Our Prayer for the Monday After: First Christmas: Joseph

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

 

The Monday After Sunday, December 22, 2014: First Christmas: Joseph

prayer 12.22.14

 

 

Extra Strength: First Christmas: Elizabeth

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge.

Extra Strength for First Christmas: Elizabeth. 

Christmas.

It’s an entire season dedicated to warm fuzzy feelings and having fun in the great outdoors. The entire world gets nice all of the sudden and all troubles cease for the month of December.

Families come together and everybody just feels good all the time. Right? That is certainly how society portrays Christmas — it’s as though as soon as December 1  rolls around, we are supposed to feel happy every second of every day until December 26.

After Christmas, it’s like its okay to feel depressed and worried and sick again. But for the 25 days before, we aren’t supposed to feel that way. It is supposed to be peace on earth and good will to men 24/7.

But Christmas isn’t like that. As much as we would like it, things like cancer and debt and jobs and addiction and depression still exist just as much, maybe even more, during the holidays. A new month cannot bring you out of the place you are in. But God can.

Pastor Bryan spoke on Sunday about Elizabeth who prayed for a baby and God said “no” for a very long time. Elizabeth was barren. Although she was filled with shame, she never grew angry at God. She never cursed Him or ran away. God later showed Elizabeth mercy and blessed her in her old age with a child.

“God delights in bringing new life to barren places.”

That isn’t just true of Elizabeth. That’s true of us all. Whether you are in the same boat as Elizabeth, wondering where your baby is, or if you’re wondering when you’ll get a job or your sickness will go away or when a loved one will accept Jesus, we probably have one question in common: why. Why is God doing this? Why am I here? We may never know the answer.

But if we trust in God and in His plan, God will give us what we need. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Don’t worry bout the “why” right now. Worry about how you can praise while you’re in this place, even if it is one of hardship. This might not be a time where all problems are miraculously erased, but it can be one of celebration ; perhaps now’s the time to go make those gingerbread houses and roast chestnuts over an open fire and go caroling, praising God because we know He is a God who delights in taking our broken and turning it into beauty.


 

Be Challenged:

  • Consider your own struggles and ask God to help you see them from a bigger perspective.
  • Go through the Conversation Starter either alone, with your small group or a friend.

Our Prayer for the Monday After: First Christmas: Elizabeth

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

 

The Monday After Sunday, December 15, 2014: First Christmas: Elizabeth

blog 12.15.14

 

 

Our Prayer for the Monday After: First Christmas: The Innkeeper

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

 

The Monday After Sunday, December 7, 2014: First Christmas: The Innkeeper

 prayer 12.8.14

 

Extra Strength: “Foremembering” Real Christmas

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

ExtraStrengthEdit

Extra Strength for: Real Christmas #icFirstChristmas

Today I foremembered something.  A little boy I used to babysit used this word for things he had known or remembered at one time but then forgot and then remembered again.  You see, I know and have known for most of my life that God is with me but like most human beings, I forget.

This past Saturday was the annual tree-lighting ceremony at the Jackson house.  In past years we had begun a tradition of bundling up and piling in the car with our three children and driving across the frozen tundra of Grand Avenue to Lowes or Home Depot and picking out the perfect tree.

This year my husband and I just didn’t feel like braving the elements, spending the money on a real tree only to throw it out in January and do it all again next year.  So in unceremonious fashion he and my 10 year old went out on the Saturday of Black Friday weekend and found a screaming deal on a fake tree.  On one hand, I am excited at the ease of taking the tree out of a box; but I will admit – a little of the magic was lost when we made this decision.

The magic lost may have been what started my funk this past Saturday, but in reality I think I just forgot.  In the past I remember feeling that warm feeling deep down after we finished decorating the tree and putting out the Advent book.  This year, I just felt … nothing.  Worse than that, as I took a walk outside after a tense discussion with my husband amidst a home-improvement project, I thought about all the stuff that needed to be done.  As I thought of it, I felt more and more stressed and annoyed, even angry.  I don’t want to spend this season thinking about gift lists and money.  I wish I could just focus on what Christmas really means.  As I made my way home down the final stretch of our street, a neighbor stopped me to chat.  We both voiced our frustration with the commercialism of Christmas and how we wish it could be different.

Then I went to church Sunday … and I foremembered. I had forgotten the whole point of the whole thing is that even when I don’t feel the feeling, even when I’m stressed, even when things aren’t the way I wish they could be, HE is with me.  Christmas with HIM is different and that changes everything.

Sometimes remembering what you forget is better than never having forgotten.   So if you’ve forgotten like I did, take heart.  You can foremember too — or remember.  When you do you can look forward to a renewed joy, excitement and peace that come with the promise that underneath the story of a baby in a manger in Bethlehem is the whole point of the whole thing.  No matter what, you are not alone when you receive the gift that was given in Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.

imageMartha has been a wife for 17 years and is the mother of three children ages 10, 9 and 5.  When she’s not folding laundry, cooking meals, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos, grocery shopping, cleaning house and running errands, she loves to hold babies at Immanuel MOPS!

 

 


Be Challenged:

  • Take five minutes right now and ponder the beautiful gift that God is with you at this very moment. In the joy, in the stress, in the chaos, in the mundane, He is always with you!