Home Altar: Week of December 12, 2021

by Terrance Woodson

Third Sunday of Advent

SUNDAY, December 12

Luke 3:7–14

Walk Your Talk

Living a life that consistently reflects my commitment to Christ is challenging. It is easy to become a hypocrite, living the Christian life on Sunday but struggling to live it during the week.

In verse 8, John tells the crowd to “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (NRSV), which means their lives must reflect their commitment to God. God required their devotion to be evident in good works. In verses 10-14, John tells them to be generous, honest, and content in their dealings with others.

Likewise, I am required to do more than simply say I am Christian. God requires me to show the fruit of my commitment. God expects me to be generous, help those in need, be honest in my dealings with others, and be content with what I have.

God, help me to live the commitment I made to you. I know it is not enough that say I love you, but I want my life to reflect this every day. AMEN.

MONDAY, December 13

Luke 3:15–18

The Advance Man

The White House presidential advance team plans and prepares the President’s trips. They ensure each trip is successful from the moment of the President’s arrival until departure. The advance team works tirelessly behind the scenes, checking and double-checking the many details of the schedule, security, and publicity.

In a sense, John the Baptist was Jesus’s advance team. The people were excited about his message and his baptism, and they wondered if he was the Messiah. However, John the Baptist told the crowd to focus not on him but on the Messiah. John said, “But one who is more powerful than I is coming” (v. 16, NRSV). John came before Jesus to prepare the people for his coming. He announced that the Messiah would baptize the believers with the Holy Spirit and bring judgment on unbelievers. Like John, let us focus on Christ’s coming this Advent season.

Lord, during this season, help us to focus on you and to celebrate your coming. AMEN.

Tuesday, December 14

Isaiah 10:1-4

Wicked Politicians

Isaiah saw his country being led by corrupt politicians exploiting and taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable. He predicted the judgment of God would come, and no one would be there to help the corrupt lawmakers. Instead, they would experience judgment themselves. All the money and power would not save them from this destruction.

Today, we live in a world where some lawmakers create and pass policies that hurt and exploit the most vulnerable in our society. We hear the cries of the poor, the widows, the immigrants, and the orphans calling for justice. One day God’s justice will come, and the corrupt leaders will have nowhere to turn. All their money and power will not protect them on the day of destruction.

God, we pray for your justice to come on the evil and the wicked who exploit the vulnerable in our land today. Take care of our weak and needy. AMEN.

Wednesday, December 15

Zephaniah 3:14–2

Turning Sorrows into Joy

While the Israelites were in captivity, they had great hope that the Messiah would restore their nation one day. These demoralized people hoped that their sorrows would turn into joy and that their enemies would no longer rule over them. They also had hope that the Messiah would finally bring all the scattered people home again, would “change their shame into praise” (v. 19, NRSV), and would restore their lost fortunes. What a great day these broken people anticipated.

Like those exiles, we can have hope that Christ will bless us. Looking at the world with all of its problems can be demoralizing. We can feel lost and forgotten. However, like the Israelites, we hope that God will care for us, turn our sorrows into joy, deal with our oppressors, and restore us.

Father, thank you for giving us hope that one day you will turn our sorrows into joy. AMEN

Thursday, December 16

Isaiah 12:2-6

A Message for the World

The prophet Isaiah is encouraging the people to praise God for what he will do in their lives. God will save them from their enemies and will re-unite them one day with their friends and family. The prophet reminds them that God is the source of their salvation and will defend them in times of danger.

This message is not just good news for God’s people in the Old Testament—it is good news for us as well. We praise God because he blesses, saves, and protects us.

And God does not want us to keep this message to ourselves. Instead, we must share it with our friends, neighbors, and the entire world. Everyone needs to know that God is great, that he is the source of our strength, and that he brings salvation. They need to know that God is good and that they can trust him with their hearts and lives. Let us tell the entire world this good news!

God, use me to spread the good news to the world that you are a great God. AMEN.

Friday, December 17

Philippians 4:4-9

God’s Antidote to Worry

We live in a world full of chaos and uncertainty with our fluctuating economy, broken relationships, and the many personal issues we face. Worry can be a natural reaction to the many problems we encounter. When we worry, we rehash in our minds the negative scenarios that could occur in the future.

Instead of worrying, God tells us to do three things in today’s passage. First, we rejoice that God is in control of this world, that he is all-powerful and present with us right now. Then Paul tells us to be gentle with others. We do not have to lash out in anger, but we can respond gently and lovingly. Last, Paul tells us to pray, give God our requests, and thank him for what he can do. Instead of worrying, let us follow God’s antidotes.

God, instead of worrying about situations I cannot change, I want to rejoice in you, love others around me, and commune with you in prayer. AMEN.

Saturday, December 18

Philippians 4:10-14

Contentment Despite Circumstances

We can struggle with contentment in our world that emphasizes obtaining more and more. We are bombarded with advertisements to buy more, buy the latest, and upgrade to the fastest. Seldom do we hear, “Be satisfied with what we have.”

In our passage today, Paul tells us to be content despite our circumstances. First, he tells us that this is a lesson we must learn. Whether we have plenty or little, we must be content. Then Paul says we must learn the secret of being satisfied. I believe the secret he discovered is that God is with him in all circumstances and that God is powerful. He can change our circumstances. Finally, Paul’s closing words in verse 13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” encourage us that God can give us the strength to be content in times of plenty or in times of lack. Despite our circumstances, God teaches us to put our trust and dependence on him.

God, help me to be content with what you have given me. Please help me to place my dependence on you and not on my circumstances. AMEN.

About the Author: Terrance Woodson

Dallas, Texas

I work with Develop Leaders/ Ordered Ministry as Director of Pastoral Support and Practice where I focus on the health and accountability of our pastors. In addition, I serve at Bethel Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, Texas.

I live in Dallas and am a licensed professional counselor in the state of Texas. My wife, Harvetha, and I have four grown sons, three wonderful daughters-in-law, and three curious grandchildren. When time permits, I enjoy photography.

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