Alton

BeFree Alton Family Letter (August)

Hello BeFree,

Every other month the elders and I write a “family letter” to share about what is going on behind the scenes and to take a look down the road at all that will be happening in our church family. We hope that this quick look will help keep you in the loop in the months to come.

  • -  Baptism Sunday – Baptism is a beautiful, joyful and symbolic celebration where someone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ publically declares that faith. Next Sunday, immediately after the service, five people in our family will be taking this obedient step of faith. Join us in the courtyard to celebrate all Christ has done in calling them to himself.

  • -  Last Summer Hangouts – This summer our church hosted a number of unique events ranging from hikes to firework displays. If you missed these gatherings, we still have two more opportunities:

o Next Sunday (August 11th), we will be traveling down to Portsmouth’s Prescott Park to enjoy a free theater production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The play starts at 7:00 but plan to arrive early as spots fill up quick. Bring a picnic dinner and small donation to support the play.

o On August 25th we will hold our annual end of summer party. We are still working out the details for this event, but keep your ears open for more information in the weeks to come.

  • -  Home Groups Starting – As we enter a new school year, our home groups will begin to meet again, starting the week of September 8th. All of our home groups will begin the year by focusing on the spiritual gifts; what they are and how we can use them to the glory of God and the good of the church. If you are not a part of a home group, now would be the perfect time to join! Look for more information on how to join a home group on Sunday, September 8th.

  • -  Summer Intern – About a month ago, we announced that our elder and worship leader, Rob, was going to step into the role of “intern.” Rob has already co-taught a 4-week evangelism course on Sunday mornings in July, begun his BA in theology at South African Theological Seminary and is, today, beginning a four- week sermon series on the book of Titus. We are thankful for the opportunity to continue to benefit from Rob’s ministry and are excited to see how God grows him through this obedient step of faith.

  • -  EFCA Report – In June, Olivia and I had the opportunity to attend the EFCA National Conference. This gathering of pastors, missionaries and leaders from across our denomination met for a time of worship, encouragement and handling of practical matters. This was my first time to sit under the leadership of our denomination and I came home thanking God for the group of churches he has called us to partner with in the advance of the Gospel. To read my full report on the EFCA National Conference, please visit the “what’s new” section of our website (befree.church/alton-whats-new).

    Our prayer is that God would be glorified in all we do as we seek to glorify him 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

EFCA Update (Alton Family Letter)

Dear BeFree Family,

In the past, a church’s denomination was something worn as a badge of honor. Churches would name themselves with titles like “First Baptist” or “Second Presbyterian.” However, in the past twenty years, many American Christians have lost their sense of denominational pride. Some have gone so far as to disdain denominations all together and wear the title “non-denominational” as a badge of honor. It’s not difficult to understand the desire to dismiss denominations as unnecessary or over institutionalized. After all, we don’t see them anywhere in the Bible.

However, I believe it would be a mistake to completely dismiss denominations as unnecessary or passé. In fact, I would argue that in throwing away denominations we would lose far more than we would gain. If a church is a part of a healthy, Gospel preaching, Bible-believing, mission driven denomination, they are in direct partnership with a larger body of believers who are working together to shine the light of Jesus across the nation and the world. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

BeFree Alton is a part of a denomination called the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). While there are not many EFCA churches in our corner of the country, there are more than 1300 congregations stretching from Alaska to Florida and from Hawaii to Maine.

When I was graduating from seminary and trying to discern where the Lord was leading Olivia and I in the years to come, there were many denominations, church networks and parachurch organizations with which we might have decided to ally. However, as we researched and prayed about the direction the Lord was leading, it became clear to us that the EFCA was the denomination we wanted to join as we served the lord in the decades to come.

The thing that set the EFCA apart from many other denominations was its commitment to hold the core doctrines of the church with white knuckled zeal, while still allowing for a diversity of positions on doctrines of secondary importance. To major on the majors and minor on the minors. For example, the EFCA is committed to the centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, and the ongoing mission of the church, but are willing to have diversity on topics such as speaking in tongues and pre-destination without breaking the bond of unity we all share in Christ.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to gather with over 1500 pastors, missionaries and lay leaders at the EFCA national conference in Chicago. This was my first opportunity to interact with our denomination outside our region and I was blessed by what I found.

Here are three reasons I returned to New Hampshire thankful to be a part of the EFCA:

Bold Leadership – Before attending the national conference I knew very little about the men and women serving at our denomination’s headquarters. Though I recognized a few of them by name, I had never had the chance to directly benefit from their leadership. However, while at the conference, a few of these national leaders, including the current EFCA president, addressed us on a few key matters of great importance to our denomination. They boldly challenged the pastors of our denomination to be diligent and watchful in combatting possible abuse in our congregations. They urged us to be ready and willing to take immediate and decisive action when reports of any kind of abuse come to the surface. They also challenged and encouraged pastors and church leaders across the denomination on a number of other matters. While not

everything they said was easy to hear, all of it was true, needed to be said and was spoken in love. It takes a gifted leader to handle matters of such weight with bold conviction yet tender compassion. I am thankful to say that we have leaders in our denomination who worthy of our confidence and respect.

  • -  Healthy Communication – On the second day of the conference, two delegates from each EFCA church met for a biannual business meeting. The primary matter of business was to vote upon a proposed revision to our denomination’s statement of faith. If the proposed changes passed, our statement on Christ’s return would change from “We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus” to “We believe in the personal, bodily and gloriousreturn of our Lord Jesus.” This change was proposed in an effort to better align our statement of faith with our denomination’s commitment to hold firmly to the doctrines that are essential, those truths that all true believers throughout the centuries have believed, and yet remain charitable on secondary doctrines.

    Over the course of 3+ hours, the delegates from the different churches talked and debated this proposed change. Some spoke with great emotion arguing both for and against the change. However, when we voted and the proposal was approved, the tone in the room was not one of winners and losers, but one of humble acceptance and respect. At the end of the meeting, we left united under our shared commitment to continue the ongoing work of Jesus Christ.

  • -  A Gospel-focused commitment to Christ’s mission – The bigger an organization, the more structure needed to run it. In the same way, when churches and church denominations grow to be large, it can be tempting to begin treating a church like a business. Pastors and church leaders can often lose sight of what is most important and opt rather for what is most pragmatic; asking “what works” rather than “what honors God.” As I attended the national conference, listened to the plenary speakers, sat through breakout sessions, and listened to the leaders, one thing became crystal clear: without dismissing the necessity of proper structures and the right handling of our resources, the EFCA cares far more for the glory of God, the advance of the Gospel and the flourishing of the church, than numbers, resources and institutional structures. I am thankful to be a part of a large organization that has not lost sight of the ultimate goal. The EFCA is a denomination that remains focused upon Jesus Christ and his glory.

    Our church is not “non-denominational”. Rather, we are a part of a larger family of churches that are committed to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people. God is at work across our nation and across the world through the EFCA. I am thankful to call this family of churches our home and am excited to see what God will do through our denomination in the decades to come.

    Thankfully yours,
    Ben Ruhl, Pastor of BeFree Alton

BeFree Alton Family Letter (June)

Hello BeFree, 

It seems like no matter who you ask, everyone is “busy.” Our families are busy, our work is busy and it can even feel like our churches are busy. But as followers of Jesus, we know that our goal in life, family, work, and church, is not ultimately to be “busy” but to be faithful in our calling to “love God, love others and make disciples.” Very often, when we reflect on what God has been doing at BeFree Alton, we celebrate the “stuff” we have been doing at our church campus. However, rather than focusing on the busyness, I want to celebrate the faithfulness of the members in our church family.  We have been faithfully gathering on Sundays to worship our King. We have been faithfully gathering in home groups and other gatherings throughout the week to love one another in friendship and fellowship. Finally, in the face of recent community crises, we have faithfully shone the light of Jesus Christ into the lives of those hurting and mourning around us. I praise God for the ways he has been working in and through our church family.


As we move into the summer months, here is a quick look at a couple of things coming up:

  • Evangelism class – Every disciple of Jesus has the privilege and the responsibility to join Christ in his mission to make disciples of all nations. We believe this mission is best carried out when every believer takes their role in God’s mission seriously. As the home group year comes to a close, we are going to offer another training class, much like the four-week discipleship class we offered last year. This class will be offered Sunday mornings before church (8:15-9:15am on June 30th, July 7th, 14th, 21st). Please keep your ears open for more information in the weeks to come.


  • Summer Hangouts – Over the past few summers, our church family gathered weekly at Crunchy Farm for “Farm Fellowship.”  This summer, we will be mixing it up. Rather than meeting weekly at Crunchy Farm, we will be hosting a number of unique events throughout the summer months. We hope that these will be times when we can gather together and form new relationships within our church family. Please keep your ears open for these hangouts in the weeks to come.


  • Baptism – Over the past few months we have mentioned that we will be holding a baptism service. This service will be held in late July or early August. It’s still not too late to sign up to be baptized. If you are interested in being baptized or would like to learn more about baptism, please speak with Ben Ruhl and he will be happy to walk through the baptism process with you. 

  • Summer Refocus – At BeFree, many ministries and home groups take a break and use this time to recharge and refocus. Please be praying for our leaders as they seek God’s will for the home groups and church ministries in the months to come.  


We pray that, in all these events, God will work through us to bring glory to his name as we seek to love him, love others and make disciples.


On behalf of the elders and myself, 

Ben Ruhl, Pastor of BeFree Alton

Elders: Everett Clark and Rob O’Blenis

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