All of us worship something or someone, and that worship is a witness to the watching world around us. Psalm 66 envisions all the earth worshiping God, but that comes through the people of God worshiping Him. Worshiping Him for what He has done in the past, what he is doing in the present (how he is forming us and being with us in the furnace of life and faith), and how he will be with us in the future.
To live on the other side of disruption will always come with a risk. A risk to have the conversation, to press into our hurt or pain, to let go of something, to accept God’s grace. Many times, we miss what God has for us because we give up before our breakthrough happens.
To be fully present with ourselves, God and others, we must pull away to be alone with God. One of our greatest needs and most difficult tasks as a follower of Jesus is silence and solitude with Jesus – to be alone, give our cares and worries to God, and listen to Him so that we can be fully alive in Him.
Life can be a series of ungrieved losses. Loss is incredibly difficult to navigate in life, and if we don’t deal with it, we will become angry, bitter, or depressed. Grief and loss are a part of life and a place that Jesus meets us in. God’s invitation is to bring our grief to him through lament. In lament, we bring the full range of human experience and emotion, the depth of our pain, the reality of our loss, our brokenness, our questions, our doubts to God. As we do that, we also remember his character, we recommit our trust in Him, and we rediscover our hope.
One of the great spiritual tragedies today is that so many folks have not sought to follow Jesus. But an equal tragedy is that many have tried to follow Jesus in their own power and ability. People have tried to believe, trust, obey and live like Jesus totally on their own. They believed if they try harder, they’ll be able to be more like Jesus. They’ve tried to forgive on their own. They’ve tried to faithfully obey on their own. The Apostle Paul prayed this prayer for the church – “Out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. That’s what we need and really want. On our own we are powerless. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we have the possibility of Jesus being so rooted in us that we are transformed to be more and more like him.
Christmas is a time of hope, but that hope that we are supposed to have or the hope that we want to feel, leaves many of us feeling sad and wanting. For many of us, Christmas is a reminder of what could’ve been, hopes and dreams we wished for but don’t have. Elizabeth can sympathize with the person who wants to hope, who is longing for hope, looking for hope. She has hoped to have a child, but she has waited. Elizabeth is Zechariah’s wife and she has not been able to have a child, but after years of waiting in hope, her prayer is answered. Verse 25 is her prayer of hope, “The Lord has done this for me.”
We need to learn to focus on our great God who is all-powerful and intimately involved in the details of our lives. If we understand just how great God is, our prayers will reflect that.
The parable of the prodigal son. Our freedom is dependent on our willingness to receive the love and the forgiveness God is offering.