great way to have an inflow of Truth and Light!

What is one of your favorite verses? I find new favorites all the time. I am thankful God sent His Word to me and it is always relevant and always just what I need!

Under Pressure

Pressure can create some beautiful things. And it can also cause quite a bit of stress.

Here we are, most of the world anyway, on a bit of a lockdown. We are banding together to protect the vulnerable and to provide some sort of pre-emptive relief on the medical facilities all around the world.

We have seen some beautiful moments and heard some heart wrenching accounts. And we have experienced them around our own tables as well: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are all under pressure in one way or another. As we struggle with bills, meals, focus, patience, health concerns, and a little extra stress, I pray for God’s grace to carry us all through.

Have you found some new ways to cope with stress? It is always good to have a few “go to” stress relievers:

a brisk walk in the neighborhood
speaking a Psalm aloud
taking a nap
singing along with a favorite, uplifting song
chatting with a friend

What other suggestions do you have?

May God grant you His peace during this time of unknowns. He sees you and knows your needs. He loves you and will provide for you in ways you may not see yet. Ask Him to open your eyes to see His work and provision!

The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace
. Psalm 29:11