Monday: Psalm 84,85; Isaiah 46; Luke 10.1-24

From: Natasha Cassamajor

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the living God.” Psalm 84.1-2

Each year, by the time advent comes around, I am exhausted. Advent always begins around the same time as all the holiday sales and commercials enticing us to buy more things. Things we do not need and things that do not make us more whole as a person. I love a good bargain as much as anyone, but I have a strong dislike for the way the commercial Christmas can distract us from the real Christmas. As verse 2 in Psalm 84 says, “my soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the living God.” I am desperate to just sit and wait on Jesus. To wait for His peace and His guidance. Like the woman with the issue of blood who longed to touch Jesus’ garment, I too long to connect with my Savior. Our commercial Christmas still brings out some good in people (Giving Tuesday, toy drives, etc.) and it can be cheerful and fun. In spite of the cheerfulness, my heart hurts for the brokenness around and in me. No shopping trip or holiday sale can heal what is broken.

Isaiah 46:9 says “For I am God and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like me.” This verse can be both hopeful and terrifying. Only God can meet us right where we are and bring us to where we need to be. It is my prayer that we experience the dwelling place that God is offering us this advent season. Our Advent readings are a great place to start.

I’m in an Advent play called Midwinter, playing, of all people, Mary and 1 of 6 narrators. Please cover me and my cast in your prayers.

Sunday: Psalm 81, 83; Isaiah 45; Luke 9.51-end

From: Carson Rockett

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egpyt. Psalm 81.10a

Over and over and over, throughout God’s word, you hear this refrain from him to his people, ‘remember, remember, remember’. God has to continually remind his people of his faithfulness as they experience doubt, despair, frustration, fear, sin…

The Israelites were a forgetful people. We are a forgetful people. I am a forgetful person. Despite the countless trials God has faithfully brought me through, I still face each new trial with a sense of amnesia. I have to fall back on God’s promises, preaching to my soul ‘Remember, Carson, remember.’

Advent can be a season where present trials can become more pronounced, and past trials can come flooding back. We, as a community, collectively experience trials of singleness, lost jobs, broken relationships, terminal illnesses… And in these trials we can wrestle with seeing God’s faithfulness; God, why didn’t you heal my dad of cancer?

Advent is a time for us though to remember how truly faithful God is to his people: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him (1 Jn 4:9). Oh how sweet God’s faithfulness is to us.

May we this Advent season rejoice in God’s faithfulness to us, his people. In the face of trials, may we remember the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for us that is displayed through him sending his one and only son into this world.

I am married to my incredible wife, Drue; we are both from the Gulf Coast of Alabama. If anyone would like to drink sweet tea and watch Alabama football please let us know. Roll Tide.

Wednesday: Psalm 74-76; Isaiah 41; Luke 8.1-21

From: Heather Madden

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

What would it mean to fear not? To literally not be afraid. That is to refuse to entertain thoughts that are: anxious, concerned, or despairing. To rebuke thoughts of dismay, dread, doubt, or horror. How would our lives be different if we did not let fear get a hold of us? What if instead of fearful thoughts we filled our minds with thoughts that remind ourselves of the greatness of God and how he is indeed trustworthy. We can depend on him. There is no need to fear because God is in control.

What if instead of being held in the grip of fear we would “give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds” (Psalm 75:1). In moments of fear I want to learn to step back and instead of rehearsing in my mind all the reasons I am afraid, I want to recite all the ways God has been faithful to me in the past. In addition, to even literally recount all the ways he has intervened in my life time and time again.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the many ways you have shown yourself strong on our behalf. Help us, Lord, to fully trust you and not be afraid. Help us to recount all the ways you have been a faithful Father. Amen.

I enjoy living by the ocean with my husband, Kelly. My days are spent bringing joy to the elderly.