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Showing posts from 2017

Becoming More Than I Am

December 29, 2017by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (MSG) Each year, as New Year’s Day approaches, I agonize over my resolution.  Like everyone, I have resolved in the past to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier foods, to be more organized, to read my Bible daily, and the list goes on.  Like most people, I’m usually strong the first month.   As February approaches, life gets in the way, and before I know it, I am back in my old routine.   When I look at the goals that I have set in the past, the common theme is that ultimately, I am striving to be something or someone that I am not.   When I have resolved to lose weight, I do not really want to lose weight to be healthier.  I want to lose weight so that I will look better in my favorite jeans.   When I have resolved to read my Bible daily,…

Advent Challenge Day 23 - Merry Christmas!

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John 3:16 (NIV) 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Thank you for walking this Advent journey with us! We hope that you were able to pause to take in the wonder of the season as we have prepared for this very day- the one that changed the world! May your Christmas be meaningful, merry and bright! With Love,
Beth and Jenny

Advent Challenge Day 22

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Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV) 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus was a man of great height who allowed Himself to become most low – gracing the Earth as a humble man. He did not desire to be first, seen, or to glorify Himself. Jesus was on a mission to serve His father and to be used completely for that purpose. In a world where distractions cont…

Advent Challenge Day 21

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Matthew 2:7-12 (NIV) 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were precious gifts offered by the Magi as they came to worship the newborn Jesus. The Magi traveled a great distance to share these profound and meaningful gifts w…

Advent Challenge Day 20

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Matthew 2:3-6 (NIV) When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’
When we think about leadership in our society and culture today, it’s not always immediate that the word shepherd springs to mind. Jesus set a beautiful standard. He was the shepherd to the people. A shepherd abandons his own needs to tend to the welfare of his flock. Who comprises your flock? What can you do to guide, tend, care for, or feed those you are leading today? A kind word, a surprise treat, wise direction, prayer, or words of encouragement may open a door to hope that has been once been locked tight.

Advent Challenge Day 19

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magifrom the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

The older I get, the less I know.  

I now have a preteen and a teenager in the house.  When we talk, I am often astounded by how much they believe they know and understand about the world.  For them, so many things are black and white or right or wrong.  They live in a world of certainty and answers.

I was that way too.  However, as I grow older, life is less and less certain.  Everything that once seemed clear now seems more nuanced and complicated.  While there are some truths that I can cling to, much of life is confusing and difficult to understand.

As we grow in our faith and embrace the complexities of our questions, it is important that we seek out the wisdom of others.  There are many people that have struggled with the same questio…

Advent Challenge Day 18

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But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:19-20 (NIV)
When Jesus was born, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19 (NIV).  I imagine that Mary wondered, “Why was I chosen to be the mother of the savior of the world?  Why did God decide to come into the world as a powerless and helpless infant?”  If you read further in Luke, you will see that as Jesus grows, Mary continues to ponder.  I wonder if at some point she stopped wondering “why did God choose me?” and started pondering, “how can I be the best mother I can be to the savior of the world?” 
If we want to have the heart of Jesus, we must slow down to be present and see the world that we live in.  When we take time to ponder the sadness and pain we see in the world, the things that break Jesus’ heart will break our heart.   …

Remembrance

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Most people work hard to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and important milestones. They mark important dates on their calendar so that they will not forget to celebrate a special occasion. We work hard to memorialize important places and important days because we want to remember. However, there are some anniversaries that overwhelm me with pain. Those are anniversaries that I would prefer to forget. Even as my mind desperately tries to distract me from the anniversary date of my trauma, my body overrules my mind and betrays me, demanding that I remember. Each year on that day, my body awakens from its dormant slumber. As the deep ache rages through me, every part of me, down to each individual cell, cries out in anguish. It is as if a dark cloud hangs over my life, dampening my enthusiasm and soiling the earth beneath my feet. I do not consciously think about the events of that day, but my body recreates the emotions, forcing me to shed tears for the pieces of me that did not sur…

Advent Challenge Day 17

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When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.Luke 2:15-18 (NIV)
This Christmas, I want to live like a shepherd.  

Because sheep are followers, they need a shepherd to lead them.  The shepherd must ensure that the sheep do not wander off and harm themselves, and they must protect the sheep from predators.  When the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds to announce Christ’s birth, the shepherds were on night watch carefully guarding the sheep.  This was a demanding job - the shepherds needed to remain focused and watchful over every sheep in the flock.  If a shepherd became distracted, a sheep cou…

Advent Challenge Day 16

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Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:13-14 (NIV) 

When I was young, I believed that accepting Jesus into my heart meant that life would be filled with joy and peace.  When I thought about what a life of joy and peace would look like, I imagined a life without pain and suffering. 
While Jesus did come to bring peace and comfort to the suffering, Jesus did not come to take all of our pain away.  Jesus' way cannot be easy and pain free.  Almost anything that is valuable in this life is obtained through work, suffering, and some pain.  

If we ever hope to have inner peace, we must accept that hurt, sadness, pain and suffering will be a part of our lives.  As we live with our pain, we slowly find God in the brokenness.  It is in that brokenness, at our lowest point, that we often find peace - a calm in the storm.  This peace is not the…

Advent Challenge Day 15

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And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)
When I was a child, I never thought about the fact that the angels first appeared to the shepherds. I knew little of the shepherds’ role in society.  At the time of Jesus’ birth, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the social ladder. They were looked down upon and were often not given basic civil rights.  Yet, God chose to announce the birth of the savior of the world to shepherds.
All too often, we get caught up in society’s ideas of what it means to be powerful and successful…

Advent Challenge Day 14

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Luke 2:1-7 New International Version (NIV)  The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  2  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  3  And everyone went to their own town to register. 4  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  5  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  6  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  7  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Challenge: There was no room for them in the inn. Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes. What can you do for someone with no home or lacking in physical resources? Can you give a goody bag to someone that is homeless or …

Advent Challenge Day 7

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18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home.24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”  Luke 1:18-25 (NIV)
In today’s verses, El…

Advent Challenge Day 13

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Micah 5:2-5New International Version (NIV) 2  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,     though you are small among the clans [a]  of Judah, out of you will come for me     one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old,     from ancient times.” 3  Therefore Israel will be abandoned     until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return     to join the Israelites. 4  He will stand and shepherd his flock     in the strength of the LORD,     in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness     will reach to the ends of the earth. 5  And he will be our peace     when the Assyrians invade our land     and march through our fortresses. We will raise against them seven shepherds,     even eight commanders…
Challenge: He will shepherd the flock – how can you lead and point others to Christ? Jesus often led by serving and being humble. How can you serve? Volunteer for something. Sign up to keep the nursery, volunteer…

Advent Challenge Day 12

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Luke 1: 51-56 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;     he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52  He has brought down rulers from their thrones     but has lifted up the humble. 53  He has filled the hungry with good things     but has sent the rich away empty. 54  He has helped his servant Israel,     remembering to be merciful 55  to Abraham and his descendants forever,     just as he promised our ancestors.” 56  Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Challenge: He has filled the hungry. We know that there are those who are spiritually hungry. There are also those who are physically hungry. Prepare a meal for someone. Buy someone lunch. Deliver food to a food bank or fill a backpack with food for a child in need. Share food – feed the hungry.

Advent Challenge Day 11

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Luke 1:39-50 New International Version (NIV)  Mary Visits Elizabeth 39  At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  40  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  42  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  43  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  44  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  45  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Mary’s Song 46  And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47      and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48  for he has been mindful     of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49      for the Mighty One has done great things for me—     holy is his name. 50  His mercy e…

Advent Challenge Day 10

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Matthew 1:22-25 New International Version (NIV) 22  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  23  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” [a]  (which means “God with us”). 24  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  25  But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Immanuel is a Hebrew name that appears in the Book of Isaiah. It means “God is with us.” Someone in your life needs to remember that God is with them.
Challenge: Do something today to share this truth. Put a bookmark or note with scripture in a book and leave it in a free library. Leave a Bible or a note of encouragement with scripture somewhere for someone to “find.”Smile at someone.Hold the door for them.Purchase an extra cup of coffee for someone that you know or don’t know- just to be a blessing.Do something to remind them that …

Advent Challenge Day 9

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Matthew 1:18-21 New International Version (NIV) Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son 18  This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about [a] : His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19  Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet [b]  did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  21  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, [c]  because he will save his people from their sins.”

Challenge: Joseph showed great care and honor towards Mary by protecting her reputation in a delicate situation. He put Mary first. Be intentional about doing something hard that requires self-sacrifice for someone tha…

Advent Challenge Day 8

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Luke 1:26-38New International Version (NIV) The Birth of Jesus Foretold 26  In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  27  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  28  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”29  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting  this might be.  30  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God.  31  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  32  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  33  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the…