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Daily Prayer Guide: Sunday Dec 20

Scripture Reading

Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Meditation

Anticipation. Expectations. Hope. This is what the Magi must have felt in their quest to see the newborn Christ. The magi were most likely counselors to kings, well known for their ability to interpret dreams and the movements of the stars. They were not Jewish men seeking the Messiah. We don’t know why the Magi (and their entourage) set out on this journey, but we recognize that they were on a search for Jesus.

When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were enough of a presence that King Herod, known for his paranoia, invited them in. He claimed that he also wanted to know of this new Messiah. Herod wasn’t searching for Jesus himself, but he was allowing others to do it for him.

When the Magi found Jesus, they were humbled and worshipped him. They were transformed by a baby. They returned home by another route. They returned home knowing that they had met the Christ. Their lives were given a new route because of Jesus.

For the Magi, they completed a two-year journey to meet Jesus. Different people take different paths to the Prince of Peace, but at the end of the journey, we begin to be transformed by the One who came to save us. This process is continuous and without end. At this time of year, when anticipation and hope are high, what does your transformation look like? Are you changed because you have a relationship with Jesus? Are your days different because you know the Messiah?

We don’t learn about the fate of the Magi. When they returned to their country, did their friends and family see a change in them? After meeting Jesus, I would guess that change would be obvious.

Reflection & Prayer

  • Think about the magi’s journey to an unknown destination. They didn’t know what lay at the end, but were convinced that there was a greater story, a greater power at work in their lives. Do you sense that greater story in your life? Why or why not?
  • What would it look like for your life journey to find its way towards a greater story?
  • When you stop and take time to reflect on the story of the Gospel, are you moved to worship like the magi? Take some time and reflect for yourself…

Written by Jaye Barbeau

Click Here to Download Week 4 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 20-Fri Dec 25

Daily Prayer Guide: Saturday Dec 19

Scripture Reading

Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Meditation

The Old Testament scriptures show the people of God, over thousands of years, crying out for the Messiah.  In prophecies, in songs, in narratives, we read about their longing for the Promised One.

And then, in the very first chapter of the New Testament, this passage appears. It becomes apparent that the Messiah won’t be coming the way they expected, in triumph and power.  The Messiah will be coming as a little baby – and what’s more, a baby that appears to be illegitimately conceived.  God is going to come to us and change the world forever. And He’s going to do it by entering directly into our weakness and our mess.

The Messiah is referred to with two names here: “Jesus” and “Immanuel.”

“Jesus” is the Greek form of Joshua, which means “Yahweh saves.” The angel tells Joseph that the child will save his people from their sins, which echoes earlier words in Scripture:

O Israel, put your hope in Yahweh,
for with Yahweh is unfailing love, and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
(Psalm 130:7-8)

“Immanuel,” we are told, means “God with us.” God among us. God in the flesh. God who is not distant. God who is done with this separation from us because of our sin. He’s closing the gap and initiating. He’s coming to us.

Reflection and Prayer

Get in a quiet place where you can concentrate. Ask God to help you focus on Him.

Spend some time meditating on the phrase “God with us.” Think about the fact that God is close-by.
Then take some time to meditate on the phrase “Yahweh saves.” (It might help to read and pray through Psalm 130.)

Thank God for who He is. Ask God to make His salvation and His “with-ness” more real to you in this season.

Written by Hannah Busse

Click here to download Week 3 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 13-Sat 19

Daily Prayer Guide: Friday Dec 18

Scripture Reading

Malachi 3:1-4

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

Meditation

Malachi, the writer of this passage, was a prophet – one who spoke for God. He lived about 400 years before Christ, and was Israel’s last prophet until John the Baptist came (here, “my messenger, who will prepare the way before me”) to make Israel ready for the ministry of Jesus Christ (here, “the messenger of the covenant”).

The writer speaks about “the day of [Christ’s] coming” – but which coming is he talking about? Jesus’ first coming or his future second coming? Many commentators believe that this prophecy is talking about both at the same time.

Regardless, it’s clear from this passage that Jesus’ coming won’t be all warm fuzzies.  It will bring some serious judgment as God exposes what’s in people’s hearts. Just as Jesus’ first coming revealed our crookedness and made a way for us to be purified in God’s sight, so also His second coming will bring to light what’s truly in human hearts, and will result in God’s fair judgment on all the rights and wrongs in humanity.

Malachi says that Jesus will be like “launderer’s soap.” He will put his people through the “wash cycle” to cleanse them from their impurities and sin. In trusting Christ for our salvation, we have already come out spotlessly clean and white in the sight of God.  In that sense, this passage has already been fulfilled in us.

But the writer also says Jesus will “sit as a refiner and purifier.” In Malachi’s day, refiners of precious metals would get that metal down to its purest form by heating it in a pot over a fire. As the gold or silver would melt, the impurities would be extracted. The refiner would know his work was done when he could look into the pot and see his own image reflected in the molten metal.

This speaks to a powerful truth. As we give our lives over to Jesus, His Spirit is doing a gradual work in us – the work of a refiner. He is patiently tending the fires in our lives, steadily working to purify our hearts, and taking delight as He sees more and more of His own image reflected in us.

Reflection and Prayer
Find a quiet place where you can concentrate.

Ask God to search your heart and show you any impurities – sins that are keeping you from reflecting more of who He is. Then be quiet and listen.

As God brings something to mind:
-Confess it to Him.
-Acknowledge that you’re unable to purify yourself from it.

Written by Hannah Busse

Click here to download Week 3 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 13-Sat 19

Daily Prayer Guide: Thursday Dec 17

Scripture Reading

Titus 3:4-8

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Meditation

It is difficult to fathom grace in an instantly-gratified, upwardly-mobile society. We have been taught that we get what we earn. God shows us grace instead. Grace means that we get much more than we earn. We get salvation because of His sacrifice. We are saved not because of what we have done, but because God has chosen not to give us what we deserve, and that is mercy. The coming of Jesus Christ our Savior to the earth was not a whim but a plan of the Almighty to justify us in His Holy, Unblemished Presence. It was the Creator’s plan after the fall of man to give to us what we could not give ourselves—redemption. When Jesus came, he came not with the splendor or majesty that He was due, but he came with the humility and truth that characterizes our God. God loves us in our weakness, today as much as he ever has or will. That love, manifested in the coming of the human Jesus, is unwavering and unchanging. That love is powerful and revolutionary for our lives. The question is: What do we do with it? The answer: We devote ourselves to loving God and loving his people. What will that look like for you this Advent Season?

Reflection and Prayer

Read through the Titus 3 passage again: look at all the character traits of God, look at each of the actions that God performs. Say them aloud to yourself.

Consider what “washing, rebirth, and renewal” means in your life circumstances right now. The coming of Jesus meant a new start for our world; does it mean a new start for you?

The Christmas season provides us with unique opportunities to serve and love others: Ask God to open your eyes to those opportunities.

Written by Jaye Barbeau

Click here to download Week 3 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 13-Sat 19

Daily Prayer Guide: Wednesday Dec 16

Scripture Reading

Zechariah 9: 9 -10

“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion! Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem! Your king is coming! a good king who makes all things right, a humble king riding a donkey, a mere colt of a donkey. I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim, no more war horses in Jerusalem, no more swords and spears, bows and arrows. He will offer peace to the nations, a peaceful rule worldwide, from the four winds to the seven seas.” [Translation from The Message, by Eugene Peterson]

Reflection and Prayer

It’s easy to remember to celebrate and give thanks to God on special occasions – birthdays, holidays, vacation days, the list goes on. When we’re caught up in our daily lives, it becomes more difficult to discern the difference between the commonplace events in our daily routines and moments meant for celebration. During Advent, however, we are reminded to approach each minute as a celebration, holding in our hearts the promise of Jesus’ coming, a moment that will change the course of our hearts and lives. Christ’s birth is just the prologue to the story of His life and death, each and every part a reason to celebrate with joy and thanks.

Praise God

  • for sending a King to a world that needs Him so desperately, and in doing so providing us with a reason to celebrate not just on specific days or at certain times, but during every day of our lives

Celebrate

  • with every moment of your day today; enter your hours with a spirit of thankfulness and joy, so that you will be reminded about the many blessings in your day that are easily mistaken for mundane tasks or routines

Pray that

  • the people you interact with today (and every day) will notice the spirit of celebration, sense of thankfulness and desire for peace that you bring into your work, play and relationships; and that the light you bring to others will help draw them towards the light that comes from knowing God

Written by Mariah Lefeber

Click here to download Week 3 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 13-Sat 19

Daily Prayer Guide: Tuesday Dec 15

Scripture Reading

Zephaniah 3:14-20

14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  15 For the LORD will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the LORD himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster.  16 On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!  17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  18 “I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more.  19 And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed.  20 On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Meditation

Could it really be the God of the universe rejoices over us with singing? It paints an intriguing picture: God saving us, delighting in us, quieting us with his love, and singing a song for us. Imagine God as a kind of troubadour, serenading us with his love.

I live so much of my life in fear, especially this time of year. Will I do, say, think, believe the right things? Will I live up to the expectations of my friends, my family? Perhaps you can relate. I don’t mean a melodramatic fear that cripples my capacity. On the contrary it is the fear that keeps going, propelling me to excel and to achieve. It is so often the fear pushing me to move faster, work harder, do more. And along comes God, telling me not to fear, quieting me with his love.

Today, what might it look like for you to be quieted by the love of God? Perhaps it means slowing down a bit, turning off the TV, unplugging the internet. Perhaps it’s a simple attitude adjustment. Perhaps it’s a shift in perspective, allowing God to redefine who you are. Will you be defined by the things that you say and do? Will you be defined by the pressures of today, the failures, the success? Or will you be defined by these words:

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

Reflection and Prayer

// Pray that God might open your heart to a richer understanding of who you are.

// In addition to prayers that come from your heart, you may find this prayer a helpful guide. Notice the rhythm of the prayer. You may find it helpful to repeat this prayer several times.

God to enfold me
God to surround me
God in my speaking
God in my thinking
God in my sleeping
God in my walking
God in watching
God in my hoping
God in my life
God in my lips
God in my hands
God in my heart
God in my sufficing
God in my slumber
God in my ever-living soul
God in my eternity

Written by Paul Lefeber

Click here to download Week 3 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 13-Sat 19

Daily Prayer Guide: Monday Dec 14

Scripture Reading

Micah 5:1-5a

Marshal your troops, O city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
on the cheek with a rod.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor gives birth
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.

Meditation

The prophet Micah may be best known for this prophecy saying that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem was known in those days as the hometown of David, Israel’s greatest king; but it was never a big or influential town. Yet God picked it to be Jesus’ birthplace.

Micah goes on to describe how the Messiah’s coming will change things for God’s people. Read through it and stop for a minute at that last phrase describing Jesus: “He will be their peace.” Jesus will be our peace. Sounds nice, but what does that even mean?

In the holiday season, we have lots of reasons not to be at peace. Our lives can easily be overtaken by the stress of full schedules, shopping, and traffic jams. Our celebrations can be difficult because of tense family relationships. Our budgets can be strained by job loss or the state of the economy.

And yet this promise echoes through the chaos: He will be their peace.

Notice that it doesn’t say “He will give them peace.” There’s no promise here that God will instantly resolve our tense relationships for us, that He will magically fill our pocketbooks, or that He’ll make the traffic jams vanish into thin air.

Rather, the Scripture offers that Jesus Himself will be our peace. We will find peace in the midst of our conflict-ridden lives when we nestle ourselves into Him.

In our troubles, He is perfect security.

In our weakness, He is perfect strength.

In our chaos, He is perfect peace.

This season, let’s ground ourselves in all of who He is.

Reflection and Prayer
Get in a quiet place.
Take several minutes to rid yourself of your hurry: close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.
Then spend some time asking Jesus to be your peace this season. If you’d like, you can use this prayer:
Jesus, thank You for all You are; my shepherd, my king, and my security. No matter what circumstances are going on in my life right now, I want to find complete peace in who You are to me. My heart is prone to be restless and anxious. Please help me to settle my heart into Your unchanging promises and character. I want You to be my peace.

Written by Hannah Busse

Click here to download Week 3 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 13-Sat 19


Love All

Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.