Sunday, December 25, 2016

Advent Discovery Walk - Week 5

Luke 1:56
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

It was during Elizabeth's 6th month that Mary received word from the Lord that she was to carry the Son of God.  During this personal revelation to Mary, God shared that Elizabeth was also pregnant and would bear a child in her old age.  Once Mary knew that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she traveled to be with her.  She and Elizabeth were able to share their experiences in the Lord and to encourage each other during part of their pregnancies.   Can't you imagine Elizabeth mentoring Mary through the first trimester and Mary holding Elizabeth's hand at the time of John's birth?  Isn't it wonderful how God provided this young virgin a mentor who would provide important support during her amazing journey?

Even in our own lives, when we are on a new journey, we are often provided companions at points along the way.  Sometimes they are people who have already traveled a similar path and we can benefit from their guidance.   Sometimes they travel with us by nature of relationship like family - a spouse, a child, a parent.  Maybe you are facing a new path without these earthly companions.  It may be easy to forget that the Lord walks quietly beside us, no matter the path.  This may be an untapped source of strength for you - to consider and to remember how the Lord has walked with you before and has provided for you during a different season of your life.

This week, in the Traveler's Pack,  Filling Up Your Pack (Part 2), you can explore what and who might provide you shelter and companionship along your new sojourn.  (download here)

Prayer:  Lord, as we remember the birth of our Savior this Christmas Day - the One who is always with us, may we also remember those who have walked alongside us as companions on our various journeys in life.  Whether they've provided positive or negative influences in our lives, we are thankful the way you have used them to shape our paths and our hearts as you work all things together in Jesus.  It is in His Name - Jesus - we pray.  All glory, laud and honor are His - Amen!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Advent Discovery Walk – Week 4

Matthew 2: 13-14
When they (Magi) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

Luke 2: 22-24
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Leviticus 12:8
But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.

Although the scriptures do not specify how the gold, frankincense and myrrh were used, it is interesting to note that these items were provided to Jesus and His family right before they moved in the middle of the night to Egypt.  In Luke it is revealed that Mary and Joseph were too poor to offer anything more than doves at the Temple for Jesus their firstborn.  To move to Egypt for any length of time would have required some resources!  In fact, they moved in the middle of the night, so they didn't even have time to ask family members for help either.  Yet they had valuable spices and gold with them when they ventured forth.  How comforting to see that when God asks us to move, He provides a way for us to do it.

Are there ways the Lord has provided for you and sustained you during a season of your past - a previous journey?  Were there tangible supplies?  Other means such as newly acquired skills, a mentor, or perhaps encouragement from other brothers and sister in Christ?

This week offers Part 1 of 2 of Filling Up Your Pack from the Traveler's Pack. This section will guide you in thinking of ways you might be supplied for your new calling as well as what has given you, and might continue to give you, sustenance along the way. (download here)

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the ways you've sustained us when you call us to step out in faith in a new direction.  Help us to remember those ways so we might be strengthened for this journey that lies before us.  And may we trust you even when we don't recognize the ways you're providing for us, even now.  In Jesus' Name - Amen.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent Discovery Walk – Week 3

John 1: 9-10  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

Christ's coming into the world was heralded by angels, feared by the king, and celebrated by the shepherds in the fields.  Many people missed the advent of His birth though.  Why was that?  Perhaps their own expectations shrouded His birth in such mystery that they could not see it for what it was.  Perhaps they weren't looking for their Messiah to be born in a lowly manger in a rural town.  They were looking for the pomp and circumstance due a king and overlooked the quiet star that announced His birth.  

Our own expectations often "color" our paths, don't they?  As you are exploring an invitation from the Lord to move from your current situation, think about how your expectations for this new part of your journey might be causing you to overlook His greatest gifts to you both here and now - the brightest being His Presence with you as you go.  This week, with the aid of the Traveler's Pack, explore the way you may be anticipating the road ahead and how that could shape your walk forward. (download here

Prayer:  Lord, we ask that you continuously open our eyes and our hearts to see and hear You in the midst of the holiday hubbub, the busyness of our daily lives, our tangled thoughts and our often divided hearts.  Thank you for your firm promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us - even when we are blinded to what you are working to accomplish for our good, even in the here and now.   In Jesus' Name we pray - Amen!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent Discovery Walk – Week 2 

Luke 2:15  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made know to us."

When Christ arrived in the middle of a manger in Bethlehem, those around Him were prompted to take action and to make some changes.  The Wise Men and the Shepherds traveled to see Jesus and to worship Him.  The King sought the place where Jesus was born to kill Him and to eliminate the threat to his earthly kingdom and rule.  Mary & Joseph both traveled to Egypt to evade the King's persecution and to wait for God to reveal the next step.  

Last week you may have sensed an invitation from the Lord to move from your current situation, place, role or ministry.  He's arrived in your heart in a new way and you feel prompted to make some changes.  But before you make any moves, this week's Traveler's Pack opens a new set of questions to consider regarding your current "dwelling place" – whether literal or figurative, earthly or spiritual.  (download here)

Are attachment and familiarity causing hesitation in stepping out into your invitation?   Take a moment to offer thanks to the Lord for what you've learned and/or for the gifts you've received in your current situation up to this point. This week reflect on how the Lord's invitation is an opportunity to build your faith journey.

Prayer:  Lord, I thank you for always pursuing me and seeking a deeper relationship with me.  You know my reluctance to lose sight of the shoreline when you are calling me to launch out into the deep and to let down my nets for a catch (Luke 5:4).  Increase my faith!  May Your Spirit fill me with your wisdom and peace.  In Jesus' Name - Amen.