Alton

BeFree Alton Family Letter (April)

Hello BeFree,

Every two months the elders and I write a “family letter” to share about what’s happening at BeFree. The past two months have been busy for our church family. Our men’s ministry had a Faith & Work event with the men from across the BeFree multisite. Our women’s ministry held a four week Bible study where they walked verse-by-verse through the book of Philippians. The youth groups attended Deep Freeze at Camp Berea. We sent a prayer missions trip to Quebec and have nearly finished walking through the membership process with almost ten new families!

Here is a quick look at what’s coming in the next few months.

  • -  Good Friday & Easter – This Holy Week we will be having a Good Friday service and an Easter service. The Friday service will be held at the Alton Bay Christian Conference Center from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Friday evening. Our Easter Service we’ll be here, at PMHS, in the auditorium. Please invite friends and family to join us as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.

  • -  Sunday Swap – BeFree is a family of churches spread across southern New Hampshire. In two weeks Pastor Chris and the worship team from Barrington will be coming to lead our worship gathering in Alton, while Ben and our worship team will be traveling to Barrington to lead their worship gathering. We are excited for this opportunity to build more relationships across the BeFree community.

  • -  Baptism – Over the last couple weeks we have offered the opportunity to be baptized. A number of people have already come forward to express their interest. If you are interested in being baptized or simply hearing more about baptism, it’s not too late. Please speak with Ben Ruhl and he will be happy to walk through the baptism process with you.

  • -  Summer Hangouts – Over the past few summers, our church family has gathered weekly at Crunchy Farm for “Farm Fellowship.” This summer, we will be mixing things up. Rather then meeting weekly at Crunchy Farm, we will host a number of unique events throughout the summer months. We hope that this is a time where we can gather together to deepen and form new relationships within our church family. Please keep your ears open for these summer hangouts in the months to come.

    We are excited to see how God will work in and through these gatherings and celebrations. However, as we anticipate these events, we remember that the ultimate goal of our church family is not to simply organize events and programs, but to glorify God by loving him, loving others and making disciples. We pray that God would use these upcoming events as well as our normal rhythms of gathering and scattering to help our church family accomplish this goal in all we do.

    On behalf of the elders and myself,

    Ben Ruhl, Pastor of BeFree Alton Elders: Everett Clark and Rob O’Blenis

BeFree Alton Family Letter (October)

Hello BeFree,

The last two months have brought with them the new school year, the founding of the work crew, child safety training, one-to-one Bible training and so much more. It has been incredible to see all that God is doing in and through the members of our church family. Here is a quick look ahead at some of the things coming down the road.

  • New Sermon Series on John – On October 7th, we will be starting a new sermon series on the Gospel of John. Though it will be a longer series than any we have done in 2018, our prayer is that as we fix our eyes upon Jesus, we would come to know him better and love him more. Please spend some time praying for this sermon series, that God would use his word to draw us ever closer to him.

  • Mens & Womens Ministries – In the month of October, both our men and women ministries will be hosting events. The men will host a bowling night on October 20th, and the women will host a fall dinner on October 26th. These will be great opportunities for you to connect with each other, make new relationships, and invite your friends. Please keep your ears open for more information in the weeks to come.

  • All in for Alton – On October 19th and 20th, the town of Alton will be hosting the “Alton Community Profile” at Alton Central School. This event will be a “community conversation designed to reflect on the past and present, envision a vibrant future, and make an action plan.” We believe that God has called BeFree to be a light in our community and we would like to have a strong presence at this event. If you would like to be a part of this community conversation, you can sign up for tickets on the “All In for Alton” Facebook page.

  • Church Business Meeting – Directly after our Sunday morning worship gathering on December 2nd, our church will meet to share lunch and have our annual business meeting. These meetings are open to everyone and will be a great chance for us to look back at all God has done over the past year, as well as look forward to where God is leading us in the year to come. This is also a time when all the BeFree members will vote to approve the proposed 2019 budget and elder nominees. Please mark your calendars.

While we should certainly celebrate all that God is doing in and through our church, it is always important for us to slow down and remember the ultimate goal of our family. We do not exist to create ministries or programs, but we are a Christ centered family who seeks to glorify God by loving him, loving others and making disciples. It is such a joy to strive together with all of you as we fix our eyes upon our king, keeping him in his rightful place. We love you all and are thankful for how God is leading our BeFree church family.

On behalf of the elders and myself,

Ben Ruhl, Pastor of BeFree Alton

Elders: Ben Kane, Everett Clark, Tom Kokx and Rob O’Blenis

Quebec Update

Quebec Update

Hello BeFree Family! A few weeks ago, John William Barnard and I journeyed to Shawi-Sud, Québec to spend a couple days with Pat Auger, one of the pastors of Église Évangélique Baptiste de Shawinigan-Sud. It was a sweet time of prayer, dreaming and relationship building as we considered what the future of our churches’ partnership might have in store.

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, April 9

As we wrap up our study of Ephesians, ask yourself if you are prepared for battle. God has called us to stand firm for what is right and has explained the 'armor' that we need to do this. During this week as you read through God's word, take inventory of your armor, what is missing, what is worn out and needs to be revitalized?   


 

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, April 10: The Belt of Truth
This is interpreted to mean God's word.  Are you in God's word daily, not just to say that you are but to meditate on it and allow it to transform your thinking and life?
John 8:31-33
2 John 1

Tuesday, April 11: The Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate protected the core of the body, which included the vital organs.  The righteousness of Christ will protect our hearts.
Proverbs 4:23
Matthew 15:10-20

Wednesday, April 12: The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
We have been reconciled to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is our foundation, and we need to be ready with the gospel to proclaim war against the evil one.
Galatians 1:11-24

Thursday, April 13: The Shield of Faith
Shields are a defensive piece of armor meant to protect us.  Faith to obey God's word will not stop physical suffering or guarantee an easy life, but it will bring comfort to you in every situation.
Hebrews 11

Friday, April 14: The Helmet of Salvation
Helmets protect your head and therefore your mind.  Our hope of salvation helps us overcome hopelessness, frustration and despair that the evil one wants us to dwell on.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-11

Saturday, April 15: The Sword of the Spirit
Our only defensive weapon which we must be familiar and proficient with in order for us to use it properly.  Our Sword is the Word of God.
Deuteronomy 8:3
Hebrews 4:11-13

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, March 26

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, March 27: Genesis 2:4-25

Tuesday, March 28: Ephesians 5:31-33

Wednesday, March 29: Song of Solomon 1

Thursday, March 30: Ephesians 5:21-24

Friday, March 31: Ephesians 5:215:25-30

Saturday, April 1: Ephesians 5:21-33


 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:


What does God say about marriage in these passages?

As a single person, what is one way I can treat people out of reverence for Christ?

As a husband, what is one way I can give up my life to love my wife?

As a wife, what is one way I can show respect to love my husband?


 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, March 19

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, March 20: Ephesians 4:17-24

Tuesday, March 21: Ephesians 4:25-32

Wednesday, March 22: Ephesians 5:1-14

Thursday, March 23: Ephesians 5:15-20

Friday, March 24: Ephesians 4:17-5:20


 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:


What "old self" behavior needs to change in your life?

What spiritual habits do you need to practice so that you will be renewed in your mind?

What "new self" behaviors is God directing you to put on to replace the "old self" actions?

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, March 5

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.   


 

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, March 6: Ephesians 1

Tuesday, March 7: Ephesians 2

Wednesday, March 8: Ephesians 3

Thursday, March 9: Ephesians 4

Friday, March 10: Ephesians 5

Saturday, March 11: Ephesians 6

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, February 26

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.  


 

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, February 27: Ephesians 4:1-16

Tuesday, February 28: 1 Corinthians 13

Wednesday, March 1: Philippians 2:1-18

Thursday, March 2: Colossians 3:1-17

Friday, March 3: 2 Timothy 2

Saturday, March 4: 1 John 1

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, February 19

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.  


 

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, February 20: Ephesians 3:13-21

Tuesday, February 21: Romans 8:37-39

Wednesday, February 22: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Thursday, February 23: 2 Corinthians 11:24-29

Friday, February 24: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18


Reflection and Discussion:

What does it mean to be part of the body of Christ?

Do you know your purpose?

Do your feelings and/or circumstances control your outlook on life?  What does Paul say about this in Ephesians?

Paul says in Ephesians 3:17b-19, "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  If you were to "grasp" this, would it change your persecutive in life as it did Paul's?

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, February 12

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.  


 

Daily Scripture Reading: 


Monday, February 13:  Ephesians 3:1-3

Tuesday, February 14:  Colossians 3:10-14

Wednesday, February 15:  1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Thursday, February 16:  Romans 15:1-7

Friday, February 17:  Acts 15

Saturday, February 18:  Psalm 133



Reflection and Discussion:

If you are a follower of Jesus, how has the Gospel changed how you relate to others?

What person/group of people are you tempted to avoid, disdain, or condemn?  How could the Gospel of Jesus affect this relationship?

In what ways are you applying the corporate implications of the Gospel (Ephesians 2:11-22) and not just the individual implications of the Gospel (Ephesians 2:1-10)?

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday January 29

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.

 

 

Daily Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:11-18

 

Faith in Jesus Christ Brings Unity to a Church

 

 

Reflection/Discussion:

 

1.  Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are God's masterpiece..." (NLT)

Do you believe this?  Why or why not?

 

2.  Based on Ephesians 2:11-18, do you see all people as having an equal value?

 

3.  Ephesians 2:21-22 - What is the significance of Jesus being the cornerstone?

 

Other Scripture to Consider:

 

Leviticus 19:34

Galatians 3:26-29

1 Peter 2:4-12

Revelation 3:20

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, January 22

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.


 

Daily Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10

 

Saved and Set Free by Jesus


 

Reflection/Discussion:

1.  As you read through scripture this week, ask yourself who you are trusting in, yourself or Christ?  As you reflect on this, focus on the gift of God, by grace you have been saved through faith...

2.  Challenge yourself each day this week to thank God for loving you when you have been unlovable.

3.  Reflect on the truth of God: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."



Other Scripture to Consider:

Galatians 5
2 Corinthians 3
Romans 8
 

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, January 15

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.

 

 

 

Daily Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

 

The Church:

People Who Are Learning to See Rightly

 

 

Reflection/Discussion Questions:

 

1.  What is an area of life in which Jesus has changed how you see?

 

2.  What is an area of life in which you need Jesus to give you sight?

 

 

 

Other Scripture to Consider:

 

Acts 9:1-31

John 9

Mark 10:46-52

Psalm 146

 

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, January 8

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.




Daily Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:1-14


Inheritance into Family


 

Reflection Questions:

1. Who does this say that God is?
2. Who does this say that I am?
3. How should I respond?

Discussion Questions:

1. What difference does it make that we are a family through Christ Jesus?
2. How should we respond?  What can we do right now to respond?

Other Scripture to Consider:

Romans 8:28-30
Colossians 1:11-14
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, January 1

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.  Please consider giving yourself an overview of the things God says to us by reading one chapter of Ephesians each day.




Daily Scripture Reading:


 


Monday, January 2:
Ephesians 1

Tuesday, January 3:
Ephesians 2

Wednesday, January 4:
Ephesians 3

Thursday, January 5:
Ephesians 4


Friday, January 6:
Ephesians 5

Saturday, January 7:
Ephesians 6




 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, December 25

We are really excited that for the coming weeks before Easter we are going to be walking through the book of Ephesians.  God speaks through the writings of Paul to give us understanding of what Jesus has done for us and the life in God's family.  Please consider giving yourself an overview of the things God says to us by reading one chapter of Ephesians each day.




Daily Scripture Reading:


 


Monday, December 26:
Ephesians 1

Tuesday, December 27:
Ephesians 2

Wednesday, December 28:
Ephesians 3

Thursday, December 29:
Ephesians 4


Friday, December 30:
Ephesians 5

Saturday, December 31:
Ephesians 6

 

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, December 18

The Season of Advent




Daily Scripture Reading:


 

Sunday, December 18:
2 Chronicles 34:1-33

Reflection:
While still a boy, King Josiah sought favor in the sight of the Lord.  He ordered the restoration of the temple, during which time the "forgotten book," the law of the Lord, was discovered.  After reading God's word, he made a covenant to follow the Lord.  God showed favor to the Israelites during Josiah's reign.

Prayer:
Lord, we will read your word in the Bible and apply it to our lives.  Help us to listen to you as you speak to us through your word.  Do not allow it to become a "forgotten book" to us.

Monday, December 19:
Jeremiah 19:1-10; 17:5-14

Reflection:
God told Jeremiah to warn the people of Israel to mend their ways or the land they occupied would not always be their home.  He stood at the Pottery Gate and smashed a piece of pottery to illustrate how the country would be broken into pieces as a result of their defiance toward God's rule in their lives.

Prayer:
Lord, let us open our ears to hear and heed the message that you wanted those in Jeremiah's day to hear.  If we walk in opposition to your will, we will suffer the consequences.  Let us not trust in our own ways, but put our confidence in your ways.


Tuesday, December 20:
Daniel 6

Reflection:
By faith and obedience to the Lord, Daniel was saved from the jaws of the lions.  He waited in hope for the Lord's deliverance.  We also need deliverance from our sin and we can wait with great hope that Jesus will indeed deliver us as well.

Prayer:
Lord, give us Daniel's perspective when faced with overwhelming situations.  Daniel teaches us that you are truly sovereign and that you are aware of the circumstances which we face.  You are able to rescue us.  You can use our faithful responses in whatever situation we are in to make yourself known.

Wednesday, December 21:
Luke 1:5-17; Matthew 3:1-6

Reflection:
John the Baptist taught repentance of sins and baptized in the Jordan River.  He announced the coming of the Lord to all who would listen.  He proclaimed that Jesus was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.

Prayer:
Father, enable us to tell others about your plan to save us.  Let us proclaim, like John, that you are the one who takes away our sin.

Thursday, December 22:
Matthew 1:18-25

Reflection:
Matthew introduces Joseph, through whose eyes we see some different things about Mary's special child.  Jesus will save the people from their sins and in him, God will be truly present with his people.

Prayer:
Father, Joseph was a regular man with a regular job, yet you chose him for a special task.  Despite the possible damage to his reputation, he chose to obey.  When you choose us for a difficult task, help us to answer as Joseph did - with trust and faith.


Friday, December 23:
Luke 1:26-38

Reflection:
Even if he is the first prophet in generations, John the Baptist is not going to be the ultimate word from God to his people.  It is Mary's child, Jesus, who will fulfill the peoples' longing for a permanent kingdom in which there will be peace and justice for everyone.  The angel announced that God would give this child the throne of his father David, and that he would reign over the house of Jacob.  His kingdom will have no end!

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, that your reign is eternal.  May we recognize that though we experience your kingdom in part now, we await the day when the fullness of your kingdom will be revealed to all.

Saturday, December 24:
Luke 2:6-21

 

Reflection:
Glory to God in the highest!  Proclaim the Good News!  Jesus is with us!  Celebrate!  Rejoice!  God's faithfulness is revealed.  He has provided a Savior, the Messiah.  This joyful news is for everyone!  Luke 19:10 says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost."

Prayer:
Thank you, Father, that you have gone to great lengths to make yourself known to us.  We rejoice at your coming.  Empower us to share your story of love with those who are lost and separated from you.





*Resources for Advent reading plan listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Resources for Advent reading plan:

 

ADVENT FOR THE FAMILY.  Frederick P. and Patricia K. Auman, Fortress Press, 1978.

 

THE ADVENT WREATH.  Debbie Trafton O’Neal, Augsburg Publishing House:  Minneapolis, MN 1988.

 

CELEBRATE THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.  Ellen Javernick, Shining Star Publications, 1987.

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING.  Oxmoor House, Birmingham, AL 1988.

 

GROWING UP TOGETHER.  Jan Kempe, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1989.

 

LET’S MAKE A JESSE TREE.  Darcy James, Abingdon Press, Parthenon Press, Nashville, TN 1987.

 

LET’S MAKE A MEMORY.  Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson, Word Books, Waco, TX 1983.

 

TO CELEBRATE.  Alternatives, Ellenwood, GA 1987.

 

WHY NOT CELEBRATE!  Sara Wenger Shenk, Good Books, Intercourse, PA 1987.

 

YOUR CHILD’S TEACHABLE MOMENTS.  Wanda B. Pelphry, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1988.

 

CELEBRATE!  Mary Jane Thompson, VIRTUE Magazine, November 1988, p. 58

 

THE STRANGER ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS.  John R. Cross, Good Seed International, Canada 2003.

 

THE NIV STUDY BIBLE.  Edited by Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1985

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, December 11

The Season of Advent




Daily Scripture Reading:


 

Sunday, December 11:
Joshua 1:1-9; 5:13-6:20

Reflection:
Moses dies before God brings the people to the land he has promised them, and Joshua becomes their leader.  But whoever the leader is, God is still in charge.  He shows them how to take each city he has allotted them, and they win victories by his power.

Prayer:
Father, you commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous and you promised him that you would be with him wherever he would go.  You are also with us, Lord.  Fill us with courage to do the things that you call us to do.

Monday, December 12:
Judges 6:33-7:22

Reflection:
Gideon requested that God show him two miracles to prove that Israel would be delivered from Midian with Gideon as their leader.  God is patient with Gideon.  He knows Gideon's weaknesses.  He recognizes Gideon's fear and his need for reassurance, so he provides a visible sign to show that he is indeed asking Gideon to go to battle.  With the assurance from the fleeces and God's promise from Judges 6:16, "I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together," Gideon now steps out in obedience to every unexpected way that God asks him to prepare Israel for battle.  God dwindled Gideon's army from tens of thousands to only three hundred so that "Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her..." (Judges 7:2).

Prayer:
Lord, help us to rely on your Word to strengthen our faith.  Give us courage to obey even when we can't see how you will accomplish your plan.


Tuesday, December 13:
Ruth 1:19-2:23

Reflection:
Ruth, a foreigner from Moab, gave up her old life to serve her mother-in-law, Naomi, upon their return to Israel.  While picking up the grain that falls to the ground during the harvest, Ruth finds favor with Boaz, the owner of the field.  He ensures that Ruth gets all the wheat she needs and eventually provides for her and Naomi by acting as the kinsman-redeemer.  By marrying Ruth, Boaz rescues both women from the destitute life a widow would have endured.

Prayer:
Lord, help us to realize that you will always provide for us.  It may not be in ways that we expect, but you know what our deepest needs are and you meet not only our physical needs, but our spiritual ones as well.

Wednesday, December 14:
1 Samuel 17:1-54

Reflection:
David, a mere shepherd boy, armed with only a sling and stones, stands up against and prevails over a mighty foe, Goliath.  His confident declaration of anticipated victory is based on his faith in the Lord Almighty.  He believes that God will use this situation so that "the whole world will know" (verse 46) of the existence and power of Israel's God.

Prayer:
Lord, deliver us from our enemies.  Give us courage and faith to face whatever life brings into our path.  May we bring glory and honor to your name as we face our circumstances with our confidence in you.

Thursday, December 15:
2 Samuel 5:1-5; 7:1-29

Reflection:
David is established as king over all the tribes of Israel.  Now that he is settled into his palace, he desires to build a temple for God.  His desire is commendable, but God reveals that David misunderstands God's purposes for him.  God has raised up rulers in Israel to shepherd his people.  God is more concerned that David take care of the needs of the people rather than focus on a building project.  Essentially, he is saying to David, "It is not you who will build a house for me, but I will establish one for you."  Verses 12 & 13 say, "...I will raise up your offspring to succeed you...He is the one who will build a house for my name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever."

Prayer:
Thank you, Father, that you have established your rule and that you allow us to be part of your kingdom now and for eternity.


Friday, December 16:
1 Kings 17:10-24

Reflection:
A widow prepares to make cakes for herself, her son, and Elijah, knowing that this may be the last meal she has before she and her son starve to death.  Elijah assures her that God will sustain her food supply even in the midst of this famine.  Elijah stayed with the widow and her son for several months, and there was always enough meal and oil to make cakes for the three of them.  When the widow's son dies, Elijah prays for him.  God hears Elijah's prayer, and the son lives.

Prayer:
Lord, let us trust that you indeed hear our prayers and you supply us with everything we need.  You sustain us and faithfully provide.  Help us to acknowledge daily that it is you who gives us all that we have, even our very breath.

Saturday, December 17:
Jonah 1:1-4:11

 

Reflection:
The fish is really a small part of this story.  It is the story of God calling a prophet who tries to run away from his task.  Jonah receives a series of shocks: that God cares about people outside of Israel enough to send them a prophet; that his power extends where he is not known, and that he is more interested in having sinners change their ways and live for him that he is with punishing them.

Prayer:
Jonah repented and put his hope in you, Lord, and you delivered him. Help us to recognize that you intend to use us to reach those who need to hear of your salvation.  Let us be willing participants in your plan.





*Resources for Advent reading plan listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Resources for Advent reading plan:

 

ADVENT FOR THE FAMILY.  Frederick P. and Patricia K. Auman, Fortress Press, 1978.

 

THE ADVENT WREATH.  Debbie Trafton O’Neal, Augsburg Publishing House:  Minneapolis, MN 1988.

 

CELEBRATE THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.  Ellen Javernick, Shining Star Publications, 1987.

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING.  Oxmoor House, Birmingham, AL 1988.

 

GROWING UP TOGETHER.  Jan Kempe, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1989.

 

LET’S MAKE A JESSE TREE.  Darcy James, Abingdon Press, Parthenon Press, Nashville, TN 1987.

 

LET’S MAKE A MEMORY.  Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson, Word Books, Waco, TX 1983.

 

TO CELEBRATE.  Alternatives, Ellenwood, GA 1987.

 

WHY NOT CELEBRATE!  Sara Wenger Shenk, Good Books, Intercourse, PA 1987.

 

YOUR CHILD’S TEACHABLE MOMENTS.  Wanda B. Pelphry, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1988.

 

CELEBRATE!  Mary Jane Thompson, VIRTUE Magazine, November 1988, p. 58

 

THE STRANGER ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS.  John R. Cross, Good Seed International, Canada 2003.

 

THE NIV STUDY BIBLE.  Edited by Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1985

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday December 4

The Season of Advent

 

 

 

Daily Scripture Reading:

 

 

Sunday, December 4:

Genesis 12:1-7; 15:1-6

 

Reflection:

With Abram and his wife, Sarai, God begins to reveal his sovereign plan for their offspring.  Abram obeys when God tells him to move, and he believes God's promise that he will have many grandchildren, even though so far he has no children.  Abram's cooperation with God will be the beginning of blessing for all the families of the earth.  Abram was considered righteous because of his belief (15:6) - not because of anything he had done.

 

Prayer:

We have followed in the footsteps of Abraham, Lord.  By faith, we seek to obey you and your call on our lives.  The promises you made to him are promises for us.  We want to walk in your presence always.  Show us the path.

 

Monday, December 5:

Genesis 22:1-19

 

Reflection:

God keeps his promise to Abram and Sarai, and their son, Isaac, is born.  Their names change, too, to Abraham and Sarah.  Abraham still trusts God, even when it seems that God wants him to kill Isaac.  But what God wants is not the son's death, only the father's willing obedience.

 

Prayer:

You called Abraham to sacrifice, Lord, and he still remained faithful to you.  Your will can be difficult for us, but keep us faithful to your call and to the promise - faithful like Abraham.

 

 

Tuesday, December 6:

Genesis 28:1-17

 

Reflection:

God continues his plan through Isaac's son, Jacob.  Jacob is traveling alone, not expecting to see or to hear anything of God.  He thinks God is back at home with his parents.  In his dream, he learns that God is also traveling with him and that he will continue to do so.  Although Jacob often failed in life, God was the ultimate focus of his trust.  Later, his name was changed to Israel, which means God prevails.

 

Prayer:

When faced with conflict, Lord, Jacob often relied on his own resources rather than going to you.  Like Jacob, you have told us that you are with us and will keep us wherever we go.  Help us to trust in you instead of in ourselves.

 

Wednesday, December 7:

Genesis 37:1-36; 42:1-45:15

 

Reflection:

Jacob had twelve sons, but he has not treated them all alike.  He has made such a favorite of his son Joseph that the others are jealous and take advantage of an opportunity to sell Joseph as a slave and pretend to their father that he has been killed.  But God is with Joseph even in slavery and brings him to a position of honor, not only for his own sake, but also for the good of the whole family and for the good of the land of Egypt, too.

 

Prayer:

Joseph was sold into slavery but still you were with him.  He would forgive his brothers just as you call on us to forgive those who harm us.  Keep our hearts soft.  Help us to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us.  Help us to obey you even though the circumstances in our life might be difficult.

 

Thursday, December 8:

Exodus 1:1-2:10

 

Reflection:

When the Israelites came into Egypt, they multiplied and grew strong.  Pharaoh was afraid the Israelites were becoming so numerous that they would organize and threaten his kingdom, so he enslaved them.  The Israelites still multiplied, so Pharaoh ordered the killing of many Hebrew boys.  When Moses was born, his mother hid him and he was found by Pharaoh's daughter.  She took him as her son, thereby placing Moses in the house of Pharaoh.

 

Prayer:

Lord, use our lives, as you did Moses' life, to further your plan.

 

Friday, December 9:
Exodus 12:1-39

Reflection:
The people of Egypt are not willing to give up their slaves until death strikes within all of their homes.  Seeing then that God is serious about freeing the people of Israel, they urge them to be gone in a hurry.  When the moment comes, there is not even time for the Israelites to bake their bread.  They gather up the raw dough in their kneading bowls and carry it along with them like that.

Prayer:
Father, you saw the suffering of your people and you came to their rescue.  Lead us, too, Lord, out of our problems and afflictions.  Let us demonstrate our faith in you in visible ways.

Saturday, December 10:
Exodus 19:16-20:20

 

Reflection:
After two months of traveling through the desert, the people of Israel reach Mount Sinai.  God summons all Israel, and then speaks to them through Moses giving them the Ten Commandments.  The purpose of the ten laws is to show us how life is meant to be lived.  Unfortunately, no one fully follows God's laws and therefore, life doesn't work like God intended.  Thankfully, the Ten Commandments also point us to Jesus who fulfilled the law for us.  He lived the commandments perfectly, yet took our punishment for breaking the law.  He gives us his righteousness and enables us to keep the law by placing our faith in him.

Prayer:
You gave your commandments to Moses and the Israelites, and you asked for their love and obedience.  Thank you for showing us that no matter how "good" we are, we cannot achieve holiness through our own efforts.  If we are going to be allowed into your kingdom, it will have to be through Jesus.

 

 

 

 

*Resources for Advent reading plan listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Resources for Advent reading plan:

 

ADVENT FOR THE FAMILY.  Frederick P. and Patricia K. Auman, Fortress Press, 1978.

 

THE ADVENT WREATH.  Debbie Trafton O’Neal, Augsburg Publishing House:  Minneapolis, MN 1988.

 

CELEBRATE THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.  Ellen Javernick, Shining Star Publications, 1987.

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING.  Oxmoor House, Birmingham, AL 1988.

 

GROWING UP TOGETHER.  Jan Kempe, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1989.

 

LET’S MAKE A JESSE TREE.  Darcy James, Abingdon Press, Parthenon Press, Nashville, TN 1987.

 

LET’S MAKE A MEMORY.  Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson, Word Books, Waco, TX 1983.

 

TO CELEBRATE.  Alternatives, Ellenwood, GA 1987.

 

WHY NOT CELEBRATE!  Sara Wenger Shenk, Good Books, Intercourse, PA 1987.

 

YOUR CHILD’S TEACHABLE MOMENTS.  Wanda B. Pelphry, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1988.

 

CELEBRATE!  Mary Jane Thompson, VIRTUE Magazine, November 1988, p. 58

 

THE STRANGER ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS.  John R. Cross, Good Seed International, Canada 2003.

 

THE NIV STUDY BIBLE.  Edited by Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1985

Devotional plan for the week following Sunday, November 27

Daily Scripture Reading:

 

 

 

Monday, November 28:

Psalm 124

 

Tuesday, November 29:

Psalm 124

 

Wednesday, November 30:

Psalm 124

 

Thursday, December 1:

Genesis 1:1-2:3

 

Reflection:

God was there before anything else.  By his word of power he made the whole world of nature, fitting it together so that every creature would have its own place and the things it needs to live.  Because he made them, they are good and valuable.  And the man and woman, he made like himself.

 

Prayer:

You made people in your image, Lord.  Help us to be part of your celebration in this Kingdom. May we be a faithful creation who waits for your coming and brings honor and glory to you.

 

 

Friday, December 2:

Genesis 2:8-3:24

 

Reflection:

The man and the woman are given responsibility for the place in which God puts them and are told to care for it in obedience to his instructions.  But they don't want to follow God's instructions; they want to manage everything themselves.  They disobey God, bringing punishment on themselves, the serpent, and the world in which they lived.

 

Prayer:

Life is full of temptations that keep us from you, Lord.  You know what we really need in our life.  Keep us faithful to your will.

 

 

Saturday, December 3:

Genesis 6:9-8:1

Genesis 9:8-17

 

Reflection:

After Adam and Eve, people continue to try to do things their own way instead of God's way.  Finally, things get so bad that God decides to wipe out everything in a flood.  But even then he finds a family who will obey him so that he can save humankind and his other creature and let them try again.

 

Prayer:

You save your people from destruction, Lord.  You made a covenant with your faithful ones -- with Noah and with us.  Thank you for your mercy, Lord.

 

 

 

*Resources for Advent reading plan:

 

ADVENT FOR THE FAMILY.  Frederick P. and Patricia K. Auman, Fortress Press, 1978.

 

THE ADVENT WREATH.  Debbie Trafton O’Neal, Augsburg Publishing House:  Minneapolis, MN 1988.

 

CELEBRATE THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.  Ellen Javernick, Shining Star Publications, 1987.

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING.  Oxmoor House, Birmingham, AL 1988.

 

GROWING UP TOGETHER.  Jan Kempe, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1989.

 

LET’S MAKE A JESSE TREE.  Darcy James, Abingdon Press, Parthenon Press, Nashville, TN 1987.

 

LET’S MAKE A MEMORY.  Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson, Word Books, Waco, TX 1983.

 

TO CELEBRATE.  Alternatives, Ellenwood, GA 1987.

 

WHY NOT CELEBRATE!  Sara Wenger Shenk, Good Books, Intercourse, PA 1987.

 

YOUR CHILD’S TEACHABLE MOMENTS.  Wanda B. Pelphry, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1988.

 

CELEBRATE!  Mary Jane Thompson, VIRTUE Magazine, November 1988, p. 58

 

THE STRANGER ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS.  John R. Cross, Good Seed International, Canada 2003.

 

THE NIV STUDY BIBLE.  Edited by Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1985