Home Altar: Week of November 28, 2021

by Flor Graterol

First Sunday of Advent

SUNDAY, November 28

Exodus 32:1-14

God’s Time


As human beings, how impatient we are. We read at the beginning of this chapter, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain” (v. 1, NIV). What did they do? They created gods and dared to equate them with the God who brought them out of Egypt, a total heresy.

Many times we, too, put on the same shoes and bring into our lives other gods who stealthily enter and occupy the place of Adonai, the only true God. How many times we have a petition before the Lord and we despair because the answer still does not arrive. We resolve in our way wanting to help God who takes time and despairs. God knows the time better than we do.

Dear God, sometimes it’s hard for us to wait for your time. Forgive us for being impulsive and desperate. Teach us to wait on you. We realize that you know exactly the right time for everything and especially, your return. Lord, come! Amen.

MONDAY, November 29

PSALM 106:1-6, 43-48

God is Good


These words strike me, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (v. 1, NIV). Certainly we can all say that God is good. He was good yesterday, he is good today, and he will be good tomorrow because it is his nature, he is eternal, and he will never change.

There is an expression that over the years we still share in our churches. It is when the pastor or leader takes a moment and says, “God is good!” And the congregation affirms, “All the time!” Then the leader says, “All the time,” and the congregation responds, “God is good.”

And yes, surely God is so good that his mercy is forever.

As humans, we stay in our rebellion, anguish, and outcry, and we turn to God who then remembers the covenant and extends his love to us.

Good Father, thank you for that mercy that always raises and saves us. We praise your name forever, Lord. Let all the people say amen!

Tuesday, November 30

ISAIAH 25:1-9

God’s Promises


How often we feel down when bad news tends to depress our spirits and steal our peace, leaving us feeling miserable. The promises of the Lord are always vitamins for our spirit, which he has promised he has fulfilled.

Reading this passage, I found promises that lift my spirit up to continue serving our almighty God. The prophet Isaiah shares this prayer that reflects his intimacy with God: “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (v. 4, NIV). Later he continues, “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth” (vv. 7-8, NIV). What an awesome promise!

Eternal Father, help us to trust in you more. Increase our faith in weak moments, in the midst of discouragement and impotence when our tears run down our face, when we look for encouragement to remember that you will one day wipe them away forever. Amen!

Wednesday, December 1

EZEKIEL 18:1-4, 25-32

Repent!


“Repent! Repent!” I can almost hear the voice of John the Baptist repeating these words previously expressed by the prophet Ezekiel. After 400 years of celestial silence, the words are heard again in the Jordan River, offering freedom. Both prophets proclaim the same message of grace, repentance. Turn away from evil so that sin will not be your downfall, your death.

Affirming at the same time the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross through which our transgressions are forgotten, it is by grace that we have access to salvation, to a new heart and to a new spirit.

Lord Jesus, every time I hear about repentance, I remember your sacrifice for me, which helps me seek you more and more because I recognize that every time I repent, I am reminded of your grace, of your sacrifice, of the security of eternal life with you. Thank you, Sovereign Lord. Amen.

Thursday, December 2

PHILIPPIANS 4:1-7

The God of Peace


Paul’s introductory words fill me with joy as he expresses his sincere affection, “I love you and I miss you very much.” Paul shares his advice to please God: Stand firm in the Lord, that nothing can shake you. Agree with the Lord, pray, seek, and adore him. Help the men and women who collaborate in the ministry, because they favor the extension of the kingdom of the heavens. Always rejoice in the Lord. If he is in your hearts, joy will overwhelm you. Remember that joy is your strength. Do not worry about anything. The Lord has promised to be with us until the end of the world. Present your petitions to God, as Father he shows us the way. Give thanks to God, he has been and is good and will continue to be so. Then, the peace of God will guard your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus, do not forget to consider everything that is excellent and the God of peace will be with you.

Faithful God, thank you for your goodness. Amen.

Friday, December 3

PHILIPPIANS 4:8-9

Think About…


Nowadays we live in a technological society that saturates us every day with more and more information that attacks our mind to the subconscious. A song by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, known as “Despacito,” became a worldwide hit, with its sensual lyrics and a catchy rhythm that even children sang and danced to.

In our passage today Paul urges us to consider well, to think about everything on the following list: the true, the honest, the just, the pure, the kind, the good name and what is praiseworthy. Then we will have eternal peace.

Dear God, thank you for urging us to fill our minds with good things that come from you. Help us not to be carried away by the world but to live a life that glorifies your name, which is above all names. Thank you for giving us your peace that surpasses everything, in the name of your beloved son, Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, December 4

PSALM 78:1-7

Listen to Me


Many times, through his Word, God challenges us to be obedient and to listen to his teachings, to his commands, because in them is light. “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations” (Isaiah 51:4, NIV).

God gives us the best resource, his own Word that is himself. He advises us to teach it to others from generation to generation, that they will put their trust in God. Then they will know and not forget his prowess.

Lord Jesus, you are the very verb of your Word. Thank you, Lord, for remaining latent in our midst, providing us with so many resources to love, praise, and glorify you. Continue guiding us to bring others your light, your Word, your grace, and your peace to the end of the world. Amen.

About the Author: Flor Graterol

(1957-2021)

Flor Graterol was a Covenant minister and chaplain of Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos in Compton, California. She left her native Venezuela to study abroad and came to the U.S. to attend a Billy Graham/Luis Palau Hispanic Crusade in Los Angeles. As a founding member of the core church planting group of El Encino Covenant Church, she said, “I feel that there is no better place than the Evangelical Covenant Church to fill this call that is so deeply inside my heart.” She was serving as CHET chaplain and lead pastor of Emmanuel Covenant Church in Northridge, California, when she died. These reflections were originally published in the Home Altar in 2017.

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