Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent - The Light is Coming!

 Ad-ventimportant arrivalLatin - adventus - 'arrival'; coming of the Savior

Arise, Shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1-2 NASB

Advent brings a message of an 'important arrival' as we wait expectantly! This first week of Advent focuses on the prophecy of the Messiah. The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word kabod to describe the glory of the LORD, to define His Presence with us. God's Glory comes to us full of wonder and mystery, full of wordless splendor, breathtaking and awesome. His glory comes with abundance, divine and righteous, a light that defeats darkness, a holiness that overcomes despair. 

Isaiah the prophet often refers to the glory of the LORD, revealing God's power and holiness. God promises His Presence and Glory to shine on all people, uniting humanity and truth. Hundreds of years later John writes, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." [John 1:5] From centuries long ago until time to come, some will choose The Light while some will not. Whether kabod in the Hebrew or doxa in the Greek or shekinah in Aramaic or glory in English, God's Holy Light comes to us, comes for us, before and now and again! 

Christians are called people of the Light, and our lives should give voice to the glory of the LORD ~ praising and honoring His goodness and grace. We are to be His light shining in the world's darkness, both a "recipient and a reflector" of Light! Waiting expectantly requires action. Get out of bed...wake up...GOD's bright glory has risen for you. [The Message, Is.60:1-2] Are you waiting expectantly? The Light is coming! ~ dho

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Everyday Thanksgiving!

These many months of 2020 we have become experts at identifying the side-effects of Covid-19: dry cough, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath. Covid test results, both negative and positive, fill our prayers. Wear a mask, wash our hands, and socially distance have become the external side-effects of covid. 

My thoughts wander to the ‘side-effects’ of "Thanksgiving". There are at least three side-effects that came to mind: gathering - abundance - gratitude. Often we find ourselves making arrangements to gather together to share time during Thanksgiving. It is a holiday shared by all Americans and not specific to religion. Families gather, sometimes traveling great distances to spend time with each other. Food is gathered and prepared, and special meals are shared. In this, I find abundance ~ of provision and of time shared to reflect upon the blessings of life. While focusing on our blessings, it is easier to be thankful. But are these really the side effects of Thanksgiving?

Our plans often get in the way, often draw our attention away from God. Gathering together with God, spending time being nourished by His carefully prepared Word feeds the soul. In these times, we find the abundance of God's goodness and grace; we find blessings beyond need. Surrounded by such provision, the heart must acknowledge Our Sustainer, and with gratitude - whisper and shout - Baruch Hashem Adonai! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

This year, in our gatherings or limited gatherings, let's be sure to set a place for the Holy One. In our abundance, let's focus on The Source of all goodness and blessings. In our gratitude, let's remember The Giver of all good things and respond with gratitude. Baruch Hashem Adonai! Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Are these your side-effects of Thanksgiving? If so, then every day will be a day to celebrate Thanksgiving. ~dho

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Jehovah Shammah

“The hope we have in Christ is an absolute certainty. We can be sure that the place Christ is preparing for us will be ready when we arrive, because with Him nothing is left to chance. Everything He promised He will deliver.”   

                                                Billy Graham

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.” 
Psalm 27:4 ESV

Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He instructs the disciples to tell the story of Good News to all people. His final words of encouragement: And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. In Scripture, the last days refers to the time between Christ’s return to heaven after the resurrection and His second return to earth. The last days are now! The promise remains true; Jehovah Shammah, the LORD is there, dwells with us. God’s presence with His people is certain.

Scripture tells us that in the last days Jesus is mocked and questioned. Arrogance attempts to diminish the power of God, to discredit His role in creation, and to dismiss His promise of judgment. People choose other gods to worship. With humility, His faithful followers must earnestly continue to be about the work God calls us to do. 

LORD, Creator and Promise Keeper, 
Your grace falls gently in the midst of these harsh last days. Forgive those who deny You and give them a reason to hope. I long to dwell in Your Presence all the days of my life. Here I see the beauty of Extravagant Love and know the unexplainable joy of Living Hope. As I eagerly anticipate what You will do next, help me tell Your story of Grace! Count me alive in Christ. Moment by moment, Jehovah Shammah, You are here! - dho 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Finding Beauty in the Breaking

"I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places - firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past..." Isaiah 58:11-12 The Message

Nicole Nordeman's, "The Unmaking", reminds us that within our disappointments, failures, vain efforts, difficult decisions, and circumstances beyond our understanding God meets us. She writes, God "wanted to sit with me in the silence and the dust, after the wrecking ball, and put His arms around me for a while." Nordeman says God wasn't asking for a new plan of action; rather, "He asked for my vulnerability." 

God desires that we turn to Him, seek His Presence, and allow Him to comfort us! In the mess, the muck, the middle of the ruins of lost hope and broken dreams God is waiting. He always finds us in our need. Nordeman writes, "the rubble is where we have to start." Listen to this beautiful song of sifting through the debris, defining an ending, seeing the hope in a new beginning. Listen to the open, sincere whispers of the heart, "What happens now?...What happens next when all of you is all that's left?...This is the unmaking, beauty in the breaking...sitting in the rubble...~dho

Saturday, November 07, 2020

More Than We Understand

God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can't understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you.
 Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest

Situations that we do not understand happen all the time. Disasters, poverty, crime and diseases are part of everyday life. We live in a fallen world; sin rules, and Satan is the prince of darkness. Yet, God can take each of these circumstances ~ especially the hardest ones that are beyond understanding ~ and show us how we can use them to give Him glory.

Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who send me here... I am the world's Light. John 9:3-5 The Message 

In a crisis, the one question that usually remains unanswered is "WHY". Scripture tells us not to waste time assigning blame, rather we are to see God in every circumstance, looking for a way to be the light of Jesus to the world. Will we understand everything then? No! The right questions are How can I best praise God in this crisis? Will others see Jesus in my reactions? Am I turning to God for His vision in difficult times?. 

Jesus ~ You are the Great Physician who heals the bruised and broken. How often I think that only means physical healing. You always offer spiritual healing through difficult circumstances. The world blames You when life becomes dark and complicated. But You are Light and Love! Teach me how to praise God in all things, at all times. For His Goodness is everlasting. Amen. ~ dho