Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent on the Christian calendar. Lent is the time when believers prepare our hearts for the coming of Easter; it’s the time for reflecting on the sacrifice that Jesus made for each one of us when He went to the cross. We can do this in several ways:
Practice of spiritual disciplines
Denying ourselves something (such as giving up a favorite food)
Let’s Humble Ourselves
On this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, we humble ourselves before God. Some faiths remind us of this by placing ashes on their congregants’ foreheads with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
In that spirit, we’d like to revisit a post we wrote previously to help you start Lent in a humble, reflective manner. Here is the link to the Ash Wednesday pdf:
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and we pray you and your loved ones have a blessed start to this season of Lent!
Christmas Past and Present
Memories of Christmases past shimmer in my mind.
My sisters and I sneaking out of bed and tiptoeing down creaky stairs, anxious for our first glimpse of the Christmas tree.
Baking and frosting Christmas cookies.
Waiting my turn to open the next door on the Avent calendar.
The scent of incense wafting in the air at Christmas Eve mass.
Visiting Grandma and Grandpa and Uncles Dave and Bill on Christmas afternoon.
Holiday singalongs with my huge extended family. Laughter and love float around the room, like angels’ wings.
Grandma and Grandpa Herrmann singing Silent Night in German.
The Hallelujah chorus ringing through the auditorium and echoing in my heart.
My husband noisily putting together a bunk bed on Christmas Eve.
My own little children excitedly bounding up the stairs on Christmas morning, a bundle of laughter and energy.
The older I get, the more I reflect on those times, those people who are no longer with us, or, like my children, who have grown up to establish their own families and traditions. Intertwined in the memories is a sadness for what has changed.
I Miss …
I miss my mom, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents who are no longer with us. I miss those shared celebrations of laughter and love. I miss my children as little ones, carefully holding our candles together in the Christmas Eve service. I miss seeing them race up the stairs on Christmas morning.
These are precious memories, part of the fabric of who I am.
Yet, It’s Time To Move On
But I realize God doesn’t intend for me to dwell in my Christmases past (or my life past) because if I do that, I will miss my Christmas present, the present life that is waiting to be discovered and lived now — and shared with the next generation.
This quote by Joyce Meyer puts it in perspective for me:
We often spend our mental time in the past or in the future, instead of living in the moment we have now. When we don’t truly give ourselves to what we are doing at the moment, we become prone to anxiety. If we live in the now, we will find the Lord there with us.
Joyce Meyer Battlefield of the Mind Bible, p. 814
If I’m honest, I was spending too much time wishing that this Christmas, this season of life looked more like some past ones. But that cannot be. It should not be. God has given us this Christmas present, this life present and has promised us His presence now. After all, He is called the Great I AM. Not the great I was.
We are to rejoice in Him for who He is, for the amazing gift of heaven intersecting earth through Jesus’ miraculous birth — to be celebrated in our current season of life. If we just let Him, He will make every season of our lives purposeful and filled with His presence. It is the miracle of Emmanuel, God With Us.
The Names of Christmas: Zacharias and Elisabeth
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years … 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense… “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
He was a priest of the Most High God. He had been praying for years, we might even say decades, for a baby. Now He and his wife were advanced in years…beyond hope…beyond help.
Yet Zacharias prayed.
The name Zacharias transliterates from the Hebrew as Zakaryah which means Jehovah remembers. And what does God remember? He remembers His word, His will, His promises. He remembers your prayers.
It’s not that God ever forgets your prayers. When the Bible says He remembers it means He is going to act, according to His word, His will, and His promises, In His perfect timing. God is always on time.
The name Elisabeth is derived from Hebrew and it means God has sworn. What has God promised us at Christmas time? To send His only beloved Son, to be born of a virgin, in the dark of night, in the darkness of our sin, to be the Light of the World.
Let’s put those two names together and receive a Christmas message from God:
Zacharias Elizabeth: GOD REMEMBERS HIS PROMISES.
He will never leave you.
He will never forsake you.
He forgives you.
He loves you.
What has God promised you? Please leave a reply in the comment section below. I’d love to chat with you! Merry Christmas!
by Mary Kane
all rights reserved. Copyright 2019
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
In everything give thanks. God has given us a tall order in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Give thanks in everything? What about hard things, hurtful things, impossible things? How do we give thanks for losing a job, losing friends, losing a home, or a dream?
I have learned to give thanks by faith, not because what has happened is good, but because God is good. He has promised to use all things for our good. Regardless of how bad, hard, painful or scary, He is the great I AM.
I AM able to use that pain.
I AM able to heal that hurt.
I AM able to bring you through this season of loss with gain.
With God, there is always more, always another, always healing. There is life after death, joy after sorrow, and light after dark. One day all things will be made right and we shall see Him as He is. So we give thanks in the now, in the pain and hurt, in the joy and in the peace.
Give thanks in everything.
By Mary Kane
All rights reserved. Copyright 2019
What Advent Is All About
Advent is about waiting – waiting for the birth of Jesus. It’s the magical time when heaven intersects earth through the lives of ordinary people who are part of God’s extraordinary plan to redeem the world.
Mary and I have been feeling the nudge to make time and space in our lives to prepare for Christmas by celebrating the Advent season. We’d like you to be part of it, too, by joining us on this Advent “journey.”
We’re introducing our Advent devotional called Advent-urous, Seeking Jesus in the Season. We’ve started the Advent-urous Facebook group and have released the above devotional ebooklet on Amazon Kindle. We’re excited about this opportunity to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Here’s what you can expect from our Kindle devotional:
Weekly scripture reading.
Five devotional readings, one for each the four Sundays of Advent, plus an extra one.
Theme of the week.
Weekly activities to apply the theme to your life.
Optional participation in the Advent-urous Facebook group. In this group, we are encouraging people to post their thoughts and insights about the devotional reading for the week, their Advent prayers, and the activities they did to apply the theme to their life. You can post as many times in a week as you would like.
Advent Is a Season of Hope
As we said, this year we want to be intentional about celebrating Advent with meaning. No matter what your life’s situation is right now, there’s hope. Let’s find it together.
The devotional begins on the first day of Advent, which for 2019 is Sunday, December 1. At any time during the week, you may post in the Facebook group about your experience. As God gives you more insight, or you try multiple activities throughout the week, feel free to post as often as you feel led. We’d also love to hear any new Advent ideas you have on how to apply the theme too.
To get started right now, you just have to do two things.
Purchase the Advent-urous devotional on Kindle. We have it listed at a very low price so that as many people as want to can participate.
We look forward to experiencing this Advent season with you!
Simply Study: Luke the Christmas Story, Chapter 2
Are you ready to simply study God’s Word?
Happy New Year and welcome to Luke 2, Sessions 1-6 of Simply Study! We pray you will be blessed by the time you simply study God’s Word. During this busy last week of Christmas Break take a little time to finish your study of the Christmas story. In Chapter 2 of Luke, we meet two often forgotten members of the Christmas story, Anna and Simeon. Like Anna and Simeon, I want to leave a legacy of a life well lived, looking for Jesus!
Simply Study daily Bible study contains the following simple pieces:
Simply read Repeated readings will help you meditate on truths of God’s word.
Simply mark Let loose your creative side as you simply mark the daily scripture reading passage.
Simply answer Look back in the scripture to answer questions about the text.
Simply reflect Consider what God is speaking to your heart and record your thoughts.
Simply act Become a doer of the word as you decide how to apply what you have learned.
Note: This Simply Study Bible study will only cover the Christmas chapters of the book of Luke, not the whole book.