Tag Archives: Advent

Wrong Motives, Right Attitude

Yesterday was the day that a devotional I wrote for the Western PA-Germany United Methodist Partnership’s Advent Devotional Book was featured. I wrote the English version and one of our German UM’s translated it into German.
Wednesday 15th December

Numbers 24: 2 – 7, 15 – 17

Today’s passage records the last of the prophet Balaam’s attempts to earn respect and rewards from the king of the land. All he has to do is pronounce a curse against the children of Israel as they finish their journey towards the promised land. Twice now, Balaam sought an omen that he might use as a curse, but both times Scripture states that “God met with Balaam.” (Num 23:4,16). Each of those encounters results not in a curse, but in a blessing. The king is angry and Balaam agrees to try again.

So King Balak waits while Balaam prays, again looking for something he might say to bring a curse on the Israelites and bless King Balak’s forces. But this time, we read in Numbers 24:2, the spirit of God literally comes upon Balaam. What proceeds from the resulting pronouncement is even more than a blessing, it includes a prophetic picture of how God would one day bring the blessing of the coming Messiah upon the earth through these Israelites. Balaam sees the Messiah as the “Star” and a “Scepter” who will ultimately reign over all … even King Balak’s lands and peoples.

In spite of his wrong motives, Balaam was aware that it was a path to utter failure if he misrepresented his God. How about us? In our lives, how well do we represent our God? We claim we know the Messiah and he’s coming again soon. Do people around us see that in our lives, or do we merely represent ourselves and our own ways? This Advent, as we prepare ourslves anew for Christ’s Second Coming, let’s make sure our lives, our actions, and even our words, are such that those around us can see his “Star” rising in our lives.


Dayton D Mix

Pastor First United Methodist Church in Reynoldsville, PA, (USA)

 
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Mittwoch 15. Dezember

4. Mose 24, 2 – 7 + 15 – 17

Die heutige Bibelstelle handelt vom letzten Versuch des Propheten Bileam, Respekt und Belohnung vom König des Landes zu bekommen. Er braucht nur einen Fluch gegen die Kinder Israels am Ende ihrer Reise ins gelobte Land auszusprechen. Zweimal schon hat Bileam einen Spruch gesucht, der ihm als Fluch dienen könnte, aber beides Mal heiβt es in der Schrift, „Und Gott begegnete Bileam.“ (4. Mose 23, 4,16). Jede dieser Begegnungen führt nicht zu einem Fluch, sondern zu einem Segen. Der König ärgert sich und Bileam ist bereit, es aufs Neue zu versuchen.

Deshalb wartet König Balak, während Bileam betet und wiederum nach etwas sucht, was er als Fluch auf die Israeliten und Segen auf König Balaks Truppen aussprechen könnte. Aber dieses Mal heiβt es in 4. Mose 24,2 dass der Geist Gottes auf ihn zukam. Die daraus entstehende Verkündigung ist mehr als ein Segen, denn sie enthält die prophetische Verheiβung, dass Gott eines Tages durch das Volk Israel den Segen des kommenden Messias aller Welt schenken wird. Als „Stern“ und „Zepter“ sieht Bileam den Messias, der schlieβlich über alles herrschen wird — selbst über König Balaks Länder und Untertanen.

Trotz seiner falschen Beweggründe war sich Bileam bewuβt, dass er den Weg des völligen Versagens einschlagen wird, falls er eine falsche Vorstellung von seinem Gott gäbe. Und wie steht es mit uns? Wie gut stellen wir in unserem Leben unseren Gott dar? Wir behaupten, wir kennen den Messias und seine baldige Wiederkunft. Erkennen unsere Mitmenschen das in unserem Leben, oder stellen wir uns lediglich selbst und unsere eigenen Wege dar? Wenn wir uns in dieser Adventszeit erneut auf die zweite Wiederkunft Christi vorbereiten, dann sorgen wir doch dafür, dass unser Leben, unsere Handlungen und selbst unsere Worte so sind, dass unsere Mitmenschen Seinen „Stern“ in unserem Leben aufgehen sehen.

Dayton D Mix
Pastor First United Methodist Church in Reynoldsville, PA (USA)

Here’s the full devotional book. [click here]

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ADVENT 5: Christmas Eve

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, Reynoldsville
ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING LITURGY
December 24, 2007

READ SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:6-7

READING: In this prophecy, Isaiah offers hope to the people of Galilee of the Gentiles… for out of them will come a great light shining in the darkness… a Deliverer to free them from oppression. And with those famous words: “For unto us a son is born…” God let them know that the Deliverer would be one of their own… Born into the chosen people of God who would know them and their ways and understand them in their entirety.

But the oppression the Deliverer would set them free from wasn’t just a political system… as evidenced by the names God ascribes to the Deliverer… “He will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR… MIGHTY GOD… EVERLASTING FATHER… and PRINCE OF PEACE.” They didn’t yet realize it, but God was telling them in advance that this Deliverer would come to rule a kingdom of hearts… and set them free from the oppression of evil… And destroy the power of Satan.

As we light this last candle in our Advent Wreath, the white candle in the center that we call the CHRIST CANDLE, we remember that Jesus came as Deliverer… for them and for us… to deliver them, and us, from the oppression of evil. Thousands of years have passed, and Jesus still offers to deliver people from the effects of sin and evil… if we will allow him.
Let’s make this Christmas complete by inviting Jesus to be our Lord, our Savior, our Friend, and… our Deliverer… Let’s allow Him to reign as King and Lord of our lives.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we welcome you to our church, our homes, and our lives. Reign on the thrones of our hearts as our King and Lord. Deliver us from evil and help us to follow you for the rest of our lives. AMEN.

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Advent 4

This is the liturgy for our fourth week of Advent Candle Lighting.

 

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ADVENT 4

 

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2

READING: Isaiah offered hope to those who lived in times of spiritual darkness… There was a LIGHT that was coming… and that light would shine forth and pierce the darkness. All in darkness would be able to see the light… even those that actually lived in the midst of great darkness… even the ones that lived in the shadow of death would see the light.

Hope WOULD come!

The light WOULD shine!

HALLELUJAH!!!

As we light this fourth Advent candle, we remember that although Isaiah’s prophecy spoke about Jesus coming some 2000 years ago, it also speaks of His second coming which is yet to happen. And like that first coming, He will come as the light when there is a time of great darkness… and everyone living in darkness will have a chance to see the light… Even those who live in the darkest recesses of the darkest, most grievous shadows of death itself.

Hope IS coming!

The light WILL shine!

HALLELUJAH!!!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you said you were the light of the world and then, for those who follow you, you said we also would be light. Lord, as we live our lives we recognize more and more the deepness of the darkness around us. We need to be light like we’ve never been before… sharing the good news that YOU love us and want to save us. But ultimately Lord, it’s YOUR light that we hope for and wait for. You are coming! HALLELUJAH!!! AMEN.

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ADVENT 3

This is the third reading for our Advent Candle Lighting.
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SCRIPTURE: Haggai 2:6-7

READING: In today’s Scripture lesson, the prophet Haggai shares God’s warnings about upcoming events for the people of ancient Jerusalem about rebuilding the city and His temple. But almost lost in the midst of this old prophecy is a reference to the Messiah who would one day come and be known as “The Desire Of All Nations.”

This week, as we light our third candle, we notice that it is not purple like the candles of the last two weeks. This time our candle is pink, reminding us of the HOPE and the JOY that we can look forward to in the midst of Messiah’s coming.

Jesus is the very one that All Nations Desire… even though they may not yet be aware of it yet. The peace and hope and joy the world longs for will only come when Jesus Himself comes back.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are the Desire of all nations and we pray that you will help us to be ones that desire you personally. Come quickly, Lord, Come quickly. AMEN.

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ADVENT 2

This was the Advent Candle Lighting liturgy from this past Sunday.
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SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 7:14

READING: In this second prophecy about the coming Messiah, the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, has just delivered God’s message of hope to Judah’s King Ahaz… Judah will NOT be conquered by the enemies that are threatening them. God offers to give King Ahaz a sign that he’ll keep his promise… and says that Ahaz can ask for any sign he wants that God will really deliver His people.

Ahaz has always tried to be non-committal with Isaiah, trying to play it safe, and so he tries that same thing now with God… he refuses to ask for a sign… even though God has commanded him to.

So God picks… The sign will be a virgin who will conceive and then bear a son. And as that child grows, the people will be delivered from their enemies. In Ahaz’s day, there was a partial fulfillment of this. A young woman who was a virgin when Isaiah spoke these words, truly did conceive and bear a son… but it was in the normal way that sons were born. And before that son was grown, the people actually were delivered from their enemies … the two kings that Ahaz had so feared, were dead.

But God also had a deeper message of a longer lasting deliverance in mind when he prophecied to Ahaz through Isaiah: There would be another virgin who would conceive… as a virgin! And her son would not only bring deliverance to His people, but he would actually be the deliverer!

So many times in Scripture, and in our daily lives as well, we think we understand what God means and what He has said. But quite often, we only understand a portion of His word… only a part of His will is truly understood. As we light the second purple candle in our Advent Wreath, we do well to remember the apostle Paul’s words from centuries later, when he wrote “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.” Only when Christ comes back again, will we finally be able to see the big picture the way God sees it… and has seen it all along.

PRAYER: Father God, we read your word and hear your message, and we think we understand your will and your ways. But just like Ahaz and Isaiah, Paul and the prophets, we only see a part of what you are doing. We don’t understand your ways or what you’re trying to do. Teach us to trust You and Your Holy Spirit as you lead us and guide us… whether it makes sense to us or not. AMEN

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ADVENT 1

In our church worship services yesterday, we lit one candle of our Advent Wreath as part of the celebration of the first Sunday of Advent. Here is the devotion I wrote to accompany it. (We are using the New Living Translation for these devotions each week).

 

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ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING
First Sunday of Advent

 


SCRIPTURE: Malachi 4:1-6

READING: In today’s prophecy about the coming of Christ, God promises His people that when Christ comes down in what we now call Christmas, He will deal with the wicked. Also, those who “fear His name” will personally encounter Christ and find that He will also bring healing to their lives… healing for physical ailments, healing for mental illnesses, healing for damaged emotions, and even healing for broken relationships.

Depending on which group of people we choose to associate ourselves with, either the wicked or those who fear His name, determines how we will encounter Christ when He comes.

Part of the promise of God found here in Malachi, is the promise that God will send warnings ahead of time and send a messenger to alert us that it’s almost time for Christ to come. When Christ first came, that messenger was John the Baptist. Today, the warnings are all around us… radio, TV, books, preachers, and the written words of God found in Scripture.

As we light this candle today on the first Sunday of Advent, we remember that He is coming again… and soon! And we will meet Him when he comes… as our conqueror, if we are wicked, or as our healer, if we fear His name and serve Him as His people.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus… You are the Sun of Righteousness and you come to offer us healing, even as you prepare to destroy evil. Help us to be like John the Baptist as we warn our friends and neighbors that You are on Your way… and they get to choose how they’ll meet you. AMEN.

 

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Here are a couple of websites that I found helpful in explaining more about Advent Wreaths.

 

 

 

 

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