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Walk In Hope

Dani Beth Crosby, Family & Communications Minister
 
ISAIAH 2:2-5
In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s house will be established at the top of the mountains
and will be raised above the hills.
All nations will stream to it,
and many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us about his ways
so that we may walk in his paths.”
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will settle disputes among the nations and provide arbitration for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plows
and their spears into pruning knives. Nation will not take up the sword against nation, and they will never again train for war. House of Jacob,
come and let’s walk in the LORD’s light.
 
Over the last couple of readings, we have looked at our hope ahead, God’s eternal Kingdom—Christ’s eternal glory. Today’s passage gives us a glimpse into what God’s Kingdom looks like: A Kingdom of peace, or perfection, where all people groups come to delight in the Lord. One of the Hebrew words for hope in the Old Testament is the word qavah, which means to wait. Qavah is related to the word qav, the word describing a cord. Waiting in hope is like waiting for the tension of a pulled cord to be released. Take a moment to clinch your hands into fists, squeezing them tight. Then, release the tension, spreading out your fingers. We wait in hope for our full restoration in God’s perfect Kingdom. We wait in hope for the day our earthly struggle with darkness is forever conquered.

In preparing for Christmas, we look back and celebrate the hope we have in Jesus, who provided the way for us, humans trapped in sin, to have forgiveness and peace with God. While still living in this broken world, we wait expectantly for our hope to come, for our struggle with the schemes of the devil to be over, for the day when weapons of destruction and division are forever transformed into garden tools to cultivate peace, growth, partnership, and goodness. In the meantime, we are to live as people of hope, walking in the LORD’s light. As we walk, or run, we are to lay aside whatever hinders us from being children of light.

It has been a challenging year. Have you spent time praying about what sins or strongholds you may be carrying into this season? Take a moment to consider:
What feels heavy in my life?

What are my biggest challenges right now?

What consumes my thoughts?

What am I grieving?

What am I most anxious about?

What am I most afraid of?

Where am I feeling pressure to perform?

Release these things to God. Place your trust in our Eternal Hope.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. To him be dominion forever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-11)

You are not alone in your struggle. You are part of a global Church, a royal priesthood. God calls you His own. One day, together with all nations, we will be fully reunited with our Creator in a new heaven and a new earth where will be eternally restored, established, strengthened, and supported. The tension will forever release and we will forever dwell in God’s perfect Kingdom. As we prepare our homes for Christmas, may we not neglect preparing our hearts to worship the coming King today and forever.
 

Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 21:1
 


Journey In Hope

Dani Beth Crosby, Family & Communications Minister
 
 
PSALM 122
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let’s go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet were standing within your gates, Jerusalem—
Jerusalem, built as a city should be, solidly united,
where the tribes, the LORD’s tribes, go up to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
(This is an ordinance for Israel.)
There, thrones for judgment are placed, thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure;
may there be peace within your walls,
security within your fortresses.”
Because of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “May peace be in you.”
Because of the house of the LORD our God,
I will pursue your prosperity.
 
Put yourself in the shoes, or sandals, of a first century Jewish pilgrim, making your way from your hometown to Jerusalem to worship at the temple during a special holiday. It has been many months, or maybe a year, since you were in Jerusalem last. After a long, hard trip you have arrived. Your household makes their way up the steps of ascent. This past March, our Israel group stood on some of the excavated steps of ascent to the temple. Unlike our uniform staircases today, these stone steps vary in depth, some short like normal steps and others longer like mini platforms. Many scholars believe this design was intentional, so one would not hurry up to the temple to worship but would instead slowly ascend, step by step, preparing their heart for worship. As they climbed, it is likely they sung the words of today’s text.
The temple sat on Mount Moriah, a symbol of God’s desire to dwell with His people. To the Israelites, it was the meeting place of heaven and earth as they waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise of eternal redemption and restoration. It was a symbol of hope for the day when everyone, not just the select priests, could be in God’s presence.
Then, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus, God With Us, arrived and everything changed. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s promised redemption and restoration was made available to those who believe in Him. God now dwells in us, through the Holy Spirit. We are still making a pilgrimage, but it is no longer to a building in Jerusalem. We journey to the completion of God’s Kingdom, where “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Revelation 21:22)
What will our lives sing as we take the long, hard trip to God’s completed Kingdom? How do we daily, step by step, prepare ourselves for eternal worship in the full presence of God? What preparation work is to be done in us as we ready ourselves for the celebration of Christmas?
As you go through this new day and prepare yourself for Christmas, take with you journey tips from the book of Jude, “as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Have mercy on those who waver, save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen” (Jude 20-25)
 
1 Peter 2:5
 
 


Climb In Hope

Dani Beth Crosby, Family + Communications Minister
 
 
ISAIAH 9:2;6-7
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
a light has dawned
on those living in the land of darkness. For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom,
to establish and sustain it
with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of Armies will accomplish this.
 
Hannah Hurnard’s, Hinds Feet on High Places, is an allegory about a deer’s climb up a challenge-ridden mountain. Mirroring the life of a Christ-follower, at different points in her journey, the deer must climb alongside various companions. When Sorrow and Suffering become her journey companions, she is hesitant to continue the climb. Then she remembers, “Others have gone this way before me…and they could even sing about it afterwards. Will he who is so strong and gentle be less faithful and gracious to me, weak and cowardly though I am, when it is so obvious that the thing he delights in most of all is to deliver his followers from all their fears and to take them to the High Places?” The deer then steps forward, looks straight at Sorrow and Suffering, and courageously continues on, clinging to the hope she has in The Shepherd. Faith-rooted hope is established on the unchanging, eternal character of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
 
Like looking both ways before you cross a busy street, Advent is a time to pause and look both ways, reminding ourselves of the hope we have in Jesus. We look back in celebration of hope fulfilled through His birth, life, death, and resurrection. We also look forward in hope and anticipation to His second coming and His eternal Kingdom. We hope in the unchanging, eternal character of Jesus:
 
He is still Light in the darkness.
 
He is still Wonderful. There is wonder in His earthly nature—fully God and fully man. There is wonder in His love. There is wonder in His birth. There is wonder in His life—in His miracles, in His choice of disciples, in His parables and teaching, and in His suffering. There is wonder in His resurrection. There is wonder in His eventual return.
He is still Counselor. He dwelt on earth in full wisdom, calling all who are weary and burdened to find rest in Him. He counsels us to find rest by taking on His yoke–His way of living in righteousness—and learning from Him. His “yoke is easy and [His] burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29) This is the way, walk in it!
 
He is still Mighty God. The winds and waves obey Him. He called Lazarus out of his tomb. He conquered sin and death, once and for all.
 
He is still Everlasting Father. He is one with the Father. He “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He is God with Us, Immanuel.
 
He is still Prince of Peace. All that is good and perfect comes from Him. In Him we find completion, perfection, and wholeness.
 
Sorrow and suffering have been one of the many “companions” journeying with us throughout this curious year. We climb on in hope, looking back and remembering God is our Light, Wonder, Counsel, Power, Protection, and Restoration to us as He was to those who climbed before. We journey in hope, looking ahead to His eternal Kingdom that multiplies each day and is established and sustained in His justice and righteousness now and forever.
 
Isaiah 30:21; Matthew 8:27; John 15:13; Matthew 28:6; John 11:25-26; John 10:30; James 1:17; Philippians 1:6
 
 


How Are You Coping?

I went down a Google-rabbit-hole this week, searching how our bodies respond to stress. It is amazing! God made our bodies to be able to handle stress internally, but how you are coping with the stress of this year externally? I believe one way the Enemy has been spreading darkness in our world this year is by leading Christ-followers to escape their emotions and feelings of stress by numbing out—by selling us the lie that we just need to get by. When we believe this lie, we adopt habits of complacency. Our coping strategies will either help form us into Christlikeness (Gal. 4:19) or deform us, away from Christlikeness.

In his book, For The Love Of God, D.A. Carson writes, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

How are you coping with the uncomfortable emotions and stress of this year? Your children are watching you and are learning from you. “Today is the proving ground of what [you] believe and of whom [you] worship.” (Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary) As the apostle Peter reminded the early churches, “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

God made us with the hormones we need to handle stress internally and is ready to daily give us the grace we need to handle the stress of life externally. When your emotions hit a peak, to whom or what do to turn?  


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There’s A Hum In Your House

Hey, families! We are 8 months into this strange season. Your days have been filled with screens, tantrums, laughter, boredom, and family bonding. You have been juggling so much during this time! In some ways, this quarantine season has gone by quickly (Can you believe it already November?), but I know there are some days, weeks, and months that have felt like years. 
 
A parent has an average of 936 weeks between a child’s birth and graduation from high school. We have spent the last 34 of those weeks doing church, life, school, and work differently. As you prepare for the holidays, my prayer is that your family will re-evaluate your daily rhythms. How do your daily rhythms reflect your beliefs of who God is? What do they reveal about what you truly value? Every household has a hum. What has been the hum of your home over the last 34 weeks? 

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Walsh Kids: John 8:12 Review

It’s Thursday! That means it is time to practice your memory work on our verse of the week, John 8:12
 
Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
 
 
 


What God Can Do

#ThrowbackThursday
#ChurchHistory

Herrnhut Today (Photo by StefFleiPhotography)

293 years ago today, on August 13, 1727, Moravian Christians in Herrnhut (in modern-day Germany) experienced the power of God, through the Holy Spirit, in a new way during their church service. Before this day, this small church of refugees was divided and argued about much. This encounter with God, however, unified them and launched a non-stop prayer meeting that lasted more than 100 years. You read that right: praying for 24-hours a day, 7 days a week for over 100 years. About 5 years later, this church began to send out missionaries around the world to spread the story of Jesus.

A modern English translation of the Herrnhut diary reads, “Then the congregation fell down before the Lord, and started to cry and sing at the same time: ‘My Soul Before Thee Prostrate Lies.’ One could hardly tell whether we were singing or crying, but it happened with such grace that the officiating minister was also totally perplexed by it. After the hymn was finished some of the Brethren prayed with divine power, laying before the Lord the plight of the congregation and especially that they were at a loss at what to do with those who had left us…We also prayed childlike and modestly, that he should teach us the true nature of His church and how to live and walk in His law…We prayed that He would fully bestow on us the holy order of His grace…We spent this day and the following in calm and joyful composure and learned to love…”
 
It is also recorded that a couple of men, who had been away, returned to Herrnhut and immediately asked what happened on the morning of August 13. They reported that they had been in an orphanage about 20 miles away when they suddenly felt a strong urge to pray at 10 AM. As they prayed, they were overcome with compassion for their church family.
 
Our church theme this year is SENT, however we have spent the last 5 months sheltering in place in our homes. How can God send us and use us for His glory when we are quarantining in our homes? The God who unified the church in Herrnhut, transformed them through prayer, and sent them out around the world is still doing the miraculous for His glory today. We have been praying together, as a church family, at 8:08 AM and 8:08 PM each day. Let us continue to pray and seek after God’s heart together.

P.C.G. Reuter, “That Quarter of the World,” closeup of map showing Herrnhut (“HHuth”) near Berlin

Source: Herrnhut diary, quoted in Hans-Christoph Hahn and Hellmut Reichel, eds., Zinzendorf und die Herrnhuter Brüder: Quellen zur Geschichte der Brüder-Unität von 1722 bis 1760 (Hamburg 1977), 106-108.



This Week’s Worship Playlist

#WorshipWednesday
 
Did you know Meredith makes a worship playlist each week as a way for your household to continue in worship through song throughout the week? Check out this week’s worship playlist here:
 



Mochi People of Pakistan

#WorldviewWednesday
 
How often do you eat mochi?
 
Did you know Mochi is also the name of an unreached people group in Pakistan? Join us in praying for the 3.4 million Mochi people who do not know Jesus each time you enjoy kakimochi, butter mochi, or mochi ice cream.
 


John 8:12 Review

We have begun memorizing scripture together as a church family on Sunday mornings! Watch this video below to practice our current memory verse, John 8:12!
 
Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)