December 2020

WholeLife Daily Reflections

Preparation for Worship on Saturday, December 26

Expecting the Unexpected: An  Unexpected Life

 

Friday, December 25 (Merry Christmas!)

Devotional: Looking Up With the Magi

 

Philippians 2:3-4

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

 

Holy Redeemer, you gave everything for those you love. There is no limit to your forgiveness and no lacking in your grace. You pour out your mercy on those who don’t even know you. Your salvation is not a reward for anything offered to you but simply a gift because of your great desire to restore all things to yourself. May I have the mind of Christ and grow in the grace and mercy you have given to me. Amen.

 

Music: What Child Is This/Child of the Poor

Thursday, December 24

Devotional: The Joy – and Ambiguity – of Christmas

 

Psalm 46:6-7

The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

 

Word Made Flesh, you are the universal Savior. You came to seek and save all who have been tainted by the sin of the world. As the magi were guided by your star, guide my heart to the manger. During this time of unexpected dissonance, open my eyes to the beauty of your merciful and inclusive saving grace. Amen.

 

Music: Praise to the Lord/Joyful, Joyful

Wednesday, December 23

Devotional: We Three Kings of Orient Aren’t

 

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

 

Redeemer of the World, all of humanity are your children. You are the Parent of every nation, tongue, and people. Your love extends beyond creed and culture. As you gave yourself for the world, open my eyes to see all people as your children and each individual as my sibling. Fill my heart with the desire to remove all boundaries from my family of faith. Amen.

 

Music: We Three Kings of Orient Are (We’re Not Lost)

Tuesday, December 22

Devotional: Fear Versus Love

 

Joshua 1:9

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

 

Commander of Heaven’s Armies, you speak words of confidence into fear. You move with decisiveness in times of trouble. Your will and your way forge the path of restoration. I will not fear because I am surrounded by the presence of your saving grace. Amen.

 

Music: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Monday, December 21

Devotional: To Bless the Nations

 

Malachi 1:11

“But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

 

Lord of All, your word and your salvation are for all people. You do not show favoritism, and your love is equal for all living beings. You guided magicians from distant lands to worship before your Son, and you spoke to them in dreams, making clear that you are the God and Sovereign of all. I look forward to celebrating before your throne with the magnitude of people on whom you have showered your grace. Amen.

 

Music: When I Think Upon Christmas

Sunday, December 20

Devotional: Santa Knows Why I Don’t Quite Hate Christmas

 

Matthew 18:10

Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.

 

Righter of Wrongs, you know the world you created, and you see the world as it is. Your plan had no poverty, sickness, death, or sorrow. The mess of the world is not of your making. However, you look beyond what is to what will be. You came as a Savior, and you have invited me to participate in your plan of redemption by simply sharing your love. Fill me with your Spirit of compassion and grace today. Amen.

 

Music: How Many Kings

Preparation for Worship on Saturday, December 19

Expecting the Unexpected: An  Unexpected Responsibility

Friday, December 18

Devotional: Linus’ Good News 

 

Isaiah 41:10

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

 

Shub Nephesh, Renewer of Life, you expel all fear and doubt. You are Hope Eternal. You have proven yourself over and over again, and there is no doubt about your great love and care for your creation. Sometimes the world around me seems frightening and fragile. I want to rest in the comforting grace of your presence today.  Amen.

 

Music: O Little Town of Bethlehem

Thursday, December 17

Devotional: The Shepherds and the Angels

 

Joshua 3:5

Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”

 

Director of Angel Choirs, you led an energetic chorus before the shepherds proclaiming the birth of your Son. You delight in surprising the world with joy, and the good news you share has brought hope and healing to the world. Help me to live in the anticipation of the miracles you continue to perform in the hearts and minds of your people.  Amen.

 

Music: Jesus Is Here

Wednesday, December 16

Devotional: Christmas Shock and Awe

 

Romans 14:17-19

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

 

Prince of Peace, the restoration of your creation was planned long before you came to Earth. Your forgiveness is more powerful than the shame of brokenness, and the angels sang of your merciful love when your birth was announced. Fill my heart with your gift of peace that it may overflow in my words and actions. Amen.

 

Music: Let There Be Peace

Tuesday, December 15

Devotional: Where’s Your Joy?

 

Psalm 51:7-8

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice.

 

God of My Heart, you know every thought, every motive, every intent. Your response is forgiveness and restoration. You have called me to repent of my pride, my selfishness, and my lack of compassion. Restore to me the joy of living the life to which you have called me. Amen.

 

Music: The Little Drummer Boy

Monday, December 14

Devotional: How to Not let Loss or Grief or Division Steal Your Merry Christmas This Year

 

Luke 2:10

The angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 

 

Spirit of Life, you lift and revive; you console and comfort. Where there is darkness, you bring light. Where there is fear, you provide hope. You fill the world with mercy available to be shared and grace ready to be offered. Help me to be a peacemaker and joy-giver in my world. Amen.  

 

Music: Light of the World (Sing Hallelujah)

Sunday, December 13

Devotional: What Christians Can Learn From Scrooge

 

Romans 5:3-5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

Suffering Savior, the life you chose in humanity was unimaginably difficult. Leaving the glory and holiness of Heaven, you took on all the fragilities and pain of humankind. However, your love for your creation made this an unquestioned sacrifice. Help me to discover the joy of sacrificing for others, of prioritizing compassion over comfort and love over selfishness. Amen.

 

Music: Grace of God With Us

Preparation for Worship on Saturday, December 12

Expecting the Unexpected: An  Unexpected Gift

Friday, December 11

Devotional: What the Office Taught Me About Christmas

 

2 Peter 1:3

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

 

Unexpected God, you arrived in a way for which the world was not prepared. The tension caused by sin was resolved by your grace. You make a way where there is no way and redeem what appears irreparable. I am depending on your transcendent love in a world that sometimes confuses me. Thank you for your reassuring presence. Amen.

 

Music: In the Bleak Midwinter

Thursday, December 10

Devotional: The Gift of Love at Christmas

 

1 John 4:19-21

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

El Yeshuati, God of My Salvation, there is no other god who saves. You alone are the Savior and Redeemer and worthy of all praise. You have made your creation secure in your love. I have nothing to fear, and I know my life is hidden in your grace. May I share the undeserved mercy you have shown me with others. Amen.

 

Music: Love Came Down

Wednesday, December 9

Devotional: Are You a Christmas Liar?

 

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

 

Gentle Savior, you are an example of perfect humanity. Your life is a reflection of the compassion and grace abundant in the Godhead. You shared in life and in story the sacredness of humble service. May I seek to know and speak of you through all aspects of this celebration of your birth. Amen.

 

Music: Good King Wenceslas

Tuesday, December 8

Devotional: Advent Gift of Encouragement

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

 

Author of Hope, you are a Holy Giver. You shower goodness on your creation in ways seen and unseen. In the ultimate gift of yourself, you displayed sacrificial love that redeemed the world. Even in my greatest challenges, I am blessed by joy in the reality of being your child. Show me where I can spread encouragement and hope in my world.  Amen.

 

Music: Joy to the World

Monday, December 7

Devotional: A New Kind of Advent

 

1 John 4:9-10

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 

God Who Gives, all things are yours. Your creation is an outgrowth of your great love. You breathe life, and you find joy in the results of your work. Thank you for your unfailing love toward me. Help me to unclutter my day, to sift out what is unnecessary so that the space of my day finds priority in you. Amen.

 

Music: Adore Him

Sunday, December 6

Devotional: Emmanuel – God With Us

 

Matthew 1:20-21

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

 

Emmanuel, God With Us, you arrived in unexpected perfection. Your plan to leave heaven to dwell on Earth was formed before time. Your love for humanity began before the dawn of its creation, and your plan of redemption was an outgrowth of your amazing grace. I am in awe of your mercy, restored by your compassion, and humbled to be called your child. Amen.

 

Music: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Preparation for Worship on Saturday, December 5

Expecting the Unexpected: An  Unexpected Addition

Friday, December 4

Devotional: Advent is Supposed to Be Radical

 

Romans 12:2

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

Radical Savior, you were never content with the status quo. Your birth was a celestial spectacle, your life a study in spiritual revolution, and your death defeated sin and grave. How could I ever think following you wouldn’t require moving out of my comfort zone? Fill me with a passion that opens my eyes to the difference I can make in my world today. Amen.

 

Music: O Holy Night

Thursday, December 3

Devotional: Quietly, Quietly

 

Psalm 62:5-6

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

 

God Who Is Found in the Stillness, you do not need to shout to make yourself known. Your presence is everywhere, and you speak silently to minds and hearts. When I am consumed with the noise of my present reality, help me to wait in quietness for your word and be faithful to your leading. Amen.

 

Music: Winter Snow

Wednesday, December 2

Devotional: Luke’s Lesson on Grace and Faith

 

Hebrews 11:1

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

 

Miqweh Yisrael, Hope of Israel, you are faithful and worthy of the praises of all people. You are good and your promises never fail. You entered my world to redeem what was broken by sin, and because of what you have done, my salvation is secure in your grace. I place my trust and faith in your constant and amazing love. Amen.

 

Music: Noel

Tuesday, December 1

Devotional: An Active Peace

 

1 Peter 1:13

So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.

 

King of Heaven, you are fully sufficient, all-powerful, and without limits. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all. There is nothing you lack, yet you choose to call me your child and equip me to work with you. Because of your great love for me, you came to dwell in my world. I am humbled by your grace and will seek to know your will in my life. Amen.

 

Music: The King Has Come

Monday, November 30

Devotional: What Elizabeth and Zachariah Can Teach Us About Waiting

Habakkuk 2:3

This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

 

God Who Prepares, you are never early nor ever late. Your timing is as perfect as your love. Your purpose is sometimes hidden to the human mind, yet your will is always for goodness and mercy. I invite you into my heart to still my impatience, to help me to trust, and to honor your timing in my life. Amen.

 

Music: Today is the Savior’s Day

Sunday, November 29

Devotional: Of Love and Loyalty

 

1 Corinthians 16:13

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

 

Faithful Savior, you made your promised arrival as a baby, sent to save the world. You left holy perfection for the purpose of redeeming your creation. It was self-sacrificing love that caused you to give the ultimate gift. I will honor the hope you have placed in my heart and celebrate your forgiveness by living for you. Amen.

 

Music: Oh Come All Ye Faithful (His Name Shall Be)

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