Advent Day 3: Christmas Everyday

For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. – John 4:24

It’s not just at Christmas time that we worship the Christ Child. It’s not just inside a church building or event that He is present with us. Our God doesn’t live within time and space as we do, nor is He contained in a book or limited by our understanding. By focusing on His Truths (like love, compassion, surrender, service) and following by faith alone, we can connect to His Spirit so that every breath is worship and every step has purpose.

During this season, if we stop long enough to listen, prepare ourselves to hear, and execute God’s plan as revealed to us, we can then resume our lives with a fresh understanding of how we can become new every day.

 Today’s Gift

 Start a journal today to record the blessings that emerge during this month. You will begin to recognize them more and more as you begin to pay attention. As you write down each gift from God, thank Him and share what He has done for you with others.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 2: The Rock of Our Salvation

…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. – 2 Corinthians 3:3

Jesus was born, not into an organization or hierarchy, but into a little family that would love Him. This was important to God’s plan. A teenage mother who would hold Him tightly, not at arms-length, but as if she would never let Him go. A young man, Joseph, who would have to “stand in” for God Himself to cradle, protect and guide a little boy who  would never really be His own. As Jesus would grow to be the Cornerstone for all mankind, Joseph would have to be the rock solid foundation for this heaven-made family on earth through turbulent and uncertain days.

In the same way, all believers are held tightly in the soft embrace of a family assembled by birth or by choice, surrounded by a fortress of Hope built by the Rock of our Salvation. In a hard world, we can be like living stones – standing firm against pressure, while being made smooth by constant friction on all sides. The human heart is a fragile muscle of flesh, yet nothing is stronger than a heart filled with the hope that was born with a Baby who was laid in both a manger chiseled from rock and a tomb of stone.  Neither would hold Him for long, but He would make His steadfast home in our hearts forever if we let Him.

Today’s Gift

Focus on your family today, they are your gift every day. Appreciate what each one brings to your life. Do not wait for Christmas day to give them a sign of your love: a hug, your time, a word of encouragement or a heartfelt “I love you.”  Pray for each one individually today.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 1: In the Moment

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. – Hebrews 4:9-11

Stop what you’re doing! Pause – take a breath – reflect – recognize the beauty, the mystery, the message of the season looming before us. We’re bleary-eyed and sleep deprived, and only getting worse as the year rushes to its end. Rest is important; even God rested. While He created time, He did not intend for us to use it as just a launching pad to the next day, but for us to breathe in each moment as the gift it is. What God provides is worth waiting for, worth walking through instead of running past.

As we step into this season of hustle and bustle, worry and want, may we not forget the season of gratitude we just left behind and enter into the peace and joy it is meant to be.

Today’s Gift

 Start this season with a gift for yourself. Set aside at least 15 minutes every day from now through Christmas just for you. It may be any time of day and any place, but do not let the day pass without taking time for quiet meditation, reflection, prayer and finding a peaceful place within yourself to appreciate the moment and to meet with God.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Begins

How many times have celebration preparations, customs and traditions, drowned out the joy?  How many brides are exhausted, stressed-out, and disappointed when their big day arrives? How can we survive the holidays? Can we live up to the hype? Can we sustain expectations in changing times, as children move out and loved ones pass on, and life spins off in unimagined directions?

No, we can’t. It’s just too much at this or any time of year.

Happiness that comes from the external sources is but shallow and fleeting. Real joy is internal, invariable with time or circumstance. This is Christmas joy; rejoicing that Light and Love came into the world and continues to burn bright within us though darkness may fall around us. It is not the day, the tradition or the trappings that make us truly happy, but the realization that we can experience profound happiness without anything but the Savior who is the eternal source of joy.

For many, this is the season excess: more gifts, more food, more parties, more decorations, more, more, more! We jam pack our December days and nights until there is no room for another thing, another activity, another moment for anyone else. So full, yet so empty. In the days of Caesar Augustus, when a young couple came into town, there was no room for them either. The people were so full of themselves, most missed the most important event of all time. Someone made room and they were filled for a life time. This year, may we push back from the table and make room in our lives, in our budget and in our Christmas for Christ.

When Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 2:11) His disciples had to come to a point of decision as He stood before them, looking them in the eye and asking this pivotal question. He still asks each of us this same question today. Through your daily meditation, prayer and the actions you take, may you truly come to know, or know with more conviction, who Jesus really is in your life.

Let’s begin the journey of this Advent season renewing our willingness to BE what God wants us to be, to SERVE whomever and wherever He desires, and to allow Him to CHANGE us into the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Unchanging Grace

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease. – Psalm 107:1

On this day between Thanksgiving and Advent, we are overwhelmed by the goodness of our God. The bounty of this season is but a preview of His greatest gift yet to come!

  • Sue Breland, Worship for One
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The Offer

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. – John 3:16

If you are a bargain shopper – this is the deal of a lifetime. Jesus lived on earth, so that we wouldn’t have to live alone. Jesus died a sinner’s death, so that we wouldn’t have too. Jesus arose from the dead, so that we could have eternal life with Him. All this – for simply believing in Him. This wasn’t a weekend sale – or a time limited special – the offer still stands today. Our service, our resources, our trust in Him seems such a small exchange for the treasure that awaits us!

-Sue Breland, Worship for One Journey Through the Cross

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A Proclamation of Thanksgiving

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. – Psalm 95:1-2 (NIV)

The modern traditions of Thanksgiving – food, football, and family festivities – so often overshadow the circumstances which gave birth to this national holiday in 1863. Amidst a terrible civil war, Americans were encouraged to give thanks for every blessing even amid great sadness, suffering, strife.

The proclamation signed by President Lincoln says, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

It further states that we “fervently implore…the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” May this be our Thanksgiving prayer still. We need harmony and healing as much today as then.

  • Sue Breland, Worship for One
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Gratitude

Wherever He went, village or town or country crossroads, they brought their sick to the marketplace and begged Him to let them touch the edge of His coat—that’s all. And whoever touched Him became well. – Mark 6:56

The Master’s power was free for the taking – and so they took. They were blessed, but were they grateful? Throughout the scripture, we are told of many that were healed, but few that thanked Him. His touch may have been free, but we know that it didn’t come cheap.

  • Sue Breland, Worship for One, Journey Through the Cross
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Abundance

Taste and see that the Lord is good! – Psalm 34:8

As the holiday season commences, there will no doubt be much tasting accomplished. Most of us will experience an over whelming abundance of food and delights, but let us not forget that all that we have comes from the goodness of God. He surrounds us with the beauty of His world and warms us with His love. Be thankful and show your gratitude by sharing His goodness with others.

  • Sue Breland, Worship for One
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Giving Thanks in All Things

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. – Daniel 6:10

It is easy to give thanks for all the things we have. We are not so good at giving thanks for what we don’t have, for difficult times, for circumstances we don’t understand – but it is exactly in these times that God works best, surprises us most, and is glorified more than ever.

The account of Daniel in the Old Testament is an example to inspire us. Taken from his conquered people, forced to serve pagan overlords, Daniel was not disrespectful or despairing, but remained obedient to God’s principles, giving thanks daily. By doing so, he gained favor with his captors without compromising his faith, and in the process, led the Persian King to believe in the power of our God. Gratitude ignites miracles!

  • Sue Breland, Worship for One
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