Weekly Verses…

Weekly Verses…

Monday

This is what the Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
 —Isaiah 43:16 and Isaiah 43:18-19
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
The year is gone, finished, past.  We cannot reclaim it or undo it.  We cannot rest on the things it has brought us.  If tomorrow dawns, it will be another day, a new opportunity, and the time to show our faith in Jesus as Lord.  Let’s journey forward, knowing that God already inhabits the future and promises to provide us refreshment.
MY PRAYER…
Lord of all eternity, please help me to learn from my mistakes but not dwell on them.  Please help me not rest on my accomplishments in this past year, but use them to further your work in me and through me.  Please help me not quarrel with those who injured me yesterday, or last month.  Instead, O Father, lead me in your paths and help me see your mighty works this next year.  In Jesus name and by his power I ask it. Amen.
Tuesday
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
We all like “do-overs” or second chances. God does much better than that! He allows us to become new again. Being the “God of new things” he can even make us new. Beyond forgiveness, beyond cleansing, he makes us holy through Jesus. Let’s use the opportunity of a New Year as a springboard to living a life fresh and new and alive to God!
MY PRAYER…
O LORD, thank you for a New Year and a fresh start. Please give me wisdom and strength to serve you with integrity and faithfulness in this coming year. I pray that your work be done in my life as I offer myself, my plans, and my future to you. I pray this through Jesus, my intercessor and Lord. Amen.
Wednesday
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalms 90:12
New International Version\
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
So often we look up and time has passed us by. The things we promised ourselves we’d accomplish and the deeds we told others we’d do get left undone. Before we know it, days have become weeks, and weeks months, and months years. We find ourselves unable to do what we once assumed we could do any time we want. We must ask the Spirit of God to help us see and seize the opportunities the LORD places in our path.
MY PRAYER…
Father, I confess that so often I leave undone what needs to be done. Please help me see your plans in each of my days and live in a way which not only honors you, but also blesses those you want me to reach. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Thursday
While [Joseph and Mary] were [in Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:6-7
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
I’ve always been amazed at how God chose to place his Son into our world.  He could have done it any way he wanted.  But he chose this way — to enter the world in difficult times under difficult circumstances as a helpless infant who must be cared for by parents who were vulnerable to so many frailties. Yet in spite of the challenges that lay ahead and the bewildering mystery that confronted them:  Joseph and Mary, along with everyone around them, were caught up in the great joy this new child gave.
MY PRAYER…
Give me a heart of faith, O God, so that I might always see your sovereignty and grace being poured out on me in special ways.  I am thrilled that you, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, chose to enter my world as a child.  Thank you for trusting your wonderful salvation to human flesh so we could know that you deemed us worthy of entering our world to make us right for yours.  Through Jesus.  Amen.
Friday
[God] has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
God’s desires for us are not hard to discern.  He wants to bless us with salvation. The incredible gift of his Son is powerful testimony to this truth.  But salvation from sin and death is not something he wants to happen in our lives only once.  He wants our lives to daily reflect his salvation and to share it with others.  We should act justly and pursue mercy in our relationships, and honor him with our worship from a humble heart.
MY PRAYER…
Almighty and compassionate Father, as I embrace this New Year, help my eyes see what your heart sees.  Teach me to hate sin and be merciful to the repentant.  Teach me to know truth and act fairly, while hating abuse and exploitation. Through your Spirit, stir me to reflect on the great distance between your holy majesty and my inconsistent character.  Make me more your child, I pray, in Jesus name.  Amen.
Saturday
Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless.
Isaiah 1:16-17
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Do you find it easy to replace service to those in need with religious rituals?  I know I do!  But God wants us to not get so caught up in talking about him and celebrating his deeds, that we forget we’re supposed to care for others like he does. Whether it is Jesus defining his ministry in Luke 4:18-19 or James talking about the kind of piety that pleases God (1:26-27), we must realize true faith is treating others as God would. Today’s verse defines what God does and asks us to live the same.
MY PRAYER…
O Great God of all comfort, open my eyes today to see those who need your love and give me the attentiveness, time, and compassion to serve them.  May Jesus’ work be seen in my life today.   Amen.
Sunday
Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
When Jesus came the first time, he came to reveal God (John 1:18).  As wonderful, powerful, and gracious as he was in his earthly ministry, it did not fully reveal Jesus our Lord.  Our hope is tied to his return.  When he comes this time, he won’t come to reveal God, but to reveal himself — the conquering Lord, the Rider on the white horse.  Every knee will bow.  And we will see him as he really and fully is, Immanuel in power and grace.  With this as our hope,  we can be ready for active service to our king as people who live their lives under his leadership and control.
MY PRAYER…
O Almighty God, I long for the day when I get to see Jesus face to face coming with the angels in power.  Until that time, fasten my heart in hope to the glory Jesus will share with me on that day, and please empower me to live as one who knows that victory is mine in Jesus.  Jesus, through your powerful name I pray.  Amen.
Devotional credit: Oneplace.com
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6 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays

6 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays

Preparing for the holidays can be a lot of work. In fact, during the next few weeks, your Christmas to-do list is probably about to grow into an outrageous, poster-sized banner. Am I right? And then, before you know it, your Christmas experience turns into a frenzy of challenging task after challenging task.

Why not do it differently this year? Let’s get a head start on this season to ensure that this Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Our Savior. Below you will find six ways you can prepare for Christmas while remembering the reason we celebrate the season.

1. Add an advent calendar to your nightly routine. An advent calendar is a wonderful way to prepare your family for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Not sure how an advent calendar works? Check out our article on How To Use An Advent Calendar and get a head start on the celebration this year.

2. Decorate your Christmas tree as a family.  Choose lights and ornaments that represent the true Christmas story. With the Twelve Names of Christmas Ornaments, you can start 12 days before Christmas—read one story each night with your family and have your children hang the corresponding ornament on the tree.

3. Serve others. Start a card ministry, organize a bake sale for your favorite charity, deliver pre-cooked Christmas dinners or easy-clean-up meals to your elderly friends, or volunteer your time at a local food pantry. By serving others at Christmas and year-round, you are answering God’s call in your life. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV

4. Decorate gradually. Slow down the process of putting your nativity scene out. By displaying your manger scene one piece at a time, you will be able to truly focus on the involvement of each person in the miraculous first Christmas story—of course, topping it off Christmas Day with the arrival of baby Jesus.

5. Find time to sit quietly. As the busyness of the holiday season approaches, set aside a designated time each day to fully focus on listening to God’s voice. Pick up some prayer resources to help deepen your personal relationship with Jesus as we approach the celebration of His birth.

6. Study the Christmas story. Read enlightening books about the amazing birth of Jesus. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamphelps readers celebrate the lineage and the majesty of Jesus Christ; while The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgsfocuses more on the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. Looking for materials to help your children or grandchildren learn more about the birth of Christ? Check out our Christmas-themed activity books such as Christmas Joysor Jesus Is Born!

We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the Christmas rush. At DaySpring, we want to come alongside you this season to bring you inspirational devotionals, helpful tips, and fun ideas to remind us all of the reason we celebrate Christmas. We hope our six ways to prepare for the holidays will help bring your focus back to the amazing Christmas story and His unfailing love for us.

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com

 

Discovering the Advent Season

Discovering the Advent Season

Every year, I plan on buying a traditional Advent calendar to help my family get ready for Christmas.  I like the idea of daily Advent readings that help build anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Unfortunately, I’m usually busy and forget to buy the calendar until after Advent has already started.  There is so much going on at Thanksgiving, and then the parties start, and before you know it, Christmas is upon us.  The calendar itself is not the most important thing; it’s about what celebrating Advent does for us during a very busy time of the year.

Advent is the season that starts four Sundays before Christmas.  For hundreds of years, Christians have used this season to remember the coming of Christ, and to prepare for Christmas.  It’s more than just a piece of history, though.  So, why do we celebrate Advent?  Celebrating the Advent season can help us today to follow Christ more faithfully in at least three ways.

Advent helps us focus on Jesus.

We’ve all heard the clichés like “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas.”  Even though they are clichés, they contain nuggets of truth.  One of the reasons that they exist is that it is just so easy to let all of the activities, and shopping, and parties overwhelm our focus on Jesus.  Celebrating Advent gives us daily and weekly reminders through Scripture about who Christ is and what He did for us when He came to earth.

Advent helps us honor Jesus.

The word “Advent” means the arrival of someone or something important.  When an important event like a graduation or wedding is coming, we work hard to make sure everything is perfect.  When an important person is coming to visit, we work hard to properly prepare for them so that they will know they are valuable to us.  We plan the menu and the decorations; we clean the house and edge the lawn.  We don’t just wait until the last minute and throw something together.  Similarly, celebrating Advent helps us give Jesus the proper attention and focus He deserves.  By focusing on Him throughout this season, and not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we honor Him more faithfully.

Advent helps us remember Jesus is coming again.

Advent is not only a celebration of Christ’s first coming as a baby; it is also a reminder of Jesus’ return that is yet to come.  Just as God’s people awaited the first coming of the Messiah, His people now await the return of our Savior.  The four weeks of Advent remind us of both of these comings.  In weeks one and two, the Scripture readings look forward to His second coming and remind us of the importance of being prepared for His return.  Weeks three and four look backward and help us remember the excitement and expectation that the hope of the Messiah brought to the ancient Jews.  It has always been important for God’s people to remember that God is up to something, and that we need to live in expectation of what He will do when He comes again.

In our world, there are so many things that can occupy our attention.  The Christmas season is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also one of the most distracting seasons of the year.  Even for those who want to keep focused on Jesus, it is difficult to do so.  By celebrating Advent, we acknowledge that celebrating Jesus is more than one evening and the following day.  The ‘how’ to celebrate Advent isn’t as important as the connection you make with Him, so create special traditions as a family and grow in Him together.  Let us be a people who acknowledge God’s great love and generosity for his people every day this Advent season.

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com

Finding Peace in the Face of Family Stress

Finding Peace in the Face of Family Stress

Life is full of choices, isn’t it? One of the hardest choices for me personally is choosing my response in stressful situations. And the situations that seem the most difficult? Family matters. Ah yes, you know what I’m talking about? Aunt Susie and Uncle Billy enjoy a wonderful marriage, but all the sudden, on a holiday weekend when the entire family is finally together, they choose to argue and complain to one another loudly in front of everyone. The underlying tension that results is thick enough to cut. Or maybe all the children of the extended family are running around together when one of them suddenly takes a tumble and tears flow. One after another, toddlers melt down and preschoolers throw tantrums. Maybe your family doesn’t have these moments because long ago, two sisters decided they no longer would speak to each other. So rather than stemming from reactions within the family, stress results from having zero interaction with one another.

Regardless of your personal family circumstances, whether health problems, differences of opinion, or distressing issues, finding peace in the face of family stress is challenging. How can we discover harmony within our families in stressful times? Check out these practical and inspiring ideas!

1. Choose a light-hearted approach when possible.

When I was growing up, my parents often hosted missionaries and ministry workers of all kinds. There were no restaurants in our small town and folks had to eat somewhere. One day, the visiting missionary’s son spilled his entire glass of milk at our dinner table in a typical child-like fumble. His parents looked ready to crawl under the table, but with nine kids of his own, my dad just continued passing the potatoes. In a quiet voice, he said “That’s never happened here before.” Then he glanced up at the missionaries and everyone began to laugh. Whenever family bumps occur, a little laughter can go a long way.

2. Remember that time together is precious.

Learning to overlook oddities or parts of family relationships we don’t appreciate is much easier when we keep them in perspective. See your family often? Treasure the memories you are making. Family living all over the country? Enjoy those cramped moments of sleeping in odd spaces and eating in tight places. In the face of stress, embrace the time you have because time is not a commodity we can purchase.

3. Build in quiet moments during family time.

Regardless of the family size or family member ages, one simple way to enjoy a calm family conversation moment is to ask each person to say one thing they appreciate or admire about the person to their right. Moving a conversation around the table in this fashion brings a sweetness to spirits.

4. Recognize that the best peace comes from the Lord.

Psalm 147:13-14 ESV reminds us how the Lord provides:

For He strengthens the bars of your gates; He blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; He fills you with the finest of the wheat.

Reading the above verse in the face of family stress or saying a short prayer asking for peace is a beautiful way to approach burdens or worries that threaten to steal the joy of family. When we choose to face the challenges with the thoughts above, a peaceful perspective results! Trusting the Lord to provide “impossible peace” results in incomprehensible peace. As Isaiah reminded his people:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3ESV

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com