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Advent 2016

My apologies for falling behind on our Advent 2016 devotions. I’ve missed them. But sometimes life gets in the way of our good intentions, causing us to fail at the things we value most.

I have, however, found the time to create a short time-lapse art video to wish you a blessed Christmas.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Suspended by Grace

This video is dedicated to my sister, Janie Neff Haines and her husband Gene Haines as a memorial to their son, Clint who was killed in a tragic motor cycle accident September 2013. May God’s sustaining grace continue to carry you forward into His everlasting presence.

With much love, Brenda

[youtube http://youtu.be/O5QErV44sRY]

 

Suspended by Grace

The brightness of the day succumbed to angry storm clouds. I scarcely noticed them. The turmoil bellowing within my soul created a far greater threat, shoving me to the very edge of destruction.

Stones shifted beneath my feet. I teetered, arms flailing to regain my balance. The crackling of debris cascading down the side of the cliff echoed through the valley. Several rocks crashed on the wall before splashing in the raging sea below. Was that to be my fate after all?

A scream … a cry of despair drew my attention eastward. At first one, then several close relatives slipped over the edge and plummeted toward the crag that stuck out of the icy water. “No!” I screamed with them. I stood paralyzed on the edge unable to do anything more than pray. I wanted to rescue them, to throw out a lifeline … something to prevent the inevitable. But I had no rope, no vine, no means of aide. Their screams tightened into shrieks and sobs … then silence. Their anguish-filled hearts impregnated the atmosphere with inaudible songs of grief.

Yet, instead of crashing into the sea, they floated above it as if suspended from parachutes. They rose and drifted farther eastward toward the sun. In the far distance, a beautiful city graced the horizon.

I suspected the refugees didn’t realize God’s grace had sustained them, not at first at least. But inch-by-inch they rose upward and eastward into the brilliance of His presence. As they live out the remainder of their lives, they radiate with an inner strength, of which they seem unaware.

I, also, suspected then, as I do now, that eventually I too will slip over the edge of despair. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I can trust Him in the darkest night, in the midst of the storm, in the depths of despair. He will keep His word. By the testimony of my friends and family who have lived through the horrors of this world, I see Jesus’ sustaining grace. And I know the breath of God will lift me up and propel me into His Light and eventually into His everlasting presence.

Thank you for viewing. Please share.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Perfect Gift

I know you received this a few hours ago. But I discovered there was no sound to the first one. Sorry about that.

This is the final product of the project I’ve been sharing with you since the beginning of December. I hope it blessed you. I sure enjoyed creating it. It now hangs in my mother’s living room. She was delighted to receive it for her 87th birthday.

Next week, I’ll share another art video pertaining to God’s grace. In preparation, study Ephesians 2:1-10.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Victory

[youtube http://youtu.be/ZhT2j_1gJho]

 

 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)

The hope of victory over the curse of sin began centuries before King David sat on the throne. God had made a promise to Adam and Eve that a son would be born who would take away that curse, which sentenced them and everyone after them to hard labor. Decades later, Lamech, at the age of 182, prove his faith in the promise when he named his son Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:28-29 NIV). This took place generations before God called out a nation unto Himself from Abraham’s seed.

Through the ages, the Hebrews failed, were enslaved, and freed many times; but they held onto the hope of Israel—a messiah would come to save them and to rule the nations.

Jesus was that Man. However, God’s plan of victory differed from that of the Jews.

  • They thought He came to overthrow Caesar, but He came to defeat the prince of the air.
  • They thought He’d ride a white warhorse, instead He rode a donkey of peace.
  • They thought He’d organize a mighty army, but He surrendered without a fight.
  • They thought He’d reign on earth, but His kingdom is in heaven.
  • They thought He died for a lost cause, instead He died for lost sinners.
  • They thought death won, but Jesus conquered death and lives today.

We are now on the other side of the cross looking back in awe with gratitude and looking forward to His second coming. Then He will return on that white warhorse as the conquering King the Jews anticipated. His army of saints will follow Him to war and celebrate the victory over the fall of the enemy—Satan.

How about you? Are you enjoying the victory that overcomes the world through faith in Jesus Christ?

Next time, we’ll review The Gift via another time-lapse art video that brings the whole subject together. Prepare by studying Romans 6:19-23.

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Light

[youtube http://youtu.be/uaEbWgGJ24M]

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Years ago while watching TV in our den, my daughter and I suddenly found ourselves sitting in the dark. The veil blanketed us in darkness as black as Dracula’s cloak. We joked about ax murders, monsters, and aliens at first. But the longer we sat there the more spooked we became.

“Let’s go upstairs now.” I headed for the door. “There’s a flashlight in Dad’s closet.” Rachel, although a teenager at the time, clung to my shirttail. As I opened the den door, a wave of darkness cascaded into the room almost bowling me over. It was so eerie our dog decided to stay in the den. Rachel and I clutched the banister and followed it up the stairs. No light, not even from the moon or stars, greeted us through the kitchen window. We walked our fingers along the wall as we pussyfooted down the hall to the bedroom and into the closet. I stretched, grasping the coveted flashlight and flicked on the switch. We blinked and squinted, adjusting to the light—glorious light.

Walking in spiritual darkness can be as scary as suddenly finding yourself in a dark room. We wander around searching for light … any light … to illuminate our way and give meaning to our lives. Eventually, we discover there are as many spiritual light sources as there are physical ones. And as our flashlight overcame the darkness that night, these forms of spiritual light override spiritual darkness to a degree. However as sure as there is only one sun in the sky, there is one true spiritual light source. All man-made lights can only simulate the sun. Similarly, all man-made religions can only emulate the true Light God has sent into the world.

It was no accident that the Light came in the darkness of night during one of the darkest periods in history. It was no accident that the Light opened the eyes of the physically blind. It was no accident that the Light suffered the cruelty of the cross, illuminating the darkness of the human soul. It was no accident that the Light overpowered the darkness of the tomb and rose again. As our world grows darker in this present day, it is no accident that the Light stands ready to return to claim His own.

How about you? Are you standing in spiritual darkness, searching for the Light? Why not grasp the spiritual Light of Jesus Christ? He’ll overpower the darkness and lead you to a safe place where you can thrive in His presence.

Next time, we’ll unwrap the gift of hope. Prepare by reading and meditating on Romans 5:1-10.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Love

Advent 2014

Day 22

[youtube http://youtu.be/gH10eYfP9BY]

 

 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)

On His way to the cross, Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love and offered gifts along the way—gifts that keep on giving like forgiveness.

Affirming her gratitude for forgiveness, a sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She also anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Although her actions disturbed those present, they pleased Jesus. He said she had prepared Him for His burial and her deed would be told as a memorial to her for all time. Jesus gave the gift of forgiveness to us as well. We affirm our gratitude by forgiving others. It’s a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of obedience.

Obedience isn’t always easy, especially when it seems to lead to a difficult situation. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He knew the road lead to His crucifixion. But He marched into the city with victory on His shoulders in obedience to the Father. Obedience is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of authority.

Jesus exhibited His authority over sin and injustice the day He cleansed the temple. He also verified His authority over death a week later. He gave the gift of authority to His disciples and sent them out to spread the word of His appearing and to cast out demons. In turn, that gift has been passed down to every believer. Authority is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of prayer.

Through prayer, Jesus knew and carried out the Father’s will. The Messiah encouraged His followers to pray often, especially on the night of His arrest. Jesus knew His fate. He needed time with the Father. He knew the fate of His disciples and their need for strength as the horrific events took place. He gave them the gift of prayer to help sustain them. And He offers the gift of prayer to each of us. Prayer is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of surrender.

Surrender often implies defeat. But Jesus showed us it denotes love and can lead to victory. Had He not surrendered to the Roman soldiers that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the prophecies concerning Him would not have been fulfilled. Jesus’ surrender was His greatest act of love. He had told His disciples that no man would take His life. Rather He laid down His life willingly in obedience to the Father who had given Jesus the authority to take it up again.

Jesus also said, “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down his life for a friend.” He called His followers His friends and gave us the ultimate gift of love—His life.

Love is a gift that keeps giving.

How about you? How can you offer the gift of love to someone today?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of defeat. Prepare by reading and meditating on John 11:1-14.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Grace

Advent 2014

Day 15

[youtube http://youtu.be/pzhdo0wz7jE]

Jesus became God’s gift of grace and the gift that keeps on giving.

1.  The Gift of Submission

Although He never sinned, Jesus submitted to John the Baptist to be baptized. In doing so, Jesus identified with sinners and demonstrated complete surrender to the Father.

2.  The Gift of Humility

Although He had much work to do, Jesus welcomed small children.  He said adults must become humble as a child if they want to enter heaven. Children lose themselves in the moment. They act without hesitation. They accept the wonder of the miracles surrounding Jesus’ birth without trying to overthink. They understand with their hearts

3.  The Gift of Compassion

Jesus showed compassion to the multitudes of sick, blind, deaf, and disabled people who constantly flogged Him. He turned no one away. He never rushed past someone in need. He took time to speak to them, to encourage them, and to meet their deepest needs—needs of the spirit as well as the body.

4.  The Gift of Satisfaction

The miracle of the two small fish and five loaves of barley teaches plenty about satisfaction

  1. When we look to God for sustenance with grateful hearts, He supplies more than enough
  2. His provisions come from unexpected sources
  3. Jesus can do great things with small things
  4. Jesus will NOT send anyone away who diligently seeks Him
  5. Jesus supplies an abundance so that we have “leftovers” to share

5.  The Gift of Trust

Trust is one of the most delicate gifts we can give to another person. It breaks easily and must be handled with extreme care. But when we put our trust in Jesus, we need not worry about Him ever breaking it. Here are a few things we learn from Peter’s experience:

  1.  Focus on Jesus, and He’ll enable us to do the impossible
  2. Focus on our circumstances, and they’ll overpower us every time
  3. Prayers don’t have to be lengthy or complex
  4. Even when our faith fails, Jesus is there to help
  5. No matter how severe the storm, Jesus is always in control.

6.  The Gift of His Presence

Jesus’ presence is God’s gift to each of us. Many get caught up in the wrappings—His glorious birth, the miracles, signs, and wonders He performed, the ideal of living a life full of peace, joy, and love. And God’s gift of grace through Jesus is all of that and more. But His presence brings with it His holiness, which cannot tolerate sin. Therefore, we stand convicted. Our guilt pushes the gift away. Instead of immersing ourselves in it, we hide from it unwilling to open the package in its entirety.

Let’s not return the gift unopened this year. Let’s unwrap it and experience the true miracle of Christmas—God’s grace, mercy, and love through Jesus Christ.

How about you? Have you opened God’s gift of grace?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks