I have been writing an Advent family worship devotional for my family and number of people have requested that I post it on the blog. I am aiming it at my 6 year old, so feel free to use them and tweak them as you see fit. We are also planning on using an advent wreath, which we don’t have yet, but for now we have been simply lighting a candle.
Ever get overwhelmed when you pray?
I do, sometimes.
There is so much to pray for.
So many prayer requests.
So much supplication to make.
So many people are struggling. And the struggles are so varied. Cancer, sickness, financial hardships, singleness, marital strife, childlessness, the overwhelming responsibility of raising children, raising children alone, unfaithful spouses, abusive spouses, joblessness, being overworked, no family nearby, overbearing family, not having enough food, food addiction and alcoholism…I pray for you all. For contentment and joy and peace in Jesus for you regardless of your situation, regardless of your struggles.
But I forget sometimes.
Yet I know the Holy Spirit helps our weakness, our inability to pray about situations the way we should. When we forget things. When we forget to pepper our prayer with praise. So I pray for you, and for the holy spirit to perfect our prayers, and intercede on our behalf.
Remember that in Him we can be content in anything, in any situation, in any hardship.
So do not lose heart.
Go to him…
Seek him…only he is all satisfying. And he IS all satisfying whether I remember to pray for you or not.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Tags: Calvinism, DA Carson, John Piper, Poetry, RC Sproul
Last year I started writing an advent devotional for our family worship. I had a couple people ask me about it for this year. No I have not finished the book – it is close but not complete, plus I have some things to correct. I will post an advent devotional for each Sunday of the Advent season and for the days in between as well (the days I ahve finished anyway…) I encourage you all to create your own devotions for family worship at your home.
Please note that the devotional questions are aimed at a young child of 6 or 7 years old, but we can all get something out of God’s word and family worship!
Advent Day 1: Sunday Dec 2, 2012
Q. These verses are called “prophecy.” Do you know what a prophecy is?
A prophecy is when God speaks to his people about what he is going to do. What we read here is called prophecy because God is telling us that he is going to do something to make things right between mankind and Himself once again. We read that the people were walking in darkness.
Q. Why were they walking in Darkness?
The world was in darkness because we had sinned against God. God was angry with us for living in the darkness. But even though God was angry with us, God loved us and wanted us to be with Him in the light again. He sent his prophets, like Isaiah, to tell us that soon he would send us a light to shine the darkness.
Q. What is that light?
That light is the light of hope of a saviour. (if you are using an advent wreath light the first candle now) God told the prophets that he would send a saviour to make us right with Him and take us out of the darkness. This candle light represents the light of the hope that we have in our saviour.
Q. Do you know who the saviour is?
Jesus is the saviour! Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus is our hope and He is the only way out of the darkness. Jesus also shows us the way to live a life of thankfulness in the light.
There are lots of lights around us at Christmas time. They are on houses and on trees, on stores and in windows. They are in all sorts of colours, red, green, blue, yellow. Some are shaped like icicles, and bells, others are shaped like snowflakes. And (like this candle,) they are all very pretty, but they are not what Christmas is really about. When we look at these lights we should be reminded that Jesus is the real light of the world. Christmas is really about the hope that we have in Jesus.
Families with older kids include this:
Isaiah looked forward to the messiah, the saviour – Jesus, Israel’s Comfort. Her hard service was ended and her sins were pardoned, because God punished their sins in the messiah. On the cross, Jesus bore the sins of his people. This is our comfort: that through Jesus’ death on the cross, we have pardon for our sins.
The Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer is “that I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.” Jesus is the light of the world and he is our only comfort.
The comfort we read in Isaiah 40 is much more than God giving us a hug or telling us it will be ok. It is the comfort that when we believe in Jesus, his perfect obedience is credited to to us, and all our sins are forgiven because Christ has fully paid for all our sins – not just some – but all!
Hymn 15 “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People.”
(The notation and lyrics are below and a video with the tune is at the end – This video has a very slow tempo but gives you the tune, feel free to find one with a faster tempo if that is your preference. If you have very young children you may find you can only sing one stanza…don’t worry about that.)
2. For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling all men to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning voice obey!
Now prepare for God a way.
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.
3. Then make straight what long was crooked;
make the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.
Involve the entire family in prayer. Today, ask each person for a prayer request. This could be something to praise God for, or a supplication on someone’s behalf, or something they are thankful for etc. Include these requests in your prayer.
Ideas to add to your prayer:
- Praise God for his justice and mercy and for promising to send his Son to be a light in the darkness;
- Confess that we are sinful and ask God for the forgiveness of sins, the sins that led to living in darkness;
- Thank God for loving us so much even though we were living in darkness.
- Ask God to shine the light of the hope of Jesus in the lives of those still living in darkness;
- Ask God to strengthen our faith and help us shine His love and light to the people around us
Today I watched some footage of past Black Friday’s and saw the hordes of people stampeding, lurching forward through gates and storefront doors, breaking down barriers, knocking over each other and trampling women and children. Surging forward like one giant being, like a mob of mindless zombies frothing at the mouth with an insatiable blood-lust, chewing on the rotten corpses of the latest in electronic technology and toys.
Aptly named isn’t it?
For does any other day of the year reveal what truly grips the hearts of Americans and Canadians? Perhaps boxing day…but I digress.
It is Gripped by thier possessions… their luxury items. By the biggest, best, latest toys.
And the church is not immune. Oh perhaps most of us are not lining up at midnight to crash the doors…but…what about that latest gadget or toy? Do we need that PS4 or Xbox1 or that new TV? That RV? That truck? The fastest computer? The best rod and reel? The flashiest suit or dress?
Where is my heart?
In my things?
Do I sacrifice my life on the alter of materialism? Or do I live a life of sacrifice, in praise and thankfulness for what really matters?
My Christian brothers and sisters, as we line up to get the best deals, or as we go and buy the latest that our western society has to offer…take a moment to think about those Christians who are persecuted in other lands, like North Korea, China, Southwest Asia…who would give up everything for a scrap of the Bible, or to see their pastor released from prison, or to get their families back…
Now let’s get some Biblical perspective. Our Lord teaches us in Luke 12:15 that a person’s “life is not in the abundance of the things which he possesses,” and in Matthew 6:33 he says we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” If things satisfied, if money created contentment, Solomon would have been the happiest most contented man that ever lived. He had absolutely everything and had more of everything than anyone, and yet it was all meaningless. Solomon came to the conclusion that we are to “fear God, and keep His commandments. For this is the whole duty of man.”
This was not lost on the Westminster divines as they crafted the Westminster Catechism. The first question asks… ”What is the chief and highest end of man?” and the answer is “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”
We find joy in Him. In glorifying Him. Not in our stuff. Not in getting the best deals. Not in behaving like bloodlusting zombies chewing on the rotten corpses of the latest in electronic technology.
Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would work in our hearts so that we would be more and more conformed to the likeness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and that we would find Him all satisfying on this Black Friday, and all the days of our life.
I love to hear my children sing praise. Here is a video of our shy little Kaitlyn practicing for her School’s Christmas concert. It’s not often we will catch her on video.
Tags: Heidleberg Catechism, Reformed, Repentance
“Have I truly Repented?” This is one of the most painful questions ever asked of me.
Honestly I don’t know. How could I? I can’t answer that question, but what I can answer is the question, “What is true repentance?’
When the Word of God speaks to your heart, when the Holy Spirit moves upon you and illuminates your darkened soul. When you start to understand that your sin is yours alone and that it is an abomination to a holy God, and you can say, “I alone am personally responsible for my guilt!”
When you stop blaming others.
When the realization hits you that no one is to blame but you.
When we come to the recognition that, “I am a sinner,” and when we realize the magnitude of that, when the eternal consequences of that sin before a holy and just God make us tremble.
Have you trembled before God?
Have you trembled before his impending wrath?
Have you trembled before His holiness?
When we tremble before him, when we desire to avoid that wrath of God against us, when we realize that we want God’s blessing in spite of us – then we are almost there. When we desire restoration with Him, when we hate our sin…We know something. Something is there. When we have a knowledge of God and his holiness, and how we do not measure up….It is then that we are prepared for repentance.
This knowledge is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through the Word. This knowledge of our sin and misery and guilt before an almighty, holy and just God produces sorrow and shame in our deepest being, and then that begins to move the will. It finally brings about a turning from sin and a turning to Jesus Christ, as the spirit works in the heart a new birth. And this new birth brings a willingness, desire, and a determination to abandon all those stubborn patterns of sinful disobedience that we were enslaved too, and pursue the will of God. It produces a transformed life. It is not enough to denounce sin, we must pursue holiness. It is not enough to hate Satan and sin and our old nature, we must love God and Jesus and holiness.
Charles Spurgeon said:
“Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved.”
I don’t know if you have truly repented, but the fact that you are asking that question reveals that there is at least the seed of repentance.
You just need one thing.
Believe on Jesus…And you will be saved.
Read what the Heidelberg Catechism has to say about repentance with proof texts from the Bible.
the true repentance or conversion of man?
It is the dying of the old nature
and the coming to life of the new. 1
What is the dying of the old nature?
It is to grieve with heartfelt sorrow
that we have offended God by our sin,
and more and more to hate it
and flee from it. 1
What is the coming to life
of the new nature?
It is a heartfelt joy
in God through Christ, 1
and a love and delight
to live according to the will of God
in all good works. 2
But what are good works?
Only those which are done
out of true faith, 1
in accordance with the law of God, 2
and to his glory, 3
and not those based
on our own opinion
or on precepts of men. 4